Monday, August 31, 2009

Baked Egg with Prosciutto and Tomato

I enjoy cooking breakfast at home on Sunday mornings. It's one of my favorite times of the week. Well, I thought this week I would need to pass since I was still feeling super lousy (darn summer cold!). Then I thought - I know- baked eggs! I can handle that! I threw them together and hit the couch until the timer went off. Super easy!

A little effort breakfast dish that looks and tastes really good - Well Mark Bittman's baked egg with prosciutto and tomato fits the bill. Simply butter a ramekin, add a slice of tomato, followed by a slice of prosciutto, a leaf of fresh basil and crack a fresh egg over top. A little salt and fresh ground pepper and you are all set. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until the egg white is set. (approx. 12 minutes per the recipe) Note: mine took a few minutes longer.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Quesadillas

I finally lost my battle to the summer cold. I have been fighting it off for about a week. I don't have time to get sick! Too many things that I have to do, or love to do, or I just plain do! Well, I ended up with the worst sinus infection and double ear infection. Ugh! I had my weekend meals planned out but didn't have the energy to cook or do anything else for that matter...

This recipe from Cooking Light was perfect -
A) I had all of the ingredients on hand
B) It was super easy
C) It was spicy - so I could actually taste it
D) Best of all - it was delicious!

The roasted NJ corn was sweet, the goat cheese creamy, and the salsa, spicy - perfect and so easy! Definitely don't skip the fresh cilantro.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Quesadillas - Cooking Light, March 2009

1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear)
2/3 cup (5 ounces) goat cheese, softened
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 1 green onion)
10 tablespoon bottled salsa verde, divided
Cooking spray
Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Place corn in a small bowl. Add goat cheese to corn; stir until well blended. Divide corn mixture evenly among 4 tortillas; spread to within 1/4 inch of sides. Sprinkle each tortilla with 1 tablespoon green onions. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons salsa; top with remaining 4 tortillas.
2. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan clean with paper towels; recoat with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Serve with remaining 8 tablespoons salsa."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Birthday Dinner

When my husband and I first met *yikes* 23 years ago - okay we were really young ;) - he didn't eat anything. No vegetables, no ethnic foods, not even chicken... Boy has he changed - you name it he eats it or has at least tried it. One thing that has always been a favorite of his has been local seafood, prepared with a basic lemon butter sauce. So for his birthday, I made fresh flounder and day boat scallops topped with bread crumbs, a lemon butter white wine sauce, a sprinkle of paprika, and fresh parsley for serving. Smashed red potatoes and sauteed broccoli on the side. Simple and delicious.

As appetizers, I made grilled littlenck clams and eggplant, pesto, and tomato tarts that I saw on Stacey Snacks! So good - thanks Stacey!

For the Seafood:
Preheat oven to 400

In a small pot combine the following and simmer for 10 minutes.
1/2 stick butter
juice of half a lemon
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup white wine

Add seafood (I used flounder and scallops)to a baking dish. Sprinkle generously with dry bread crumbs. Pour the butter sauce over top and sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake until the seafood is just cooked through and the butter sauce begins to bubble. Top with fresh parsley and serve with fresh lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fettuccine Pasta with Prosciutto, Peas, and a Cream Sauce

Cooking for three - Day One... Well, I have survived my first born going away to college. I miss her but I am also so excited for her! I, still feeling a bit elegiacal, was in the mood for pure comfort food. What better than pasta, butter, cream, cheese, and delicious salty prosciutto?! Oh and a nice glass of red wine! I added extra peas and served with a nice salad. I can worry about the calories tomorrow!

Fettuccine Pasta with Prosciutto, Peas, and a Cream Sauce:

1 pound fettuccine pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup frozen sweet peas
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Set a large pot of water with a pasta insert over high heat and bring to a boil. Place the pasta in the water and return to a boil, being sure to stir the pasta until the water boils again.

While the pasta cooks, set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium high heat, and add the olive oil and the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onions to the pan and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Place the prosciutto in the pan and saute for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with wine and cook until it is nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add the cream, peas, salt and pepper to the pan and let the cream reduce by half, 4 to 5 minutes. If the pasta is not yet cooked, turn the fire off the sauce while the pasta continues to cook.

