Sunday, July 31, 2011


More Sweet Banana Peppers in the garden. They are definitely the most prolific crop in the garden this year. It's been so hot and dry, no matter how much I water, some of the crops are just not responding. But the banana peppers grow and grow!

You've all most likely heard of Pepper Poppers? You know, those appetizers you can get in so many restaurants where a jalapeno or poblano pepper is stuffed with cheese and then baked to within an inch of it's life.

With all these peppers, it came to me that I could make a sort of Popper Dip! As it turns out, it's wonderful! All hot and bubbly, it's a fabulous dip for a party, or just for yourself. I've been dipping it on melba toasts or pita chips while I sip on a glass of wine and cook dinner. Mmmmm. Yummy

Basically I took a crab dip recipe I have, tweeked it a little and substituted the crab with sliced peppers. Play with the recipe -- add cumin -- leave out the curry - double the garlic - leave it out entirely - add a diced jalapeno. Make it your own by using ingredients and flavors you love!

Here's how I made it.

1 8 oz low fat cream cheese (DON'T use fat free - it's awful!**)
1/2 low fat or fat free sour cream
1 T curry
2 T fresh thyme
1/2 t. smoked or regular paprika
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 T hot sauce (or to taste)
pinch of red pepper flakes (more to taste or leave out entirely)
2 cloves fresh garlic finely minced
8 large banana peppers, seeded and sliced into thin rings
Salt to taste

In the microwave, soften the cream cheese so it will be easy to stir. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Put into a lightly greased oven safe dish and bake until bubbly - about 15 minutes or so. If you want to use the microwave cook on high for 3 - 4 minutes. Stir, and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes . Stir and cook for 3 - 4 minutes once more making sure the dip is nice and hot.

Transfer the dip into a nice bowl and serve hot with pita chips, tortilla chips, or crostini toasts. Your friends will love this! Enjoy!

** As I mentioned, don't use fat free cream cheese. I'm all for low fat and fat free products - I use them all the time. But fat free cream cheese tastes like paste! It's awful and there is nothing you can do to make it taste better. I once made a Boursin Cheese Dip out of it. I tried adding more garlic, more herbs, salt, I even added some soft butter to it to try to make it richer. Nothing worked. It still tasted like paste.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Lots of veggies picked today.
What to do? Make a fabulous vegetarian platter and add a beautiful piece of fish if you like!

Smoky Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Sliced 1 med zucchini and 2 med. yellow squash into halves and then into slices to get half moon pieces. Place in a bowl.Toss to coat with:
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 t salt
Saute in a hot skillet until just tender. Remove to a platter.

Sliced Radishes with Tarragon
3 cups of sliced radishes. Slice radishes into 1/2 inch circles. (The radishes I used happen to be a giant variety that look almost like a red carrot, but any kind of radish will work.
1 T. olive oil
1 T butter
1 t. salt
1 T. dried tarragon
Dash of agave syrup or honey - maybe 1 teaspoon.

Saute the radishes in the oil and butter until they are just tender. Add the salt and the dried tarragon and syrup or honey. Stir for 1 minute and the set aside on the platter.

Baby Spinach with Garlic

Wash about 5 cups of baby spinach leaves and drain well. Saute in a large skittle with
2 T. Olive oil,
2 T dried garlic
1/2 t. salt.
Saute until the spinach has given off most of its liquid and evaporates from the pan. Set aside on the platter.

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Chives
6 small red or white potatoes- cut into quarters
Boil until they are tender.
Drain the potatoes. Add:
1/2 c. non fat canned milk
1 T butter
2 - 3 T. Greek Yogurt
1 - 2 cloves very finely minced or pressed garlic cloves
1 T salt
2 T. fresh chopped chives.
Mash all together until as smooth or chunky as you like. Add more milk or yogurt as desired for consistency.

Saute lightly salted salmon steaks in a skillet with a little canola oil. Cook for about 3 - minutes a side until done. Set aside on the platter.

Dill Cream
1/2 C. plain greek yogurt
1 t dried dill
2 t. tabasco sauce
1 t dried shallot or onion
1/2 t. salt.
Mix all in a small bowl and garnish salmon with it.

Now make yourself a plate from all the beautiful vegetables you just prepared!