Friday, April 29, 2011

zucchini and tomatoes

No words needed here. YUM- I am looking forward to fresh tomatoes from my garden! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

spice rack challenge - turkey burger with feta and dill

When I learned of April’s Spice Rack Challenge, hosted by Mother’s Kitchen Blog, I was thrilled because it gave me the chance to make tzatziki sauce, which I have always wanted to make. Plus, when I think of dill I think of feta, which is a good, good thing. After some poking around through my many cookbooks and taking a look around the internet, I landed on this version of Greek Turkey Burgers with AWESOME Tzatziki Sauce. Credit for the burger idea goes to one of my favorite TV personalities, Ellie Krieger.  Sorry, no fresh dill here in Michigan yet. We are hopeful for spring, but it's slow in getting here this year. I'm sure this entire meal would be kicked up a notch with fresh dill. 

Be sure to go to Mother's Kitchen and see the other Spice Rack Challenge entries.  They will be posted the last week of April. There are about 25 of us participating and the variety of recipes will surprise you. Last month I made a Cardamom Coffee Cake for the cardamom challenge. Wonder what the spice challenge will be for May? Stay tuned right here! 

Here’s what you need for the burger:
½ onion, diced
2 C fresh spinach, chopped
¼ C crumbled feta cheese
1 t dried dill
1 ¼ lb ground turkey
Salt and pepper
Pita bread, stuff to garnish the burger like tomato, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, etc.

Here’s what you need for the tzatziki sauce:
8 ounces low-fat Greek style yogurt
¼ t dried dill
2 t fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 English cucumber

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the onions until tender. Add the spinach and dill. Cook until all wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the feta cheese and set aside.

You can see best what to do next from the pictures. Divide the meat in 6 equal thin patties and place a heaping spoon of the spinach goodness on three of them. Top each burger with another patty and carefully press it all together. Use your fingers to press the two halves together to keep the goodness from falling out. This was kinda messy, but surprisingly, the burgers did not fall apart.

My tip of the day: Do Not Overcook Turkey Burgers!!!

In the meantime, make the heavenly tzatziki sauce. Another tip for you: peel, seed, grate and wring the cucumber in a clean tea towel before you add it to the sauce. It’s amazing how much liquid you will squeeze out of a cucumber!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cheesy Summer Garden Rice

Cheesy goodness... oh, and a few vegetables

Well, don’t make this if you’re looking for a ‘lite’ vegetarian dinner. And don’t make this if you’re looking for a low calorie side dish. And don’t make this if you’re looking for a way to ‘eat those vegetables.’

Do make this if you’re looking for a great ‘old-school’ recipe. Do make this if you can afford to throw calories to the wind. Do make this if you’re looking for awesome delicious-ness. Really.

This excellent casserole is based on a recipe from one of my all-time favorite cook books – “Clock Wise Cuisine” from the Junior League of Detroit, copyright 1986. Yes, I know, 1986. Think 9 X 13 casseroles laden with canned soup, cheese and sour cream. Think calories. Think pot-luck-suppers. Think fantastic.

So this was the first time I made this lovely thing and obviously we all loved it. Originally it was called ‘Monterey Zucchini Casserole’ which is a pretty lame title if you ask me. (All respect to the Junior League ladies of Detroit circa 1986.) So we’ve been having some fun coming up with new and updated titles.

April in the D Rice (That’s for my Detroit friends…. We were watching the Tigers lose to the Oakland A’s today. Once that April in the D song gets into my head I CAN NOT stop singing it!)

