Thursday, August 25, 2016

One Pot Mac and Cheese



This super creamy mac & cheese is cooked in just one pot - noodles and all! Who doesn't love a big bowl of mac & cheese?

Typically when I cook dinner, I look for the most efficient way of making a dish - without sacrificing any flavor. Not only do I just prefer to have less pots on the stove, but I also know my husband appreciates it when he does the dishes later that night. I know I can't be the only one so I was stoked to find a true one-pot recipe for macaroni and cheese.

I'm a huge mac & cheese person; I will happily order it at my favorite noodle place as my lunch and never miss the meat and veggies. But making it at home can be a drag, especially if I'm doing a baked version. The roux, the cheese sauce, the noodles, it all just seems to take a lot of effort after a long workday.

This version cooks completely on the stove and in one pot. Now, it does require some attention; you will have to stir constantly and it will thicken quite a bit once it begins to cool so it's not the best recipe to take to a potluck. A baked mac & cheese is perfect for that occasion ;) But if you're looking for a quick side dish, this is the mac & cheese for you. We LOVED it.

It's incredibly creamy and cheesy - two things that are important for a good mac & cheese!


One Pot Mac & Cheese
1 pound small pasta
~3 cups water
2-3 cups low fat milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place the dry pasta in a colander and rinse under water. Let drain.

In a medium pot, combine the water and drained pasta. Place on medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Stir frequently!

Once simmering, add 2 cups of the milk and bring it back to a simmer then turn the heat to low immediately. Continuing stirring frequently to avoid the milk burning to the bottom of your pan. As you stir, add additional milk as needed to ensure the pasta does not dry out. Depending upon the pasta and milk you use, you may need to add quite a bit more milk to keep the pasta cooking. Cook about 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the milk mostly absorbed but not completely gone.

When the pasta is cooked, add the mustard powder, salt, and cheddar. Stir until evenly melted into the pasta. Add more milk, if needed, to loosen. Taste and adjust salt and add pepper.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. It will begin to thicken quickly once it starts to cool off.

Source: adapted from Plain Chicken and White on Rice Couple

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Loose Meat Sandwiches (aka Maid-Rites)



An Iowa classic! Seasoned ground beef, topped with mustard and pickles, is served on a hamburger bun. This Midwest favorite is easily whipped up in 30 minutes (or less!).

Y'all... I must admit that one of my very favorite sitcoms is Roseanne. I've seen every episode a bajillion times and can't help but stop and watch it anytime it's on. Except the season after they win the lottery; it's a disgrace. If you're unfamiliar with Roseanne, a major plot-line is that Roseanne opens a loosemeat sandwich restaurant. Incidentally, the restaurant they based it off is located in Iowa - home of the loosemeat sandwich!

Though originally created at a restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa, Maid-Rite made them famous (and more readily available) which is why many people just called them "Maid-Rites" now.

Over the summer, I hosted two cooking camps for kids and each day we cooked from a different region. We made this on the Midwest day and they were a hit! They couldn't be easier, either ;) My kids not only loved making them, but they also loved eating them for lunch!

Serve them with a spoon so you can shovel in all that goodness that will fall right out of your bun!


Loose Meat Sandwiches
1 lb ground sirloin
1 tablespoon Crisco
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
water, to cover
pepper, to taste
hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
yellow mustard, for serving
dill pickle slices, for serving

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the Crisco. Once melted, lightly salt the bottom of the pan. Add the beef and, using a wooden spoon, break up the meat until it's small crumbles. Add the chopped onion and cook, mixing it into the beef, until the onions are softened and the beef is browned.

Once it's browned, drain off any fat and return the skillet to the heat. Add the mustard, vinegar, sugar, and just enough water to barely cover the meat.

Cook, at a simmer, until the water is cooked out, about 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop the beef onto the toasted buns and then top with mustard and pickles. Serve with a spoon - you'll need it!

Source: slightly adapted from Food.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kentucky Derby Pie


This pecan pie meets chocolate chip cookie pie is sinfully delicious and so easy to make. It's gooey, chocolately, sweet, and will quickly become a family favorite!

I realize that the original Derby Pie is made with walnuts (not pecans) and some bourbon but 1) I like pecans better and 2) this is so good, you won't miss the bourbon... but if you do, you can always throw some in. I'm not much of a baker but I couldn't believe how ridiculously easy this pie is. I included it in the children's cooking camp I hosted this summer and the kids easily threw several pies together with minimal supervision. So if 7 year olds can make it, I know anyone can!

