Showing posts with label bell peppers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bell peppers. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Best Salsa I Ever Tasted. Yes, EVER! A snack attack remedy from Cleo Coyle via Nurse Judy Mac

Yes, I do realize that saying something (anything) is the best ever, EVER, is hyperbole. But trust me, today's recipe lives up to my hype. The recipe is not mine, but comes from a follower of this blog: Judy McIntosh, aka "Nurse Judy Mac," which is what her patients call her.

Nurse Judy McIntosh: 
"This is me at Don Pablo's 
for my birthday last October. 
I like the Don's food, but I'd much 
rather have my own salsa!" (Cleo agrees.)

You can read more about Nurse Judy in her fun, funny, (and inspiring) bio below the recipe. (She went back to Purdue at age 32 for her nursing degree and went back for her Master's at age 52.) 
     As for her salsa, Marc and I have tasted many versions of salsa fresca over the years: restaurant pico de gallo, homemade, bottled. This beats the de gallo out of them. It's so good that you'll want to eat it with a spoon, but use tortilla chips for the very best Rx to a snack attack there is.
     Thank you, Nurse Judy, because of you, Marc and I are most definitely eating with joy! ~ Cleo

Fun Foodie Trivia

According to Wikipedia, the term "pico de gallo" is Spanish for "beak of rooster," and at least one food writer claims the name came from the way it was originally eaten, with thumb and forefinger, which meant reaching for the condiment looked like the pecking of a rooster. Others say the name could be a simple reference to the rooster-red color or the minced texture of the sauce, which resembles bird feed. 

P.S. The winner of the official FDNY T-shirt will be announced on this blog at 11:45 PM Wed. (9/19). To see the original post, click here - and thanks to everyone who entered!

Nurse Judy Mac’s 
(Best Ever!) Salsa

Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
A note on the recipe from Cleo: With beautiful, ripe, end-of-summer tomatoes so plentiful (and football season upon us), I hope today's post comes in handy for you. As mentioned above, it came to us via Judy, already canned for the winter, and that's a wonderful way of preparing it, in large batches that can be saved and eaten over the year or given away as gifts (see Judy's note below)...and eat with joy! ~ Cleo

Nurse Judy McIntosh,
who does not wear the
sombrero on duty,
or so her patients claim.
A note on the recipe from Nurse Judy: I am an experimenter in the kitchen, trying this, trying that, and developing some recipes that I am proud of. This salsa recipe is one of them. I don't like hot (even mildly hot) peppers and I REALLY don't like cilantro, but I love garlic and onions and more garlic. The salsa tastes wonderful fresh and just as good when canned. I hope you like it as much as my family, my friends, and I do. I have a friend who's always begging me for salsa. Her annual birthday present is 6 jars of salsa. She takes me out to lunch, I give her salsa! I will tell you that as good as the salsa is canned, the fresh will have you eating it with a spoon. I know because I end up doing it all the time! Enjoy! ~ Judy Mac

Judy Mac's Salsa Recipe

To download a PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes about 3 quarts (6 pints) of salsa


3-4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled 
       (Note: Judy says she gets the best results with the Roma variety. 
       You'll need 3-4 pounds of fresh tomatoes. Use the ripest you can find. 
       Fresh tomatoes will give you the best tasting salsa, but in a pinch,
       you can use top quality, 
canned whole tomatoes.)

4 fresh bell peppers (1 each green, red, orange, yellow), 
        seeded and cut into chunks

1 extra large or 2 large sweet onions, peeled and cut into chunks
        (Note: Judy uses Vidalias)

1/2 to 1 cup diced garlic 

White vinegar (1 cup or more, to taste)

Salt (1 teaspoon or more, to taste)


Step 1 - Scald fresh tomatoes in boiling water until skins start to split. Carefully remove very hot tomatoes from the water and place in a colander and under running cold water to make peeling easier. Cut out the stem end and transfer tomatoes to a bowl. Let sit and allow clear juice to separate from the fruit. (Judy drains and saves this juice for soups or broths by freezing.) Repeat the draining of the tomato juices 2 more times to concentrate the flavor.

Step 2 - Using your food processor's pulse mode, process the cooked, peeled tomatoes until you have the desired texture for your salsa, whether chunky or smoother. Pour the results into a large bowl.

Step 3 - Process peppers and onions, separately, with pulse mode until you see the pieces chopped into the size of small peas. (Note: Do not over process or you’ll end up with pepper/onion soup!) Pour into your large bowl with the tomatoes. Add garlic (adjust to your own tastes) to bowl and stir until well mixed. 

(Judy does not add cilantro or hot peppers to her salsa, however, if you'd like to add these ingredients, process them and place them into the bowl at this stage.)

Step 4 - As Judy says, "This is where you finish the salsa according to your personal taste." Start with 1 cup of the white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the salt, add to the salsa and mix thoroughly. Taste test. Add more vinegar in small amounts until you get a small "bite" of vinegar when you taste the salsa. Adjust salt according to personal taste.

