Stuffed mushrooms

It’s always great when you can re-purpose ingredients for a new dish. Today for a lunch appetizer, I used the leftover ricotta filling and pesto sauce from the tortellini I made for Terry. Both ingredients freeze well, just take them out the day before you want to use them to let them thaw. Let the pesto thaw in the fridge and then take it out several hours before you need it so it comes up to room temperature.

Just get some fresh mushroom caps (any variety will do, I used white button and baby portabella would be great, too). Stuff with the cheese, top with the pesto and voila! Easy appetizer. Pop them in the oven for 12-14 minutes and serve.

Original recipe here!

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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.

Cherry tomato jam

I’ve sort of been binge cooking this weekend. Seems that lately I want to cook anything I can get my hands on, whether I have to make a special trip to the store for one ingredient or if I have everything I need at home.

I recently had a dish at Sienna Tavern of tomato jam with burrata cheese. It was surprisingly savory and awesome. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I mean tomato jam sounds kind of weird, right? But it was amazing. It was so good it inspired me to make my own. I looked for a recipe and chose this one here.

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This is a pretty simple dish to make, it only requires an occasional stirring so the sugar in the pan does not burn. I followed the recipe, which says to let it cook for 70 minutes. So I stood there, stirring, tasting, stirring some more. So far it tasted good and I was happy with the way it was going.

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Baked onion rings

These were so easy to make and made a great side dish to our sweet potato burgers!

Baked Onion Rings (Recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes (I used panko crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used light cream since that was what I had)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, quartered crosswise and broken into rings (discard small center rings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form, then transfer to a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne and season with salt and pepper.

Dip onion rings in egg mixture (letting excess drip off) and dredge in cornflake mixture; place on a large plate. Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and heat 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil. Arrange onion rings on sheet. Bake, turning once, until onion rings are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Season with salt.

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Two Salad Sunday

This nasty winter is making me crave fresh, healthy salads. I’ve been on a major grapefruit kick and since they’re in season right now, I wanted to incorporate them into a salad. I saw this recipe for a grapefruit/beet salad a couple weeks ago and have been dying to try it out.

Since I couldn’t find white grapefruit OR white beets, I had to improvise.  I grabbed a regular pink grapefruit, blood orange, and golden and red beets.

In the end, it was a lot of work for not a lot of payoff. It wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t horrible either. What I gained from it was learning how to cook beets (tricky to peel after they’ve been roasted), and also that cutting citrus into nice hexagon or pentagon-shaped slices is a pain in the ass and will take some more practice.

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Fortunately, I had better luck with the next salad.

The second salad today was this quinoa salad with sweet potatoes and apples from Food & Wine Magazine. I’ve had a bag of quinoa sitting in my pantry forever and this seemed like the perfect recipe to put it to use. The flavors of everything together, along with the sweet potatoes were just the sort of thing I had been craving. We gobbled this one up in no time!

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Recipes

Grapefruit and White Beets with Yogurt and Tarragon (Adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 4 medium white or Chioggia (candy-stripe) beets (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 white grapefruits
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes; let cool.
  • Increase oven heat to 400°. Place beets on a sheet of parchment paper set on top of a sheet of foil; rub beets with oil and season with salt. Close up parchment and foil around beets. Place packet on a baking sheet and roast beets until tender, 40–50 minutes. Unwrap beets and let cool.
  • Peel beets and thinly slice into rounds. Toss beets and vinegar in a medium bowl; season with salt and let stand 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, finely grate ½ tsp. zest from 1 grapefruit and set aside. Using a sharp, small knife, cut all peel and white pith from both grapefruits; discard. Thinly slice grapefruit into rounds.
  • Place yogurt in a small bowl; season with salt and mix well. Spoon onto plates. Top yogurt with beets and sliced grapefruit, then tarragon, toasted pine nuts, and reserved grapefruit zest.
  • DO AHEAD: Beets can be roasted 2 days ahead; let cool. Cover and chill. Pine nuts can be toasted 1 day ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Apples (Adapted from Food & Wine)

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 packed cups baby greens, such as arugula or kale (about 6 ounces)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the quinoa and toast over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the quinoa for 16 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spread it out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until it is chilled, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once, until golden and softened. Let cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, parsley, onion and greens and toss well. Serve right away.

