Zucchini Grilled Cheese

Zucchini Grilled Cheese


Over the weekend, as I normally do on Sunday mornings prior to running errands and grocery shopping, I was perusing Smitten Kitchen’s blog.  Over the years, Deb’s recipes have never failed me and coming off of a successful layer carrot cake high, I was eager to find another recipe to attempt.  With zucchinis being ever so present in June / July, I decided I’d try her Zucchini Grilled Cheese recipe.  Man, am I glad I did.

I won’t bother with rehashing the instructions and recipe as I literally copied hers word-for-word this time and it only involves approximately five steps and patience before you’re rewarded with cheesy, healthy(ish) goodness.  There’s the option to make them in sandwich form or, as an open face tartine, as I did.  If you ever need a relatively simple, vegetarian weeknight meal, this is definitely it!

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Homemade Pizza, from Scratch

A few weeks ago, my coworker shared with me her pizza secret — Trader Joe’s makes a pizza dough (that comes in regular, whole wheat, AND garlic + herb) that is easy to bake and yields pretty amazing results.  For $1.29, I’d say that’s a steal.  Making pizza, and especially the dough, has always been slightly intimidating but I figured I should give pizza dough-making a try in the wake of a successful baguette-making attempt (more on that in a later post); the fact that I currently have approx. 20lbs of flour at home (thank you, Costco!) also convinced me to try.

I’ve been loving King Arthur Flour’s recipe site and found a simple pizza dough recipe to try.  I ended up halving their recipe and was left with the perfect amount of dough to feed 3-4 people (the equivalent of two half sheet sized thin crust pizza).

While the whole process might seem time consuming and troublesome, I’d say it’s definitely worth trying at least once.  Worse case, if things go wrong, you can always run out to Trader Joe’s with $1.29 (+tax) and salvage dinner 🙂


 

homemade pizza

Homemade Pizza Dough (+ whatever toppings your heart desires) – adapted from KAF

What you’ll need:

  • 2.75-3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 0.5 tablespoon of sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoon of salt
  • 0.5 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 0.5 tablespoon of instant yeast

What to do:

  • Grab a big bowl and add in your water.  Then, add in the sugar, salt, olive oil, and instant yeast.
  • After giving the above solution a good mix until dissolved, slowly add in the flour.  I would start with 2.75 cups of flour and only add more if needed; you want a slightly tacky dough, not a super dryIMG_1893 one.
  • When all the flour is incorporated, lightly flour a flat surface and start kneading the dough by hand until you have a smooth, elastic dough; it took about 7-10 mins for this batch.  You could use a dough hook/stand mixer for but such a small amount (and such little kneading), it’s hardly worth the trouble washing the stand mixer.
  • Oil up a large bowl (you’ll want to ensure there’s room for the dough to rise) and set the dough inside.
  • Cover the bowl with a cloth/saran wrap, and let the dough rise for 1-2 hours (see? it’s a perfect, fast weeknight dinner!)
  • While the dough is rising, I use this time to prep my pizza toppings.
    • Easy Option #1 – caramelized onions, prosciutto, and parmesan (using olive oil as the “sauce”)
    • Easy Option #2 – basil, fresh mozzarella, + an egg (sauce: mix of tomato sauce, balsamic vinaigrette, + pepper)
  • When the time is up, gently remove the dough from the bowl and, with a knife, slice into two balls (each should be a little smaller than a half sheet baking sheet – assuming you make them thin crust).
  • Preheat your oven to 450F/230C.
  • On a lightly floured surface, slowly roll out ball #1 of your dough. You want to roll from the center, outward.  Roll it out, pick it up (carefully), lightly flour surface, and flip it over – repeat 2 to 3 times.
  • I find it’s easiest to get the dough to “stick” to your baking sheet if you lightly oil it up and then spread the pizza dough on it directly.
  • Pile on your toppings/sauce and when your oven has hit 450F/230C, pop it on in.  Bake for 15-18 mins (mine only took 15 mins this time).  You’ll know when the pizza is done; the crust is so thin, it’s really just a matter of the ingredients melding and “baking through”.
  • Bon appétit!
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(Petites) Pommes de Terre au Four

Need a simple side for dinner or an easy-to-make 4th of July BBQ dish? Look no further!


