Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Middle Eatern Spiced Turkey-Zucchini Sliders

It's finally (FINALLY!) college football season.  Can I get an AMEN?

I love, love, love college football season...always have, always will.  Every August-November, my Saturday soundtrack is College Gameday, lots of football, and cheering and laughing with friends.  I just can't get enough.

This past Saturday, I had my first get football, food, and fun get together with a small group of friends.  It's still much too warm for the ultimate football food, chili, but I took that as a great reason to try out a new recipe.  As I was perusing Josie's blog, I found these mini burgers and knew they would be perfect.  They use zucchini, one of late summer's greatest vegetables, they're easy to make, they're healthy, and they're perfectly sized to be finger food.  After all, who wants to leave the living room to eat when the game's on?

Just as Josie and her adorable, intelligent, sweet daughter Caroline promised, these were a hit with everyone.  Served with roasted mixed potatoes, plenty of veggies and hummus, and, of course, beverages, they were the ultimate warm-weather football watching food.  I'm thinking they'll be making a reappearance very soon...

Sweet summer zucchini gives ground turkey a much needed moisture boost in these healthy, handheld sliders.  Topped with a tangy, creamy Middle Eastern yogurt sauce and placed atop a sweet Hawaiian roll, they're perfect for warm weather get togethers.

Middle Eastern Spiced Turkey-Zucchini Sliders
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, Jerusalem
seen on Pink Parsley


For the sauce:
1/2 c. low fat sour cream
2/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 TBSP Sumac

For the burgers:
1 large zucchini, coarsely shredded (about 2 c.)
1 to 1 1/4 lb. ground turkey
3 green onions, chopped
2 TBSP chopped fresh mint
2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
4 TBSP canola oil
16-18 Hawaiian sweet rolls or slider buns

1.  Make the sauce by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside if making burgers immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  (Can be made the night before.)

2.  Preheat oven to 425° F.  If desired, prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

3.  Wrap the zucchini in a lint-free kitchen towel and wring out over the sink to remove as much moisture as possible.

4.  To form the burger patties, combine all ingredients except the oil in a large bowl.  Mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined but not overworked.  Form into 16-18 small patties, each weighing approximately 1.5 oz.  (I used a standard-sized kitchen scoop to scoop loose balls of burger mixture and got exactly 16 patties.) 

5.  Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 TBSP of the oil.  Carefully add about half the patties to the pan and cook two minutes on each side.  When done, remove and place on the baking sheet.  Add the remaining oil and repeat with the other half of the patties.

6.  When all the patties are on the baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes.

Yield: 16-18 sliders

Monday, September 14, 2015

Meatless Monday--Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry, and Quinoa Salad

It's that glorious time of year when the mornings and evenings are getting cooler and you can just feel that fall is on its way.  The days are still pretty warm though, so no matter how much you want to make a big pot of soup, it's just not time.  Yet.

But don't let that stop you from bringing some of fall's best flavors in to recipes that are still on the lighter side.  There's no doubt roasted Brussels sprouts are one of the greatest foods ever, but equally as tasty as the leafy green component in a protein-packed quinoa salad.  Add some rich and crunchy hazelnuts, sweet, chewy dried cranberries, and a silky smooth orange-cinnamon vinaigrette, and you've got one heck of a late summer/early fall dish.

Crispy raw Brussels sprouts, sweet, chewy dried cranberries, and protein-packed quinoa combine for the ultimate late summer/early fall vegan salad.

Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry, and Quinoa Salad
adapted from Gimme Some Oven

3/4 c. quinoa, rinsed
2/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
1 c. dried cranberries

For the vinaigrette:
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 c. freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/4 c. olive oil
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Combine quinoa with 1 1/2 c. water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce to a simmer, and let cook 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2.  Toast hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat.  Cool to room temperature and chop coarsely.

3.  Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a lidded jar.  Shake vigorously to combine.

4.  Put quinoa, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and hazelnuts in a large bowl.  Add about 3/4 of the dressing and toss to combine.  Taste, adjust seasoning, and add more dressing, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Blackberry-Brown Sugar Quick Bread

So here it is, the week after Labor Day, and I'm posting a recipe with blackberries.  I know.  I'm supposed to be talking about apples and caramel and pumpkin spice everything.  Not yet.  Almost.  I'll get there.  But not quite yet.

As much as I love fall and everything it brings, the truth is we still have a good two or three weeks of sweet, juicy berries and I want to make the most of them.  And guess what?  This recipe calls for frozen berries.  Blackberries to be specific, which have been so unbelievably good this year.  I suggest you go buy a whole bunch this week, eat some straight from the container (after washing!), then freeze the rest.  You'll be able to make a loaf of this very easy and very tasty quick bread now and another loaf or two in January when berries are most definitely not in season.  By then you'll be extra glad for the burst of sunshine only summer berries can bring while you sit inside, all warm and snug, curled up with a blanket and a cup of coffee.  Just consider buying an (almost) embarrassingly large amount of berries now a very strategic future planning move.  

Sweet, juicy summer blackberries bring the perfect brightness to this easy, buttery quick bread.

Blackberry-Brown Sugar Quick Bread
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. firmly-packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. frozen blackberries (do not thaw)
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a standard-sized loaf pan.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the frozen blackberries and toss to coat.  This will help prevent the berries from sinking to the bottom of the bread.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined.

