Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bean Dip with Lamb Topping and Pita

A couple towns over from us there is a Lebanese restaurant called The Cedar Restaurant. They have belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights and mezze in addition to their entrees which include kabobs, kibbe, quail, lamb and frog legs. One of the mezze we tried recently inspired this dish, in addition to a recipe I was going to make for dinner from Real Simple. At the restaurant we ate "hummus with meat" which I believe was beef. This is a take-off on the hummus using some of the white bean salad ingredients and the lamb I was going to cook. The lamb is placed on top of the dip and the whole thing is eaten with warm pita.

Bean Dip with Lamb Topping

1 can white beans (navy, canellini, Great Northern), drained and rinsed
~2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1 shallot, sliced

1.5 tbsp fresh mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried basil

3 lamb loin chops
1/3 cup chopped red onion
salt and pepper

1 tsp ground dried rosemary
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Pita bread or pita chips of your choice

1. Remove lamb meat from bone and trim fat. Grind meat in food processor until complete ground. Can substitute ground lamb if you prefer.

2. Saute onion in a little cooking spray or oil. Season raw lamb. Brown
lamb with onions. Set aside.

3. Mix 6 dip ingredients in a bowl. In a mini prep food processor, grind the mixture until shallots and mint is chopped. Do not puree. The mint is too overpowering if it is chopped finely. You should be able to see some partially whole beans.

4. For pita bread, either toast in the oven or wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave until warm. Slice pita into wedges.

5. Serve dip topped with lamb or in separate dishes to be eaten together.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Turkey, Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

As a child every year my parents would have their annual tree viewing Christmas party. The menu for many years was basically the same and always contained traditional stuffed shells. Not being an adult I waited until after the party for leftovers. It always seemed that we would be eating stuffed shells for weeks after the party. It could have been my imagination or the fact that for Easter or Thanksgiving we might also have stuffed shells for the pasta course, but either way I dreaded eating the stuffed shells. They just seemed so boring to me! For some reason I had 3/4 of a box of jumbo shells leftover from some recipe I don't remember, which I found looking for food to clean out of the cabinet. Along with the leftover components from the enchiladas, I decided to create my own recipe for something a little more interesting.

Turkey, Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

3/4 box jumbo shells, cooked according to package
1/2 lb. ground turkey (I browned it with part of a red onion and 1 clove garlic for previous recipe)
(1/4 red onion, chopped)
(1 clove garlic, chopped)
1/2 pack frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 pack cremini mushrooms (I used pre-sliced to cut down on prep)
1 clove garlic, crushed/chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 egg
2 cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
1 small container part skim ricotta cheese
2 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
oregano and basil (dried)
Parmesan cheese
1 jar sauce (I used Paul Sorvino's Vodka sauce but homemade would be even better)

1. Finely chop mushrooms. Saute in melted butter with garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Towards the end of cooking add sugar and vinegar. Mushrooms should be completely cooked and soft. Set aside.

2. If you haven't already, brown the turkey with garlic and a quarter of a red onion chopped.

3. To make the filling: Combine turkey, spinach and mushrooms. Then add the ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with approx. 1/2 tbsp dried oregano, and basil or more or less if you like. Once it is incorporated add the egg. If it seems wet enough you can omit the egg.

4. Spread casserole dish with a thin layer of sauce. Fill shells with approx. 2 tbsp of filling or whatever fits the best for you. Place in casserole dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella.
(this is what it will look like)

5. Bake according to directions (most boxes say to cover but I did not). Here is the final product. We warmed up some extra sauce to top them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stone Fruit Galette and Turkey Vegetable Enchiladas

On vacation my mother brought a whole bunch of leftover ingredients that she wanted to get rid of, including 1 refrigerated pie crust. So I threw together a stone fruit and blueberry galette.

4-6 stone fruit sliced(I used 1 peach and two types of plums we had hanging around)
1/2 cup whole blueberries
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 pie crust

1. Toss the fruit with the flour and sugar.
2. Pile the fruit in the center of the pie crust.
3. Fold the crust around the fruit.
4. Bake the galette at 425 degrees for 35 min.
5. Let sit one hour before cutting.

Last night I decided to try one of my favorite experiments again while adapting the ingredients to suit J and I for dinner.

