Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cheesy Potato Zucchini Casserole

Zucchini and squash are two wonderful and versatile additions to any meal plan, but oftentimes those who are unfamiliar with them, shy away from preparing or even trying these vitamin and mineral rich gems.  Enter the casserole.  I didn't create the recipe to hide the veggies, just to present them in a different manner and alongside some sure fire favorites like potatoes and cheese!  The flavors marry flawlessly and everyone can use some extra veggies in their diet.  Hearty and comforting, this recipe is perfect for holidays,  potluck or Sunday dinner, delicious enough to be served a la carte or as a vegetarian entree! Yellow squash is also featured in this dish, as it was a part of that day's harvest, but zucchini may be used in it's place.
7 c. russet potatoes, medium dice
1 1/2 c. zucchini, peeled and shredded
1/2 c. yellow squash, peeled and shredded
1/4 c. red onion, small dice
4 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. AP flour
2 c. 2% milk
1 soft chicken bouillon cube, optional
1 c.shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
Drizzled in about 1 tsp. olive oil.
Once hot, add onions.
Cook for several minutes until onions are translucent.
Add flour and cook for additional minute.
Add zucchini, squash and bouillon cube.
Cook for several more minutes, allowing zucchini to release some of it's water and absorb flavors, stirring often.
Add milk and bring up to a subtle boil and continue cooking until milk is thickened.
Stir in cheese.
Once smooth, temper in eggs.
Remove from heat.
Toss potatoes and parsley together and SPST.
Spread potatoes evenly in a 4 quart ,greased baking vessel.
Pour in cheese sauce and fold into potatoes.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are tender and the eggs have set, about 40 minutes.
Turn on broiler.
Remove foil  to slightly brown the top.
Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 10-12 servings.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cilantro-Chia Seed Crusted Bass

Looking for a quick, easy and delicious addition to any weeknight meal featuring a firm fish? This recipe is fantastic and flecked with  heart healthy Chia seeds and nestled on fresh spinach.  My brother in law brought me a fabulous batch of freshly caught striped bass, and as always, I use those occasions to develop as many recipes using it in it's peak form as possible.  This is one of them.  The fish turns out flavorful and light, easily fitting into any diet, plus it is gluten free and relatively fat free, but you won't miss one beat!  Perfect for an upscale dinner at home, pairing well with a white wine, like a Gewurztraminer or Riesling , complimenting the nutty notes of the Chia Seed as well as the fish.  Serve with Quinoa or Couscous for an over the top presentation to please the palate.
2 6 oz. portions boneless, skinless bass fillets or other firm fish, about 1 inch thick
1 c. julienne of fresh spinach
1 cilantro seasoning cube
1 tbsp. Chia Seeds
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Place Chia seeds in shallow dish.
Grate cilantro cube into dish and stir.
Press fillets that have been patted dry into seeds on ONE side only, coating fully.
Drizzle olive oil into oven-safe saute pan heated to medium high and sear fish portions, seed side down.
After several minutes, turn fillets and sear non-seeded side, about 3 minutes each side .
Transfer to oven and bake until internal temperaure reaches 145*F, about 7 minutes.
Toss spinach with a drizzle of olive oil and SPST.
Divide spinach between two plates.
Nestle fillets atop.   Serve with desired starch, shown above with Mashed Potato Quenelles.
Serves 2

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Garlicky Zucchini Spaghetti w/ Shrimp

This recipe came to me when I was having fun with the copious amounts of zucchini I had on hand from our garden.  I wanted something simple delicious and light, also  low on carbs and fats.  I used a mandolin to fashion the zucchini into 'spaghetti'.  The cherry tomatoes just add a splash of color and some lycopene for heart health!  Serve over rice or other grain for a longer lasting fullness and to stretch your dollar.
1 lb. 31-40 count raw shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
3 1/2 c. julienne of zucchini
1/4 c. thinly sliced Vidalia onion
6 cloves garlic, pressed of finely minced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. sherry peppers sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
pinch red pepper flakes
handful cherry tomatoes, about 9, then halve
2 tbsp. fresh parsley and dill, chopped
olive oil for drizzling
In a medium bowl, combine garlic, fish sauce, sherry peppers, brown sugar, corn starch and red pepper flakes.  Add shrimp, marinate for 15 minutes.
When ready,  heat large saute pan to medium high, drizzle with olive oil and add butter.  Once hot, add zucchini and onion, SPST, stirring often and rapidly, cooking for about 2 minutes.
Add shrimp and marinade, and contunue to bringing up to a boil. cooking until shrimp is pink and sauce has thickened., about 3 minutes.
Toss in cherry tomatoes and herbs.
Remove from heat.  Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with additional herbs if desired..
Serves 4-6, depending on if serving with grains or not.

