Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fried Zucchini and Dipping Sauce

We planted a garden this year - we have zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, calabacita squash, pumpkins, watermelons, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeƱos and herbs coming out of our ears.

I've come up with some pretty creative ways to eat these items - and yesterday I broke down and bought a deep fryer. A deep fryer. I know. When my husband saw it he said "uh. We really don't eat deep fried food - what are you going to use that for?" hahaha. We'll see how this kitchen accessory fares here.

Most of my recipes are a combination of at least 2 recipes or have been inspired by something I read or saw. I saw this recipe on the Food Network "Neely's Fried Zucchini"but had to make changes bc of our egg and peanut allergies. I also make the dipping sauce - which was good but not fantastic - still on the search for a perfect compliment to this fried zucchini...



Fried Zucchini
Canola oil, for frying
3 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c sour cream

Dipping Sauce
Ranch dressing
1 cup sour cream
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Measure flour into a pie plate. In another pie plate combine panko, Parmesan, parsley, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, to taste. In a third plate add sour cream and milk. Whisk the sour cream and milk together to get a good consistency (this is where you would normally use eggs). Dredge the zucchini in the flour, followed by the milk and finally in the panko.

Working in batches, place the breaded zucchini slices in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined sheet tray and immediately season with salt and pepper.

For the sauce:

Add all the ingredients into a serving bowl and mix until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let flavors marinate for at least 1 hour.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Watermelon and Halloumi

I have been LOVING watermelon salads this summer. I found this recipe in the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine - it's a good one from Michael Symon.

He uses Halloumi (a Mediterranean/ Greek cheese) and I couldn't find that here at my local grocery - but I did find Queso Panaela (a Mexican cheese) here and that is a good substitute. They both can be heated to high temperatures without melting…


Watermelon and Halloumi
1 tsp minced shallot
1 tsp minced garlic
Kosher salt
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 T honey
1/2 c plus 1 T evoo
2 T sliced almonds, toasted
2 T chopped fresh mint
8 small wedges seedless watermelon (I did big steaks)
8 oz Halloumi or Queso Panela cheese, cut into 8 slices

Place shallot and garlic in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Add the vinegar and honey and whisk. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil, then add the almonds and mint.

Place the watermelon in a shallow dish. Pour the dressing on top, cover and let marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining oil. Sear the cheese 1 minute per side, them remove from the pan. Top each with a piece of marinated watermelon.

*I didn't add the almonds to the marinade - I like them crunchy. I also put the cheese on top - super delicious!!



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jack's Pizza Pie

I could talk non stop for years about my only son's redeeming qualities, talents, funny quips, ideas, etc. See I'm already on a roll! We make pizza quite often around here - the kids love when we do pizza night - they love the freedom they have in making their own mini pizzas THEIR own way.

A few weeks ago on pizza night, I was making strawberry pie for dessert while the kids were assembling their pizzas. I saw Jack's face light up. "Mom - what if we made a 'pizza pie'!" I told him that was a great idea - and they do make pizza pies - but they are called calzones. We talked about the ingredients he'd like to have in his and asked when we could make those marvelous pizza pies.

A few days later - I took him shopping with me and let him decide on the ingredients he wanted to include. While we have made pizza dough, my fall back is our local pizzeria. They sell dough for a large pizza for $3. We take it home, cut it into 4 pieces and let the kids go nuts.

You can brush the top of the calzones with a little egg wash to make them nice and brown - I don't do that bc of food allergies in our house...

Jack's Pizza Pie
Pizza dough
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Ground sausage, cooked
Pepperoni slices
Onions
Green peppers
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Corn meal

No measurements - bc you can do it to your liking - the sky is the limit! Put your filling toward one side of a rectangular piece of pizza dough. Try to keep in in a nice circular pile. Fold the rectangular side without the filling over the top and pinch the envelope closed.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes - delicious!!

Yocum's Italian Pasta Salad

My husbands cousin brought over this life changing pasta salad for a family party several years ago. We couldn't stop eating it. I've made it several times since - but just recently realized I'd never posted the recipe! Shame on me :)

I made it again for a 4th of July BBQ we had - and as usual - it was a hit!

Yocum's Italian Pasta Salad
16 oz pasta (I like the tricolored spirals)
Italian dressing (your favorite - mine is Paul Newman Garlic Italian Parmesan)
Sun dried tomatoes (+some of the oil from the jar), diced
Tomato and basil feta, crumbled
Salami or summer sausage, diced
Bell peppers (all 4 colors), diced
Italian herb seasoning (I get the blend from Costco)
Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta as directed on package. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until serving - the longer the better!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

These are AMAZING!!! My husband picked up some stuffed mushrooms at our local grocery store a few days ago. They were so good - they were the first thing gone - and the favorite of the night. Considering we had both chicken and steak kabobs with onions and assorted peppers along side roasted potatoes - that is really saying something.

