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Posts tagged “Bell pepper

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

My friend gave me a bit of this lovely roasted pepper tomato tapenade she made. Ooh it was delicious! I tried spreading it on toast with melted cheese over top. Yum. I put it on a sandwich. Oh yes! I imagined all the things I could do with this scrumptious spread: it would be lovely in lasagna and all sorts of appetizers (little toasts! yes!) and pizzas and things. I only had a tiny bit that she gave me … but … she had told me what she put in it … tomatillos, sundried & fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, olive oil … hmmm …

I still had four of the tomatillos she gave me and a couple fresh garden tomatoes, and oh yes, peppers from mom’s garden … and I even had some of the “sundried” tomatoes (that I dried in the oven), so I thought I would see if I could make a tapenade.

I threw in some fresh herbs and capers for good measure. It’s not exactly like her tapenade, but even if I had had her recipe on hand, I am sure I wouldn’t have followed it precisely. I just can’t properly follow a recipe!

I want to thank my dear friend Denise for giving me her marvelous tapenade … which spurred me to try making it. What a wonderful spread!

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

The best way to roast the peppers, tomatillos and tomato for this tapenade is on the grill, but you could also roast them in the oven.

  • 1 medium fresh garden tomato
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 4 tomatillos
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 hot pepper (I used this big hot red pepper my mom gave me similar to a New Mexico Green Chile, only it’s red … but I think you could use any hot — or not so hot — red pepper)
  • 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Several sprigs of rosemary
  • A couple sprigs of tarragon
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons capers

Directions:

  1. Heat up the grill and set the tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers directly over the heat. Roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and black (make sure you turn them to roast all sides of the vegies!) and the tomatoes are soft. This should only take a few minutes if your grill is good and hot.
  2. Let the roasted vegies cool for a bit till they are cool enough to handle, then cut out the stem & core of the peppers and tomatoes, leaving the charred skin ON.
  3. Pop all the ingredients except the capers in a handi chopper or food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Pour the tapenade into a bowl and stir in the capers. Add salt if you like … I didn’t think it needed any.
  4. Serve on toast or crackers, use as a sauce for pizza, stir it into the ricotta mixture for your lasagna, use it as a tasty sandwich spread … or just let your imagination run wild.

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowTasty Tuesday, Show & Share Wednesday, Cast Party WednesdayNewlyweds Recipe Linky, Gala Dinner Party, Fit & Fabulous Fridays and All my Bloggy Friends.


Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie Noodles

Shhhh … they aren’t really “noodles” … they just look sort of like noodles. They don’t really taste like noodles either, but I love the noodley look of this colorful vegetable medley. The Pesto Rosso (a.k.a, sundried tomato pesto) really complements the sauteed veggies too, especially when you add some crumbles of cheese on top.

It was getting very close to bedtime last night when I realized I was hungry. I didn’t want to have a big, heavy meal right before bed, but I didn’t want my stomach waking me up in the middle of night either. So I decided at the last moment to cook up something light and healthy but filling enough to tide me over till morning. I’ve been toying with the idea of using zucchini and summer squash as noodles with sauce over top, but when I went to make it, I thought “why just zucchini? why not toss some other vegetables too?” … and so I did.

For me, this was a late night snack, but I could envision these lovelies as a beautiful bed for meat, fish or chicken. Can you imagine how appetizing that would look? Or you could eat them as is for a wonderfully healthy vegetarian dinner. If you want a heartier meal, toss them with some whole grain fettucine or linguine. The wonderful thing about eating vegetables for dinner is you can pretty much eat as many as you want without guilt or worry.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie Noodles

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”

This makes about enough for 1 hearty plateful or two side servings. Multiply if you have more mouths to feed!

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 of a small sweet onion
  • 1/3 of a large bell pepper (I used a yellow one)
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini (yielding a heaping cup or so of zucchini “noodles”)
  • 1 roma tomato
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used Basil and Terragon)
  • A splash of wine (or water)
  • About 1 Tablespoon Pesto Rosso (Sundried Tomato Pesto … recipe here)
  • About 1/2 Tablespoon white wine (or water)
  • To top: crumbled feta or queso fresco — or thin “shards” of freshly cut Parmesan & a cherry tomato or sprig of fresh basil or parsley, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop the garlic finely and, in a small bowl, mix it with the olive oil. Set aside to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil while you chop up the vegies.
  2. Slice the vegies into thin noodle shapes. For the onion, slice it vertically and very thin. The zucchini: slice it in half, then slice each half into very thin slices. Cut the slices into noodle-sized strips. The tomato: cut it vertically, then slice like you did the zucchini. The bell pepper: just cut it into very thin strips.
  3. Now heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic with olive oil, onion and bell pepper and sautee until the onion is soft. Then add the zucchini and tomato and sautee until the zucchini “noodles” are tender. If the pan gets dry while you are cooking, add a splash of white wine (or water) to keep the vegies moist and tender and make sure they don’t stick to the pan.
  4. Mix the pesto rosso with a bit of white wine (or water) to thin it out, then toss it with the vegies.
  5. Top with crumbled cheese or shards of parmesan, garnish with a cherry tomato and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie "Noodles"

This recipe was shared at Tasty TuesdayWonderful Food WednesdayCast Party WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday, Weekend Potluck and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich

on Toasted Ciabatta with Melted Gouda Cheese

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Ciabatta with Gouda

Today I was HUNGRY and needed something substantial. Something with protein. I briefly considered making up a BLT, but I decided I didn’t want to mess with making bacon. I needed something quick so I could get back to work.

So an egg sandwich sounded about right … But I wanted something really tasty that would satisfy my hunger AND my taste buds. Pesto rosso to the rescue! If you haven’t heard of Pesto Rosso, it’s a magical tomato pesto made with sundried tomatoes and almonds. The Foodie Physician introduced me to it. I have had this lovely red pesto several times spread on toast for a snack and reveled in the taste of it each time, but today I thought I would put it to the test in a sandwich.

