Thursday, August 30, 2012

Zucchini Fritters

Yum... I really like these.  Back in the day at family picnics (or as we would say "down in the yard") , my grandmother would make these fritters but would use pumpkin flowers.  Well, I don't grow pumpkins and have seldom seen them at the farmer's market, so I substituted grated zucchini and thought the flavor was still great!

The recipe is quite simple:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • "handful" grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • S&P
  • 1/2 tsp baking power
  • ~2 cups grated zucchini (that has been squeezed pretty dry)
Mix and then drop about 1/4 cup batter (it looks like a thin pancake batter) into a skillet that has about 1/2" hot oil.  Cook until golden brown, turn and when done sprinkle with some extra salt.

With all the zucchinis that are still available, here's a new way to use them up!  If you give them a try, I hope like them as much as I do :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Canning Tomatoes

How to can tomatoes

The last few days I have been under the weather - summer colds - they are the worst - I've had no appetite so that means no cooking.  The Fisherman has been very understanding and I hope to get back to some meal preparing soon!

In the meantime, a couple weeks ago, I canned some tomatoes.  This really brought back memories.  When I was a kid and the rest of the kids were out playing that last day before school started, I was with my mom in our basement putting up many quarts of tomatoes.  Of course that was not how I wanted to spend my last care-free day of summer, but I do have many fond memories helping my mom and now that she is not here, I think of her whenever I do any canning.

The tomatoes were from our garden and I had just enough to make six quarts.  Here are the steps I followed:

First washed the tomatoes and prepared for the scalding step

I placed the tomatoes in my second sink and poured boiling water (plug in!) over them and let them sit for about 3 minutes

Jars were washed and then I placed them in the boiling water for a bit before using that water to pour on the tomatoes

The tomatoes were peeled and sliced up in jars.  The plum tomatoes (as shown in first picture) are good to go - if you are using regular round tomatoes, you need to squeeze some of juice out so your tomatoes aren't too liquidy after processing

 When the jar is about 1/2 way full, add some salt.  Also, run a knife down in the jar to release air bubbles. 

 I leave about a 1/2" of space before putting the lids on (I keep in lids in boiling water until ready to cap).  Be sure to wipe off threads and top of jars to remove any pieces that might have stuck.

 Lovely hands and the scraps!

The jars are set in the canner and filled with water about 1" over the tops of jars

I used my mom's canner this day

After it comes to a boil, boil for 35 minutes.  Remove and when you hear a PING, you know the lids are sealed.

I was pleased that I got 6 quarts this day!  I use these to make homemade spaghetti sauce and pizza.  I'm hoping to get a few more before the garden is done.

For my mom and grandmother, thanks for the memories!  I would give anything to be back in the basement!

Do any of you have canning memories?  I would love to hear them!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lemon Chicken with Ricotta and Olives

Lemon Chicken with Ricotta and Olives
Here's another quick and easy meal that you can whip up in about 30 minutes with one of my favorite ingredients - lemons!

I'm attaching the original recipe but if I made it again, I would use different pasta.  This called for no-boil lasagna noodles that you boil and then set aside while preparing the chicken.  Well, I didn't really have good luck - I think they are no-boil for a reason - LOL - they were weird when done.  I would substitute maybe a bit of those small mini lasagna noodles and mix it with the ricotta and then serve the chicken on top.

Recipe Source:  B&HG 30 Minute Dinners

Overall the dish was quite tasty - I could also see kalamata olives instead if you like those better.

Lemon Chicken with Olives and Ricotta Cheese Serves: 4 Calories: 443 Prep Time to Table: 30 minutes
Recipe : BH&G 30 minute dinners

-8 No-boil (oven ready) lasagna noodles
- 2 T Olive oil
- S&P
-1 Meyer lemon or lemon
 -4 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved crosswise
 -1 cup garlic-stuffed or pitted green olives
-1 cup ricotta cheese
 -Fresh Rosemary (optional)

1. In Dutch oven bring 3 inches water to boiling. Add noodles, cover and cook 6 minutes or until tender; drain. Lay noodles in single layer on waxed paper. Cover; set aside. (Or just cook your favorite noodles – I had bad luck with these noodles)
2. Meanwhile, shred peel from lemon; halve lemon. Juice 1 half, cut remaining into wedges. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and 1/2 of lemon peel. In skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook 10 minutes or until no pink remains, turning once. Add olives; heat through. Remove from heat.
3. In microwave-safe bowl combine ricotta, the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 30 seconds stirring once.
4. Spoon ricotta mixture into bowls. Top with noodles, chicken, and olive mixture, remaining lemon peel, and the fresh rosemary.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grilled Honey-Orange Chicken Salad

Grilled Honey and Orange Chicken Salad
Here's a tasty salad that comes together quite quickly!  The original recipe called for whole chicken breasts to be marinaded for 6-8 hours.  Well, coming home from work I did not have time for that unless, of course, we wanted to eat at midnight so instead I cut them into strips and only marinaded for about an hour.  The results were great!  Chicken was nice and moist and really absorbed the flavor.

