Saturday, September 11, 2010

So...I started a blog! I guess I'm behind the times; it seems most people already have a blog - maybe more than one - on which they post the goings-on of their daily lives, however mundane or fascinating. Personally, I have this habit of snapping a photo or two (or 3 or 4 or ...) of the food I make and eat: in my kitchen, someone else's kitchen, a restaurant - I don't discriminate. So I thought (well, credit where it's due, KEVIN thought) a spot for all my food ventures might be nice. If not nice for others, at least for me: a place to keep track and post a few of the photos I snap as I'm buzzing around my kitchen.

I suppose nothing truly epic has come out of my kitchen; just yummy, simple things that most people like when they try them. From omelets to 'souped up' brownies; something thrown-together to simmer in the Crock-Pot all day, or some new dinner creation I whip up to relax (yes, cooking can be relaxing if not at least distracting) after work - maybe with an unexpected ingredient or a twist on an original. I just enjoy cooking and I especially enjoy it when others are happy with it, too.

So now for my first recipe post (drum roll, please), I present tonight's dinner: 

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

There is absolutely nothing glamorous or out of the ordinary about tonight's dinner. Having admitted that, I will say it is simply delicious and homey and comforting which is draw enough to bring it into my kitchen. I made it once before (ages ago) and have been craving it for days!

I started with 6 large tomatoes - I suppose they are called Beefsteak or Hothouse? The kind real chefs might turn up their noses to (the bastard cousin of the tomato family), but they suit this use quite well. I wash them, dry them, then cap them and scoop the flesh out with a large spoon (keep this for later). After sprinkling a little salt into each of the newly minted caverns, turn them upside down on a cooling rack over your kitchen sink to help drain just enough of the excess juices.
tomato! ready to be salted.

While the tomatoes are draining, prep the filling. I start with an onion, yellow this time, cut into medium-small-ish dices and then soften in a pan with olive oil and a touch of butter. NOTE: I find that a combination of the 2 fats brings a little more flavor but also keeps the onion (or whatever) from cooking too fast or burning - olive oil has a lower smoke-point than butter (check out this handy chart). Once the onion is soft-ish, add about a pound of ground turkey - or any meat of your choice (ground sirloin is nice, too) - and brown. Remove from heat.

While this is happening, cook one cup of rice - any rice really, but jasmine is the hands-down favorite in our house. The flavor and aroma are undeniably top shelf. Once it's cooked, mix in about 1 cup (or to taste I suppose) of grated Cheddar cheese.

my pot of Jasmine bubbling away

Combine the turkey and rice mixtures and add the following:

- 1 can green peas (or a small bag of frozen, which is a better-quality choice but I only had a can in the house today)
- The diced flesh of about 3-4 of the aforementioned tomatoes or more if you want
- Kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper (pre-ground and packaged pepper is inferior, folks! Stop using it!)
- Really any fresh herb of choice; for me this is basil since I have an abundance of it right now - I snipped about 15 small leaves into the mix
grown and picked in my own yard. nothing beats it.

Mix thoroughly. The rice likes to stick to itself so just make sure there aren't any excessively-large clumps of rice, the seasonings are well distributed and you should be good to go. Go ... into the tomatoes, that is.

(oh, and your oven should be preheated to 350 at this point)

Stuff the tomatoes as full as you can with the yummy filling (don't you just love the sound of the cheesy ricey mixture as you spoon it into the tomatoes?). Place all the tomatoes into a baking dish large enough to accommodate them. My largest baking dish was rather too large though so I went down a size and then put the remaining two tomatoes into their own individual ramekins. Kevin wanted me to do this so he had his own personal dish and I aim to please! Actually I think it might be a nice way to present this as dinner for guests ...

all mixed up and ready to be tomatoed

Anyway, just before putting them into the oven I sprinkled some of the grated cheese on top of each. When it comes out it's perfectly brown. Bake for about 40 minutes and let them cool for a few minutes. (I have a tiny bit of filling left over this time which is a perfectly delish treat all on it's own while I'm waiting on dinner!)

I also found a lonely green pepper in my fridge and decided to bake him up, too. I remember growing up on stuffed peppers - my brother asked for them as his birthday dinner every year, but we had them other times, too. Soo yummy.
Let them cool for a few minutes before digging in, obviously, unless you don't care if your tongue is scalded. You could make a salad or something to go with but this time they were great all on their own.

Mine was eaten with Kevin in front of the TV watching the 'Dexter' season 3 opener, which made it even tastier. ;)

ready to eat!



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