Friday, August 30

Recipe: Greek Style Panzanella Salad with Kalamatas, Feta, and Homemade Olive Oil Croutons

Greek Style Panzanella Salad with cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and homemade pan-fried croutons -
This traditional Italian bread salad is given a Greek twist with feta cheese and kalamata olives. Crunchy pan-fried olive oil croutons are hard to resist (recipe here).

This Greek Style Panzanella Salad is one of my favorite recipes, and I've been looking forward to making it all summer. I'd never been a fan of panzanella, which I always thought of as soggy bread salad, until two summers ago when I came across Ina Garten's Greek style version.

I have five words for you: pan-fried olive oil croutons.

This colorful salad is made with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onion, and crunchy homemade croutons, all tossed with a flavorful red wine vinaigrette.

It makes a great side dish for grilled meats and a perfect light supper or lunch. I've even eaten the leftovers for breakfast. To make it more substantial, stir in some organic garbanzo beans.

The lemon cucumber vines and four enormous Sweet 100 cherry tomato plants (that I planted way too close together) in my kitchen garden have been overflowing with beautiful bounty for weeks, and what's left of this year's small but tasty red onion harvest is safely tucked in the pantry. But not a single pepper on my 21 pepper plants has yet to turn completely yellow or orange or red (I can't stand green peppers).

I'm running out of patience—and am probably going to run out of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and onions.

Fortunately I managed to score seven sweet red peppers from my Amish friend Sarah's little produce stand, which is basically a large table set under an overhang next to the house where she piles extra vegetables from their enormous garden and advertises with a sign out on the highway. If there's nobody around, please leave your money in the can.

When we stopped by last week and I was picking through a bucket of green peppers in search of any red ones, she said a woman had just come by and bought every red pepper she had. "I thought about telling her I needed to save some for Susan!"

Thankfully the shopper who stopped by right before we did yesterday had only wiped her out of tomatoes. Sarah even tucked an extra pepper in my bag, "Since these are all kind of small." As long as they aren't green, I'm happy. Let's eat!

©, the burnt fingers foodie farm blog where I just made a batch of croutons using some stale slices of an Easy Four Hour Parisian Baguette and had to come upstairs so I wouldn't devour the entire batch straight out of the cast iron skillet.

Monday, August 26

Recipe: Quick and Easy Gazpacho (Chilled Tomato Vegetable Soup)

Simple and refreshing no cook gazapcho (chilled tomato and vegetable soup) -
Beat the heat with this simple, refreshing gazpacho, a healthy no-cook summer recipe that's packed with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, onion, and garlic (recipe here).

That crazy wonderful cool spell is history, the wet weather creek has dried up, and I'm back to watering the kitchen garden every day. (It was such a treat to have three weeks off from watering!). Our regularly scheduled hot and humid August has returned, and with it a craving for my favorite quick and easy gazpacho. Thank goodness the tomato plants in the garden have finally started putting out.

Packed with nutrients and full of flavor, this low fat chilled vegetable soup is the perfect thing to keep in the fridge for those sweat-drenched, sweltering summer days when nobody feels much like eating, let alone cooking. It'll fill you up without weighing you down and is a delicious way to cool off.

There's no need to blanch, peel, seed, or force anything through a sieve, and all of the vegetable goodness ends up right in your bowl. If you've never had gazpacho—which some people refer to as liquid salad—I urge you to give it a try, even if, like me, you're not usually a fan of cold soups.

There are about three million ways to make gazpacho, and people put all sorts of things into it (gelatin, shrimp, or raw eggs, anyone?), but when I made my first batch five years ago, I decided to take the straightforward route with both ingredients and technique.

My smooth and simple version is basically a thick raw juice, which can be sipped rather than slurped—and easily made thinner—if desired. A celery stick and splash of vodka are optional. I love it with a dollop of plain yogurt. Make it a day ahead if you can, as the flavor increases dramatically after sitting overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!

©, where we're dreaming of polar fleece and telling ourselves that all this sweating has to be good for us—and there's a batch of gazpacho in the fridge.

Thursday, August 22

Recipe: Greek Salad Pitas with Baby Spinach and Quick Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Greek salad pitas with kalamata olive tapenade (1) -
Pita breads are stuffed with crunchy Greek salad, baby spinach, and a quick and easy kalamata olive tapenade for a healthy light supper or lunch that celebrates the bounty of summer (recipe here).

The cucumbers and tomatoes are in full swing in the kitchen garden, and these scrumptious Greek Salad Pita Sandwiches are on the menu.

Using baby spinach instead of lettuce adds extra flavor and nutrients, and the radishes offer a nice zippy crunch, but it's the quick kalamata olive tapenade that really makes these sandwiches shine. Keep some on hand in the fridge, along with pitas in the freezer (they defrost at room temperature in just a few minutes), and you'll be able to put together a beautiful meal in no time.