Strain the pasta from the water once it is cooked, and place in a large heat resistant bowl. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the cheese and the parsley. Use tongs are two large forks to stir the sauce into the pasta and serve while hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Off to College

This is my daughter's favorite dinner. She is leaving for college tomorrow - tears streaming down my face... Where did the time go? This dish is very simple yet awesome - no wonder it's her favorite. She is smart, compassionate, kind, witty, and generally awesome - I know that I am her mom, but it's true! I am going to miss her so much but know that she will accomplish great things! She has a great appreciation for home cooking, fresh vegetables, and healthy choices. I now have to surrender her dining to Sharples Dining Hall at Swarthmore College. I am so very proud of her -this is going to be a tough week...


1 pound uncooked penne pasta (I used farfalle)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vodka
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 (3.5 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage (I used sausage from Cherry Grove Farms)

Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

Adapted from All Recipes

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until brown. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown.
Add tomatoes and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Add vodka and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss for 1 minute. Stir in fresh parsley and serve!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Paninis with Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil Pesto

Like most people that love to cook, I often don't use recipes, a little of this, a splash of that, which makes it hard when trying to post a recipe. I have a huge collection of recipe clippings, bookmarks, cookbooks, etc. Some recipes I follow to the "T" (why mess with perfection). Other times, I adapt recipes to what ingredients that I have available or what suits my personal tastes. I'm usually successful when improvising but sometimes I fail miserably - my family can attest to that! Think chicken, wine, and bacon - didn't work! Pesto is one of those things that I don't follow a recipe to make. I found a recipe on chowhound that seems to be close to my ingredients and measurements - Thanks Kate!

I have a huge pet peeve for people that review recipes that they didn't follow - " I used ground beef instead of quail, garlic instead of shallots... the recipe was terrible. I see it so often that now I laugh and try to find the most outrageous examples!

The paninis are simply made from sliced Italian bread brushed with olive oil and spread with the basil pesto, a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, and a slice of tomato. These are inspired by Ina Garten. I finally broke down last winter and got a panini grill when they were majorly on sale. You could also use a grill pan or even a frying pan - just place a heavy pan on top of the sandwiches to press. Enjoy!

Homemade Basil Pesto
by Kate Ramos

4 cups tightly packed basil leaves (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (about 1 ounce)
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. With the motor running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until evenly incorporated. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pulse to finish incorporating all ingredients.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad

WOW - are we having a heat wave in NJ! I couldn't stand the thought of turning on the oven or working over a hot stove - so salad with chicken cooked on the grill - perfect! I actually cooked the bacon in the toaster oven, which worked out perfectly. I have been trying to make healthy choices and use only the best quality meats - looks like I slipped up a little with the bacon :). But, if I am going to eat anything unhealthy it will most likely be salty meat - think bacon, pork roll, salami... I so love my Jersey tomatoes - delicious with avocados and feta!

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad
Recipe Courtesy of

Serves 4.

6 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
1 medium head romaine lettuce (12 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons Vinaigrette
Grilled Chicken Cutlets, thinly sliced crosswise
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, thinly sliced, and cut into 2-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a medium skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.
In a large bowl, toss lettuce with vinaigrette. Place lettuce on platter; arrange bacon, chicken, feta, tomatoes, and avocado on top. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Makes 1 cup.

1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a small bowl or jar, combine 1/3 cup white-wine vinegar, 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons honey; season generously with coarse salt and ground pepper. Whisk or shake to combine. Add 1/2 cup olive oil; whisk or shake again. Store in an airtight container or jar, and refrigerate, up to 2 weeks. Shake before using.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dad's Tomato and Favorite Turkey Burgers

What a beautiful tomato! The color is just gorgeous - texture of a big beefsteak but superior taste! Grown by my dad in Belmar, NJ. He brought me his very first ripe one and it was so very good. I served it with *gasp* turkey burgers but these are not just ordinary turkey burgers, they are Martha Stewart's favorite! These are my family's all-time favorite turkey burgers as well. I also made them with the premium ground turkey from Whole Foods. Healthy and really delicious!

Favorite Turkey Burger

Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food (May/June 2003)

Serves 4.

