June 21, 2018

BLT Tuna Salad, Salad



Ingredients:
2 5-oz cans solid white tuna packed in water, drained
2-3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 tablespoon tahini paste*
1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise


to serve:
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into wedges
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
2-3 tomatoes, sliced
4-6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
flatbread or pita,  warmed (optional)



Directions:
In a medium bowl, flake the tuna with a fork. Add the relish, celery, and red onion. Stir. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, mayo and lemon pepper until smooth. Pour over the tuna mixture and stir to evenly distribute all ingredients.

Place sliced tomatoes on a plate. Top with bacon, lettuce and hardboiled egg wedges. Seve with flatbread or pita if desired.

Serves 4

*A good alternative to tahini in this that I love is sesame Goddess dressing. Annie's Naturals makes it but I buy the knock-off at Aldi. Use it to taste (I use about 2-3 tablespoons and slightly less mayo). Then I can also use it on salad vs just buying tahini to make this with.

My thoughts:
I ate a lot of  very simple, classic tuna salad growing up (my mom loooves making and packing lunches) but as an adult, I generally go for a slightly Mediterranean vibe with sesame and lemon, if I don't have lemons I use lemon pepper which I buy in bulk at Costco for a quick zip of flavor. The beauty of tuna salad is that you can make it with ingredients you have on hand, in my option so even though I dress up the flavor a bit I try to keep to pantry ingredients honestly unless I'm feeling really posh.

I love stuffed tomatoes but it is a little early for tomatoes in Maryland so I've been making do with some from warmer states and they have been fairly tasty but too small to stuff. In the meantime, I've been making an unstuffed tuna type thing for lunch when I don't have leftovers.

To make this dinner-worthy I added bacon and hard-boiled eggs to make it a bit more filling and some flatbread on the side. I made the tuna and eggs ahead of time and all I had to do was fry the bacon (pre-cooked bacon is sad) and assemble. I know people hate on iceberg but it has a great crunch, actually does have some nutrition to it and unlike romaine, hasn't killed anyone lately.

This was so refreshing on a hot almost-summer day! And who doesn't love a meal that comes together in just a few minutes on a weeknight?


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June 14, 2018

Zucchini Slice with Turkey and Chorizo



Ingredients:
2 cups finely shredded zucchini, drained
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup cooked, cubed turkey breast (can sub chicken)
2 oz thinly sliced Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
5 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Note: this part can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Squeeze dry zucchini if needed. Saute the onion and zucchini in a skillet using a small amount of olive oil until the onion is translucent and any water has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  (I actually did this step, cooled it and added the cut up meat and cheese to the container earlier then did the batter-making, adding the meat/veggie mixture part at dinnertime)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with cooking spray or grease an 8x8 inch pan.  Set aside.


In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, flour and baking powder until pancake-like batter forms. Fold in the zucchini, onion, turkey, chorizo, cheese, and spices.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until fully cooked (just few dry crumbs when a toothpick is inserted in the center) and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.


My thoughts:
This recipe is great for using up leftovers (I just used leftover marinated boneless, skinless turkey breast but rotisserie chicken would work too), summer vegetables (I have a ton of Vidalia onions and zucchini right now) and some chorizo for oompf in a reasonably quick way. I bought the chorizo when I was trying out Amazon Fresh awhile back but any store or deli that sells fancy Spanish or Italian meats should have it. Capicola would also make a good choice.

It's sort of based on the old school Betty Crocker/Bisquick "Impossible Pie" where you mix a bunch of ingredients (ground beef and some spice packet generally) and Bisquick to make an "impossible" pie where it magically forms a crust and topping. It's also similar to zucchini slice which I came across when reading an Australian book which is a sliced zucchini pie/bread type thing*.

Anyway, after adding turkey and chorizo it is basically a whole sandwich in square form. It's just as simple as a baked frittata but a little more substantial and different. I think it would be great as a brunch dish or a light lunch or dinner. We had it for dinner (I prepped some during the day to speed up dinner making) with just some veggies/fruit for a side as it is practically a whole meal unto itself.

The texture of this dish is surprising and very, very good. It is light and fluffy like a souffle yet still moist and tender.

