Saturday haps

It is a glorious day out and my “little lime” hydrangeas are blooming! Also, more ripe tomatoes to pick and enjoy. And a fun walk to the park with this cute little girl who has the most beautiful blue eyes, blond curls, and sweetly answers “yeah” so matter-of-factly in the most adorable way…

by Valerie | 08.03.13 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden | No Comments »

not quite pozole soup

This is loosely based on the Mexican soup pozole (it is important to note that no humans were harmed in the making of this soup). Ryan grew up going to friends’ houses where this would be on the stove all day long and after a night of drinking this spicy soup, much like menudo, would serve as a perfect hangover cure. I was never much the fan of hominy, but Ryan always liked the taste of it because it reminds him of tortillas. We struck a deal that I would try hominy again so this soup was a compromise between the two of us, a bit of hominy and a bit of yellow corn in a spicy tomato broth.


  • 20 tomatoes on the vine, roasted and cored
  • 3 serrano peppers, roasted (note these died in the roasting, but their “juice” mixed with the tomatoes)
  • approximately 3 tbsp chipotle infused olive oil
  • 1 purple onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dark chili powder
  • 1 oz package pozole spice mix
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 15.25 oz can yellow corn
  • 1 29 oz can hominy
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425. Lightly coat the tomatoes and serrano peppers in some of the olive oil (about 1-1 1/2 tbsp). Place in oven to roast for about 30-45 minutes or until they begin to split open and brown. One quick thing to note, this killed our serrano peppers; that said, the mixture of tomato juices and slightly disintegrated serrano did add flavor to the tomatoes with just a hint of a kick. Remove from oven to cool. Once cooled core the tomatoes and place in a blender to puree. Set aside.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add in the remaining olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, and pozole mix, cook onion until it begins to be slightly translucent. Add the bell peppers and chili powder. Cook until bell peppers are tender, enough for a fork to easily go into them. Add the tomato puree and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add in the hominy and corn. Let cook for a little while longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pozole mix is meant traditionally for pork and most pre-made mixes make for a decently spicy pork rub long before it is added to the soup pot. So depending on what type of pozole spice mix you purchased or made for yourself it can make for a soup with quite the kick. If you are afraid of spicy things I’d check the mix or reduce the amount of spice mix you use. You can also let the mix soak and simmer in hot water for a little bit before adding  it to the pot and it might reconstitute some of the dried chiles in the mix.

by Valerie | 01.27.13 | Recipes | No Comments »

Fried Polenta with Garden Tomato Sauce

We’ve made some version of this many times before, but last weekend Ryan threw together a delicious version of this – adding his own variations of course – with a variety of tomatoes that came fresh from our garden & our friends’ Amanda & Andy’s garden as well. He added some fresh herbs from our garden, spices, & capers as well & we had one hell of a tasty sauce on our hands! I brought this to my fabulous friend Abigail’s baby shower last Sunday & enjoyed all the yummy eats that others brought to share as well.

by Valerie | 08.19.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

2012: Week 31

2012: Week 31
Green Zebra

by Valerie | 08.07.12 | Around our home, Garden, Photography | No Comments »

Life is a bowl full of cherry tomatoes

Admittedly, we’ve been a little busy with our new house & have neglected our garden this year compared to past years. But, we’ve still had the good fortune of enjoying some fresh herbs & vegetables. Just look at these beauties we harvested from our garden…

by Valerie | 07.25.12 | Around our home, Garden | No Comments »

Penne with cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley

I am a sucker for a good pasta dish! It’s one of the foods I almost always crave. I find that, often times, the simplest dishes are the best & this one just further solidified that idea in my head – it was pretty amazing! So when I found this recipe on & shared it with my husband, who just so happens to be pretty amazing in the kitchen, he decided to recreate this for us for dinner last night. If you know him, then you know that he didn’t follow the recipe, line for line like I probably would have done if I’d made this myself; he read through the recipe earlier & then he decided to “wing it”. Pasta with fresh, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, kalamata olives (for me, at least, Ryan hates them & left them off his plate), the right mix of herbs & spices, & a little bit of fresh, grated parmesan cheese on top – what’s not to love?!?


1lb penne pasta
1-2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic minced
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
2 pints grape cherry tomatoes (some halved, some quartered)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 heaping tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp course ground black pepper
1/4 cup of fresh parsley chopped
salt to taste

Cook the pasta separately, drain, and set aside. Heat pan to medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Combine the onion and garlic in a pan and sauté with olive oil until onions are translucent. Add in the cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper and cook just until the tomatoes start to break down a bit. Add the pasta to the pan and remaining olive oil and toss together with the fresh parsley; wait until the last minute to add in the parsley as cooking it down wouldn’t give you the same fresh flavor. Serve and top with chopped olives and fresh, grated parmesan cheese.

