Menu Banner
  1. Wednesday, July 9

    Serrano Salsa

    I’ve mentioned my wonderful neighbor Ari a few times. She is from Mexico and gives me tips for cooking Mexican food that make my life happy. The latest is a recipe for salsa that she got from one of her aunts the last time they visited family in Mexico.

    serrano salsa by @janemaynard

    Ari and I were sitting by the pool and she said, “My aunt made some salsa. It’s my favorite. And it’s soooo easy.” She then told me how to make this magical salsa. I asked her to repeat it a few times and then, of course, emailed her later to ask her to write it down. This is basically what happens every time she shares a recipe with me – I make her repeat it a million times and then have to call her and/or email her multiple times before I get it down. Don’t you wish I was your neighbor? 😉

    serrano salsa by @janemaynardserrano salsa by @janemaynard

    Okay, so, for real, this salsa is easy, simple and delicious! It has a rich, smoky flavor and the perfect amount of heat (well, at least I think it’s perfect). Most of the kids didn’t try it because they were scared it would be too spicy, but my brave little Anna dug in. She described the salsa as hot and then proceeded to tell us how she has a “sensible tongue.” It was so cute. In terms of “hotness,” I would consider this a hot salsa. Depending on the heat of your particular serranos and what your final proportion of tomatoes to chiles is will determine exactly how hot it ends up being, but, even with those variations, it’s a spicy salsa. My dad, my sister-in-law and I ate almost all of it in one sitting. I can’t wait to make this salsa for Nate when we get home from traveling!

    serrano salsa by @janemaynard

    I’m sure you could add onions and garlic and cilantro and yummy stuff like that. But, honestly, the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity, so just go with it!

    Serrano Salsa
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    My friend Ari shared this recipe with me - her aunt made it for her in Mexico. Enjoy!
    Author:
    Serves: 1 cup
    Ingredients
    • 3 tomatoes (my tomatoes were a little smaller than normal, so I used about 9 tomatoes)
    • 3 chiles serranos
    • salt, to taste
    Instructions
    1. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them cut-side down in a pan. (I used a non-stick pan and would recommend that.)
    2. Cut off the stems of the serrano chiles and place them whole in the pan with the tomatoes (no cutting or seeding necessary!).
    3. Cook the tomatoes and chiles over high heat to burn them. Ari said about 3-4 minutes per side, but I think it took mine more like 5-10 minutes per side. You will see little brown and black spots on the tomatoes and chiles when they are ready to come off the heat. You cut the tomatoes in half and put them on a pan with the chiles (chiles are complete with seeds). The tomato skins will also start to peel off.
    4. Remove from heat, put everything in the pan in a blender and blend well. Season with salt to taste, probably about ¼ - ½ teaspoon.
    5. As Ari said, "Habemus salsa!"

     


  2. Tuesday, June 17

    Sweet Tomato Jam is My New Favorite

    A few weeks ago my parents were staying at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach (the same hotel we stayed at a few years ago and LOVED). My mom was a head honcho for a work meeting they were holding at the hotel, so the Hyatt delivered a cheese and charcuterie tray to the room as a gift. Lucky for my mom we were all there to help her eat it! (Don’t worry, we left her a few bites.)

    recipe for tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    On the tray was a jar of sweet tomato jam. Between the six of us, the jar was empty by the end of our snacking and, ever since that day, I’ve been thinking about that tomato jam. Then my friend Gaby mentioned on social media that she was going to do a bruschetta bar for a party, which I then decided to do for my lip sync battle party last Friday night, giving me the perfect excuse to finally try a sweet tomato jam recipe myself.

    recipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.comrecipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    Not to brag, but the tomato jam I made was just as good as what we had at the Hyatt. And thank goodness since I pretty much constantly crave it now.

    The recipe is really simple but oh-so-scrumptious. The only labor-intensive part of the process is prepping the tomatoes, which isn’t hard, just a little time consuming. But it is WORTH IT. And, for those of you into canning, tomato jam can be canned, although you may want to follow the original recipe on Epicurious that has twice as much sugar and, therefore is more conducive to preserving. (Thanks to commenter Alice and my friend Aimee for input on this!)

    recipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    So, what is tomato jam good for anyway? Everything! It’s a great topping for bread and pairs beautifully with all kinds of cheeses. It’s also a great condiment for just about anything – sandwiches, burgers, whatever your heart desires! It’s sweet but with a savory flavor to it. It’s basically pure deliciousness.

    recipe for sweet tomato jam from @janemaynard | thisweekfordinner.com

    I found the recipe on Epicurious but cut waaaaaaaay back on the sugar. My jam was still super sweet so I can’t even imagine what their recipe would taste like! 😉

