“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” – Harriet Van Horne
It’s amazing how the garden produces with just a bit of tender loving care, some sunshine, and of course water. This summers garden produced an abundance of tomatoes & peppers. This recipe is for sure one of our summer time favorites, & I sure hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!
Pro tip: You can use canned tomato juice, but making your own is soooo easy if you have extra tomatoes! Read below for a quick how-to!
Our Favorite Recipes
5 peppers, halved 1 pound lean ground beef 1 pound lean ground pork 2 cups Jasmine rice, cooked 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 cups PLUS 3 ½ cups tomato juice 1 cup mozzarella cheese ½ cup grated parmesan cheese ½ cup minced red OR yellow onion 2 fresh cloves of garlic minced OR 2 tsp jarred 1 tsp salt- divided 1 tsp pepper- divided 1 tsp Italian Seasoning- See link for the recipe on how to make your own!
Home Made Tomato Juice
Here’s a simple how-to make homemade tomato juice!
Wash your tomato’s; cut off any bad spots and stem ends.
Cut the tomato’s into large chunks and blend in a food processor.
Once they are blended, measure out how much you will need for the recipe. Anything extra you can freeze or can.
Pro tip: There is no need to remove seeds as they will never be noticeable once processed. I have done this for years & no one has ever noticed!
1. Cut your peppers in half & clean out all seeds & white membranes.
2. In a frying pan add oil and minced onion; sauté on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes until golden, and then add minced garlic; sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
3. In the meantime while your onions & garlic are sautéing, cook rice according to package instructions. Set aside until ready to use.
Pro tip: You can add a TBSP of butter to the rice to prevent it from sticking.
4. Once the onion & garlic are finished sautéing, add both pork & beef, Italian seasoning, ½ tsp each salt & pepper to onion garlic mixture; fry while cutting into the meat until crumbly and done, about 20 minutes; drain grease from meat mixture in a colander.
5. In a large bowl add meat mixture, cooked rice, 2 cups of the tomato juice, remaining salt & pepper, and parmesan cheese; mix until well blended; add the remaining 1 ½ cups of tomato juice reserving the additional 2 cups.
6. Pour remaining 2 cups of the tomato juice into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread until covering the entire bottom.
7. Take ½ cup of meat and rice mixture and fill each pepper half; place in the baking dish side by side until all are filled. Use the remaining meat and rice mixture and fill around the peppers.
8. Divide mozzarella cheese evenly across the tops of each pepper half.
9. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 45 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and peppers are soft enough for a knife to go through.
I really enjoy making things from scratch, which is why I wanted to share a super easy how-to make your own tomato juice.
“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” Alfred Austin
Did you know that September is the best time to plant your garlic for the following season? Garlic is a staple in our home, and goes into most dishes.
There are two types of garlic, hardneck & softneck. Generally hardnecks tend to be more flavorful, where softneck varieties have a more mild flavor. These flavors are determined by the location & temperatures in which they were grown. Hardneck garlic grows best in Northern climates and can withstand cold winters down to zone 0. Softneck garlic prefers hot summers and mild winters from zone 8 to 12.
Here are my top picks for each variety.
Hardneck: Music is a delightful and pungent flavored white bulb. German Red, a beautiful variegated bulb of white and red hues sporting a wonderful garlic spice to the pallet.
Softneck:Corsican Red originated in the Mediterranean island of Corsica and has a mild, complex & fruity aroma. Inchelium Red has a medium spiciness with a mild pungent taste.
Step 1: Choosing the perfect garlic bulb is essential. Make sure there are no defects, rotten spots, and find the largest bulbs. Whatever qualities the bulb you choose has will be developed in it’s next generation.
2. Once you’ve selected the best bulbs, divide them into separate cloves. Leave the skins on.
3. Make a hole in loosened soil about 4 inches deep. Placing the flat root side down put one clove into the hole; cover with dirt and tamp lightly; I cover with mulch, which happens to be grass clippings here.
