Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stir fry

Unfortunately, this was not a favorite of Justin's - but I thought it was delicious!!  There was no meat and I used pappardelle noodles (wide noodles) and JD does not like any type of noodle that isn't spaghetti or especially angel hair.  We all have our quirks... I decided to finally be selfish though and go for the pappardelle, which had been sitting in my cabinet for about a year!! 

1 head broccoli - chopped
1/2 cup broccoli/carrot slaw
2 leeks - sliced
2 eggs - scrambled
3 green onions - sliced
1/2 cup cilantro - chopped
3 tbls butter
pappardelle noodles (not sure how much I used, but I think it was around 5 "nests")
Kung Pao stirfry sauce

Saute the first three ingredients until crisp tender.  Move the veggies around until you have a free space to crack the eggs into the pan.  Scramble the eggs and mix with the veggies.  Add the the butter and then the cooked noodles and the sauce and toss to mix.  Top with cilantro and green onions.  Super easy and really good!!  It tasted just like Pad Seew at Thai restaurants (my favorite!).

Grilled pizza

I know I should really stop being so lazy (and so scared) and just make my own pizza dough.  It tastes so much better when it's fresh and it's worth the extra time (yes, E & C, this excuse is for your beneift, lol).  BUT, I AM lazy and never remember a day in advance to make the dough; it's always an idea I have after work when I start thinking about what to make for dinner.
With that being said, having grilled pizza one night a week has started to become our weekly habit.  Especially now that we have the grill and it really makes the dough crispy!
I have started shopping at Sweetbay... gasp!  I was not happy about the transition - at first.  I was a die hard Publix shopper and you couldn't convince me that any other store could compare... I felt very superior when shopping at Publix and I was not ready to step down from my soap box.
BUT, times have changed and money is more scarce than ever it seems (aren't you only supposed to be struggling fiinancially in your 20's??  I thought for sure my life would drastically change in my 30's and all of a sudden money would be no object... *sigh* but I digress), so after much poking and prodding, the ole' hubster convinced me to at least give Sweetbay a try.
Long story short, after many trips to Sweetbay, I have grown to appreciate them.  The stores are never busy, they are clean, they have better carts that Publix and honestly, the ease at check out is actually better than Publix!  Which is saying a lot because that's kind of what Publix has going for them - lots of open lines and friendly cashiers and baggers.  And of course above all else, the prices are SO MUCH better!!!  I'm talking like, 1/3rd of the price.  We figured out that on average Publix's groceries are about $3.25-$3.75 per item, where at Sweetbay it is about $2.25 - $2.75.  HUGE savings!!!  I got all of my groceries the other day for $63 and whenever I did that at Publix, I was spending anywhere from $150 - $250!!
Publix did have a few things though that Sweetbay did not - raw pizza dough, fresh pasta, fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.... or so I thought. 
I had already resigned myself to going to Publix for these specific little "treats", until the other day when I found the special spot!!  I don't know how I missed it all of those other times (on second thought - their bargain wines are across the aisle, so maybe that's where my attention was....?), but there it was.  A little cart with all of the above-mentioned items!! 
So Publix, consider this as me sticking it to the "man"... I am happy with the little underdog that is Sweetbay.  :)

Grilled pizza
We had to get creative last night for Justin's pizza because, gasp! (again), we didn't have any pepperoni!  I honestly thought he might just not eat, so great is his love and devotion to pepperoni.  BUT, he was a good sport and we ventured into new ground.

Justin's pizza:
6 green olives - chopped
1 clove of garlic - sliced
1 small tomato - chopped
3 pieces of bacon - crumbled
6 small slices of fresh mozzarella (we got the good stuff from Mazzaro's Italian Market - freshly made on Sat.!)
1/4 cup marinara (we used San Marzano's Arrabiata and it was terrific!)
1/4 of a pizza dough ball
My pizza
1 tomato - chopped
1 clove of garlic - sliced
5 small slices of mozzarella
1/4 cup marinara
1/4 of a pizza dough ball


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stuffed peppers... again

At the store, I found these super cute little red peppers.  I wish I could tell you what kind they were, but there wasn't a sign.  All I know is that they were of medium heat and cute as a button.

Vegetable cream cheese

Mix and stuff peppers.  Grill over high heat until the pepper is charred.


2 Hass avocados
2 tbls sour cream
2 tbls salsa
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp s&p

Mash avocados and mix with the rest of ingredients in.

Stack 'em

After about two weeks of grilling 90% of our dinners, I decided that the grill needed a break.  Time for the stove and oven!

Veggie Stacks

2 rounds of sliced eggplant
2 rounds of sliced green tomato
2 rounds of sliced zucchini
4 slices mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup favorite marinara sauce
1/2 cup flour
1 egg - whisked
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Dredge veggie slices in flour, then egg wash, then bread crumbs. 
Heat 1 tbls evoo over medium heat.  Pan-fry the veggie slices until golden brown on each side.  Then place in the oven at 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and make stacks of green tomato, cheese, eggplant, cheese, zucchini.  Bake until cheese is melted.  Remove stacks from the oven and pour your favorite marinara sauce (heated) over the top.  Delicious!!

