July 29, 2015

Smoky Southwest Chili Mac

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
2-14 oz canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 oz hot, cooked, jumbo elbow macaroni
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the pepper, onion, garlic, and zucchini until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes
Add the beef. Brown, breaking up large chunks until nearly fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, spices and beans. Simmer until warmed through and the liquid is nearly completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cook 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately!

My thoughts:
Food Lion hired me to visit one of their stores and create a recipe for their recipe portal around some of the ingredients I found there. I first went to site to look at the circular to plan my attack. I was able to email myself a grocery list I created which helped keep it on track. I hadn't been to a Food Lion in a while (they are a bit far from me and in hot weather I tend to shop closer to home) but I was really excited by what I found. I ended up with a ton of food I've been looking for (ground Siracha, anyone?) and the ingredients to make tonight's dinner. We've been having a busy, slightly stressful time lately so some comfort food was in order. Since it is summer, I opted to make a stove top casserole and incorporate zucchini, the one ingredient everyone needs a recipe for this time of year! I found everything I needed, even Food Lion brand Jumbo Macaroni which I had never heard of before. They even had Muir Glen organic fire-roasted tomatoes which are my favorite and a product most of the supermarkets near me do not carry.

Since I found them, I played up the smoky angle and added smoky spices. The whole dish only took me 30 minutes to make start to finish and had a nice fresh flavor thanks to the fresh zucchini, jalapeno, and onion.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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July 28, 2015

Olive Oil-Poached Tomatoes over Pesto Gnocchi


for the tomatoes:
3/4 lb mixed heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced (about 1/2-3/4 lb)
5 cloves garlic
1/2-3/4 cup Bertolli extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1/4 cup toasted pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
1/2 cup Bertolli extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
16 oz hot, cooked gnocchi
freshly grated Romano cheese


for the tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 300. Place the tomatoes, garlic, oil, and salt in a pie plate. Taking care that the tomatoes are fully covered in oil.

Bake tomatoes until they are soft and the skins start to curl, 20-30 minutes.

for the pesto:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse until a thick paste forms.

to serve:

Toss the pesto with the gnocchi to coat. Lift the tomatoes and garlic cloves out of the oil. Skin the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes and garlic on top of the gnocchi. Sprinkle with Romano and serve.

Save the remaining oil to drizzle on bread or use in a vinaigrette.

My thoughts:
One of the perks of food blogging is getting fun presents in the mail like this pretty bottle of Bertolli olive oil celebrating Bertolli's 150th anniversary.

I wanted to make something special with it so I decided to make these tomatoes. If you haven't oil poached a tomato before, you are missing out! They become velvety smooth and even sweeter than they were to begin with. I received a bunch of varieties of heirloom tomatoes off all sorts of colors which made the final dish extra festive. The tomatoes just sort of melt into sauce as soon as they hit the gnocchi.

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July 22, 2015

Shishito-Crimini Home Fries

1 1/2 lb Russet potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
4 oz shishito peppers, tops cut off
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
freshly ground balack pepper


Parboil the potato in a medium pot. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease out of the pan. Return to flame. Add the onions, peppers, mushrooms and potato. Saute until the potatoes are golden on both sides and the pepper is soft and browned in spots. Stir the bacon bits back in, sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately, topped with a poached or fried egg if desired.

My thoughts:
Normally I am an home fries purist but I wanted to make something slightly more robust today becasue we are going to a dinner tonight where we are not sure if there will be enough food. Better to be a little full going in than light-headed with hunger later, I think! I served this as a main meal topped with a sunny-side up egg and it made a little too much for two people. I think if you had it as a side, it would easily serve four. The shishito peppers are fairly sweet (although I did bite into one really hot one!) but added a slight heat to the dish which was fun and the meaty crimini mushrooms helped bulk the potatoes up. Perfect for brunch at home! Or brinner!

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July 20, 2015

Okra and Andouille Frittata

9 eggs, beaten
3 andouille sausages (I used chicken andouille), diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups diced okra
2 shishito peppers, minced
1 ear of corn worth of corn kernels
2 cups shredded, peeled potatoes*
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a small amount of oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Brown the sausage on all sides.Whisk together the eggs, spices, milk, set aside. Add the okra, peppers, onion, and corn and sauté until the onions are translucent. Remove the sausage and vegetables from the pan and place in a bowl. Cover. Arrange the potato in single layer in the bottom of the pan. Cook for 3-5 minute or until beginning to brown. Layer the vegetables on top. Add the egg mixture. Use a spatula to create a smooth, even layer. Keep on medium heat and cook until just beginning to set. Bake about 10 minutes or until the top is just beginning to brown. Remove from pan and slice.

*Defrosted frozen, plain shredded raw potatoes (sometimes labeled for hash browns) work well here.
My thoughts:
We were at the local farm store this weekend and they had the prettiest okra, I just had to pick some up. I had no idea what to do with it but it looked so good! When I got home I realized I had a dozen eggs and some leftover frozen andouille from an earlier recipe and the answer was clear: frittata! Frittatas are one of my favorite things to do for an easy dinner and the fact that you can toss pretty much anything in and have it taste amazing. Since I had andouille and okra, it was clear it need a Cajun bent so I added onion and shishito peppers (for more heat use jalapenos). Matt had the idea of making sort of a potato crust so I lined the bottom of the pan with potato. It added a lot of texture interest and kept the egg mixture of sticking to bottom of the pan, something I always worry about with frittatas.