Turkey Vegetable Enchiladas (adapted from Crepes of Wrath/Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp Tabasco
1 can fat free low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder

1/2 package ground turkey
1/2 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach thawed
10 oz frozen corn
1/2 red onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
salt and pepper
6 flour tortillas
1 8 oz package shredded Mexican Blend cheese
6 scallions white and light green parts chopped

1. Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add cumin, chili powder, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and Tabasco, and set aside.

2. Cook ground turkey in skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until partially soft. Drain fat from turkey.

3. In a bowl make the filling for the enchiladas. Mix the turkey with the spinach and corn.

4. Fill 6 torillas with 3/4 of the cheese and all the of filling. Roll each tortilla and place them seam side down in a 9 x 13 grease casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

5. Pour sauce over enchiladas and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min. Sprinkle with scallions for garnish.The original recipe called for black beans instead of turkey. You could easily make this an all vegetarian recipe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back from Vacation

Every year (since I was 14), my family goes to Lake Dunmore in Vermont for a vacation/family reunion. In the last 5 years or so, our tradition has been to go to American Flatbread for dinner either the night we get there or our last night there (being that they used to only be open twice a week). This year was no different in that respect. Some other highlights besides swimming in the lake and playing numerous games of Bananagrams, were our outings to Sewards, a family restaurant/dairy in Rutland and the A & W Root Beer stand in Middlebury where you eat in your car and the waitresses wear roller skates. We also took our cousin to Fire and Ice in Middlebury and sampled some of the various food in Burlington, nothing too noteworthy.

At Sewards we always order the same thing, a burger and sides, which has to include cottage cheese from their dairy. At the end we have the requisite ice cream and or pie. Here are some pics of our lunch at Sewards. The burger has VT cheddar cheese on it! The ice cream here includes black raspberry, pistachio and butter pecan.That evening we went to American Flatbread which uses natural and sometimes local ingredients. We ordered the usual Med Bread for the kids (which is basically the traditional red sauce with cheese), as well as the maple sausage and mushroom which you can find on the menu. We also had one of each of the specials. Here is the special board which describes each of the pizzas. The others are a shots of each of the most interesting pizzas.As for the A & W Root Beer stand we went for dinner but beware! The burgers have ketchup, mustard and pickles on them. Whatever you do, don't miss out on the root beer float. They have a variety of sizes and you can order it with diet root beer if you want. If you prefer buy the gallon of root beer and make your own floats at home. It won't come in the A & W mug, however. Here is the aftermath.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creamy Seafood Risotto

After I realized that I won't be able to make as many meals as I thought because we are going to the Blink 182 concert this week, I decided to make the risotto as soon as I bought the seafood. To my surprise I was able to buy all the seafood for less than $5. Unfortunately for me, I had to make it a little wetter to start out since J will be eating his dinner when he gets home and I ate mine when it was finished. I also forgot to crush the saffron threads so it probably is less yellow and flavorful than it would have been. This was also my first attempt at cooking calamari so it was a little bit of an adventure.

Creamy Seafood Risotto
Adapted from Culinary Adventures of a New Wife (Adapted from Cooking Light, October '08)

2 cups chicken broth
3/4 8 oz. bottle clam juice
2 teaspoons butter
1 chopped shallot
1/8 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 chopped Roma tomato
4 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces bay scallops
1 squid body cut into rings
2 tablespoons light cream
Chopped parsley

1. Bring broth and clam juice to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

2. Spray a large saucepan with cooking spray. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add shallots & onion to pan and cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice and saffron to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice to pan; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup hot broth mixture; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next. If the liquid is cooking off too quickly, turn the heat down a little.

3. Stir in tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Stir in shrimp, calamari and scallops; cook for 4 minutes or until seafood is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in cream.

I don't know if I would make this again. I'm going to wait for J's opinion and then decide.

Monday, August 10, 2009

MD Weekend and Line-Up

For the birthday weekend we had a bit of an eating vacation in MD. Friday we had that Maryland favorite, a crabfeast. We had a bushel and a half of steamed crabs with Old Bay seasoning. Old Bay is a mix of spices that Marylanders use on just about anything from popcorn to eggs. Crabs are so messy, you want to eat them outside on brown paper or newspaper. Our friends eat soda crackers dipped in catsup as a side. Of course, you can't have crabs without beer. (Do people around the rest of the country say crab or crabs, because some friends of mine from college said it sounded weird when I said crabs?) This year we also had corn on the cob for the first time. The picture shows the remains of our dinner.

