Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zucchini Chickpea Falafel

As Jon can attest, I've been experimenting with falafel recipes for quite a while.  Not wanting to deal with deep frying, I use a pan fry or oven bake technique.  I'm not ashamed to admit that my past attempts have been less than amazing.  The last batch was so dry that I had to drown them in hummus and hot sauce.  But no more!  Finally, this twist on falafel is a success, and it's all thanks to zucchini.  If you belong to a CSA, shop at farmer's markets, or can't pass up a sale in the produce section of the grocery store, you might find yourself with some extra zucchini on hand lately.  While I actually like zucchini bread (add enough flour, butter and sugar to anything and it's good), this is something a little different.

Zucchini Chickpea Falafel

1 large zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups)
28 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 4 cups)
1/2 medium red onion, shredded
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup ground flax seed
Handful parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

In a food processor, use the shredding disc to shred the zucchini and onion.  Transfer to a strainer and allow to drain, pressing with a wooden spoon or spatula to remove excess liquid.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine chickpeas, breadcrumbs, flax seed, egg, parsley, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Pulse until mixed.
Add in zucchini and onion and pulse until combined and mixture sticks together when pressed. 

I baked these at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. I think they would also be good pan fried in a little olive oil.

Served on top of a greek salad, with an unpictured yogurt sauce for dipping.  Plain greek yogurt, finely chopped cucumber, lemon juice, dill and salt and pepper.  And hot sauce, of course.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Best Lemon Bars

I know this is a bold statement, but I stand behind it.  These are, hands down, the best lemon bars I have ever had.  Way back when I first started this blog I shared a recipe for banana bread that is so good it will help you make friends.  If you can make friends with banana bread, you can use these lemon bars to make someone fall in love with you.  Marriage proposals and declarations of love will ensue.  Engagement Lemon Bars, better than chicken any day. 

These are far and away the most requested dessert I make, I've brought them to three parties so far this summer and they are always extremely well received.  My father-in-law has even been known to sneak them off the dessert table before the meal is even served just to be sure he gets one.  Jon and Matt hovered around the kitchen until I let them loose on the "ugly" corner pieces. 

I've shared another lemon bar recipe before, which makes an 8x8 pan.  Those are good, but these are better.  This one makes a 9x13 pan, but rest assured that you will have no trouble finishing them.

The Best Lemon Bars
recipe from Ina Garten

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

6 eggs, room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (4-6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream with butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl, and add to the butter while the mixer is on low.
Once mixed, dump into the pan and press into an even layer.  Lightly coat your hands in flour to prevent sticking.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
Prick with a fork several times and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. 
Cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour.
Pour over the crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until filling is set.
Cool to room temperature, and cut into squares or triangles.
Dust with powdered sugar for serving and store in the refrigerator. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Banana Soft Serve

Here's another "recipe" with one ingredient.
Freeze banana chunks.  If you have a weird compulsion to buy all the bananas in the "reduced produce" section because they cost something about 5 cents each, you might have some on hand.  Oh, that's just me.  Let's move on. 
Place frozen banana chunks in the food processor and let it whirl.  Stop and scrape down the sides every so often. 
It will go through a weird banana pellet stage.  Don't be deterred.  Keep scraping it down and pushing the banana into the blade.  It will eventually become the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
Eat as is, or add in cocoa powder, peanut butter, strawberries or whatever you like. 

This makes the perfect sweet treat afternoon snack.
I shared mine with my sidekick, which is why we used this elegant spoon.
He loved it, and kind of dominated the spoon.
In fact, this was the expression he made every time I deigned to take a bite.

I probably should have brought out two spoons.  And a bib for one of us. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Quinoa

As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too much quinoa.  At the market the other day I was trying to decide between buying barbecue ribs for dinner or a giant bag of quinoa.  While I like ribs, I knew I'd get much more mileage (and nutrition!) out of the quinoa, so I did the virtuous thing.  This hasn't stopped me from dropping not-so-subtle hints to Jon about the barbecue stand I want to try, however.  I'll wear him down eventually. 