*I made a version of zucchini slice with Old Bay a couple of years ago if you are interested

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June 04, 2018

Baltimore-style Fried Oyster Po'Boys





Ingredients:

for the oysters:
2 pints oysters
1 1/3 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup Old Bay (low sodium okay)
canola oil for frying

for the Old Bay remoulade:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons dill relish
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (powder)
juice of 1/2 lemon


to serve:
sub rolls (I used  Amoroso’s club sized rolls)
sliced tomato
shredded iceberg lettuce

Directions:

For the oysters:

Heat 1-2 inches of canola oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal mix and Old Bay. Do not add extra salt! Dredge the oysters in the mixture to thoroughly coat. Fry oysters in the oil, for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on size. Drain on paper towel-lined plates


For the remoulade: (can be made a day ahead)

Place all ingredients in a small bowl, mix together with a fork.

Assembly:

Spread the remoulade on both sides of each roll, top with lettuce. Line the roll with tomato slices and fill with oysters.

Serves: 4-6
My thoughts:
Oysters have always been a huge part of Baltimore, we had a ton of canneries in the harbor and there were even oyster pirates in the Chesapeake Bay! Local oysters (these were from Virginia) are easy to find locally and are quite affordable.

I love po'boys, especially oyster ones so I thought I'd Baltimore-fy it a bit and add Old Bay because in Baltimore, you just have to add Old Bay to anything to make it "Baltimore-style". It's true. We have Old Bay ice cream and candy here.

To make the sandwiches a little easier to eat, I used "club" rolls but you could use a full sized roll. I also used self-rising cornmeal mix which I feel gives the breading a lighter feel somehow. I don't question it. Between the Old Bay remoulade and the Old Bay batter, these po'boys are super flavorful and dare I say---slightly better than the oyster po'boys that don't have Old Bay? Sorry, New Orleans! We did give you the snowball so let's call it even.

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June 01, 2018

Knackwurst & Summer Squash Sheet Pan Supper





Ingredients:

1 lb white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins
1 Vidalia onion, cut into half-moon slices
1 1/2 teaspoons hot or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 lb knackwurst, sliced into 1/2 inch thick coins
1 lb yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick half-moons
salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the potatoes, onions, and carrots in a single layer. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with spices. Roast 10 minutes or until the potatoes are softened. Add the sausage and squash and stir to coat in spices/oil. Arrange all ingredients so they are in a single layer. Return to the oven and continue to roast 10-20 minutes or until the sausages are browned and all vegetables are fork-tender. You can briefly broil to help brown if desired, prior to serving.










My thoughts:

Late spring has been exceedingly rainy and we haven't had a chance to break out the grill once! I keep buying things to grill and then having to freeze them or think of other ways to use them up. I had bought some knackwurst at Aldi and they just sat in my fridge for ages (luckily sausages have great expiration dates!). The rain doesn't seem to be going away any time soon so one night when I was trying to put off grocery shopping I thought I'd finally make them.

I'm glad I did! Not only were the sausages tasty, this is a super simple dinner that really tasted summery despite being made entirely indoors. In-season yellow squash and Vidalia onions really helped turn it into a complete meal. The paprika and celery seed tied the flavors together and the whole thing took about half an hour. Can't beat that!

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May 30, 2018

Steak & Greens Quiche




Ingredients:

for the crust:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used cheese bread)

for the filling:
4 cups (loose) bite-sized pieces of red and green kale
1 bunch leeks, sliced (tender parts only)
1 spring onion, chopped
1 large portobello mushroom, cubed
7 oz leftover steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 lb
3/4 cup shredded Gruyère
salt
freshly ground black pepper


spring onion greens for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, stir together the crumbs and oil until the mixture sticks together

Press the mixture to form a crust in a pie plate or quiche pan or tart pan (I just use a Pyrex pie plate). Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven to 325.


Meanwhile, saute the leek, spring onion, kale, and mushroom in a small amount of oil, bacon grease or butter until the greens are wilted and the mushroom is softened. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the steak. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together (I used my hand egg beater) the milk and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan.

 Bake 45-50 minutes or until fully cooked. If there is water on the surface of the quiche when it is fully cooked, carefully blot it with a cloth or paper towel. Cool on wire rack.




My thoughts:
I've been on a bit of a quiche kick lately and this is one of the good ones. Quiche is traditionally a good way to use up leftovers and this one is no exception! I had an odd amount of steaks the other day for dinner and ended up with one leftover. Normally I'd just make a sandwich or something but I had some kale I didn't know what to do with so why not combine the two? This is definitely a heartier quiche thanks to the steak and bold greens but I think it makes it a better fit for dinner than a lot of the lighter quiches out there. I made a breadcrumb crust again and I still love it better than a traditional crust. It's so quick and easy yet super flavorful. You really can't ask for more and it takes quiche from being something I really need to plan for to something I can pull together in just a few minutes before baking.

