Blog Archives

Friday Recipe Exchange: Sweet and Spicy from the Garden

DSC_4235 (1600x1060)

Photo by JeffreyW

It’s that time of year again when fresh, local peaches are everywhere and are a part of every meal at my house, so that had to be half of tonight’s exchange. The other half was inspired by JeffreyW once again tempting my taste buds with his pepper jellies. It’s been a crazy week here, between my birthday, work and getting the house puppy proofed there hasn’t been a lot of time for cooking, but tonight’s featured recipe is quick, easy and full of seasonal flavors. And peaches, lots of peaches.

Speaking of the puppy, I have no new pictures for you, but he’ll be here next week, so I’m pretty sure, mostly positive, even fairly certain, there will be puppy pictures by week’s end. On to the recipes…

If peaches are not your thing, JeffreyW has been busy making some of my favorite jelly. I love pepper jelly with cream cheese on crackers. Yum. And I envy his gardening and canning skills.

First his Red Ripe Jalapeno Jelly, recipe here.

And for his latest, Five Pepper Jelly, click here.

And of course he’s got terrific, mouth-watering photos for each.

Peaches don’t have to sweet to be delicious, they can be spicy, too. You can make a nice Peach Salsa (recipe here) or a tasty Peach Chutney to use with Grilled Pork Chops (complete dinner menu and recipes here).

Peaches are tasty with fish and Kirk Spencer has a great Peach Tilapia recipe here.

How about you, what’s on the menu this weekend? Anyone going to hangout and watch the meteor shower? Hit the comments with recipes and whatever.

The featured recipe tonight is Spinach Chicken Salad with Spicy Peach Dressing and it can be prepped ahead of time and makes a perfect dinner on one of those  late summer nights when it’s still too hot to cook.  The dressing will easily last a week in the refrigerator. And you can grill then refrigerate the chicken a night or two before when grilling another meal.

Spicy Peach Dressing

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or Italian parsley)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Purée all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Continue to blend, on low, while adding oil slowly. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate. Shake well before serving.

Spinach Chicken Salad

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb cleaned baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces crumbled bleu cheese or chevre

Place the chicken in a plastic zipper bag with ½ cup of dressing. Marinate 2 hours in refrigerator. Remove chicken, discard marinade and grill until cooked through (170 degrees at center).

Toss the spinach, onion, walnuts and cheese with the remaining 3/4 cup dressing. Slice the grilled chicken and arrange on top of the salad.

Serving: 4 to 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

About these ads

Dinner Menu: Herbed Fettuccine and Apple Salad

Apple Salad1

I’m still hoping for spring. It is suppose to get up to 80 degrees this weekend, I’ll believe it when I see it. Been busy with work, so not much cooking this week. This menu is quick and easy for those kinds of weeks.

On the board tonight:

  1. Herbed Fettuccini
  2. Apple Salad
  3. Sliced Strawberries w/whipped topping

Herbed Fettuccini

  • 9 oz fresh fettuccine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, torn
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan, grated or goat cheese (chevre)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 oz artichokes hearts (opt)

2 large saucepans, large serving bowl

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Next bring broth to boiling in second saucepan. Add green onion and spinach. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted. Add parsley, herbs, salt & pepper; mix well. Remove from heat; cover and set aside. Drain cooked pasta and remove to serving dish, cover and keep warm

In saucepan combine cheese, milk, and butter. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta; toss to coat. Remove from heat. Add vegetable mixture, hazelnuts, opt artichokes, half of the tomato to the pasta mixture; toss gently to mix, heat until warm through. Transfer back to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining tomato.

Apple Salad

  • 16 oz spring greens, washed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Fuji (or other sweet red) apples
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 oz toasted  slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

serving bowl

Layer greens in bowl.  Core and cut apples into large chunks.  Layer over greens, add raisins and nuts.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.  Drizzle over salad, toss, then crumble feta over the top.

Note: If you can’t find toasted almonds, heat a skillet, add almonds and stir constantly until they are lightly toasted.

=============================

Copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition

Bean Soup in a Frybread Bowl

DSC_7863 (1600x1060)I thought I would have a little fun with this recipe.  There are butter beans, pintos, and white kidney beans simmered with browned pancetta and ham cubes, sauteed spinach, onions, and diced tomato bits in the soup.  I made it pretty thick, no water added aside from what came out of the several cans.  The frybread bowl liner did soak up a lot of the liquid.

The frybread is about as basic as it gets – today I mixed a little milk and some water into flour, salt, and baking powder and stirred it until the dough came together.  Let the dough rest for a half hour then pat or roll it into a circle for frying.

