Summertime in the Suburbs

Favorite Meal this week: Red, White and Green Piadine
Click here for this week’s grocery list.

Monday

Ahhhhh …. we love summer. Time to cook with some summer veggies! This dish makes a fair amount and is super tasty. You could change the veggies out based on what’s fresh and cheap that time of year.

Just don’t “forget” to add the salt… ok ok ..I didn’t really “forget”… I tasted the mozz as I was grating it (because seriously, you’re not a true cheese lover if you can grate cheese without using the “one for you dear grater, one for me” method) and it was fairly salty, even though it was part skim. I think it was the pchopper brand. ANYWAY…I figured since it was SO salty, why should I add extra salt. Now… backtrack slightly… there is something you should know. “B” LOVES Salt. He is the guy who salts the food before even tasting it. I think he may even salt his cereal in the morning. I, on the other hand… enjoy my savory things, but would prefer pepper (and other seasonings) over salt (unless the aforementioned salt is rimming my margarita glass). Needlesstosay… this dish, even for my standards, was admittedly under salted. “B” always… and I mean ALWAYS can tell when I “forget” to salt things and MOST of the time the dishes are good in my opinion without the extra salt, but in this RARE case, it did need a little more. Maybe I should have at least salted the pasta water? I can still hear, “Season as you go….how many times do I have to tell you! Season as you go!” ringing in my ears.

Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

  • 8 ounces uncooked ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups any combination of chopped yellow squash, eggplant and zucchini (we used eggplant and zucchini this time)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (Could use fresh as well!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, eggplant, zucchini, and onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
  4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

adapted from Cooking Light
JULY 2011

Tuesday

A few years ago my parents gave me this great cookbook which is organized by what’s in-season. So I flipped to the summer section and found this recipe. It’s a little similar to the insalata salads from last week (which I loved!) but it’s different at the same time. We really enjoyed this dish and “F” was particularly proud of herself for making the Piadines by hand! (If she can do it, so can you!).

Red, White and Green Piadine!

Piadine Dough

1 package active dry yeast
1 c warm water
3 and 3/4 c all purpose flour
2T olive oil
1 tsp salt

Filling

2 and 1/4 c roasted red peppers
1T minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/3 c grated Parmesan
2 T fresh oregano or basil
9 c spinach
1 and 1/2 c diced fresh mozzarella

Vinaigrette

3T Orange Juice
1T white balsamic vinegar (we used grapefruit balsamic)
1/4 c olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, water and about 2T flour. Let stand until foamy (indicating the yeast is working) about 10 mins.

With a wooden spoon, stir in 3 cups of flour, the oil, and salt. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed to make a soft dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover it with a towel, and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour. (we went kayaking during this time!).

Punch down the dough and knead for two more minutes. Divide into 6 equal pieces. (At this point you may freeze the dough balls for up to 1 month. To use frozen dough, transfer to a bowl and defrost and let rise in the fridge).

On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick and 6-8 inches in diameter.

Preheat the grill or griddle to high. Prick the dough with a fork. Lower the heat to medium and cook the piadine on the grill until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side.

In a food processor (Or I tried using my immersion blender which kind of worked) combine the roasted peppers and garlic. Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the pepper puree on each piadine and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of parm cheese and 1 teaspoon of oregano.

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Add spinach and mozzarella to the bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Divide the salad among the piadines and serve open faced or folded in half.

Note: The original recipe includes grilled chicken, but it tasted perfect without the chicken! You would add the chicken to the salad.
Recipe adapted from “Simple, Fresh & Healthy” by Linda Hafner
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Wednesday and Thursday

LEFTOVERS!

Friday

Our friends J&Z (the kool kids, not the rapper) came over for Friday night dinner. J is a bit selective in food choices sometimes (though we are somewhat successfully slowly oh ever so slowly…expanding her palate—we think Z appreciates this!), so we were surprised she was willing to come over once we said we were trying out a new dish. We tried a Slow Cooker Polenta Pie. It was OK. It started out as a very slow polenta cooking all day in the slow cooker. The you add a salsa/bean/corn type topping on top about 30 mins before you are going to eat it. Even though J, Z, and B all said it was ok and some people went back for seconds, I’m not really sure we would make it again. Therefore, I’m not going to post the recipe at this time. Plus…it was a pain in the BUTT to clean the slow cooker afterwards! We tend to use the slow cooker more in the fall/winter time. The cookbook we have is a vegetarian slow cooker book which we’ve had mixed results from. Some recipes we really enjoy and some are flops. Oh well. Oh a different note, J made mini low calorie cheese cake bites which were yum and perfect for a summer night!