    Tomato Jam
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Adapted from Epicurious
    Author:
    Recipe type: Appetizer
    Serves: 2 cups
    Ingredients
    • 4 pounds plum or heirloom tomatoes (I used a variety of heirlooms, all different colors!)
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • ⅛ teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
    Instructions
    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make an ice bath in a separate bowl and set to the side. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water in batches, boiling for about 1 minute. Remove tomatoes from the boiling water and place directly in the ice bath. Remove the skins by hand right in the ice water, leaving the skins in the water. I would empty the ice water bowl between batches. By removing the skins in the ice water bowl you cut down on some serious messiness in the kitchen!
    2. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, seed them, then chop into pieces.
    3. Place chopped tomatoes in a large pot. Mix with sugar and stir well. And let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Bring tomatoes and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat and let cook for 15 minutes.
    5. Add salt, pepper and parika and cook until thickened, about 10-15 more minutes.

    This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. Pictured: The Heritage Small Bowl and the Cool Montecito Tapas Plate. I am as addicted to my Q Squared Dishes as I am to this tomato jam, by the way!


  3. Thursday, May 23

    Could this be the year?

    About every other year I decide I really want to grow tomatoes. And every other year I enthusiastically post a photo of our beautiful little tomato plants. And every other year I report back at the end of the summer that I killed everything. I am cursed.

    anna and the earth box web

    This year is going to be different. I know I’ve said that before, but really, it is! I bit the bullet and invested in two Earth Boxes. My friend Natalee has used them the last few years and has amazing success. The beauty of the Earth Box is that you cannot overwater the plants – they always have just the right amount of water. You can use the boxes forever and you get about 8 growing seasons before you need to replace the soil. The woman at the garden center said she also loves the Earth Box. I really really really think this year is going to be different, folks.

    earth box for tomatoes

    What’s that? Locusts in my backyard destroying my tomato plants? Figures.


  4. Friday, August 19

    Italian Chicken Panini Pizza

    Today is the third and last of my Newman’s Own “Own It” posts with Martha’s Circle. This time around I was challenged to use a salad dressing to make a recipe my own.

    As I thought about what I might put together, I remembered back to when we were very first married. One of the meals we would make were grilled chicken sandwiches. I would marinate the chicken breasts in Italian dressing and then broil the chicken in the oven. Nothing fancy but it was definitely a go-to meal for me then that we liked a lot.

    At that same time in my life, a friend of mine had me over for dinner one night and made pizza. She didn’t use sauce, just olive oil and it was delicious. (This is the same friend who gave me the Uncle Tony’s Pizza Crust recipe…that night was the first time I ate that crust! And, yes, she really did have an Uncle Tony and he really was Italian.) I digress, back to the pizza…it was the first time I had a tomato sauceless pizza and it opened up a whole new pizza world to me.

    Thinking fondly on those early days of marriage and learning to cook, I decided to combine these two memories into one recipe. I made pizza that uses Italian dressing as the “sauce,” instead of just straight up olive oil. And then I used all the ingredients that I normally would have put on the chicken sandwich. And with that, the Italian Chicken Panini Pizza was born!

    The pizza was yummy. It had a nice light flavor and hit the spot. I used the Newman’s Own Lighten Up Italian dressing and it worked great! I named the pizza Italian Chicken Panini Pizza because Panini sounds more Italian than Sandwich. 😉

    Italian Chicken Panini Pizza
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Pizza
    Cuisine: Italian
    Ingredients
    • Uncle Tony’s Pizza Crust or other pizza crust that you like
    • Newman’s Own Light Italian Dressing
    • 1-2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced, seasoned with salt & pepper prior to grilling (you could even marinate the chicken in the Italian dressing before grilling as well)
    • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
    • Couple handfuls of fresh spinach
    • Mozzarella cheese
    Instructions
    1. Prepare your crust. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of Italian dressing on the crust instead of tomato sauce. Top with spinach, chicken and tomatoes then the cheese.
    2. Bake in the oven on a pizza stone with your oven at the highest temperature it will go (mine goes to 500 degrees), about 8-10 minutes…until crust browns and cheese is bubbly.
    3. When I used the above pizza crust recipe, I made 4 medium sized pizzas – two of them plain cheese, two of them Italian Chicken Panini…for two Italian Chicken Panini pizzas I used 1 large tomato and 1 chicken breast.


  5. Tuesday, September 28

    Creamy Pesto Fettuccine with Mushrooms & Tomatoes

    Last week when I made the Pesto Tortellini Soup I had on my menu, I ended up with 7 ounces minus 1/4 cup of pesto left over. The next night we had Easy Peasy Bean Tacos, which resulted in a half a container of leftover grape tomatoes. The next night (are you liking this painful play-by-play?) I swung by the store on the way home from a playdate and saw a $2 package of fresh fettuccine that inspired me. I grabbed a half pint of cream, a package of sliced mushrooms and went home to throw dinner together as quickly as possible.

