This salad is the perfect dose of summer. I’ve always had a thing for roasted tomatoes, and being able to do it with heirlooms is even better. And fried halloumi? Oh man, it’s like feta but even better.  …And really, thinking about this more, this could also be a great grilled cheese. 

The best thing I can recommend for this herb wise is to use whatever you have either in your garden, or whatever’s cheapest at the farmer’s market that week. I used oregano, basil, and mint from my garden.

Roasted Tomato and Halloumi Salad
Lasts 3 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • olive oil, sea salt, and pepper
  • 1 block halloumi cheese
  • 1/3 c fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano, basil, and mint)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place your tomato slices on the sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Roast for twenty minutes, until wrinkly (see pic 2). 

Place a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and heat over medium high heat. Slice your block of halloumi into about six even slices, and add to the pan, frying until golden brown on each side (about three to five minutes). 

Combine the roasted tomatoes and halloumi, toss with the herbs, and enjoy the mouthgasm.

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This is the start of the garden for this year – I finally decided to use the front wired off space, as no one seemed to be using it, and with the exception of a few smaller herbs from one of my neighbors, it is just me.

So far, except for the strawberries, which haven’t shown up at the market yet in the form I want to plant them, this is likely gonna be my final garden. I might add another oregano and peppermint, or marjoram, and maybe another cherry tomato plant, but for the most part, I’m happy with what I’ve got going.

The back wall is herbs, either in planters or in the cinder blocks. In order, l to r, there are: peppermint, African blue basil, Genovese basil, chocolate mint (in the orange pot) and Greek oregano. In between the Genovese basil and the chocolate mint, there’s what I’m pretty sure is a lavender plant, and overthrowing most of the garden, what I’m 99% sure is coriander. Can anyone confirm?

The front row are my veggies: l to r, there are cherry tomatoes, two bell peppers (red and orange), and a large tomato plant (husky reds).

All of these are two to three weeks in my care now, and doing spectacularly; the herbs are growing and flowering, and all the veggies are flowering (in the case of the cherry tomato, already putting out small fruits).

If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Again, one of the few times that I will bother with breakfast as a thing will always be the weekend, for the simple fact that I will have more time to devote to it. However, if making breakfast on the weekend can translate into something that allows me to reheat it during the week and enjoy it, then you can’t go wrong.  And as it turns out, you can reheat the toast soldiers here, and make the soft eggs ahead too, so that’s pretty awesome. As such, I now have breakfast for the better part of the week. 😀

I will give you my tips below for making soft boiled eggs, and they’ve pretty consistently turned out wonderful when I’ve made them this way. That combined with the toast soldiers (which I’m pretty sure are a British thing? not sure) make a perfect, easy, hearty breakfast.

Soft Eggs with Buttery Herb-Gruyere Toast Soldiers
Makes 3 – 4 breakfasts

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette sourdough bread, cut into toast soldiers (I cut the baguette into fifths, and then cut that into thirds (and if appropriate, sixths)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 t dijon mustard
  • 2/3 c shredded gruyere cheese (I used shredded Grand Cru cheese) 
  • 2 T grated romano cheese
  • mixture of herbs (I used parsley, thyme, oregano, and marjoram, along with salt and pepper, in varying quantities)
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 400 (375, if it runs hot). Take your baguette, segment it, and cut it into toast soldiers (aka bread fingers); I took my baguette, sliced it into fifths, and then cut the baguette into thirds (and if it was the bigger baguette, cut it further into sixths). Melt your butter, and whisk it together with the dijon, adding the herbs afterwards.  Take the butter/dijon/herb mixture and spread it over the soldiers, tossing to coat them completely.  Then, spread the coated soldiers on a baking sheet, and sprinkle both cheese over them.  Put the soldiers in the oven, and bake for twenty minutes, until golden brown. 

While your soldiers are baking, make your soft boiled eggs, using the method detailed here. In short, bring a small pot of water and 1 T white vinegar to a boil, add your four eggs, boil for six minutes, and put into ice water.  Peel your eggs (if they’re cracked, it’s okay, that’ll make it easier).

Take some of your toast soldiers, and at least one (or two) of your peeled soft eggs, and split them over the soldiers.  And then, enjoy your breakfast!

This update bought to you from my father’s kitchen!  I cooked our dinner yesterday (roast beef, mediterranean baked feta, and maple dijon asparagus), and the only new recipe I bought out for this was these potatoes.  They’re absolutely fantastic, and pretty quick and simple to make – just be careful, though, as these have hella salt in them.  