Canning/Jarring the Salsa: 

Method One, Fresh Packing: Fill sterilized quart or pint canning-quality (Mason) jars with salsa to 1/2-inch of top of jar, wipe edge clean of any salsa, put new (sterilized) canning jar lids and rings in place and finger tighten the ring. Place in refrigerator. As the salsa chills, the jars will seal and stay "canned" until the seal is broken and the lid is removed. This is fresh packing.  

Method Two, Hot Water Process: If you'd rather not lose space in your fridge to jars of salsa, Judy suggests that you "hot water process" the jars of salsa in boiling water. You can then store the Mason jars at room temperature indefinitely as long as the lids remain safely sealed. To read more about the process of properly canning/jarring salsa, jump to this Wikihow site page by clicking here.

Awesome Guacamole: 

Judy's final note: "You can take out some of the salsa base before you add the vinegar and add it to fresh avocados with lime juice for an awesome guacamole. Another way to do this is with the canned salsa: simply drain out the excess juice, add lime juice (I prefer Key limes), and avocados."

About Judy

Born in Arkansas with a Mamaw that could cook an old shoe and make it taste wonderful! Learned to cook early out of necessity because the cooking gene skipped my mom. She could paint, sing, sew, quilt, and swing a hammer with the best but she just could NOT cook! I went to Purdue University to become a veterinarian and met a dark haired young man under a piece of mistletoe at a Christmas party. Our first kiss was 30 minutes long! So, of course, we eloped, two and one half months later, over Spring Break, 38-1/2 years ago. (That first kiss is why we always have mistletoe up at Christmas!) 

John and Judy McIntosh

Fast forward three kids, lots of cooking, growing gardens, going back to Purdue at age 32 for nursing, cooking, working, back to school for Master's at age 52, two granddaughters, more cooking, more working, and here I am.

~ Judy

Judy asked me to add
this very kind note...

(Thanks again, Nurse Judy! ~ Cleo)

"I discovered Coffeehouse Mysteries with On What Grounds in the fall of 2003 and fell in love. A book based on the love of coffee! I inhaled the first book and began buying (gasp) whole bean coffee and grinding the beans and discovering what fantastic coffee tasted like. Since that time I have bought every book the minute it became available, buying new varieties of coffee, cooking new recipes, and waiting impatiently for the next Coffeehouse Mystery. 

"I've passed the books to my daughter and my mother, taken fabulous new coffees to work to educate the taste buds of night shift nurses who had become used to drinking coffee that had the smell and consistency of old tar. Along the way I have converted a lot of nurses to what REAL coffee tastes like and I will never drink generic coffee again. Life is much too short to drink bad coffee! And I still wait impatiently for the next new Coffeehouse Mystery so I can roam the streets of New York and learn to love new coffees and new recipes."

Your biggest fan from Day One

Nurse Judy Mac

A Brew to a Kill: A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a national bestseller in hardcover

To see the recipes in my latest
culinary mystery, click here.

Read with joy!
~ Cleo

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

To get more recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about Cleo's books, including
her bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit her online coffeehouse:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mac and Cheese, plus...

Our eldest daughter is home for a while and decided to treat us to one of her favorite comfort foods yesterday. She got this recipe from some very good friends and has tweaked it a bit to make it her own. While I took care of the main entree and one other side, she made this, and told me she was happy to have me share her recipe with all of you.

The original recipe called for standard macaroni noodles and no vegetables, but that's where your creativity comes in. My daughter made this the way she likes it best. She said that last time she made it she tried adding cooked broccoli, but she thought it changed the flavor and the texture was off. After tasting this yesterday (yum!) I'm thinking of other items to add too. This is definitely one of those you can make your own.

Now, I realize it's summer and we don't usually want to turn our ovens on, but around here we've been battling storm after storm, and we needed some comfort food. So we just cranked the air a little bit higher for a short while yesterday. And everything worked out just fine.

By the way, this makes enough for a party!

Mac and Cheese, plus...

6 cups of rotini pasta (there are two boxes pictured here. We only used one.
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
7.5 cups milk
9 cups of shredded cheese (we used cheddar, mozzarella, and cheddar-jack)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the rotini pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Warm the milk in a deep saucepan. Stir in veggies and cook about 5 minutes. Slowly stir in all the cheese, and keep stirring until you have an even consistency.

Transfer half the cheese mixture to baking pans (we used two glass baking dishes), then add all the cooked noodles. Add the remaining cheese mixture. Stir so all noodles are evenly covered.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. At the end of the baking time, turn the oven heat up all the way to 500-550 and bake for an additional 5 minutes to give it a golden crust.

Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

I'm sure this recipe can be halved, but for right now, we're all delighted to have the leftovers. My daughter says it's even better the second day.


By the way, Pub Alley listed Grace Under Pressure as one of its mystery bestsellers last week!