Cheesy Cherry Tomato Tart with a Basil-Garlic Crust

Today I am sharing one of my favorite summer-time recipes – a cherry tomato tart. I have been making this recipe every summer for the last eleven years now, and we always enjoy it so much. Tonight I made it and I topped it for the first time with crumbled bacon. I highly recommend adding bacon if you are a bacon lover!

I began cooking this cherry tomato tart because we used to have a garden that would produce tons of tomatoes. I had to figure out creative ways to use the tomatoes in our meals, even though just eating them off the vines was always enjoyable! We no longer have a garden, so I purchase a container of cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes for this recipe.

The crust on this tart is made with basil and garlic and the flavor is incredible. The tart is then topped with lots of yummy cheese and tomatoes, then baked until the cheese is bubbly. It’s like a pizza, but better. If you so desire, you can top it with some crumbled sausage or bacon. We like both, but we especially love the bacon! Enjoy.

Recipe for Cherry Tomato Tart with a Basil-Garlic Crust

INGREDIENTS:

For the basil-garlic crust:
1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of salt
8 Tbsp. of cold butter, cut into 8 pieces (I put butter in freezer for about 15 minutes before using)
5 Tbsp. of ice cold water

For the filling:
10 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 10 pieces
1/2 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced thin
A dash or two of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. of Extra-Virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. of fresh basil leaves, torn in small pieces

DIRECTIONS:
For the basil-garlic crust:
Put the fresh basil leaves and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse the food processor until the basil and garlic are very finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spoon as necessary. Add in the flour and salt to the bowl of the processor. Pulse very briefly to just combine. Add in the cold pieces of butter. Pulse about 10 times, until the mixture looks coarse and crumby (crumbs should be about the size of peas). Add 3 Tbsp. of the ice cold water to the mixture and pulse to incorporate. Add 1 more Tbsp. of the water and let the processor run. If the mixture does not leave the sides and form into a ball quickly, add the remaining water. Once the mixture turns into a ball, take the dough out and flatten into a disc. Wrap tightly in saran wrap or place in a sealed Ziploc bag and place in the fridge for 45 minutes before handling.

While the dough is in the fridge, slice the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Add a dash of salt to the tomatoes and stir gently. Add another dash of salt if necessary and stir again. This is done in order to try to get as much moisture out of the tomatoes as possible. Give them a stir several times prior to using them in the tart.

After dough has sat in the fridge, transfer it to  *lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart or pie pan and press dough up onto the sides. Prick the dough all over with a fork, making sure not to go all the way through. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake at 425 for 15 – 17 minutes, making sure to watch and prick with a fork as needed if the dough is rising up. Remove the pan from the oven and lower the temperature to 375 degrees.

**I actually just press the dough into the pie pan and work with my hands to evenly cover the bottom of the pan and press the dough up the sides.

For the filling:
Layer the the crust with the mozzarella slices. Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the mozzarella in a single layer. Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the 1 Tbsp. of olive oil over the tomatoes. Top evenly with the grated Parmesan cheese and torn basil leaves.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees, then rotate the pan 180 degrees in the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes. If using bacon, about five minutes before the tart finishes cooking, add two to three pieces of cooked and crumbled bacon evenly over the tart, then return tart to oven to continue cooking. Let the tart sit for a few minutes to cool before cutting and serving. Yummy!

Recipe Adapted from: Annie’s Eats

Baked Zucchini Cakes

Greg absolutely loves these baked zucchini cakes. In fact, he was the one who told me that I should share this recipe on my previous blog and I know he wants to make sure it gets on this new blog, too. I am glad I had saved this recipe because it is a meal that we all enjoy. I had never really considered making something like these before, but when we used to have a garden, we would grow different vegetables. One year, our garden produced so much zucchini. We could not keep up with all of it! We were picking about two zucchinis per day out of the garden that summer. For some reason, that was the only summer that we had such success with the zucchinis! Every night that summer, I tried to think of new ways to use the zucchini in recipes. One thing that I loved making was zucchini bread. One week, I had baked six loaves of zucchini bread with all the zucchini I was picking! That is when I came to the realization that I should be a little more adventurous and tried this recipe out. I like the zucchini cakes with melted fresh mozzarella cheese and a little Sriracha sauce for dipping. Greg recommends eating them with a gallon of ketchup. The zucchini cakes are a healthy enough meal and they are filling. Enjoy!