Two Mondays, Two Fridays, A Cheesy Week.

Monday

Here we go! So this week was a little abnormal just because we had a holiday thrown in the middle and we utilized the grill for much of the week. We started the week with a new recipe “Be” (or “B” of “BeFresher”- get it?) had his eye on because it had squash in it. You will see shortly that anything squash…especially soup, makes “B” go in to some sort of food orgasm. Anyway, this was a healthier version of the classic Mac and Cheese since it used a Butternut Squash Bachamel…yeah I had no clue what that meant either…but I figured we could try it. I think it just means some sort of fancy puree/sauce? I don’t really feel like looking it up. Let’s just call it yum and stick to that.

Here’s the recipe with our changes because we just can’t resist making changes even if we’ve never made the dish before:

Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese (OUR FAVORITE RECIPE OF THE WEEK)

Adapted from Cooking Light SEPTEMBER 2011

Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

Hands-on:1 Hour

Total:1 Hour, 25 Minutes

3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1[1-pound] squash)

1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium veggie broth (we use Better Than Boullion – it’s amazing and less wasteful)

1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

3-4 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

A large pinch of salt-free Cajun Spice (our personal addition)

About 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt (I think I added a little extra)

1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese (We used Fontina as we had some on-hand)

1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

1 pound uncooked cavatappi or whatever pasta you have on hand

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley

Ingredients

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, Cajun spice and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère (or Fontina), pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined.

Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

5. Combine panko and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.
Tip: do dishes while waiting for each step to finish. (Clean as you go!)

This dish will be on our go to dishes, especially for company, mainly because of the number of dishes it required.

Tuesday and Wednesday

We went out for dinner Tuesday and on Wednesday we had burgers. “B” loves to grill pineapple and make his homemade guac to put on the burgers….yum! You NEED to try that combo.

Thursday

Normally we have salmon or some sort of fish once a week. We usually put a little olive oil on it and then salt and one of our two favorite salt-free seasonings (cajun or lamb seasoning –it has rosemary and other spices in it). This time we tried to grill it and we served it with left over mac and cheese (we placed the mac in a foil packet and grilled it) and a salad.

Friday

Another new recipe from Cooking Light. “B” says this must be served hot and don’t forget the green onions and seasame seeds (toasted). “F” thought this dish was just ok. It’s a good summer dish and allowed for great teamwork. One person made the sauce while the other cut up the eggplant and tofu. Oh teamwork in the kitchen is like a perfectly orchestrated symphony!

Grilled Eggplant and Tofu Steaks with Sticky Hoisin Glaze

1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 (1-pound) eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Preparation

1. Place tofu on paper towels; cover with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet; let stand 20 minutes. Cut tofu crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices.

2. Combine ketchup and next 6 ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until reduced to 1 cup (12 minutes), stirring occasionally. Set aside 1/2 cup.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

4. Brush oil over tofu and eggplant; sprinkle with salt. Place eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 2 minutes. Turn eggplant over, and brush with 2 tablespoons sauce; grill 2 minutes. Turn eggplant over; brush with 2 tablespoon sauce. Cook 2 minutes on each side.

5. Add tofu to grill; grill 3 minutes. Turn tofu over, and brush with 2 tablespoons sauce; grill 3 minutes. Turn tofu over and brush with 2 tablespoons sauce; grill for 1 minute on each side. Sprinkle with onions and seeds. Serve with eggplant and 1/2 cup reserved sauce.

Mark Bittman, Cooking Light
JULY 2012

Saturday

My brother and his gf as well as two of our local friends came over for brunch so we decided to make one of our classics and absolute favorite recipes! Veggie quiche with a potato crust!!

Spinach and Tomato Quiche with Potato Crust

2 medium Russet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into very thin disks (less than 1/8 inch)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained of all liquid (or we saute fresh spinach with garlic —tastes much better!)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small head of broccoli
 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1/2 cup cheese (any cheese you have on hand- cheddar is always great)
7 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layer the sliced potatoes in an even layer in the bottom of a pie plate or quiche pan, overlapping the edges a bit. Brush with the olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and slightly crisp. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the red pepper, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli and cheese. Spread mixture in an even layer into the potato crust, then place the tomatoes cut side down on top of the vegetables.

In another large bowl, combine the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Whisk until totally combined. Pour over the the vegetables. Top with additional black pepper, if desired. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted  in the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Two Mondays, Two Friday’s Grocery Shopping List

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Mac and Cheese!