Tag Archive for tomatoes

25 Ways to Use Excess Tomatoes from the Garden

25 Ways to Use Excess Tomatoes from the Garden

There’s that certain time of the year when produce from your garden is drowning you from every side. What do you do with all the excess tomatoes your garden produces? You know in a few months, you’ll be longing for those delicious home-grown tomatoes again and they will be nowhere near.

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What’s Growing on in the Garden in August?

children's garden in august

okra and sweet potatoes growing strong in the garden in august

The month of August has been riddled with disappointment in the Little Sprouts garden. We fought squash bugs that decimated all the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and now melons. We fought armadillos, raccoons, and possums. It seems like everything that could come against our growing has. But the good news is we still grew 115 pounds of food in August.

gardening with kids, okra and watermelon

early august produce in the children's garden

Normally August would be our glut of produce month, but the animals stripped the peaches, plums and apples off the trees. In addition, they stole most of the melons and stripped the tomatoes and tomatillos bare of all green fruit.

possum damage in the children's garden

We have been busy picking squash bugs by the hundreds, and trapping live animals and relocating them in the country where there aren’t any people living. We have trapped 4 raccoons and 7 possums to date. We have evidence of an armadillo and at least one more raccoon that remain at large.

garden eating raccoon

Most of our garden has died off from heat or bugs, but we are still growing sweet potatoes and okra. Our tomato and tomatillo plants are flowering again now that temps are under the high 90s every day again. Maybe if we don’t get a frost, we will have another round of fruits to enjoy. We are still growing hot peppers as well.

We have planted quite a few seeds for a fall garden and they are beginning to germinate now. I also purchased some fox and coyote urine to try to deter any more animals from wanting to hang out in the garden. We do have one helpful creature hanging out in the garden, this cute watch kitty. She’s exterminated a few pests for us and all she asks in return is to lay in the cool dirt of the garden (sometimes on a seedling or two) and to get a few pats on the head or scratches on the ear. She’s a keeper.

watch kitty in the garden

giant carrot in children's garden

garden harvest, gardening with kids

Our total produce production so far this season is 453 pounds of healthy, delicious, chemical free food for the kids and Mr. Kent and I to enjoy. Not what we had hoped, but definitely nothing to sneeze at. We have eaten watermelon, cantaloupe, hot peppers, okra, tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, onions, Swiss chard, butternut squash, garlic, green beans, drying beans, cabbage, spaghetti squash, peaches, figs, peas, broccoli, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, spinach, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, radishes, and Brussels sprouts. What’s growing in your garden today?

 

Playful Pinwheels-Cooking with KIDS!

Pinwheels, cooking with kids

Making pinwheels is a great activity for kids to do. Cooking with kids is fun and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Letting kids prepare their own food builds self-esteem, self-help skills, fine motor skills, social skills, and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Kids who prepare food are much more likely to want to try new and healthy things. Click here to see more benefits of cooking with kids.

Usually when a new child enters my program, whether they are a picky eater or not, at first they don’t try many new foods they haven’t seen before. Once we begin to build trust, they may try a few more things, but after we begin preparing food together, the kids really branch out and try more and more things. Introducing a new food takes some patience. You have to offer a food 11 times before the child no longer considers it something new. So don’t give up, healthy habits are worth the effort! By the time children have been at Little Sprouts for a few months, most of them are eating a much bigger variety of foods than they did before they came. I think that’s awesome!

Making pinwheels is a great way to incorporate some vegetables into something the kids already love. Most kids love tortillas and meat and cheese, so sliding a few veggies onto their pinwheel to make it look colorful and pretty just helps it to be more fun. This recipe was a big hit with my Little Sprouts.

Pinwheels-cooking with kids

The first step, after the kids wash their hands, is to give each child a tortilla and a hunk of cream cheese to spread on it. Spreading is a great way to build motor skills in kid’s hands that are needed for good penmanship.

kids making pinwheelsThe next step is to layer on some meat the kids love. Then on top of that, you can add thin slices of whatever veggies you think the kids will enjoy. We used tomatoes and cucumbers for the pretty colors they add. I let the kids choose how many vegetables to add, but they wanted to add more than they would normally choose because they were in control of the toppings.