We served ours with garlic bread and a nice Italian red wine. Buon appetito!

by Valerie | 02.05.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

365 – Day 163

365 – Day 163

by Valerie | 08.04.11 | Around our home, Garden, Photography | No Comments »

Homemade Pasta with Awesome Sauce

Homemade Pasta

So I don’t know exactly what awesome sauce is; I first heard it the phrase while watching a video of a laser cutter playing the theme song to Super Mario Bros. That was definitely awesome. When Val tasted the sauce, it set her mouth ablaze with spiciness and flavor, and she claimed this sauce was “awesome.”

pasta ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of semolina flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1 tbsp of dried herbs (I used our Rosemary Rapture blend)
  • a pinch of salt

ingredients for awesome sauce:

  • 1 red onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic roasted
  • 1 tsp of dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp of hot sauce (I used Cholula)
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of butchers pepper
  • 1 heaping tbsp of dried Italian seasoning
  • 6 tomatoes on the vine, cored and deseeded
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine (we used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1/4 cup of veggie stock
  • kosher salt

Homemade Pasta

To make the pasta start by mixing the dried ingredients on a smooth surface. Form a well in the middle of the dried ingredients. Crack the eggs on the counter and break the shell over the well. With a fork start whisking the eggs and incorporating the flour. Continue mixing the flour and eggs, add the olive oil and water as needed. Work the mix until it begins to form a stiff dough. Once formed, put aside for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Homemade Pasta

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add some salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the pasta and lightly drizzle some olive oil on the pasta so it doesn’t stick.

To make the sauce, pre-heat an oven to 450 degrees. Roast the garlic head in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the garlic is soft. Once cool to the touch, or cool enough to handle, peel the skin off of the roasted garlic. In a blender (or with an immersion blender) puree the roasted garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, veggie stock, and wine to a slightly chunky consistency. Set the puree aside. Heat up a large sauce pan or skillet to medium heat. Add the olive oil, heat for a minute or two. Add the onions and minced garlic cloves. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the dried herbs, the crushed red pepper, butcher’s pepper, balsamic vinegar, and hot sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes or longer. Salt to taste. Note that this sauce has quite a kick to it, so if you don’t like it spicy you might want to leave out some of the pepper or hot sauce here.

Put the pasta in a bowl, top it with some sauce, consider sprinkling some parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy.

A note about making your own pasta:

I’m not entirely sure if making your own pasta is worth it. While the taste of fresh the pasta was great, it did take a great deal of effort to make. The bulk of the effort was not in forming the dough, but forming the noodles themselves. We used our friend’s Kitchen Aid mixer attachment that extrudes noodles. Our first attempt with making linguine yielded noodle mush. So we reformed the dough and used the spaghetti extruder. As the noodles came out the pasta would stick to itself and we had to pull the noodles apart. It was a lot of effort, for something very simple. I don’t know if I needed to have the pasta dough cooler, a bit more flour, etc., who knows. If it wasn’t for the fact that sorting the noodles was like pulling apart several bags of pull-n-peel twizzlers it would be something worth doing all the time. I’ll do some more testing in the next couple week to see what I can do and if I can get it to be a bit easier. If  I can get the noodle part down I think we would fully switch to making our own noodles.

Homemade Pasta

by Ryan | 04.16.11 | Recipes | No Comments »

Tomato Tortilla Soup

Tomato Tortilla Soup

There’s this fabulous recipe (it’s almost like this one I’ve linked to here) for spicy Tomato Tortilla Soup that we use from Bobby Flay’s Bold American Food cookbook that I can’t get enough of & since it’s a cool, rainy day here in lovely Ann Arbor, MI, I thought it sounded great & I had quite a craving for it – so we made some for dinner…now I remember why I love this soup so much all over again; it’s so delicious & spicy & warm & it kicks Campbell’s “mmm-mmm good” butt any day! Top with tortilla strips, serve with homemade guacamole, & enjoy!

On a side note, Bobby Flay was my one celebrity sighting – he was doing a book signing here in town & we stood in line & had him sign one of his new cookbooks & I have to say that I felt a little bit like Jennifer Grey’s character, Baby, in Dirty Dancing when she said, ” I carried a watermelon” to Patrick Swayze; he asked me what our favorite recipe was in his cookbooks & after a bit of an awkward, star-struck delay on my part, this soup was definitely on my list.

by Valerie | 09.11.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

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