4.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the loaf is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes about clean, 55-60 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Grilled Salmon Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese

Life is so good right now.  Busy and good.  Work, grad school, applying for jobs for next year, graduation, working out, and so much else--it's all wonderful.  Truly.  I have absolutely nothing in the world to complain about.

So when I had a free night last week, I jumped on the chance to get in the kitchen and try out this recipe from my sweet friend Annie...with one twist.  I wanted to use blackberries instead of blueberries.  

I've been on a blackberry kick recently, which is very new for me.  Honestly, if you'd asked me about blackberries last year I would've told you they were one of my least favorites.  But this year, I'm all about them...and it's not even May.  I'm going to call it now, readers--lots and lots of blackberry recipes this summer.  Get ready.  Sweet, savory, and liquid, I'm going to use all. the. blackberries.

Good thing they work so well with bourbon.  Hey, a girl's got to have something to do with all her new found free time...

Rich salmon pairs perfectly with sweet, juicy blackberries and creamy, tangy goat cheese in this healthy salad that's sure to become a spring and summer favorite. 

Grilled Salmon Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese
slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for brushing grill and baguette
1 1/2 TBSP honey
12 oz. blackberries (2 6-oz. clamshells)
3 TBSP white wine vinegar
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 salmon fillets (5-6 oz. each)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into 1/2-thick slabs
1 demi baguette, thinly sliced on the bias
6-8 c. mixed salad greens
3 oz. honeyed goat cheese

1.  Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine 1/4 c. olive oil, honey, and 6 oz. blackberries.  Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until the blackberries begin to release their juices, 5-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender or small bowl of a food processor, puree until smooth.  Run through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.  Reserve 3 TBSP of the mixture for the salmon, then whisk white wine vinegar into remaining blackberry mixture.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2.  Brush the skinless side of the salmon fillets with reserved blackberry sauce.  Brush both sides of the onion slabs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  

3.  When the grill or grill pan is heated, brush with additional olive oil.  Put the salmon pieces down with the skin side on the bottom.  Place the onion slabs on the grill.  Cook salmon until skin is crisp and darkened, then carefully flip to put glaze side down.  Flip onions.  Cook until the glazed side of the salmon is blackened and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish registers 135 F.  Remove and set aside to rest.

4.  While the salmon is cooking, prepare the remaining items for the grill.  Lightly brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Once the salmon and onion have been removed from the grill, place the baguette slices on the grill in one layer.  Grill, flipping once, until both sides are browned.  Remove and coarsely chopped for croutons.  Chop the onions, as well.

5.  Divide the greens among four plates.  Top each with equal amounts of the remaining blackberries, grilled onions, goat cheese, salmon, and baguette croutons.  Drizzle with vinaigrette.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, April 24, 2015

Asparagus Lasagna

So it's April now.  Late April, to be exact.  And I haven't posted in over a month.  I'm sorry about that guys.  Can I offer you this completely outstanding meal to make up for it?

I made it for a dear friend when I had her over for dinner.  We first met when a mutual friend recommended her as my real estate agent.  From the moment we met, we clicked.  We talked and talked (and talked).  It was great.  I knew she would find me the right place to start my life over again in Texas.  I just didn't realize how hard she would work to make it perfect.  

Throughout the home search, we talked and talked some more (see a theme?) and truly became friends.  She even still liked me after I had her take me to my house three times before I made an offer.  That's dedication...and patience.

So when I had her over to show her all I've done with my little piece of Texas, I wanted to be sure dinner was just as perfect as the adorable little house she found for me.  It was.  The lasagna was full of spring flavor and was rich without being heavy--just perfect for the early spring evening I made it.  While there were several steps to prepare the ingredients and assemble the dish, they were all pretty easy.  The leftovers were great, too.  I sent my sweet friend home with quite a lot of them because, even though I halved the recipe for us, it made plenty.  Neither of us were that sad about it.

Lasagna with a springtime twist makes seasonal favorite asparagus the star of the show.

Asparagus Lasagna
slightly adapted from Giada deLaurentiis, Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites

9 lasagna sheets, fresh or dried
1 TBSP plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 (8.5-oz.) jars sun-dried tomatoes, drained, oil reserved
1 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
1 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces
1 (15-oz.) container ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add 1 tsp. olive oil and pasta.  Cook according to package directions until tender but firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, combine sun-dried tomatoes and basil in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is combined.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.

3.  In a large skillet, brown the pancetta until crisp, then remove using a slotted spoon.  Add remaining olive oil, onion, and garlic to skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add asparagus and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes more.  Transfer mixture to a very large mixing bowl.  Add the ricotta, salt, and black pepper, and stir to combine.

4.  To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/2 sun-dried tomato mixture over the bottom of a deep lasagna pan.  Place a layer of lasagna sheets on top and spread the noodles with half of the asparagus mixture.  Sprinkle with a third of the mozzarella and 1/4 c. of the remaining Parmesan.  Repeat twice more to complete three layers.  Bake until the lasagna is heated through, 25-30 minutes.  If desired, turn oven to broil for last few minutes to brown the cheese.

Yield: 10-12 servings