Split Pea Soup

2013-10-02 19.45.11

After making a bone in ham, the next natural meal is split pea soup.  Making the soup in the crock pot makes for an easy weekday meal.  I found this recipe online a year ago from Whole Foods, very simple and flavorful.  I prepped everything the night before so starting the slow cooker in the morning would be as easy as can be.

Ingredients:

-1 (16oz) package of dried green split peas, rinsed

-1 meaty ham bone

-2 cups of diced ham

-1 cup sliced carrots

-1 cup chopped yellow onion.

-2 ribs celery plus leaves, chopped.

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 bay leaf

-1/4 cup fresh parsley

-salt and pepper to taste

-6 cups chicken broth.

2013-10-01 22.11.20

(Everything prepped to go in the refrigerator for morning)

Directions: 

1. Layer in crock pot in this order, do not mix or stir.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

2013-10-02 06.53.55

2. After the soup has cooked remove the bone letting meat fall off into the soup, remove bay leaf and stir well.

Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Glazed Ham

2013-09-29 17.13.36

When I think of ham, I think of large holiday gatherings with family and friends.  Making a ham is easy, healthy, affordable, and a perfect gateway meat to leftover meals.  In addition to a delicious meal, I find making a large roast on the weekend can be a huge help to week night meals.  This weekend we made a ham, taking care to save the bone to use a few days later for split pea soup.

2013-09-29 17.57.28

Ingredients:

– 1 fully cooked bone in half ham, 7-8lbs

– 25-30 whole cloves

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 2 Tbsp mustard

– 2 Tbsp (+) fresh lemon juice

2013-09-29 14.09.23

Directions:

1. To prepare ham, place cut side down in roasting pan and score through fat and skin.  Make cross-hatch lines about 1 inch apart, taking care to not cut down into the meat.

2. In the center of cross-hatch marks, pierce with whole clove.  I do this to the entire exposed surface of the ham.

3. Cover ham for the first half of cooking with foil.  Bake at 325 for 2-3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (as long as the ham was purchased fully cooked).  If you are cooking a ham that was not fully cooked, you will want to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

4. When there are about 30 minutes left in cooking time, drizzle ham with a glaze made of mixed brown sugar, mustard, and lemon juice.

2013-09-29 17.52.295. Let the ham rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

Linguica and Ricotta Frittata

Linguica is something I didn’t know anything about until meeting my husband.  Coming from a small town south of Boston, he grew up on this Portuguese meat.  Whenever we are back East, no visit is complete until he has a linguica and cheese omelette at least once.  When I was at the Paulina Meat Market the other day I noticed some homemade linguica sausage in the window, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  The day I got the sausage we had half of a link thinly sliced with cheddar cheese and bread as a pre-dinner snack.  The next morning I decided to make a breakfast frittata, as I know that I will never be able to make an omelette that compares with what the diners in New Bedford make.

2013-09-28 10.38.09

Ingredients:

– 8 eggs, beaten

– 1/4 onion, diced

– 1/2 jalapeno, diced

– 1/2 cup linguica sausage, diced

– 1 medium tomato, diced

– 1/8 cup of red wine

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed.  More for garnish.

– Red pepper flakes

– Salt and pepper

2013-09-28 09.45.37

Ricotta ingredients:

-1/2 cup of ricotta cheese

– 1 pad of butter

– 1/2 tsp minced garlic

– 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

Directions:

1. Make ricotta cheese: Sauté over medium heat in heavy skillet mushrooms and garlic in butter for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir into ricotta cheese.

2. In large oven safe heavy skillet, sauté onions and jalapeno with thyme, a dash of red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper to taste for 5 minutes.  Add red wine and cook.

3. Add linguica and sauté an additional 5 minutes before adding tomatoes.

2013-09-28 09.52.55

4. Turn heat off to skillet and spread linguica and onion mixture evenly on bottom, pour eggs into skillet.

5. Dollop ricotta cheese mixture onto eggs throughout.

2013-09-28 09.59.38

6. Cook in oven at 350 for 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

2013-09-28 10.25.12Enjoy!