Add anything you want to quinoa, stir in some sort of sauce or dressing, and you have a meal.  Perfect for summer.  This is a combination of fresh summer vegetables topped with the amazingly delicious Lemon Tahini Dressing from Oh She Glows.  We had this on it's own as a light entree one night, and the leftovers as a side dish for burgers.  And, you know me, I topped mine with goat cheese, but that's entirely optional. 

Summer Quinoa
1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 large cucumber, chopped
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
2 ears corn, kernels removed from cob
Salt and pepper
Parsley for topping

In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil.
Add in the quinoa, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine chopped vegetables.
Stir in cooked quinoa and Lemon Tahini Dressing.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Top with parsley.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Zucchini Noodles

This isn't really a recipe, because the only ingredient is zucchini, but more of an idea.  Zucchini noodles are especially popular with people trying to minimize carbs, because it gives you a good vehicle for pasta sauce.  I myself ate a huge hunk of bread on the side, because that's how I roll.  Get it, roll?  Carb humor.  Please don't stop reading because I make bad jokes. 

Step one: wash your zucchini
Step two: using a peeler or a mandoline (I used a Y-shaped peeler), cut long strips down the side of the zucchini.  When you get close to the middle, switch sides.  Discard the middle with the seeds.
Step three: Either steam in boiling water for a minute, or top and serve.  I steamed mine, but I think next time I'd try them raw, because some strips got a little mushy.

Look how pretty they are all peeled and curly!

I tossed the noodles with some fresh pesto (I go a little crazy with the basil plants), and a couple roasted cherry tomatoes.  Roasting is a good way to use up some tomatoes that are looking wrinkly and sad in the fridge.  I tossed them with a little olive oil and popped them in a 400 degree oven until they looked done.  Very precise.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Raw Veggie Pate

I am certainly no raw foodist, but I am willing to give just about anything a try. My sister brought this veggie pate to a party a few months ago, and I loved it.  A combination of nuts, vegetables and healthy fats in the form of olive oil and tahini, with a little sweetness from raisins to balance it all out.  This is incredibly filling, and a great raw, vegan option.  So often we are feeding people with special dietary requirements, it's good to have a few options in your repertoire. 

I made half the recipe, partly because I didn't need several cups, and partly because I was sneaking cashews out of the fridge for a few weeks before making this.  I feel like I have only recently discovered how amazingly delicious cashews are.  Too bad they are also amazingly expensive to be chowed down by the handful. 

Raw Veggie Pate
slightly modified from Ani Phyo

Makes 4 cups
1 cup almonds
2 cups cashews
1 Tablespoon grated ginger (you might want to go a little shy on this if you aren't in love with the flavor of raw ginger - it is very gingery!)
1 clove garlic
3 carrots, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sesame tahini

In a food processor, process almonds and cashews into a course powder.  Set aside.
Next process ginger, garlic, carrots, onion, raisins, salt, oil, lemon juice and tahini into small pieces.
Add nuts back in and process until desired consistency is reached
To make filling, process almonds and cashews  into a powder, and set aside.
Next, process ginger, garlic, carrots, onion, raisins, and salt into small pieces. Add oil, lemon juice, powdered almonds and cashews, and process to mix well.

I ate this in lettuce wraps with soy sauce for dipping.  My sister served it as an hors d'oeuvres with tortilla chips.  I've also eaten several spoonfuls straight from the bowl.  Now that Colin is eating solid food, I should probably make an effort to be a role model for healthy eating habits.  Standing up in the kitchen eating straight out the serving bowl is not a healthy eating habit. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Peach Blueberry Pie

I may have mentioned this before, but when we got married (3 years ago on the 18th!), my husband wanted wedding pie.  A bit of a stickler for tradition, I wasn't on board and we had a lovely and delicious lemon wedding cake instead.  Everyone loves pie, though.  Pie is also a great make ahead dessert, because a few minutes back in the oven during dinner and you have warm pie.  Warm pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it's pretty much perfect.

