Friday, June 28, 2013

Easy Zen Tomato Tarts

Zen Tomato Tarts

In the summer tomatoes are so delicious. Juicy, sweet and filled with flavor.  I grabbed some at the farmer's market last week and wanted to use them up by making these Tomato Tarts. I made 3 tarts; one with goat cheese, one with parmesian and one with some white cheddar. The thing that makes these so special is the seasoning. This month our challenge from the   The Fennel Friday Cooking Club (hosted is by The Pollen Ranch and Kimberly, at The Hungry Goddess.)  was to make a vegetable dish using The Pollen Ranch's Zen-Sational Seasoning Blend as an ingredient. We all post our recipes to the Fennel Friday group to share our recipes.  Head on over to check out the other delicious thing we all came up with!
These take about 10 minutes to make (not including the thawing time for the puff pastry and are baked and ready to eat in 30 minutes.  

These are perfect with a salad for a lunch or a light dinner or sliced up into small pieces as an appetizer. You can make them up to 2 hours ahead of when you want to serve them. They are just as good at room temperature as they are warm. 

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry- thawed
  • 3 large tomatoes. I used Roma
  • 1 tsp of Zen-Sational Seasoning blend
  • 2 tbs basil chopped of chiffonaded ( fancy way of saying cut into thin little strips) I use scissors!
  • 1/2 cup of the cheese or cheeses of your choice. 
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ยบ
  2. Unroll the puff pastry sheet and cut into 3 strips
  3. Place the strips onto a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet
  4. With a sharp knife, cut just into the top part of the puff pastry all the way around leaving about 1/3 of an inch between the score line and the edges

  5. Tomato Tart from fact woman & buttercream lane Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane
  6. With a fork, prick holes all over the center of sheet staying inside the score lines- this keeps the center part from puffing up while allowing the edges to rise up
  7. Brush the center with some olive oil
  8. Slice the tomatoes up into thin slices and chop up the basil
  9. Arrange the basil pieces evenly over the pastry

  10. Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane
  11. Sprinkle each strip evenly with 1/3-1/2 tsp of Zen-Sational Seasoning
  12. Arrange the tomatoes in a line down the middle
  13. Top the tomatoes with 2-3 TBS of the cheese of your choice.
  14. Place them into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Serve these warm or at room temperature.  
    Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane

The Zen-Sational blend is made up of Pollen Ranch Fennel Pollen, Sumac, Sesame Seeds, Orange Peel, Ginger, Fleur de Sel (Sea Salt), Yellow Curry, Savory Leaf,  and Cayenne. It is not hot but adds a lovely earthy warmth to the tomatoes!  It's a perfect blend!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Minute Summer Pasta for a Fast & Easy Dinner.

In the summer I don't really feel like cooking.  I just want a fast and easy dinner recipe that's healthy and not too heavy. This dish fits the bill. It takes only 10 minutes to prepare - 20 if you count waiting for the water to boil. It's filled with colorful tomatoes, basil, arugula, spinach, garlic and feta and only gets one pot dirty. You don't even cook the sauce! You throw all the "sauce" ingredients into a bowl then add the hot pasta. The heat from the pasta warms up the tomatoes, basil and greens perfectly.  Enjoy this delicious dish warm for dinner tonight and chilled for lunch tomorrow.
10 Minute Summer Pasta for a Fast and Easy Dinner

  • 1 pound of campanella, penne or any shape pasta you'd like. 
  • 6 large roma tomatoes or 4 large regular tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic crushed and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil leaves or 1 TBS of  Gourmet Garden Basil.
  • 2 cups of super greens or spinach and or arugula
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1- 1 1/2 tsp of salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano or italian herb blend

  • 1 TBS kosher salt for the pasta water

    1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a full  boil with 1 TBS kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp regular salt in the water
    2. Add Pasta to the water and cook for the recommended time until al dente 
    3. While the pasta cooks- Cut up the tomatoes into bite size pieces and place into a large serving bowl. Leave room to toss it all together- unlike the one in my picture!
    4. Add the chopped basil and the greens to the bowl
    5. Add the feta to the bowl
    6. 10 Minute Summer Pasta- Fast and Easy
    7. In another small bowl - or you can just dump it on top of the pasta. 
    8. Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, pepper and herbs together. 
    9. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the bowl right on top of the tomatoes, greens and feta.

    10. 10 Minute Summer Pasta Fast and Easy
    11. Pour the oil blend on top and toss to combine. 
    12. Serve with some warm bread and you're already done! 

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Sour Cream Potato Salad, Mayonnaise Free, with the taste of a baked potato!

    Potato Salad is a classic, American, summertime favorite. There's just one problem with it, it has tons of mayonnaise and gotta say, I'm not a fan and neither are most of my kids. As I was topping baked potatoes the other day it struck me that I could use sour cream instead of the mayo to make a potato salad with. I'm sure people have been doing this for years and years and it's nothing new but it was new to me. That wonderful taste of a baked potato in a salad! What more could I want? Nothing! Plus, the light sour cream I use (Daisy) has half the calories and a quarter of the fat that mayo has which is a bonus in my book!  Since I was going with the whole baked potato idea I combined some of the flavors of regular potato salad and the flavors of a baked potato and this is what I came up with.