This particular dish was based off of Ina Garten’s Rosemary Roasted Potatoes recipe but lacking rosemary, I had to make due with some thyme that I had at home.  Prep took an entire 10-15 minutes but you’ll have to wait a good 45-60 minutes (the original Ina Garten recipe says 30 minutes but my baby yukon potatoes were still crunchy on the inside so I kept them in for another 15-30 mins).

Roasted Thyme Potatoes (the recipe is easily doubled, or tripled)

You’ll need:

  • 1.5 lbs of baby yukon potatoes
  • 3-4 tbsps of olive oil (and more if needed for basting)
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp of chopped thyme

What to do:

  • Give the baby yukon potatoes a good wash and trim off the ends of the potatoes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425F/215C degrees.
  • Next, taking a (paring) knife and holding the potato length-wise, cut from top to bottom within 1/4 inch of the bottom taking care to space out the slices approx. 1/8 inch apart.
  • Setting the potatoes aside, mix all the other ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Before setting the potatoes in the baking dish, roll them individually in the small bowl of olive oil/thyme/salt + pepper.   Line the potatoes up so the sliced side is facing upwards – as pictured above.
  • Pop the dish into the oven and set a timer for 30 mins; it took nearly 60 mins for mine to be done but it might’ve just been a glitch in my oven (I think I also had chicken in the oven at the same time for a short period).
  • Remove from oven, and enjoy! (we ate ours with a side of Kensington’s ketchup)

 

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Tarte aux Pommes

Tarte aux Pommes

While apples might be more associated with Autumn, I couldn’t wait to try out this (relatively) simple tarte aux pommes/apple galette recipe.  I adjusted it a little bit (i.e. the original recipe calls for making a glaze with the apple skins) but it still turns out wonderful – especially if eaten fresh out of the oven.


Ingredients:
  • 1-2 regular sized golden delicious apple (although I suspect most kinds would work) – you’ll want to peel, core, and slice the apples
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • 6 tablespoon of softened butter cut into 1/2 in. chunks (do not microwave <- you don’t want melted butter for good tarte dough)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter (this’ll be the glaze)
  • 2-3 tablespoon of chilled water (just pop a cup of water into the freezer for 15-20 mins prior to making the dough)
  • approx .1 tablespoon of sugar for drizzling

What to do:

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together (add dash of cinnamon if you want). Then, using either a pastry blender (or two forks work just as well), cut in the softened butter until you’re left with bits of butter no bigger than a pea and it’s well mixed.  Slowly drizzle in the chilled water (I was 2-3 tablespoons of water bc depending on weather sometimes you don’t need 3 tablespoons of water; adjust as needed).  Kneading the dough until everything is incorporated, pat the dough into a flattened disk (approx. 1 inch thick) and saran wrap/put in fridge for 30-45 mins (minimum) OR, if you’re in a hurry, you can freeze it for 15 mins (I’ve done it both ways and it turns out fine).

Then, while the dough is chilling, core, peel, and slice the apples. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Flour the table/parchment paper.  Roll out the dough until it’s approx. 8-10” (depends on how much dough you have – you want it thin but not overly so).

Spiral the sliced apples making sure to leave a 1.5-2” edge, drizzle a little of the melted butter (and cinnamon if you want). Fold the edges of the dough over the apples and drizzle the rest of the butter on the dough/apples.  Sprinkle sugar on the pastry dough and apples (approx. 1 tablespoons worth – but you can adjust how much you use depending on how sweet you want it to be).