A few minutes later I was munching on one of the BEST breakfast sandwiches I have ever had. The lovely ciabatta and fresh garden tomato are wonderful, of course, and the sweet pepper and onion certainly pitch in along with the melted gouda cheese, but the Pesto Rosso is what really turns this sandwich from a ho-hum regular run-of-the-mill sandwich … into a sandwich to remember.

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta with Gouda Cheese

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich

Makes 2 normal-sized breakfast sandwiches or 1 extra large one. I used Gouda cheese from Dofino, since they were so kind as to send me samples.

  • 1 egg
  • About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet bell pepper (I used yellow … red or green would work too)
  • About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet onion
  • Several slices of Gouda cheese
  • Ciabatta bread, sliced horizontally (I used my homemade ciabatta)
  • Pesto Rosso (recipe here)
  • Sliced fresh garden tomato

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a small spoonful of cold water till smooth (the water will help keep your egg moist and perfect). Season with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and fresh ground black pepper, then stir in the chopped sweet onion and bell pepper.
  2. Heat your frying pan to medium heat, pour in the egg mixture, reduce heat immediately to medium low. Cover the egg with gouda cheese slices, then set the cover on the pan and let cook, checking frequently, until the egg is cooked through and the cheese is melted. I pushed in some of the edges of the egg to make it into a more manageable size for the sandwich.
  3. While the egg is cooking, cut 2 pieces of ciabatta about the size for half of your egg (or a large piece of ciabatta if you are making a ginormous sandwich), slice them horizontally and toast the bread, then spread the bottom half of the ciabatta with a generous amount of Pesto Rosso. Slide the egg on top of the Pesto Rosso and then add fresh tomato slices and the top half of the ciabatta bread.

Enjoy!

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta with Gouda Cheese

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s TreasuresFull Plate Thursday, Friday FavoritesFit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend PotluckMelt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday and Kitchen Fun Friday.


Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a thai-style curry soup with my aubergines … aubergine, isn’t that a fabulous word? It sounds so fancy and cultured to me. Usually I just use the word “eggplant”, but it doesn’t carry the same elegance that these beautiful purple vegetables really deserve.

Anyway, I came home from yoga class the other night STARVING and decided to begin the creation of the Thai curry soup. Somehow thought this would be a quick thing to do … I started up the grill because I’m really loving the smoky flavor from the grill and set a bunch of lovely vegetables on there for their “fire” roasting. Yes, I really did start up the grill just to roast vegetables. It didn’t take long to roast them … but then I got busy with other things and with the kids.

Hours later (just before bedtime), I finally sat down to enjoy a cup of my curried red pepper aubergine soup. It’s not that the soup really takes that long to make … it’s just that … well, I’m a mom … and I’m easily distracted (look! facebook!) … and my kitchen was already a mess so there was a bit of work to do there too … oh well, it got done eventually and I did get a bowl of soup and now I have a delicious soup I can quickly reheat for lunches this week.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Yields a little over a quart of soup.

  • 3 good-size Japanese Eggplant (the long skinny dark black purple kind of eggplant … or 1 large globe eggplant) … yielding about a cup of eggplant after roasting (a little more or less is fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 hot red pepper (or if you don’t want your soup to be spicy, use a bell pepper in place of the hot pepper)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 of an onion, peeled, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (to taste)
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or other sweetener of your choice … to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Garnish: plain lowfat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and fresh parsley or better yet, cilantro!

Directions:

  1. Poke the eggplant all around with a fork. Light up the grill and when the coals are hot, set the eggplant and the peppers right over the hot coals to roast. (A gas grill would work fine too … you COULD even roast them in the oven if you prefer …) Here’s a shot of my eggplant and peppers on the grill. I used these 3 eggplant, the red bell pepper, and one of the hot peppers in this soup. The other two peppers I’m going to put in a salsa (I think …)
    Roasting Eggplant & Peppers on the Grill
  2. You don’t want to burn them, but the skins of the eggplant will turn dark and the pepper skins should turn black. Turn the peppers and eggplant over to make sure you roast all sides. The peppers will be done very quickly. Pull the peppers off the grill and let them cool while you finish cooking the eggplant. Cook the eggplant until it is limp and soft.
  3. The peel on the peppers and the eggplant should come right off after roasting. Pull off the peel, chop off the top stems from the eggplant, and put the “good parts” of the peppers and the eggplant in a blender or handi chopper. Puree them until smooth.
  4. In a saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, soft and starting to brown. Stir in the eggplant/pepper paste and the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together till it’s well mixed, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the flavors have had time to “meld”.
  5. When the soup is done, puree it in a blender (or use an immersion blender). I’ve heard of people cracking the glass of a glass blender with hot soup, so you might want to let it cool a bit before blending it if you are using a glass blender.
  6. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh parsley and serve hot. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. This soup reheats nicely in the microwave.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Fish Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa

Next Generation Fish & White Bean Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa

My dad gave me some fresh fish he had caught when I visited last weekend, and he told me I must either cook them up by Monday or freeze them. Fish is SO much better when it’s fresh, so I cooked it up. My daughter loooooves fresh fish, but she wasn’t very hungry Monday night and we ended up with quite a stack of leftover cooked fish, part catfish, part Northern Pike.

Next Generation Fish & White Bean Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa

So what do you do with a stack of leftover fish? Well, I often make fish tacos, but this time I wanted to do something a little different … why not a fish quesadilla? I tried it once. Pretty good, but not great. So I tried it a different slant on it … much better! … you are going to be so glad I waited to blog this because these Fish Quesadillas are SO good!  The white beans and greek yogurt take them to a level beyond tasty. (That’s my own personal opinion.) I’m wanting another one already … gonna have to get some more tortillas!