Step 4. Repeat this process, planting your cloves about 4 to 6 inches apart. I recommend you place a stake in the ground marking it as garlic and the date you planted it. Despite our best intentions, we will forget! I even go as far as to take a photo & put it in my garden journal/ planner for the following growing season. If you plant in raised beds it will definitely be easier to remember, but still jot it down! If you don’t keep that kind of information, I highly recommend you start!
Garlic is not for the faint of heart, it takes patience but the reward is worth the wait! …now walk away and dream of spring, because this is where the patience starts.
Click this link for my recipe for Garlic- Thyme Infused Oil. It’s wonderful to toss in pasta or baste on fish or any meat. https://bit.ly/3R4b8dm
If you enjoyed this post please like, share, and let me know your tips & tricks for planting garlic. What’s your favorite variety? Please follow me on Facebook for fun & informative posts!
Several years ago my good friend Kate Lawson, former food writer for The Detroit News shared her Italian Wedding soup recipe with my daughter. It quickly became one my families favorites. I have of course altered it to be my own & to suit our taste buds over the years. Hers was of course dynamite, but I love to be creative in the kitchen.
Pro Tip: I always use fresh veggies from the garden or the farmers market if in season & if not I purchase them. Fresh veggies always give a much fresher flavor to this delicious soup!
1 pound lean ground beef 1 small red onion minced- about ½ cup 1 egg (farm fresh are best) ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese 1 fresh clove of garlic, minced 1 TBSP Italian Seasoning- see my recipe here: https://bit.ly/3dRCzIW ½ tsp Himalayan sea salt ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
In a large bowl mix all ingredients until evenly blended.
Form into walnut size or 1” balls.
Place on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm. Makes approximately 24-28 meatballs.
While the meatballs are setting, start soup.
1 TBSP butter 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1 cup sliced baby carrots- cut into ¼ inch coins ½ cup minced red onion, packed 1 fresh clove of garlic, minced 1- 48oz container of beef broth 4-6 tomatoes pureed to make 2 cups OR 1- 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes or sauce (I like to use either a variety of Heirloom tomatoes or Roma’s) ½ cup grated parmesan cheese ½ tsp Himalayan sea salt ½ tsp fresh ground pepper 1- 16 ounce bag of 5 cheese tortellini 1 cup baby spinach, packed
In a large pot put oil, butter, onions, carrots, and minced garlic in. Cook on medium heat for approximately 7-10 minutes or until veggies are fork tender.
Add meatballs into veggie mixture, mix thoroughly, and sauté meatballs until golden brown on outside- approximately 10 minutes.
Add broth, tomato puree, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper; stir until thoroughly blended, cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally bringing to a low boil.
Add tortellini and spinach, stir in and cook for 7 minutes.
This is a hearty soup and is delicious served with fresh Italian bread. Sprinkle a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top & enjoy!
What’s your favorite soup? Tell me in the comments!
If you enjoyed this blog, please LIKE it & Follow me for weekly posts! Happy day friends, Jean
One of my favorite things to do is attend area farmers markets. Whenever I travel I immediately look up any surrounding farmers markets, and you better believe if we can attend, we do!
Here are my Top 5 reasons to support our local farmers markets.
1. Support your local economy by supporting your local farmers & entrepreneurs!
As educated consumers we want to know where our food is coming from. We’re tired of food being mass produced on assembly lines with labels sporting names of ingredients that can’t even be pronounced. We want clean & healthy food locally sourced & grown. Where do you get this great stuff you ask? You get it at your local farmers market!
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Released August 17, 2020, “On an average market day, 916 households shopped across markets in the U.S. and spent $14,547 per farmers market. Farmers Market Managers served as paid employees in 4,321 markets, while in 3,162 they served as volunteers. On average, the paid Farmers Market Managers earned $18.40 per hour. Managers worked an average of 19.4 hours per week. “ Taken from https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/pz50hd694/gx41n598k/jd473j98z/nfar0820.pdf
2. Support your local farmers & entrepreneurs!
Direct marketing of farm products through farmers markets continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide. Small businesses can get their product out to a fresh target market at a very reasonable cost. Markets can eliminate the need for a brick and mortar facility and all the expenses associated with it. Most importantly, it allows customers to build relationships with producers. You can see the positive impact of supporting local from this infographic for the Kalamazoo Michigan Farmers Market.
