Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking has a monthly challenge for food bloggers. She asks all of us to make one certain thing on the 7th of each month … the idea is we are searching for the ultimate recipe for that one thing. This month it’s ranch dressing. Ranch I can do! I’ve made plain ranch, garlic ranch, avocado ranch, sundried tomato ranch … they were all really good, but this time I thought I would like to add some tahini (sesame seed paste) to the ranch and then lighten it up by cutting the amount of mayonnaise down. The tahini along with the fresh herbs adds such a complexity of flavor that you won’t even notice the mayo went away. This salad dressing makes an excellent dressing for just about any savory salad or a good dip for veggies or chips.
The tomato cucumber salad uses the fresh garden ingredients that are overflowing in my house right now: tomato and cucumber. I added some sweet onion, toasted walnuts and edam cheese because I thought they would taste wonderful with the fresh tomato & cucumber.
Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
For each salad:
- 1 – 2 tomatoes, that roughly match the diameter of the cucumber, cut into slices
- 1/2 – 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- A couple thin slices of sweet onion
- A few thin slices of edam cheese, cut into small rectangles
- A couple tablespoons of walnuts, toasted
- A couple Tablespoons of Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
- First make the dressing.
- Then prep the salad by alternately layering slices of cucumber and tomato on your plate. If it’s a round plate, simply follow the curve of the plate, then tuck the last tomato or cucumber under the starting one.
- Top with sweet onion slices, cheese and walnuts. Drizzle each “row” of tomato/cucumber slices with a bit of the dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
- To eat the salad, take a slice of cucumber, slice of tomato and make sure to get a little onion, cheese, walnuts and dressing on top. It’s a little messy when you’re eating it, but SO worth it!
Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
- 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.
In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.
This is a Crazy Cooking Challenge post. Click on the button to see all the other wonderful ranch dressings.
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It is September … the weather is starting to cool down. I was really loving the cooler weather … until my allergies kicked in …
Ah but I am lucky! I “inherited” some wild rice from my sister. She said it was too salty and brought it along up to my parents’ place last weekend for us to “fix” for her. Well we didn’t get around to making anything with it, she left and my other sister left and there was still the wild rice in the fridge, so my mom asked if I would take it. Sure, I said. Then I can make soup!
So yes, I made soup. And what’s better than soup in the fall when there’s a little chill in the air and your allergies are in overdrive? Soup is just the thing to make you feel better … it’s so warm and comforting and wonderful.
Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
This is a very thick and chunky soup. Feel free to adjust the amounts of vegies, rice and meats to your liking … if you want more of the delicious cheesy broth, put in fewer vegies and rice. Like many soups, it is really better the next day. If you want a vegetarian soup, leave out the meat and use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth
- 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (reserve the leaves!)
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup shredded Edam cheese (I used some Dofino Edam cheese that Dofino sent to me as a “sample”)
- 1/4 cup Asiago cheese (or other sharp cheese such as parmesan or romano)
- 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup corn
- 2 cups cooked wild rice (use the wild Minnesota wild rice if you can find it … it’s SO much better!)
- 3/4 cup cooked leftover chicken (or more if you want a meatier soup)
- 1/2 cup corn (frozen, thawed or pre-cooked fresh)
- 1 teaspoon Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt
- The leaves from a few sprigs of fresh oregano and parsley
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- For garnish: shredded cheese and oregano or parsley leaves
- Heat a saucepan or your soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and swirl it around.
- Pour the celery, onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic into the pot. Over medium-high heat, sautee the vegies until the onions are soft and translucent and the zucchini is tender.
- Add the flour to the pan and stir, coating all your little vegetables and garlic bits in flour. Do this quickly before the flour starts to brown.
- Add the milk and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 – 10 minutes or so or until the mixture thickens.
- Add the shredded cheeses and cook for a few minutes longer until the cheese melts, then stir in the broth, rice, chicken, corn, and lower the heat to a simmer (on medium low to low) and cook for 15 – 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in the reserved celery leaves, oregano, parsley and Red Robin Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot, garnished with a bit more shredded edam cheese and a few fresh oregano or parsley leaves. Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.
My Italian friend Linda tells me “the name Spiedies has nothing to do with speed and everything to with the Big Daddy of spiedies which is spiedini, the Italian kebab or skewered and grilled meat.” Spiedies are an upstate New York Italian favorite that really started in the Middle East. When the Middle Eastern conquerors invaded Italy, they brought with them many ingredients and cooking ideas that stuck – meat kebabs being one of them. As conquered lands tend to do, the Italians adopted and adapted … and then … made them better. Italians in upstate New York now strive to perfect them and even host an annual festival to celebrate Spiedies.