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July 16, 2015

Zucchini and Feta Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

2 lbs ground turkey thighs
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup matzo meal
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, feta, egg, matzo meal, onion, spices and zucchini. Form into a loaf. Place in a loaf pan (or, preferably, a meatloaf pan). Brush the top with the tomato paste. Bake for 60 minutes or until fully cooked. Wait a few minutes before slicing.

My thoughts:
For some reason I had the odd urge to make meatloaf this week. Being July, this wasn't ideal but an urge is an urge. To make it more summery, I used turkey instead of beef and stuffed it full of farm fresh zucchini. The result was a moist, light meatloaf that was summer-worthy as a meatloaf could be. The leftovers made a great sandwich too.

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July 14, 2015

Brined Dill Potatoes

1 1/2 lb small potatoes, halved*
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced
sea salt

Place the potatoes, vinegar and bay leaves in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Boil until fork-tender. Drain and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, heat the butter or olive oil in a small skillet. Add the potatoes, cut-side-down and cook 2-6 minutes or until browned. Pour into a bowl and toss with dill and salt. Serve immediately.

* I used Yukon Royale potatoes

My thoughts:
This sort of a more elaborate version of Midsommar Potatoes. The potatoes take on a briny taste from being boiled with the vinegar then are crisped up in a skillet and tossed with oodles of fresh dill. Since they are crispy, I think they made a fun alternative to oven fries.

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July 08, 2015

Baltimore-style Crab Cakes (the other way)

3/4 lb blue crab meat*
15 saltines, crushed
1/2 teaspoon good quality dry mustard (like Colman's)
Old Bay to taste (I used less than usual because my crab was already seasoned)
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Heat 1/2-inch canola oil in a large skillet. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Form the mixture into 5-6, 3-4-inch, 1/2 inch thick patties. Place in the pan and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and heated through (about 3-5 minutes on each side). Drain on paper towel-lined plates and serve.

*I used leftover meat from steamed crabs

Note: You can form the raw crab cakes up to 24 hrs in advance. Refrigerate until ready to fry. Cold crab cakes will take longer to cook.

My thoughts:
Back in 2009 I shared the method of making crab cakes the way my family (and most families I knew) made them growing up. Now it is 2015 and I had some leftover crab meat from a crab feast and I thought I'd test out the other popular method of crab cake-making: using saltines. I've long been skeptical because Old Bay is pretty salty and well, saltines get their name from something, right? I did like them a lot. I'd be happy to serve these both Baltimoreans and out-of-towners.

An aside: How can I have so many plates and bowls and not a single one with a nautical theme? No crabs, no lighthouses, no octopi, no sea monsters. Nothing!

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July 06, 2015



for the marinade:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon allspice (freshly ground if possible)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup diced red onion

1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

for the cucumber sauce:
1 cucumber, diced
2 tablespoons minced dill
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 cup plain yogurt

to serve:
halved grape tomatoes

Marinate the meat overnight in a nonreactive container.

Remove from sauce and thread the chicken on skewers. Prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Grill the chicken for 5-8 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.

Meanwhile, stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Spread in pita along with hummus. Add chicken and grape tomatoes. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Not quite a traditional shawarma, shawarm-ish is just how I'd make shawarma if I ruled the shawarma-making world. Yogurt-marinated chicken thighs, a bit of heat, tzatziki-esque cucumber salad, pocket pita (easier to find than lavash) and grilled on skewers vs a spit. After all, pretty much every country has their own variation on shawarma (which technically just refers to the technique used when cooking the meat but colloquially refers the sandwich as well) so why not me? This one is easy to do at home and quick too. If you can't grill, broil the meat instead.

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July 01, 2015

Bacon Cherry Jam Jalapeño Poppers

10-12 jalapeño peppers, stems and membrane removed and halved
8 oz Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature*
4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot Seriously Sharp), grated
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup cherry-raspberry jam
5 slices thick cut bacon, cut into thirds

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the peppers, cut-side-up on the pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the neufchatel, cheddar and onion. Spoon into each pepper, filling it completely. Spoon a small amount of jam on each pepper. Top each with a slice of bacon, tucking the ends under the pepper. Secure with a toothpick. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pepper is hot and the bacon is cooked and crispy.

*AKA light cream cheese, not the French cheese of the same name
My thoughts:
I've never made too much in the way of jalapeno poppers before but when I saw some beautiful, unblemished jalapenos at the grocery store I thought they'd be perfect for stuffing. I'm going to have to get one of those jalapeno popper grill stands when they inevitably go on clearance so I can stuff them whole and grill them. Until then, I went with a baked version (although you could grill the halves if you wanted and had a flat grill pan or cast iron skillet) that could wrap in bacon. Bacon makes everything better, right? You know what makes things even better? Pairing salty, smoky bacon with sweet, juicy cherry jam. I used my homemade cherry-raspberry jam but another kind of jam like straight cherry, raspberry, peach or strawberry would be great too. It really is about the hot-sweet-smoky-salty combo.

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