For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Mediterranean Sautéed Zucchini With Cilantro And Onions

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

z5I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who gets tired of eating the same old vegetables the same old ways. I need plenty of freshness and adventure, especially where veggies are concerned. That said, I don’t want to spend my life in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove just so I don’t have to eat another boring salad.

This recipe is the solution to all that! It takes about 15 minutes to make, and an added bonus is that is actually tastes better when you let it cool to luke warm, so it’s a great dish to make ahead of time when you’re going to have all your burners going making your main course.

Ingredients: (For Two Servings)

1 oversized or 2 smaller zucchinis

1 small sweet Vidalia onion

2 large garlic cloves

1 handful fresh cilantro

1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon paprika (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon cumin (or more to taste)

1/4 cup water

olive oil

Preparation:

zChop zucchini. I cut it in half longways, third the halves, then cut rectangular pieces because I like the shape. Try to keep the pieces uniform in size for consistent cooking.

Chop onions and cilantro, wash and cut lemon, and peel garlic.

Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to a pan. (If at any point you feel you need to add more, z1do so.) Add zucchini and cook over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Turn heat down to medium and add onion, sautéing until translucent.

This next step is important. Add the paprika and cumin, and immediately (as in, have it ready at hand) add the water so the spices don’t burn. The water also helps the zucchini to finish cooking.

z3When the water is absorbed and the zucchini is cooked (you should be able to cut a piece in half easily with your cooking utensil), add crushed garlic, toss until mixed and fragrant, then remove pan from heat. Add cilantro and the juice from 1/2 lemon, stir, then plate to allow to cool.

To give you an idea of how much this recipe makes, the bowl in the picture at the top is the same size used to serve miso soup.

As always, if you make it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another recipe!

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Mediterranean Langoustine Seafood Pasta

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

m11By now you probably know that I could live on Mexican food. Or Italian. Or cheese. But my absolute favorite meal is seafood pasta.

Lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams – I don’t discriminate. Likewise, bring me your cream sauces and your scampis, your carbonaras and your marinaras, your wine sauces and your pestos, because I’ll eat them all. Happily.

But as much as I love a gooey, cheesy, thick alfredo, sometimes you want something lighter (and healthier). When that happens, this Mediterranean style pasta recipe goes well with most seafood and is a tasty, easy option.

Ingredients:

8 oz langoustines (or shrimp, scallops, etc.)

1 large shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, pressed

sundried tomatoes

Kalamata olives

capers

fresh basil

2 handfuls fresh spinach

pine nuts (optional)

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio)

salt and pepper or Nature’s Seasoning to taste

Parmesan cheese (optional)

cooked pasta of choice

Makes 2 servings

Preparation:

m2mI’ve only ever seen precooked langoustine, so if that’s what you’re using, defrost, rinse, and wring dry to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

Chop the shallot, sundried tomatoes, olives IMG_202007201_174338and basil, peel garlic, and gather the rest of your ingredients.

m3While your pasta is cooking, add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large sauté pan on medium high heat. When butter is melted, add shallots, cooking until translucent, then add garlic. Stir, add spinach, then stir again. When spinach is wilted, add sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, pine nuts, and 1/4 cup white wine. Mix and season, allowing to reduce slightly while m4m5straining your cooked pasta.

Add langoustines to pan and stir, allowing to cook until just heated. (If you’re using a different type of seafood, add earlier and adjust cooking time accordingly.) Add pasta, mix, top with fresh basil (and maybe a little freshly grated parmesan cheese) and serve.

                         m7 m8 m10

If you make it, I’d love to know how you liked it!

For more recipes, check the archives or come back next Friday!

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Greek Salad

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

gsI don’t know about you, but I love a good salad, especially a Greek salad. That said, with the number of lettuce recalls over the last few years, I’ve started making most of my salads without lettuce. And while I’ve learned to be rather creative, peeling zucchinis into ‘lettuce’ strips and shaving fennel, Greek salad seems to lend itself naturally to a lettuce free version. Besides that, this recipes is incredibly quick and easy!

This recipe serves makes 2 servings.

 

Ingredients (for the salad):

1 ripe tomato

1 cucumber

1 small red onion

sliced Kalamata olives

capers

feta cheese

optional: caper berries

Ingredients (for the dressing):

1/8 cup (1/2)  lemon

1/8 cup olive oil

1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1-2 teaspoons dried oregano

1-2 teaspoons sugar

1-2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper (or Nature’s Seasoning) to taste

Preparation:

gs1For the salad, chop the tomato, cucumber, and onion. Mix in a bowl with sliced Kalamata olives and drained capers. Top with feta cheese and the optional caper berries.

For the dressing, everything is to taste. Some like a sharper flavor, some a milder, so you do you!

