Braised Baby Carrots & Zucchini

Braising (from the French word, “braiser”) is a combination-cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature in liquid.  Because baby vegetables are young and tender, they do not take long to cook, only about 20 minutes. 

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Braised Baby Carrots & Zucchini

Serves 6

½ Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb baby carrots
1 lb baby zucchini
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs vegetable stock or water
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup vegetable stock or water
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Coat bottom of 9- or 10-inch heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the baby carrots and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes. (Although vegetables won’t brown evenly, they will get some color.) Next, add the zucchini. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

In small cup, mix 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar with 2 tablespoons vegetable stock and add to vegetables. Shake pan or stir vigorously while liquid evaporates. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water; cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes.

To serve, add freshly ground pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.

Crispy Potato Waffles

Last night I made these crispy potato waffles. The potato has to be the most versatile of all vegetables. I love coming up with new ways to make potatoes. These savory potato waffles are similar to potato pancakes, but in waffle form. The potato waffle has one advantage, it reheats exceptionally well and therefore can be made in advance. I put them in the oven at 275 degrees to keep warm. I’ve also been known to make grilled cheese sandwiches in a waffle iron!

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Crispy Potato Waffles

Serves 4

3 potatoes, peeled and shredded
Salt
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
Pepper
2 Tbs butter, melted

Pre-heat waffle maker to the highest heat.

Liberally salt potatoes and lay them out on a stack of paper towels to drain. Stack a few paper towels on top, press down and let sit for a few minutes.

While potatoes drain, whisk together the onion, egg, sour cream, and pepper in a large bowl. Add drained potatoes to bowl and fold until combined.

Brush hot waffle maker with melted butter. Evenly spread potato mixture around the waffle maker. Close and cook for 12 minutes or until potatoes are crispy and brown.

Homemade Pickled Jalapeños

Pickled jalapeños are very easy to make. You can use them for nachos and tacos, cheese omelets, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, etc. I recently needed one jalapeño and had to buy a whole bag of them. My jalapeño plant in the back yard is not doing very well at the moment.

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Homemade Pickled Jalapeños

1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
dash of salt
jalapeños, sliced

Whisk apple cider vinegar with sugar and salt. Slice jalapeños into a jar and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Close the jar and refrigerate the jalapeños overnight.

Cowboy Casserole

Here is a recipe that we’ve been testing for our hot lunch program. This is the kids version. I think I would throw in some chopped green chilis!I hope they like it!

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Cowboy Casserole

Serves 12

1 lb of ground beef
1 small onion, minced
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs flat leaf parsley
10¾ oz can of tomato soup
15 oz can of corn
3 Tbs dried mustard
32 oz package of tater tots
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

Brown ground beef with the onions – drain. Then add the Worcestershire sauce, parsley, tomato soup, corn, dried mustard and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a greased 9×13 baking dish, arrange tater tots in single layer. Cover with 2 cups of cheese. Pour ground beef mixture over top and cover with remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Crispy Roasted Beech Mushrooms

This is a snack I made around the cocktail hour. If you like mushrooms, you’ll love these. There are clean and ready to use. The Brown Beech mushroom, or Bunashimeji, and the White Beech mushroom, or Bunapi has a nutty, buttery flavor, and a firm, crunchy texture. The mushrooms grow in clusters and produce tender caps.
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Crispy Roasted Beech Mushrooms

Makes about 2 cups

1 lb white and/or brown beech mushrooms
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with a rack set about 4 inches from the heat source. Put a baking sheet on the rack to heat up while you prep the mushrooms.

Use a knife to cut off just enough of the base to separate the mushrooms-you may need to use your hand to help separate them. Discard the bases and put the mushrooms into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the mushrooms and season with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat.

Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and pour the mushrooms onto the sheet. Use a spatula to gently spread out the mushrooms into a single layer. Roast until mostly golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes, using a spatula to turn the mushrooms occasionally so that they cook evenly.

Season the mushrooms liberally with salt and pile in a small bowl. Serve immediately as a snack.

Grilled Margarita Shrimp

I just bought some new grill plates and tested them out with Margarita Shrimp. The nice thing is that you don’t have to marinate shrimp all day or overnight. It only takes a couple of hours and you’re go to go. While the shrimp marinates, you can be busy drinking margaritas. One of our family favorites is Eric’s Avocado Margarita. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but once you’ve had one there is no turning back!

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Grilled Margarita Shrimp

Serves 4-6

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 Tbs triple Sec
2 Tbs lime juice
zest of one lime

Combine all ingredients, except shrimp, in a medium mixing bowl. Add shrimp, cover and let marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Remove shrimp and discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers and grill for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Dill Pickle Dip

When my husband and I were dating 100 years ago and we would go to the supermarket, he would buy a jar of dill pickles and eat the entire jar in the car before we got home. He likes his dill pickles. His brother used to drink the juice, not sure if he still does this! Russell?! Anyway, this dip is divine!

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Dill Pickle Dip

1 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs green onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dill
2 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4-5 medium dill pickles, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients and stir until smooth.

Refrigerate until serving. Serve with pita chips or vegetables.

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

This is what I made for dinner last night. Talk about comfort food! I remember growing up we used to eat a lot of scalloped potatoes. Brings back memories of my childhood. I’ll be making it again.

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Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

Serves 12

4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing dish
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
3 cups cooked ham, diced
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
Chopped fresh parsley, for sprinkling, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the butter and onions to a large skillet over medium heat and sauté until starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and whisk them together. Continue cooking the onion/flour mixture until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and milk and whisk around, allowing the mixture to thicken; this will take 3 to 4 minutes. Add some pepper, stir the sauce, reduce the heat and keep warm.

Slice the potatoes really thin using a mandolin or a really sharp knife, the thinner the better. Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish, then add half the sliced potatoes and half the diced ham. Sprinkle on half the cheese then pour on half the sauce from the skillet. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, ending with a layer of cheese and sauce. Sprinkle extra pepper on top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling, an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Broccoli & Chickpea Salad

I have to say, this is really delicious. It would be great to pack in your lunch. It’s very light and extremely healthy!
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Broccoli & Chickpea Salad

Serves 4

1 lb broccoli, finely chopped (5 cups)
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steam broccoli florets until just tender, 3 minutes. Once cool, chop and combine with chickpeas, scallions, and slivered almonds.

In a bowl, combine garlic, mustard, honey, lemon zest and juice. Slowly add oil, whisking to emulsify, and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle broccoli mixture with dressing and adjust seasoning.

Note
Refrigerate salad in an airtight container up to two days.

Salmon with Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Shallots

Another super easy salmon recipe. This is actually from the Diabetic Living website.

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Salmon with Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Shallots

Serves 4

3 lbs salmon fillet(s), skinned if desired
Nonstick cooking spray
4 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh oregano or 1-1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Rinse salmon and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Lightly coat a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In the baking dish, combine tomatoes, shallots, garlic, oregano, olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Toss to coat. Spread it on top and around the salmon.

Roast, uncovered, for 15 to 18 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Note – Salmon can be covered and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.