We celebrated my aunt's birthday at the beach this past weekend, so I made birthday pie.  When we arrived on Saturday morning I discovered that they had eaten pie the night before.  Good thing you can never have too much pie.  

It's peach season, so peaches are ridiculously cheap at the market right now.  I bought a batch last week and we were barely able to eat them fast enough.  There's that 1-2 day window of peach ripeness, and you do not want to be on either side of it.  This batch was thankfully easy to cut and remove the pits, yielding perfect little wedges.  Sometimes you end up covered in juice with a pile of hacked up peach pieces.

Peach Blueberry Pie
recipe from Tyler Florence

1 recipe basic pie crust (I like this one) or, in a pinch, use the organic no-trans fats premade crust from the market
2 pounds peaches, pitted and sliced
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten with a little water

In a large bowl, combine peaches, blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.  Try not to sample too much of the fruit.
Press half your pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate.
Pour in the fruit mixture and dot with small pieces of butter.
Top with remaining crust, or make a pretty lattice crust.  I used this technique, and it was easy!
Brush the top with the egg wash so it turns a pretty golden brown color while baking.
Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake for 45-55 minutes at 400.  Keep an eye on it near the end to make sure it doesn't get too brown.
If you have made this in advance, pop it (covered in foil) into a 350 degree oven when you sit down to dinner.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Six Months Later

Six Months?!  I know I say this in every update, but it comes as a complete surprise to me that I have a six month old baby.  I think back to when Colin was first born, and we would talk about things that happen at six months, it seemed like ages away.  I think back to last July, when I was just out of my first trimester, finally able to eat things other than egg sandwiches or pb&j, and sharing the news of my pregnancy. 

This month has been a busy one.  Little Mr. Roly Poly never stays in one place anymore.  This made for a couple rough weeks when he would wake up in the night, and then instead of going back to sleep, rolled over onto his tummy and yelled at me until I rescued him.  I'm happy to report he has now also mastered the front to back roll, and things are going much more smoothly.  I don't feel as comfortable leaving him lying on our bed for very long anymore, though, because he rolls and scoots and I'm worried he's going to fall off!  No crawling yet, but he does this hysterical thing where he smashes his face into the ground and then pushes off with his feet into downward facing dog.  It's like he doesn't realize it would be easier to use his arms instead of his face to move.  He'll figure it out, and in the meantime there's a lot of drool everywhere.

He also started solid foods on his 6 month birthday!  We mushed up some banana for him, and let him go to town with it.  It made a huge mess, but some made it into his mouth, and just a few days later he seems to be getting the hang of things.  Next up on the menu - sweet potatoes.  It's so fun to have a new taste tester around, even if he needs a bath after every meal!

We've been spending a lot of time at the beach, which is wonderful.  He likes trying to eat the sand and watching the waves.  He's been up to his waist in the water, and pats it with his hands, but no real swimming yet.  We almost took him in this weekend, but the waves were getting a little big and made loud noises when they crashed and he didn't like that much.  He also did not particularly enjoy the nightly fireworks during the week of the 4th, and as a result, neither did the rest of us.

I know I also say this every month, but every single second of every day I spend with Colin makes me happy.  I can't believe how much I love him.  This unconditional love thing is no joke, and as much as I love my husband, my family and my friends, it doesn't even come close to how I feel about Colin.

Now we're off to the Cape for the day, as soon as I can wrestle his giant legs into his swimsuit.  This is why I go shopping every week...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Avocado Herb Dressing

This is a delicious dressing that is chock full of avocado, herbs, lemon juice and a topped off with a little olive oil.  All those healthy fats, your skin will glow!  I originally made it to go on chef salads, but also used it to top black bean burgers, and as a vegetable dip.  It's very versatile.  I also licked the spatula as I was transferring it out of the food processor, but that's not an official serving suggestion.