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May 24, 2018

Chicken Schnitzel Burgers


Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken breast
1  1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
3/4 cup breadcrumbs

to serve:
pretzel rolls
sliced red onion
hamburger dill pickle chips
sliced tomato
mayo + mustard (I used this German mustard)


Directions:

Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or plate. Set aside.
Mix together the chicken, lemon pepper, zest, paprika and capers together in a medium bowl until all ingredients are evenly divided. Divide into 4 patties.

Dredge the patties in the breadcrumbs. Panfry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plates Serve immediately on pretzel rolls with toppings of your choice.
My thoughts:
This burger was the idea of my husband who wondered if we breaded chicken burgers, would it taste like chicken schnitzel. Since we had ground chicken on hand, I thought I'd give it a try. Chicken schnitzel is often served with lemon slices and even a lemon-caper sauce so I thought I'd add those flavors directly into the burger. Ground chicken is pretty bland so it really takes well to the addition of virtually any flavor. Lemon pepper is a great shortcut because not only it has lemon and pepper (obvi) but it also has salt, granulated onion, and garlic powder in it eliminating the need for a lot of spices. I added some zest to give it a fresher taste but in a pinch, you could leave it out. I love capers so of course, I loved them in this too.

I don't know if the breadcrumbs really gave it too much schnitzel flare but it really helped the burgers brown evenly and hold their shape. Ground chicken is much "wetter" than ground beef or pork so it has a tendency to be a little trickier to mold and to flip in the pan but these stayed perfectly formed. I'm definitely trying this trick again.

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May 21, 2018

Lemon Ricotta Cookies





Ingredients:


for the cookies:
1 1/3 cups  flour
1/2  teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
8 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon's worth)
zest of one lemon


for the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon's worth)
zest of one lemon

Directions:

for the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.


In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg,  ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients until a light, fluffy batter forms.

Spoon the dough (I used a medium cookie scoop for large-ish cookies) onto the lined baking sheets, placing each cookie about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they are just beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove to a wire rack and cool 20-30 minutes.

for the glaze:

Place the wire rack (with the cookies still on it!) over a cookie sheet to catch drips.

Whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth glaze forms. Spoon 1 teaspoon glaze over each cookie, spreading to coat if desired.  Let the glaze set at least 1-2 hours before packing into storage containers.



Yield: about 2 dozen cookies, can be easily doubled

My thoughts:
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that last week I got an opportunity to check out Giada de Laurentiis' new restaurant here in Baltimore. She was there talking about her vision and even served me personally pasta! It was a lot of fun. Anyway, after a few of the guests had left, I heard her asking the staff if we were going to be served dessert. They didn't seem to have planned it but she told them they had to serve us something sweet (the restaurant wasn't officially open yet, this was a preview) and within a few minutes a few plates of lemon-ricotta cookies were brought out. OMG. I am such a chocolate cookie person but these were seriously some of the best cookies I have ever had. Light and fluffy yet substantial and with a great tart lemon-ricotta flavor. I would have dumped them in my purse had there been any extras.

The next day I went on my usual trip to Aldi (plug for my Aldi fan blog here) and picked up some lemons and ricotta so I could recreate the cookies on my own. A little experimenting and I came up with this recipe. The cookies are a little bit bigger than the ones I had at GDL Italian thanks to the size of the cookie scoop I used. It is a fluffy, sort of cake-like batter so I felt like a cookie scoop was needed vs just using a spoon. If you want smaller cookies use a smaller cookie scoop or try using a spoon. It really is up to you! The trick to getting the perfect lemon-ricotta flavor is using full fat ricotta and a lot of lemon zest and juice. Citrus has a tendency to "bake out" of baked goods--this is why extracts are used in a lot of recipes--but the zest retains the flavor a lot better so don't be tempted to skip it even though it means using actual lemons and not just bottled juice. I developed the recipe so you should only need (and use) 2 full lemons, I know citrus can be pricey this time of year and I hate waste.

If lemon-y, slightly tart, tangy cookies with a soft, almost cake-like texture intrigue you, these are the cookies for you! Seriously, one of the best cookies I've made or even had ever! And I have made a ton of cookies and basically plan vacations around bakeries so this really means something.


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