    Sour Cream Potato Salad
    Note: Some people may like a super slimy creamy potato salad- if you're one of those people, double the dressing recipe for the same 2 pounds of potatoes to get that effect. We don't like it very creamy but you can make it any way you want. Some people also may want to add 2 chopped up hard boiled eggs to this recipe, if you're into that kind of thing, go for it.

    Sour Cream Potato Salad from buttercream lane and fact woman

    Ingredients- Makes enough for 4-6 servings
    • 2 pounds small red potatoes cut into small cubes
    • 4 sliced of bacon cooked and crumbled
    • 3 green onions (scallions) sliced very thin the white and the tender greens
    • 4-5 stalks of celery diced
    • 2 TBS chopped Dill or use 1 tsp of the  Dill- Gourmet Garden Herbs in a tube 
    • 3/4- 1 cup low fat sour cream
    • 2 TBS yellow or spicy brown prepared mustard
    • 2 TBS lemon juice or 1 TBS vinegar (optional if you don't want to use relish) I like a little acid in my salad
    • 1 tsp salt or to taste 
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp pepper to taste
    • 3 TBS pickle relish (optional) 

    1. Cut up the red potatoes. place in a large pan and cover with water. I usually add about a tsp of salt to the water. 
    2. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, once they are boiling reduce heat to med and cook until potatoes are tender when stabbed with a fork. You don't want crunchy potatoes or mashed potatoes so  check every 5 mins. It will take about 20-30 minutes. 
    3. Pour potatoes into a colander and drain well. If you're in a hurry to serve this and want it cold, you can dump them into a bowl of ice water for 5 mins and that will chill them faster. 
    4. While the potatoes cool down or even while they cook make the dressing. 
      1. Into a small bowl add the sour cream, mustard, lemon juice/vinegar or pickle relish, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. 
      2. Cook and crumble up the bacon- Set aside
      3. Chop the green onions, celery and dill*
      4. Add the onions, celery and dill to the dressing
    5. Once the potatoes are cooled, place them into a large bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Stir until the potatoes are coated. 
    6. You can actually serve this warm or chilled. We had it both ways and it was delicious either way. If you like it chilled it will take about 3-4 hours to get it good and cold. This also allows the flavors to meld together. 
    7. Just before serving sprinkle the bacon over the top or stir it in if you're like me. 
    sour cream potato salad from buttercream lane and fact woman

    *Let me share my thoughts on Gourmet Garden Herbs. They come in a tube found by the fresh herbs at the grocery store and you store them in your refrigerator or freezer. Now that all my kids are gone, my husband and I can't use up a ton of fresh herbs before they go bad. It's reality. Even when my kids were all at home, I had trouble using herbs up sometimes or I'd need herbs for a recipe and wouldn't have them. I wish I'd had these. My daughter, Laura, introduced them to me. I now always have the Garlic, Basil and Dill on hand. They last about 3 months in the fridge but I do use them up faster than that. Plus bonus they don't smell up the refrigerator. They are easy and delicious, just squeeze and stir them in!  They have no idea I'm talking about their product but I really do like them. Do I still buy fresh herbs- yes for some things but for everyday cooking these are so easy and taste so good! I love that!

    Wednesday, June 05, 2013

    Summer Grilled Corn Salad with Feta

    Summer Grilled Corn Salad with Feta
    Fresh Corn is one of my favorite things during the summer. The crisp snap as you bite into the sweet kernels just makes me happy.  There's nothing like it. I always make at least 4 extra ears of corn when we have it and hope that there are leftovers. I use the leftover corn to make corn fritters for breakfast or to make a summer salad like this. Cook once and get two meals out of it is my summer montra.

    Summer Grilled Corn Salad with Feta

    When we grill, I always grill some extra vegetables or meat for another meal. Grill while the grill is hot!! Last week I grilled stuff for that dinner, fennel for a pizza I wanted to make and some extra vegetables for this salad.

    In addition to the grilled corn for this salad, I added some grilled zucchini and some cherry tomatoes. I had some feta so I threw some of that in and topped it all off with a light vinaigrette. It would have been great with some blue cheese crumbles instead of the feta  and with some fresh basil chopped up but I was out!



    • The kernels cut off of 4- 6 ears of grilled or cooked corn
    • 1 zucchini cooked and cut up into small pieces
    • 3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes 
    • 1/4 cup of chopped basil leaves- Optional
    • 1/3 cup of crumbled feta or blue cheese

    Dressing- This dressing is a play on my good friend Kathy's. She makes this dressing with 2 TBS sugar for spinach and strawberry salad and it's delicious. I cut the sweetness for this corn salad but it is a great salad dressing recipe! 

    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 dash of hot sauce- like Cholula
    • 2 teaspoons sugar   

     Whisk all ingredients together and pour over the salad. This can be done ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld together.
    Summer Grilled Corn Salad with Feta
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