Recipe for Baked Zucchini Cakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium zucchini, grated with a box cutter
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 8 crushed saltine crackers for the mixture, plus about 16 more for coating the cakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • A dash or two of Sriracha sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder

DIRECTIONS

Put the grated zucchini in a colander and carefully set it on top of a bowl so that the zucchini can drain. Add a little bit of coarse sea salt and gently mix. Let the grated zucchini drain for about an hour, tossing occasionally. About a cup of water from the zucchini should be in the bowl. After an hour, use your hands to squeeze out any excess moisture.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan.

Put the bread crumbs, 8 crushed crackers, red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper Sriracha sauce, and beaten egg into a bowl and mix. Add in the grated zucchini and mix again. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and mix well. Use your hands to form the mixture into 6 – 8 zucchini cakes. Try to make them the same size and thickness. Put the remaining crushed crackers onto a plate. Coat each side of the zucchini cakes with the crackers. Crush more crackers if needed for coating. Place the zucchini cakes on the baking pan. Put in the oven and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, then remove from oven and carefully turn over each one (use a spatula and make sure to keep them in tact). Place back in oven and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Serving suggestions: Serve with ketchup or another dipping sauce. Serve on a toasted and lightly buttered bun with fresh mozzarella cheese.

Original Recipe

The Mighty Zucchini -This thing was made in our garden.
Great in desserts, great in your dinner, great as a side vegetable!

Crispy Honey & Sriracha Tofu Tacos

Tacos are the best! You can make them in so many different ways so that you are able to please everyone. These vegetarian crispy honey sriracha tofu tacos with a cucumber mango salsa are so amazingly delicious and satisfying!

My sister and her family live in a suburb of San Francisco, but they used to live in the city. When we would visit them in the city, we would enjoy lunch at their favorite place, La Taqueria, in the Mission District of the city. That is where I learned about how much variety there are in tacos, as I had grown up on the ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato taco!

These delicious tacos are topped with cucumber-mango salsa, mashed avocado, and extra Sriracha sauce.  When I first tried the recipe, I really was a little skeptical about tofu in my tacos, and I was truly amazed at how well they turned out. Even if you are not a vegetarian, I am pretty sure you will find these tacos to be quite tasty. Enjoy!

Recipe for Crispy Honey & Sriracha Tofu Tacos

INGREDIENTS

For the Cucumber-Mango Salsa
1 large, ripe mango, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and with the seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (with seeds removed)
Juice from 1/2 lime (save the other half for the avocado)
1/2 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper

For the tofu
12 ounces extra firm tofu, drained well, patted with a paper towel, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (plus a little more for adding to taco)
2 Tbsp. honey (plus a little more for drizzling)
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. of cornmeal
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper – about 1/8 tsp.
3/4 tsp. Ancho chile powder
1/8 tsp. of sweet smoked paprika
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Soft taco corn tortillas, Avocado, Full Fat Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the cucumber mango salsa. Toss the cucumber, mango, jalapeno, shallot, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Cover and place in fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees. Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Rub a very small amount of olive oil all over each side and sprinkle one side with a pinch of fine sea salt. Set aside.

Put the tofu in a large bowl. Mix together the honey and Sriracha sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the tofu, and gently toss to coat well.

In another bowl, mix together the cornmeal, Panko breadcrumbs, flour, salt, pepper, chili powder, and sweet smoked paprika. Then pour 1/3 of the cornmeal mixture over the tofu, and toss gently. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, toss again. Finish with the remaining mixture and toss again to coat the tofu well. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Then carefully add in the tofu. Cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes, then gently stir and flip over, a few at a time, until all pieces have been flipped. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes more, then gently stir again. Continue to cook and gently toss until tofu is crisped up on all sides. Add in a drizzle or two of honey, and stir. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the tofu with salt and pepper.

While the tofu is cooking, place the tortillas in the heated oven. Cook for a few minutes, then flip. You want the tortillas to be a little crispy, but not hard. You want a very light crisp so that they still fold well without breaking. That is why it is important to buy good tortillas!

