Old Fashioned Tomato Butter

Wow. Where has the time gone? January is almost over and my poor blog (and followers) are probably wondering if I’ve been kidnapped. Rest assured, I’ve been thinking of you over the past few weeks when I was a bit slammed at work and during the past couple of weekends. No rest for the wicked, as the saying goes.

I am celebrating a birthday this week and such occasions always make me a little sentimental. Lately, I’ve been craving things from my childhood – Ding Dongs (which went away with Hostess), Marathon Bars (anybody remember those super long, ooey gooey braided bars of chocolate and caramel?), and my mom’s tomato butter. Since I can’t and shouldn’t eat the first two, I thought I’d give mom’s tomato butter a try, since I had some hothouse tomatoes languishing in my fridge.

My mom’s tomato butter is a sweet, spicy concoction of goodness that she would make while canning all of the vegetables she grew when I was a kid. It is the perfect thing to make with tomatoes that are going soft or if you have excess tomatoes from your garden. Ironically, I was never a big fan of tomatoes as a child but seemed to make an exception for tomato butter, which I usually ate with toast or as a substitute for jelly with my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Strangely, I have not had my mom’s tomato butter since I was kid so I had to hunt down a recipe online that sounded similar to how her’s tasted. I found one that comes pretty close and my inner child is happy once again.

Tomato ButterIngredients
1 lb. Tomatoes
1/4 cup Vinegar
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Ground Cloves

Place peeled and sliced tomatoes in a deep cast iron skillet or sauce pan.

Place peeled and sliced tomatoes in a deep cast iron skillet or sauce pan.

Add the sugar and vinegar.

Add the sugar and vinegar.

And the spices.

And the spices.

Cook over medium low heat.

Cook over medium low heat.

Until the tomatoes break down into a thick sauce.

Until the tomatoes break down into a thick sauce.

Pour the tomato butter into hot canning jars. Let them sit on the counter top until they become room temperature. Refrigerate.

Pour the tomato butter into hot canning jars. Let them sit on the counter top until they become room temperature. Refrigerate.

Serve on your favorite bread, with peanut butter or try it on chicken, fish or pork ribs as a sweet tangy marinade.

Serve on your favorite bread, with peanut butter or try it on chicken, fish or pork ribs as a sweet tangy marinade.

Saucy Grilled Shrimp with Roasted Vegetables

In the spirit of mixing things up a bit, here’s a nice “saucy” grilled shrimp recipe with roasted butternut squash, cauliflower and carrots. The red pepper sauce is reminiscent of a Spanish Romesco sauce. If you are not a fan of garlic, then you may want to cut back on the quantity of garlic cloves.

Roasted Vegetables Ingredients (sorry, no group photo)
1 medium-sized Butternut Squash, cubed
1 head Cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
3-4 Carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
6 fresh Sage leaves
2 Tbsps. chopped Parsley

In a large baking dish, mix together the vegetables and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the springs of rosemary and sage leaves. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In a large baking dish, mix together the vegetables and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the sprigs of rosemary and sage leaves. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Once roasted, remove the sage and rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Once roasted, remove the sage and rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

While your veggies are roasting, prepare the saucy shrimp.

Saucy Grilled ShrimpIngredients
1/2 lb. fresh Shrimp, de-veined
1 jar Roasted Red Peppers
3/4 cup Crushed Tomatoes
3-4 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 slice hearty White Bread, torn into pieces
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Paprika
1/4 cup Oil
1/3 cup Slivered Almonds
1 tsp. Sherry Vinegar

In a food processor or blender, add the roasted red peppers, crushed tomatoes, garlic, white bread, chili powder, paprika, almonds, oil., and sherry vinegar. Puree.

In a food processor or blender, add the roasted red peppers, crushed tomatoes, garlic, white bread, chili powder, paprika, almonds, oil, and sherry vinegar.

Puree into a thick, slightly chunky sauce.

Puree into a thick, slightly chunky sauce.

Marinade the shrimp in about 1/2 cup of the sauce for 10 minutes. Reserve the rest of the sauce for dipping.

Marinade the shrimp in about 1/2 cup of the sauce for 10 minutes. Reserve the rest of the sauce for dipping.

Grill the shrimp on a hot, oiled cast iron griddle for about 2 minutes on each side until the tails curl and the shrimp turns pink.

Grill the shrimp on a hot, oiled cast iron griddle for about 2 minutes on each side until the tails curl and the shrimp turns pink.

Serve with the roasted vegetables and a side of sauce. Simple and tasty. Enjoy!

Serve with the roasted vegetables and a side of sauce. Simple and tasty. Enjoy!

Greens, Eggs and Ham…Quesadilla

Now that the holidays are truly over – my last holiday celebration was spent yesterday with my husband’s family as we celebrated a late and lovely Christmas together – it is time to eat better. Yes, I know, don’t we all say that at the beginning of each year? But I do really try to eat well throughout the year. I avoid fast food as much as possible. I’d prefer to dine in, than out. When I cook, I know what ingredients go into my meals. I can trim back on the fat, salt and sugar, but try not to trim back on flavor. I have my vices. I love chocolate. Rarely does a day pass without eating some small morsel of it. I probably drink too much tea (I am waiting for some to brew right now). And once every blue moon I get an inexplicable craving for powdered donuts. Mmmm…powdered donuts. Did I just sound like Homer Simpson?

So this morning I could have prepared a big Sunday breakfast with a three-egg omelette packed with ham and cheese, a side of greasy cottage-fried potatoes, and toast smothered in butter and jam. Instead, I found this light and super easy breakfast quesadilla in an edition of Women’s Health, and thought it worth a try. I modified the magazine’s recipe slightly to use spinach instead of arugula, of which I’m not a fan. You can use any greens you like. Total calories 330. Hubby loved it.

Greens, Eggs and Ham QuesadillaIngredients
2 Egg Whites, scrambled
2 slices of Deli Ham, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Spinach, chopped
2 Tbsps. Feta Cheese
2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
Your favorite Salsa or Pico de Gallo

In a small cast iron skillet, scramble two egg whites.

In a small cast iron skillet, scramble two egg whites.

Place the scrambled eggs atop a whole wheat tortilla.

Place the scrambled eggs atop a whole wheat tortilla.

Add sliced deli ham...

Add sliced deli ham…

chopped spinach...

chopped spinach…

and feta cheese.

and feta cheese.

Top with another whole wheat tortilla and cook in hot skillet, 2 minutes each side.

Top with another whole wheat tortilla and cook in hot skillet, 2 minutes each side.

Remove from the skillet when golden brown.

Remove from the skillet when golden brown.

Slice in half or quarters. Serve with your favorite salsa or pico de gallo.

Slice in half or quarters. Serve with your favorite salsa or pico de gallo. Here’s to your health!