Triple threat

It was busy in the carrot kitchen today! I made 3 dishes and spent as many and more hours cooking. I barely noticed the time passing by. I guess that’s because I think cooking is FUN.

I started out with raspberry lemon ricotta bread. The recipe was for muffins, but I was feeling like a badass so I decided to make bread instead. Aside from it totally falling apart when I took it out of the pan (must have taken it out too early), it turned out delicious and made an excellent pre-dinner dessert. I think I just made up a new course! Try it yourself – the recipe is right over here.

I just finished what will be our main dish – quinoa salad with black beans, tomatoes and corn. I’ve been making some pretty heavy and not-so-healthy dishes lately, so it was time to lighten things up a bit. This dish is super easy, tasty and totally healthy (aside from the cheese, I guess). Protein-packed and flavorful, it would easily serve as a great filling for a wrap. I bet some avocado would taste great on top, too.

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For our appetizer, we started with these baked zucchini stacks, which turned out to be what I was most excited about all day. OMG so good. They make me crave summer. I’ll tell you how to make them here.

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Oh yeah – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Recipe borrowed from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted, OR 1 cup of fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled (approximately the amount of kernels from one ear of corn)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 5 ounces Queso fresco, Queso Panela, fresh Mozzarella or other mild farmer’s cheese, cut into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, including tender stems, packed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Put the rinsed quinoa, salt and water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the quinoa absorbs all the water, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl and fluff up with a fork to help it cool more quickly.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. Soak the red onions in the lime juice and set aside. Soaking the onions in lime juice (or lemon juice or water) helps take the edge off of them. Mix the prepped black beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, and oil into a large bowl.

When the quinoa has cooled, mix it into the bean mixture. Add the red onion and the lime juice and add salt, more oil or lime juice to taste. Serve at room temperature.

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Baked zucchini stacks

Hello, new favorite appetizer. This dish makes me crave summer. Also, anything with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze is pretty much guaranteed to please.

I don’t have a lot to say about this dish, other than holy cow, it’s so simple and easy and tastes SO good. If you’re having people over for dinner and want to impress them with a great appetizer, try this one out. It’s so simple and has big flavor.

Just be careful how thick you slice your zucchini and tomatoes – and how high you stack them. They’re prone to falling over if you move too quickly. (How do I know? Because two of them fell over while I was trying to get a damn picture. Cursing ensued.)

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So if you want tall stacks, slice things thin. If you want small stacks, slice things thick and just use one slice of each ingredient. It will still be a perfect bite to get your appetite going!

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So many layers of delicious.

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Recipe courtesy of Eat.Drink.Love.

Ingredients:

For the balsamic glaze:

  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar

For the baked zucchini:

  • 1 zucchini, sliced into about 12 1-inch slices
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the stacks:

  • Baked zucchini slices
  • fresh mozarella, sliced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • balsamic glaze
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. To prepare the baked zucchini, beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix together the flour, panko bread crumbs, and the salt.
  3. Dip each slice of the zucchini into the egg and then into the bread crumb mixture. After all of the slices have been coated, arrange them on the baking sheet and spray the tops with non-stick spray. Bake for about 10 minutes, flip them over and then bake for another 5 minutes or until the slices are golden.
  4. To make the glaze, add the balsamic vinegar and stir in the brown sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer and heat until the vinegar is reduced by half. Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the stove.
  5. To make the stacks, layer with a slice of zucchini, followed by a tomato slice and then the mozzarella. Repeat. Drizzle some of the glaze on top. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve promptly.

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

It’s new recipe day! I found this one earlier in the week and was drawn to it because it involved some flavors I don’t typically work with. I pretty much love anything made with shrimp, so this was a no-brainer. As is always the case, I needed to make a vegetarian version for Terry, so I grabbed some tofu for her share.

Full disclosure: the store I went to didn’t have the right sized shrimp and I didn’t feel like making an extra trip, (lazy today) so I got the largest they had. (Fun fact, did you know that shrimp are not sold by size, as in small, medium, large, but rather how many equal a pound? The recipe called for 21/25 shrimp, but all the store had was 26/30. It seems like a small thing, but these kind of details really do make a difference.)

I have to admit, the amount of butter in this dish is a bit startling. And to be honest, I wanted to quit when I got to the 8th tablespoon of butter, but I always follow a new recipe as instructed the first time I make it. Into the pan went the 9th and 10th tablespoon of butter.

Look at all this butter.

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I have to let you know that as easy as some things are to do, even when you’re really good at something, you can still screw it up. My pan was too hot and my first 2 tablespoons of butter burned and I also burnt the garlic. I had to trash it and start over. So if anyone has any tips on how to cook garlic without burning it, I’m all ears. It trips me up every now and then, but I expect I will master it eventually.

This dish is pretty easy to make, and despite my hesitation with the butter quantity, it was really good. Even the tofu version. The sauce was delicious and was perfect to soak up with bread. If I ever make this again, and I’m not sure I will, I would cut back on the butter and amp up the seasoning. I like spicy food and this could use a little more heat, too.

Happy Saturday night, folks. Here is the original recipe, courtesy of Kitchen Riffs.

Now go cook!

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