I didn’t know all this before my Italian friend Linda posted her recipe for Spiedies … when I saw those mouthwatering pictures and read the ingredients in that marinade, I knew right away I wanted to try it with venison.Venison has a stronger gamey flavor that can overpower some marinades, but this marinade was just magic. I made these for a little dinner party with just a few good friends and everyone loved them. My friend told me a few days later that the dinner I made for them was legendary. Legendary! And according to the story, they really are.
Linda says to serve these kebabs in good Italian bread, but I served them over rice because I wasn’t sure if my girl would like them and she loves rice, so I knew at the very least she would eat the rice. But she ate them! Most of the time when I make venison as steaks or kebabs, she doesn’t really care for it. But THIS … this she ate. I was so excited.
I did try them later in Italian bread, but like I tend to do, I smothered the meat with cheese and veggies and by the time I got done, you couldn’t even see the meat. But you could still taste it! That incredible herbilicious meaty flavor shone right through. Mmmm!
Adapted from Linda’s Italian Table. I cut down the amount of oil and substituted my balsamic sundried tomato “ketchup” in place of the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. I didn’t measure the amounts for the fresh herbs, just threw in what looked like would be about right, and it turned out marvelous. I think fresh herbs are very forgiving that way. Definitely use fresh herbs as much as you can in this dish … it makes a big difference.
- 3 lb. tender leg of lamb and/or pork tenderloin, or venison, or chicken breast – cut up into pieces about 1 1/2 inches
- 1/4 c. Olive Oil
- Zest of 1 fresh lemon
- Juice of a Large Fresh Lemon
- 1/3 cup balsamic sundried tomato “ketchup” (recipe here … or use 1 Tablespoon tomato paste + 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar)
- 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/3 c. Dry Red Wine
- 5 Cloves Fresh Garlic
- 2 Tsp. sugar
- 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tsp. Paprika
- 1 Crushed Large Bay Leaf
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme or Lemon Thyme
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary – chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Mint – chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano – chopped
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – chopped
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt or more ( make sure to be generous with the salt as it brings out the flavors)
- Plenty of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Good Italian Bread (or rice!)
You can chop the herbs and garlic by hand if you like, or toss them all in a handi chopper or food processor. I found that didn’t chop them fine enough, so I added some of the balsamic sundried tomato sauce to get it to blend fine. Once you get your herbs chopped, then whisk them together with the rest of the marinade ingredients. TASTE the marinade to make sure it has enough salt and pepper. The salt and pepper brings out the flavor. If you don’t add enough, your spiedies will be bland.
Mix the marinade with the meat so that all the meat is covered in marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. I made my marinade early in the morning and started them grilling around 7 pm in the evening.
Skewer the meat just before grilling. Heat the grill so there is a hot spot for searing and a cooler spot to finish the meat. Sear the meat over the hot spot first, turning to sear all sides of the kebabs, then move them to the cooler part of the grill to finish. They shouldn’t take long if your grill is good and hot. (We had a little trouble getting the grill to heat up, so mine actually got slow cooked for a while over very low heat, then we restarted the charcoal and got it searing hot and then seared them, then moved them to the cooler part. Once the grill was hot, they didn’t take long at all to finish.)
Be careful not to overcook them (especially with venison), because the meat will get dry. They should cook up fairly quickly on a hot grill. Do a taste test as you go …
topped with Havarti and Gorgonzola cheese & a Balsamic Sundried Tomato “Ketchup”
It wasn’t very long ago I saw this great idea for baking eggs in a bread bowl … just hollow out some hard rolls, crack your egg in there, add some seasonings and voila! A beautiful breakfast. But you know me, I couldn’t stop there. I added some herbs and some cheeses and a gorgeous sundried tomato vinaigrette (a recipe I got from my friend Melissa at ChinDeep), which I had intended to drizzle over the baked egg, but I added some extra sundried tomatoes so the vinaigrette turned out kind of thick, more like the consistency of a ketchup. I’ve never liked ketchup on my eggs, but I loved this balsamic sundried tomato ketchup!