Spiralized Apples
Spiraled Apples – surprisingly difficult to do

Put inside the oven for 45-ish minutes – rotating the tarte every 15 mins.  Should be done when the apples have a slightly caramelized edge/dough is golden-ish brown.

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10 Minute Recipe: Thai Basil Beef (with Rice)

I’ve been on a mission to find simple, delicious one pot wonders and stumbled across a Bon Appetit recipe for Thai Basil Beef.  I finally tried a simplified version of the recipe a few days ago and it was a success; Bon Appetit’s recipe called for a fish/soy sauce + lime juice drizzle which I did away with.

Thai Basil Beef
Thai Basil Beef

Ingredients (to serve 2):

  • 1/2 – 3/4 lbs of ground beef
  • a dollop of olive oil
  • 2 cups of chopped basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced finely
  • 1 cup of chicken/veggie stock
  • a dollop of chili pepper sauce (personally, I love Yank Sing’s Chili Pepper Sauce)
  •  julienned carrot (approx. 1 cup worth)
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

How do I make it?

  • Note: I served the thai basil beef with rice so before I started cooking the beef, I went ahead and started the rice in the rice cooker.
  • Add the olive oil and diced garlic and set to medium heat.
  • Once the oil is sufficiently hot, add ground beef and start browning the meat.
  • Season the ground beef and then pour in the chicken/veggie stock; let it cook on med/high heat for 5-10 mins.
  • Add the chopped basil and cook until slightly wilted.
  • Add the chili pepper sauce (as much as you want)
  • Cook until all cooked through then serve on top of rice.
  • Garnish the bowl with the julienned carrots, and enjoy!
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(Simple) Tomato and Sausage Risotto

I’ve slowly realized that I wander often into Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Felipe’s, or [insert grocery store of choice] with the best intentions…and depart with groceries bag full of vegetables, meat, and other misc. items.  What’s wrong with that you ask?  Well, all too often I don’t use 25-50% of the items I buy because none of them form cohesive dishes so I end up wasting food.

I’m been trying for the last 3 weeks where I actually sit down Sunday mornings and decide in advance what I’ll be making for the upcoming week’s dinners; I usually plan for 4-5 nights of cooking on the assumption I’ll end up eating out once or twice for dinner.  And surprisingly, it’s working so far.  The result is a nearly empty fridge (except for kitchen staples) by Fri/Sat.

One of the recipes I stumbled across during my Sunday morning planning sesh was Smitten Kitchen’s (yes, I love her website) Tomato and Sausage Risotto. I simply had to try making it since it incorporates all the major food groups: meat, a carb-y item, and veggies.


Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Tomato Sausage Risotto

What you’ll need:

  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed (SK’s recipe gave the option of sweet or hot sausage but since tomatoes have their own sweetness I went with spicy)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – I used Honig‘s Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 bunch chopped spinach, stems removed
  • Salt & pepper for taste, grated parmesan cheese for topping
  • 2 tablespoons butter

What to do:

  • Combine the canned, diced tomatoes with 3 cups of water in a small saucepan.  Bring to simmer and then just keep warm.
  • In a medium/large saucepan (this is where everything will go), drizzle some oil and add the diced onions with the Italian sausage.  Let cook for a few mins and break up sausage (mine had a tendency to clump together) until onions are slightly opaque.
  • Add the Arborio rice until it’s lightly toasted and incorporated.
  • Add the white wine and cook, over medium-low heat, until absorbed.
  • Now the fun part — slowly keep adding the tomato/water mixture one cup at a time and stir to incorporate; don’t add more until it’s mostly absorbed.  Keep going for the next 20-30 mins (felt like an eternity because it smelled fantastic).
  • Once fully cooked (creamy and tender), remove from heat and stir in the chopped spinach and butter. Salt and pepper for taste.
  • Serve warm and top with the grated parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy! Bon Appétit!