 

Tomato Cooked Chicken with Shiitake Ricotta Topping

For dinner tonight I wanted to make something that had a lot of flavor as well as used up some random vegetables and ingredients I had in the fridge.  The dish turned out even better than I thought it would, so much flavor and depth.  My husband was pretty reluctant to let me put kalamata olives in it, but it really brought the dish to a new level.  If you are really opposed to the olives, you can add some capers to enhance the flavor or skip altogether.  To serve I roasted some vegetables on the side, but it would go great over a bed of rice or roasted spaghetti squash.

2013-09-26 20.32.38

Ingredients:

– 4 chicken breasts

– 1/2 cup white wine

-2 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced

– 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

– 1/2 onion, diced

– 1 hungarian or green pepper, diced

– 2 roma tomatoes

– 1 8oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice

– 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, center stem removed

– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

– 8-10 kalamata olives, sliced

– 1 cup ricotta cheese

– 10-12 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Brown the chicken breasts in a hot skillet coated with olive oil about 4 minutes on each side, remove and set aside.

2013-09-26 19.38.25

2. Add garlic, ginger, and thyme to pan and saute a few minutes, add white wine and de-glaze the skillet.  Simmer for a few minutes to cook off the wine.

3. Add onions and peppers to skillet with a 1/2 tbsp of butter and saute with red pepper flakes.

2013-09-26 19.47.464. Add diced tomatoes and can of diced tomatoes with olives, stir and simmer until heated through.

5. Place chicken back in skillet and reduce heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes flipping once.

2013-09-26 19.56.24

6. While the chicken is simmering make the ricotta topping.  Heat small cast iron skillet and saute 1 tsp minced garlic and shiitake mushrooms with a pad of butter.  Simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat.

2013-09-26 20.14.33

7. Mix mushroom mixture with ricotta cheese and dollop on top of chicken.

8. To finish dish, put skillet in the oven on broil to heat the ricotta for a few minutes, garnish with fresh thyme.

2013-09-26 20.31.03The mushroom and ricotta cheese topping was a complete after-thought.  I wanted to put the mushrooms in the red sauce, but forgot about them.  Turns out mushrooms, garlic, butter, and cheese is delicious,  I will definitely use this again in other dishes.

Enjoy!

Wine Cooked Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes

The slow cooker is not to be under rated.  Making the main dish in the slow cooker allows for time to make sides, such as a soup and dessert for a complete gourmet meal.  I have a recipe from a good friend of mine that involves baking pork chops in white wine and chicken broth, the flavor in that dish is something I really love this time of year.  I used some of the basics from that dish to make this crock pot meal.

2013-09-22 19.29.27

Ingredients:

– 2 lbs of pork tenderloin

– 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

– 1 tsp red pepper flakes

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed

– 1 Tbsp butter

– 1 sprigs fresh thyme, whole

– 3/4 cup of white wine (I used a bottle of Chardonnay, which I don’t traditionally like for drinking but it works magic in this dish)

– 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

– 1 red onion, sliced into rings

– 2-3 large sweet potatoes

– Salt and pepper to taste

2013-09-22 14.00.08

Directions:

1. In a large skillet on medium heat, melt butter.  Add garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes  stirring until fragrant.

2. Add pork tenderloin to skillet and brown on all sides.

3. Line the bottom of the crock pot with half of the onion rings, place pork with all of the pieces of garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes on top and fill in the edges of the pot with potatoes.

2013-09-22 14.15.18

4. Top with the rest of the onion and thyme sprigs and pour in the wine and broth.

5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

2013-09-22 19.13.57

The smell of this cooking was out of this world, something about cooking with wine perhaps.  The pork did not get a chance to rest, as when I pulled it out of the pot it was falling apart, so the moisture escaped to a degree.  I also cooked it for 6 hours, I think it would have been better to stop cooking at 4 hours.  Pour the extra juice from the pot over the pork when serving, if you are feeling ambitious you can make a gravy.  It was also spectacular tossed in with the “Curry Butternut Squash Soup”, the flavors compliment each other well.

Enjoy!

