San Francisco Days and Roasted Tomatoes

One of my favorite houses in the neighborhood.

Out on a trek through the woods of Golden Gate Park with this mini hiker!  

Hey there friends– Back from 3 weeks in San Francisco with new baby Oscar and his dear family. Missing them all from here.

We made this new favorite roast tomato pasta for dinner one evening there, and liked it so much we did it again a couple days later when friends dropped to meet that Oscar!

It’s super simple and the tomatoes and garlic smell incredible roasting in the oven!

8 oz. mini ravioli (or your favorite pasta)*
2 cups small cherry tomatoes (red or yellow)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

garnish: parmesan romano cheese, grated & sprig of marjoram or basil

In a large bowl, stir together the cherry tomatoes, red onion, chopped bell pepper, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then turn it all out onto a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.  Scrape all the extra oil out of the mixing bowl on to the tomatoes.

Pop the tomatoes into a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are just starting to brown a bit.

While they are cooking, cook up your favorite pasta according to the directions on the package.

Drain the pasta and spread it on a pretty platter.  Spoon the tomatoes and all the juices on the baking sheet over the pasta.  Serve it hot with a sprinkle of parmesan.  So so good!

*I used mini ravioli from Trader Joe’s here, but fresh ravioli is the best!

Hi again–

Just wanted to drop in a few more photos of our SF days (bits I want to remember)– Baby snuggling, good talks, quiet meals together, plenty of playground time with an almost 2 year old.  So glad we could be there.

Brand new little Oscar, at the hospital and on his way home for the first time.

Lois lined up with kids waiting to get in the library for story time.  With Mom on the playground.  Lois & Grandma Duplo tower!

And one Sunday morning Larry and I went out on the town– Breakfast at my favorite ever bakery– B Patisserie.  A wonderful worshipful morning of church at Reality SF.  And then off to a cool new cafe for lunch– Theorita, specializing in pies like the baker’s grandma used to make (we split a piece of chocolate, pecan bourbon pie for dessert!)

So glad to have those days to watch our Oscar come into the big wide world– and see him blossom and grow in his new family.  Thanks Ani & Brian for everything!


P.S. Here’s a few other favorite simple pasta recipes:
Broccoli, Chicken & Bacon Pasta
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Saucy Tomato Chicken & Pasta
Creamy Lemon Chicken & Pasta


Fresh Corn, Avocado & Tomato Salad

Hello there– Do you have a summer favorite dish??  Laurel made this for us on our stay with them in Wisconsin and I’ve made it twice already since we’ve been home!  Tonight it was on the table for a cookout at our neighbor’s house– my new summer favorite!!

Sweet charred corn, creamy avocado, summer ripe tomatoes– flavored with just a hint of lime.  Perfect!


3 ears of sweet corn
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lage avocado, peeled, pitted, chunked
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno, ribs & seeds removed, minced
zest & juice of 1 large lime
1/4 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut the corn kernels from the cob, slicing down the cob with a knife. Heat 3 tab. of olive oil in a skillet and drop in the corn for about 4 minutes, until some of the kernels are charred, stirring a couple times while it cooks. Take off the heat and cool the corn.

To make the dressing, carefully removed the ribs and seeds from the jalapeno, then mince it finely.  (I use a plastic bag on the hand holding the jalapeno, to prevent pepper burn!).

Put the jajapeno, lime zest & juice, salt, garlic and oil into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake until the ingredients are well blended.

Add the cut cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and green onion to the cooled corn.  Mix in the dressing and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it up.

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

Hey there–  We have the end of the tomato crop in the house and happily, had saved this beautiful pasta sauce recipe from my blog-buddy Mollie at The Frugal Hausfrau .  I think you’d love here recipes, bright, super practical and always something you’d love to have on your table.

And have to say I love that dinner was ready in about 15 minutes!!  Make a simple salad (greens, nectarine, feta) while the tomatoes cook and dinner’s on the table before you know it.

All to say, this was our dinner tonight, thanks to Larry, the tomato farmer, and Mollie, the recipe inventor.  And it was delicious!