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (93 percent lean)
1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Heat grill to high. In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine ground turkey with Gruyere, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper. Gently form mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties.
Lightly oil grill. Place patties on hottest part of grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move patties to cooler part of grill; continue grilling until cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes per side.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicken Scarpariello

Chicken Scarpariello

The sauce for this chicken is so delicious and spicy! My daughters affectionately call it "Chinese Chicken Pasta" - which they named it when they were younger - well it is actually an Italian inspired dish. I think that the corn starch as a thickener for the sauce is what makes it Chinese-esque. I rarely use corn starch, generally only to thicken stir-fry sauces. Well, anyway this is quick and so good! Buon Appetito or 请享用!

Adapted from:
Nicky D's Hot Chicken Scarpariello


6 to 8 boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
6 to 8 hot cherry peppers, chopped, or to taste (remove most or all of the seeds) or leave the seeds if you like extra hot!
1 can chicken broth (14.5 oz.)
3 tablespoons parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
juice of 1 lemon

Cut chicken into small cubes and toss in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil (just enough to cover bottom of pan, when hot add chicken and pan fry until slightly brown. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add garlic to the pan and cook until softened - about 30 seconds.

Add can of chicken broth, chopped cherry peppers, butter, 1/3 cup of wine, dash of salt and pepper, lemon juice, and cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook and stir for a minute or two.

Add browned chicken to mixture in pan back to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve with your choice of pasta.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grilled Eggplant

Sometimes simple is best, especially when you have fresh, top quality ingredients. I like to serve my grilled eggplant very simply with some sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and a drizzle of best quality extra virgin olive oil. I have also served the eggplant with some fresh mozzarella or sliced asiago cheese and roasted red peppers. A slice of grilled, crusty, italian bread rubbed with a clove of garlic on the side - perfect!

Grilled Eggplant

Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant in a colander and salt liberally with kosher salt. Leave the colander in the sink to drain for approximately a half hour. The eggplant will then have given off some of its moisture (and bitternes.) Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the eggplant lightly with olive oil and grill turning once until tender. I like to grill mine indoors on a grill pan.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

Who doesn't love a brownie? These were some of the best - rivaling favorites such as Ina Garten's and the King Arthur flour recipe. All good, but these just might take first place!

Inspiration: Annie's Eats - A beautiful blog - everything looks amazing!
Recipe courtesy of Baking Illustrated

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Food, Inc. - Post Review

Well, I am really glad that I splurged on grass-fed ground beef for my burger craving! I actually really liked the film (Food, Inc. - previous post) and did not find it to be propaganda-ish. I hate scare tactic type films, but did not get the sense with this one. My daughters and I saw Food, Inc. at The Showroom in Asbury Park. The theater has been open for only 4 months. We found it to be a cute venue - $8 tickets, a small viewing room, nice crowd, after-movie panel discussion and free gifts- not too bad! I would categorize myself as a "quirky-conservative." I tend to be conservative in basic values but I am also open-minded. I basically believe in small-government and people helping people - in a nutshell. I am definitely a locavore - I learned today that the term actually made Merriam Webster! I am not at all radical but live responsibly and treat others as I would like to be treated. The film made some very good points - but I wasn't shocked by most of it. I stopped buying supermarket ground beef and oversized chickens long ago - they seem unnatural and kind of gross. I was sort of surprised by the soy bean information and repulsed by the level of animal and worker cruelty. Overall, I'm glad that I saw the film. I will need to rethink my purchases of supermarket chicken and pork - I already avoid most of the film's worst offenders. Tonight's dinner is pasta with local eggplant!

Grilled Hamburger Craving

I realized that summer is almost over and I have not had a hamburger all season. We really do not eat ground beef - but I was just kind of craving a classic burger and some NJ corn on the cob. So my daughters and I headed out to the Red Bank farmer's market this morning and picked up some organic, grass-fed, ground beef from Cherry Grove Farm and some fresh hamburger buns from the Lithuanian bakery. I mixed the beef with a little olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Grilled up and seved with cheese, diced onion, lettuce, and tomato - classic. Some perfect, sweet, white corn from Samaha's in Aberdeen - perfection! I am going to miss summer!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Love New Jersey - well at least the farm-fresh vegetables!