Curry Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is a staple at my parents’ house during the fall.  A hearty favorite to warm you up on those brisk days after picking apples or working in the yard.  Of course I had to make some small changes, to add a little something special.  With the shiitake mushrooms fresh from the farmers market as a garnish the soup is over the top.  This is best to make this soup when you have time to let it simmer before blending to enhance flavors.

2013-09-22 19.26.22

Ingredients:

– 2 medium-large butternut squash

– 2 Tbsp butter

– 1 large onion, diced

– 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced

– 2 1/2 tsp curry powder

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

– 2 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger

– 6-8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

2013-09-22 16.56.20

Garnish Ingredients:

– 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

– olive oil

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tsp fresh thyme, center stem removed

Directions:

1. Peel and cut the squash into 1-2″ cubes.

2. Over medium heat in a large pot saute onions, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and butter for about 5-10 minutes.

2013-09-22 16.52.31

3. Add curry and let the fragrance develop over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes.

4. Add squash and stir well, heating about 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a simmer for 2 hours if able, at least 30 minutes if you are short on time.

5. Puree with immersion blender until silky smooth.  If you haven’t invested in an immersion blender, you are really missing out.

2013-09-22 18.39.39

6. Make garnish for serving:  Slice shiitake mushrooms and heat in a small heavy skillet with butter, garlic and thyme for 10 minutes on medium-low heat until cooked through.

2013-09-22 19.11.20

This is the complete first of fall meal: Wine cooked pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes (recipe to come later this week),  topped off with homemade apple pie for dessert.2013-09-22 19.29.27

Meaty Lasagna

I make lasagna not because I love it, but because it is my husband’s favorite meal.  If we are ever out at an Italian restaurant and lasagna is an option, he will order it 8 times out of 10.  The remaining 20% of the time he will order a spicy seafood pasta.  I like to keep the lasagna simple but fresh, so I followed the recipe I grew up on with only minimal changes.  I did make this extra meaty, which you may or may not appreciate.  You will have extra sauce for serving and you can cut back on the meat as you see fit if 2 pounds of meat seems excessive to you.

2013-09-17 20.36.37

Ingredients:

– 9-11 Lasagna noodles

– 2 1/2 cups Ricotta cheese

– 1 1/2 cups mozzarella-shredded

– 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

– 2 eggs-beaten

– 1 lb ground beef

– 1 lb hot sausage

– 1 tsp oregano (dried since I didn’t have fresh)

– 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

– 5 leaves of fresh sage, chopped

– 5 sprigs fresh thyme, center stem removed and chopped.

– 2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

– 5 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 large onion, diced

– 1 red pepper, diced

– 1 green pepper, diced

– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

– 1/2 cup red wine

– salt and pepper to taste

– 2-3 28 oz cans tomato sauce (use 2 cans if you want thick sauce, use a half can or a full 3rd can if you want it a little more saucy)

2013-09-17 18.11.36

Directions

1. Make Sauce: In sauce pan, brown ground beef and sausage then drain.  Remove the meat and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan to saute the onions and peppers.  When they look a little sweaty, add oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, sage, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and simmer in the red wine.

2013-09-17 18.47.41

Add meat and tomato sauce, heat through simmering at least 30 minutes to develop flavor.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F

3. Cook lasagna noodles al dente and set aside.  Better yet, buy the “no cook” version!

4. Make filling: combine ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and eggs.  For an added touch I folded in the 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped basil.

2013-09-17 18.26.59

5. In 9×13 pan alternate layers of noodles, sauce, and filling starting with sauce on the bottom.  Top with extra cheese.

6. Bake 40 minutes.

2013-09-17 19.36.43

I have to say with all the fresh herbs I was pretty excited for this dinner.  It was fresh and filling with good depth overall.  I did find it best to add extra sauce as the no-cook noodles probably absorbed a bit of moisture and the sauce was extra thick and meaty to start with.  Adding the red wine to the sauce really does a lot to develop flavor in a short amount of time.  You can add a little sugar to improve the depth of the sauce of you don’t have red wine available.  We picked a deep red and drank the rest with dinner, complimented the meal wonderfully.