Next Generation Fish & White Bean Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa

Fish & White Bean Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 cup cooked white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon of liquid from the beans
  • 1 Tablespoon goat cheese
  • Green onion (I used two)
  • Garlic scapes (I used two)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno (use more or less according to how spicy you want it)
  • A few cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup finely shredded Mexican blend of cheeses
  • Cooked fish fillets
  • Flour tortillas (whole grain is good!)
  • Pineapple salsa (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. First, make the pineapple salsa and set aside to allow the flavors to blend.
  2. In a food processor or handi chopper, blend the white beans, yogurt, goat cheese, and a bit of cooking liquid from the beans till smooth. Add snipped green onion, garlic scapes, jalapeno, and cilantro and stir (or chop if you like), then blend in the shredded cheese.
  3. Heat a skillet pan to medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. While it’s warming, spread a tortilla with the cheese/bean mixture, then put flakes of fish all over half the tortilla. Fold it in half so the cheesy mixture completely covers the fish flakes. (If you want to make a big full round quesadilla, spread two tortillas with a thin layer of the cheesy mixture, top one of them with flaked fish, then carefully put the other tortilla on top (cheesy mixture down).)
  4. Put the tortilla in the pan, cover and cook briefly. Check often and when it is brown on the bottom, flip the tortilla over to brown the other side. When both sides are brown and the cheese is nicely melted, slide the quesadilla out of the pan onto a cutting board, cut into pieces, and serve immediately with the fresh pineapple salsa.

Fresh Pineapple Salsa

  • 2/3 cup pineapple cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped, peeled orange
  • 1/2 cup chopped green & red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped fine
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno (use more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tequila
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lime
  • A small bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit for a bit to allow the flavors to blend. Store any remaining salsa in a covered container in the fridge.

Next Generation Fish & White Bean Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa

This recipe was shared at Potluck PartyFit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend Potluck, Everyday Mom’s MealsManic Mondays,  Totally Tasty Tuesdays and KM’s Seafood Bloghop.


Greek-Style Baked Fish

Greek-Style Baked Fish

I am guest posting at Full Belly Sisters today! Justine is one of my favorite facebook foodie friends and when she asked me to share a fish dish, I immediately thought of this one. I’ve been meaning to blog it forever because it’s one of those dishes I have made over and over again over the years …

Greek style baked fish

So head over to Full Belly Sisters for the recipe! I think you’re going to love it …

Greek style baked fish

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s Meals,  Talent Show TuesdaysCast Party Wednesdays, Tastetastic Thursdays and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Chinese Chicken Tangerine Salad

Chinese Tangerine Chicken Salad

An Oriental-inspired salad-scape.

Because I was suddenly hungry and my son was making chicken nuggets and there were tangerines sitting in front of me and greens and a beautiful red bell pepper in the fridge. Not to mention a bottle of Oriental vinaigrette already made.

This is kind of a melange of all the oriental salads I’ve tried … tangerines or mandarin oranges are divine in an oriental salad … I was kind of wishing I had some chow mein noodles on hand, or some rice noodles I could fry up, but all I had for oriental-style noodles were Ramen noodles so yes, they went into the salad. Raw, crunchy, right out of the package.

Chinese Tangerine Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Tangerine Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • 4 chicken nuggets or leftover cooked chicken, warmed and chopped
  • Chopped onion
  • 2 tangerines
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Chow mein noodles, crumbled uncooked Ramen noodles, or rice noodles, deep fried till they are crunchy and puffy
  • Toasted almonds (I know, there aren’t any in the picture … I remembered them after the photo shoot!)
  • Oriental vinaigrette salad dressing

Fill the bowl 3/4 of the way with mixed greens. Arrange the other salad ingredients on top and drizzle with the oriental vinaigrette.

Oriental vinaigrette salad dressing

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine OR 1/4 t. granulated garlic
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger OR  1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • About 10 drops of sesame oil
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. chinese mustard

Pour all ingredients into a bottle and shake well to blend the flavors. Refrigerate.

Chinese Chicken Tangerine Salad

By the way, I’m horrible with chopsticks … can you tell from the picture?

This recipe was shared at Old Fashioned Recipe ExchangeNewlyweds Recipe Linky, Cast Party Wednesday,  Midweek FiestaFull Plate Thursday, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Crunchy Beef, Bean and Egg Breakfast Tacos

Crunchy Beef, Bean, & Egg Breakfast Taco

This is no ordinary taco … Do you see what’s inside there? I tried to get up really close and personal, but I know it’s still a little hard to tell … okay, yeah, I know the name of this post kinda gave it away … there are eggs in that taco! Oh I put taco meat in there, too, and refried beans, and cheese … ooh can’t forget the cheese. Yes, salsa too, and peppers and onions. And even though it’s for breakfast, I added the lettuce and cilantro. I would’ve added tomatoes too if I had had some readily available, but then again, there are tomatoes in the salsa.

Crunchy Beef, Bean, & Egg Breakfast Tacos

  • Taco shells
  • 1 egg (or more depending on how many tacos you want to make … 1 egg makes about 2 tacos), beaten, sprinkled with Red Robin Seasoning (or just salt & pepper)
  • Taco meat (I use a seasoning mix to make my taco meat … but I don’t actually use beef, I use ground venison. It’s leaner and tastier and you don’t have to wonder whether it was free range or grass fed …)
  • Refried beans (canned or make your own, whatever … most of the time I try to make my own, but sometimes I use the canned kind)
  • Sharp cheddar and/or other shredded Mexican cheese
  • Chopped onion & bell pepper (or use a hotter pepper like jalapeno if you prefer!)
  • Your favorite salsa
  • Chopped lettuce and cilantro and tomato (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Heat the taco shells in the oven till they’re crispy. Heat the refried beans in a pan or in the microwave.
  2. Add a couple tablespoons of taco meat per egg to the beaten egg. Heat a sautee pan over medium heat and add the onions and peppers and sautee briefly to soften the onions a bit.
  3. Pour the egg and meat mixture over the onions and peppers and then top with shredded cheese. Lower the heat to medium low and scooch the egg mixture around in the pan, sort of scrambling it a bit, but leaving the cheese on top. Cook until the cheese is melted and the egg is done.
  4. For each taco, spread one side of the crisp taco shell with refried beans, then add the egg mixture. Top with salsa and lettuce.

Crunchy Beef, Bean, & Egg Breakfast Taco

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysNewlyweds Recipe LinkyTastetastic ThursdaysMidweek Fiesta and It’s a Keeper Thursdays.