It took me a few tries to get this right. The first time I didn’t hollow out enough of the hard roll and then I overbaked it and the yolk was hard and dry. I wanted a runny, messy yolk that you could sop up with the bread. So I tried again, and this time I got the yolk just about right, but the hard roll got way too brown on top. I had cut just a tiny bit of the top off, and our toaster oven is too small; it over-toasted the top. It was delicious, but definitely not photo-worthy. The third time I finally got it right. Perfectly sized hole, perfectly brown crusty hard roll, perfectly cooked egg. The texture of the egg white was amazing, and when I tore into the yolk and it ran all over the plate, my heart just jumped with joy. A perfectly-cooked egg with toasted bread and avocado is pure pleasure in my book.
Herbed Baked Eggs in a Bread “Bowl” with Avocado
- Hard rolls
- Fresh basil & oregano
- Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Shredded Havarti cheese
- Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Avocado slices
- Balsamic Sundried Tomato Ketchup (recipe below)
Cut tops off the hard rolls and hollow out the bottom half so there is enough room for an egg to fit in there. Set the hard rolls on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Crack an egg into each roll.
Sprinkle with fresh basil, oregano leaves, the seasoning and fresh ground pepper. Top each egg with a Tablespoon or two of shredded Havarti cheese, then a sprinkle of Gorgonzola (maybe 1/2 Tablespoon per egg?). Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes or until the white is set but the yolk is still soft. (If you want your yolk cooked through-not runny, let it cook another 5 minutes.)
In the last 5 minutes of cooking, put the tops of the hard rolls in the oven alongside to toast them.
Remove from oven. Set each egg on a plate, top with avocado slices, garnish with fresh basil or oregano leaves and serve immediately with plenty of the balsamic sundried tomato ketchup.
Balsamic Sundried Tomato “Ketchup”
Adapted from ChinDeep
- 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- water, as needed
Soak the tomatoes in the vinegar and wine for 15 minutes or so to soften them up, then put all ingredients into a food processor or handi chopper and blend till mostly smooth. Add water as needed to get it to the desired consistency.
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 …
So head over to Full Belly Sisters for the recipe! I think you’re going to love it …
Post #5 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …
I made my daughter a plain cheese one and she ate the WHOLE thing. Holey moley girl! I think she’s going through a growth spurt again because I could only eat about half of mine. She eats like crazy when she’s growing.
First I got the dough started in the bread machine. I used my beer pizza dough, the same one I used in the thai chicken pizza. Recipe for the crust is here.
Then I got to work on the sauce.
Homemade Pizza / Pasta Sauce, Two Ways
- 2 small onions
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
- 1 quart of canned tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped roasted eggplant (I know what you’re thinking: Eggplant? Trust me … it thickens the sauce and gives it a nice buttery taste. Spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and roast in the oven at 400 for about 5 – 10 minutes or until it’s soft. Use the tender little ones if you can find them. If you have a big one, peel it first before you roast it. I had some that I froze last summer so I used that.)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Salt & pepper & fresh herbs to taste (I didn’t use anything but the Italian seasoning and my daughter said it was delicious just like that!)
- 2 – 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (to your taste)
- Fresh basil & oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Peel the onion and garlic, chop the onion into large hunks and put in a food processor or handi chopper with the garlic to chop it finely. (Or chop it the old fashioned way, with a knife.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and sautee for about 5 – 10 minutes until the onion is very soft and starting to sweeten/caramelize. Add the wine and cook until the liquid from the wine has mostly evaporated.
Add the tomatoes and eggplant and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes, or until the liquid from the tomatoes has cooked down and the sauce is getting to be about the consistency of a tomato sauce. You don’t have to stand over it stirring the whole time, but you do want to make sure you stir it fairly often.
Put the sauce into a blender and blend till smooth. It will turn out this lovely orangey red color.
Now you have a choice. You can make one or both of the sauces. I divided mine up in half so I could make my daughter her Italian cheese pizza and me my spicy Cajun one.
So for the Italian sauce, I added Italian seasoning and asked my girl to taste it. She said it was perfect just like that (and I agreed).
For the cajun version, I added cajun seasoning, some fresh basil and oregano, some smoked paprika, and then just to kick it up a little more, some cayenne and a bit of salt.
Now it’s time to assemble the ‘za!