8 oz. pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1  1/2 tab. tomato paste
1  1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped (about 4 cups)
(We mixed a few varieties, including orange cherry tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch sugar (optional)
2 tab. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan
garnish: more parmesan and a sprig of basil

Start the water for pasta and cook it while you make the sauce. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Then put in the onion and cook a couple minutes until it’s tender and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Then add in the tomato paste and cook a minute more.

Finally drop in the tomatoes, pepper, sugar and salt if you think you need a bit of saltiness.  Cook 5 or 6 minutes until the tomatoes release their juices to form a sauce.  Add in the parmesan and cook a minute more.  Stir in the basil.

Spread he pasta on a platter and top with with the sauce.  Garnish with a sprig of basil and more parmesan if you like!  Delish!  Thanks Mollie!


Peaches, Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Hi all– Isn’t August a great eating month??  The tomatoes are ripe and sweet– and peaches, my favorite fruit.  It seems like those peaches are only here for a few weeks ruddy and ripe.  So we’ve been eating both, in just about any form we can get them.

Made up this plate of tomatoes & Peaches with cheese when my siblings came in for Mom’s 86th birthday.  Along with a garlicky grilled tri-tip and a bright green salad and a hearty loaf of bread.  It was a real summer meal.


2 ripe peaches, pitted & sliced
2 cups ripe cherry tomatoes
2 or 3   4 oz. balls of fresh mozzarella
sprigs of fresh basil
serve with chunks of crusty bread on the side

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. honey

So simple.  Arrange the peaches, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil on a platter. Whisk together the dressing until well blended.

Pour dressing over it all when you’re ready to eat.  Lovely served with chunks of crusty bread to sop up the dressing.

Zucchini & Tomato Pasta


Hi all– Still “tomato time” around here.  So many tomatoes!  We are eating them twice a day–lunch and dinner (so far no tomatoes have slipped into our breakfast cereal!)  And this is my favorite use of our “crop” so far.

The little cherry tomatoes burst and shed their juices.  And this mixed with parmesan and garlic makes a lovely rich sauce.  Throw in some pasta and its a pretty perfect summer supper.  I was excited that we had leftovers to enjoy it all over again!

8 oz. of your favorite pasta
6 oz. pancetta (or 6 slices of bacon), chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped to bits
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parmesan romano
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut to shreds

While you are making the tomato topping, put the pasta on to cook.

Cut the pancetta to small bits and cook it in a large nonstick skillet.  When it’s cooked crispy, remove the bacon from the skillet, leaving the fat in the pan.

Put the chopped zucchini in the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt & freshly ground pepper.  Cook 4 or 5 minutes until the zucchini starts to brown, but is still crispy (not soggy!).  Take out the zucchini and set aside.

Then add the tomatoes to the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper and cook on high heat, 7 or 8 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and release their juices.  Add the minced garlic to the skillet the last couple minutes the tomatoes are cooking.  Stir in the parmesan romano, stirring to melt it a bit.

Finally add the zucchini & bacon back to the skillet. Stir in the shredded basil.   Spread the drained pasta on a platter and then top it with the tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

Honey Garlic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Hello all you gardeners (or just plain old tomato eaters!)– I’m pleased to report that Larry’s tomato crop has come in!!  We have piles of tomatoes of all shapes and sizes on the kitchen counter.  That is to say, tomatoes are a mandatory part of every meal around here.

So when Joy and Larry invited us to sit out on their deck in the breeze on Sunday evening, we took along these roasted little cherry tomatoes– with some bread and a little fresh mozzarella to round them out.  Add a glass of wine and convivial friends.  Summer perfect!

4 cups assorted cherry tomatoes*
3 cloves garlic finely minced**
1 tab. honey
3 tab. olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt***
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Put the cleaned tomatoes in a mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl stir together the garlic, honey, oil, salt & pepper.  Then pour it over the cherries and mix until the cherries are well coated.

Turn the cherries out onto a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.  Scrape all the extra oil mixture out of the mixing bowl and drizzle it over the tomatoes.