Cajun Andouille Sausage & Vegetable Stew

A nearly wordless Wednesday post …

Cajun Andouille Sausage and Vegetable Stew

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”

~  Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Cajun Andouille Sausage and Vegetable Stew

Cajun Andouille Sausage & Vegetable Stew

A hearty, healthy, and spicy soup to warm your bones

  • 1 – 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped (about 2/3 cup chopped), with leaves removed and set aside
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes in juices, with the tomatoes chopped into small bits
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup sweet corn (frozen, thawed)
  • 1 cup chickpeas (or other beans)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno (optional–add more or less depending on how spicy you want your soup)
  • 1 Tablespoon cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup chopped Andouille sausage
  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice (or basmati or whatever kind you prefer)
  • 1 cup water (or more to get the desired “soupiness”)
  • About 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop the vegies, removing the leaves from the celery and setting them aside for later.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and celery and sautee until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add tomato, bay leaf, bell pepper, corn, chickpeas, jalapeno, cajun seasoning, broth, sausage, rice and water.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer the soup for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  5. Right before serving, chop the basil and celery leaves and add the herbs and celery leaves to the soup. Garnish with fresh basil and/or oregano leaves as desired.

Cajun Andouille Sausage and Vegetable Stew

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdaysIt’s a Keeper Thursdays, Fit and Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Yellow Watermelon Salsa – Two Ways

Yellow Watermelon Salsa - Two Ways

I suppose it might seem a little odd to be posting a watermelon salsa on December 1st, but believe it or not, I still have some watermelon to use up from my dad’s garden. He had such a huge crop of yellow watermelon this year that they actually donated a trailerfull of them to the local school so they could serve it to the children for lunch! Isn’t that amazing? And then there were still a bunch left! They didn’t have room for all of them in the fridge so they were storing them in the shed. Luckily the weather cooperated and brought cool but not overly chilly temperatures. Last time they came down to visit they brought me 10 watermelon! Each one is small … but still, how do you use 10 watermelon?

I gave six of them away, I made watermelon sorbet, I made some watermelon tequila, and then I made salsa. We are down to half a watermelon which I think will get eaten without any special preparations.

First I made a “plain” watermelon salsa. I think this salsa would be delicious over chicken, fish or pork. It’s fruity, with a light sweetness, spicy, fun. It makes your body feel good inside the same way that a cool watermelon does on a hot summer day. And the colors are just so fantastic too!

Yellow Watermelon Salsa

Then I remembered how much our friends loved the black bean salsa I made a while back and I thought perhaps I should add some black beans. This black bean watermelon salsa has a bit more substance. The beans add protein and a really nice flavor and texture contrast to the sweet, crunchy watermelon. This black bean version would be great with chips or in a salad. I am also thinking melted cheese on chips with this black bean watermelon salsa spooned over would be such an amazing snack.

Watermelon Salsa Two Ways

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers
  • 2 jalapenos (for a milder salsa, use a smaller amount of jalapeno, or leave it out altogether)
  • 2 c. seeded watermelon, cut into very small chunks (I used yellow watermelon, but you can use red)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a few sprigs of fresh basil, chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2nd Way: add 2/3 cup or so of black beans

Toss the garlic, onion, and peppers into a handi chopper or food processor and process till finely chopped (or chop them finely with a knife). In a medium bowl, combine the pepper mixture with the watermelon, tomatoes, salt, herbs and lime juice.

If you want a “meatier”, more substantial salsa, stir in the black beans.

Watermelon Black Bean Salsa

I bottled some of the black bean watermelon salsa up to give to our TaeKwonDo instructors. They really love black bean salsa and I think they’re going to LOVE this one.


Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice Skillet Casserole

with dill, thyme, and tomato

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice  Skillet Casserole

This is a comforting, homey dish that goes straight from stovetop to oven to the table and is a delicious, complete and healthy meal all in one pan.

I returned from Thanksgiving at my parents’ house with a car full of food, wine, a spectacular placemat my mom found for me and a very special new pan. My dad had found a couple beautiful cast iron skillets at the thrift store for $3.50, and I just casually joked that I was tempted to take one home with me. So my sweet mother cleaned one up and gave it to me to take home. Did she know how much I wanted one? My mom is the best.

We had a ham on Saturday, so everyone got a big chunk of ham to take home with them. A skillet casserole seemed like the perfect thing to make to “christen” my beautiful new cast iron skillet.

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice  Skillet Casserole

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice Skillet Casserole

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • Dried or fresh dill & thyme
  • Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup lowfat milk (I used 1%)
  • A dash of ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend … I recommend a white cheddar, swiss, or
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked Bismati rice
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat ham, chopped
  • Breadcrumbs, almond slices, tomato & feta cheese, for topping

Directions:

If you don’t have a cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet, just bake this in casserole dish.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start the rice cooking.
  3. While the rice cooks, melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and sautee.
  4. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the flour and stir until the vegies are coated with flour.
  5. Add in the milk and stir, cooking over medium heat until you have a creamy white sauce.
  6. Continue stirring as you add the pumpkin and the shredded cheese. You should have a very creamy sauce. Season with nutmeg, dill, thyme, Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir the rice, tomato, and ham into the cheesy sauce.
  8. Flatten the rice mixture with the back of a spoon and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, almonds, halved cherry tomatos (or chopped tomato) and feta cheese. I sprinkled a little extra dill and thyme on top too, just for good measure.
  9. Put the skillet in the oven and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned and the casserole is good and hot.

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice  Skillet Casserole

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Blog Recipe LinkyThis Chick Cooks, Fit and Fabulous Fridays, and Gooseberry Patch Skillet Meals.


Janet’s Citrus Salsa

Janet's Citrus Salsa

Janet is here for Thanksgiving this year and she wanted to make citrus salsa. She even brought a can of mandarin oranges just for the occasion. So Janet and I made citrus salsa with some of Mom’s tomatoes and Dad’s jalapenos. The japs are super hot this year!

If you want to tone down the heat of the salsa, just use bell pepper or a smaller amount of jalapeno.

