Embrace The Summer Squash Pie

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Need a plan for that bounty of squash you may have received from your CSA basket/farmers market/generous neighbor?  I did, when I was given my basket from Big Moon Farm, the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm that I’m a member of.  This sunshine-y Squash Pie is the perfect plan, and you can use any type of summer squash you have in abundance like yellow squash, zucchini, patty pan or a mixture.

This pie is something between a crust-less quiche and a frittata, and is baked in the oven.  It’s open to many variations of not just the squash, but also the herbs and cheese depending on what you have on hand.  Make sure to completely drain the squash so the pie doesn’t become runny.

Now, embrace that bag of squash and savor the summer.

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Squash Pie

makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (about 2 or 3) yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the squash, green onions, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until squash has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
  3. Drain the cooled squash in a colander, pressing gently to remove extra liquid. Return to the bowl.
  4. Add the basil, parsley, and eggs to the squash, stir to combine. Pour into a round, deep baking dish. Cover with the tomato slices and sprinkle with feta. Bake until set, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Dreamy Greek Salad

I have a dream.  To live on the side of a Greek island overlooking the beautiful sea, where I can walk or bike all over the town making stops at market stalls to buy fresh produce and seafood all year long.  The ocean waves would lull me to sleep at every night.

Maybe in another life.  For today, I’ll have to pacify myself by making My Favorite Greek Salad.  Probably not authentic, but close enough for me.  This salad is so very easy, but so very delicious, and perfect as a main course or appetizer size before a meal.

My Favorite Greek Salad

from Shortbread

serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • large pinch kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups romaine lettuce, chopped, washed and dried
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, chopped into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8-12 pepperoncini peppers

Directions

  1. In a large salad bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.  Whisk with a fork or small whisk until combined.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except pepperoncini peppers to the bowl and toss with hands or salad servers.
  3. Divide salad between bowls and serve with peppers on the side. Top with additional black pepper, if desired.

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Caesar Club Sandwich {Barefoot Bloggers}

My Mother-in-Law tells my children that she’s 35.  Once when my children asked how old I would be on my birthday and I told them, they said “Oh, you’ll be older than Granna!”  Ummm, I don’t think so!  I had to set them straight right away.

Having your turn come around to choose a recipe for everyone to make for the Barefoot Bloggers group is kind of like having a birthday.  Having to choose from all those delicious-sounding Ina Garten recipes is like having to choose just one gift to ask for!  After seeing this Caesar Club Sandwich, however, I really didn’t have to look much further.  This recipe is full of all of my favorite things – roasted chicken, homemade caesar dressing, sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta, parmesan cheese, and arugula – piled high on crispy ciabatta bread.  It sounded just perfect for the beginning of Spring.

And it was perfect.  All the layers of flavor melded together to make one fabulous sandwich (anchovy paste and all).  I even ate some of the leftovers the next day from the fridge, and they were still tasty.  Perfect for a picnic or party, I know I will be making this again and again.

Caesar Club Sandwich

from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Ingredients

  • 2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 large ciabatta bread
  • 2 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
  • 2 to 3 ounces Parmesan, shaved

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan skin side up. Rub the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. Cool slightly, discard the skin and bones, and slice the meat thickly. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the pancetta on another sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towels.

Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until minced. Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, and mayonnaise and process again to make a smooth dressing. (Refrigerate the Caesar dressing if not using it immediately.)

Slice the ciabatta in half horizontally and separate the top from the bottom. Toast the bread in the oven, cut side up, for 5 to 7 minutes; cool slightly. Spread the cut sides of each piece with the Caesar dressing. Place half the arugula on the bottom piece of bread and then layer in order: the sun-dried tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, crispy pancetta, and sliced chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with another layer of arugula. Place the top slice of ciabatta on top and cut in thirds crosswise. Serve at room temperature.

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Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf {Barefoot Bloggers}

Meatloaf.  It’s what’s for dinner.  Or so I told my family.  They weren’t thrilled at the idea, the husband having flashbacks of dry, tasteless meatloaf, and the children having flashes of television shows where meatloaf is the enemy of child-kind.

But the rule is ‘you have to taste it’ at my house, so they did.  And guess what, Mikey?  They liked it.  This Ina Garten recipe for Individual Meat Loaves for this week’s Barefoot Bloggers turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

Here’s what I think made the difference:  First, you begin with sauteed onions, cooked until soft so they melt into the meat instead of staying crunchy.  Secondly, chicken broth is mixed in along with the other ingredients which keeps it from being too dry, like meatloaf sometimes tends to be.

Want to hear your husband say “this is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had”?  Click here to get the recipe a give it a go.

