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Bourbon caramel sauce
Today, this truly outstanding caramel sauce is making its second appearance on tango-mango, only because it came to my attention that it was never catalogued in my recipes link. Mea culpa! You may not have tried to find it, but I did!
All fixed. To find the recipe for this eye-rolling good, whiskey-infused bourbon caramel sauce, go here. Or, you can now go into my RECIPES AND IN MY KITCHEN link and find it under “Desserts”.

See you later… off to grab the Maker’s Mark.

Bourbon caramel sauce

Today, this truly outstanding caramel sauce is making its second appearance on tango-mango, only because it came to my attention that it was never catalogued in my recipes link. Mea culpa! You may not have tried to find it, but I did!

All fixed. To find the recipe for this eye-rolling good, whiskey-infused bourbon caramel sauce, go here. Or, you can now go into my RECIPES AND IN MY KITCHEN link and find it under “Desserts”.

See you later… off to grab the Maker’s Mark.

Garden tart

  • Fresh cherry tomatoes and zucchini from the garden? Check.
  • A beautiful hunk of mozzarella cheese in the cheese drawer? Check.
  • A small bowl of leftover ricotta cheese-spinach filling in the frig? Check.
  • One sheet of frozen puff pastry? Check.

Hmm… what to do with all of this abundance. How about a summer-inspired tart? I knew this was going to be good as I started formulating it in my head. A tumblr follower, Churrlo, suggested I create a galette with some of our summer vegetables, and that thought had been in the back of my mind for a week or so. The galette may still make an appearance, but their suggestion was inspiration enough to create a similar tart. The vegetables were roasted first and then enveloped in a cheesy, pesto-filled puff pastry shell. You could hear the crackle of the pastry as we took bite after bite of this amazing dish.

A note about the ricotta cheese-spinach filling — The first time it appeared on this site was when I stuffed fresh, tender zucchini blossoms with it. (You can find that beautiful recipe here.) However, you can also use it in stuffed pasta shells or lasagna. Yesterday I had a little leftover filling in my refrigerator, so it seemed like an obvious choice to include it in this tart.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble to make the ricotta cheese filling (I only used about 1/2 cup, so I understand if you don’t), you can skip it all together and just use the pesto as a base. I haven’t tried that, but I bet it would be delicious!

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry – thawed according to package directions
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1/2 cups ricotta cheese-spinach filling 
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan with a Silpat sheet or parchment paper. Scatter zucchini and tomatoes over surface. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until soft.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, lightly dust work surface with flour and roll pastry until flattened. Transfer pastry to baking sheet. Using a very sharp knife and a very light touch, score pastry one-inch away from edges, being careful to not cut completely through. Spread pesto over center portion of pastry, all the way to scored edge. Spread ricotta filling over pesto. Top with roasted vegetables and then mozzarella cheese. Brush edges with egg.

Bake tart for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pastry is a deep golden brown and has puffed up in center. Cut tart in 4 or 9 pieces and serve.

It takes a lot of hard work to maintain a big garden. Because we don’t have a huge amount of space, we grow vertically whenever we can. Two of our tomato plants are now about 9-feet tall, and our pole beans are 12-feet tall. Creating structures to support this type of growing style and continuing to tie the tomatoes at this height (let’s not even get into picking) is a challenge.
The task of harvesting is divided between my husband and me. However, he does all the planting and heavy lifting, he has the green thumb, and he’s the genius behind creating stunningly tall and beautiful plants. The kitchen is my domain. It’s where I turn this beautiful bounty into what goes on the table.
As I sorted through what we harvested yesterday, I noticed my husband’s work gloves on the table next to a few cherry tomatoes. They were positioned exactly the way he had taken them off – one glove holding the other. I admired the leather, how it was still soft near the wrist, but stiff and worn at the fingertips. Those gloves show the hours and hours of work and dedication to his craft.
Time to go pick. I bet I’ll find a couple of ripe zucchini, what do you think?