Happy Friday! How beautiful is my "haul" of fresh NJ vegetables that I picked up at the farmstand on the way home from work?! Oh and it gets better - $18 total. My daughters and I are planning on seeing Food, Inc. over the weekend (Sunday, in Asbury Park). I am stocking up on fresh veggies, I don't think that we will be in the mood for meat anytime soon :) If you haven't heard about it - check it out

Tomorrow is Julia Child's birthday - I will definitely be posting one of her recipes this week. I just loved her! Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baja Fish Tacos

Summertime and fish tacos - something is just so right about that combination. Well, these tacos may have originated on the "other coast", but we certainly love them here in NJ! Thanks California!

Baja Fish Tacos
Adapted from Fisherman's Market and Grill

For the fish:
4 Cod Fillets cut into 2 inch pieces
1 box tempura batter mix
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/2 cup beer

Add the box of tempura batter to a mixing bowl. Toss the cod filets in the dry tempura batter mix, shaking off excess. Set aside on a plate. Next, add the water and beer to the remaining mix (approx. 2/3 package). Whisk to combine - batter should be lumpy. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat until hot enough to fry. Dip the cod filets into the tempura batter and then immediately into the hot oil. Fry until crisp and browned. Turn filets over and cook until browned on the other side. Drain fish filets on a wire rack or on a plate lined with paper towels.

For the cilantro slaw:
4 cups fresh shredded cabbage
4 sliced green onions
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil and lime juice. Toss in the remaining ingredients, cover, and refrigerate until time to serve.

For the white sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. garlic salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve the beer battered fish filets with corn tortillas, the cilantro slaw, the white sauce, lime wedges, and your favorite hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot- for me!) I served the tacos with black beans and rice. So very tasty! Success! My family loved this dinner!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Crustless Quiche

NJ farm fresh eggs + half and half, shredded gruyere, shredded parmesan, and a pinch of cayenne = delightful! Mark Bittman's "deconstructed quiche" recipe is super easy and delicious. I love that they are baked in individual ramekins - the ramekins that I have happen to be heart shaped - I know, but they are LeCreuset and they were majorly on sale!

Crustless Quiche
Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman

1 cup cream, half-and-half, milk or a combination, gently heated just until warm
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup grated Emmenthal, Gruyère, Cantal or a combination
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or hard pecorino
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Butter as needed.

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees and set rack in middle of it. Combine all ingredients except butter and beat until well blended.
2. Pour into 4 to 6 buttered ramekins (or a buttered gratin or pie plate) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until almost firm; it should still jiggle just a little in middle. Cool on a rack, then serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Grilled Shrimp with Feta, Cilantro and Lime

I found this fantastic sounding recipe on with all ingredients that I had on hand. I changed it up a little based on the reviews and my personal taste. First, I doubled the recipe, witht the exception of the olive oil (8tbsp. instead of 12.) I also added 1 large chopped tomato - who could resist adding a beautiful NJ tomato at this time of year? I also added 1/4 tsp, crushed red pepper flakes- I always love a touch of heat. I cooked everything on a grill pan and combined with orzo. This was easy and fantastic! Mediterranean - Mexican fusion? Well it works - Enjoy!

Grilled Shrimp with Feta, Cilantro and Lime
As adapted from Bon Appétit
Yield: Serves 4
8 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
24 large uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined
4 1/2-inch thick red onion slices
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 large tomato diced
Mix first 3 ingredients and 2 tablespoons cilantro in large bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or grill pan. Remove shrimp from marinade. Season shrimp and onions with some of marinade. Grill onions until tender and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Add shrimp to grill; cook until pink, about 2 minutes per side. Coarsely chop onions. Bring marinade to boil. Mix in onions, chopped tomatoes, cheese and remaining 3 tablespoons cilantro. Spoon onion mixture over shrimp. Mix with cooked orzo. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce

Ahhh... August in NJ - hot days, cool nights....I was so in the mood for something summery and light. My inspiration for tonight's dinner was fresh cilantro and boneless pork chops on sale for $1.98 lb. (Foodtown). I recalled favoriting a pork chop recipe from Sounded perfect! The suggested accompaniement was Quinoa with Black Beans and Tomatoes. Well - huge success! My daughters who are not big meat eaters proclaimed that this was the best pork recipe ever. My more carniverous husband loved the quinoa - success! - restaurant quality, budget friendly, and healthy. Perfect summertime meal!
Note: I followed the pork chop recipe pretty closely but upped the garlic to 2 cloves - we are garlic lovers. I cooked the quinoa according to the package instructions instead of steaming - I'll give steaming a try next time!