{Food Revolution Fridays} Brilliant Quick Salmon Tikka

The thing about our kids is . . . they’re not us.  While we try to teach them to act the way we think they should, they’re spending their days trying to prove to us that they’re their own person.  Eventually I guess they completely rebel.  That’s called the teen years.  They scare me.

At least I can have a little sway over what they eat, for now.  Hopefully after their rebellious teen years they will have learned a few good eating habits.  Of course, if they don’t like it they won’t eat it, so I try to make the healthy stuff taste good enough even for the most picky.  Does it always work?  No.  But in the case of this Quick Salmon Tikka, it did.  And not only is this recipe delicious, but it’s really very easy.  You slice some salmon fillets thin, slather them with a curry paste, and saute.  Then you make a sauce with yogurt and cucumber, and serve it all over flatbread.

I found this terrific recipe in a terrific cookbook, Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver.  Jamie has taken it upon himself to try to change the way people eat.  Not just kids in schools, either, but adults and families as well.  In this cookbook, he challenges the person who owns it to learn a recipe from each chapter and then”pass it on” by teaching someone else how to make some of them.  The book has recipes tailored to be simple and quick, but with tons of flavor and variety so everyone can make their meals healthier.

Brilliant.

You can find this recipe on jamieoliver.com.

 

Sunlight At The End Of The Tunnel Baked Shrimp Scampi {Barefoot Bloggers}

Ahhh, it’s March.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when people were more sick of winter.  Did you ever think there could be too much snow?  And the disastrous things going on with the Earth – I know we are all praying that they will come to an end soon.

In my area we have had a cold, wet winter, and though not nearly as bad as other areas, it’s all relative to what you’re used to, I think.  Even though March is always a tease – one warm day followed by a week of cold ones – at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel named winter.

So today I bring you some sunshine in the form of bright, lemony, and garlic-y Baked Shrimp Scampi.  This dish comes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, her most recent cookbook.  In a fun twist on traditional scampi, the shrimp is briefly marinated and then covered in a butter, herb, and breadcrumb mixture and baked.  What you find after baking is a wonderful dish of shrimp scampi with a delicate, crispy topping.  Very different and very delicious.

From the Barefoot Bloggers February selections, this recipe can be found here.

 

What We Eat When We Eat Alone Turkey Fapita {The Kitchen Reader}

“Women (and some men) who are tired of cooking for those ingrates called children and the occasional spouse, who are weary of cleaning up after meals and bored with eating on a schedule . . . know the pleasure of being alone at last in one’s kitchen. It’s an enjoyable moment when we get to eat whatever and whenever we want – and wherever, too, for that matter”, writes Deborah Madison in her book, written with her husband Patrick McFarlin, What We Eat When We Eat Alone.

This basically sums where I am in life related to alone time in the kitchen.  Most of my time in the kitchen is spent cooking for others, trying to provide meals that are healthy, that everyone will eat and (mostly) enjoy, and cleaning up the mess afterward.  When I find myself alone, cooking for only me, I absolutely relish that time and try to make the most of it.  And if this time happens to be on an extremely rare night alone, it will include “more red wine than usual”, as many of the interviewees in Madison’s book confided.

In Madison and McFarlin’s book they interviewed anyone they encountered to find out their preferences when faced with eating alone.  It was discovered that often people felt that cooking for one was not worth a big production, and as a result people usually threw together a few pantry items, like toast and sardines, crackers and milk, or soup from a can, and called it a night.

Others, however, shared some relatively simple but tasty recipes they save for alone times, usually because they are things only they like (kidneys) or they are a little embarrassed to admit to liking them (Frito pie).  The authors took many of these recipes and tested them out themselves, finding that indeed they were worthy of preparing, and shared them in the book.  A couple I plan to try in my own kitchen – Asparagus with Chopped Egg, Torn Bread, and Mustard Vinaigrette; and Potato Wedges with Red Chile.

I spent many years before marriage cooking for one, and I would say the only drawback was having to scale everything down so you didn’t end up eating a whole cake alone, or ending up with gallons of soup to eat for the rest of the year.  But being someone who really enjoys cooking and eating good tasting food, I didn’t compromise just because I was the only one eating.  And even now when I am alone, if I have a little energy to spare, I will whip up something just for me.  Because like one contributor to the book admitted, “Eating alone is nothing less than a luxurious, even decadent, act, because I get to thing about myself. I don’t have to think about someone else.”  That could even mean chips and a really good dip for dinner, even, just because I can.