Make Ahead: The quinoa and sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Mini tacos two ways: Peanut-panko tofu and tequila-glazed shrimp with boozy salsa

I was looking for the perfect mini food for the big game, and had these two recipes on my list of things to try. Both were amazing, and with a few tweaks, can be made even tastier the next time around.

For the tofu tacos, I subbed arugula for the cabbage, any greens would probably work if cabbage isn’t your thing.

For the shrimp tacos, I subbed tequila for rum, because that’s what I had at the house and didn’t feel like buying rum just for this.

Peanut-crusted Tofu Taco

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Tequila Shrimp taco

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Recipes:

Peanut-crusted Tofu Taco (Original recipe found here).

Makes 4 mini-tacos.

  • 1  (14-ounce) package water-packed extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1  jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 8  (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges (optional)
  1. Cut tofu lengthwise into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Place tofu slices on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Cover tofu with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Cut each tofu slice, lengthwise, into 1/2-inch-thick strips; cut strips in half crosswise.
  2. Place peanuts in a food processor; process until ground. Combine peanuts and panko in a shallow dish, stirring well. Combine milk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well. Place flour in a shallow dish.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Dredge half of tofu in flour; dip in egg mixture. Dredge in peanut mixture. Add coated tofu to pan, and sauté 4 minutes or until golden and crisp, turning to brown on all sides. Remove tofu from pan, and drain on paper towels. Repeat procedure with 1 tablespoon canola oil, tofu, flour, egg mixture, and peanut mixture.
  4. Combine cabbage and the next 4 ingredients (through jalapeño). Drizzle the cabbage mixture with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; top each tortilla with 1/4 cup slaw. Divide tofu evenly among tacos. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Rum-glazed shrimp with boozy salsa (Original recipe found here).
Next time, I want to try it with scallops – shrimp are a lot of freaking work to clean up!

Makes 10 mini-tacos.

  • ¼ c. red onion
  • 2 T honey
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ c. orange juice
  • ½ c. Captain Morgan White Rum
  • ¼ c. chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 10 10-15 ct. shrimp
  • 10 mini-tortillas (we cut circles out of small tortillas)
  • 1 c. shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
  • 1 c. boozy tropical salsa, recipe below
  1. Finely chop the red onion, and bell pepper (I used orange bell peppers because they’re attractive), then combine everything except the cornstarch and shimp in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the ingredients, making sure the honey is fully dissolved in the marinade. Taste it before you add the shrimp! Make sure it’s delicious.
  2. Devein shrimp and remove shells up the tail. Add the shrimp to the marinade and let them rest for an hour in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat your grill or pan to medium-high heat. Take the shrimp out of the refrigerator and skewer them (this isn’t strictly necessary, but I find they’re easier to handle this way), reserving about a cup of the marinade.
  4. In a small bowl, add about a tablespoon of the marinade to the cornstarch, whisking briskly until no lumps remain. Brush the shrimp on both sides with the reserved marinade. Grill the shrimp for about a minute on each side, flipping them every 30 seconds and brushing the hot side with the reserved marinade after flipping, until they are bright pink and slightly charred.
  5. Remove the shrimp from the skewers. Place one shrimp on top of each mini-taco, then top with lettuce, avocado, and salsa. Fold them in half and use a toothpick to secure. Serve immediately.

Boozy Tropical Salsa

Makes about 3 cups.

  • 1 c. finely cubed fresh papaya
  • 1 c. finely cubed fresh mango
  • 1 c. finely cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 c. finely diced red onion
  • 1 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
  • juice from 4 key limes (about 2-3 TBS)
  • 1 TBS Captain Morgan White Rum
  • 1 TBS orange juice
  • 2 TBS finely minced cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings (juices, cilantro, salt, jalapeno) as desired. Keeps in the fridge for a few days.