Cajun Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya Pizza
- Pizza crust, pre-made or fresh (I used my beer pizza crust and made this on the grill … see this grilled thai pizza post for the crust recipe and grilling instructions)
- Tiny shrimps … I thawed some frozen ones
- Andouille sausage, sliced thin
- Bell pepper, chopped (or sliced)
- Red onion, sliced or chopped
- Jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional … if you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a pepper-head … I like things VERY spicy)
- Smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- Italian blend of shredded cheese
- Oregano leaves, for garnish … I think some chopped green onions would go well on top too.
Slather the crust with the cajun sauce, then sprinkle with the toppings and top with cheese. Cook the pizza in the oven or the grill till the cheese is melted and bubbly, then top with fresh oregano leaves and … it’s time to EAT!
I’m thinking some of this Cajun Lemonade from La Belle Cuisine would be fabulous with this spicy pizza …
A nearly wordless Wednesday post …
“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 & 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
- Chop the vegies, removing the leaves from the celery and setting them aside for later.
- 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.
- Add tomato, bay leaf, bell pepper, corn, chickpeas, jalapeno, cajun seasoning, broth, sausage, rice and water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer the soup for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- 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.
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 … 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
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- 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.
- Add the onion and bell pepper and sautee for a few minutes longer until the onion is translucent.
- 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.
- Stir in the tomato, oregano and cheese.
- 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.)
- 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!)
- 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!)
This recipe was entered in the November Blog Hop & Giveaway: Favorite Vegetable Recipes on the FaveDiets blog and shared at Melt in your Mouth Mondays, Favorite Breakfast Recipes, and Recipe of the Week: Mexican Cuisine.
A couple weeks ago my sister and I were talking on the phone and she was suggesting some ideas for my blog, which is really sweet of her, but she lives in a different world than I do. She was saying I should give people ideas on what to pack in their kids’ lunches. Which is a great idea … except I don’t have anybody to pack lunch for anymore. My daughter’s in middle school now and would rather die than take her own lunch because NOBODY does that. My son does home school and I work from home. In order to blog about something, I have to actually MAKE it and there’s not much point in me packing a lunch for an imaginary person, is there?
So the next thing she suggested is tomato soup, because it was tomato season and she had tons of fresh tomatoes from her garden … but I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t have any tomatoes in my house. My tomato plants only yielded 3 tomatoes this year … total. And anyway, I told her, I don’t like tomato soup.
That floored her. How can I NOT like tomato soup? Well, I said, I just don’t. I never have.
But she gets the last laugh on this one because the very next day I saw someone post a tomato blue cheese soup recipe and the thought of tomatoes and blue cheese in a soup really intrigued me … and then my friend gave me some tomatoes from her garden. Not a lot of tomatoes mind you … it’s towards the end of the season … but I had 4 tomatoes that were getting to the point that they NEED to be used right NOW. And the tomato blue cheese soup recipe popped into my head. Yes, I thought, today would be a good day to try that soup. So I made it … and guess what?
I love it. I mean, like … I really really really LOVE this soup!
Ok, sis, you win! Tomato soup rocks the planet. Well, tomato blue cheese soup does anyway.
Fresh Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup that ROCKS!
Sort of roughly adapted from Amateur Gourmet. My version makes maybe 3 or 4 bowls of soup. If you’re making it for a crowd, you’re going to want to at least double the recipe.
- 1 t. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 of an onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and chopped. I used 2 red tomatoes and 2 yellow tomatoes.
- 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 c. fat-free half and half
- Freshly ground pepper
- About 1 T. fresh oregano leaves
- 1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles
- Optional: Crumbles of bacon and fresh oregano leaves for garnish
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then swirl in the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and garlic and sautee, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and their juices. I let them cook for 5-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Add the broth and half and half.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer (not boil!) for about 30 – 45 minutes.
- Put the soup and blue cheese in the blender and blend until relatively smooth. I didn’t worry too much about getting it perfectly smooth because I like little chunks in my soup. If you want a really smooth soup, I think I might blend it twice: first I would blend the vegies together before adding the broth and half and half. Then again at the end.
- Serve immediately, garnished with a bit of bacon and oregano if you like.
This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.
Good Deal Meals tried this soup and blogged about it! Go see what she has to say about it.
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
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
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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!)
- Set the bottom half of the rolls on a baking sheet.
- Pile the meat on the bottom half of the hard rolls, top with sauteed onions & peppers, then with slices of cheese.
- 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.
- Pull the cheesy meaty buns out of the oven and top them with the toasted “tops”.
- Serve with the au jus in little bowls on the side for dipping. With a nice colorful side salad.
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.