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet 2007

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2)
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 (1/2-inch-thick) boneless pork chops

Whisk together lime juice, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking well. Whisk in cilantro.

Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Oil grill rack, then grill pork chops, covered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total. Serve drizzled with some vinaigrette, and with remainder on the side.

Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet July 2007
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quinoa
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don't worry if lid doesn't fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.
Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Eggplant, Mermaid Style

I love eggplant and I love Mario Batali - the great Iron Chef - oh how I miss Molto Mario! I loved to watch Mario speak of the history, culture, etc. of Italian food. His dishes at times are a little complicated for the home cook but not always. I always learned something from his show and felt his passion. Well, I was a "foodie" long before "foodie" was coined. I grew up loving local farm markets, watching Julia Child and *gasp* "The Galloping Gourmet." I have a large cookbook collection ranging from church and local cookbooks to best sellers (and everything in between). Out of TV personalities, I love Sara Moulton, Martha Stewart, Lydia Bastianich, Michael Psilakis, Giada DeLaurentis, and Ina Garten. I find most of the Food Network completely unwatchable at this time - though I was sucked in by the Next Food Network Star and I kind of love Chopped!

Well here is a great Mario recipe that is simple and really good!
Eggplant Mermaid Style (Melanzane Alle Sirenuse)
Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali

2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into 1/2-inch thick medallions
1 pound fresh mozzarella di bufula, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
12 leaves basil
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch dice, with juices
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Place eggplant slices on a sheet tray and bake for 15 minutes, until light golden brown.
Form sandwiches out of the eggplant slices and cheese, placing one slice of cheese between two eggplant slices. Dredge each sandwich in the flour and dip in the egg. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until almost smoking, and fry the sandwiches until golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
Arrange sandwiches in a ceramic pie pan and distribute the basil leaves evenly over the sandwiches. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste, and spoon them over the sandwiches. Sprinkle each sandwich with Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for 17 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.
PS: I've gotten buffalo mozzarella from Costco.

Eggplant on Foodista

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light

The inspiration for tonight's dinner was the beautiful cucumbers and tomatoes from my friend from work - Thanks Tony!! Fresh NJ vegetables - nothing beats them! Feta-stuffed turkey burgers with a tzatziki-esque sauce- quick, healthy, so good!

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
Cooking spray
1/4 cup grated English cucumber (or regular with seeds removed)
1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
4(1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
4 green leaf lettuce leaves
4 (2-ounce) Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns

1. Combine first 6 ingredients. Divide mixture into four portions. Indent center of each portion; place 1 1/2 tablespoons feta into each. Fold turkey mixture around cheese; shape each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
2. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side.
3. Combine cucumber, yogurt, and mint in a small bowl. Arrange 1 turkey patty, 1 tomato slice, 1 lettuce leaf, and 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture on bottom half of each roll. Top with top halves of rolls.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Falafel Fix

Sometimes I just crave a falafel - chick peas, cilantro. parsley, cumin......pita bread, tahini sauce, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato... yum..... I like the adapted recipe from Cheap, Healthy, Good. Super easy, healthy and saves gas - since I don't have any Middle Eastern restaurants nearby!

As adapted from Cheap, Healthy Good (love the blog!)

Falafel Hot SauceRecipe courtesy of "Recipes for an Arabian Night" by David Scott

About 2 cups canned tomatoes
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
1 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. brown sugar
Chili sauce to taste (1/2 tsp. makes a mild sauce; 1 tsp., a hot one)
Salt to taste
Put all the ingredients into a small, heavy pan, bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered until the tomatoes break up (about 30 minutes). Adjust the seasoning and allow to cool. Makes 2 cups.
From "Recipes for an Arabian Night" by David Scott