Lastly, show the kids how to roll them up like a burrito and cut slices of them off. Then display them on a plate and when it’s time to each, let each child choose how many pinwheels they want to start with.

pinwheels, cooking with kids

There are unlimited variations of this recipe. Your pinwheels could be sweet or savory. You could use the cream cheese and add fruits instead of vegetables for a fun side dish. You could add fresh herbs, super thinly sliced carrots or other veggies, or a multitude of other toppings. The only limit is your imagination.

Have you ever tried making pinwheels with your kids? How did they like them?

 

 

 

Balsamic Chopped Salad

I’m on my own tonight and wanted something tasty to eat. I also wanted something that wasn’t too time consuming to make and that was fresh and healthy.  I LOVE chopped salad and I LOVE marinated salads. I looked around to see what I had to choose from and this is what I came up with. 

I’m eating it right now and it’s super delicious!  Something about the combination of avocados and bacon is magical.  I love balsamic on just about anything, and the little bit of microgreens I had left were just the touch needed to make it taste super fresh and delish!

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Handy Homemade Spicy Diced Tomatoes (Rotel)

My little sprouts and I have harvested over 100 pounds of tomatoes this year.  What are we doing with all of those tomatoes?  We are eating them like crazy as well as freezing them to use later.  The kids have also been taking some home and I have shared with family, friends, and neighbors.  I have made multiple quarts of roasted tomato sauce to put in the freezer to use throughout the year.  Click here for an easy recipe for it.  I have also been making a handy homemade rotel.  I use it for many things, but what I use it for the most is one of my kid’s favorite dishes, taco soup.  As I have stated before USDA and DHS regulations prevent me from serving home canned foods to my kids, so I freeze as much of our produce as I can to use throughout the year.  My version of spicy diced tomatoes is easy as can be and super handy to have on hand to add flavor to many dishes.

Homemade rotel ingredients

First, dice up an onion in a fairly small dice:

making your own rotel

Then dice up whatever hot peppers you have, and about two cups of tomatoes.  The finer you can get them the better.  I like a petite dice on my tomatoes especially.

homemade rotel

Toss them in a ziploc bag and get out as much air as you can to prevent freezer burn.  Then when you need a can of rotel, just grab out a bag and drop it in your recipe.  Easy peasy!

What is your favorite way to use your garden tomatoes?

Garden Glory, Pea Pickin-What else are my Little Sprouts picking?

This week’s harvest has been bountiful!

Pea pickers.  These peas are huge.  The kids LOVE anything that's bigger than usual.

Pea pickers. These peas are huge. The kids LOVE anything that’s bigger than usual.

We harvested our garlic this week.  We got 88 heads.  We used estimation to weigh some tops and calculate that weight times how many cloves there were and came up with 18 pounds of heads.  Budding scientists here.

We harvested our garlic this week. We got 88 heads. We used estimation to weigh some leaves and calculate that weight times how many cloves there were and came up with 18 pounds of heads. Budding scientists here.

The main haul.

The main haul.

A few more cloves we saved for someone who didn't come until the afternoon.

A few more cloves we saved for someone who didn’t come until the afternoon.

One day's green beans, about 2 pounds.

One day’s green beans, about 2 pounds.

Five pounds of lettuce.  This is nearly the last of it.  We had been getting about 5 pounds every few days, but it's getting too hot now.

Five pounds of lettuce. This is nearly the last of it. We had been getting about 5 pounds every few days, but it’s getting too hot now.

Two pounds of peas and a few squash, hot peppers and tomatoes, plus our first ever tomatillo!

Two pounds of peas and a few squash, hot peppers and tomatoes, plus our first ever tomatillo!

Our sample plate for this year's first tomatoes and our little tomatillo!  We are excited to use a batch of them and some of those hot peppers to make some sauce!

Our sample plate for this year’s first tomatoes and our little tomatillo! We are excited to use a batch of them and some of those hot peppers to make some sauce!

Here's the rest.

Here’s the rest.

Here's the action.  Getting that tomatillo!

Here’s the action. Getting that tomatillo!

The garlic harvesting.

The garlic harvesting.

The harvest for today.  Yum yum.

The harvest for today. Yum yum.

They are so proud of what they pick!

They are so proud of what they pick!

All smiles.

All smiles.

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The kids are having a ball bringing in our scores. This week we picked about 33 pounds of produce, 18 of that was the garlic heads. Not too shabby! What are you picking from your garden?