Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fried Stuffed Peppers

This is another family recipe that doesn't really have measurements etc. To make fried stuffed peppers you basically take enough of the meatball recipe to fill as many cubanelle peppers you want to make. Grandma recommends that you try to buy the very straightest peppers you can find. I used 1.5 cups (approx.) for 2 peppers. Once the peppers are stuffed with the meatball mixture you heat a little oil in a pan and fry the peppers, turning them onto each side until the filling is cooked. Then the peppers are topped with tomato sauce and a little Parmesan cheese.
This was very easy and pretty fast. For a healthier version, I don't see why you can't bake them.
Here is a picture of the peppers right out of the pan. I basically divided the recipe by a third to make the filling. Any leftover filling can be made into meatballs so it isn't like you are wasting it by making a little too much.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lamb Meatball Gyros with Yogurt and Mint/ with Sauteed Zucchini and Peas

Yummmmm. Mmmmmmm. Soooo good! This was totally my reaction during/after dinner the other night. Sorry I haven't really been posting much. I'm still cooking, and taking quick pictures of the food. I'm just not really making it to the posting part of the experience. So did I mention this meal was good. I'm pretty sure I must might have. This was super easy, fast and not too unhealthy. Thank you Real Simple. Thank you Susan for introducing me to Real Simple. Thank you Jason for actually liking this meal. I don't have anything else to add. I thought this was super and if I don't stop gushing, I'm probably going to be disappointed with all the other meals we eat for the next month.

Lamb Meatball Gyros with Yogurt and Mint (from Real Simple)

1 pound ground lamb
1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 bunch scallions (white and light green parts), sliced
4 pieces flat bread
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh mint
  1. Place an oven rack in the second-highest position and heat broiler.
  2. Combine the lamb, raisins, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the bread crumbs, egg, and three-quarters of the scallions in a large bowl.
  3. Shape the mixture into golf ball-size meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Broil, turning once, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.
  5. Microwave the flatbread 30 seconds wrapped in a dampened paper towel. Divide the flat bread among individual plates and top with the meatballs, yogurt, mint, and the remaining scallions.

Sauteed Zucchini and Peas (adapted from Real Simple)

1 medium zucchini
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Chop zucchini.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, combine olive oil, the zucchini, garlic, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add peas and thyme, toss well, and cook to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pickled Eggplant

As a child, when family would get together and have a big meal there would inevitably be antipasto (pronounced ahn-tee-PAHST). Small children would pick around and eat the Genoa salami, the chunks of provolone cheese, the pitted black olives from a can and that's about it. As I got older I personally became more and more adventurous. One of my favorite things on the antipasto tray is pickled (sometimes known as marinated) eggplant. This is sold in a jar at many Italiam markets. The problem is that the compamny stores the eggplant in vinegar or brine and it make the eggplant too tough and bitter. My grandmother showed me how to drain and "fix" the store bought kind, but the homemade version is somehow more satifying. My family was a little disappointed with the oiliness of the eggplant, because my grandmother insists the eggplant be stored submerged in oil. My parents seem to think it's fine as long as it is refrigerated. I gave away the remainder of the one jar I made (I don't have a canner so it isn't made for long term storage), so unfortunately I cannot attest to how well it is keeping. I thought it was delicious and you can just drain them a little before you eat them.

Pickled Eggplant

You can make as much or as little as you like. For me 1 medium eggplant is 1 jar or maybe a little more. For each eggplant use 3-4 cloves of garlic. You also need white vinegar (enough to submerge eggplant, corn or vegetable oil (Never olive oil!), salt, crushed red pepper, and dried oregano. The crushed red pepper and oregano is really to taste.

  1. Slice eggplant longways and put in a colander over the sink. Each layer of eggplant should be salted as you put it in the colander.
  2. Put something heavy over the eggplant to press out the liquid (I used a plate with a large bottle of vinegar on top. Let eggplant sit for 2 hours.
  3. Squeeze the eggplant out thoroughly.
  4. Boil vinegar and pour on eggplant. Squeeze eggplant out again.
  5. Put eggplant in a bowl and pour oil over them. Mix will and add more oil.
  6. Add chopped garlic, hot pepper, and oregano and mix.
  7. Put a littl oil in jars and add eggplant halfway up jar. Add more oil and then fill will egpplant being sure the top is covered with oil.
This is the recipe I followed.

Carrot Spice and Walnut Pie

Every year our local food bank, hosts a holiday dinner for those less fortunate at the beginning of December. It is between Thanksgiving and Christmas for those who will not be able to attend/provide one with their family. Every year the school where I work requests that we bake pies (some diabetic appropriate) for the dessert portion of the dinner. Last year I made a Cranberry Apple Pie and an Apple Butter pie. This year I decided to try something different. I made a Crustless Cranberry Pie and Cranberry Topped Apple Pie. I was going to make this Carrot Spice and Walnut Pie instead but I had to try it myself. My sister's best friend loves carrots and she thought this pie was delicious. I think I had pie overload and with so many other pies at our Thanksgiving dinner, I wasn't able to appreciate this pie. If you don't like pumpkin or want to try something different, then this might be the pie for you.

Carrot Spice and Walnut Pie (adapted from allrecipes.com)

1 (9") pie crust, partially baked
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
5 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Steam or boil carrots until soft and let partially cool.
  3. In a food processor, puree the carrots until smooth.
  4. Add honey, eggs, butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, nutmeg and walnuts and blend until smooth.
  5. Place carrot mixture in a bowl and fold sugars in gradually, getting out all the lumps.
  6. Pour mixture into pie shell.
  7. Bake pie for 60-70 minutes. Serve warm or cold, with or without whipped cream. Refrigerate to store.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pasta with Kale and Blue Cheese

I am trying to try as many new things in cooking (or eating) as I can. This especially applies to vegetables. This is part two of the kale experiment. On second try, I think the kale reminds me a lot of broccoli raab in flavor. This pasta dish is full of very strong flavors. I chose a more flavorful blue cheese than I normally do. So thanks Darlene from Blazing Hot Wok for the recipe. I changed the proportions a little bit but here's the general idea.

Pasta with Kale and Blue Cheese (from Blazing Hot Wok)

1/2 cup pecans , toasted on a pan or under a broiler for about 5 minutes and lightly crushed
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
2/3 cup fat free half and half
2 oz of your favorite blue cheese, plus some for crumbling on top
a little skim milk, if necessary
½ lbs spaghetti
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Saute the onions in a large pan with a little olive oil. When they are translucent (about 10 minutes), add the kale and saute until wilted. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.
  2. Put on your pasta water.
  3. In the same pan you used for the onions, add the half and half and cheese. Once the cheese is melted, add the onions and kale back in and mix well. Turn off the heat until the pasta is ready.
  4. Put the pan back on the heat and mix everything together. The pasta will finish cooking and absorb some of the liquid and at the same time, the sauce will thicken. If it gets too thick or dry, add a little milk to loosen it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, topping each serving with some of the crushed pecans and crumbled blue cheese.