2013-09-17 20.36.09

Stir-Fry Stuffed Acorn Squash

Today was the ideal fall day, despite the fact that it is technically still summer.  The air was crisp and cool but in the sun you melt to a comfortable temperature.  This dinner took a little advanced planning and did require a bit of chopping, but worth the efforts.  Anytime I can convince my husband to eat a dinner (and go back for seconds) that is primarily vegetables and lean meat without dairy, grains, or processed foods it is win.  This dinner sort of came together as I was making it, trying to utilize the vegetables in my refrigerator that needed eaten.  This is my best recap of what happened.

2013-09-16 19.30.12Ingredients:

– 2 acorn squash

– 2-3 boneless pork chops ( you can use pork shoulder, pork loin…even chicken or beef), cut into bite-sized pieces

– 5 carrots, peeled and sliced in thin strips

– 5 stalks of celery, sliced

– 3/4 cup of shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and sliced

– 3 Hungarian peppers (I had some red and some yellow), thinly sliced in rings

– 1 1/2 heaping Tbsp of minced fresh garlic, plus 1 tsp for marinade

– 1/2 tsp ginger powder

– 1 bay leaf

– 1/3 cup soy sauce

– 1 1/2 heaping Tbsp of minced fresh ginger

– Infused olive oil (infused with dried chili peppers, garlic, and black peppercorn)

– salt and pepper

– 1-2 dashes of red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. 12-24 hours in advance put the pork in a marinade: 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp infused olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp ginger powder, 1 bay leaf.   I marinated the meat in a quart sized zip lock bag so I could remix easily a few times over the course of the day.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds, then cut into wedges 5-6 per half.  To make the squash easier to cut, I poke holes into it and put in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it up.

3. Spray the wedges with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place on pan cut side down and roast at 450 for 15 minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

2013-09-16 18.48.43

4. While the squash is roasting get to work chopping the garlic, ginger, peppers, carrots, celery, and mushrooms.

5. In a hot skillet over medium heat add some infused oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and saute the fresh minced garlic and ginger (make sure the pan is not too hot like mine was on the first round, it will instantly burn the garlic and ginger).  You want a light brown with good fragrance before adding the sliced Hungarian peppers.  Cook until the peppers get a little soft, about 5 minutes mixing constantly.

6. Remove the peppers from the pan leaving behind some oil and garlic/ginger as able.  Add more infused olive oil as needed to coat the pan then add the pork, cook until nearly fully cooked.

7. Add the peppers back to the pan when the meat has just a few minutes left to cook, stir together and let cook for 2-3 minutes.

2013-09-16 19.09.28

8. Remove the peppers and meat from the pan and set aside.  Add more oil to thickly coat the bottom of the pan and saute the rest of the vegetables.  I sprinkled a few dashes of garlic powder and red pepper flakes in with the vegetables.  Depending on how thin you were able to cut your carrots, they will be the longest vegetable to cook.  I covered the vegetables for part of the cooking process to speed the cooking of the carrots.

9. When the vegetables are nearly finished cooking, add the peppers and meat back to the dish.  Stir well, cover, and let cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking and fuse the flavors.

10. Plate with the squash so it can be eaten in place of rice with the stir-fry.

I think in future I would add the mushrooms at the same time as the Hungarian peppers to have more of the mushroom flavor enhance the meal.  Otherwise I was pretty happy with the way these vegetables worked together to make the meal full of flavor without any one ingredient overwhelming the dish.

 

Pesto Deviled Eggs

Who doesn’t love deviled eggs.  I personally have a little bit of an obsession with eggs.  I will always say yes to a runny egg on pretty much anything, my favorite breakfast on the go is hard-boiled eggs, and if I’m feeling fancy I’ll make some deviled eggs for a gathering.  On Friday night I made a batch of hard-boiled eggs and I made the end of summer pesto…the dinner choice was obvious.

2013-09-13 20.14.55

I recognize it looks pretty gross, but if you like pesto trust me on this one.