3. Explore new varieties of fresh fruits & veggies, & other healthy foods!
I’ve often been asked, “What’s an Heirloom?” or told “I’ve never seen a purple carrot!!!” Well, you’ll find a plethora of Heirloom varieties including purple carrots at most farmers markets!
Tomatoes are by far the hottest item in the Heirloom market, but there are several varieties of eggplant, squash, carrots, beans, and so much more.
Besides providing a wide range of fresh fruit and veggies, you’ll be dazzled by a slew of delicious baked goods, dairy, egg and meat products, honey and maple syrup, body care products, both fresh and dried herbs, along with all types of artisan products. Some of these include handcrafted baskets, wooden bowls and cutting boards, as well as beautiful pottery, jewelry and several forms of art media. Pricing is typically very reasonable when compared to brick and mortar stores. Everything at the market is fresh from that day or the day before, unlike grocery store produce which has been shipped and transported for days.
Many markets incorporate kid’s programming, cooking demos, health fairs, & live music, to name just a few! The reason is simple: it is every market’s mission to provide healthy, nutritious, reasonably priced food to all people.
The farmers market is an ideal project for every community to incorporate. It promotes healthy eating, and enables community members to build relationships with their local producers.
One incredible program many farmers markets offer is The Power of Produce Club (POP Club). The POP Club provides both an educational & entertaining opportunity for children to engage in their market with the opportunity to discuss produce with the market farmers while exposing them to new & unique fruits and vegetables. ” In addition to participating in educational activities, POP Club kids receive vouchers to spend at the market, allowing them to make their own shopping decisions at the market.”
Ask your farmers market manager if this is available, if not tell them how to participate!
5. Connect with your community!
Farmers markets provide a place where the community can come together, meet and shop locally. The market is a gathering place for friends and family. Markets offer fresh products locally produced, face-to-face interaction with producers and artisans, live entertainment, family activities, all the while supporting the local economy.
“According to the USDA, Farmers Markets are an integral part of the urban/farm linkage and have continued to rise in popularity, mostly due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products directly from the farm. Farmers markets allow consumers to have access to locally grown, farm fresh produce, enables farmers the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their customers, and cultivate consumer loyalty with the farmers who grow the produce.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article. Please like it & leave me a comment! Let me know what your favorite farmers market is, and where it’s located! I’d love to visit if I’m ever in the area! Maybe we can meet up for a coffee!
Please share this blog if you found it informative, and follow me on Facebook for fun & informative content! Happy day, Jean!
It has been awhile since I penned any lines here. This was a place I often meandered to when a reprieve from the daily chaos was needed. This was my happy place… and it will be again!
I’m so excited to return and share the many wonderful things which have happened in my life since my last entry.
Over the last six years a couple of my children have grown & had children of their own (I’m a grandma two times… more boys!), one became a Marine, and my youngest started playing football. My life is filled with so much joy… and still some chaos- but we focus on the joys. Life is too short!
In just a few short weeks I will marry my best friend, and the best thing that has ever happened to me.
But that’s not it friends! I have a few big projects in the works.
I am working on publishing a new cookbook with all my favorite recipes, AND a compilation of For Dragonflies & Me blogs in one concise book both in print & eBook!
Even more exciting is my new Podcast in the making… you’re gonna love it!
Of course these will all take some time, but I promise to keep you updated on the progress.
I might even have a call out for my book cover!
Keep posted for weekly blogs and of course follow me on Facebook for updates, beautiful photos, and fun memes!
Thanks to Moonlight Photography for taking our beautiful engagement photos!
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Garlic is gold. This gold takes patience for sure.
The clove is tenderly placed in the cool earth and then carefully buried into a wintery grave.