Janet’s Citrus Salsa

  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can of mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained and chopped, or 2 oranges, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons of lime juice
  • About 3 Tablespoons of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let rest for an hour or so to let the flavors blend. Serve with tortilla chips or on nachos, fish, chicken, pork, whatever!

My sister thought this salsa would be good with black beans in it. It certainly went well with the black bean turkey nachos she made.

Janet's Citrus Salsa

This recipe was shared at Fit and Fabulous FridaysRecipe of the Week: Mexican Cuisine, Katherine Martinelli’s Pepper Blog Hop and Recipe of the Week: Hot & Spicy Recipes and Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.


Green Chile Crab Cakes with Smoky Remoulade Sauce

Green Chile Crab Cakes with Smoky Roumelade Sauce

I’m so excited! This is my first Secret Recipe Club (SRC) post! I have been jealously watching other food bloggers’ secret recipe club posts and just dying for my little food blog to become “old enough” to join. You have to have at least 60 posts to join the club. I guess my marathon of blogging every day in October really helped with THAT.

In case you’re not familiar with the Secret Recipe Club,  … it is a “club” of food bloggers. Each blogger in the club is secretly assigned to make a recipe from another food blog and blog about it. You are assigned to a blog, but you can make any recipe you choose from that blog. On the “reveal” day, everyone in that group publishes their Secret Recipe.

I totally lucked out and was assigned to Jessica at Kitchen Belleicious. Oh I had so much fun looking through her blog … she has so many amazing recipes. I finally narrowed it down to two recipes: I was debating between the Shrimp Stew and the Green Chile Crab Cakes and I guess you can tell which one won out. I have a great affinity for crab cakes and do not get them very often, living in the midwest.

I had not intended to tweak this recipe at all because it looked absolutely perfect to me just like it was. But life was not cooperating with me on that one … It was tough to find fresh crab meat where I live, but I was determined to make THIS recipe, so I ended up using canned crab meat (oh the shame of it!). I just discovered I didn’t check my mayo supply before I went shopping, so I totally ran out of mayo before I even started making the sauce. I also had to make up some Old Bay Seasoning because I couldn’t find any of that at the store. And then I totally forgot the celery, so I substituted red bell pepper, which I think was one of those “good” kind of accidents, because it made these little crab cakes look so festive!

Green Chile Crab Cakes with Smoky Roumelade Sauce

Green Chile Crab Cakes with Smoky Remoulade Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of fresh crab meat (that’s 2 cans, if you can’t find fresh like me)
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 of an onion)
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup roasted, chopped Hatch green chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 TBSP cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Crab Boil Spice
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I actually didn’t add any salt or pepper)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Remoulade Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 TBSP green onions
  • 2 TBSP sweet pickles
  • 1 tsp horseradish sauce
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Combine vegetables, chiles, crab meat, and bread crumbs.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and lightly toss together being careful not to break up the crab. If you are making large cakes, you can pan fry them in vegetable oil for 3-4 minutes on each side over medium heat or you can bake smaller cakes at 400. I shaped them into about 1 inch balls, then set them on the baking sheet and flattened them a bit. She said to bake them for 8 – 10 minutes, but I found I had to bake them for about 20 minutes to get them crispy.
  3. Whir together ingredients for remoulade in a handi chopper or food processor and serve alongside the crab cakes.
Green Chile Crab Cakes with Smoky Roumelade Sauce
Here’s the recipe I used for the Old Bay Seasoning I couldn’t find …

Copycat Old Bay Seasoning

from Robbie’s Recipes

  • 1 Tbls. ground bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container.



Mexican Style Breakfast Bake … Olé!

Mexican Style Breakfast Bake Ole!

Yesterday I saw a post at Becky’s Root Cellar for Mexican Style Baked Eggs and it looked so colorful and delicious I immediately wanted to try it. Reviewing the recipe, I just felt it needed one more thing: potatoes.

I substituted several of the ingredients with some of my corn and black bean salsa, which took care of a bunch of things that the recipe called for and I just happened to have some already mixed up in my fridge, like it was just waiting for this dish …

Oh man this is good.

Mexican Style Breakfast Bake Ole!

Mexican Style Breakfast Bake … Olé!

Serves 2 – 4. You could easily scale it up to feed a crowd with not too much more effort.

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 med-large potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups corn & black bean salsa (recipe here - if you don’t like things too hot, just cut down on the amount of jalapeno)
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 2 strips bacon (optional), cooked & crumbled — but I think some cooked chorizo would be amazing in this!
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend of cheeses
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the potatoes. Cover and cook, opening and stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through and lightly browned on the side. Add salt (or Red Robin seasoning) and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the onion and bell pepper and sautee for a few minutes longer until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the salsa, black beans, bacon (if you are using it) and cook a few minutes more until the entire mixture is good and hot.
  5. Stir in the tomato, oregano and cheese.
  6. If your pan is oven proof, you can just flatten the mixture, then crack your eggs over top and put it in the oven to bake. My frying pan is not oven proof, so I sprayed my ceramic tortilla warmer with cooking spray, then poured in the mixture, spread it flat, and cracked the eggs on top. (You could also use a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.)
  7. Bake at 375 until the eggs are set. Becky says it takes 8 – 10 minutes, but mine took considerably longer, more like 20 – 30 minutes (I wasn’t really keeping track … working and cooking at the same time!)
  8. Sprinkle with a few fresh oregano or cilantro leaves for garnish and serve with hot tortillas and your favorite Mexican condiments (guacamole, sour cream, cilantro leaves, salsa … whatever you fancy!)

Mexican Style Baked Eggs

This recipe was entered in the November Blog Hop & Giveaway: Favorite Vegetable Recipes on the FaveDiets blog and shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysFavorite Breakfast Recipes, and Recipe of the Week: Mexican Cuisine.


Shrimp, Basil & Bacon Stuffed Eggplant with 2 Cheeses

Shrimp, Basil, & Bacon-Stuffed Eggplant with Two Cheeses

My mom gave me one of her beautiful white eggplant. The first time she gave me one, my foodie sister was there and she looked at me and said, “the white ones are perfect for stuffing.” Ever since she said that, every white eggplant I meet seems to cry out to me to stuff it with all sorts of deliciousness.

