Archive for August, 2008

Watermelon and cucumber salad

I kind of picked some weird recipes to use up the diverse box of fruits and vegetables we got this week. And on this one, we were just “eh.” I think I’d prefer a different mix of seasonings, as the watermelon and cucumber work well together on their own but this dish just seemed to have too much going on. We served it alongside a very good steak prepared by my husband and jazzed up with a Penzey’s grill blend.

Cucumber and Watermelon Salad with Hoisin-Lime Dressing, recipe here

1 1/2 large English hothouse cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes seeded watermelon
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup coarsely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts

Combine cucumbers and watermelon in medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes and up to 4 hours. Drain; discard liquid.
Whisk lime juice and hoisin sauce in small bowl to blend. Pour dressing over cucumber-watermelon mixture and toss gently. Season salad to taste with pepper. Sprinkle salad with cilantro, mint, and then peanuts. Serve immediately.

August 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Sweet pepper pasta

In all the craziness over the past few weeks, I think my cooking skills actually atrophied. When I finally got back into it, I actually burnt some rice. And then I screwed up a very easy cake that I had made before without incident. I was kind of dreading getting back into a cooking routine, but the box of produce we got at the farmers’ market Saturday cheered me up. There were several colorful peppers, a watermelon, two other melons, cucumbers, okra, potatoes and apples. I suppose this signals a changing season is about upon us.

To use all the peppers except the purple one (apparently when you cook them they lose their color), we made this delicious pasta. I wasn’t sure it would be very flavorful since it had so few ingredients, but that turned out to not be a problem.

Sweet Peppers with Chicken Sausage and Pasta, adapted from this recipe

4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large red and yellow bell peppers (3 lb.), cut into 2-inch-long julienne
1/2 cup dry white wine
14.5 oz. penne (1 box Barilla Plus)
3-4 links chicken sausage, cooked according to package directions and sliced

Fresh Parmesan

Cook garlic in oil in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. Add peppers, wine, and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While peppers are cooking, cook pasta in a 6-qt. pot of boiling salted water until al dente and drain. Toss pasta with peppers, add chicken sausage and season with salt and pepper.

Dust each serving with freshly grated Parmesan.

August 26, 2008 at 11:16 pm 1 comment

Be back soon

First I went out of town, then my husband went out of town (with the camera) and my brother came to visit, and now I’m going out of town briefly again before starting law school. I’ve been cooking, but not taking pictures or taking the time to blog. I hope to be back in a routine soon!

If anyone’s still reading, I’d love suggestions of your favorite quick meals, since once I start school I’m not going to be able to devote the time to cooking that I do now.

August 17, 2008 at 2:05 pm 1 comment

Zucchini lasagna

Twenty-six years ago, when my mom brought me home from the hospital, my sweet dad cooked her this lasagna. And a blueberry pie! That might have been the last pie cooked by either of them, as I can’t recall one during my lifetime (my mom is more into cakes). But the zucchini lasagna finally saw the light of day again while I was home visiting my family this week. While looking for ideas for dinner in her old recipe box, my mom found this recipe in her handwriting on a lined piece of paper, so the origin is unknown. It’s an easy way to deal with a bounty of summer squash.

Zucchini Lasagna

3/4-1 pound ground beef
1 jar tomato sauce, or about 4 cups homemade
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
salt
pepper
4 medium zucchini
10 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown beef. Add sauce and seasonings and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Slice zucchini lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Salt and microwave about 4 minutes, then pat dry. Arrange half of the zucchini in the bottom of a 8×12 baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Combine cottage cheese and egg and spread over zucchini. Top with half of mozzarella and half of meat sauce. Layer with remaining zucchini, mozzarella and sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbling and zucchini is tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

August 9, 2008 at 9:52 am Leave a comment

Baked falafel

We got a couple of cucumbers in our box this week, and while I’m not a big fan of raw cucumbers, I love tzatziki sauce. So for whatever reason, I decided to try to make falafel, since I was recently introduced to it by a vegetarian friend. I wanted to cut down on the fat content a bit, so I took another reviewer’s advice to bake the patties instead of frying. We were very happy with the results. We served the pitas alongside these potatoes, which were super good also.

Baked falafel, adapted from this recipe
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs
4 pita pockets
1 medium tomato
1 (6 ounce) container plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber – peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty; don’t use a blender, as the consistency will be too thin. In a blender, process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Stir into mashed chickpeas.
n a small bowl combine egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder. Stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 8 balls and then flatten into patties.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and bake patties for 10 minutes on each side, spraying patties with cooking spray before flipping. Then broil for a minute on each side or until nicely browned.
In a small bowl combine yogurt, cucumber, dill, salt, pepper and mayonnaise. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Serve two patties per pita, topped with sauce and diced tomato

August 4, 2008 at 1:28 pm 1 comment

Peach buttercream-frosted cupcakes

My birthday yesterday didn’t get off to the best start. I foolishly told my husband I’d make some cupcakes for him to take to work (and for us to eat), and I got up in the morning to put together the frosting after making the cakes the day before. It was a new technique for me, and a bit involved. I walked away from the sugar syrup on the stove for a minute, and when I came back it had quickly leaped up in temperature. My second mistake was not immediately throwing it into the mixer with the eggs I was beating. By the time I did, this is what I had:

The strands all around my whisk? They pretty much felt like glass when I cleaned them off. So, I pouted, momentarily considered buying frosting in a tub, escaped the house for a while and then came back to giveĀ  it a second try. It was still a little tricky, but the end result was so worth it, especially when I added the peach puree. I hear they were a hit at the office.

Click below for recipe

(more…)

August 1, 2008 at 11:28 am Leave a comment


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Weekly menu

-Sesame chicken
-Black bean burgers with sweet potato fries
-Salad with hot bacon dressing and corn on the cob
-Tomato and bacon frittata