Ingredients:

Measurements are not exact for mayo and pesto, you may need to adjust for consistency and taste.

– 4-6 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled

– 1/4 cup of mayo

– 3 Tbsp pesto

– 1 dash of dried mustard

– 1 tsp cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Cut eggs in half and remove yolk.

2. Mix together yolks, mayo, pesto, dried mustard, and cider vinegar with a fork.

3. Put everything in a ziplock bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and fill centers of egg whites.

4. Sprinkle with a dash of paprika.

2013-09-13 20.09.40     2013-09-13 20.12.07

My husband was blown away with the filling process, he thought I was so smart to think of putting the filling in a bag and then squeeze it out.  I let him go on about it for a few minutes before I broke it to him that I did not invent said technique, in fact it’s extremely well-known.

End of Summer Pesto

My basil plant has officially decided to pack it up for the summer.  It is bolting despite my efforts to prune and fertilize and the leaves are not as vibrant as they used to be, so it’s time to make Pesto!  My mother was boasting about how she used her basil at home and made 31 cups of pesto.  I thought my basil plant on the balcony was pretty big…it made 2 1/4 cups of pesto.  Note to self, get a bigger balcony.

2013-09-13 18.38.40

I didn’t have any pine nuts at home, so I substituted pistachios, and I used my infused olive oil instead of regular olive oil for a little something special.

2013-09-13 18.48.36

Ingredients:

Now I used some very loose measurements…it’s sort of about feel.  I wanted to use terms like “a lot”, “enough” and “a little” instead of actual measurements, but people like my husband will go a little crazy and abandon the project if I do that…so here are some guidelines as to what I did.

– 2 cups of packed basil leaves

– 4 sprigs of curly parsley

– 3 cloves of garlic

-12 pistachios, shelled

-1/3 cup infused olive oil (see “Garlic Chicken with Zucchini Ribbons” post for directions)

– 1/3+ cup of grape seed oil

– salt to taste

– 1/4 cup fresh shaved Parmesan cheese (I go pretty light on the cheese and add it to dishes later, most recipes call for 1/2 cup)

2013-09-13 19.19.08

Directions:

Put everything in the blender and pulse to blend, add oils slowly until consistency is smooth but not too runny.

For the final batch I didn’t have enough basil, so I added mint leaves, rosemary, and sage to fill up the food processor.  It had a nice herb flavor that will likely pair well with chicken.

Use immediately or store for a few days in the refrigerator.  If you want to freeze the pesto, most websites recommend not adding the cheese until thawed for use.  My mom has always frozen it with the cheese mixed in without consequence, so I did the same.  A good secret however is to pour a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to keep fresh in the freezer.  Use in up to 3 months is recommended.  Again we must live on the wild side in my family, I have used pesto that is a year old and it’s still perfect and fresh…cheese and all.

2013-09-13 19.47.11

Bean-free Chili

Football Sunday calls for good food with minimal effort.  For the first football Sunday of the season we decided to make a bean-free chili in the crock pot.  My husband happens to love chili, unfortunately, the beans do not love him.  This bean free version adds extra peppers for spice and makes both of us happy.

2013-09-08 19.28.02

Ingredients:

– 1 lb ground turkey

– 1 lb ground beef

– 1 lb spicy sausage

– 1 28 oz can of tomato puree

– 2 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes

-1 can tomato paste

-1 onion, diced

– 1 green pepper, diced

– 1 red pepper, diced

– 2 jalapeno peppers, diced

-1 poblano pepper, diced

– 1 cup celery, chopped

– 1 tsp cayenne powder

– 3 tsp cumin

– 6 Tsp chili powder

– 1 Tbsp crushed garlic

– 1 tsp dried oregano

– 1 bottle beer (we used Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest )

– 2-3 dashes of Frank’s Red Hot

2013-09-08 13.04.31 2013-09-08 13.25.44

Directions: 

1. In a large pot (or in our case the lining of our crock pot is stove-top and oven safe) brown all the meat breaking into small crumbles.  Drain grease when fully cooked.