Here’s a recipe I might have shared with the authors if asked, an easy but tasty recipe I’ve been making for myself since my school days, called a Turkey Fapita.  Deli turkey, onion, Worcestershire or soy sauce, and a pita or tortilla wrap are all you need to make it.  Of course it can be embellished with anything else you have on hand, such as peppers, cheese, salsa, a squeeze of lime, etc., but it is perfectly good and filling as is.

Turkey Fapita

from Shortbread

makes one

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced
  • 4 slices deli turkey, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 pita or tortilla

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned.
  3. Add turkey to pan and stir for one minute.
  4. Add sauce(s) to pan and cook another minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Warm pita or tortilla (in microwave, skillet, or over stove flame). Put turkey mixture on top and roll up.

Parlez Vous Anglais? Oven-Roasted Figs

oven-roasted figs

In David Lebovitz’s book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, Lebovitz treats us to his gift of sarcastic wit while exploring the city’s ironic and perplexing customs.  Along the way, he shares some of his favorite recipes created and enjoyed there.  This month a few fellow food bloggers and I, as a part of  The Kitchen Reader, read The Sweet Life in Paris so we could share our opinion of the book with our readers and each other.  Here are my thoughts.

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Ina’s Pork Loin And Barefoot Bloggers OUTRAGEOUS Brownies

BB Picnik collage

Once while in college, my boyfriend and I and another couple had gotten together to grill some steaks for dinner.  After my friend and I chatted and had a drink or two, the guys brought the finished steaks inside.  As I was cutting into mine, I spotted something green on the steak.  “What is this…grass?”, I asked.  After a lot of man-laughing, they told me they had dropped one of the steaks on the ground.  “Why’d you give it to me?”, I said.  Of course, the gentlemanly thing would have been for one of them to eat it.  But what did they do?  They just wiped it off and put it back on the grill and let whoever get that one.  I took my boyfriend’s steak and gave him the grassy one.

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Barefoot Bloggers Tuna Salad Ina Style

BB Tuna Salad

HELP!!  I’m drowning in parent-of-school-age-children-end-of-the-year–hectic-ness!  Field trips, dance recitals, baseball games, school carnivals….STOP!  I need to come up for air!

I’m always so glad to see the end of the school year, not just because I’ll no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn to rouse children that are dead to the world, but also because after the stressful month of May I just need to decompress.

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Barefoot Bloggers Croque Monsieur

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Not the most photogenic sandwich in the world, but soooo rich and cheesy.

The Barefoot Bloggers pick this week comes from Kathy of All Food Considered.  This French sandwich recipe appears in Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  It’s basically a seriously over-the-top grilled cheese.  Dijon, ham, Gruyere, and a white sauce with more cheese makes ONE SERIOUS SANDWICH.  Not necessarily something you would just throw together everyday, but after you make it once, you know it won’t be the last.

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Barefoot Bloggers Chinese Chicken Salad

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Today I received an email from my best friend/college roommate saying she joined Facebook and that I should “get my butt on there, girl!”  Apparently, she has recently joined and reunited with all our sorority sisters, her high school graduating class, her first boyfriend in kindergarten – well, maybe not him (yet).

I have other friends who are on it, too, but I just can’t bring myself to put it all out there like that.  I know, I know, you can choose who can see your page, and refuse to be “friends”, but this is a Southern girl you’re talking to and we don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, you know?

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Not So Guilty Pleasure Black Bean Nachos

black-bean-nachos

Most of the time I try to cook and eat wholesome, homemade food.  I try to avoid a lot of processed foods, additives and preservatives.  But when it comes to stadium food, my will power goes out the door.  I’m a sucker for hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, popcorn and pretzels.  These things just don’t taste the same at home, good thing.

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No Cereal Bar Charleston Shrimp

shrimp salad

My husband’s favorite food is cereal.  He could eat it for every meal and snack, with a little chocolate thrown in for good measure, and never get tired of it.  Doesn’t allow me much room for creativity, does it?

Thankfully, he is willing to change it up at dinnertime and eat what I cook.  Lucky for him, he can now get his vitamins from something other than the powdered ones sprayed on his Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

His second favorite food is shrimp, which was his only request for our wedding reception (after being told we couldn’t have a cereal bar).  He loves them in any form (except jumbo) and any flavor, but loves them the most with a big helping of creamy grits.

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Monday Red Beans And Rice

red beans and rice

Last summer I came across a reference online to a cookbook called Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose, and well, the title had me at ‘screen doors’.  I promptly went to Amazon and ordered it, and it turned out to be even better than I imagined.