I just made the best taco pizza I have ever tasted. This one goes completely over the top. The picture is a little wild and messy I know … my herbs were all over the place. But that is exactly what I love about it!
Taco pizzas are very basic right? You smear some refried beans on a pizza crust, add some meat and cheese, then bake till the cheese is melted and add chopped lettuce. Simple!
I just discovered if you add a couple more things, you can elevate your taco pizza to the sublime.
I’ve got to stop making pizzas like this … they are too dang good! I ate the whole thing myself.
Here’s a more civilized photo (before I cut it).
Wild Taco Pizza with Goat Cheese, Cilantro, Parsley and Oregano
- Whole wheat pita bread or pizza crust
- Refried beans
- Taco Meat (you could skip the meat if you’re going meatless!)
- Chopped onion & jalapeno
- Shredded Mexican blend of cheeses
- Chopped tomato
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Mixed organic greens
- Fresh cilantro leaves (& flowers if they are starting to go to seed! I think the cilantro flowers made this pizza intensely wild and lovely.)
- Fresh oregano leaves
- Fresh parsley leaves
- I toasted a whole wheat pita for this, but you could certainly use your favorite pizza crust! If you use a pita, toast it a bit in a 400 degree F. oven (or toaster oven) to give it a bit of crunch.
- Shmear on the refried beans.
- Sprinkle on the taco meat, then the onion and jalapeno.
- Now top all that with your shredded Mexican cheese.
- Arrange the tomato pieces around on top of the shredded cheese, then sprinkle with goat cheese.
- Bake at 400 degrees for about 12 – 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Top with greens and herbs and serve!
My kids both love ravioli. Usually I buy it frozen for them … my son makes what he calls “ravioli sushi” … one beef ravioli on the bottom, one cheese ravioli on top, then dips the “sushi” in his favorite pasta sauce. My daughter eats them plain, but she only likes the cheese ravioli.
I wish I could say we make ravioli from scratch all the time (we HAVE done that and they were SO good … someday we shall do it again and next time I will share it with you my foodie friends!), but our busy lives don’t often allow for big projects like ravioli, so yes, I buy it frozen most of the time. It makes for a quick and pretty healthy meal many a night when we’ve been out at the kids’ activities.
Alas, last time I was at the store they were out of the ravioli I normally buy. BUT they had these adorable mini-ravioli that I thought my daughter would just love. And she did love them … she thought they were SO cute! … until she tasted them. Then she said they just didn’t taste good to her. I tasted them and they tasted just fine to me. She is really congested this week, has a cold, so I’m thinking maybe her taste buds are just off?
Anyway, that left me with a bunch of adorable little cooked ravioli that nobody wanted. And I can’t let good ravioli go to waste.
So I made it into a salad for lunch today. I’ve done this before with tortellini and it is really good. Well, okay, when I did this with tortellini I did it as a layered salad with ranch dressing. I didn’t have any ranch dressing made today, so I used my basil vinaigrette which was really lovely with the cheesy pasta.
Ravioli Salad with Bacon, Herbs and Basil Vinaigrette
Of course you can always adjust the vegetables in the salad to whatever you have on hand. Play! It’s fun to try new combinations of flavors.
For each salad you will need:
- A dinner-sized salad bowl filled almost full of mixed salad greens
- A handful of cheese mini-raviolis or tortellinis, cooked and drained
- Cucumber shards (that is, sliced cucumbers and if they are overly seeded like mine was, cut out the seedy part to make “shards”)
- Chopped tomato or halved cherry tomatoes
- Thinly sliced vidalia or red onion
- Shards of Parmesan or Romano cheese (Thinly slice little “shards” of the cheese from the block … or you can use shredded if you prefer)
- 1 strip of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- Fresh oregano and/or basil leaves
- Basil Vinaigrette (scroll to the bottom of this post for the dressing recipe–it IS there, I promise!)
- Fill the bowl(s) almost full with greens.
- Take the cooked ravioli and toss it with a tablespoon or two of the basil vinaigrette. Add the ravioli and dressing to the salad with about half the cucumber shards, onion and tomato.
- Top with the remaining ingredients and add more dressing to taste.
I think a little bit of a drizzle of light ranch dressing would be nice on top of this salad … combined with the basil vinaigrette? Wouldn’t that be good?
But then after all those lovely greens I needed some chocolate. I had a little bit of a Black and Tan Brownie to finish off my meal. What a FINE lunch!