For a real treat, whip up a batch of easy homemade pita bread (pictured above). Enjoy!

©, sliced, diced, and stuffed with good food.

Tuesday, August 20

Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Coconut Zucchini Bread Made with Coconut Oil and Unsweetened Coconut

100% Whole Wheat Coconut Zucchini Bread (1) -
A moist and flavorful zucchini bread that's packed with wholesome ingredients (recipe here).

Got kids heading back to school? This 100% Whole Wheat Coconut Zucchini Bread just might be the perfect after-school snack.

Made with whole wheat flour, coconut oil (which is incredibly good for you), unsweetened coconut, less sugar than many zucchini bread recipes, and of course, zucchini, it's a healthy indulgence that still tastes like a treat. But you don't have to mention any of that when you serve it.

If you've never had natural, unsweetened shredded coconut, you're in for a pleasant surprise. The coconut flavor really comes through, and unlike the highly processed sweetened stuff, it doesn't contain preservatives like propylene glycol and sodium metabisulfite. Unsweetened coconut keeps best refrigerated or frozen (I buy four bags at a time and store them in the freezer).

This hearty zucchini bread also makes a great breakfast on the run or mid-morning pick me up. I love it sliced and toasted with a glass of really cold milk. Enjoy!

©, where if you're gonna go nuts, it might as well be coconut.

Sunday, August 18

Recipe: Sun Dried Tomato and Fresh Tomato Artichoke Pesto

Summer Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, and Sun Dried & Fresh Tomato Artichoke Pesto
Celebrate summer with this flavor-packed, healthy pesto that features artichokes and both sun dried and fresh tomatoes (recipe here).

What's going gangbusters in my kitchen garden? The basil and cherry tomatoes. Yay! What could I probably eat for the next seven days in a row? Pasta tossed with lots of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and this quick and easy Sun Dried Tomato and Fresh Tomato Artichoke Pesto.

A few summers ago I pretty much lived on this pasta with sun dried tomato and artichoke pesto, cherry tomatoes, and basil for weeks. I even ate it for breakfast.

While mixing up the third or fourth batch of the pesto, I took a cue from my favorite basil pesto recipe and added some fresh tomatoes. Yum. This fresh tomato version of the pesto is a little thinner than the original, with more tomato flavor and fewer calories.

Enjoy it in the original pasta recipe with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, or simply toss it with some hot pasta and cheese, or spread it on slices of crusty baguette (my Easy Four Hour French Bread Recipe is here), or just eat it with a spoon like I often do. I'm sure you could use it in all sorts of other ways too.

If you're serving it with pasta, you can mix up the pesto while the pasta water boils, or you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. It tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!

Got a bumper crop? More Farmgirl Fare recipes featuring fresh tomatoes:
Quick & Easy Gazpacho (refreshing chilled tomato vegetable soup)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, hand-picked, vine-ripened, and always full of flavor.

Saturday, August 17

Wordless Weekend Dose of Donkey Cute

Wordless weekend dose of donkey cute  -

More donkeys? Here.
More wordless cute? Here.


Friday, August 16

Friday Dose of Jasper Cute

Jasper supervising the chickens -
Have a relaxing weekend.

What a pleasant week. We've been working outside as much as possible, inspired and invigorated by this unseasonably cool weather. Fifty degree mornings in August? Unheard of. And wonderful.

This respite from the energy sapping heat and humidity has the wildlife out and about too. More below. . .

Tuesday, August 13

Recipe: Italian No-Cook Raw Tomato Pasta Sauce with Basil, Capers, and Kalamata Olives

Italian no-cook fresh tomato pasta sauce with kalamata olives, capers, and basil (1) -
My version of the simple, flavorful pasta sauce made with chopped raw tomatoes and uncooked seasonings that is eaten in country houses all over Italy (recipe here).

Escape to the Italian countryside with this quick and easy No-Cook Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce. It's the perfect way to celebrate the wonderful flavor of juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes from your garden or the farmer's market.

I've been making fresh tomato pasta sauce for years, but last summer I learned a neat trick. To make your raw tomato sauce taste lustier, spoon off some of the tomato sauce juice and toss it with the hot, drained pasta over medium-low heat until absorbed. Wow.

This recipe is made for interpretation; simply leave out or add whatever herbs or other ingredients you like or have on hand. I love Greek kalamata olives so I tossed them in; other olives would be nice too. The sauce tastes best if allowed to sit at room temperature for several hours before serving.