Every single person who snagged a slice requested the recipe - it's that good! If you like pecan pie or chocolate chip cookies, you'll love this. It's like pecan pie and chocolate chip cookie pie got married and created this beautiful love child. You must try it!


Kentucky Derby Pie
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 frozen deep dish pie crust

Preheat the oven to 325.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and sugar, mixing well. Allow butter to cool a minute or two and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add salt and flour, mixing well.

Fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the deep dish pie crust and bake for 1 hour. Let cool for 1-2 hours before slicing.

Source: adapted from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Brown Sugar Salmon with Caramelized Pineapple Quinoa



Brown sugar and honey marinated salmon is baked and served on a bed of coconut milk quinoa and caramelized pineapples. This sweet, Asian inspired meal is quick and delicious!

Last week, I was at camp with my church kids on the beach - which is amazing in itself - but it also makes me crave all things seafood. Is there anything better than fresh seafood right on the coast? I didn't have any control over the camp food menu but the trip sure inspired me to stock my menu this week full of seafood - salmon included! I love salmon any way it's prepared but this may just be my new favorite way.

The marinade gives a sweet and teriyaki-like flavor to the salmon but that brown sugar glaze takes it over the top. And paired with quinoa? Sold! I don't eat much raw pineapple but I can throw down some cooked pineapple and it paired beautifully with quinoa.

Set this to marinade before you leave for work and you can whip up dinner in minutes when you get home. Just don't overcook the salmon!



Brown Sugar Salmon with Caramelized Pineapple Quinoa
For the salmon:
1 pound salmon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 of a whole pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks

For the quinoa:
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
lime juice, to taste
salt


In a large bowl, whisk together the marinade: brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, pineapple juice, dijon mustard, sesame oil, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Place the salmon in a ziplock and pour the marinade over top. Seal and place in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours (at least 1 hour).

Once ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 and spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Use tongs to remove the salmon from the marinade and place it skin side down on the pan. Scatter the pineapple chunks around the salmon. Brush leftover marinade over top of both salmon and pineapple and sprinkle a little brown sugar for extra caramelization. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon flakes easily. Flip the oven to broil and broil a minute or two for additional caramelization on top.

While the salmon bakes, prepare the quinoa. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and coconut milk to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa, and cover. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add red onion and cilantro. When pineapple is finished cooking, add it to the quinoa along with salt and lime juice to taste.

Serve salmon alongside quinoa, drizzling with extra honey is desired.

Source: slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Chicken Meatloaf with Zucchini and Dill


A flavorful - and healthy - twist on the traditional meatloaf! Lean ground chicken is combined with lots of shredded zucchini, garlic, lemon, and fresh chopped dill. A great way to use summer produce!

I'm always jealous of those of you with amazing gardens! Every few years, I get a bee in my bonnet, buy pots, plants, and give it the old college try... for about a week. Then I forget to water them (a must in the south!) and they are quickly tossed in the trash.

For those of you blessed with a green thumb (and a memory to water your plants!) that might be frantically looking for ways to use up zucchini, this is another great recipe to try! Similar to a zucchini brownie, you grate the zucchini and it keeps your food moist and delicious. And no one likes a dry meatloaf (or brownie!).

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes are one of my favorite cold weather dishes and this light, veggie stuffed chicken version is perfect for the hot weather! I served this alongside potato salad and cowboy beans (pictured). So good!

Psst - you can totally throw in other fresh herbs if you 1) aren't a dill fan or 2) have others on hand.


Chicken Meatloaf with Zucchini & Dill
2 medium zucchini
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 lb ground chicken (92% lean)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Grate zucchini then place it in a clean towel and squeeze dry. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated zucchini, dill, minced garlic, lemon zest, ground chicken, and salt and pepper. Gently mix together, being careful to not overwork the meat, and form into a 4x8 inch loaf. Place on a baking sheet and bake for around 45 minutes or until the temp reaches 160 degrees.

Let rest 5 minutes then slice and serve.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Green Pea Dog Treats



These easy, 4 ingredient dog treats will make your dog jump for joy! Not only will they love them, but they are cheaper and healthier than anything store bought!