This book is full of traditional and contemporary Southern recipes from the author’s native Mississippi and I am slowly making my way through each one.  Since I love to read and to cook, I really enjoy cookbooks like this one that have stories and history along with the recipes. Continue reading

I Miss You Fish Man Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

pecan crusted tilapia

In the town where we lived previously, I used to get my fish from a man who would travel on Thursday from Greensboro to Topsail Island and pick up loads of fish and shrimp and bring them back to sell on Friday and Saturday.  I discovered him one day set up across from the Farmer’s Market and bought some shrimp that turned out to be the best shrimp I had ever eaten.  After that I was hooked (pun intended).

I started getting all my seafood from “the fish man”, as my children called him, and would pick it up on Fridays after school (which caused no small amount of moaning and groaning in the back seat).  It was all fresh, never frozen, and top quality.  I found out that I could cook fish at home that tasted better than even what I ate at most restaurants.  Spoiled is what I would call it.

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Low Maintenance Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

butternut squash

Say hello to my newest favorite fall/winter vegetable, the butternut squash.  No offense to the sweet potato, which still carries me through the fall and winter with its sunny and warm disposition.  But now I can add another just as sunny and warm vegetable to my weekly grocery list.  It has all the things you could want – it’s healthy, tasty enough the kids will eat it, and easy to prepare.  Trust me, I’m not a fan of high maintenance vegetables.  Roasting it in the oven (my newest favorite way to cook vegetables) really takes it over the top.  If you haven’t already discovered the beauty of the  butternut squash, don’t put it off any longer!

Here are some great tips for preparing this jewel:

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Chicken Of The Sea Herb Butter Scottish Salmon

herb butter salmon

Until just recently, my children knew of only two types of animal protein:  “chicken” and “meat”.  The chicken category included not only chicken, but also fish, pork and turkey.  And the meat category included beef, venison, and sometimes ham.  They were told to “eat your chicken” or “eat your meat”, no matter what it was.  This was mainly to avoid the whole “eeewww, I don’t like fish/pork/turkey” reply for as long as possible.

Apparently, Jessica Simpson’s mother never got past this point with Jessica, but we have now started to call things by their real name, and the kids have become curious as to where all their food comes from, so we have to tell them that, too.  And since they have eaten these things before and like them, they can’t really argue about eating it just because it has a strange name.

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Barefoot Bloggers Real Meatballs And Spaghetti

meatballs and spaghetti

When I was a new bride, I already had a few dishes in my cooking repertoire, but I wanted to learn to make some of my husband’s favorite dishes, too.  So I asked his mother to teach me to make these recipes, and one of them was spaghetti.

Here’s what she puts in:  onion, ground beef, tomato sauce (sounds pretty ordinary so far, right?), ketchup, tomato soup, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/3 cup of sugar.  Not that it tastes bad or anything, I mean I had eaten it a few times before and it tasted fine, but not only is it way different than what I learned to make from my mother, but it’s almost like sacrilege to even call it spaghetti sauce, what with all the crazy things it contains.  My brain just can’t seem to accept it as spaghetti sauce.

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My Grandmother Was Green Peanut Noodle Salad

peanut noodle salad

My Grandmother was green.

Not the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba Thropp kind of green, but the eco-friendly, earth-preserving kind of green.  She kept her thermostat turned way down in the winter and way up in the summer (if on at all).  She never let the water run while washing the dishes.  She hung her clothes on a clothes line.  She re-used plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  She had a garden that grew a lot of her food.  She used her coffee grounds and egg shells in her flower garden.  And she never threw away food.

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Parts Is Parts Venison Stew

Venison Stew

My husband is a hunter.  It’s his hobby, pastime, passion.  He brings home the bacon in both senses.  And I like the idea of getting some of our meat from the wild instead of a grocery store.

I was raised, however, in the era of the cleaned and washed, plastic wrapped, part-labeled meat package.  Very neat and tidy with no confusion as to what piece of meat you have.  To my dismay, the person who does the packaging of the meat my husband brings him is not too concerned with which part is which, there are no labels at all.  Obviously, to him “parts is parts”.

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Tickle Your Taste Buds Crispy Apricot Pork Chops

Crispy Pork Chops

I have read that children have a greater number and more sensitive taste buds than adults.  I have also seen it noted that it can take a child anywhere from 10 to 20 tries of a new food before they develop a taste for the food.  Also, around the age of seven is when children begin to be more open to the idea of trying new foods.  Lucky for me, my children have just arrived at that magical age!  Not so lucky for them, I now get to flex my wings and dive into the vast expanse of the produce section.

Gone are the canned green beans and frozen corn.  Today there will be eggplant, zucchini, arugula, butternut squash and even (gasp) turnips!  Beans of every variety and melon and grapefruit.  I might only be able to convince them to taste one bite, but that’ll do for now. Continue reading