On Saturday we went to my favorite Mexican food joint, the Mexican Cafe, in Annapolis, MD. We started with a cup of guac, a cup of queso, and a cup of their beanless chili. They were just as good as I remembered but the chips were not quite as good as I remembered. I soon forgot about that because I had ordered the top shelf margarita on the rocks with salt. Be forewared, they knock you on your butt. I had one and my family claimed I was practically slurring my words. Well worth it though! I ordered the grilled chicken flautas with is just a chimichanga with queso sauce. The beans were great because they no longer use the mushy refried version, just some pinto beans.

Saturday night we tried a new restaurant. The Rumor Mill in Old Ellicott City, it's an Asian fusion bar with mostly small plates. They have some innovative mixed drinks but I did not partake. J and I ordered six small plates to share but with his appetite we could have done at least seven. We had crab dumplings, lambchops, sweet potato fries; all of which I reccommend. We also had panko calamari, chicken tempura, and bacon wrapped hoisin shrimp, which I probably wouldn't order again. The banana dumpling dessert and the donut dessert are delicious though. All in all I don't know if I would go back there, since there are so many other places in MD to go but if you are looking for something interesting downtown it's in Tiber Alley where the old Sidestreets restaurant used to be. Afterwards we went across the street to the rooftop bar on the restaurant Cacao Lane. I highly reccommend the locale for a neat place to have drinks because it's up in the trees.

Sunday for lunch we went down to corn beef row in Baltimore. J and I shared one corned beef on rye and one pastrami on rye at Attmann's. I highly reccommend the deli for those two items. I haven't had anything else there in years so it's hard to say.

Sunday night we went to Linwoods in Owings Mills. It was fantastic! J and I split the crabcake (appetizer size) and the lobster tempura with honey butter and pink peppercorns. J had the French onion soup and I had the tasting of salads. One was crispy oyster with butter lettuce and tomato, one was beet with goat cheese and grapefruit, and the last one was watermelon with feta. I thought the oyster and the beet were the best. For the entree I had what was previously known as the "Carpetbagger": a thick New York strip steak, topped with Cambazola cheese (this is like a blue cheese with the consistency of brie from Spain) and crispy oysters. I honestly could have eaten half and been full just on that. Dessert was very impressive (coming from a non-dessert eater). The white chocolate banana cream pie with raspberry coulis, the creme brulee, and the warm mixed berry shortcake with vanilla ice cream were my favorites. The chocolate bread pudding (in the picture) was ok but not as soft as I would have liked. It was more dense like cake.

Anyway, enough about the weekend. I wish I had more pictures to show but unfortunately I either forgot or thought I would look silly taking shots of everything. This week we are trying four new items.

Lunches- Gazpacho with Corn and Goat cheese
Dinners- Grilled Chicken and Peaches with blue cheese
Creamy Seafood Risotto (J's request)
Spaghetti Marinara with sausage (sausage from J's grandparents)

Next week I'll be headed to Vermont for the family vacation while J fends for himself again. Hopefully I'll be able to document some of the food at the lake.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zucchini, Onion, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

This is birthday week. Last Saturday we went out, tonight we are going out, this weekend we are going out. So for lunch I am trying to get all the cooking that I can. One of my all time favorite things to make is flatbread. This particular dough recipe I adapted from Pam Anderson's (not the blond celebrity) cookbook The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great. She has a whole bunch of other ideas for flatbread but I usually just make up my own. This one was inspired by the fact that zucchini is abundant during the summer even if I don't have a garden of my own. The dough is super easy and doesn't need to rise which makes it great as a quick meal as well. Here is what I did with the dough today although you can add any seasonings you want really. I make one or 2 pizzas instead of 4 mini ones but it was originally for 4 personal flatbreads.

Dough (makes 4 individual flatbreads)
1 cup bread flour
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

Technically you are supposed to use a food processor with a dough hook but I just mix all the ingredients together and form together a ball using my hands. I also add whatever spices I want. Today I used dried rosemary and cracked black pepper.

Once the dough is rolled out, I brush the crust with a little olive oil.

Zucchini, Onion, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

1 recipe flatbread dough
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 small zucchini (courgette)
1/2 red onion sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper

1. Roll out the dough and place on a baking sheet on top of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Brush dough lightly with olive oil.