Y'all! I've been so busy lately and away from home so I haven't gotten a recipe posted in a couple of weeks :( This week is the second of the summer children's cooking camps I host so look for a slew of recipes born out of that soon. We've been making 4-5 recipes a day! I hope to get back into the swing of things soon :)

Now while cooking for our family is what I spend most of my time in the kitchen doing, I do love to whip up dog treats occasionally. We have 3 dogs that are spoiled rotten so it's fun to switch things up and give them a fun treat. Since I don't like green peas, they had never really eaten them so I wasn't sure how these would go over. I do know they are NOT fans of green beans but love most other (safe) veggies.

Thankfully, they were a huge hit! Course I made them post for pics first ;) Winston sat so patiently for his picture but you can tell how focused he is. He found it worth the wait; he usually rolls his eyes when I ask him to do tricks but he performed his entire repertoire just to get his paws on a few more of these!


This would be the perfect recipe for young kids to help with - it's simple and just 4 ingredients! 

 
Green Pea Dog Treats
1 (10 ounce) steam-in-the-bag frozen sweet peas, steamed and cooled slightly
1 cup flour
1 egg
2 cups breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly spray a baking sheet and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse half of the steamed peas until smooth.


In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining peas, egg, flour, and pureed peas. Gently combine. Add the breadcrumbs to a small mixing bowl. Roll the pea mixture into 1 inch balls and coat evenly with breadcrumbs. Lay on the prepared baking sheet and lightly spray tops with cooking spray.

Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 40 minutes. Let cool before serving and refrigerate leftovers.

Source: inspired by Rachael Ray Magazine recipe

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cowboy Beans



Cowboy beans are slow cooked and slightly sweet, a tad spicy, a little smoky, and 100% delicious! They are perfect alongside burgers, brisket, or ribs!

I haven't found cowboy beans on any menu here in North Carolina yet but you can definitely them in Texas and parts of the Southwest! They aren't baked beans, which are pretty sweet, and not like ranch style beans, which have a chili sauce flavor, but instead are a great blend of savory and sweet.

Traditionally, beef (often ground) is thrown in with the pinto beans but I loved this twist of using beef jerky instead! It softens up and gives loads of flavor and texture. And who doesn't love beef jerky? Coffee is always present, though you coffee haters would never know, and the beans end up in a thick, BBQ type sauce, thanks to the molasses and mustard.

Can't you see a group of cowboys whipping up a pot of these out on the trail?


Cowboy Beans
1 lb dried pinto beans
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 ounces beef jerky, diced
1/2 cup brewed coffee
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper

In a large Dutch oven, cover the beans with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Drain and rinse.

Preheat the oven to 250. Return the beans to the pot and add the onion and garlic. Cover with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the burner, cover, and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the beef jerky, coffee, molasses, mustard, and chili powder. Return to the oven, uncovered, and increase temperature to 350. Let cook until the beans are tender and the liquid is thickened and reduced, 1.5 to 2.5 hours. If the beans are still tough, add water to the pot to keep the beans from drying out and let it bake longer.

Once the beans are done, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. 

Source: slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Monday, July 11, 2016

Stacked Jalapeno and Cheese Enchiladas



A West Texas twist on the traditional rolled enchilada! Corn tortillas are softened and stacked between layers of grated cheese and jalapeno salsa verde then topped with a fried egg.

Because I was born and bred in North Texas, rolled enchiladas were the norm but I loved the opportunity to enjoy them stacked when possible! They are easier to prepare and less dripping in a heavy sauce like a rolled enchilada. Stacked enchiladas are more readily found in West Texas (or New Mexico).

This version is simply cheese and salsa verde. The salsa verde is made with tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Super simple and incredibly bright and fresh - much better than anything jarred you'll find! I know you're tempted to save a step and buy it in a jar but with this few ingredients, make the salsa fresh so it'll really shine.

Along with the salsa verde, you'll load it up with shredded cheese (Texas, y'all), chopped onions, more jalapenos, then smother the entire thing in sour cream before sticking a fresh fried egg right on top.

An over easy egg will result in delicious yolk running all over your plate (yum!) but you can cook yours however you prefer. It's all good.

Never had stacked enchiladas? You gotta try them!