Tomato Sausage Risotto

 

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10 Minute Recipe: Bruschetta

Bruschetta

With the end of Summer coming about, and the heat wave we were experiencing last week in the Bay Area (yes, for us 90-100 degrees F is hot for us), I decided to change things up from the normal pasta/lasagna/rice I cook.  I’ve always loved bruschetta at restaurants and finally decided to try making it.

Ingredients/cooking-wise, it was really quite simple: a baguette sliced up, tomatoes (I used a mixed of grape and roma tomatoes, diced), sliced basil + mint, finely diced garlic, a dash of olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Begin by preheating the oven to 450 degrees, brush olive oil onto the baguette slices and bake for 5ish minutes. Take all the remaining ingredients and mix together.  Once the baguette is toasted, spoon out the tomato mixture on top and voila, you’re done. Enjoy!

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Sugar Chouquettes

IMG_20150506_181226

I had tried at the beginning of April to make chouquettes, following Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.  Of course, as most first attempts go, I wasn’t very successful.  Don’t get me wrong, they still tasted good (I mean, when does chocolate and sugar not taste good) but I had used large chocolate chips and as a result, my chouquettes refused to rise — see below.

IMG_20150409_203843

Fast forward a month and I thought I’d give them a try again today as they were so promising and seemingly simple.  This time, I was successful.  Recipe and picture(s) below the line.


Chouquettes, or sugar puffs

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 table spoon of sugar
  • 3 tablespoon of butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • if you so choose, 1 egg yolk & 1 teaspoon of milk for an egg glaze

What to do:

The entire process took about 30-35 minutes from prep to finish and is very simple.  Begin by combining & heating the water, salt, sugar, and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted.  Once melted, removed from the stove and stir in the entire 1/2 cup of flour; depending on how fast your oven heats up you can preheat to 425 degrees before or after you heat the butter.  Stir the butter/water/sugar/flour mixture until a smooth dough forms (and it pulls away from the sides of the pot).

Let the dough rest and cool for approx. 5 minutes. Once the 5 mins are up, beat in the 2 eggs until a more-watery dough/batter forms.  My dough was thinner the first time I made the chouquettes and both times they rose just fine.  Using a spoon or pastry piping bag, spoon out walnut-sized mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Smitten Kitchen calls for sucre perlé but as I hadn’t bothered ordering some in advance, I just piled on the sugar (regular, plain ole cane sugar) and it worked out just fine; you’ll want to make sure you really distribute the sugar/topping of choice as this puffs do expand.

Once portioned out, pop them into the oven and wait anywhere from 20-30 minutes — I think the 1st time I made them it took 30 mins, but today it only took 23 mins before they really took on the gold-brown crust you’ll want.

Enjoy!

xx

 

 

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Sriracha Shrimp Cakes et Sur la Table

As of today, April 8th, I’m now on my fifth day of being unemployed.  Between bouts of frantic job hunting and emailing just about everyone I know, my mind wanders to something very dear to me: food.  To be precise, “what will I be cooking for dinner?

I stumbled upon the lovely Sam Hopper’s Coconut Shrimp Cake recipe on Instagram yesterday (her bacon lattice avocado sandwich looks absolutely, on point) and decided that today would be the day.  After letting it gather dust in the cupboard of my kitchen, I would finally get some use out of my Cuisinart 8-cup Food Processor.   With my handy food processor, the shrimp cakes were a breeze to make and probably only took 20-30 mins from beginning to nom.

As an aside, the Cuisinart food processor is available everywhere but I purchased mine at Sur la Table as I absolutely lovelovelove that place.  Sur la Table has some awesome sales, periodically, and is a great place to go when one feels like doing a little kitchen splurging.

Back to the shrimp cakes.  I made a few tweaks to the shrimp cakes recipe as most recipes I found were on paleo sites and therefore called for the use of coconut flakes and coconut oil both of which are not kept in my kitchen.  The final result? They were boyfriend-approved and my tummy was happy, so I’d say it was a success.

Any suggestions on how to improve these shrimp cakes?  I’m all ears!