One of my foodie friends suggested stuffing it with shrimp and bechamel sauce. I had fully intended to do that with this one, but I am feeling too lazy today to make a bechamel sauce. So I just did a quick sautee, swirled in some cheese and went with that. I didn’t have as much shrimp as I really wanted to use, but still it turned out lovely. Yes, a white wine bechamel sauce would be heavenly, with some freshly shredded parmesan and nutmeg. But not today.

Today is my lazy Sunday. And this was my lazy Sunday lunch. And it was beautiful and delicious, just like this.

Shrimp, Basil, and Bacon Stuffed Eggplant

If you’re wondering what those dark spots are, they are a couple basil flowers I tossed on just before I baked the eggplant. You might want to toss on the flowers (if you have them) AFTER you cook the stuffed eggplant. Just sayin’ …

Shrimp, Basil & Bacon Stuffed Eggplant with Swiss and Goat Cheese

  • 1 eggplant, about 6 inches long (so once you scoop out the inside, you have about 1 1/2 cups of eggplant–if you have a larger or smaller eggplant, just adjust the other ingredients up or down)
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped bell pepper
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of chopped shrimp (I only had 1/2 cup, but I really wanted more shrimp in this!)
  • 2 – 3 slices of lower-fat bacon, fried crisp, drained and chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese (Asiago, Romano or Parmesan would be nice mixed in as well)
  • 1 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 -3 T. of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 -3 t. of fresh oregano leaves
Topping:
  • Shredded swiss or parmesan cheese and/or breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and using a grapefruit spoon, scoop out the insides so you leave about 1/4 – 1/2 inch shell. Scooping out the flesh of the eggplant
  2. It should look something like this when you’re done: Scooped out Eggplant Shell
  3. Take the removed eggplant flesh and chop it up into small pieces.
  4. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat until it starts to warm. Spray lightly with cooking spray, then swirl around the olive oil in the heated pan. Add eggplant, onion, garlic, and bell pepper and sautee until the onions are soft and translucent.
  5. Add the shrimp, bacon, and tomato and sautee just about 3 minutes more.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses and herbs.
  7. Fill the scooped out eggplant shells with the lovely mixture you cooked up.
  8. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and top with shredded cheese and/or breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted or the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
  10. Serve hot, with fresh basil leaves for garnish (and the basil flowers, if you happen to have some!)

This beautiful dish goes so well with a nice glass of  Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

Shrimp, Basil, and Bacon Stuffed Eggplant with Swiss and Goat Cheese

By the way, stuffed eggplant are the perfect make-ahead convenience food! You can wrap them in plastic wrap or foil and freeze for later. When you need a quick meal, pull it out of the freezer, let it thaw for a while, then bake at 350 until it’s heated throughout. They microwave nicely, too, just make sure to cook them long enough to get the center good and hot.

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Eggplant Bloghop.


Ratatouille with Ravioli

Ratatouille Ravioli

A while ago I gave my sweet friend Camille some eggplant and she told me she made Ratatouille Pasta with it. She showed me the recipes she used, and described how she did it and I filed that thought away for a day when I had eggplant and a little time to cook it. I don’t recall what type of pasta she said she used, but I thought this mini-ravioli that I have would be just perfect with Ratatouille.

And yeah, it was.

Ratatouille with Ravioli

I found a little history on Ratatouille:

“The word Ratatouille actually comes from the french term “touiller,” which means to toss food. Ratatouille originated in the area around present day Nice. It was originally a meal made by poor farmers (in essence it started out life as a peasant dish), and was prepared in the summer with fresh summer vegetables.

The original and simplest form of Ratatouille used only courgettes (zucchini), tomatoes, green and red peppers (bell peppers), onions, and garlic.  Today aubergine (eggplant) is usually added to the list of ingredients.”

source: http://ratatouille.weebly.com/index.html

Ratatouille with Ravioli

Some people consider Ratatouille as a side dish, but I think serving it like this definitely elevates it to “main course” status.

  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped eggplant
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped summer squash or zucchini
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 quart canned tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh or frozen mini cheese ravioli (or your favorite pasta!), cooked. I think this would be lovely with bowtie pasta, cavatappi or tortellini
  • Shredded Mozzarella or Italian Blend cheese
  • Chopped cherry tomatoes for garnish

Ratatouille with Ravioli

Directions:

  1. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray, then heat over med-high heat on stove till the pan begins to warm. Swirl the olive oil around in the hot pan, then add the onion and sautee for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant, summer squash, garlic and bell pepper and sautee for about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Add the tomatoes in their juices, crushing them with your hand as you add them if you have large chunks of tomato.
  4. Go rinse the tomato mess off your hands.
  5. Add the bay leaves and thyme and reduce heat to medium. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes longer.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Now, you can enjoy the Ratatouille just like this … but to make the beautiful cheesy ravioli casserole, toss the cooked ravioli with a good amount of the Ratatouille in a casserole dish or oven-safe bowl and sprinkle with shredded cheese, and then bake at 350 until the cheese is all melty–I think I cooked my bowl for about 15 minutes or so.

Another way I discovered that I really love to eat this Ratatouille is on a bed of Jasmine rice, sprinkled with feta cheese, like this:

Ratatouille on Jasmine Rice with Feta

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Pasta Blog Hop.


Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

To me, this isn’t really a recipe. I have been fascinated with twice baked potatoes since I started cooking I think, so it’s just second nature to me to take mashed potatoes, mix in some cheese, onion, bell pepper, bacon and bake. You don’t need any special seasonings or spices … just let the onion, bacon, bell pepper and cheese do their magic.

I love to put this mixture back into the potato skins if I have them, but if not, just throw it in a casserole or oven proof bowl and bake till everything is hot and the cheese is god and melted.

It’s so simple and so good. I just had it for lunch and it was oh so warm, comforting, filling, and delicious.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

If you make it with low-fat mashed potatoes and don’t overdo it on the bacon or cheese, it’s even good for you.