Lloyds Bayou Rice (that’s where we live)

Kick Ass Rice (getting closer)

Wanna gain weight? Rice (probably the most honest name….check out the list of ingredients)

Exciting ingredients

Here’s what you need:
1 C uncooked rice
1 4 oz can of diced green chilis
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese (or other cheese to taste)
3 medium zucchini, sliced and parboiled
3 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 C sour cream (I always use low-fat)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
¼ C diced green onion
¼ C diced green pepper

Use any old casserole dish you have handy - my 9 X 13 is in the freezer

Here’s what you do:
1.      Cook the rice.
2.      Slice and parboil the zucchini. (I would never normally parboil a vegetable, but it seemed to work here very well…. Gets rid of some of the extra moisture)
3.      Peel and slice the tomatoes. (I would never normally peel a tomato, but it seemed to work well here….)
4.      Mix the sour cream, green onions, green peppers, oregano and garlic salt.
5.      Grate a huge amount of cheese. I used 8 ounces Monterey Jack and 6 ounces of Irish Harp Cheddar.
6.      Layer in a 9 X 13 (or whatever) in this order…
a.      Rice
b.      Green chilis
c.       ½ cheese
d.      Zucchini and tomatoes (consider chopping them instead of slicing. They will mix in better)
e.      Sour cream
f.        Remaining cheese

layers of cheesy goodness - oh, and a few vegetables too

7.      Bake 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Broil if desired to get this lovely top.
8.      Devour. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tomato and Feta Cheese Tarts

This recipe comes directly from “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics” cookbook by one of my favorite TV personalities, Ina Garten. I decided to make this when I stumbled upon a link-up on one of the blogs I follow called “It’s a Keeper.”  You can find the link to "It's a Keeper' in my blog roll. We were challenged to make something from either this cookbook or “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” by Ree Drumond. I’ve made quite a few things by Ina and I must say, except for her excessive use of butter, I love her stuff. Her Lemon Chicken Breasts is coming soon here on my blog.  

I would say this tart recipe is a ‘keeper.’ I did swap out the goat cheese (not a fan) for feta (a huge fan). Other than that, it’s pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, the tomatoes here in Michigan are terrible this time of year….. I can imagine this with a freshly grown tomato right from my garden. The recipe in the cookbook makes four tarts; I cut it in half and only made two.

This would be perfect as a first course or as a light supper served with a big salad. Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:
1 package puff pastry, defrosted
Olive oil (I didn’t use)
4 C thinly sliced onions
3-4 cloves garlic (I forgot them!)
3 T dry white wine
2 t fresh thyme leaves (I used ½ t dried)
4 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces goat cheese (I used Greek feta)
1 large tomato, sliced thinly
3 T julienned fresh basil leaves (I used just a tiny bit of dried)
2 more ounces grated Parmesan cheese (I didn’t use this)

Here’s what you do:
Carefully lay out the pastry and cut out large circles. You should get two per sheet. Then score another circle ¼ inch all the way around the dough. Prick the inside of the tart with a fork. Place on baking sheet which has been lined with parchment paper.

Cook onions in a bit of oil until very soft and brown. The secret here is low heat for a long time – be patient. Add the wine, salt and thyme and continue to cook until perfect. This whole onion process could take up to 20 minutes.

Divide onions evenly between the tarts, being careful to stay in the inner circle. Distribute the feta and tomato and Parmesan between the tarts. Sprinkle with basil.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. I also broiled mine for just a minute to get a toasty top.  Elegant and surprisingly easy.  Another keeper from Ina Garten.

(printable recipe) .... or just buy the book - you won't be sorry! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cubs Opening Day

Tim and I were lucky enough to be invited to Cubs Opening Day this past weekend in Chicago! Except for the cold and rainy weather and the fact that the Cubs lost, it was a great day.  We started at Goose Island Pub for lunch and a few delicious Goose Island beers. Lots of happy partying people at 11:30 in the morning, including us!

Because of the rain, we decided to spend the first half of the game in the bar. Yes, I did miss Robert Redford throwing out the first pitch, but I got this picture from the huge megatron size TV in the bar.  My apologies to Mr. Redford…..

Here you can get an idea of the weather – see how empty the stands were? See how hard the groundskeepers had to work to keep the puddles off the infield? See how many ponchos there are in the stands?