2. Add the diced onion, peppers, and celery to the meat and mix, cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.

3. Add all of the seasoning (I use heaping proportions of the spices, not level measurements) to the meat and pepper mixture, cook for a few minutes until fragrant.

4. Add the cans of tomatoes, beer, Franks, and tomato paste, mix fully.

5. Transfer the chili into your crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

2013-09-08 13.34.47To serve I made a jalapeno corn bake (recipe to come) and coleslaw for the side.  I like a little avocado on top of my chili, or we eat it with tortilla chips.  We aren’t big on the sour cream and cheese route, but add whatever you like to this spicy chili.  As with all chili, it’s even better the next day!2013-09-08 19.32.45

 

Ginger Glazed Pork

It was feeling a little crisp in the air, so I decided it was time for a “fall” meal.  Obviously I turned to pork and root vegetables, standard.  For the pork I searched around for a recipe that I have used in the past that I got from a friend.  It was something to do with maple syrup, shallots, and mustard, but I couldn’t find it.  I ended up using a recipe I found on the food network site and loosely following it.

2013-09-05 20.10.42-2

Ingredients:

-4 to 6 pork loins about 1 inch thick

-1 heaping Tbsp fresh grated ginger

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-1/2 cup maple syrup

-2 Tbsp mustard

-salt and pepper

-olive oil

Directions:

1. Start by seasoning the pork with salt and pepper, generously.  Try to do this about 30 minutes before you want to put it on to cook.  If it’s closer to room temperature it helps it to cook more evenly (or so says the internet) and not get a ring around the edges (like mine).

2. Heat a large skillet and add olive oil to the bottom to coat the pan.  When it’s nice and hot with little waves in the oil, sear the pork on both sides for 3-4 minutes.  I wasn’t sure if this was the exact amount of time, but you want it to sear and start cooking without being totally done.   Remove and set on a clean plate.

3.  In the hot skillet add more olive oil if necessary to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the garlic and ginger.  Let this cook for 2-3  minutes before adding the maple syrup and mustard.  Stir for about 2-3 minutes before adding the pork back to the pan to simmer for 5-6 minutes, flipping once.

I was having issues with splattering oil and maple syrup, so I put a lid partially over the skillet…this may have interfered with the thickening of the sauce, so I had to cook it a little longer to thicken up.

2013-09-05 20.05.49

For the final plating I used some of the left-over coleslaw from BBQ night and made bacon roasted cauliflower and beets (recipe to come).  I think in the future I will try to marinade the pork in some kind of ginger and and white wine concoction to infuse a little more flavor to the center of the meat, but the glaze makes a nice coating of flavor.

Basil, Lemon, and Jalapeno Pesto

For our anniversary my husband and I enjoyed a nice dinner out at one of our favorite wine bars the night before, La Madia.  On our actual anniversary we decided to make a meal at home.  We got a nice bottle of champagne and I was going to plan a meal to compliment it, but he was dead set on having a hamburger for dinner.  I like a burger as much as the next girl, but it wasn’t exactly what I was in the mood for.  Instead, we drank beers and grilled out, typical.  While he made his burger I tried to get creative.  It started with making a pesto…

For the pesto I took a bunch of my overgrown basil and mint to use as the base.  I used primarily basil as it is threatening to bolt, but I’m really into mint so I had to use a bit of that to round it out.

2013-09-04 19.12.19

Ingredients:

-1 cup of basil

-1/3 cup of mint

-juice from 2 lemon wedges

-1/2 jalapeno, diced

-2 cloves garlic

-1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

Add everything to the blender or food processor except the olive oil.  I would add this slowly so as to not make it too runny, may not take the full amount.  Mine came out a little juicy looking, but it had good flavor.

2013-09-04 19.23.12My husband put the pesto on his burgers with tomatoes, basil leaves, grilled onions, and peppers.  It looked pretty tasty, but I was looking for something a little lighter and fresher.

2013-09-04 19.46.07First I put the pretzel roll on the grill, cut side down.  After a minute I took it off to spread the pesto on the top and bottom and lined it with fresh mozzarella cheese.  To melt the cheese, I put the bread back on the grill, but turned the grill off so it’s hot enough for melting the cheese but not burn the outside of the bread.