Today I used shredded sharp cheddar and a bit of blue cheese crumbles, chopped red bell pepper, chopped onion, crumbled in a bit of crispy cooked bacon. Mixed it all together, topped with a little more cheese, then baked for about 10 – 15 minutes at 350. Then I topped it with a few snips of fresh chives. I like to use fresh onions and bell pepper for the crunch factor, but if you like your veggies soft, you can sautee them first. Sometimes I add mushrooms too, if I have them, and if the mashed potatoes are dry, a little cottage cheese, light sour cream or buttermilk. Sometimes a little dill is a nice addition.  Play with it to find a combination you like. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

You can make this in individual portions like I did today for lunch in my oven-safe bowl, or in a larger casserole for a crowd. It would be a nice touch to bake in ramekins for holiday meals. Larger dishes will take longer to cook.

Mmm. I’m in heaven.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This recipe was shared at Recipe of the Week: Potatoes and Weekend Potluck.


Curried Stuffed Summer Squash

Curried Stuffed Summer Squash

My parents came to visit this weekend and with them they brought SO much beautiful bounty from their garden: peppers, onions, potatoes, eggplant, turnips, tomatoes, yellow watermelon, butternut squash.

They brought me a jar of salsa that they had made and a box full of canned tomatoes. AND a case of dad’s homemade wine.

We debated whether we should go out for dinner or stay in and cook– but since we had SO much food in the house, well, it just seemed like we should cook up some of it!

So I took the summer squash that my friend gave me last weekend and stuffed it some of dad’s venison apple sausage, some feta cheese and a bunch of  goodies from the garden. Oh it turned out good. We had a bit of soup and some bread along with some Pinot Grigio and we were well fed and happy.

Here are the squash sisters. Aren’t they pretty? The dark green one was a winter squash that had a mild sweet taste to it and smooth texture. The brighter green stripey one on the left was the one we ate last night. I am not sure what kind of squash these are since my friend says they were volunteers in her garden, but I sure love the taste of them. Someone told me they are cushaw squashes. Do you think that’s what they are?

The squash sisters

Curried Stuffed Summer Squash

You can adjust the seasonings to your own tastes. I didn’t actually measure anything either … just threw it all together, so feel free to adjust up or down on any of the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large summer squash or zucchini (eggplant would be good this way, too!), sliced lengthways and seeded if it has seeds in the middle like mine did
  • 1 t. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, peeled & chopped
  • 3 -4 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 5- 7 fresh mushrooms, sliced and diced
  • about 3/4 c. chopped fresh tomato
  • about 3/4 c. cooked low-fat sausage (I used 2 venison-apple sausages, but turkey or chicken sausage would be good too. Peel off the casings if the sausage has them then chop. You could also leave out the sausage if you prefer just vegies.)
  • about 3/4 c. breadcrumbs
  • About 1/3 c. feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1 – 2 t. Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Scoop out the flesh of the summer squash with a grapefruit spoon, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick shell so it’s sturdy enough to hold the stuffing when it’s cooked.
  2. Chop up the scooped out flesh of the squash.
  3. Heat a medium saucepan to medium-high heat, then swirl around the olive oil in the pan. Add the squash, onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms and sautee until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the sausage, tomato, feta cheese, breadcrumbs, and spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon the stuffing back into the squash shell, packing it in so it all fits. If it doesn’t all fit back into the squash, you can bake some in a separate casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of extra feta cheese and top with a few chopped cherry tomatoes if you like.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and everything is well heated through.
  7. Scoop out servings from the beautiful squash shell.
Curried Stuffed Summer Squash
This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.

“Got the Blues” Beefy Mushroom Pizza

My Beefy Mushroom Pizza's Got the Blues

I know my pizza doesn’t look very blue … but it is. The cheery colors are misleading … down deep, it is blue. Meaty. Creamy. Blue cheese intense.

I feel blue today too. It’s one of  those nagging, something-is-bothering-me-but-I-don’t-quite-know-what-it-is kinda feelings. The kind where you wonder what the heck you are so worried about … because really my life is so good. Oh yes, there are issues to deal with. Always there are those little curve balls life throws at you. But nothing major. Nothing really worth stewing about.

Most days I tend to focus on the pluses. Smell the roses. Watch the beauty of the world around me. Feel the warmth of the sun on my face. Enjoy the company of my children and my friends.

But once in a while you gotta grumble. Roar. Sing the blues. I know it’s temporary but when these kind of blues come around, I need to embrace the feeling and go with it.

Tomorrow I will (probably) be sunshine again. Today I am blue.

A good bluesy pizza is so awesome for these kinds of days … and a little wine … and yeah, I’m playing some blues too.

Blue Cheese Beef & Mushroom Pizza

“Got the Blues” Beefy Mushroom Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite pizza crust (I pulled one of my homemade crusts from the freezer)
  • Bluesy Autumn Pizza Spread (Recipe below–includes blue cheese, asiago, parmesan, cream cheese, and squash)
  • Cooked roast beef, venison, or steak, warmed and sliced or shredded (I used the meat from my French Dips, but feel free to use whatever meat you have on hand — or leave off the meat and just enjoy the cheese & mushroom sensation)
  • Mushrooms, sliced (Chardonnay mushrooms go well on this pizza too)
  • Bell pepper, chopped
  • Onion, chopped
  • Shredded Italian Blend of Cheeses
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Just a few fresh basil leaves (if you have them)

Directions:

  1. If your pizza crust is frozen, warm it just a bit in the oven.
  2. Spread the warmed crust with a layer of the Bluesy Autumn Pizza Spread.
  3. Top with the rest of the ingredients. I started with meat, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, then added the cheeses and topped it with the tomatoes, a few more bell peppers and onions.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is good and melty and bubbly.
  5. Sprinkle with basil leaves if you have some.

Blue cheese, beef, & mushroom pizza

Bluesy Autumn Pizza Spread

I took the cheesy mixture I used on my Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese sandwich and mixed it with an equal amount of cooked cushaw (we THINK that’s what it is anyway!) squash. I think you could use butternut squash, cushaw, acorn, or pumpkin … each would give it a little different flavor, but they would all be goooood.)