I have a not-so-secret fascination with hummus. That creamy garlicky lemony dip with a kick of tahini … ah it is one of my very favorite foods. I snack on it, spread it on my sandwiches, would probably bathe in it if I had enough of it! Well, no, that would be a waste. Because I would want to eat every. last. little. bit. I would be licking the tub. That would not be pretty.
That is how much I love hummus. I have seen hummus made with cannellini beans instead of chickpeas, so I had to give that a whirl. Oh, it turned out delicious. Too bad it is already gone … I didn’t make enough! So I recommend you double the recipe. Or maybe triple it? I SO need to make some more.
Cannellini Hummus with Feta and Oregano
- 1 c. cooked cannellini beans
- 1 t. olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A bit of lemon zest
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 T. crumbled feta cheese
- A few sprigs of fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 2 T. pinon nuts
- A few drops of sesame oil
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor till smooth. Add a little water if you need to for getting it to blend smooth. Serve with toasted pita chips.
How to toast pitas into chips:
Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the pitas into wedges and arrange in a single layer on the pan. Spray liberally with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.
I made this chicken along with some Garlic Knots for the $5 meal challenge yesterday … the goal was to make a meal for $5 per person or less. I think this whole meal cost about $5 for the two of us and we had leftovers! You can adjust this to make more servings. I was cooking for two last night, so I just made 6 chicken legs, which actually turned out to be way too much for us!
Baked Herbed Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Mushrooms
- 6 chicken legs (or other parts … I used rather small legs, so if you have larger pieces, you will need to add more of the other ingredients)
- 7 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tomato, chopped
- About 1/2 of a small carton of mushrooms, cut in quarters
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 t. dried thyme
- Several sprigs of fresh oregano or 1 t. dried oregano
- A small sprig of fresh rosemary, snipped or 1/4 t. dried rosemary, ground
- Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoning blend) and freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 c. plain yogurt
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and arrange the chicken parts in the bottom.
Top with garlic, lemon zest, tomato, mushrooms, and herbs. Squeeze the lemon juice all over the chicken.
Here they are, with the rolls, all ready for baking:
Bake covered at 400 degrees F. for about 1 hour or until the chicken juices run clear when you make a small cut into one of the chicken pieces.
Now after moving the chicken to a serving dish, take out about 1/4 c. of the vegies and herbs with a little bit of the juice from the bottom of the pan and put in a handi chopper or food processor with 1/3 c. of plain yogurt. Whir until well blended.
Serve the sauce on the side with the chicken and some fresh homemade rolls or bread. I should have made a salad to go with, but it was a long day and I was too exhausted to make anything more … so dinner was served just like this. We had been munching on the mushrooms and some watermelon from dad’s garden earlier, so I am counting that as our “salad”.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction. ~ E. F. Schumacker
As school starts and we find ourselves rushing about to meet all the crazy kid schedules, I look back at the lazy simplicity of summer and wish for just a few more moments of rest. Just managing the schedule for all the activities makes me tired: the dance practices, band rehearsals, TaeKwonDo classes, choir rehearsals.
And yet I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I rush from work to activity to activity … sometimes several in one night. Every night we are running to something different. By the time we get home at night it’s usually 9:00 and we haven’t even eaten yet. And I’m too tired to cook.
That’s when I need something simple. Frozen pizza crusts come in really handy. And I confess, I do buy chicken nuggets and frozen ravioli and things like that for the kids. But mom wants something more grown up.
This is simple. And it’s grown up. It’s beautiful and satisfying and healthy. I could immerse myself in the glory of this lovely sandwich while my daughter dips her ciabatta in olive oil and eats cucumber slices (two of her favorite foods) and my son eats his frozen pizza in the basement in front of the computer.
This recipe comes from Chef in Disguise, one of my favorite food bloggers. Go look at her mini eggplant sandwiches. She will tell you how to make these little marvels of simplicity.
Really it’s so simple. All you do is put broiled eggplant on toasted ciabatta bread. I added some onion.
Then put on the cheese and broil it till the cheese melts.
And once the cheese is good and melty, top with sliced tomato and oregano. I used fresh oregano. She used dried. Then she added mint … mine didn’t have any mint … Her sandwiches had a top. Mine didn’t. But I think they were just fine just as they are … or rather, were.
The pictures are all that is left now …
The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
Thank you, Sawsan, for sharing your beautiful recipe for simplicity.
This recipe was submitted to Cast Party Wednesday.
This is a Family Fresh Cooking Happy Post.