Sometimes I skip the pasta altogether and just sop up the sauce with a hunk of warm crusty bread. Or you could toast some baguette slices and make bruschetta. These easy Four Hour Parisian Daily Baguettes are so handy to have on hand in the freezer; they taste great, freeze beautifully, and defrost quickly. (They're also a perfect recipe for new bread bakers.)


More Farmgirl Fare recipes that celebrate garden fresh tomatoes:
Easy Homemade Tomato Vegetable Juice (like V8 but better)
Greek Salad Pitas with Baby Spinach and Quick Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Greek Style Panzanella Salad
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw (and Tacos) with High Kickin' Creamy Tomato Dressing
Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad (Fattoush)
Savory Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Pesto Pie with an Easy Cheesy Biscuit Crust
Quick & Easy Gazpacho (refreshing chilled tomato vegetable soup)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, where you say tomato, I say let's eat.

Monday, August 12

Monday Dose of Cute: Flying into the New Week

Helga hurtling toward the treat trough -

May yours be filled with lots of treats!

More Helga? Here.
More sheep? Here.

©, where there's nothing faster than a flock of fat sheep hurtling toward the treat trough. They're even faster than donkeys.

Friday, August 9

Friday Dose of Cute: Hot Dogs Chillin' Out

Hot dogs chilling out in the wet weather creek (1) -

We've had over 11½ inches of rain in the past two weeks. I can hear raindrops pattering on the metal roof above my head as I type (one of the best sounds ever), and there are more thunderstorms in the forecast through Tuesday. This never happens in summer. This never happens at all. It's been wonderful. And weird.

The rosemary and lavender plants are very unhappy about their soggy feet (they're now covered with vented plastic laundry baskets in an attempt to keep them from getting any wetter), the 20 tomato plants are looking sicklier by the day, the cherry tomatoes (the only ripe tomatoes in the garden so far) are all cracking, and a lot of rain has fallen inside the leaky Shack, but otherwise things are so far pretty much fine, which is actually kind of a miracle. A lot of places are flooding.

We're thrilled that the hayfield and grazing pastures are getting so much rain after the beating they took during last year's horrendous drought. It's the middle of summer and there's still plenty out there for the sheep and donkeys to eat, with more grass growing up every day. It's hard to believe the farm looked like this last August.

On the way home from an 8-hour errand running trip to town on Tuesday, we stopped to buy 10 pounds of heirloom tomatoes and have a little visit with one of our Amish neighbors. We talked about guinea hens, growing herbs, and of course this crazy weather. I think she figured it out: "We're getting all of last year's rain this year."

As long as we aren't getting next year's rain, that's just fine.

The best part? Our beloved wet weather creek, which usually only runs for a few weeks each year during the winter and/or spring, is swooshing crisp, cool water through the farm during the heat of summer.

10 more photos below. . .

Friday, August 2

Friday Dose of Anonymous Beagle Cute

Bucket Beagle Bert -
Have a delicious weekend.

More beagle Bert? Here.
More farm dogs? Here.

©, good to the last lick.

Thursday, August 1

How To Freeze Blueberries & A Recipe for Easy Blueberry Bonanza Breakfast Bars

Easy Blueberry Bonanza Breakfast Bars with Oat Crust and Streusel Topping -
Celebrate a blueberry bonanza with this triple layer, anytime sweet treat (recipe here).

Got fresh blueberries? Eat some now and freeze some for later. Come winter you'll be really glad you did. And it's so easy to freeze blueberries. (Want to stock up on berries? Find locally grown bounty at or

Some people spread their blueberries out on a baking sheet and let them freeze solid before packing them into bags, like you do with raspberries and strawberries and blackberries to keep them from turning into a giant frozen clump.

But I've found that if you simply fill up a zipper freezer bag or plastic freezer container with blueberries and toss it in the freezer, the berries will freeze individually, allowing you to scoop them out a cup or two at a time (they're great in smoothies).

These scrumptious Blueberry Bonanza Breakfast Bars are my favorite way to celebrate blueberry season. They can be made with either fresh or frozen blueberries, and they don't have to be eaten for breakfast. I originally wrote about them back in 2006, and they've been one of my most popular recipes ever since.

Don't let the three separate layers scare you away; they come together quickly and you only need to dirty up two mixing bowls. They also freeze beautifully. With the oatmeal crust and streusel topping, these bars remind me of an eat-with-your-hands cross between blueberry pie and blueberry crisp.

If you only have a small blueberry haul (maybe because you ate half of them in the car on the way home), you could try the Just Peachy version or the Apple Blueberry version, which call for just two cups of blueberries each. Or use your imagination and what you have on hand; Farmgirl Fare readers have reported delicious success making these bars with blackberries, frozen cranberries, stewed apricots, and raspberries. Enjoy!

Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to come back and report on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest too.

Hungry for more than blueberry bars? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.