Tahini Sauce by Saad Fayed (
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Preparation:In a food processor or mortar and pestle combine garlic and tahini. Add kosher salt. Remove from food processor and add olive oil and lemon juice. If too thick, add a teaspoon of warm water until desired consistency. Mix in parsely. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Note: the first time I made tahini sauce, I thought that I did something wrong because it didn't come together nicely - all separated. Just keep adding water until it comes together and is a nice saucy consistency.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

The farm market had some gorgeous locally grown eggplants for 99 cents per lb. I love eggplant - I make it so many different ways but tonight I went with classic eggplant parm. Simple, delicious - Italian comfort food. I like to cook the eggplant in the oven - same great results with less oil and less mess. The eggplant can be cooked all at once and no messy stovetop! I also love this marinara recipe - so simple and so very good. No need to ever buy jarred marinara again. The sauce can be made ahead of time and freezes well.

For the eggplant:

1 eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
seasoned flour for dusting
1 egg whisked with a tbsp. of water
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a baking sheet or jelly roll pan and generously coat it with olive oil. Place the pan in the oven to heat the oil. Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/2 inch rounds. Next lightly dust the rounds with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Next dip the eggplant into the egg wash mixture and finally coat with the seasoned bread crumbs. Remove the hot pan from the oven and add the eggplant in a single layer. Bake until crisp and lightly browned on the bottom. Flip the eggplant and return to the oven until the other side is browned as well. Remove from the oven and place the eggplant in a casserole dish, add marinara sauce and freshly sliced mozzarella cheese and return to the oven until the cheese has melted. Serve with marinara topped pasta and a green salad. Buon Appetito!

Marinara Sauce
Adapted from Rao's recipe

2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3tbs. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
6 leaves fresh basil, torn
pinch dried oregano

Place oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft - approx. 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until softed - about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Stir in the canned tomatoes and season to taste with kosher salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer until thick (about an hour). Stir in basil, oregano and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Honey's Sit' N' Eat and Buffalo Chicken Pizza

We were in Philly on Thursday night and were planning on stopping at Soho pizza and getting a slice of buffalo chicken pizza. A guy from work highly recommended it. Well, we ended up having dinner at Honey's Sit' N' Eat - a Texan-Jewish fusion BYO on 4th St. I know Southern and Jewish? Well, let me tell you it is working for them! They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day. My husband and I opted for dinner and shared Brisket Frito and Mahi Mahi Tacos. Both were really delicious and the service was super friendly and efficient. They even gave us a giant chocolate chip cookie on the house- so good! All of the desserts are made on premises and looked crazy delicious. Wish I had the camera with me! And best of all - our check came to $25 - hard to beat, especially in the city. We loved our dinner but I still was craving a slice of buffalo chicken pizza - so I made it last night!

I made my basic pizza dough recipe but used hot sauce instead of marinara. Topped with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, breaded, pan-fried chicken cutlets (sliced into strips) and tossed in hot sauce to coat. I drizzled blue cheese dressing on once the pie was out of the oven. I'll have to check out Soho one day - but this did not disappoint!

Hot Sauce:
4 tbs. melted butter
2 cups Frank's Red Hot Sauce
Combine together in a sauce pan over low heat.

Place flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs in three separate shallow bowls Coat chicken with flour. Tap off any excess, then dip in the eggs, then the breadcrumbs, being sure to get an even coating. Pan fry in about a 1/2 inch of peanut oil until nicely browned. Drain the chicken on a plate with paper towels. Toss the chicken in the hot sauce to evenly coat.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mediterranean Frittata

I used the fresh ingredients that I had available and made this delicious frittata this morning. Mediterranean-inspired, healthy and quick. Yes, Jersey tomatoes and basil!

8 farm fresh eggs whisked with a little water
1 tbs. olive oil
3 green onions sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 large tomato chopped
pinch of dried oregano
salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup sliced olives
1/2 cup feta (crumbled)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Preheat broiler.
Whisk the eggs and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, tomatoes, basil, and oregano and saute in the olive oil until cooked down and slightly softened (approx. 3 minutes). Next, add the whisked eggs, stir gently and cook until mostly set (slightly runny on top). Top with crumbled feta and sliced olives. Place pan under the broiler until lightly browned. Watch closely, this will only take a few minutes. Top with some fresh basil and sliced olives for garnish. Serve immediately. Enjoy!