3. On the stove caramelize the onion in approx. 1 tsp of oil. This may take as long as 15 min. You can be doing the next steps while you wait. Be careful not to burn the onion.

4. Thinly slice the zucchini into rounds. 1/8" to 1/4" of an inch is fine.

5. Remove onions from pan. Using the same pan lightly saute the zucchini rounds until almost soft. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Place the toppings on the flatbread: zucchini, then onion, then goat cheese.

7. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and a pinch of sugar.

8. Place flatbread into oven and cook for 10-15 min.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Panko Chicken and Caprese Salad

I'm so happy I'm finally back from school, if for no other reason than that I can eat fresh produce. This week I bought a bunch of things that I haven't had this summer. Some of the best things have already had their peak season. Some woman who was shucking corn at the store told me that it was getting bad already. I HAVEN'T HAD ANY YET! Today I ate some of my peaches in a peach and mozzarella salad. If it comes out well tomorrow or Thursday, I will post it. I also bought some beautiful heirloom tomatoes for caprese salad. When you have really good quality tomatoes there isn't a need to add lots of extra ingredients. I splurged on good mozzarella as well. For the panko chicken I just pressed the panko seasoned with salt and pepper into the raw chicken. I found this worked much better than dipping the chicken in an egg wash first. Anyway these aren't really recipes so here are some pics just because it was so good.

Picadillo Empanadas

I have been craving Picadillo for a few months now. I don't know how I've been craving something I've never tasted but that happens to me frequently; I see recipe or picture of something and decide I just have to make that. When I came home from MU J had frozen about 8 oz. of ground beef so I decided that picadillo would be just the way to use that. I stumbled across a recipe for light picadillo empanadas on in the Cooking Light section. I love that magazine! I'm terrible at actually following recipes when it's something so throw together so I tried to write down what I was doing as it came to me last night. So here it is my version of Picadillo Empanadas.

1/2 lb. ground beef
2 carrots finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/3 red onion finely chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup manzanilla olives roughly chopped
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 red pepper finely chopped

1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
4 dashes Tabasco
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
splash of white wine
olive oil

1 can refrigerated pizza dough or your own pizza dough plus flour and cooking spray

1. Put about 2-3 tsp of olive oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add the carrots, garlic, and red onions. Cook until onions are translucent.

2. Add the red pepper, the first 4 spices and cook until the mixture just starts to stick. Deglaze pan with wine and add the tomato paste.

3. Add the raisins, olives and ground beef and chili powder and cook the beef thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf.

4. Preheat oven to 435 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, unroll dough and divide into four squares. Stretch the parts to form squares (four equal sides).

5. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place each square on the cookie sheet. Fill half of each square with 1/3 cup of the picadillo. You will have about a cup leftover. There are endless possibilities for the leftovers. Fold each empanada over diagonally and press the edges of the dough together to seal.

6. Spray top of each empanada lightly with cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 15 min.

J didn't really like this but I thought they were yummy. He thought it needed cheese. Personally it wouldn't be picadillo if you added cheese. If you are trying to eat healthy just eat one. I think you could use any type of meat. Enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finally back and menu line-up

So after many months of nothing, I am finally back to the world of blogging. I really didn't get a chance to cook during June and July because of grad school stuff. Now that I am home and can avoid dining hall food at all costs I am going to get back on plan (WW), start exercising etc. This week's menu is all about using whatever food was in the freezer so we can start fresh next week. It seems that J accumulated more than I thought so it might be a few weeks. I will post pics and opinions and hopefully be keeping this more up to date. The WW thing is going well. I've lost 10-12 lbs. so far.

Mon-Beef Picadillo Empanadas
Tue- Panko chicken with Caprese Salad
Wed- Birthday= no cooking
Thurs- Grilled Pork tenderloin sandwiches with corn on the cob
Fri- Crab Feast in MD
Sat- Birthday out with friends
Sun- Linwoods in MD

Since there is obviously copious amounts of eating out going on, I will have to get my butt in gear to exercise.

Also if you plan on eating in the H-burg area, go to Bricco downtown. It was a phenomenal meal. I don't have pics of each course but here is dessert. The menu is seasonal and I've been twice so far. This is the panna cotta and the creme brulee (foreground).