It takes a lot of hard work to maintain a big garden. Because we don’t have a huge amount of space, we grow vertically whenever we can. Two of our tomato plants are now about 9-feet tall, and our pole beans are 12-feet tall. Creating structures to support this type of growing style and continuing to tie the tomatoes at this height (let’s not even get into picking) is a challenge.

The task of harvesting is divided between my husband and me. However, he does all the planting and heavy lifting, he has the green thumb, and he’s the genius behind creating stunningly tall and beautiful plants. The kitchen is my domain. It’s where I turn this beautiful bounty into what goes on the table.

As I sorted through what we harvested yesterday, I noticed my husband’s work gloves on the table next to a few cherry tomatoes. They were positioned exactly the way he had taken them off – one glove holding the other. I admired the leather, how it was still soft near the wrist, but stiff and worn at the fingertips. Those gloves show the hours and hours of work and dedication to his craft.

Time to go pick. I bet I’ll find a couple of ripe zucchini, what do you think?

I can barely contain myself when I make this salad. I have no idea where the recipe came from years ago, but the faded index card says that the salad is supposed to be served chilled. No way. I can never wait that long – once the dressing goes on I’m all over it.
This salad, like caprese salad, is a summertime food. You can really taste the difference when using only the best, freshest tomatoes.
I bet ten dollars that my mom will make this salad within a couple of hours after she sees this post. (We’re both big fans.) 
Black bean and barley salad
Salad Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium-sized garden tomato, chopped (I throw in some halved-cherry tomatoes if I have them)
1/2 cup chopped celery
Directions:
Rinse the barley. Cook the barley in the chicken broth until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain any remaining broth from barley and measure out 1 cup for the salad.  
Combine the cooked barley, black beans, tomatoes and celery in a bowl. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Chill.
Spicy Citrus Dressing
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best, and you can really taste the difference)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions:
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

I can barely contain myself when I make this salad. I have no idea where the recipe came from years ago, but the faded index card says that the salad is supposed to be served chilled. No way. I can never wait that long – once the dressing goes on I’m all over it.

This salad, like caprese salad, is a summertime food. You can really taste the difference when using only the best, freshest tomatoes.

I bet ten dollars that my mom will make this salad within a couple of hours after she sees this post. (We’re both big fans.) 

Black bean and barley salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium-sized garden tomato, chopped (I throw in some halved-cherry tomatoes if I have them)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery

Directions:

Rinse the barley. Cook the barley in the chicken broth until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain any remaining broth from barley and measure out 1 cup for the salad.  

Combine the cooked barley, black beans, tomatoes and celery in a bowl. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Chill.

Spicy Citrus Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best, and you can really taste the difference)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

Putting shrimp in a potato-corn chowder seems to be popular these days. I’ve seen similar recipes in two of my newest cooking magazines. I love the idea, but as I read through each recipe, I thought there was room for improvement. Making potato soup with corn and shrimp isn’t rocket science, so it was easy to figure out how to create my own version.
This was unbelievably good. Good enough for a special occasion, and certainly an appropriate late-summer meal when fresh thyme, potatoes and corn are all at their peak.
We ate this exquisite soup with a crusty baguette, some sweet-cream butter, and a green salad. Perfection.
Potato-corn chowder with shrimp and crispy bacon bits. Serves four.
Ingredients:
4 slices bacon, fried crisp
2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
3 tablespoons flour
Leaves from 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, plus additional for garnish
1 large potato, scrubbed and diced (I used a Yukon Gold, which didn’t put a dent in the 30+ pounds we harvested last week)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh-ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth
Fresh corn cut from 3 ears (you can substitute 1 1/4 cup frozen corn)
12 to 14 large, peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 21-25 size because that’s what we have on hand)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk, or more, depending on the consistency you like
Directions:
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat. Cook onions until they’re transparent and golden, about 7 minutes. Add the flour, and cook for another minute or two. Add the potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir. Pour in the chicken broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Continue to stir the soup base until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and let soup simmer gently, covered for 7-8 minutes, or until potatoes are firm-tender, stirring occasionally. (You don’t want the potatoes to get completely soft, because they’ll continue to cook in the next step.)
Uncover soup and add the corn and shrimp. (Soup will be thick.) Again, bring up the heat until your soup just begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for an additional 5 minutes or just until the shrimp is cooked, stirring frequently.
Finally, add the heavy cream and milk. Heat only until soup is heated through. Add most of the bacon bits. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Serve soup in preheated bowls. Garnish with reserved bacon bits and thyme leaves.