Sriracha Panko Shrimp Cakes

sriracha shrimp cakes with a side of bacon & balsamic vinaigrette salad
sriracha shrimp cakes with a side of bacon & balsamic vinaigrette salad

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of (defrosted) peeled + deveined shrimp
  • approx. 1 cup of panko (I suppose coconut flakes or bread crumbs would easily work too)
  • 1/4 cup of diced chives
  • 1 large egg
  • sriracha – a dash, or a few depending on your taste preference
  • 2-3 tbsp of coconut oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Add the uncooked shrimp into the food processor.  Using the “pulse” option, process until the shrimp is finely chopped (I may have overdone it a little).
  • Transferring the shrimp into a large bowl, add the chives, egg, dash(es) of sriracha, 3/4 cup of panko, and salt + pepper.
  • Mix until everything is evenly combined.
  • Using a large spoon (or utensil of choice), form your shrimp patties.  The mixture should result in 8-ish patties (as seen below).

Raw Sriracha Shrimp Cakes

  • Gently coat both side of the patties with the remaining panko.
  • Meanwhile, heat up the coconut oil in a large skillet and when it’s hot, drop the patties.
  • Cook on both sides, generally around 2-3 mins per side (although I err on the side of caution), until golden brown/crisp.
  • Serve while hot, and omnomnom away!  I chose to serve the shrimp cakes with a bacon and balsamic vinaigrette salad as, a) bacon is awesome, and b) the salad makes up for anything unhealthy I might’ve eaten during the day (or at least that’s what I’d like to think).
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Apples, Beets, & Kale – Oh My!

I was fortunate enough to work at Harmless Harvest for nearly two years – to this day I’m humbled by the amount of trust and responsibility the founders granted me.  Being able to say I worked for Harmless Harvest, the darling of the organic (& raw) food & beverage industry, opened doors for me and instantly provided a topic of conversation with whomever I ran across.

You learn quickly in the food & beverage industry that a) everyone knows everyone (or at the very least they talk) and, b) many people aren’t in the business merely to turn a profit – some, if not most, owners truly believe deeply in their product and care greatly about their customers.  While I could talk for days about Harmless Harvest, one company, in particular, captured by attention.


The Juice Shop

I met Charlie, one of the owners of The Juice Shop, during my Harmless Harvest days while making a delivery to the Real Foods Co. in the Marina.  They’d just opened a little shoebox-sized kiosk on Union St. featuring an awesome handcrafted wooden sign.  We started chatting and he shared the story behind The Juice Shop (which you can find here); The Juice Shop is family-owned and it’s not uncommon to find one of the brothers manning the shop.

They offer various juices and cleanses including: Coco-Chlorophyll, Bright Green, Liver Green, Pineapple Pear Chia, Beta Beet, Beta Green, Apple Lemon Ginger, Lemon-Aid, & Almond Drink.  The juices share ingredients commonly found in most healthy, raw juices such as: apples, kale, ginger, spinach, carrots, and lemons.

The Juice Shop - Bright Green
The Juice Shop – Bright Green

My absolute two favorites were the Pineapple Pear Chia & Bright Green (shown above).  The Pineapple Pear Chia tastes amazing – sweet, but not overwhelmingly so while the chia just adds a little something to the texture; of course, those not fans of chia seeds or tapioca-esque texture may want to try something else.  The Bright Green is perfect as it’s not too vegetable-heavy (the pineapple and apple do their job well) and is the perfect way to ease your way into more “advance” green juices such as the (A+) Deep Green.  If you’re debating whether or not to try raw juices (or cleanses), the Juice Shop is a perfect way to dip your toes into the figurative water.

I’ve watched them grow from their small shop to five locations throughout San Francisco and Marin; my favorite location is their (now-permanent?) pop up in the PROXY (Hayes Valley, SF).  They truly care about the product and their customers, many locations greet regulars by name, and I cannot wait to see where they go next.

 

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