    The result was a simple and fast recipe that was molto delicioso. The best part? My girls ate ALL of their dinner and then some. And I have another meatless recipe to add to the arsenal.

    Buon appetito!

    Creamy Pesto Fettuccine with Mushrooms & Tomatoes
     
    Quick, easy, and super yummy!
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dishes, Pasta
    Ingredients
    • 9 oz. fresh fettuccine (or whatever past you have on hand)
    • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
    • Couple handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced or smashed through a garlic press
    • ½ pint cream
    • Prepared pesto (I used 7 ounces MINUS ¼ cup since the pesto was leftover from the soup recipe, but I think a 7-ounce package will work just fine…no need to subtract out that ¼ cup…although you could make the Pesto Tortellini Soup the same week to coordinate!)
    • 2 handfuls fresh grated parmesan cheese, plus some for garnish
    • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
    • Olive oil for sautéing
    Instructions
    1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and drizzle with a bit of butter or olive oil to prevent sticking.
    2. While waiting for water to boil for the pasta, start working on the other stuff. Sauté the mushrooms in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until softened. Add garlic and tomatoes and sauté a few minutes more. Add cream, pesto sauce and salt; simmer to reduce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
    3. Pour sauce over pasta and serve, sprinkled with fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil if you have it.
    4. A few things I think would be good to add, but I haven’t actually tried yet: a shallot sautéed with the mushrooms, spinach, or white beans.

     


  6. Wednesday, June 16

    Homemade Roasted Tomatoes on Make and Takes

    I’m super excited about my guest post on Make and Takes today. I made homemade roasted roma tomatoes for the first time and loved it! Not only were they easy and very tasty, but I really had fun photographing them!

    homemade roasted tomatoes web

    Big thanks to Faye and Ginger, who both commented on my menu post this week suggesting I roast the 12 romas I had lying around.

    I’m typing up the “recipe” below, but make sure to check out my full post on Make and Takes to get all the details and see all the photos!

    Homemade Roasted Tomatoes
     
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    Ingredients
    • 10-14 roma tomatoes (you could experiment with other tomatoes, but romas are less delicate and less seedy and work well)
    • Olive oil (probably about ¼ – ½ cup)
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt (kosher, preferably)
    • Pepper
    • Spices you like – Oregano, Basil, Parsley, Red Pepper Flakes, whatever!
    • Sugar
    Instructions
    1. Add minced garlic to the olive oil and let sit while you prepare the tomatoes. Slice tomatoes into wedges, 8 per tomato. Spread on cookie sheet and brush with garlic olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, spices, and sugar. Bake at 200ºF for 2-6 hours or so (5½ hours was my magic number).
    2. Store in the refrigerator drizzled in olive oil.

     


  7. Friday, February 5

    Bistro Chicken

    Why is there a picture of an empty plate? Because this recipe is so good by the time you’re done serving it up, the plates will be empty lickity split!

    bistro chicken1 web

    Okay, actually, I didn’t get a decent picture of the chicken. It looks more like a pile of cheese. A delicious pile of cheese, but not much like chicken. Trust me, there is delicious, tender chicken hiding in there. I didn’t spend any time plating this dish because I just wanted to eat it!

    bistro chicken2 web

    My mom’s friend Jen shared this recipe with me in the early days of my blog. It has become one of our favorites and a quick go-to meal. Enjoy!

    Bistro Chicken
     
    My mom's friend Jen sent this recipe to me when I started my blog and it fast became a favorite. Easy, unique and so delicious!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I usually do two, but the amount of sauce could handle probably 4-6 breasts)
    • ½ cup chopped onions
    • 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I get petite diced)
    • Italian seasoning (or a few shakes of oregano, basil, parsley and garlic powder)
    • 1 can Campbell’s French Onion soup
    • Swiss cheese, sliced
    Instructions
    1. I cut my chicken breasts into thirds and pound them thin before browning, but the recipe didn’t originally call for that. Brown the chicken breasts in a medium-high skillet in oil or butter. Remove and place in casserole dish.
    2. Cook onions in skillet for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, french onion soup and cook together to reduce liquid for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken in the casserole dish, top with Swiss cheese and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
    3. I like to serve with garlic mashed potatoes.
    4. Addendum after comments have come in: the last few times I’ve made it I haven’t used the entire can of french onion soup. I put all the broth in, but I only put maybe half of the onions from the can in. for me, it’s the right balance. the first time I made it, though, I followed the recipe to a “t” and we still liked it, so feel free to modify or not according to your tastes!