Juice half a large lemon in a measuring cup (you should get about 1/8 cup lemon juice). I juice the lemon first because it makes removing the lemon seeds easy.

Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, pressed garlic and salt and pepper or Nature’s Seasoning to taste. Stir ingredients together with a fork.

The sugar helps curb the acidic nature of the lemon and vinegar, balancing the flavor nicely, but a little goes a long way. It’s easier to add more than take it out, so start sparingly, stirring and tasting as you go until you get the balance you want.

Dress the salad, and viola, it’s as easy as that. A delicious salad and home made dressing in less than 10 minutes!

As always, if you try it, please let me know how you liked it!

 

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavor ~ Guacomole

ff22Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of going to a Mexican restaurant (besides the margaritas) is when they make tableside guacamole. I LOVE avocados and guacamole is another one of those things (seems like there’s a lot of them) that I feel like I could eat my own bodyweight of everyday!

The only thing is, there are so many variations on guacamole that you can never be sure what you’re going to get. After years of experimenting, here is my favorite way to make guacamole at home.

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados

1 red onion

1 tomato

1 lime

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch green onion

cilantro

garlic salt

Preparation:

ff18Chop your onion, tomato and cilantro. Some people like chunky, some people don’t. I cut mine fairly small. Peel garlic and slice lime.

Scoop your avocado into a molcajete or bowl. A ripe avocado should easily separate from the rind with a spoon.

ff19Mash the avocado.

Add the juice from half the lime, some garlic salt (just a bit at first), pressed garlic, a handful of onions and tomatoes, and cilantro. Mix together, mashing a little. Only you know how much of each ingredient you’ll want. (I go much heavier on the onions than the tomatoes.) Taste.

ff20Adjust flavor by adding more garlic salt and lime. When you get the flavor how you like it, add green onions and stir. That’s it!

If you try it, please let me know how you liked it!

For Foodies: Friday’s Flavors ~ Scallop Ceviche

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Today I’m sharing my recipe for Scallop Ceviche which is quick, easy, and uses only 5 ingredients. I could eat this every day and be happy.

ff6I love scallops, and I’ll be honest here – I think they taste best raw, but my husband . . . won’t even try it. Not happening. I’m a sashimi girl and he’s a tempura guy, but we both love this recipe, which makes it a perfect compromise.

Ceviche is the Peruvian method of curing or ‘cooking’ seafood by marinating it in citrus juice. The citric acid actually changes the proteins in the fish, turning the flesh firm and opaque, similar to the way heat does. There’s a great article on the process over at Chowhound.

There are endless variations on ingredients, marinating times, spices, etc. – it’s not uncommon to add bell peppers, hot peppers like jalapenos or habaneros, and tomatoes -you can also use different types of fish, shrimp, and even octopus! But I prefer to keep it simple.

I’d like to note that while this recipe is gluten free and paleo friendly, people with certain health conditions shouldn’t try it. If you can’t eat sushi or raw oysters, then, unfortunately, this recipe probably isn’t for you.

Also, you want to find dry packed scallops. This means that there are no chemical additives, unlike wet packed scallops. The flavor is better, and you know exactly what you’re eating.

This recipes makes an appetizer or side dish for 2 people.

Ingredients:

6 large dry packed sea scallops

2 limes

1 avocado

1 small red onion

1 handful of cilantro

Preparation:

Slice the scallops through the eqatorial middle to make them thinner, then cut into chunks. I usually cut a large scallop into 12 pieces. ff7

Juice the first lime into your marinating dish. You’ll want one big enough to fit all of the ingredinents. (I used a  measuring cup this time – this recipe makes about 2 cups when all the ingredients are added.) Add the scallops to the dish, then juice the second lime on top. Stir and refrigerate.

Different seafood requires different marinating times. I let this marinate for an hour and ff8a half, stirring at least twice. After the scallops have been in the lime juice for an hour, chop the avocado, onion and cilantro. Add to the scallops, and stir to coat with the lime juice. Refridgerate for another 1/2 hour. Then serve! It’s really that easy!

Don’t be scared to play around with ingredients to tailor this recipe to your tastes and make it your own! If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think! And if you have your own ceviche recipe, I want to know what you’re doing so I can give it a try!

 

 

 

Mediterranean Zucchini Salad

image

Zucchini. A member of the summer squash family that is low in calories, a good source of fiber and potassium, contains a decent amount of antioxidants, and a bunch of other healthy benefits.

So why wasn’t I eating it more?

Because all the recipes I knew for zucchini were time consuming and labor intensive.

But . . .  zucchinis are great. If you do all your shopping for the week in one trip (like I try to do) zucchinis are one of those vegetables that stay fresh until the end of the week. So I came up with this simple recipe that turned zucchini into a quick and tasty option.