Recipe Source:  adapted from BH&G Low Calorie meals

The red pepper was from our garden and with a few other ingredients, dinner was served!

Grilled Honey-Orange Chicken Salad Serves: 4 Calories: 320 Prep Time to Table: 10 minutes plus marinade time
Recipe : adapted from BH&G

 -14 oz. chicken strips
-4 cups salad greens
-1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
 -1/2 cup mandarin orange slices, drained well
-candied pecans

-1 tsp. orange zest
-1/3 cup orange juice
-1 clove garlic minced
-2 Tbsp honey
-1 t thyme crushed

-2 Tbsp olive oil -
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
-2 Tbsp orange juice
-1 1/2 tsp. shallots, minced
-Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation: Combine ingredients for the marinade and pour over chicken in a resealable plastic bag. Allow chicken to marinate for an hour in the fridge, turning bag occasionally. Drain chicken and cook on grill until done. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing in a screw top jar and shake well (or whisk together in a bowl). Divide greens among 4 plates (or 2 for larger portions) and top with red peppers, oranges, chicken and pecans. Drizzle dressing over all.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stuffed Pasta Shells

Here's a twist on stuffed shells that I had never seen before.  The meat and cheese is mixed together along with the sauce before stuffing.  It was like eating lasagna but only in a shell!  Easy to put together and this recipe makes enough for 2 people to have about 6 meals!  I froze some and we had leftovers one night. 

Recipe Source:  BH&G September 2011

The Fisherman was a fan of the shells!

Stuffed Shells Serves: 6-8 Calories: 537 Prep Time to Table: 50 minutes

Recipe : BH&G Sept 2011
-12 oz. dried jumbo pasta shells
-3 T olive oil
-1 ½ lb lean ground beef
 -2 cloves minced garlic
-2 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
-15 oz. whole ricotta cheese
-1 ½ cup parmesan or romano cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 15x10x1-inch baking sheet and a 3-quart oval or rectangular baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of water, with 1 tablespoon salt added, to boiling. Add pasta shells and cook just until slightly tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta and spread in a single layer on baking sheet to prevent them from sticking together.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add beef and 1 clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 6 to 8 minutes, until no pink remains in beef. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
4. For tomato sauce, in a second skillet over low heat combine remaining olive oil, remaining garlic, and undrained tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a simmer over low heat; cook for 15 to 20 minutes until thickened somewhat.
5. Stir 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce into cooled ground beef, then add ricotta and 2/3 cup of the Parmigiano; stir until combined.
6. Spoon 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce into prepared baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 1 tablespoon meat and cheese mixture. Arrange shells in prepared baking dish. Spoon remaining tomato sauce over shells, then sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup cheese.
7. Bake about 30 minutes, until filling is heated through and top is golden brown.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spiky Cucumber Salad

Spiky Cucumber Salad
Tonight's side salad uses up some of these pesky cucumbers that are still lingering around.  I know from experience that even one mound can produce enough cukes to feed a small army (which is why we did not plant them this year).  We like cucumbers but buying a couple at the Farmer's Market helps keep my sanity!

This salad is light and refreshing with an asian twist.  I really have enjoyed having a mandoline for making julienne cuts - I could not imagine doing by hand, nor would I :-)

Recipe Source: Cooking Light

The ingredients

Make a dressing from above and pour over the cucumbers

Chill and enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mini Road Trip

Today my friend Steph and I made a date for lunch.  I work year round (minus Fridays) but for her, the summer is winding down quick - only a couple weeks until school is back in session.  So off we went on this beautiful day 30 minutes south to the town of Spring Valley, MN.  I had heard of this vineyard and winery from a few friends about how nice it was and I had been wanting to check it out.

We arrived and found a table outside to enjoy the day.  First we had a couple glasses of wine - Reisling  for Steph and Frontenac Gris for myself.  Both were clean, crisp and easy on the palate.