This cheese mixture is the same one used in my Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 T.  freshly grated asiago cheese
  • 1 – 2 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 2 T. blue cheese crumbles

Mix the above ingredients until well blended.

  • Cooked squash or canned pumpkin

Once you have the cheese mixture made, take a bit of the cheesy mixture — just 2-3 tablespoons–and mix it with an equal amount of cooked squash or canned pumpkin. Save the rest of the cheese mixture for sandwiches or crackers.

"Got the Blues" Blue Cheese, Mushroom, Beefy Pizza

Even though I don’t feel like warm connections today, this is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food. I still love you all. I just need a moment to myself today …

This recipe was shared at Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursdays and Recipe of the Week: Superbowl Snacks.


Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

I think I always want French Dips in the fall. But a French Dip isn’t entirely what I want –what I REALLY want is a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with the onions and peppers piled high and lots of melted cheese oozing all over AND I want that tasty au jus for dipping my cheesesteak sandwich. Most restaurants offer a French Dip with just the meat and the au jus (which is good, but it’s just not quite there!) — or they will give you the Philly Cheesesteak, but they don’t include the au jus! I gotta have the best of both worlds.

And if you want the best of both worlds, sometimes you gotta make it yourself.

(Well, actuallly I find most of the time it’s just better if you make it yourself …)

I tried a lot of other French Dip recipes in my crock pot and I sort of liked them, but found some of them were too salty and others just didn’t have quite enough flavor, so I set out to make my own. I had found this Zaatar seasoning at the World Market and I was curious how it would go in this. Zaatar is a middle eastern seasoning that is strongly scented with thyme and sesame seeds. It adds a lovely flavor to the meat along with the other spices. The garlic mellows as it cooks and permeates the meat beautifully (and makes your house smell heavenly!)

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

For the meat:

  • 3 lb beef or venison roast
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled (yes, the entire head!)
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar seasoning ( a middle eastern spice) — or if you can’t find Zaatar use 1 teaspoon thyme + a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 15 peppercorns

For the sandwiches:

  • Hard rolls
  • Onion, thinly sliced
  • Bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Provolone or other mild white cheese, sliced

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients for the MEAT into a crockpot and cook on low for 7-10 hours or until the meat is falling-apart tender.
  2. This is the #1 MOST IMPORTANT STEP that I always forget. Take the meat out of the juices and IMMEDIATELY put it in a covered dish and let it rest for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the au jus. (This is so important for sealing the juices into the meat and I am so bad at remembering to do it!)
  3. Strain the liquid & vegies through a strainer, catching the juices in a bowl beneath. Set the liquid aside while you slice the meat. (You can save the strained out cooked vegies for piling on the sandwiches along if you like. I like to do that. The garlic cloves are really tasty especially after cooking in the meat juices all day!)
  4. Now, slice the meat thin — or if it is falling apart too much to slice, just shred it with a fork.

If you just want French Dips, pile the meat on the buns now and enjoy with the au jus! BUT if you want the Philly version, here’s what you do.

  1. Saute the onion and bell pepper briefly in a pan sprayed with cooking spray until the onions are translucent. I usually pour in a bit of the au jus as well while I’m sauteeing–it adds a nice flavor. (I think a few mushrooms tossed in at this point would be sublime, but I never seem to have any on hand when I’m making this!)
  2. Set the bottom half of the rolls on a baking sheet.
  3. Pile the meat on the bottom half of the hard rolls, top with sauteed onions & peppers, then with slices of cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 for 5 – 10 minutes or until the cheese melts all over the meat. When the cheese is almost melted, toast the top of the buns.
  5. Pull the cheesy meaty buns out of the oven and top them with the toasted “tops”.
  6. Serve with the au jus in little bowls on the side for dipping. With a nice colorful side salad.

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dips

The salad on the side is one of my Summer Berry Salads.

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food. I got my daughter to finally TRY the meat (had to bribe her with pictures of fairy houses) and she loved it! She took just a little taste of the meat to start, then a BIG hunk. YES! Now  … do you think I can convince my son to try it? Ah well, probably not.

I am really looking forward to feeding this to my parents this weekend!

This recipe was shared at Gooseberry Patch’s Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup.


Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

Lentil & Eggplant Stew Mole

It’s September and stew is on my mind. Usually when people think of stew, I think they think of meat, but I have found I don’t need meat to make a good hearty stew. If you throw a few beans in with some vegies and spices, you end up with something that is not only tasty and good for you, but also high in protein and flavor.

I know some of you are afraid of eggplant. I have a friend who teases me about putting eggplant in things. She can’t stand the thought of eating eggplant. What is so scary about eggplant? Is it that it’s purple? Oh how can you scorn such a lovely hue? What is more beautiful than an elegant lavender or that dark dark purple so dark it’s almost black. What better color to eat than purple?

Usually the purple cooks out and you end up with more of a brown color anyway. In fact, it looks a lot like meat! But the taste is sublime.

I suggest if you have an aversion to eggplant, perhaps you ought to give it a try. You might discover you like it … and that would open a whole new world of taste to you.

In this dish, I even covered the eggplant in chocolate for you. Yes, chocolate. In a stew. I know it’s weird. But it’s a good kinda weird. Go on, take a bite! It’s delicious …

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

I saw this recipe on Serious Eats and thought it would be a wonderful hearty way to cook up some of my eggplant. Mole is a spicy savory Mexican sauce that is usually made with chile peppers and dark chocolate. I couldn’t find my cocoa powder, so I had to substitute chocolate syrup! It turned out beautiful though, with just a hint of chocolate aftertaste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano + a bunch of fresh oregano leaves (or 2 t. dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 15-oz. can)
  • 3 skinny Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 lb., the recipe says)
  • Chopped tomato and cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Toss everything into the crockpot and cook on low until the stew is cooked and the lentils are soft and plump … or until you get home after the day’s activities and you are starving for something hearty and hot. That’s what I did. I let it cook from morning till about 9 pm when we got home.
  2. Serve hot over rice with chopped tomato & cilantro on top.
Lentil-Eggplant-Mole-Stew

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