I made these a few days later and the kids couldn't get enough. Next time I am going to use big portabella mushrooms and serve them like steaks… drooling…




Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

1 medium prepackaged container of baby bella mushrooms
Fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Wipe mushrooms with a damp towel. Add spinach to each mushroom. Top with mozzarella, sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic powder. Grill on medium heat for about 15 minutes - until the cheese is all melty and the mushroom gives when you pick it up with tongs.

*You can also cook these in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Aunt Leah's Zucchini Bread

I didn't grow up eating zucchini bread. I didn't grow up with a garden - my thumb was BLACK until just a few years ago when I did the research and figured things out through trial and error.

My Mother In Law grew up gardening. Her father taught ALL THIRTEEN of his children the art of gardening, planting flowers - the whole she-bang. Now - if I had 13 kids - you better believe we would be living on a farm just to feed all those kids!

My husbands Grandpa passed away before he was born so he never had the chance to get to know him (obviously neither did I) but his traditions have been passed down and that is something I really love.

My husbands Aunt Leah makes the most AMAZING zucchini bread on the planet. She shared her simple recipe with me and I've been making it for the last 17+ years. 
Aunt Leah's Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 c nuts
3 c flour
1 c sugar
1 t salt
1 c oil
2 t cinnamon
2 c grated zucchini
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1 T vanilla extract

Grease the inside of 2 pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs with electric mixer, then stir in sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Add to wet mixture and mis well. stir in nuts. Bake for about 1 hour.

* I just throw everything willy nilly into my mixer and let it do the work for me. Also, bc I have a child that has a peanut and tree nut allergy - so I eliminate the nuts. Serve with a pat of cold butter and you'll be in heaven.

Eggless Zucchini Bread

We planted a garden this year - it has been so fun watching everything grow! I'll post pictures of it soon. We planted a few varieties of squash, zucchini and pumpkins. Lots of herbs and of course tomatoes.

The first to grow were the zucchinis!! Some of them great big! One of my kids is allergic to eggs, so I searched for a recipe that didn't include eggs - found one!

Eggless Zucchini Bread
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini (peeled or unpeeled)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda, and salt
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in order in large mixing bowl. (If desired, add in 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips coated with flour to prevent sinking.) Pour into 2 large greased loaf pans. Bake 45 to 50 minutes in 375 degree oven. Cool 10 minutes in pan then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

I saw this on Pinterest - of course - I've made a few variations of quinoa salad many times - we love it. See my regulars HERE & HERE but I haven't tried it this way yet!


Just before I took this picture - this raggedy little 6 year old said "Mom - I luuuuv quinoa!"

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
Spoon the filling each each bell pepper cavity. Place on prepared baking dish, cavity side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kid Friendly Pasta Salad

I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond and only changed it a bit. I didn't have tomatoes on hand and I actually ran out of Cheddar cheese (GASP!) so I used Colby Jack - really any cheese will do - this would be good with mozzarella or swiss too.


Kid Friendly Pasta Salad
12 ounces fun-shaped pasta, such as radiator
8 slices thin bacon
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
4 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
10 ounces grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound Cheddar, cut into small cubes
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Ground black pepper



Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Then drain and rinse in cold water until cool. Set aside.

Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and throw into a large skillet. Saute until slightly crisp, and then remove to a paper-towel-lined-plate.

For the dressing, mix the mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.

Stir together the pasta, dressing, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and green onions in a large mixing bowl. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.


Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing

I saw a similar salad on the Food Network site. I adapted both the dressing and the salad to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand. It was so good! Fresh and crunchy with a little heat.

Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing
Salad
1/2 head of Napa Cabbage
Shredded carrots
4 green onions, diced
Mandarine oranges
Peanuts (crushed into small bits)

Dressing
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
Few drops of Sriracha to taste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

You know what to do…

Let the dressing marry in the refrigerator for at least an hour before dressing the salad. Top with crushed peanuts and serve immediately.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Eating Healthy: Restaurant Menu Guide

I saw this on Pinterest - it's a good one to share!! 



Friday, June 13, 2014

Grilled Caesar Salad

As I said - my husbands favorite meal includes Caesar Salad. I wanted to do a spin on it - and this is what I came up with…

Kind of a "wedge salad" idea. He loved it! Make this delicious Caesar Dressing with it!! 

I love the Tanimura & Antle Artisan Romain lettuce heads - I find them at Costco - the package they come in actually inspired me to grill the lettuce!! 