Next I filled with tomatoes, fresh basil, a grilled onion, pepper, and slice of grilled zucchini.  So good!  We ate outside so the lighting in the picture for the final product is extremely poor and doesn’t do it justice, so you will have to use your imagination.

Garlic Chicken with Zucchini Ribbons

Tonight for dinner we had a few chicken breasts left over from the BBQ last night.  Instead of the rich and bold taste of BBQ sauce I took the chicken in a different direction…Garlic.  With the ribbons of zucchini and garlic on the chicken it has a hint of fall flavor.

2013-09-02 19.31.18

Chicken: I butterflied each breast open to decrease grill time and create more flavor from the seasoning through each bite.  I sprinkled a generous amount of salt, pepper, and garlic seasoning on each breast right before grilling.  When you butterfly chicken the risk of over cooking and drying out definitely increases, so watch closely while grilling.  These took 4 minutes on each side on a high heat grill, then let them rest for 10 minutes before eating .

Zucchini Ribbons: I read a recipe today that make the zucchini similar to this but then covers it all with an alfredo sauce.  I didn’t want such a heavy dinner, so I skipped that part entirely and added Parmesan instead.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini (I used a large yellow and small green one)

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil (infused with garlic, pepper, and red chili peppers)

Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

1. Using a vegetable peeler I sliced the zucchini into very thin ribbons length wise and gathered them into a bowl.  I drizzled olive oil, salt, and pepper onto the ribbons and mixed together with my hands to coat each ribbon.

2. In a cast iron skillet on medium heat I coated the skillet with olive oil and added the cloves of garlic and a crushed red pepper flakes.  I let this cook for 2-3 minutes, until I could smell the fragrance of garlic before adding the zucchini.  The zucchini cooks quickly and I didn’t want it to burn, so I tossed it with tongs every minute or so until the ribbons started to soften trying to be careful not to let them turn to mush.  Total cooking time was 8-10 minutes.  Finally I topped it off with some grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.

On the side I made a small Caprese salad with a huge tomato from the farmers market and fresh basil.  I drizzled infused olive oil on it with fig balsamic from Old Town Oil.

Infused Olive Oil

2013-08-29 19.44.22 2013-08-29 19.45.36

Making infused olive oil is a way to add more flavor to dishes without so much effort or cooking time.  Right now I have a garlic, pepper, and red chili pepper infused oil that is really complementary to cooked vegetables or even for dipping bread or pizza crust in.  I found this jar at Marshalls for just a few bucks, the stopper/latch combo is really a nice feature.

To make, I put a few cloves of garlic (cleaned and sliced in half), a table spoon of pepper corns, and 2 whole dried chili peppers into the jar.  Fill with a good quality olive oil and close the jar, done.  The flavor gets better over time, but I try to make sure to use it in a few weeks in case the garlic starts to turn bad.

 

Leftovers Frittata

Leftovers do not have to be a repeat of the original meal.  Making our leftovers into an entirely new dish is like a game for me.  One of the best ways to use of leftovers is to make a frittata the next morning.  The leftovers we have in tow this morning are truffle-oil brussel sprouts, spicy mixed grilled vegetables, and sausage.

In a small cast iron Skillet (5-6″ diameter) sprayed with olive oil on medium heat I warmed up the leftover sprouts, veggies and thinly sliced sausage.  I let them cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times to get evenly warmed.

2013-08-31 14.41.28

While the leftovers were heating up in the skillet I took 3 eggs and scrambled them with a tablespoon of water and 3 large sprigs of fresh thyme (center stem removed).  I poured the eggs over the leftovers and shaved fresh Parmesan on top (again, using what I have leftover from previous dishes).

2013-08-31 14.50.25

Since I used a cast iron skillet it can go directly into the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.  If you don’t have cast iron, make sure you are using a skillet that is meant to go from stove-top to oven.  If you are using a larger skillet (10-12″ diameter) you would need to use more eggs and cook longer, nearly 30-45 minutes to cook through.

2013-08-31 15.19.29