Ribs and Fries

DSC_7844 (1600x1060)With a nice spinach salad.  Haven’t broken the gas grill out yet, these spent a good while in the oven at 300 or so.  Five hours, or six, with a rub I had leftover from an earlier project and a squirt of BBQ sauce in the last hour.  Used up the last of my par cooked cut fries – I’ll need to put jumbo potatoes on the grocery list and prepare some more.  I hope the snow stays gone from my spud cutting bench.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Christmas Eve Party

DSC_7514 (1600x1060)

Once again I am hosting Christmas Eve dinner. I try and keep the menu simple because I have a small kitchen and I like to spend time with my guests. I’m actually doing much of what I did last year, because it worked so well.  The menu will serve as tonight’s recipe exchange.  Thanks to JeffreyW for making lasagna this week so that I had an awesome photo to use tonight.

Christmas Eve Menu:

Appetizers –  Herbed Tomato Crostini (recipe here), vegetable tray

Main Event – Spinach Lasagna (recipe here), Salad, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Dessert - Truffles (featured recipe below), Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe here) and everyone’s favorite, a Sundae Bar

With the exception of the garlic bread, because I’m using gluten free noodles, the entire evening is gluten free and vegetarian. Everyone should be happy.

Dinner is at 6 pm, bring the wine.

That takes care of Christmas Eve, but what about Christmas day? How does this sound:

German Pancakes with Walnut Syrup (both recipes here) for breakfast and a Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Glazed Carrots for dinner (all those recipes are here and tips for perfect mashed potatoes are here).

How are your holiday plans coming along? Do you have a crowd coming? Share your favorite holiday recipes in the comments, I’d love to see what you prepare.

Now about those truffles. This was the first time I’d made them, though I’d thought about it for a while. How hard could it be? It’s basically ganache, right? That was very simple to make. The pain was making the actual truffles, a bit of work and very messy. But I think it was worth it and I’m sure the guests will enjoy them.

Truffles

Here’s the basic recipe, I then added pieces of walnut to the center of some, hazelnut to others and rolled them in either crushed walnut or hazelnut. The rest are rolled in either dark cocoa and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar kind of melted into them, so I’ll probably dust them quickly right before I serve them.

Chocolate Truffles

  • 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (I use 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, (optional)
  • 1 tbsp prepared coffee
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • Nuts, whole and finely chopped (optional)

baking sheet, parchment paper

Heat the cream in a double boiler until it’s hot, not boiling, and then add chocolate chips. Whisk together until fully melted, then remove from heat.  Whisk in the optional Grand Marnier, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Spoon a dollop of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. Roll each dollop of chocolate in your hands to roughly make a round ball. Roll in powdered’ sugar, cocoa powder, or both.

Makes about 48.

These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

cropped-flower_poinsettia_d2.jpg

Full Dinner Menu:Cream of Potato Soup, Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad and Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

The deep chill set in last week and shows no sign of leaving, so it had to be soup tonight. I just made a big pot of potato soup from leftover mashed potatoes and a few whole potatoes I sliced on my new mandolin to help get me through the big freeze. I thought it should then be the theme for tonight’s menu.

41jMQSx1-7L

I’ve been eyeing mandolins for a while and settled on one that would be useful for how seldom I would use it. So far I really liked it. I did invest in a glove to prevent adding my fingertips to any meal prep. So between that and the new camera, I’m hoping to wow you with some pretty plates in the coming weeks.

51l5xmVDeBL._SY300_

But until then, here is tonight’s full menu and shopping list:

================================

There’s nothing better on a cold night than Creamy Potato Cheese Soup.  I rarely peel potatoes, I scrub the skins thoroughly and that’s good enough for me. It also saves a lot of time and potato skins are full of good things. Yes, there is cheese, but milk instead of cream, and you can even use non-fat milk without noticing any loss. I threw the Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp in at the last minute, because to me, fall is all about fruit crisps.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Pears & Sour Cherry Crisp

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly

Filling:

  • 4 large fresh pears, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine pears, cherries, sugar, & cornstarch. Spread in baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 to 34 minutes, topping should be golden & pears tender.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 large fresh pears
  • 12 oz frozen pitted cherries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

Originally posted November 2009

============================================

Broccoli-Cheese Soups – Two Variations

_DSC2605 [1024x768]

Broccoli-Cheese Soup Photo by JeffreyW

I had decided to put together soup for the recipe exchange tonight and in my email this morning there was a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for Broccoli-Cheese soup. I’m posting it here because even though I’ve linked to it, you may not be able to get to it because their recipes often go behind a pay wall pretty quickly.

Then while I was searching to see if JeffreyW had a nice photo to go with it, I found the recipe he used by Emeril. Since I’m always up for anything Emeril, I’m posting that one, too. I don’t do broccoli, so you’ll have to trust JeffreyW, Emeril and the experts at America’s Test Kitchen on this one.

