Jumping on the Contest Bandwagon

So, it seems that everywhere you look people are having contests. That’s cool. I like contests. So now I’m throwing one myself: a TOMATO contest. But, I got to tell you, I have a couple of ulterior motives. 1. My tomato plants have started working overtime and I need to figure out what to do with all these blasted tomatoes. I love tomatoes, don’t get me wrong, but I’m running out of ways to use them and I just don’t have then energy to can them right now. 2. I kind of want to see how many people actually read this blog enough to submit a recipe. So here we go. These are the rules.

1. The recipe has to feature fresh tomatoes in some way. It doesn’t have to be the MAIN ingredient, but it does have to be important. An example would be the Fish Creole I posted about. That would be acceptable.
2. It needs to be some sort of main dish or a side dish that involves cooking of some sort. No “toss sliced tomatoes with olive oil and salt; serve.” That also rules out salsa. Sorry guys.
3. The recipes need to be submitted by midnight, Thursday the 21st.
4. Up to 2 recipes per person.

The prize will be a $10 gift card to the store of your choice. The options are Wal-Mart, Petsmart and Target.

Judging will not be done just by me. I’ll do the cooking and some of the eating but a few others will be in on the decision as well.

E-mail recipes to me at esbe5687@hotmail.com

Put “Tomato Recipe Submission” in the subject box.

All right, get to it!!!

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Fish Creole

So, remember when I said I lived in Louisiana for a bit while I was growing up? This is a recipe from then. It’s a really simple recipe that captures the flavor of Creole cooking. If you opt for the canned tomatoes instead of slicing up fresh ones then it doesn’t take long at all to get in the oven. It’s also not to heavy. It’s just an all around great meal.

You will need:

4-6 filets mild white fish such as tilapia or speckled trout
Creole seasoning
1 stick butter
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium onion
4-6 stalks celery
1 large can diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the stick of butter in the dish you will be cooking the whole shebang. I usually do it in the oven while it’s preheating. Keep an eye on it when you do it though or it will start to brown. Season the fish with the Creole seasoning and arrange in the bottom of the dish once the butter has melted. Chop up the bell pepper, onion and celery and spread over the fish. In Creole cooking bell pepper, onion, and celery is considered the holy trinity of aromatics. You will find this combination in pretty much every Creole dish there is. I like to chop up my aromatics pretty fine but it’s up to you how you do them. After you spread the aromatics over the fish pour the can of tomatoes over the top. If you want to use fresh tomatoes just slice up enough to cover the top. Bake the dish for an hour and serve over rice.

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Oven Fried Onion Chicken

It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s good. If you like onions that is. And I do. It’s a good way to get crispy chicken without frying it.

You will need 1 large can French’s french fried onions.
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
Seasonings of your choice

Crush the onions in a ziplock bag.

Pound the breasts to an even thickness.

Sprinkle breasts with seasonings, dip into egg and then coat with the onion crumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees until cooked through.

I have been meaning to try this with the cheese flavored French’s. I think that might even out some of the onion flavor.

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Shrimp Mac and Cheese.

My mom invented this recipe years ago when we were living in Louisiana. The only difference is she made it with crawfish tails leftover from when we had a crawfish boil. It’s hard to get crawfish tails in Georgia so now I make it with shrimp. When it’s made with crawfish tails, the seasoning in the tails is all you need. But when making it with shrimp I find it needs a little extra something, hence the basil. The basil, along with the tomatoes on top helps keep it from being too heavy.

You will need:
1 lb shrimp
8 oz dry elbow macaroni or other pasta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup half and half
1 1/4 cups shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped basil
4 small tomatoes, sliced

Dry shrimp and chop. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

In large bowl stir together eggs, butter, half and half, 1 cup fontina cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Stir in shrimp and pasta. Transfer to buttered 2 qt casserole dish. Lay the tomato slices over the mixture and top with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees.

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Fried Green Tomatoes

Um, have I mentioned that I’m from the South? If not, this post should make it painfully obvious.

A few basic facts about the South:

1. We say Sir and Ma’am. Always.
2. We drink iced sweet tea. All the time.
3. We fry stuff.

You will need:

1 large egg, lighty beated
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup all purpose flour, divided
¼ cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 medium green tomatoes, cut into ½ inch slices
Vegetable oil
More salt for seasoning.

Combine the egg and buttermilk.

Combine ½ cup flour and ¼ cup cornmeal in a flat bottomed dish. Add the salt and pepper.

Place the remaining ¼ cup flour in another flat bottomed dish.

Pour Vegetable oil ¼-½ inch deep in a cast iron skillet. Heat oil to 375 degrees.

Dredge tomato slices in the plain flour, then dip in the egg mixture and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. The double dredging will give you a crispier crust.

Cook the slices about 2 minutes on each side, remove, drain on paper towels and salt while still hot.

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Potato Salad

Sorry ya’ll. I can’t post the recipe to this one. It’s a family secret. Well, not the whole recipe. It’s just potato chunks boiled with their skins on, mayo, mustard, eggs, dill relish, salt and pepper. (Which, by themselves make a wonderful potato salad.) It’s just that there are two other ingredients that make it a bit different than your everyday potato salad that I can’t mention.

Under pain of death.

Well, maybe not death, maybe they will just disown me. Either way, I don’t want to test them to see which one they would do to me thank you very much.

There are a few other recipes I can’t post as well. My grandmother’s egg pie, my great-great aunt Effie’s carrot cake (the best in the entire world) and my mom’s pumpkin bread to name three. While I can’t post recipes I still might post pictures to torture you guys. I’m nice like that. ;)

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My Continued Love Affair With Pie

Cherry pie, I love thee. This isn’t you’re momma’s pie; this isn’t a run of the mill sour cherry pie. No, this is a sweet, dark cherry pie. Now, I happen to prefer dark cherries to sour cherries for pie making. But then again I also don’t like to use Granny Smith apples for my apple pie. Call me crazy.

You will need:

3/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp cornstarch
7 cups pitted and sliced sweet cherries
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Your favorite recipe for/brand of pie crust

Combine sugar and cornstarch; add to cherries; then add extract and cinnamon. Transfer cherries to crust lined 9 inch pie pan and top with crust. I prefer to do a lattice crust on this pie. It looks so pretty. I also like to do an egg wash over the top. It makes it glossy.

Place in oven preheated to 375 degrees. You will probably want to put something under the pie to catch the drips. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.

I almost called this entry “The Cherry Murders.” This is what my hand looked like after messing with all those cherries.

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