Ingredients:

  • zucchini
  • sweet white onion
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • feta cheese

I throw together a quick salad dressing of:

  • olive oil
  • rice wine vinegar
  • honey or Dijon mustard
  • pepper
  • Nature’s Seasoning
  • basil leaves

mixed to taste.

I use a Tupperware bowl because I always make enough for leftovers (this has become a favorite in my house). I use 2 large zucchini, which makes enough for about 4 servings.

First, mix the dressing or open salad dressing of your choice, chop the onions and sun-dried tomatoes, wash the zucchini and remove the rind. Then, drizzle some dressing in the bottom of the bowl and grate 1/2 of the first zucchini into the bowl using a vegetable peeler. Add a handful of onions, a sprinkling of tomatoes, some feta, and another drizzle of dressing. Repeat the process with the rest of the ingredients, making three or four layers. Then add put the lid on the bowl (tightly) and shake every direction and upside down. Voila! Zucchini ready to eat in less than 10 minutes!

image

Talking Tacos

wpt2There’s something about tacos – they’re fun, they’re tasty . . . they can also be trouble. As wonderful and delicious as they are, the filling can be full of greasy meat, saturated fat, and the amount of calories you’re supposed to eat over the course of a week. But don’t call the wha-mbulance just yet.

wpt

I tried something tricky the other day and got away with it. Better yet, I was in on it and still managed to fool myself. I used veggie protein crumbles instead of ground beef, and it tasted almost exactly the same – maybe even a little better.

wpt1The lack of beef fat was tastefully disguised by extra cheese and guacamole – both  of which I love. True, the addition of extra high fat and calorie toppings may defeat the purpose of replacing the meat with a vegetarian substitute, but this culinary experiment was geared more towards future reference than present benefit. The main purpose of the experiment was to see if my husband would notice. He said he did – but not until after I revealed the box, which was after his first taco had disappeared. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the experiment was a success!

 

Talking Tofu

wptofu1One of the downsides of this aging  thing is that you can’t eat what you used to. It seems like only yesterday that Pepsi and a chocolate doughnut (Entenmann’s, of course) was the go to breakfast of champions. Suddenly I’m being bombarded with enemies like cholesterol and sodium and trans-fats. Since I’m not just in charge of my own health anymore, I figured it was time to start paying attention and do what I could to make my dietary world a healthier place.

wptofu3

Thus, my friend Tofu was invited into the house. My brief experience with Tofu was during my pre-teen stint at vegetarianism. Impressively, it lasted a year. (Do I have to share that it was abandoned for a McDonald’s cheeseburger?) During this year, I cooked my own meals when my parents had red meat for dinner. I prepared a fair amount of tofu during this time, but I’m pretty sure I just doused it with salad dressing.

wptofu4

Now, I’m a good cook. I don’t feel the need to be modest with that statement. As good cooks know, you get to forego any modesty about your cooking skills in exchange for sacrificing being able to go out to a restaurant to enjoy a good meal, because most of the time you end up paying too much for a meal that you could have cooked better, and the person across from you keeps reminding you of that. I, of course, retort with my standard reply that every once in a while I require a meal to be served to me, without any effort or clean-up on my part, and if they know another way of that happening, I’d be more than willing to give it a try.

wptofu2

So, I can cook. And there’s tofu sitting next to a pile of chopped stir fry vegetables on my counter, thus the time has come to back the statement up with some action. I whip together a little Thai peanut sauce marinade, get my pan and utensils out, and then something weird happens. I get cold feet.

Half of cooking is instinct. The other half is experience. I am confident in my ability to know what flavors complement each other, in knowing what method of cooking to use, in knowing what wine to pair with the meal, but how long do you cook Tofu for? Do you just heat it? I tried calling on memory, but my lifespan has almost tripled since the last time I cooked Tofu. So I Googled it on my phone in the kitchen.

I then find out from a helpful blogger that Tofu should be pressed and drained for at least a half hour, if not overnight, before cooking. Whoops. Not gonna happen. The package says to store leftover Tofu in water. It makes no sense. I’m confused. I quickly sliced the Tofu, squished it flat between some paper towels, and read on. She goes on to say that you should then marinade it, so I pop it into my marinade right as I read that the water in Tofu doesn’t like oil, so you should use an oil free marinade. It seems to me that that little gem of advice should have come at the beginning of the sentence, but it’s too late, so I keep reading. I see cornstarch, which is good because I have some, so I pull it out and put some on a plate to dip the marinaded Tofu in.

wptofu

By then, I’m bored of reading what I should do. I’m a good cook, I probably won’t mess it up too bad. I’ll cook it until I feel like putting it on a plate. I cooked the Tofu my way, and it was good.

So what was I worrying about? My instincts didn’t fail me. They even whispered to me a surefire way to make the Tofu taste even better next time. Cook it with bacon.

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