Grilled burritos

Thinking outside the box and trying to come up with new recipes to grill, I decided to grill burritos!
For my vegetarian burrito:
1 large flour tortilla
1 red bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 can black beans
1/4 cup refried beans
2 tbls shredded cheese
1 onion - chopped
2 garlic cloves - chopped
1/2 packet taco seasoning

Heat the grill on high and place peppers right on the grate.  Grill until blackened on all sides and place in a sealed bag.  Let them steam for about 5 minutes and then remove from the bag and peel off skin.  Slice the peppers into strips.
While the peppers are charring, using the side burner of the grill, I sauteed the onion and garlic until the onions were traslucent.  Add the can of black beans (washed) and half a packet of taco seasoning (or to your taste). 
Once the beans are cooked through and the peppers are ready, set up your burrito-making station.  Take the flour tortilla and smear the refried beans on the shell, add the cheese, then the black beans and finally the sliced peppers.  Tuck in two sides and then begin to roll up.  Place rolled burrito onto the grill and grill on both sides until there are grill marks and golden brown.  Enjoy!

JD's carnivore burrito:

1 flour tortilla
2 raw chicken tenders
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup arugula

In a baggie, place the chicken and about 2 tsp of water and the taco seasoning.  Let "marinade" for 30 min.  Grill the chicken until there are grill marks. 
Take the flour tortilla and cover with cheese, the chicken and the arugula.  Roll and grill on both sides. 


Monday, June 4, 2012


We have been blessed with three fruitville tomato plants!  We even got a twin-cherry tomato!

Easy appetizer on the grill

A very easy appetizer for the grill is a quick bruschetta.

4 Baguette slices - 1/2"
spray butter
4 basil leaves
4 tomato slices
4 mozzarella slices

Spray each bread slice with spray butter on both sides and grill the bread on one side until golden brown.  Flip and place tomato, basil and mozzarella slices on top of the bread and grill until the cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

Eggplant - two ways

Aside from portobello mushrooms, what other veggie will hold up to the fire and is perfect for grilling?  Eggplant!  Here are two recipes for grilling eggplant:

Eggplant parmesan

4 slices eggplant - 1/4" thick
1 tbls evoo for brushing
2 oz. spinach
1/2 cup marinara
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Brush each slice (both sides) with evoo, sprinkle with s & p.  Grill on both sides until softened.  In a pot (we used our side burner), combine the spinach and the marinara sauce and cook until spinach is wilted.  Top each eggplant slice with spinach/marinara and then top with cheese.  Grill until cheese is melted.

Aubergine and pepper spread

1 aubergine (eggplant) sliced
1 bell pepper
1 clove garlic - minced
1 tomato - chopped
2 tbls evoo
1 tbls red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbls parsley
s & p

Grill eggplant slices until softened and roast the bell pepper on an open flame until all sides are charred.  Take the pepper and place in a bag (paper is best) and let it steam for about 5 - 10 minutes.  Remove pepper from bag and peel off skin.  Chop the eggplant and pepper and place all ingredients in a food processor.  Puree until chunky.  Serve with baquette slices.


We have had a lot of luck with our basil plant and it has gotten huge!  Unfortunately though, it started looking a little "leggy" and the lower part of the plant wasn't producing anything, only the top.  In an effort to encourage more lower, fuller growth, we snipped most of the tops of the plant.  This is how we ended up with so much basil!!
What to do with too much basil?  The obvious: PESTO!  I have tried to be more creative with our basil this year and have tried out recipes for strawberry/basil margaritas, margarita pizza, caprese salad, caprese skewers, chimichurri, etc.  But when you are up against the clock of nature and only have a limited time to use before it goes bad, pesto really is the easiest way to use the plethora of basil.
Note:  Thanks to my sister-in-law, I was given the idea to make pesto without pine nuts.  They are so expensive and half the reason I was avoiding making pesto for so long.  We didn't even miss it!

1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups basil
1/2 cup asiago
2 big garlic cloves
1/2 cup evoo
s & p

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. 

An easy idea for using the pesto is to make fried raviolis with a pesto dipping sauce.
Take your favorite container of pre-made, fresh raviolis (ours were goat cheese and sundried tomatoes) and boil until al dente.  Then, heat 2 tbls evoo and pan fry the raviolis until golden brown on both sides.  Serve with a drizzle of your favorite marinara and pesto for dipping.  Yum!

Stuffed portobello mushrooms

Pulling out our grill for some fun, summertime grilling presented a challenge for me.  What to grill for a vegetarian meal?  The obvious for carnivores are steaks, burgers and chicken.  For a vegetarian though?  We need to get creative....
Portobello mushrooms are usually the most obvious ingredients, since they are both meaty and hardy and will hold up to the fire. 
Here is my stuffed portobello mushroom recipe that I have adapted:

2 portbello mushrooms - stems and gills removed
1/4 cup kalamata olives - chopped
2 roma tomatoes - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
1/4 cup - shredded mozzarella
2 tbls basil - minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 
Grill the portobello mushrooms on both sides and then stuff with mixture and grill for about 5 more minutes.
Remove from grill and enjoy!

Grilling Season!

It's that time of year again when the grills get fired up and the smell of bbq permeates the air.  We are one of the masses it seems this year and we are following suit.
After 3 nights of working toward perfection, JD and I have mastered the art of grilling perfectly crisp french fries!
We cut the potatoes (both Idaho and sweet) into thicker matchsticks and used a fish flipper-do-hicky to keep the potatoes over an open flame without falling through the grates.

The first night the fire wasn't hot enough... the second night, we burned them, but finally on the third night we reached perfection! 
We made seasoned oil made of evoo, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and s & p.  We brushed the oil on one side of the fries and then arranged them on the flipper.  We tried to keep the grill temperature around 400 degrees.  This required a lot of monitoring, as we had to sometimes keep the lid open because it would get too hot at 500 (!) degrees, or close it because the temperature would drop to about 200 if we left it open too long.