Next up lunch - of course we could not decide because everything looked so good so we ended up sharing a chicken pizza with cabernet chipotle BBQ sauce on a thin crust - so good!  Second was a grilled cheese with carmelized onion jam and brie - another great choice.

After eating, finishing our wine and getting burned in the sun :-), we walked around a bit.  It was so peaceful.

Click here if you would like more information about Four Daughters.  It is definitely worth the drive!  Well, a little far if you live in NY :-)  Next up - would love to visit the other winerys that are around the area - any takers out there?  I'll drive!

Well, Steph at least we had 2 lunches this summer!  June and August - next year we'll need to try for 3!  And a Happy Birthday on the 20th! and Happy 29th Anniversary on the same day!  Does Brian just get you one gift :-) ?  Girl, you should have planned better!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chicken with Orzo and Zucchini

Chicken with Orzo and Zucchini
Hmmm.....what can you do with 20 minutes (or 1200 seconds)?- read a couple chapters of a book, watch a tivo'ed sitcom zapping out the commercials OR you can make this meal!   Yep, this entire meal came together in that amount of time and you don't need "octopus hands" to make it happen.  And not only that, but the bonus is this serving, as shown, is about 390 calories.  I love quick meals that are good for you (and use up some zucchinis I know you must have lying around!)

Recipe Source:  BH&G 30 Minute Meals

I'm a fan of fresh dill - help me to remember to plant this next year!

A great week night meal!

Herbed Chicken, Orzo and Zucchini Serves: 4 Calories: 390 Prep Time to Table: 20 minutes
Recipe : BH&G 30 minute meals

• 1 cup dried orzo
 • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 to 1-1/4 lb.)
 • 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 medium zucchini, sliced
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
 • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
• Lemon wedges (optional) • Snipped fresh dill (optional)

1. Prepare orzo according to package directions; drain. Cover and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with the basil; season with salt and ground black pepper. In large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add chicken and cook 12 minutes or until no longer pink (170 degrees F), turning once. Remove from skillet. Add zucchini to skillet; cook for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.
3. In bowl whisk together vinegar, the remaining olive oil, and the 1 tablespoon fresh dill. Add orzo; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with orzo, zucchini, and fresh lemon wedges; sprinkle with dill.

Serves 4.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Brownie Trifle

Brownie Trifle
Tonight's post is short and sweet! and easy!  As I was going through one of my food magazines, I came across this recipe that said "When cake or brownies start losing their yummy goodness, turn them into a lovely trifle with spoonfuls of whipped cream and drizzles of dessert sauce."  Well, I just happened to have some brownie bites leftover from a previous dinner party, raspberries, a jar of hot fudge sauce (I mean who doesn't have this always on hand!) and some whipped topping.

Crumble the brownie bites

And next layer them in any kind of serving dish - a layer of cake, top with sauce, layer of raspberries, some whipped cream, repeat and dust with cocoa powder.   Super easy and the best part - super yummy!  Make this for company and they will think you fussed allllll day long :-)

Grab a spoon and dig in!

You could also be creative and use canned cherries or whatever else you might like!

Click ♥ HERE ♥ to see what parties I'm linking to

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Fisherman's Domain...

This is The Fisherman's favorite hang out place located in the basement of our house.  I wish I had remembered to take some "before" pictures - but all you have to visualize is no pictures on the wall over the couch and aquarium... OK - got that in your mind?  Blank walls and blank they were for about 2 years.  Neither one of us could decide what to do - there is a pool table in the room but didn't want to make the entire room pool themed. So it sat, kind of naked.

Last weekend I was wandering around Hobby Lobby which I do when I'm looking for some inspiration.  I maybe had an idea of using some tickets I saved from games - Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and making some sort of collage.

I found these letters so that was a start

and this picture frame

I sprayed the frame, removed the hooks from the letters, rehung the hooks on the frame and had The Fisherman buy a sheet of metal in place of the glass.  Final assembly was using some pictures, tickets, hats, rally towels and a signed Twins shirt from the former player Jason Kubel. 

I also picked up 4 albums frames and The Fisherman selected what he wanted to display.

We were both happy with the results!

Though you can't read it, the middle certificate above is from the last regular game at the Metrodome.  But as it turned out, that was the year they needed a "playoff" game to see who won the division.  Also hung up are some pictures of us and friends at games.

The man cave is now complete!!