Stacked Jalapeno & Cheese Enchiladas
For the salsa:
1.5 lbs tomatillos, husked and halved
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges 
2 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos, stemmed and halved
3 cups water
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt

For the enchiladas:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
16 corn tortillas
4 cups (1 lb) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 yellow onion, diced
4 jalapenos, roasted, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup sour cream
4 eggs
chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

To make the salsa, combine the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos in a large pot. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos turn from bright green to a muted light green.

Turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Carefully pour the contents of the pot (liquid and all) into your food processor or blender. Add the cilantro and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Return to the pot and keep warm over low heat.

Preheat oven to 350. Spread 1/4 cup salsa on each of four overproof plates. Place the plates on baking sheets and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat. One at a time, heat the tortillas in the oil and wrap in a cloth to keep warm. 

For each enchilada stack, dip a warmed tortilla in the salsa until lightly coated then place on a prepared plate. Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 1 teaspoon diced onion, and 1 tablespoons diced jalapenos. Dip another tortilla in the salsa until lightly coated then place on top of the cheese layer. Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 1 teaspoon diced onion, and 1 tablespoons diced jalapenos. Repeat one more time. For the fourth tortilla, dip it in the salsa, lay it on top the cheese layer, then spread 1 tablespoon sour cream over top followed by 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat the same process with the other 3 stacks.

Drizzle the remaining salsa over top the stacks, place the baking sheet in the oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is beginning to bubble. 

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Fry the eggs to your preference and set aside.

Serve the enchilada stacks warm and topped with a fried egg and chopped cilantro.

Source: slightly adapted from Homesick Texan: Family Table

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Shrimp and Spinach Risotto with Orange Gremolata



Creamy spinach risotto is topped with shrimp and a flavorful orange, parsley, and garlic gremolata. This easy risotto is weeknight simple yet impressive!

When I can't decide what to make for dinner, I often reach for a risotto. While I previously thought risotto was incredibly difficult and time consuming to make, I've since seen the light! A risotto is easy, delicious even in it's simplest form, and can be used with a variety of toppings and additions.

This risotto is made with spinach and mascarpone, which is tasty just on it's own, but the herb topping is a wonderful addition! Because my protein loving husband needs some meat, I added simple broiled shrimp (though you could grill them for even more flavor!).

With or without shrimp, this risotto is one of my favorites.


Shrimp & Spinach Risotto with Orange Gremolata
3 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons orange zest
1.5 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
3 shallots, minced
1.5 sticks butter
4 cups chicken stock, warmed
8 ounces baby spinach
1 cup mascarpone 
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the parsley, orange zest, and garlic. Set aside.

In a pot over medium heat, combine the rice, wine, shallots, and butter; cook about 5 minutes. Begin adding the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring often until the cup is absorbed before adding another cup. With the last cup, add the spinach and mascarpone. This process will take 18-20 minutes total.

Just before the risotto is finished, turn the broiler to high and season both sides of the shrimp with salt and pepper. Lay the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil, flipping halfway, until the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 3-4 minutes total.

Taste the risotto and add salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle into bowls and top with shrimp followed by gremolata.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam



Caramelized onions are infused with bacon and balsamic vinegar then spooned on top of a fresh-from-the-grill burger. But don't just whip up a plain burger - mix some chopped bacon into the ground beef prior! The result is a delicious explosion of all things bacon.

In hindsight, I should have posted this recipe last week, in time for the 4th of July cookouts that I'm sure many of us enjoyed, but alas... better late than never! Though I do hope you had a fabulous and safe holiday weekend :) We just returned from a week at the beach so our holiday weekend was low key - just the way I like it!

This burger has been on our menu many times, and previously shared on the blog, but it deserved another shot at the top. If you're a bacon fan, this burger is right up your alley. Between the jam and the bacon mixed into the beef, you can't go wrong. And for those of you that are onions haters like myself? Don't knock it until you try it! I really hate most onions but I LOVE caramelized onions - especially when they are mixed with bacon and balsamic vinegar!

This burger certainly doesn't need any cheese but there's no shame if you melt some over your patty before you pull it from the grill. We love using smoked gouda on this!


Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam
For the jam:
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper

For the burgers:
2 slices thick cut bacon, finely minced
1.5 lb ground beef (85%)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

4 slices smoked gouda (optional)
4 hamburger buns, split
butter, for toasting

First, make the jam. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until lightly browned but not yet crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain all but 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease from the skillet. Add the sliced onion to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook 2 minutes. Uncover, add a splash of water, and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown, abut 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar, mustard, and water and stir to combine. Add the chopped cooked bacon and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the mixture is thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer the jam to a bowl and let cool slightly.

To make the burgers, combine the minced bacon, beef, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Divide into 4 equal portions and form into patties about 1 inch thick.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill to desired doneness, about 4-5 minutes per side depending on preference and grill temperature. When the burgers are almost finished cooking, top with the cheese. Lightly butter each bun and toast on the grill, about 1 minute. Assemble the burgers on the toasted buns and top with the onion jam.

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Peach Cobbler



My very favorite cobbler recipe! Fresh peaches are simmered in simple syrup and spooned over a cake-like batter before baking. The results are sweet, cakey, and delicious! This foolproof cobbler will be the hit of your summer picnic.

A couple of weeks ago, we went peach picking for the first time! While Georgia may be known for their peaches, South Carolina grows their own fair share of the sweet summer fruit. On a beautiful Saturday morning, we headed south to pick our own - and as a bonus, caught the end of blueberry picking season, too!

Before we knew it, we had filled an entire box of peaches. We ate what we could, I baked up 2 very different cobblers, and then we sliced and froze the rest for later. This cobbler was the result of our Saturday morning adventures - and it's an old favorite. I actually have made this recipe multiple times, and blogged it 6 years ago, but it deserved another look.

Baking is not my thing so I love when I can find an easy recipe that doesn't require a bajillion measuring cups. This recipe may be easy, but it's not lacking in flavor. It's absolutely my favorite cobbler recipe and is always a hit when I serve it to company! The key is self rising flour; while something most of us probably don't stock regularly in our pantry, it's inexpensive enough to pick up a bag just for this dish. I promise it's worth it!

I didn't bother peeling the peaches this time and it turned out just as delicious. The peel softened so much that you didn't have a typical peel texture or flavor. If you're uncertain, feel free to peel it if you feel so inclined :)

If you have access to it, this is best served with a big scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream! 


Peach Cobbler
4 cups sliced peaches (peeled, if desired)
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter

1.5 cups self rising flour (not all purpose)
1.5 cups milk
ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water; mix well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place inside the oven to melt. Once completely melted, remove from oven.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the remaining 1 cup sugar and flour. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Carefully pour the batter into the baking dish over the melted butter. Do not stir. Gently spoon the peaches and their syrup over top. Do not stir. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the batter is set and browned around the edges. Serve warm.

Source: Paula Deen

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Greek Feta Tzatziki



A thick and creamy tzatziki that's loaded with feta cheese! It's perfect used as a dip, stuffed into a pita sandwich, or drizzled over grilled chicken.

This is the last recipe from my recent all-things-Greek week, which included this amazing charred eggplant with chermoula and these easy grilled lamb kufta kebabs. This feta sauce was the perfect addition - it can (and probably should!) be made in advance so you can enjoy it over the span of several days. We used it as a dip (with grilled pita bread) and, later in the week, drizzled it over pita pockets stuffed with leftover meatballs.

The key to thick and creamy tzatziki sauce is really squeezing out as much liquid as possible from the cucumber. I use a cheesecloth, like what I use to make cheese, but any clean towel would work. After that step, this sauce is super easy; you don't even need to pull out a food processor - just a bowl!

This tastes better the next day - feel free to whip is up a day or two in advance and really let those flavors come out!

 

Greek Feta Tzatziki
1 medium cucumber, grated
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the grated cucumber in a clean towel and squeeze over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Repeat with a new towel if needed. Once dry as possible, place the cucumber in a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Gently stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Refrigerate until ready to use. Top with additional feta just before serving.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Grilled Lamb Kufta Kebabs



Incredibly flavorful meatballs are skewered and grilled for an easy, Middle Eastern inspired weeknight dinner.

We had a Middle Eastern week awhile back and these meatballs were one of our favorites! The mix of lamb and beef offer huge flavor on it's own but mixing the meat with spices takes it to another level. They are easily skewered and grilled so the cleanup is minimal (just 1 mixing bowl!) and the meatballs have a smoky, fresh from the grill flavor. If the weather is poor, you could always use your grill pan instead.