Bake it all up at 400 degrees for 15 minutes– wonderful serve hot or cooled.

* We used red, yellow and slightly larger purple varieties.
**Love Trader Joe’s minced frozen garlic– so easy!!
*** if you use regular salt in place of sea salt, use less!!  (I learned this the hard way on another dish.)

P.S –These paper thin crackers are my new addiction– You can get them at (where else??!) Trader Joe’s.

Peachy Tomato Salad with Honey Tarragon Dressing


Hi there– I’ve been reading some of my favorite bloggers talking about what’s coming out of their gardens this summer.  Fun to see your kale and summer squash and spicy peppers!  Our humble little garden (besides sprouting lots of weeds!) has produced tomatoes a plenty and nice healthy basil.

So tonight for dinner I wanted to use some of those tomatoes that are piling up in the kitchen!  And here’s the result.  Fresh and bright, colorful and so simple– fine for a summer supper.


4 ripe Roma tomatoes
1 large ripe peach
2 -3 tablespoons feta, crumbled
basil sprigs

3 tab. olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes into wedges and the peach in smallish chunks.  Spread them on a platter and crumble the feta over the top.  Sprinkle on the basil leaves.

For the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar, honey and salt & pepper in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake it until the ingredients combine thoroughly.  Pour it over the salad when you are ready to serve it up.


Tomato Zucchini Ricotta Pizza


Hi there–Went over the Jac & Jackie’s for dinner with a table of friends this week.  There were huge fragrant sales of lasagne and a bright summer salad for dinner.  And to start us off with a little glass of celebratory bubbly wine (one more retirement toast!!), I brought along this “pizza.”  It’s more of an appetizer than a full meal, cut into small slices, but could be a lovely summer lunch or supper as well.


Crust (makes enough for 2 12″ pizza crusts):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Cheese Topping:
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (about 2 oz.)
3 tab. chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tab. milk

Tomatoes & Zucchini:
1 pint small tomatoes (varied colors are nice)
1 small zucchini
3 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
a little more chopped basil for garnish

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch half the dough onto a 12″ pizza pans that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Wrap the other half of the dough in saran and save for another pizza soon.  Cook the dough for 7 minutes at 350 degrees without toppings.

While it’s cooking, mix the ricotta, feta, 3 tab. chopped basil, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt and milk in a bowl.  Set it aside.

Slice the Tomatoes and lay the slices onto a paper towel to drain off extra moisture.  Then with a peeler, shave the zucchini not thin slices.  Mix the zucchini and with 1 1/2 tab. olive oil.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the partially cooked crust.  Layer the zucchini over the top.

Then in a bowl, coat the tomatoes with the other 1 1/2 tab. of olive oil and layer them over the zucchini.  Season with salt & freshly ground pepper.

Pop the pizza into the 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is browned and the ricotta is bubbly.
Sprinkle on a little more chopped basil when you pull it from the oven.  Cut in slices and serve hot.

Simple Tomato Compote on Pasta

Hi friends–  A couple Saturday’s ago, a bunch of us carpooled down to Roger’s Gardens for a morning cooking class.  We sat in a little amphitheater, surrounded by aisles of luscious plants and flowers.  The chef cooked up a few tomato/pepper dishes and passed around samples.  It was a whole lot of fun!

I picked up a new thyme plant for the side yard and sweet pea seeds to plant just ahead.  And then we all headed over to Lemonade for noisy talkative lunch together.  Thanks Lynn for organizing us all– it was a grand day out!

Here’s one of the things that came out of the cooking class.  The chef served it to us on toast as bruschetta, but here at home, we just poured it over pasta.  So quick and easy!!

16 oz. of your favorite pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, cut fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 points cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
salt & freshly ground pepper

Cook your favorite pasta according to the directions on the box.

This is fast, so you can do most of it while the pasta is cooking!  Heat 2 tab. of the olive oil in a skillet.  Drop in the red onion and cook just until it is translucent.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Then add in the cut tomatoes, rosemary and thyme and cook it on medium for about 8 minutes until the tomatoes “wilt” and release their juices.