While the tofu and tortillas are finishing up, mash up the avocado. Squeeze lime juice over the avocado, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Assemble the tacos. Top each warm tortilla with desired amount of tofu, cucumber-mango salsa, avocado, and Greek yogurt. Add a squeeze of Sriracha sauce, if desired.

Recipe makes approximately 6  – 8 tacos. 

Tofu taco recipe adapted from: The Woks of Life
Cucumber-Mango salsa adapted from:  Oh My Veggies 

Cheese Tortellini Soup with Chickpeas, Sundried Tomato, and Artichoke

Cold weather means that it is time to eat more soup! This cheese tortellini soup is super yummy and flavorful. There are no onions, garlic, or salt in the recipe! The first time that I made it, Greg told me it would be nice if I had prosciutto or some other type of meat to add to it. However, once he had his first bite, he did not miss the meat at all!

Not only does this soup taste incredible, but it is also so simple to make. It requires minimal chopping (just the sun dried tomatoes) and barely any cook time. You can probably make it from start to finish in less than 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Recipe for Cheese Tortellini Soup with Chickpeas, Sundried Tomato, & Artichoke

INGREDIENTS

7 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (use vegetable to make the soup vegetarian)
3/4 cup of thinly sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained of the oil (reserve 2 tsp.)
1 9 – 10 ounce package of refrigerated cheese-filled tortellinis
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
1 8.5 ounce can of chopped artichoke hearts in water, drained (do not use marinated artichokes)
3/4 cup of half and half or light cream
3/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Baby spinach leaves (for topping)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)

DIRECTIONS

Put the broth into a dutch oven and set over high heat. Bring the broth to a boil and then add in the sun dried tomatoes and tortellini. Boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to medium low. Add in the chickpeas, artichokes, reserved sun dried tomato oil, half and half, crush red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with desired amount of baby spinach leaves and stir. Then top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with your favorite crusty bread, if desired.

Recipe makes about 8 servings
Recipe Adapted from: Foodie Crush 

Greek Pizza with a Cornmeal Crust

Greg got me a pizza stone for Christmas one year. Before receiving the pizza stone, I always wondered why my pizza crusts would NEVER work out to my liking. Well, the answer is that I had never hadused a pizza stone. What a difference it makes! It helps to cook the pizza evenly, and it helps to extract moisture (from cheese, toppings, etc.) When I had used a baking sheet to cook pizzas, the moisture from cheese would seep into the crust and it would become a soggy mess.

The very first (and second) pizza I made with the stone was a Greek pizza. The pizza starts with a cornmeal crust, then it is spread with an olive oil & roasted garlic sauce, and it is topped with feta cheese, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, arugula, and spices. It is absolutely amazing!

Recipe for Greek Pizza with a Cornmeal Crust

INGREDIENTS

For the crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2/3 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Put the warm water in a liquid measuring cup. Add yeast and sugar and let sit for ten minutes until a bit bubbly. Put flour, cornmeal, and kosher salt into a food processor and pulse together. Slowly add in the olive oil. With the food processor running, slowly add in the water/yeast mixture through the feed tube. When it forms into a ball, stop and divide the dough into two even pieces. Wrap one piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for another use. Place the other piece of dough in a bowl coated with olive oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a  warm moist towel. Put somewhere warm  (like on top of the warm oven while the garlic is roasting). Let the dough rise for about an hour.

For the roasted garlic & olive oil sauce
2 large heads of garlic, with much of the skin peeled off
5 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
a pinch of lemon zest (optional)
1/8 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper
a pinch of red pepper flakes
6 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped small

Line a baking sheet with foil. Pour a couple tablespoons of the olive oil on the foil. Place garlic on top of foil. Place in an oven heated to 375 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then use your hands to squeeze the garlic out into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, forming a bit of a paste while doing so. Set aside.

For topping & assembling
3 – 4 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
5 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
10 – 12 kalamata olives, sliced thin
3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, sliced small
A handful or two of arugula leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
Dried Oregano
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper flakes

Preheat pizza stone according to manufacturer’s directions (most stones need to be at 500 for thirty minutes).