The ground freezes with this little life waiting… sleeping…
Snow falls. Insulates. Freeze.
Soon will come the spring… my time of joy will come again. When I can step outside, closing my eyes to inhale the good clean smell of mud… grass… wind through the trees… earth smell. All you gardeners reading this are holding your breath… imagining and understanding fully what I’m saying… goose bumps…
You know because you love the same things I love.
So now that I’ve got you all excited to garden again… here’s the easy as one, two, three planting guide!
1. Using your nicest, largest bulbs, divide them into separate…
The longing of my soul for warmth and sunshine is becoming deeper everyday… especially now that the calendar says it’s truly spring. I, as I’m sure so many others, are anxious for warmer days. This winter was a trial for many of us die-hard gardeners… even for winter lovers.
I long to place my hands into the warm soil… sense the life force that dwells within the seeds… watching life spring forth out of nothingness… yes we are gardeners.
Many of you who are my friends on For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page have witnessed many changes take place in my life over the last several months. I’ve sadly left my beloved farm in the thumb of Michigan for a newer, brighter location that I now call home. I am blessed to be living at a wonderful greenhouse/nursery that I am in my literal heaven on earth. I would like to thank all of my followers for their patience as I needed a hiatus from the love of my life… my writing… But now things are in order and I feel that I can put my whole heart back into my passions…
We are like plants… we are conceived… we are born… we live… we struggle… then all too soon we will die. But… in the midst of all this we find joy in life and living it to the fullest…
It is spring… and I am ready to live my life to the fullest… I hope all of you will continue to join me here as I share my love with all of you…
It’s time to start thinking about starting seeds and planning our gardens. Starting Seeds in doorsis very easy and extremely rewarding! All you need is a few everyday household items~
*If you buy organic baby lettuce, greens or spinach than you will have access to those handy clear plastic containers with lids. These are perfect for seed starting. Be sure to poke several drainage holes on the bottom of the container.
*Fill your container about 2/3 way full with a good organic potting mix. Plant your seeds as package describes. Be sure to follow planting dates on packet. Water accordingly.
*Put the lid on, which will give a greenhouse effect. You will not have to water due to the condensation that will be created.
*Put in a sunny window and wait until seeds start to sprout see seed packet instructions.
*Once the seeds start to germinate, remove lid and water according to packet instructions. Another easy but more extravagant way is to set your flats on a table and hang lights on ‘s’ hooks with light chains from the ceiling in a warm basement or other room. The lights must be no more than 3 to 6 inches from the top of the flat (or the plants once they start growing), so be sure to make your light set up adjustable. Plain old fluorescent shop lights work best for starting seeds, or you can even purchase ‘grow lights’ from greenhouse supply companies or seed catalogs.
*You can go to any big box retailer and purchase really slick ‘seed starting’ kits. Follow instructions on kit…. and enjoy! Transplant outdoors following packet instructions.
Here’s an easy and inexpensive recipe for liquid fertilizer. You can use this for both house plants as well as your outdoor potted plants. I’ve shared this recipe before, but it’s worth a repeat.
Easy Liquid fertilizer~ to give your house plants and potted outdoor plants an extra boost, add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt and 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion plant fertilizer to 1/2 gallon of water, then stand back and watch’er grow! Extra fertilizer water can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months.
Please feel free to share this information with your friends… and I hope you’ve found it helpful. Please be sure to follow me on Facebook for daily posts!
You’re probably wondering why I am talking about seed shopping and gardening in December… well I realize some of my readers live in areas where they have the luxury of year round planting. While others, like myself living in cold climates have green houses and hoop houses to play in. Yet other home gardeners in cool climates are trying to get through these next few months cheerfully! I say, “Who cares if the calender says December!”… now is the time when us gardeners yearn and long for the arrival of those beautiful seed catalogs! As they make their arrivals in our mailboxes we gather them together, cozy up with a cup of java, a fuzzy blanket on our favorite chair with a notebook… ready to start making our lists of ‘new’ varieties! We flip and long for the life that spring and summer bring into our lives… we long even…