Finish it off in the skillet with the rest of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the rosemary and thyme.

Drain the pasta and spread it on a pretty platter.  Then scrape all the tomatoes, onion and oil onto the pasta.  Garnish with another sprig of rosemary if you have it on hand.  Enjoy!

And the flowers at Roger’s Gardens were a photo-takers paradise–  They just made yu want to go home and muck about in the garden.  Here’s a few:


And we wound our way down to lunch at Lemonade, a new style cafeteria of little plates– every kind of veggie, grainy, fruity salad you can think of.  Plus sandwiches and hot dishes and several flavors of lemonade!


IMG_2829     IMG_2835
Lunch at Lemonade– a few of the friends set to lunch away and  my fig topped flatbread & berry iced tea.

Linguine with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

IMG_4342Hello all–  We’re finally into the hot days of summer here.  And there are tomatoes out there ripening on the vine as I write. It’s lovely to pick them out in the side yard and carry them right in to use at dinner time.  We’ve been taking brown bags of tomatoes to family–wish I could send off a bagful to you…

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
4 oz. dry salami, cut to bits
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pitted dark olives
1 tab. capers, minced
1/2 cup basil or marjoram, chopped
8 oz. linguine

IMG_4331Cut the tomatoes in half and in a bow, toss them with 2 tab. of the olive oil and a good spinkling of salt and pepper.  Spread them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until they look roasty (but not yet mushy!)

While they are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add in the salami bits and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes until the meat starts to crisp a bit.  Remove the salami from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil.  To the same skilllet add the wine and simmer until it reduces, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Then stir in the tomatoes, capers and olives and toss them in the wine and oil in the pan.  Stir in the salami and basil (or marjoram).

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain it and spoon the warm tomato mixture over the linguine.

Serves 4 a delicious warming supper.


Tomato Gratin

IMG_3439Hi friends–  When we came back from China, Larry had quite a tomato crop waiting for him!  Here’s the truth.  I don’t really like to like to EAT tomatoes, but I love their rich redness and all those beautiful curves.  I have to admit tough, baked up with a sprinkling of panko crumbs and parmesan they do taste yummy in a pizza-ish sort of way.  Larry liked them a lot.  He’s the tomato man.  And you might too.

2 tab. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
6 firm ripe yellow & red tomatoes
1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup romano parmesan cheese
1 tab. fresh thyme leaves (plus a sprig for garnish)
1 tab. more olive oil

Heat a pan with the 2 tab. of olive oil.  Drop in the red onion and when it’s soft add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Slice the tomatoes into nice 1/4 inch slices.  Spray a smallish casserole with cooking spray and layer half of the tomatoes in the dish.  Sprinkle on half the salt and pepper and top with half of the onions.  Then repeat with the remaining tomatoes, salt, pepper and onions.

Mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, thyme and 1 tab. olive oil.  Sprinkle that all over the tomatoes in the casserole.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the crumbs are golden and the juices are bubbling.

Chicken Cutlets with Roasted Corn Hash

IMG_2605Hi friends–  We hit the good neighbor jackpot when we moved into our house next door to Mr. Wicks!  He’s an older gentleman (at least a little older than us), who spent years as a college photography professor.  Nowadays, he’s turned his talents to gardening.  His rose bushes seem to bloom non-stop.  His sunny yellow dahlias are the size of dinner plates!!  And he’s turned his backyard into a mini-farm.  So lucky for us, he occasionally turns up at our door with a sack of his luscious tomatoes.  They were the impetuous for this chicken dinner.  Thanks Bob!!

1 cup frozen corn (or fresh cut off the cob)
2 tab. olive oil
1 few shakes of garlic salt
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup parmesan reggiano cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
a splash of olive oil for frying
3 ripe summer tomatoes
2 tab. red onion, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, cut in slivers (wait til the last minute to cut so they don’t brown)

Stir together the corn, 2 tab. olive oil and garlic salt.  Spread it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, just until the corn starts to brown around the edges.

