Category Archives: Garden Harvest

Italian Vinaigrette with Grainy Mustard

Best Boy Mustard!  It's the best!

Best Boy Mustard! It’s the best!

This is an update to my Italian Vinaigrette.  My friend at Best Boy & Co. makes amazing mustards, sauces and dry rubs.  I tried his award-winning grainy “Deli Mustard”   in this dressing, drizzled over a bowl of sliced tomatoes and goat cheese….  so good!  I simply substituted this mustard for the Dijon mustard.


Apple Slaw Salad Dressing


The apple slaw is marinating to release the juices from the apples and blend the flavors.

Grilled romaine topped with the apple slaw dressing makes a tasty perch for a grilled veggie burger.

Grilled romaine topped with the apple slaw dressing makes a tasty perch for a grilled veggie burger.



Here’s a great way to up the nutrition content of a salad dressing – add some grated apple for sweetness, crunch and flavor.  I created this hearty dressing to spoon over some grilled romaine and it was very good.  Depending on the sweet/tartness of your apples, you may wish to add some honey.  Let the dressing sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes after mixing to marinate and blend the flavors.  Serve immediately over the Grilled Romaine.  We had for lunch with a grilled Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burger and it was a great taste combination.


Grilled romaine is almost ready for the apple slaw dressing.


2 small apples, peeled and grated – I used Gala because that is what I had

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

4 teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Honey or your favorite sweetener to taste – wait until the flavors have blended a bit to taste before deciding if you need sweetener

Herbs to taste – I used some tarragon and chives.  Basil and mint would also be delish!

Cheese for Garnish – I used Feta.  Goat Cheese, Parmesan and Blue Cheese would be delicious as well.


Mix all ingredients except the garnish in a glass or stainless bowl and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.  Spoon over grilled romaine and garnish with the cheese.  Get creative if you like and garnish with dried fruit (think cherry, cranberry!) or fresh berries and perhaps some toasted nuts.  The sky is the limit – or at least your pantry or closest store…

Southwestern Roasted Potato Salad with Corn and Black Beans

Roasted Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes pair with roasted corn and black beans in a sour cream based tomatillo and cilantro dressing.

Roasted Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes pair with roasted corn and black beans in a sour cream based tomatillo and cilantro dressing.

I created this dish for the neighborhood Memorial Day “Mexican Fiesta” party.  I truly think it could also be called “salad of many bowls and dishes” based on the volume of dishes I washed during the creation….  It was worth it though!  The sour cream dressing is a favorite recipe from my friend, Jackie.  I thought it would taste especially delicious with this potato and vegetable combination.  And it did!  Thanks, Jackie 🙂  As typical for Ms. Creative Recipe, very little measuring went on during the preparation of this dish, other than the dressing which had Jackie’s exact measurements.  I also used whatever veggies I had on hand, so feel free to swap out as you like.

Ingredients – Salad

8 to 10 small Yukon Gold Potatoes – washed and cut into evenly sized chunks

2 to 3 Sweet Potatoes (or yams) – peeled and cut into evenly sized chunks

4 ears Sweet Corn – husked

Butter and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh Lime Juice – 1/2 lime

Salt and Pepper

Sweet Vidalia Onion or Green Onions – very thinly sliced and chopped

Celery – finely chopped

Sweet Bell Peppers – chopped

Yellow Cherry Tomatoes – quartered

1 can Black Beans – drained and rinsed well


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the potatoes in a bowl with olive oil and coarsely ground black pepper.  Spread on a baking pan in an even layer.  I used “release” foil for easy clean up.


Melt butter with salt and lime juice in a small bowl.  Brush liberally over the corn and wrap in a foil packet.


Roast the corn and potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.  Turn the potatoes half way to maximize browning.  Corn may finish before the potatoes. Cool.


Cut the corn off the cob.


Combine the corn with the veggies and tomatoes in a large bowl.


Dice the potatoes and add to the mixture.


Toss gently with the dressing (recipe below) to coat.  Gently toss the black beans with some dressing in a small bowl to coat well without breaking up (so you don’t discolor the salad).  Gently fold the black beans into the potato salad and transfer to a serving bowl.

SW POTATO SALAD (28) (1280x956)


Jackie’s Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing


3 fresh Tomatillos, husked, washed and quartered

1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro – washed

2 pickled Jalapeno peppers

2 cups Sour Cream

2 envelopes (1 oz each) Ranch dressing mix


Place the tomatillos, cilantro and jalapenos in a food processor.


Blend until smooth, scraping down as necessary.


Combine with the sour cream and ranch mix, blending well.






Quinoa Salad with a Hint of Orange

Believe it or not, this was my first effort using quinoa.  I just kept slicing and dicing and mixing and tasting and the end result was pretty good.  Our neighbors were grilling some lamb with mint jelly for a sunset party and I thought this might make a nice side dish.  I garnished the finished salad with crumbled feta cheese and served some extra cheese on the side, which added a nice creaminess and a bit of salt to each bite.   Leftovers were delicious used the next day as an hors d’oeuvres scooped up on pita chips.  I’m documenting from memory here so I can try again with photos when I next have the time.


