July 4th

Friday, March 18, 2011

The. Best. Tomatoes. Ever

 Okay. Maybe not the best ever. Its hard to beat the taste of a mid summer, vine ripened garden tomato. But, these babies are the best out of season tomatoes you will ever eat!! Its hard to believe that paring barely edible grape tomatoes with just a few pantry ingredients together in the oven for several hours get you this fantastically flavorful treat! I love to serve these on toasted french bread (drizzle thinly sliced french bread with olive oil and toast in a 350 degree oven until lightly brown and crunchy) with just a little crumbled goat cheese. Heaven in your mouth!!

cherry or grape tomatoes
whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh coarse ground black pepper
fresh herbs, chopped, if using (I like to use rosemary or thyme)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place them in a large bowl along with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, enough to coat them well. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped herbs if using.

Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on the prepared pan. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and season again if needed.


Roast in the oven for 2 ½ -3 hours, or until tomatoes are shriveled with just a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes. Allow to cool enough to handle and then pop the garlic cloves out of their skin.

You can eat them right away or place them in an airtight container with a little extra olive oil and refrigerate. They will keep for a few weeks, but mine never last more than a day or two!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Get your beads baby!!

Bill and I spent some time in New Orleans, pre-Katrina and I fell in love with the city. The culture, the food, the architecture, the music, the people...well with the exception of the very scary voodoo priestess who grabbed me in the mall bathroom and preceded to tell me I smelled of cancer and was about to die. Yeah...

We stayed in a beautiful hotel on Bourbon Street and I was amazed when, on a Thursday night at 5 pm sharp, the police blocked the street off to traffic and the party began. And lasted all night! Streets back open to traffic again at 5am. This happens every night of the week. Amazing.

There are a few things you won't go without while visiting New Orleans. Music. Alcohol. Food. Every where you turn there is an open door with Creole or Zydeco music pouring out. Every business down Bourbon street seemed to have a walk up bar serving the “Best Hurricanes Around”. You never left a restaurant hungry. Two of the most popular offerings I remember were gumbo and Hurricanes. Even the McDonalds sold these NOLA specialties!
In honor of Fat Tuesday, I wanted to try to make these for the family, well the gumbo anyway! The Hurricanes are just for mommy and daddy!!
So, gather up your beads, its Mardi Gras baby!!

Hurricane Heather


6 ounces amaretto liqueur
4 ounces light rum
4 ounces dark rum
4 ounces coconut rum (I prefer Malibu)
24 ounces orange juice
24 ounces pineapple juice
4 teaspoons lemon juice
grenadine syrup, to taste
1 orange, sliced into rounds or wedges
maraschino cherries
In a large pitcher, mix the amaretto, rums and juices. Stir in grenadine syrup to your taste. Pour over ice and garnish with orange and cherries. Enjoy!!

Zydeco Gumbo
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast
halves-cup into bite size pieces
1 pound andouille sausage links, cut into bite size pieces (or sub any spicy sausage link)
1 cup olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 quarts chicken broth
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
6 stalks celery, diced
4 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with
green chile peppers, with liquid
2 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Cajun seasoning
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined


Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat, and cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Stir in sausage, and cook until evenly browned. Drain chicken and sausage, and set aside.
In a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat, blend olive oil and flour to create a roux. Stir constantly until browned and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. (This is a very important step. Don't skip it! The longer the roux cooks the more flavorful your gumbo will be.) Mix in garlic, and cook about 1 minute.
Gradually stir chicken broth and beer into the roux mixture. Bring to a boil, and mix in celery, tomatoes, sweet onion, diced tomatoes, jalapenos peppers, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring often.
Mix chicken, sausage, and shrimp into the broth mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp is thoroughly cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes.

Serve over hot white rice.  Enjoy!! And remember to throw some beads to your cook!! ;-)