Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zucchini Parmesan

I have a confession: I've never been a fan of eggplant. And by "never been a fan" I mean "thinking about it makes me want to gag." I'm pretty sure it's because of a dinner-gone-wrong from my dad when I was a kid...every time I think of eggplant I think of his Eggplant Surprise and it's not a memory I really enjoy reliving.

Suffice it to say that I've never tried Eggplant Parmesan. I love the idea of it: veggies dredged in eggs and crunchy bread crumbs and tangy cheese, then fried and topped with marinara? If only I could get past that eggplant. Well, with our bounty of zucchini from the garden this year I thought I'd try swapping out the eggplant for zucchini and see how it tasted. One word? Amazing. It was crunchy and perfectly seasoned and delicious. And I didn't feel bad eating it at all because it's chock full of veggies. Give this a try, I think you will love it!

Zucchini Parmesan
serves 2 -3

1 large zucchini (8 - 12 inches long), cut into 1/2 inch rounds
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup Italian season bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tb. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tb. butter
2 Tb. olive oil
marinara sauce
additional Parmesan cheese for topping

1. In small bowl, beat together eggs and milk. In second small bowl, combine bread crumbs, 1/2 cup cheese, and parsley. In third small bowl, put flour.
2. Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Dip each piece of zucchini first in the flour mixture, turning to coat evenly and shaking off any excess. Then dip in egg mixture and then in bread crumb mixture. Place in heated skillet and repeat with remaining zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until crispy and browned. Top with warm marinara sauce, additional cheese, and fresh parsley is desired.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies

Have you ever made chocolate chip cookies and just wanted to sit there and eat the entire bowl of dough without baking it? too. So when I saw the recipe for these cookie dough topped brownies I knew I needed to try them. Brownies. Cookie Dough. No raw eggs so I don't have to feel guilty about eating it. Sounds perfect, right? These are delicious and super rich so you only need a tiny piece to feel totally satisfied. Enjoy!

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies
adapted slightly from My Kitchen Cafe

9 x 13 pan of your favorite brownies, baked and cooled
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tb. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Cream butter and sugars in medium sized bowl until light and fluffy. add milk and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add flour and salt and beat until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls over cooled brownies and spread (I found it easiest to do this with an offset spatula dipped in cold water so it doesn't stick to the cook dough). If desired, sprinkle with flaky sea salt (I love that sweet/salty combo so I used just a little bit of sea salt on top, yum!) Refrigerate at least two hours so the cookie dough firms up and you can cut it (I cut the brownies with a pizza cutter dipped in cold water so it didn't stick). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Vegetarian Quesadillias

I know I promised a Zucchini Parmesan recipe, and that will be coming soon, but I made this for lunch today. And ate the rest for dinner. And I'm seriously contemplating having it for breakfast tomorrow. It is seriously the best thing I've eaten all month. It's hearty and filling. It's sweet, spicy, tangy, crunchy, and amazingly delicious. If you're like us and have a bounty of zucchini from your garden, whip this up. And if not? Find some. Immediately. It really is that good.

Sweet & Spicy Vegetarian Quesadillias
adapted from Prudence Pennywise

2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, miced
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup corn
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

For assembly:
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
6 tortillas (I definitely recommend the uncooked tortillas that they sell at Costco or Wal-Mart, bake them up fresh and they are a million times better than the regular ones you can buy at the store)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, jalapeno, zucchini, corn, and tomato. Cook until zucchini is completely cooked through and tender, about 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, lime, cilantro, chipotle chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 more minutes.
3. Assemble quesadillas by layering each tortilla with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with 1/6 of the zucchini mixture (1/3 - 1/2 cup). Heat until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy. (I also served my quesadillas with extra filling on the side as a dip/relish type thing. YUM.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Italian Pasta Salad

If you are like me, during the summer you have approximately 593,000 barbecues and potlucks to attend. I'm always trying to think of salads, side dishes, and treats to bring along with me. This is one of my favorites to make--it is quick, delicious, cheap, and it's always a hit. One of the great things about this salad is that it's very versatile. Swap out the olives for cucumbers. Omit the pepperoni. Change the cheddar for mozzarella. Use balsamic vinaigrette instead of Italian dressing. Leave out the crushed red pepper if you don't want it spicy. My favorite dressing to use on this salad is Kraft Roasted Red Pepper or Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. The possibilities are endless!

Italian Pasta Salad

1 lb. tri-color rotini, cooked and cooled
8 oz. cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (1/4 - 1/2 inch)
1 can (6 oz.) black olives, drained and sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 oz. pepperoni, sliced or cubed
1/2 bottle Italian salad dressing, or to taste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

Combined all ingredients and toss. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 8 hours. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Citrus Salad Toss

This is a great summer salad with lots of fresh fruit and veggies. My husband hates fruit in a salad, so he calls this "chick food." I have to agree, it is perfect for a baby shower, bridal shower, or girls night. You can easily make this a main dish salad by adding sliced, grilled chicken. Yum!

Citrus Salad Toss

8 cups baby spinach
8 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large orange, sliced or 1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges
1 pint strawberries, sliced
2 avocados, thinly sliced or diced
2/3 cup toasted or candied almonds or pecans (optional)

Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lime
1 Tb. sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Combine all salad ingredients except avocado and nuts. Toss gently.
2. In small bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients except oil. Slowly add oil while continually whisking to form an emulsion.
3. Add avocado to dressing and toss lightly (the citrus in the dressing will help prevent the avocado from browning). Add dressing and avocado to salad and toss gently. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Tip: if your red onion is strong or you just want a milder flavor, cover the thinly sliced onion with cold water for 30 minutes, then drain well. This takes some of the bite out of the onion for a milder taste.
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