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Pesto and Grilled Veggie Sandwich


Tidbits:

I’m not typically one who enjoys sandwiches for dinner, but this is an exception for me. It looks complicated but was really easy (took about 25 minutes for the whole thing) I got the main idea of this recipe from here. On the side I had some baked sweet potato fries  with pink dipping sauce found here.

Note: For the pesto, you can use store-bought. This pesto recipe was also used here and here.

Ingredients:

Pesto

1/2 cup part skim ricotta (non-fat won’t be very flavorful)

1-2 oz of fresh basil leaves (start with 1, add more if you prefer)

4 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh ground pepper

Sandwich (yields 3)

3 small  square Ciabatta rolls (approximately 3×3  inches). Other “sturdy” breads might work also, but I haven’t tried them.

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Dried basil (optional)

1 large or 2 medium zucchinis (or zucchini and squash), sliced (I cut it in half through the diameter so that I have 2 cylinders, and then cut into 1/4 inch slices)

1/2 onion, sliced into 1/2 inch rings

2 plum tomatoes (I prefer these because they are less watery)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (not from the shaker)(could probably substitute shredded mozzarella if that’s what you have, but I like the saltiness of the parmesan)

Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Assemble the pesto ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed
  2. Add oil to heated grill pan.
  3. Add zucchini to the grill pan and season with salt, pepper, and a dash of dried basil (you can leave out the basil or replace it with something like oregano or Italian seasoning). After about 1:30-2:00 minutes, flip over (there should be light char marks). Season as before, and cook for about 1:00 – 1:30 minutes or until the zucchini is soft, but not mushy. Set zucchini aside.
  4. Repeat grilling process for onions (they will take a little less time).
  5. While preparing the bottom half of the sandwich, place top half of the buns open side down on the grill pan (heat turned off), just to warm them.
  6. Spread 1 tbsp of pesto on the bottom bun.
  7. Take the bottom bun and layer the zucchini (4-5 slices), tomato (3-4 slices), and onion on each bun.
  8. Top with parmesan cheese. Don’t add the top of the bun yet.
  9. Place the sandwich without the top bun under broiler for 3-4  minutes (keep an eye on it because your food can go from yum! to yikes! In a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, spread 1 tbsp pesto on the top bun.
  10. Remove from oven and place the top of the bun on the sandwich. If I have extra basil left over, I place a whole leaf on top of the sandwich also.

Note: This method your sandwich will be warm. If you prefer it hot, then before broiling, heat the sandwich at 375 for approximately 5 minutes.

Whole Wheat ‘Oh Crap I Don’t Have Buttermilk’ Biscuits


Tidbits:

I got excited about making biscuits for breakfast this morning (mostly because I had nothing else to eat). I’m doing my thing and I get to the last ingredient, buttermilk. Who normally has buttermilk on hand? Not me…so I was going to just substitute with some regular milk and see what happened, until Scott saw the sour cream. He was like, “why don’t we use this instead?” Good idea Scotty. So I mixed milk and sour cream. That’ll do pig.

The recipe is now adapted from one of my favorite cook books that I got from a restaurant I ate at in New York (mentioned here).They had the best biscuits ever and while I feel like mine don’t come out as good, they are still pretty darn tasty! So a couple things…

  1. Make sure your shortening and butter are cold.
  2. You can fool around with the flour proportions. As in, if you don’t want wheat biscuits (but you should because they are really good this way) you can use only all purpose flour. Alternatively you can use only wheat flour also, but it might get just a tad too crumbly.

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp. baking powder

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

3 tbsp cold butter

3 tbsp cold vegetable shortening

1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/4 cup light sour cream

(for the buttermilk biscuits replace the milk and sour cream with buttermilk)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir
  3. In your stand mixer (or with an electric mixer),  on slow speed, add the butter and shortening and mix until the butter and shortening are approximately the size of a pea (the dough is still very loose at this point)
  4. Add the milk and sour cream (or 3/4 cup buttermilk if you happen to have it) and stir just until combined (don’t over mix!)
  5. Knead the dough on a well floured surface 2-3 times
  6. Flatten the dough out so that it is about 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch thick
  7. Cut with biscuit cutter (or I just use a cookie cutter). I heard its important not to “twist” the cutter when your making them, but I don’t actually know why. So push down and pull straight up. I usually get about 4 biscuits from the first “flattening”
  8. Recombine the dough and repeat until you’ve used it all
  9. Lay the biscuits on a baking sheet with parchment paper that has been lightly floured
  10. Bake for 15-16 minutes
  11. Serve with honey, jam, or whatever you fancy 🙂

Sage Butter White Wine Sauce


Tidbits:

When I hear butter sauce, I hear massively unhealthy, but when I tried to make this myself after having it at a restaurant, I found a little bit goes a really long way. It basically comes out to about 1 tbsp of butter per person.