Friday, August 22, 2014

White Pimento Cheese w/ Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Chia Seeds

                                                                                                                                                                This is a simple and delicious spread that will not only compliment the cracker, but also veggies or any plain or multi-grain  bread as a standalone finger or full sandwich.  It is  also an amazing addition to burgers!
Pimento cheese or "caviar of the south" has been a Southern favorite for decades.  The original ingredients include sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimento, salt, pepper and a few colloquial ingredients, depending on the region.  It is also popular in the Philippines.
I took the traditional and historically popular pimento cheese spread, and put my own personal spin on the recipe to deliver the same satisfaction with different and wonderful elements like removing the mayonnaise and replacing it with plain low-fat Greek yogurt, sharp white cheddar instead of traditional sharp cheddar and a host of other flavor builders to enhance the flavor profile.  The recipe is quick and easy to prepare and my family loved it.   This spread may be made ahead of time and this version will keep for 2 days, not that it will last that long!     
8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. pimento, drained and roughly chopped
1 tbsp. Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp. sherry peppers sauce, optional
Chia Seeds
Olive oil for drizzling
In a medium bowl, combine cheese, Greek yogurt, garlic and sherry peppers.
Using processor or immersion blender, blend until desired texture is achieved, I like to leave it slightly chunky for texture.
Fold in parsley and pimento.
Garnish with Chia Seeds.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Rustic Yellow Squash and Brie Cream Sauce Smothered Gnocchi

Squash is a delicious and nutritious way to feed your family , and is gentle on the budget, especially if you grow your own.  I came up with this sauce to utilize some freshly steamed squash I had on hand.  I created a coarse and creamy sauce to compliment some potato gnocchi I purchased .  The Brie lends a subtle yet amazingly creamy texture to the squash, which I blended, seeds and all , including all the nutrients and fiber, with my immersion blender.  I used turmeric, which is a wonderful antioxidant and popular spice in Indian cooking for brightness and to add to the whole yellow squash effect.  Parmesan cheese, milk and butter help round the sauce out and pairs well with pan seared chicken or pork!
1 500 gram pkg. potato gnocchi
2 c. sliced, steamed yellow squash
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. AP flour
1 c. 2 % milk
2 oz. Brie
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
olive oil for drizzling
Prepare gnocchi according to package instruction, in salted water and drained.
Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat and add flour.
Cook flour for about one minute, then add squash puree, and milk.
Reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Once thickened, add Parmesan, garlic, onion powder, turmeric and SPST.
Drizzle in a little olive oil and toss with the hot gnocchi.
Garnish with olive oil and fresh parsley if desired.
Makes about 5 servings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summertime Loaded Portobello Wraps

This recipe screams SUMMER and many of the fantastic flavors and smells that we seek, during these hot months . The portobellos are marinated, grilled and sliced, then  layered with amazing and surprising complimentary vegetables like mixed spring greens with kale, julienne of cucumber, slices of fresh peach, along with some mozzarella and bacon for a smoky, salty finish.  Whole wheat tortillas help bring in some fantastic whole grain goodness while sweet and tangy sauce ties things together. Very  filling without the feeling of sluggishness. This wrap is light and fragrant and you don't have to feel guilty if you eat more than one.  The bacon may be omitted for an equally delicious vegetarian meal or a perfect menu item for Meatless Monday or less meat any lunch or lite dinner!
2 portobello mushrooms, about 8 oz., wiped clean and trimmed if necessary
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. sherry
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt free seasoning
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cucumber, seeded and julienned, about 1/2 cup
1 large peach, peeled and sliced, about 1/2 cup
4 oz. mixed spring greens with kale
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
4 oz. cooked, crumbled bacon, about 5 slices, optional
4-8 inch whole wheat tortillas
Sweet Chili Ranch Sauce:
1/4 c. sweet chili sauce
1/4 c. good quality ranch dressing
2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.

Combine worcestershire, fish sauce, sherry, olive oil, salt free seasoning and pepper flakes.
Place portobellos in a shallow dish and pour marinade over them, flipping several times to coat.
Marinate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat grill pan to medium high heat.
Once hot, grill portobellos for about 4 minutes on each side, and let rest before slicing on bias.
Arrange slices equally among tortillas and follow with cheese first, then veggies and fruit.
Drizzle with sauce.
Secure sides with toothpick and cut in half on a bias.  Makes 4.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Hummus( Gluten Free)

This recipe was a real treat to create and was received very well by the family.  With the costs of store bought hummus through the roof these days, it's a shame many don't take the time to just make it at home.  Prep is a breeze and the results speak for themselves.
Hummus is  a great canvas to try new and different flavor combinations to suit your personal tastes.  There are countless possibilities and you will save in the process . I enriched my recipe with fresh zucchini from the garden and caramelized onions.  Garbanzo Beans or chick peas are rich in potassium, iron, protein and dietary fiber.  They also contain Vitamin B6 and magnesium.  Paired with some fresh veggies and whole wheat pita bread or toasted tortillas and you have a wonderful spread and smiles to that do the same from the first bite!  I even threw in some fried hog jowl to pair with the country-feel that beans alone can create!
2 c. thinly sliced zucchini*
2 c. thinly sliced yellow onions*
1 15 oz. can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. Tahini
3 small sprigs of Lime Thyme
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tbsp. butter, optional but recommended
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter and add olive oil.
Once hot, add zucchini, onions, thyme and garlic.
Cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant and reduce heat to medium.
Continue to cook, stirring periodically, until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups and the onions are golden , about 25 minutes.
Remove sprigs of thyme.
Meanwhile, puree or mash Garbanzo beans in a small bowl, this will be very thick, but the veggies will lend its creaminess when combined.
Add tahini.
Once veggies have cooled just slightly, combine them with mashed garbanzos in a folding fashion, drizzling in some olive oil and stirring with rubber spatula until incorporated evenly.
Transfer to serving bowl and drizzle with more olive oil if desired. Makes about 2 cups.
I served this dish at room temperature.
*I used a mandolin for super thin, super easy slicing!!