Heirloom Tomato Salad

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Summertime is not the time for fussy recipes. No, summertime is the time for featuring fresh-from-the-garden delicacies at their understated best! Try this… slice a few sun ripened heirloom tomatoes. Top them with a few slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tuck a few sprigs of fresh herbs here and there (I used pineapple mint). Serve immediately.

Really, that’s it. We’ll have plenty of time for fussy tomato recipes next winter. Today, just enjoy a simple salad in the sunshine!

In The Garden: Herbs and Flowers

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German Chamomile

We’ve had a rather cold and rainy start to the summer season in my region. Crowded Earth Kitchen’s vegetable garden is fully planted now, with over 100 transplants (mostly tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, ground cherries, and broccoli) and 200 feet of seeded rows (beans, peas, potatoes, onions, carrots, okra, and cucumbers). Early in the season, however, vegetables take a back seat to herbs and flowers! Here’s what’s looking spiffy this week…

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Hydrangea

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Daisy

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Purple Creeping Thyme

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Lavender

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Coreopsis

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Sugar Snap Peas

Poblano Jerk Chicken

We’ve been BUSY here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, working in the garden to grow the freshest ingredients for future recipes! We’re also planning a party, and will be serving this amazing chicken. Enjoy!

Crowded Earth Kitchen

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This dish has easily earned a place on my Top Meals of All Time list.  Easily.  As soon as you begin toasting the spices for the rub, you’ll understand.  Preparing this dish is an experience to be enjoyed!  The rub is just plain fun to make, and your kitchen will smell sublime.  Don’t rush the marinade – let your chicken relax in this rub for a full 24 hours before baking.

Somewhere, someone is dancing from foot to foot while shouting at their computer screen about how Jerk Chicken is traditionally made with Scotch Bonnet peppers… I know.  Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’re being rebellious and using Poblanos!  Why?  One, I have a freezer full of free Poblano peppers from my backyard organic garden, and free is my favorite price!  Two, Scotch Bonnet peppers (also known as Habaneros) are hot enough to peel paint right off the walls.  That’s fine for a…

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Summer vacation has arrived, which means I need to up my game with the baked goods around here! Kids burn a lot of calories playing outside, and they are hungry when called in for lunch. These Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins are sure to be a hit!

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups flour

3/4 cup oats

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup skim milk

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup pitted cherries (fresh or jarred)

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

WIN_20150505_160516Directions

Step 1) Line a dozen standard size muffin cups with foil liners (preferable), or grease the muffin cups well.  Do not use paper liners, as they will stick.  Set aside.

Step 2) Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.

WIN_20150505_160842Step 3) Combine egg, milk, and oil in a separate bowl and mix well.

Step 4) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Don’t get carried away… it’s OK if the batter is a little bit lumpy!

Step 5) Gently fold in cherries.

WIN_20150505_161447Step 6) Fill muffin liners or muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!

Smoked Salmon BLT Salad

WIN_20150420_142745Cold and crisp meals can be delightful, particularly in summertime. This hearty salad makes a filling, high protein lunch. Add a cup of gazpacho and a fruity dessert, and you’ve got a complete dinner packed full of vitamins. What could be better?

WIN_20150420_142238Ingredients (Makes 2 main dish salads)

1 head of Romaine lettuce, washed

1 large, ripe tomato, chopped

2 slices of bacon, diced

8 ounces of smoked salmon, broken into bite size chunksWIN_20150420_140847

1 cup of light sour cream

1 teaspoon taco seasoning mix

Directions

Step 1) Fry bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

WIN_20150420_141047Step 2) Tear Romaine lettuce into bite size pieces and spread over two serving plates. Top with chopped tomato.

Step 3) Stir taco seasoning mix into light sour cream and blend until well combined. Scoop mixture into a plastic sandwich bag, and cut off one corner of the bag to create a small opening. Squeeze mixture through WIN_20150420_142130the small opening in this “homemade pastry bag” to make a decorative zig-zag of dressing over each salad plate.

Step 4) Top each salad with smoked salmon and crispy bacon. Serve immediately.

 

Chocolate Coconut Crisps

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These easy-to-make cookies are flourless, like meringues. Unlike meringues, these cookies are both crispy and flat. This is due to the small amount of fat in the cocoa powder (so worth it!), which prevents egg whites from maintaining peaks when beaten. Whatever the reason, Chocolate Coconut Crisps are delicious. Try a batch today!

Ingredients (makes 48 cookies)

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/4 cup shredded, dried coconut

1 cup white sugar

picture194Directions

Step 1) In  scrupulously clean bowl, beat egg whites, coconut extract, and cream of tartar at high speed for 2 – 3 minutes until soft peaks form.  It’s OK if the peaks fall over at this point, when you lift the beater out of the mixture.

Step 2)  Add cocoa powder, coconut, and sugar – a little at a time – to egg white mixture.  Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The egg whites will collapse due to the fat in the cocoa powder; don’t worry, that’s OK.

WIN_20150509_202430Step 3)  Drop tablespoonsful of the cookie mixture onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving 1 – 2 inches between cookies.  Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Cool on a cooking rack and Enjoy!

Prawn Chips (Easy!)

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So, you’re having a casual get-together and want to serve simple snacks, but you want to serve something that will make a bit more of a conversation starter than a bowl of pretzels. Try prawn chips instead.

Prawn chips? Prawns, like… shrimp? Yes.

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I bought this little box of uncooked prawn chips at my local Asian market for a dollar and change – very economical! The ingredients, and preparation instructions, are quite simple. Here’s a photo of the back of the box:

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When you open the box, the contents might surprise you. Uncooked prawn chips look like, well, little pieces of plastic:

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Don’t be alarmed. Simply pour your favorite cooking oil into a frying pan, so that the oil is about 1/2 inch deep. Coconut oil with a few drops of sesame oil added for flavor works well. Add the chips, a few at a time, to very hot oil:

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After only a few seconds, the chips will crackle and “fluff up,” taking on a foamy appearance. When that happens, scoop the chips out of the oil and place them on paper napkins to drain and cool.

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Only half of the box was used to make the big bowl of chips pictured above. Enjoy the crispy goodness of prawn chips the next time you are looking for a no-fuss snack!