1 cup Quinoa

2 cups Water

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook five minutes.  Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Fluff and cool.  Toss in a large bowl with the salad ingredients and dressing below.

Salad Ingredients

Use as much or as little as you like and any variety you like, in true Creative Recipe fashion.  This is what I used:

Fresh Carrots – peeled and grated.  I used fresh unpeeled carrots because they really do taste better than the prepackaged minis.  I used the small shred on my hand grater.

Celery – very small dice

Sweet Red Bell Pepper – very small chop (I chose red for the color)

Red Onion – very fine dice

Yellow Squash – grated.  I used one small squash (tastes better than the large) and grated it with the skin on, using the large shred on my hand grater .

Radicchio – thinly sliced and chopped.  This adds a great color and a nice bitter contrast

Mandarin Oranges – 1 can, drained and chopped.  This was an after thought – or I should say after I tasted the salad.  It seemed too much on the bitter side from the radicchio, and the oranges added a nice sweetness and balanced the radicchio.


Juice of 1 small Lemon

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

Sugar or Honey to taste (start with 1 teaspoon and go from there)

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon dried Dill Weed

Coarsely ground Black Pepper to taste





Chili Pork (Carne Adovada)

Chili Pork

Loosely, Carne Adovada is meat (frequently pork) slow simmered in a chili pepper sauce flavored with cumin, Epazote (Mexican oregano) and garlic.  Scott and I first tasted it on a trip to Arizona and fell in love with the flavors.  We set out to create it at home and learned that it is time consuming, very messy, does not require exact measurements  (in fine keeping with Creative Recipe’s style ), lends itself to a variety of chili peppers (a bonus for Scott as he loves to grow and dry a great variety of peppers), and is well worth the time and mess in the kitchen.  While on vacation this year, we decided to make it for a party.  I did most of the food work, and Scott did most of the dishes – gotta love this guy!  We did it in a Crock Pot the day before the party so we could go hiking while it cooked, refrigerated overnight and then reheated in the oven just before the party.


Dried Anaheim Chili Peppers – We used Anaheim and New Mexico Big Jim (a larger version of the Anaheim)

Dried Guajillo Chili Peppers – We used these for extra heat.  Anaheim peppers have some heat, but mostly just a terrific flavor.  We added the Gaujillos because we thought the flavor was a nice complement to the Anaheims and for their extra heat. In the past we have used Santa Fe Grandes as well.  Don’t worry about the hotter peppers if you either don’t have them or don’t like things too spicy.  Most recipes only call for Anaheim peppers in this classic chili sauce, and it is equally delicious with just those.

In total, we probably used around 30 peppers – let’s say 20 Anaheims and 10 to 12  Guajillos – but did I count exactly?  No.

Dried peppers.  The smaller peppers are the Guajillo's.

Dried peppers. The smaller peppers are the Guajillo’s.

Garlic – four cloves, crushed

Ground Cumin – 2 teaspoons (if you have cumin seed, lightly toast in a pan over low heat, cool, and then grind to a powder)

Epazote – Mexican Oregano (easy to find in the Southwest – it really does taste different, so try to find if possible) – 2 teaspoons (or you can substitute oregano, maybe only 1 teaspoon)

Low Sodium Chicken Broth – 5 to 6 cups

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Pork – approximately 4 pounds – we have used pork tenderloin and pork shoulder.  I think I like the texture of the shoulder better, but they’re both good.   If you use the shoulder, cube the raw pork before browning.


Split the dried peppers open and remove the seeds (as best as possible – don’t worry if you don’t get them all as you willl catch the balance in the straining process). “Toast” (really, you’re just heating them) the peppers in a large skillet over low heat until they become a little soft and somewhat pliable.  Be very careful not to scorch them or your sauce will be bitter.  Even Ms. Creative Recipe watches the peppers very carefully while in the skillet.

Chili Pork Toasting

Place the chili peppers in a sauce pan with the garlic, cumin, Epazote and salt.  Cover with the chicken broth.  Simmer 30 minutes or so, until the peppers have absorbed liquid and are very soft.

Toasted peppers, ready to simmer.

Toasted peppers, ready to simmer.

Simmered peppers, ready to puree.

Simmered peppers, ready to puree.

Meanwhile, brown the pork.  I browned the tenderloin in two large pieces since it is a bit more tender than shoulder and since it was going to cook a long time in the crock pot.  When I used shoulder, I cubed it.

Browned to a nice crispy crust to add flavor.

Browned to a nice crispy crust to add flavor.

Transfer the cooked peppers and liquid to a blender in  small quantities each time, and puree well.  Be careful – it’s hot!  This is the really messy part for me – I get pepper puree everywhere!

Chili Pork Puree

Pour the puree through a colander.  This is the time consuming part (as if the whole process has not been already…)  Stir and press to push the sauce and pulp through the colander – remaining seeds and skin will stay behind.

Set the colander over a bowl and stir, stir, stir, press, press, press.

Set the colander over a bowl and stir, stir, stir, press, press, press.

This is what you don't want in your sauce - seeds and the tough skin.