First up Emeril Lagasse:

Broccoli-Cheese Soup with Croutons

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup yellow onions or sliced leeks (white parts only, well rinsed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, thawed and separated
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded medium Cheddar
  • Croutons, for garnish

In a medium pot, melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme cook, stirring, until fragrant, for 20 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture is well blended and smells fragrant, 2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring, until tender, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a hand-held immersion blender. (Alternatively, in batches, puree in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.)

Add the cream and bring to bare simmer to heat through. Add the cheese and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter, stirring to blend.

Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle croutons over the top of the soup and serve immediately.

If you click on Emeril’s name above, there’s also a recipe for the croutons.

And from America’s Test Kitchen, a cream-free rendition:

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

We were after a soup with pure broccoli flavor that wasn’t hiding behind the cream or the cheese. Overcooked broccoli has a sulfurous flavor, but we discovered when we cooked our broccoli beyond the point of just overcooked—for a full hour—those sulfur-containing compounds broke down, leaving behind intense, nutty broccoli. Its texture was fairly soft, but that was perfect for use in a soup. Adding baking soda to the pot sped up the process, shortening the broccoli’s cooking time to a mere 20 minutes. A little spinach lent bright green color to the soup without taking over the flavor. After adding cheddar and Parmesan, we had a soup so full of flavor and richness that it didn’t even need the cream

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1- 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Table salt
  • 3–4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
  • 2 ounces baby spinach (2 loosely packed cups)
  • 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup),plus extra for serving
  • Ground black pepper

1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and baking soda. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.

2. Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring to simmer. Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

I’ve posted a few of the ATK recipes, ones I’ve tried and really liked. If you sign up for their emails, they send some great ideas.

Stay tuned….recipe exchange coming up later…

================================

Friday Recipe Exchange: Tomatoes Everywhere

DSC_8030 (Copy)

I emailed JeffreyW earlier this week and told him I wanted to focus on tomatoes today and did he have any favorite tomato pictures for me. Wow, did he. It was difficult to choose.  I thought the one above really highlighted what’s great about the peak of tomato season: simplicity. Fresh tomatoes from the garden, a little salt and pepper, that’s all you need for a great treat. Add some mozzarella and basil, toss with pasta and it’s dinner (recipe here).

When your bushel basket runneth over, then the ideas get a bit more, shall we say, creative? Anne Laurie sent me a link to a Tomato Recipe Contest, and the winner was Frozen Fattoush – a savory tomato sorbet served as a cold salad with cucumbers and pita chips. I know, I know, it seems crazy, but if you click here, it actually sounds tasty.  That recipe and all of the winners can be found here at the Washington Post in case you’re looking for some unusual ideas.  Many thanks to Anne Laurie for the heads up.

If you’re not quite ready for that much adventure, I have some more traditional tomato ideas.

JefferyW does a simple Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes over Pasta (click here).

A little something different to do with tomatoes and cucumbers: Cold Tomato Cucumber Soup (recipe here)

And salsa recipes, we have several:   Simple Salsa (here), JeffreyW Salsa (here) and if tomatoes aren’t your thing, why miss out on the salsas: Salsa Verde (click), Red Pepper Salsa (click), and Pineapple Salsa (click) are all tomato free. We do not discriminate.

What are you doing with your tomatoes this year (garden or farmer’s market fresh)? What fall produce are you looking forward to…for me it’s apples, yum. Hit the comments and share your harvest season recipes.

And finally, tonight’s featured recipe, one of my favorite soups:

Tomato-Spinach Soup

  • 14 oz of diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, cleaned (reserve
  • 2 thick slices of french bread or equivalent (optional, works well without, if you need to keep it gluten free)
  • 2 carrots (1 quartered, the other sliced)
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup water, as needed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan, fresh spinach leaves for garnish

blender, saucepan

In a blender, blend together bread, spinach, tomatoes and 1 carrot, until smooth*.  Add to saucepan with vegetables and spices.  Bring to low boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan.  Makes 2 generous servings.

*Blending the spinach, tomatoes, carrot and bread together gives you a nice hearty tomato base for the soup.  You can add some spinach leaves at the end if you like, letting them get limp but not overcooked.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Raiding the Garden

DSC_6445 [1600x1200]

JeffreyW raids his garden and comes up with a beautiful dinner

Back from my trip to Nebraska, where unlike Colorado, gardens are full of veggies to harvest. We had lots of fresh corn, peppers, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes with each meal. So I thought tonight we should raid the garden for recipes. If you don’t have a garden or it’s late to produce (I’m looking at you backyard garden), don’t forget your local farmer’s market or farm stand. I really like going to local farm stands, the prices are often more reasonable than a farmer’s market. Two of my local stands have Facebook pages where they list what’s fresh this week and even have coupon specials.