After the dough has risen, place it on an inverted baking sheet dusted generously with cornmeal. Spread out the dough to make a thinnish crust. Drizzle the dough with the roasted garlic & olive oil sauce, spreading evenly. Then top with most of the mozzarella cheese, add the feta cheese, add the olives and sun dried tomato, add a little more mozzarella, then add the arugula. Drizzle the arugula with a little olive oil and then top the pizza with a sprinkle of dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

Once pizza stone is ready, carefully slide the pizza onto the stone (leave stone in oven). Cook for about 6 – 7 minutes, or until crust is done and cheese is melted. Remove the pizza from the oven, let cool for a minute, slice and serve.
Greg & I enjoy our pizza with a small arugula salad topped with olives, feta, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Cornmeal crust recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Sweet Potato Tacos

I love all kinds of tacos! My sister and brother-in-law are both vegetarian, so these sweet potato tacos are a great meal for when they come to visit.

I first had sweet potato tacos at Paladar Restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland. They were so good that I asked for the recipe from Paladar, and the executive chef sent me a version of the recipe. I have made them several times and they never disappoint. Enjoy!

Recipe for Sweet Potato Tacos

INGREDIENTS

  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and then diced in 1/4-inch cubes
  • 4  hearts of palm stalks from a can, cut lengthwise and then sliced in to desired size 
  • 1 can of pinto beans or great white northern beans, drained well
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • For the tomatillo salsa:
  • 6 fresh tomatillos, husked
  • 1/4 of one bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion OR 1 – 2 thin slices of a jalapeno pepper
    1 lime, juiced
  • For the toppings:
  • Red cabbage
  • Chopped Chives
    8 – 10 soft tortillas (6-inch/taco size)

DIRECTIONS

Make tomatillo salsa first. Place tomatillos, cilantro, and onion in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it is to salsa consistency. Pour in to a bowl, squeeze in the lime juice, cover and put in fridge for an hour. In a bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, hearts of palm, 2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place the potato mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes (until potatoes are done). Put the rest of the olive oil in to a large skillet. Heat oil, then add potato mixture and pinto beans to the skillet. Add in some salt, pepper, and the 2 tsp. of cinnamon. Saute until the beans and potatoes are warmed through, then remove pan from heat. Heat tortillas in a microwave for 20 – 25 seconds. Build your own tacos. Put sweet potato mixture down the middle of the tortilla, then top with cabbage, chives, and tomatillo salsa. Serve with mango and avocado salad (recipe to be posted soon). Enjoy!

Eggs Baked in Avocado

Eggs baked in an avocado. Eggs baked in an avocado. Eggs baked in an avocado. Go make it! Cut an avocado in half, take out the pit, squeeze in some lime juice, crack in the eggs, bake, and top! I cannot believe I waited so long to try out this meal. I had told myself over and over again that I was going to try it and glad I finally did. Now eggs baked in an avocado is a go to meal. Eggs and avocado are both considered brain food, and I need all the brain food I can get these days. The first time I tried it out, I liked it, but I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. I think I liked the idea of eating it because it is so healthy, and since it is super healthy, I kept making it for myself. Now I am completely passionate about eggs baked inside of avocados. It is easy to make, low carb, high protein, filled with Omega 3s, gluten-free, well, you get the idea. So stop dragging your feet, and go make yourself some eggs baked in an avocado! You will thank me one day for telling you to try it. Enjoy.

Recipe for Eggs Baked in Avocado

INGREDIENTS

Eggs baked in avocado. Just do it.

1 Hass avocado (any size, I’ve been using smallish ones lately), cut into half lengthwise with pit removed
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, salt & pepper
Sriracha sauce
Fresh Herbs (thyme, dill, parsley, whatever you want)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Scoop out some of the avocado from each half so that there is enough room for the egg in each. Squeeze desired amount of lime juice over each avocado half. Sprinkle each  with salt and pepper. Crack one egg into one half of the avocado. Don’t worry if some of the white runs out, you just want to make sure the yolk is in the avocado. Crack another egg into the other half of the avocado. Place in oven and bake for 12 – 14 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks. Make sure the egg whites are set and not runny, though! Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil and sriracha sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh herbs.
Grab a fork or spoon and dig in (make sure you only eat the fruit of the avocado and the eggs – discard the peel)!

Recipe Adapted from: Serious Eats

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