New York Salt Potatoes
Serves 4 or so

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs unpeeled baby/new red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 qts water
  • 1.5 c salt (kosher or fine sea salt, I used half of each)
  • 6 T butter, cut into 1 T pieces
  • Herbs (I went with oregano, parlsey, and thyme, all dried)
  • Pepper

Fill a pot with 2 qts of water, and stir in your cup and a half of salt.  Stir to dissolve some of the salt (don’t worry, the rest settles to the bottom), add your potatoes, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender (appx 20 minutes).  Drain the potatoes and let them dry for a bit, to crystallize the salt. Return to the burner and melt the butter and sprinkle the herbs over the potatoes, tossing to coat.  

Eat them immediately.  What are you waiting for?  EAT THEM.

Continuing the afternoon’s theme of using the oven for maximum deliciosity (yes, it’s a word), I give you these sexy things.  The smell while they were roasting is absolutely indescribable.  The combination of the juices, the herbs, the garlic, the oils and vinegars, and the inherent sexiness of roasted tomatoes and mushrooms pretty much make the perfect storm of awesome in this side.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Goat Cheese
Makes 4 side servings

Ingredients   

  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • ½ lb grape (or cherry) tomatoes
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 T balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • dash sea salt and black pepper
  • pinch herb of choice (I used dried oregano)
  • 3 oz goat cheese (I used garlic herb goat cheese)

Combine everything except your goat cheese in your baking dish, and heat your oven to 400 (mine’s at 375, you know the deal by now). Arrange in one layer and bake for 25 mins. You’ll know it’s done when you see juices in teh bottom of the pan, and the tomatoes will be a little wilted.  Turn off the heat, and remove the pan, and top with the goat cheese (put it on in shreds).  Put back in the oven, and let sit for five more minutes to melt the cheese.

You can eat it by itself, on top of bread, basically, any which way you want.  ^^

Garden progress, at about week #2!

l to r: Strawberry bucket, garlic pot #1, cherry tomatoes, garlic pot #2, mint pot (peppermint and chocolate mint), basil pot (genovese), onion pot (started about two days ago).

The idea here is to hopefully be able to use this to replace some of my grocery expenses, once they really get producing. The basil and strawberries, I’ll pretty much be able to use right away, once fully ripe (and the strawberries are everflowering, so I should have a good supply all throughout the summer). (Plus, once I get a few good ripe ones, I’ll show you my trick to keep strawberries ripe and fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks post picking.)  The cherry tomatoes and mint and garlic are definitely producing, but they’re not quite ripe, so they’ll be a bit of a delay. I can’t tell if the onion regrowth is working (you’re supposed to be able to stick the root end in after you cut it from the main veggie, and regrow in perpetua), but odds are with the amount of rain we’ve had we’ll know soon enough.

I’m going to check and see if there’s anything else I get on a regular basis that can be regrown from scraps/cuttings (laundry basket potatoes and ginger have been suggested), and may add from there.  But otherwise, yay gardening!

So, this blog’s inaugural post is Budget Bytes’ Tangy Tomato Pasta!  Honestly, part of the reason that I picked this recipe was because it’s super cheap (most of these things, except for feta and maybe the tomato paste, should probably already be in your pantry), and because it’s super quick (this took about fifteen minutes, tops). Great if you’re feeling lazy (or, in my case, throat achey), or if you’re running low close to payday. 

Also, a note: I cook for one, and I’ll try to give you an idea of how long recipes last me, instead of servings. If this is my first time cooking a recipe (which, in this case, it is), I’ll likely edit it after the fact.

Tangy Tomato Pasta
Lasts appx 5 meals

Ingredients

  • Pasta (whatever amount you have handy, and whatever you have in your pantry; alternatively, whatever’s cheapest)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Several cloves garlic, chopped (I tend to go a little heavier on the garlic; the recipe originally calls for one clove, can be done to taste)
  • Pinch dried basil, dried oregano, salt, rosemary, dried thyme, crushed red pepper (oops, forgot this), black pepper (you can go dried, ground, or fresh, whatever you have handy, really, for all of these)
  • 3 oz tomato paste (half a 6 oz can)
  • ½ t honey 
  • 3 oz feta (half a 6 oz package)

Boil a pot of water.  While you wait for it to reach a heavily rolling boil, in a separate skillet, turn the heat to medium to medium high, and combine the olive oil with the chopped garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, rosemary, dried thyme, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.  Stir, and wait for it to start sizzling, and then cook for one more minute.  Add the tomato paste, turn the heat down to medium, and stir and cook until the mixture is a few shades darker red (appx 2 mins).  Turn off the heat, and add the honey.  Once the pot is boiling, cook the pasta per the instructions, drain, and then add to the skillet and stir until the pasta is coated.  Add the feta (either 2 oz straight to the skillet and stir to combine, with the remainder for garnish, or just all of it to the skillet). 

And then, nom!