One night we served these skewers alongside this charred eggplant with chermoula and a few nights later, sliced and stuffed them into pita pockets topped with a creamy feta sauce that I hope to share later this week. They would also be amazing on a big Greek salad or placed on toothpicks for an easy appetizer!

If you aren't a big lamb fan, try subbing in all beef! It'll still be flavorful and fantastic.


Grilled Lamb Kufta Kebabs


1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
12 ounces ground lamb
12 ounces 90% lean ground sirloin

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the lamb and sirloin and combine gently. Shape the mixture into 18 meatballs then thread them onto about 6 skewers. 

Heat your grill to medium-high heat and lightly grease the grates. Add the skewers and grill 8-9 minutes, or until done, turning occasionally.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light April 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jalapeno Cheese Grits with Beer Shrimp and Charred Succotash





Creamy grits are loaded with jalapeno and cheese and then served with quick cooking beer shrimp and charred edamame, corn, and tomato succotash. Bright flavors and cheesy goodness! 

Charred food may be one of my current obsessions – did y’all see that charred eggplant I posted awhile back? Truth be told, I love a lot of slightly burned foods… matter of fact, my very favorite hot dog spot in Charlotte is due solely to their ability to char it to perfection. My roasted marshmallows wind up the same way :)
  
Charring, when done correctly and not literally burning the food to a crisp, results in incredible flavor. In this recipe, you lightly char the veggies for the succotash to give a great depth of flavor to the dish. Your cast iron skillet can do this easily on the stovetop so you can make the grits right alongside it.

Corn is readily found fresh so you could easily sub in a couple cobs for the frozen stuff but you’ll need to add the additional step of grilling, cooling, and cutting. I’m lazy, and short on time, so I just charred the bag stuff alongside the edamame. 

If you have all your stuff on hand (ie – not shelling the edamame!), you can easily whip this dish up in 20 minutes or less.

 

Jalapeno Cheese Grits with Beer Shrimp and Charred Succotash

1 bag frozen corn kernels, steamed
1 bag frozen shelled edamame, steamed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons cilantro, diced
2 cups water or broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
¼ cup heavy cream
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup beer

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steamed corn and edamame and cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until starting to char. Salt and pepper then remove to a bowl. To the bowl, add the halved tomatoes and chopped cilantro; toss gently.

Meanwhile, bring the water or broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the grits and whisk until thickened. Add the heavy cream, butter, diced jalapenos, cheese, salt, and pepper. Whisk until melted and smooth. Keep warm.

In the same cast iron skillet, drizzle a bit of olive oil and add the shrimp. Cook 1 minute, flip, then add beer. Cook another minute or two or until cooked through.

Spoon the grits into individual shallow bowls followed by the shrimp and reserved succotash.



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta



Simple grilled lemon pepper chicken is sliced and served over top a lemony cream sauce. This easy dinner is done in less than 30 minutes and is perfect for summer!

Memorial Day unofficially means the start of summer around here - especially since the kids start ending their school year. And summer means fresh produce! Last week when I went grocery shopping, I went a little hog wild in the produce section and am now hurriedly cooking through them before they spoil!


This pasta lets 2 items that you can easily find at the farmers market this summer shine: lemon and basil. They are perfectly matched, aren't they? It's creamy, tart, and flavorful. The grilled chicken is perfect over the light pasta but you could also use shrimp or scallops.

Lemons vary in size and juice amount so it's important to measure the juice or you'll sour the dish. This is a dish for lemon lovers - which we both are - but if you don't love lemon, you won't like this. It's the shining star!

Don't reach for the bottled stuff - you really want fresh lemon juice for this. It's worth it, I promise!

 
Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, about 3 lemons worth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
20 whole basil leaves, chopped

Preheat the grill to high and lightly oil the grates. Rub the lemon pepper seasoning on all sides of the chicken and place on the grill. Cook, turning as needed, until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side. Remove from grill and allow to rest.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. 

Return the now empty pasta pot to the stove and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and whisk together, then add the cream and half-and-half. Continue whisking and add the cheese; whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Check the consistency, adding pasta water to loosen if needed.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce and combine. Stir in half of the chopped basil and then pour into a large serving bowl. Thinly slice the grilled chicken and lay on top of the pasta, then sprinkle the remaining basil over top. Serve hot.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman


See Aimee Cook

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