This serving size was good for one really hungry person if this is the only thing you are eating, or maybe two people if this is sort of a “heavy side dish.”  What motivated me to make this sauce is that I got some  pumpkin gnocchi from Whole Foods. I got a little over half of a pound of it, and used all of it with this serving of sauce, so you can get an idea of the proportions. I know this would also go really well with butternut squash ravioli (~6-8 medium raviolis, depending on how saucy you like things), which might be a little easier to find. By the way, one huge plus to this sauce, is it takes maybe 10 minutes at the most, more like 5. So definitely get your pasta/gnocchi started first.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp fresh sage leaves chopped (about 5 leaves) (you definitely want to use the fresh stuff for this recipe)

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)

1 tbsp white wine (also optional, just add another 1/2 tbsp butter instead)

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus a little extra for the top (not the shaker stuff)

Salt (definitely recommend a good finishing salt, I used Bolivian Rose which was good but just some plain sea salt will work too)

Directions:

1. Melt  butter over low heat in a pan that will fit your pasta when it’s done cooking also

2. Once melted, add the sage and rosemary and allow to cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally

3. Add the wine and keep warm until your pasta is done. If your pasta/gnocchi is almost done, just turning the burner off and letting the sauce hang out should be ok.

4. Once you drain the  pasta/gnocchi add it to the pan with the sauce and toss with cheese

5. When serving, top with a little salt and fresh grated parmesan cheese

Vegetarian Chili


Tidbits:

This recipe is kind of like cheating. Its super easy, a favorite at get-togethers, and its hearty without being terrible for you. Plus you get your vegetables at the same time! The main prep is in cutting up the bell peppers and onions and opening the cans. The rest is simply bringing everything to a boil and cooking for about 10-15 minutes. This means that this meal can take less than 30 minutes to make and the leftovers are just as good as what comes off the stove. The recipe can easily be increased to feed larger parties. As is, its probably enough for at least 4 people as an entree. Since we tend to season to taste, the measurements are just approximate. This dish is very hard to over do it with the wrong kind of spices, so be adventurous and try whatever you think will be good and taste as you go along. Basil makes for a surprisingly good addition.

Ingredients:

1 large onion (yellow or white)

2 bell peppers (we usually use green and yellow/orange)

2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes with green chilis (if your sensitive to even mild spice, get the kind without chilis)

1 15 oz can of chickpeas

1 15 oz can of diced potatoes

1 15 oz can of corn

2-4 cloves of garlic

fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon of adobo all purpose seasoning (optional)

cayenne pepper to taste

salt to taste

sour cream

mexican cheese

tortilla chips (the round Mission chips are our top choice)

Directions:

1. Remove the seeds and stems from the bell peppers and chop. Also chop the onions. Either mince the garlic or press it when adding it to pot.

2. Open the cans. Mostly drain the corn and chickpeas, but leave about 1/4 to 1/2 liquid in each. Completely drain the potatoes.

3. Cook the garlic and onions in a little bit of olive oil (or whatever oil you have on hand) in a large pot, stirring frequently.

4. After a couple minutes, add the bell peppers and continue stirring.

5. Add the canned items and stir. While you’re waiting for the mixture to come to a boil, add the seasoning.

6. Cook to taste and then serve with the sour cream, mexican cheese, and tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Grilled herb shrimp


Om nom nom!

Tidbits:

I had some shrimp in the freezer, and my husband was eager to do some grilling so we looked around online to see if we could find a good grilled shrimp recipe. Whenever I try to find a recipe last minute I usually fail because I am missing a few irreplaceable ingredients. So we were looking something that wasn’t too exotic but really packed a flavor punch. Fortunately, Ina Garten happens to have a really fantastic and easy grilled shrimp recipe. She calls for larger shrimp than I had though honestly you can make it with any shrimp you have on-hand. As you can see in the picture we served it with cole slaw, but it’d be great over a salad or with a side of grilled asparagus or other kind of veggie.

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp (whatever size you have, use as few shrimp as you want or up to 2 pounds – more would need more marinade)

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 shallot

Large handful of parsley

Large handful of dill

2 tsp dijon mustard (grainy mustard would be fabulous I bet!)

1 tsp of dry mustard

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp of black pepper (or more if you like things peppery)

1/4 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin)

1 lemon, juice of

Additional equipment: grill, tongs, 10 (or so – just grab a handful) wooden skewers. You could also do this in a pan, but you won’t get those delicious grill marks. If you have other types of skewers you could use those too.

Directions:

  1. Assemble all the ingredients. Always do this first in case you forgot something or whatever.
  2. Fill a shallow pan with water and put skewers in to soak. Do NOT skip this step. Your wooden skewers will light on fire if they have not been soaked for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Chop the garlic cloves, shallot, parsley, and dill pretty finely. You want to do this so that you don’t get a huge chunk of garlic in your mouth when you’re eating a shrimp.
  4. Place all the ingredients (excluding shrimp) in a large gallon bag (or a bowl or a couple sandwich bags – again, whatever you have).
  5. Mix the ingredients together so everything is evenly distributed.
  6. Add the shrimp (if they’re frozen make sure they are defrosted completely), get the excess air out of the bag and seal it up.
  7. Squish the shrimp around until all the little shrimpies are coated evenly in the marinade.
  8. Let the shrimp sit in the marinade for an hour. If you don’t have that much time, try to give the shrimp as much time as possible in the marinade as you can.
  9. Pull the shrimp out and skewer approximately 5 onto each one. Skewer fewer if the shrimp are large. Just make sure that you give the shrimp room to cook. Don’t worry about shaking the excess marinade off the shrimp when you’re skewering them. Also, skewer each shrimp in two places so that they are easy to flip on the grill (for example, through the part near where the head was and also near the tail).
  10. Prep your grill and put the skewers on the grill. Grill them for approximately 1 1/2 minutes on each side. You’re looking for the shrimp to turn pink and opaque. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp as they are pretty chewy and unappetizing when they’re overcooked.
  11. My husband ate the shrimp straight off the skewer, but I preferred to slide them off and eat them with a fork. Either way, enjoy!

Twice Baked Potatoes with Rosemary



Click on me ^ for a better view 🙂

Tidbits:

I have always loved twice baked potatoes (because my mom’s are so amazing), and when I saw a recipe for mashed potatoes with rosemary I immediately thought I need to put that in twice baked potatoes. So here we are 🙂  While they can be slightly difficult at times (cooking times vary like crazy for potatoes) it’s always worth it in the end (and always tastes better than those pre-made ones at the supermarket). The most difficult part for me is making sure the potatoes are cooked right initially. If you don’t cook them enough, the potato is really hard to scoop and often results in a broken potato. If you cook them too long it gets really really soft and then it also breaks while scooping the potato. So don’t get discouraged if your potato breaks. I mess up at least one every time. It still tastes good, it just looks funny, but who cares?  A note about the liquid-type measurements (milk, butter, sour cream): Depending on how much potato you end up having, these measurements can vary. It’s obviously best to go a little light on these measurements, and add more as needed until you have a creamy texture (I compare the texture to thick mashed potatoes). If you don’t have or like rosemary, other herbs would probably also taste really good.

And last but not least, these can make awesome party snacks. I always make them when I have people over to watch football games because it’s just as easy to make 10 as it is 2. When I make them for a bunch of people I turn them “bite-sized.” To do this, I use Yukon Golds instead of Idaho. I would say the “filler” in this recipe is good for about 8 Yukon Golds, but again, be careful. Yukon golds are a little “creamier” so you just need to add the mix-ins as necessary.

Ingredients:

2 Idaho potatoes, medium sized (or any good baking potato)

2 cloves minced garlic

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I use cheddar) plus another 1/4 cup for topping later)

1/3 cup milk (the richer the better, but all are good except for skim milk)

1/8 cup sour cream (you can use low fat)

1 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Salt to taste

Directions:

1.Bake potatoes, wrapped in aluminum foil with a little salt, at 375 for approximately 1 hour. A fork should poke through with ease when they are done. (You can do this in the microwave also, obviously not with aluminum foil, and a plastic grocery bag instead. This takes about 5-7 minutes. I don’t recommend this method though)

2.Allow them to cool while beginning step 3.

3.While the potatoes are cooling, assemble all of the other ingredients in a medium-large mixing bowl (see above notes on the amounts for ingredients, go easy on the liquids!)

4.Cut the baked potatoes in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the insides and place them in mixing bowl, but leave about 1/4 – 1/2 inch on the inside.

5.With an electric hand mixer, combine all ingredients on medium speed until smooth and creamy (but not watery!). If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can get the job done with a potato masher or large fork, it will just take more effort and might be a bit chunkier.

6.Scoop the new filling back into the potatoes.

7.Sprinkle with remaining cheese and place back in oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. If you want the cheese a little crispy, let broil for a minute.

Arroz Con Pollo


Tidbits: So this is a recipe I got from a friend’s dad. It’s quick and delicious – and when I have chicken sitting in my freezer, it’s my go to recipe. You can leave the chicken whole, or you can shred it. I prefer to shred it – but it does take longer. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 – 3 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed (or whatever chicken pieces you like – I leave the skin on for flavor! It comes off later if you shred the chicken)
2 tsp salt
Fresh grd pepper to taste
juice of (1) lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 med grn pepper, diced (seeded)
1/2 head garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped drained pimientos
1 tsp grd cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine (I use chablis)
5 cups chicken stock
1 14oz pkg valencia rice soaked for one hour with saffron threads, bijol, or
Badia yellow seasoning (or use the pkg of Vigo yellow rice)

Directions:

1. Wash chicken, pat dry, sprinkle with salt, pepper and lime juice

2. In heavy casserole, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and brown chicken 6-8 min ea side. or until no longer pink. Remove chicken to plate. (let chicken cool until you can handle it to pull apart or shred)

3. Cook onion, bell pepper, and garlic until onion is transparent in chicken oil, about 6 min. Add tomatoes, pimientos, cumin and bay leaf and cook, stirring, 5 min. Add chicken and wine and cook 5 min.

4. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the drained rice, stir, cover, lower heat a bit and cook until rice is tender, about 17-20 mins.