Grilled Caesar Salad
2 romaine heads of lettuce cut in half length wise 
EVOO
Parmesan Romano (I like the shredded kind - not the powdery stuff)
Asiago
Croutons
Caesar Dressing

Heat up the grill on Med/High for a couple minutes (or wait until you take the meat you are grilling off to rest and put the Romaine heads on).

Prepare the lettuce by drizzling both sides of the wedge with olive oil. My favorite is the "Mediterranean Blend Oil" they sell at Costco (I feel like I should be getting paid for all these Costco references - haha) It is a blend of Canola, Olive and Grape seed oils. It is absolutely FANTASTIC!

Grill for about 45 seconds per side.

Drizzle with Caesar dressing. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan Romano. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the asiago and add those too. 

Serve with croutons (sorry they aren't pictured). YUMMY!!!

Caesar Dressing

My husbands favorite meal is steak, potatoes and Caesar Salad. 

6 or 7 years ago, I stopped buying bottled dressing and have been making dressing from scratch. As a friend of mine said - the thing that really takes a salad over the top is the dressing! I've made this a few times recently to perfect it and it is so delicious!!

I got this recipe off the Food Network site - it's a Pioneer Woman recipe.


Caesar Dressing

4 whole anchovy fillets

2 1/2 T Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar (balsamic makes it nice and rich)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

1/2 whole lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the anchovies into a blender or food processor. Throw in the Dijon mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse the processor or blend on low speed for several seconds. Scrape down the sides.

With the food processor or blender on, drizzle the olive oil into the mixture in a small stream. Scrape down the sides. Add the Parmesan and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse the whole thing together and mix until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate the dressing for a few hours (it just gets better!) before using it on the salad.

*Note that I didn't add salt. The anchovies are salty enough for this dressing.

Jack's Favorite Salsa

My son loves to cook. He has been saying that he wants to be a chef and own his own restaurant for several years now. He is 11 and is quite the cook!!

He is always trying to think of new combinations and new recipes.

He took an after school class last semester called "cooking and baking" that was taught by my good friend Lisa Hatch, and upped his game. His Dad is currently teaching him how to use the grill. He grilled hot dogs for us the other night and they were perfect!

Anyway… this is his go to salsa recipe - he got it from his teacher! Its a good "go to" because there isn't a lot of prep work involved.

Jack's Favorite Salsa
2 14.5 cans Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes with jalapeƱo, cumin and garlic *important ingredient!!
4 green onions, coarsely chopped (if we don't have green we use 1 med yellow, diced)
1 handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 T lime juice
Pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a blender. Blend for 5-10 seconds or until slightly chunky.

Sometimes (like this time) he adds 1 can of green chilis
and sometimes he adds a few pinches of sugar.

Delicious!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Yes people, this is a thing - and they will blow your mind. My kids aged 11, 9, 6 and 2 AND my husband all LOVED these and asked for more. 

4 ingredients to a delicious, inexpensive, delicious meal - or side...
Roasted Cabbage Steaks
Garlic
Pepper
Salt
Olive oil
Cabbage

Cut the cabbage in one inch slices with the root side down.

Use a basting brush to evenly distribute the olive oil on every piece of cabbage. Salt and pepper one side. Carefully turn (I used good tongs) to flip the steaks over. Then, I brushed olive oil on the other side, seasoned the second side with garlic powder (bc I wanted the kids to eat it) salt and pepper.

Cook at 400 degrees for 60 minutes - carefully turning 30 minutes in. I used my trusty tongs to do the job.

We generally eat "meat free" bc my husband travels so much and he is the "meat eater" but he is in town this week and he LOVED our meat free meal. I served these "steaks" with our favorite salad - Patty's Beet Salad and I used goat cheese tonight bc that is what I had on hand. My kids eat roasted beets like candy. When I tell them I'm making this salad they all cheer!!!  http://breakingthereciperut.blogspot.com/2009/05/pattys-beet-salad.html

Friday, May 9, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

It's teacher appreciation week this week - it's important to me that my kids make their own gifts for their teachers - we did this same idea a few years ago. 

I ask each child to tell me about their teacher - type it up, print it out and frame it for them. Maisie did this in Kinder (she is now in 3rd) and her K teacher still has Maisie's hanging up next to her desk :)

The other thing we did this year was make Brown Sugar Body Scrub to pamper their teachers. I found these cute jars at the dollar store - the ribbon was there too!!