After the game we walked back to our hotel. It was a long hike, but it felt good to warm up and dry out a tiny bit. A highlight of the weekend was stumbling upon the MOST interesting used book store on the east side of Clark, about half way between Wrigley Field and The Loop. I snapped this picture. There were maybe 4 or 5 aisles just like this – all jammed and crooked and practically tipping over with every kind of book imaginable.

I did manage to find a few old cookbooks. It was the kind of place you could spend hours in….. except for the strange smell in the place. I think there were rodents living in the shelves…. A once-in-a-lifetime-experience, that’s for sure.

Dinner was at Gibson’s Steak house. We shared a fantastic crab and avocado appetizer. Tim had a petit tenderloin, which was heavenly. I had salmon, which I must admit was a bit overcooked. (Just last week, we ate out and again I ordered salmon, which was also overcooked. This confirms what I already knew – I prefer to cook and eat at home. )

The view from our hotel window. What can I say? I love Chicago.

Tim having some fun.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

broccoli and cheddar stuffed potato skins with avocado cream

I have had this recipe for ages. I made them for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday and I absolutely LOVED them! They were salty, crispy, creamy and pretty healthy. The recipe comes from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger on the Food Network.  Her food is always so, so good! I love her baked onion rings; her Curried Chicken Salad is a standard in my house. We can never get enough of her zucchini rounds or Crab Salad in Crisp Wonton Cups.  I think she takes such a common sense approach to healthy eating. I might say that I model my cooking after her - except for when I'm eating a big greasy burger..... 

This year on Super Bowl Sunday it was only Tim and me, so it was a lazy day – perfect for a tiny bit of fiddling in the kitchen. Lots of steps involved here, but easy steps and worth the extra effort! I took two of these to lunch the following day – so,so good! (I also made these Bourbon Brownies for us to snack on. Click here to view the recipe. Most of those went to work the next day - way too dangerous to have them laying around the house. Wow.) 

Here’s what you need:
8 small Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and dried
4 t canola oil
¼ salt
8 ounces broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
3 slices Canadian bacon, finely chopped (about 3 ounces)
¾ C sharp Cheddar cheese

Avocado Cream:
2 scallions, thinly slices, greens reserved
1 medium avocado
2 T reduced-fat sour cream
2 T lime juice
¼ C cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
¼ t salt

Here’s what you do: 
Step One:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Step Two:
Pierce potatoes with fork, wrap in paper towels and microwave on high for about 15 minutes or until cooked. Remove and cool. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and remove the insides, trying to leave the skin intact. (It wasn’t easy ;~0) Reserve potato insides for another use. (Try not to eat the potatoes because you want to save your appetite for the skins :~)

Brush the inside and outside of the skins with oil and sprinkle the inside and outside with salt. Place potatoes, skin-side down on a baking sheet and bake until skins are crisp – about 20 minutes. (Try not to eat the skins yet – it won’t be easy…. they’re great just the way they are!  J )

Step Three:
Prepare the filling. Steam broccoli until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside. Also, in a lightly sprayed skillet, cook the Canadian bacon until crisp. Set aside. (Try not to snack on these – that bacon is hard to resist. :~)

Step Four:
Prepare the avocado cream. Process until smooth: scallions, avocado, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, garlic and salt. (Try not to eat all this before serving J ) [Does everyone out there know this trick? If you drop your whole garlic clove in the processor while it is running, you will get perfectly minced garlic every time. Then simply add the remaining ingredients. No big chunks of garlic here!]

Step Five:
Mix the broccoli and cheese and stuff each potato skin. Lower oven to 400 degrees and bake until cheese is melted – about 5 minutes.

Look at those beauties!

Step Six:
Serve with avocado cream, bacon and reserved scallion greens.

OUTSTANDING! Can’t wait to make these again. So, so good!

(printable recipe)