While that’s roasting, slice the chicken breasts horizontally to make 2 or 3 smaller cutlets each.  Mix the breadcrumbs, garlic and parmesan together in a bowl.  Put the flour in another bowl and beat the egg in a third bowl.  Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan and when it’s hot, one by one, dip the cutlets both sides in the flour, then the beaten egg and last coat both sides with the crumb mixture.  Drop the cutlets in the hot oil and cook them about 3 minutes on each side until they are nicely browned.  Then slide the pan into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to cook them through.

While they are cooking mix the roasted corn with the red onion and basil.  Then when the chicken is ready, slice the tomatoes and arrange the chicken and tomatoes on a platter and scoop the corn “hash” over the tomatoes.

We had this for dinner tonight, along with a green salad topped with almonds and blueberries with a tarragon dressing, brown rice an  a sturdy sour dough loaf of bread.
We liked it just fine.

Chicken Cacciatore

IMG_8685Hello everyone–  My sis Luanne and her Ted are with us  for a few days before they head back to their home in China.  Lulu is my cooking buddy– We specialize in whipping up a whole table full of desserts together.  But tonight it was a quiet dinner at home–  just this Chicken Cacciatore, chicken and a savory sauce piled on a bed of pesto tortellini with a bright crispy salad.

1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
!/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced into bits
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2  14oz. cans petite cut tomatoes with garlic
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 tab. cornstarch

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large pan and then dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and set it in the hot oil.  (If your pan is not large, do just half at a time)  Cook it for 3  or 4 minutes on both sides to brown it well.  Then remove the chicken from the pan.  Scoop the onion and carrot into the hot pan and cook for 4 or 5 minutes until they are tender.  Then add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook a minute more.  Finally, pour in the tomatoes and red wine.  Bring it to a low simmer and tuck the chicken back into the bubbling sauce.  Simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (depending on the size).

Meanwhile, you can cook up the tortellini or pasta.  When the chicken is finished, set it on top of the drained pasta on a platter.  Bring the sauce in the pan to a rolling boil and shake the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water in a little container with a lid.  Mix the cornstarch and water into the boiling sauce and stir a couple minutes until it thickens.  Spoon the thickened sauce over the chicken and tortellini– and dig in!

Chili Pork Salad (with lime cilantro dressing)

Hi there– Laurel and I are just back from our travels and the first thing I wanted for dinner was a big summer salad after all our vacation eating.  Fresh and tangy, this just fit the bill…

3 thin pork cutlets
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground coffee (the surprise ingredient!)
a few shake of salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
a head of red leaf lettuce, torn to bits
a cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 avocado cut in chunks
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cup corn– fresh, frozen or canned…

Mix the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, coffee, salt and pepper in a flat pie pan.  Coat the cutlets in the mixture and grill them in a pan sprayed with cooking spray,  just about 2 minutes on each side.  Cut them into strips.  On a platter, layer the lettuce, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado and finally the pork.  Pour on the dressing just before you serve it up.

1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tab. cilantro, chopped finely
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tab. frozen orange juice concentrate

Mix this all in a container with a lid.  Shake it up until it combines thoroughly and pour over the salad (This may be too much dressing for one salad, but leftover keeps well in the fridge.)

Try eating this salad out in the back yard under a tree.  It tastes twice as good that way!  Hope you like it…

Basil and Tomatoes

Hi all–  It’s warming up around here and the tomatoes in Larry’s garden patch are ripening– I have to admit I’m not a tomato lover,  But-I do like the way they are so bright and happy on the dinner table.  So we’ll be having plates of tomatoes the next few weeks, ALL for Larry!

3 or 4 tomatoes, sliced thin
2 tab. fresh basil, chopped
3 tab. olive oil
1 tab. tarragon vinegar
1 tab. onion, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Just arrange those tomatoes on the plate, scatter the basil on top. Then shake everything else up in a jar til it’s emulsified and  pour it over the tomatoes.  Serve it up and you’ll know it’s summer!