This is what you don’t want in your sauce – seeds and the tough skin.

Eventually, you will have a beautiful sauce!!!!

Chili Pork Peppers Sauce

Place the pork in the Crock Pot and pour the sauce on top.  Cook on low 6 to 8 hours or until pork breaks apart easily.  Break the pork apart into chunks and transfer to a flat pan with the sauce.  Refrigerate.  Reheat at 350 degrees, covered, until hot through.

Eat with tortillas or straight up!  Leftovers are wonderful with scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast, but that’s just one idea.  I bet you can think of many more creative ways to eat this delicious dish.

Green Salad

Mixed Greens Dressed

This is as fresh as it gets – straight from the garden to the salad bowl!  Scott planted a variety of  lettuces in self-watering boxes on our deck this summer so they would get sun with a bit of shade, require very little of our attention and be close at hand for picking.  Tonight’s blend included peppery Arugula, leafy Nevada, some Cimmaron Romaine (a beautiful red-bronze color, though I think it is in the bottom of the bowl in this picture – sorry!), Parris Island Cos (a very tender romaine), a sprig of Basil and a handful of a baby Mesclun blend.   I sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese and drizzled with my Italian Vinaigrette.  Very simple, very good.

The Cimmaron Romaine and Parris Island Cos were planted from seeds we ordered from one of our favorite seed conservation organizations, Native Seeds Search

The best way to wash garden lettuce is in a large bowl of cold water (we use a gigantic stainless bowl).  Don’t overcrowd the bowl with the lettuce; the idea is to get as much water as possible around the leaves to lift off the dirt. Gently swish the lettuce leaves in the water and lift them out into a strainer.  Dirt that was on the leaves is now in the bottom of the bowl.  Empty and rinse the bowl, and repeat until there is no more dirt.  Be very gentle with the lettuce leaves because they can bruise easily – fresh leafy lettuce from the garden is more tender than the sturdy blends from the produce department.

Once clean, we give the leaves a whirl in our salad spinner which gently (there’s that word again) and thoroughly dries the  lettuce leaves.  No soggy salad and the dressing will stick to the lettuce leaves much better.  Scott chose our OXO brand salad spinner – he is a great lettuce picker, washer, spinner guy and he loves to buy gadgets, so it was a win-win all over.  I think salad spinners are way beyond the gadget category, however, and more like an essential kitchen tool.  If you use a spinner, let me know what kind you use and how you like it.

Freshly picked, gently rinsed and spun dry - ready to be dressed!

Freshly picked, gently rinsed and spun dry – ready to be dressed!

Grilled Romaine

Hot off the grill, drizzled with a simple balsamic dressing.

Hot off the grill, drizzled with a simple balsamic dressing.

We recently tried a new restaurant for dinner and Scott’s tuna was served with a wonderful side of smokey, char-grilled romaine.  I remember thinking, “oh, we should try this sometime.”  A week or so later, I found some small heads of fresh romaine at Costco and the package said “perfect for grilling.”  We heated up the grill and though Scott was a bit skeptical about the best way to grill it (use a grill pan, on foil or just on the grill?), we went for it, straight on the grill.  Even though we had never tried this before, didn’t have a recipe, and didn’t even Google it, it turned out great – a perfect “creative recipe” kind of dish!   This is how we did it… Ingredients: Small fresh romaine, trimmed, cleaned and halved lengthwise Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Your favorite balsamic dressing (I made a quick dressing with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and some herbs) Directions: Heat the grill to medium.  Brush the romaine all over with some olive oil.

Small heads of romaine, trimmed and halved, brushed with olive oil, ready for the grill.

Small heads of romaine, trimmed and halved, brushed with olive oil, ready for the grill.

Place cut side down on the grill.  Turn occasionally to desired degree of char-grilled-ness (I am pretty sure I just made up that word.)

Just beginning to char nicely.

Just beginning to char nicely.

When you’re happy with your results, transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with some coarse salt and cracked pepper and drizzle with balsamic dressing. A bit more to the story….  That perfect looking romaine half, nicely held in the grill tongs above, soon began to fall apart, meaning the outer leaves came loose.  This made Scott a little nervous, being a more precise kind of grill chef, and he  turned the romaine over to me.  I wasn’t fazed in the least, kind of liking the idea of the outer leaves getting some good grill time on their own – for some extra smokey char-grilled-ness.

Got a little crazy as some of the outer leaves fell off.  But no worries!  The finished dish still came together perfectly.

Got a little crazy as some of the outer leaves fell off. But no worries! The finished dish still came together perfectly.

And the end result both looked and tasted spectacular.  We had compact halves that were char-grilled and even a bit crunchy in the center, along with some extra char-grilled, bit more wilted outer leaves.  Perfectly delicious!  (If you’re more precise, perhaps a skewer stuck horizontally through the romaine would prevent the outer leaves escaping in the future.) While we ate dinner, Scott started thinking of all kinds of ways to trick this up with various dressings, some diced roasted beets, some goat cheese crumbles, and on and on.  Whether you go basic or more creative, the grill part is simple, simple, simple.  Have fun!