Brown Sugar Scrub
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey

ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Enchilada Suiza

My husband and I went on a little vacation to San Diego recently without the kids!!! It was amazing for so many different reasons - one of which was eating at La Fiesta in the Gaslamp Quarter. Every time we go to a mexican restaurant I order chicken chimichangas. This restaurant didn't offer chimichangas on the menu - so I was forced out of my comfort zone. What happens when I am forced out of my comfort zone? Usually something AMAZING!! In this case INCREDIBLE. Here is the description from the menu: 

ENCHILADAS SUIZAS 16
Corn tortillas in green tomatillo sauce and stuffed with shredded chicken, topped with melted cheese and sour cream. Served with refried beans and rice. 

I asked for them to be prepared with flour tortillas instead of corn - which was pure genius.

I've been craving them ever since. I didn't have exactly what I needed to replicate their recipe - but I found an easy version that satisfied my craving AND fit the bill for Cinco de Mayo...


Enchilada Suiza
5 flour tortillas (or corn if you prefer)
1 c Herdes salsa verde
1 lb ground beef (or shredded chicken or shredded pork)
1 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 c Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c heavy cream

Garnish with
Sour cream
Diced tomatoes
Diced green onion

Cook ground beef, chicken or pork your favorite way. I used ground beef and added taco seasoning to it for some kick. Rotisserie chicken would be fab in this.

In a 9x13 pan, use 1/4 cup Salsa Verde to coat the bottom of the pan. Take each tortilla, fill with about 2 T of cheese blend and meat.. Roll up and set in casserole seam side down. Cover evenly with heavy cream, excess cheese and more salsa verde. Since I was serving my kids - I just used a little Salsa verde on top - then served some on the side for me.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Then - bc I love browned cheesy bits - I turned the broiler on and let it sit under it for a couple of minutes. Holy yum.

Just thinking about it makes me want to make them again tonight - but with chicken!!

Watermelon and Mint Salad

I posted another Watermelon Salad recipe HERE a few years ago - watermelon is so crisp and refreshing - I love pairing it with savory elements and enjoying it all summer long.

This is another take on watermelon salad - super delicious!!

Watermelon and Mint Salad
5 lb watermelon
1/2 vidalia onion (or red onion) finely diced
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c evoo
2 T chopped fresh mint leaves
4 oz feta, crumbled
Salt & pepper to taste

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Add diced onion.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. 

Serve cold.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

French Breakfast Casserole

I've been craving breakfast casserole for a few weeks. I've made several different versions, today I made this version with what I had on hand and I'll tell you what - IT WAS AMAZING. 

I decided to call this "French" Breakfast Casserole for my own purposes - to differentiate it in my mind from others I've made. "French" bc of the croissants...

French Breakfast Casserole
6 whole croissants
1/2 c Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 c Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 stick butter
10 whole eggs
2 cups milk
1 t chopped chives
½ t dry mustard
½ t salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper

PAM an 9×13 baking dish.
Tear croissants into chunks and place them in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with cheeses. Cut butter into pats and place over the top.
Whisk remaining ingredients and pour evenly over the top of the dish.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes - until set and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving - try not to drool while you wait...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Best Corn on the Cob EVER

I forgot to take a picture of mine - and they were gobbled up so fast I didn't have much of a chance.

This isn't a "recipe" per say - but an awesome idea. I served the corn without butter or salt and it was the best corn on the cob we've ever had. EVER.
Fill a pot with water. Add a stick of butter (if unsalted - add a couple pinches of salt) and a cup of milk. Bring to a boil. Add corn cobs and boil them for 5-8 minutes. Then prepare to be smacked - because this corn is so good - it's slap your Mama good!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Maple Glazed Carrots

I made these tonight for dinner and they were gobbled up in no time. Simple, easy side dish.


Maple Glazed Carrots
2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias
1 T evoo
1/2 c chicken stock
2 T Maple syrup
1 T butter

Put the sliced carrots and evoo in a sautee pan and cook for about 8 minutes - you want the carrots to get a bit of color on the edges. Then add chicken stock and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.* Remove lid and turn up the heat so the excess liquid evaporates.

Add maple syrup and butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

*I actually had to pick up my daughter for ballet while the carrots were simmering - I was probably gone 15 minutes and they turned out great!!


Ham Sauce

I saw this on Pinterest and was curious. The original post is HERE - she also has an idea how to baste your ham - but I skipped that and went straight for the Ham Sauce - 

Good golly this really kicked our Easter ham up a notch!!

Ham Sauce
1 egg
5 Tablespoons water
5 Tablespoons vinegar
 Then add:
 ¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon of flour
1 Tablespoon of dry mustard
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) celery seed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Cook and stir on LOW heat until mixture thickens.
Cool completely to room temperature, covering with saucepan lid.
Whip ½ cup whipping cream

When cool, fold in whipped cream.

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