The lovely photo above from JeffreyW is what inspired the theme tonight. Here’s his simple solution for taking advantage of his prolific patio pots: Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes on Pasta (recipe here)

One of my favorite recipes during the summer is Grilled Sweet Peppers and Potatoes (click here).

And finally something a bit different and fun to do with all that zucchini and summer squash: Squash Confetti (recipe here).

And just a reminder, full menus are available on Mondays and this week the menu is all garden fresh (menu is here).

Well I’m off to the evening Art Walk, where my friends will be drumming and where the streets will be filled with local artists’ creations. Tomorrow is the RiverWalk – vendors, musicians, farmer’s market and lots of kids events along the St. Vrain river. What are your plans for the weekend? Planning anything fun on the grill? How is your garden coming along? Hit the comments and don’t forget to share some favorite garden recipes.

On to tonight’s featured recipes, Green Beans w/ Yellow Pepper Butter,  Spinach-Raspberry Salad and Spicy Fruit Kabobs:

Green Beans w/ Yellow Pepper Butter

Last time I was at the farm stand, they had four different kinds of green beans and I used a mixture of all of them in this recipe.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ yellow sweet pepper, seeded & shredded
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 oz chopped cashews
  • 16 oz fresh green beans, trimmed & cut
  • ½ yellow pepper, seeded, cut into thin strips
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan, steamer

Melt butter in saucepan, add shredded pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice & cashews, stir for 1 minute, remove & set aside. Add steamer to saucepan, add beans & just enough water to reach bottom of the steamer. Steam beans for 5 minutes, add strips of pepper and cook until beans are tender-crisp, additional 5-7 minutes. Remove steamer and drain water from saucepan. Add all ingredients into saucepan and heat 1 minute, tossing to coat with butter mixture. Serve immediately.

Spinach-Raspberry Salad

The easiest way to wash fresh from the garden spinach (and leaf lettuce) is to fill a sink with water and soak the spinach (swish it a couple of times). Pull it out and place it in a strainer, drain the sink and repeat. With the two soaks, all the dirt should sink to the bottom. Run through a salad spinner and you should have dirt free spinach.

  • 8 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ pint fresh raspberries
  • 4 oz chopped pecans
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 2 oz mild bleu cheese, crumbled

Serving bowl

Wash and thoroughly dry spinach & raspberries, add to serving bowl with pecans, toss with dressing and add crumbled bleu cheese.

Spicy Fruit Kabobs

You can substitute or add any fresh fruit you’d like in this recipe. 

  • 1 cantaloupe or honeydew melon, seeded
  • 2 pears, cored
  • 2 apples, cored
  • 2 bananas, peeled & quartered
  • 8 wooden skewers, soaked in water
  • ½ cup warmed honey
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup limejuice
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp chili paste

13×9 glass baking dish, blender

Cut fruit into large chunks, alternate fruit on skewers, ending with banana chunks to hold fruit in place. Place in baking dish. Blend together honey, water, lime, jalapeno & chili paste until smooth. Pour over fruit. Let set during dinner (approximately 30 minutes at room temperature. Grill over low coals 5-7 minutes, basting with marinade. Serve immediately.

See you next week.

============================================

Friday Recipe Exchange: Fun with Ricotta

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

I know it’s grilling season, but we’ll have all summer to talk about grilling recipes. This week I wanted to try out a recipe that has been tucked away and waiting for me to put my spin on it.

A while back, I asked you guys for a vegetarian meatball recipe, and you came through with some great ideas. Once I had the general concept down,  I thought it was time to flavor it up a bit more. So tonight’s featured recipe is a vegetarian spinach ricotta meatball. With that in mind, the recipe theme came into focus. The versatility of ricotta cheese, from main course to desserts.

To start, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has done it and you can click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.

He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe here)

I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here)

Moving on to dessert, a friend of mine has what feels like weekly potlucks at work and she often takes Apple Lasagna, recipe here, that is always a hit.

And finally from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above that can be found here.

Now that you have a bunch of ideas for that tub of ricotta, let’s switch things up before we get to the featured recipe. I’d like to know if you’ve ever made your own wine, beer or hard ciders. I’d like to know details, where did you get your ingredients and how did it all turn out? Besides that, what’s on your menu for the weekend?

Now on to the featured recipe. These a so simple to make and taste so good, it’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re very light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.

Veggie Meatballs

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

=======

  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Serve them with your favorite pasta and sauce. If you need sauce ideas, click here for Garden Fresh Sauce and click here for Awesome Sauce.

============================================

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 544 other followers