Avocado Herb Dressing

1 large avocado
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Handful each of basil and parsley (about 1/2 cup each)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Water, as needed

In a food processor, combine avocaod, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and herbs.
Blend well until smooth.
With the motor running, slowly add water until desired consistency. (More for a pourable dressing, less for a scoopable dip.  I did something in the middle, about 2 Tablespoons.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This keeps in the fridge for several days, but the top layer starts to turn brown from the avocado.  If that doesn't bother you, no problem, if it does, eat up!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Creamy Old Bay Coleslaw

I consider coleslaw an exclusively summer food.  I can't imagine eating it in the winter, but in the summer it reminds me of barbecue, burgers, and fresh seafood.  I know some people can't stand mayo, in which case I direct you to the sweet and sour vinegar slaw here.  Since we served this alongside crab cakes, I thought the mayo dressing would compliment nicely and we could skip any tartar sauce or remoulade. The original recipe that inspired me was cumin based, but I thought using Old Bay would nicely mirror the crab cake seasoning. 

Creamy Old Bay Coleslaw
inspired by Bobby Flay

1 head Chinese cabbage, shredded
2 medium carrots, grated
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 small red onion, chopped or grated (I omitted this because I was serving someone who is anti-onion)

1/2 cup mayo
zest of one lime
1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

In a large bowl, combine vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together dressing.
Pour dressing over vegetables and toss well to combine.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Allow to sit, chilled, for at least an hour before serving for flavors to blend.

Quick note: I found that making this a day in advance was good for the flavor, but the Chinese cabbage wilted quite a bit.  Fortunately, we had some shredded green cabbage on hand and just tossed that in before serving.  I'd recommend making it the day you are serving, or using a combination of Chinese and green or red cabbage. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Oven Roasted Haddock with Fresh Herb Breadcrumbs and Saucy Squash

This recipe was kind of, sort of, inspired by Tyler Florence.  In the midst of one of the many feeding sessions during the day, I turned on Food Network.  Tyler's Ultimate was on, he was making a roasted salmon over ratatouille, and it looked delicious. 

It used to be that Colin would ignore the TV when he was eating, because, you know, eating is his favorite; but now he'll fling himself back to look around and smile at me.  This is adorable, and all well and good, but I'd really rather he focus on the task at hand, so my TV watching might need to be put on hold. 

We just had salmon, and while I'm happy to eat it every week, I thought it would be good to try something a little different, so I picked up some haddock.  The summer squash and herbs were from the CSA, and they were fresh and delicious.  The Saucy Squash is really just a tomato sauce with summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes and basil.  I'm using the leftovers to make french bread pizza tonight. 

Oven Roasted Haddock with Fresh Herb Breadcrumbs
1 lb. haddock fillet
2 cups bread cubes
Bunch of fresh basil and parsley
Olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together bread cubes, basil and parsley until mostly crumbly.  It's alright if a few larger pieces remain.
Stream in olive oil, maybe a tablespoon or so, until the mixture starts to hold together.
Reserve breadcrumbs and fish until squash is ready.

Saucy Squash
Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 small zucchini, sliced
3 small summer squash, sliced
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups (or 14 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
kosher salt and pepper
Handful fresh basil leaves

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium.
Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until translucent.
Add in the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring.
Pour in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
Add in squash, zucchini and fresh tomatoes.
Season with red pepper, salt and pepper.
Simmer over low heat until squash have softened, about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in basil leaves.

This made A LOT of sauce, so if you don't want leftovers, I would recommend cutting the quantities in half.  

Spread a generous layer sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
Lay fish on top and cover with breadcrumbs.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

You can certainly cook the fish separately on a baking sheet, but I thought the sauce added some extra flavor and helped keep it moist.
Serve with lemon wedges and bread for soaking up extra sauce.

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