Putting shrimp in a potato-corn chowder seems to be popular these days. I’ve seen similar recipes in two of my newest cooking magazines. I love the idea, but as I read through each recipe, I thought there was room for improvement. Making potato soup with corn and shrimp isn’t rocket science, so it was easy to figure out how to create my own version.

This was unbelievably good. Good enough for a special occasion, and certainly an appropriate late-summer meal when fresh thyme, potatoes and corn are all at their peak.

We ate this exquisite soup with a crusty baguette, some sweet-cream butter, and a green salad. Perfection.

Potato-corn chowder with shrimp and crispy bacon bits. Serves four.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, fried crisp
  • 2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Leaves from 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and diced (I used a Yukon Gold, which didn’t put a dent in the 30+ pounds we harvested last week)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Fresh corn cut from 3 ears (you can substitute 1 1/4 cup frozen corn)
  • 12 to 14 large, peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 21-25 size because that’s what we have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk, or more, depending on the consistency you like

Directions:

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat. Cook onions until they’re transparent and golden, about 7 minutes. Add the flour, and cook for another minute or two. Add the potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir. Pour in the chicken broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Continue to stir the soup base until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and let soup simmer gently, covered for 7-8 minutes, or until potatoes are firm-tender, stirring occasionally. (You don’t want the potatoes to get completely soft, because they’ll continue to cook in the next step.)

Uncover soup and add the corn and shrimp. (Soup will be thick.) Again, bring up the heat until your soup just begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for an additional 5 minutes or just until the shrimp is cooked, stirring frequently.

Finally, add the heavy cream and milk. Heat only until soup is heated through. Add most of the bacon bits. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.

Serve soup in preheated bowls. Garnish with reserved bacon bits and thyme leaves.

My mom had a talent of making cheap food taste good. The older I get, the more I understand what a great gift that is.

T.V. dinners were a new commodity when I was kid, but I suspect they weren’t cheap. Ads on our black and white television showed modern, shiny, compartmentalized trays with different, exciting foods occupying each section. They even included dessert! We didn’t buy them. Instead, my mother fixed potato soup, city chicken, “spaghetti” (not a pasta shape here, but a name to describe a tomatoey meal with ground beef over noodles), a variety of casseroles, creamed chipped beef on toast, and red Jell-O with fruit cocktail. Despite her lack of resources, she was a talented cook and I don’t remember much complaining.

We weren’t dirt poor, but the budget was tight. The Sunday beef roast was stretched into soup that night and then into sandwiches for the first few days of the week. My mom worked hard and had six hungry mouths to feed. Some things don’t change.

Every Saturday for lunch my mom made a simple potato soup. She would give each of us a square of waxed paper as a “plate”, and there were bologna sandwiches, sometimes Smokey Links, but potato soup was a constant. I loved it. Saturday lunch was my favorite meal of the week.

A few days ago I created a delicious, glorified potato soup with fresh corn and big, succulent shrimp. (Technically, it’s a “chowder” if you add corn.) As we ate it, it wasn’t lost on me that it was a far cry from that soup I grew up on – something light years away from what my parents could have afforded every Saturday for years.

Next up, potato-corn chowder with shrimp and crispy bacon bits.

Potato soup recipe on tango-mango from three years ago.