Seared Scallop Bite with Bacon Crumble

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My friend was hosting supper club this month and the theme was Valentine’s Day.  All couples attending had to wear red and the level of food was elevated to celebrate the special occasion.  I wanted to create a one-bite appetizer that would be light yet satisfying.

A few weeks ago, while out to lunch with the family, I had the pleasure of introducing my pallet to a scallop sausage wrapped in pork belly.  It’s a different take on scalloped wrapped bacon.  I loved the savory flavors of the pork belly, which complimented the delicate flavor of the scallop.  This was my inspiration for my appetizer.

Ingredients, for 24 bites:

10 scallops, medium to large

3 slices of Black Forest Bacon

1 16 oz bag of baby spinach

1 Myer lemon

½ cup chopped cilantro, separated in 2 parts

1 ripe avocado

2 TB canola oil

Dash of sriracha

Salt to taste

Start by cutting the bacon in ½ length wise, and then cut into ¼ inch slices.  Add bacon to a hot sauté pan on med/high heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Once the bacon is starting to brown, increase the heat to high for 1 minute then remove when it is crispy.  Reserve the bacon fat for a later use.  Place bacon on paper towel to drain fat and cool.  Once cooled add to food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds and set bacon crumble aside.

Remove the scallop muscle from the scallop.  The muscle is attached to the meaty circle flesh. The muscle is edible but chewy so it is best to remove when searing scallops. Depending on the size of the scallop, slice in ½ or 1/3rds.  You want to make all the slices the same size, about ¼ inch thick. Place sliced scallops on a paper towel and blot dry.  Always make sure you have dry scallops to work with when you are searing for best carmelization.

Zest the Myer lemon and set zest aside.  Juice lemon into food processor, then add avocado, oil, ¼ cup cilantro, sriracha and salt to taste and blend until creamy, like the consistence of yogurt. Place contents in a sandwich or quart sized plastic bag.

Clean out the chopper and completely dry it.  Pat the bacon to make sure you remove any access bacon grease.  Add to chopper and chop for 15-30 seconds until it’s the size of small grains of rice.  Set aside.

Next, thinly slice the spinach into strips.  Add 1 tsp of the reserved bacon fat to sauté pan.  Sauté the spinach on medium heat for 2 minutes until wilted and set aside.

Add 1 TB of bacon fat to sauté pan and heat pan on medium high heat.  You want to make sure you have a hot pan but not smoking.  Add the entire scallop and let sauté for 1-½ minutes on one side and set aside.  Now it’s time for plating or spooning for that matter.

Grab a bowl of hot water and submerge the avocado cream bag.  Add a small tsp. of spinach on top of the spoon, then add a pinch of fresh chopped cilantro and place the scallop on top.  Next, take your avocado bag and cut the corner of the bag.  Squeeze a dollop of avocado cream on top; next add the bacon crumble and a few slices of zest. 

This is one bite that your guests will not only find very eye appealing but also leave them humming in satisfaction while they enjoy their bite.  In this case, I love eating these 2gether with my supper club. 

Middle Eastern Tapas

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I had a few friends over this past weekend and I decided to make some Middle Eastern tapas.  One of the main reasons I wanted to create Middle Eastern tapas was because one of my friends is following the Paleo diet.  The Paleo diet is focused around an intake of natural high protein and fiber, low carb and low sugar foods.  I wanted to make sure I had foods that accommodated my friends dietary needs, as well as satisfy the guys’ appetite, and Middle Eastern tapas seemed like a perfect fit.   

The menu included:

Mazza platter of feta, olives, hummus, pita bread and tabouli lettuce wraps

Gyro spiced chicken wings with taziki dipping sauce

Spanakopita pizza

I started marinating the gyro spiced chicken wings the day before to make sure the flavors infused into the wings.  This recipe is for 3 lbs of chicken wings.

Gyro spice rub and marinade:

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1 Tbs. cardamom

1 Tbs. cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon juiced

5-6 sprigs mint with stems roughly chopped

1 garlic clove crushed

2 tsp. honey

First mix all the dry ingredients together and rub them into chicken wings.  Place wings in a large plastic bag.  Then mix the remaining wet ingredients and pour on top of the wings.  Let wings sit for at least 3 hours but up to 24 hours, turning every so often.  Place wings on a pan and broil on low for 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.  Serve with Taziki dipping sauce. (click here for recipe)  Yup, these are finger licking… that good!

To stick with the Middle Eastern Tapas theme I wanted to make something revolving around the spanakopita savory salty flavors.  Here’s my version of spanakopita pizza:

4 large cloves garlic

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1 package of premade naan pizza dough

1 cup spinach, roughly sliced

½ cup Greek feta cheese

½ cup sundried tomatoes dried or in olive oil, sliced

Dash red pepper chili flakes

Salt to taste

Olive oil

Cut the end off the garlic cloves and place in aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Place in a 350-heated oven for 40-50 minutes. 

Squeeze the garlic out of the peal and smear the garlic all over the pizza crust.  Then place spinach, feta and sundried tomatoes all over the crust.  Bake the pizza according to the premade pizza dough directions. 

Once out of the oven, sprinkle with a dash of red pepper chili flakes and a drizzle with olive oil.  Double the recipe if you have two crusts per package. 

All the flavors worked so well together and were certainly a crowd pleaser. 

I always love hosting friends for snacks and wine but I certainly love having taste testers to help determine whether or not the recipes are worthy of sharing.  These tapas were just that, delicious.

Myer Lemon Baked Chicken Legs and Thighs with Rosemary Salt

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Don’t let the name of this recipe fool you.  This is an inexpensive, family friendly, quick to prepare meal.

I wanted to cook with something different, that I’ve never used in a recipe before, so I choose to cook with a myer lemon.  A myer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. 

6-8 bone-in chicken legs and thighs

2 tbs myer lemon zest

1 myer lemon, juiced

3 tbs rosemary

2 tsp kosher salt

1 large clove garlic, crushed

¼ cup olive oil

Pepper to taste

In a mort and pestle, add rosemary and salt, and grind until fine.  Remove 1 tbs of this rosemary salt and save for later.  Add rosemary salt, zest, juice, garlic and pepper in to a bowl and mix.  Place chicken pieces in a zip lock bag and add marinade.  Marinade for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place chicken pieces skin side down on baking dish and cook for 30 minutes.  Turn pieces over and lower heat to 350 degrees.  Cook for another 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  If you want a little extra crisp on the skin, broil for the last 5 minutes.  When out of the oven sprinkle the remaining rosemary salt over the top of the chicken and enjoy.

I served this with Hushwee, (click here for recipe) and a veggie.  My boys thought this dinner was finger-licking good. Better yet, the total cost of this meal, and left over’s for lunch the next day, was less than $10. 

Asian Salmon With Blood Orange Marinade

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After getting salmon at the fish market this weekend, I wanted to make something different than my normal honey, lemon marinade.  I decided to change it up a bit and used a blood orange.  The bold citrus from the blood orange, and the umami taste from the soy sauce, really pleased all pallets, young and old.

1 lb salmon

1 blood orange, juiced

3 Tbs. soy sauce

1 Tbs. honey

1 tsp grated ginger

3 Tbs. cilantro

Salt and sriracha to taste

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Rinse off the salmon and poke with a fork a few times to let the marinade infuse into the salmon.  Mix all the above ingredients together, and taste to make sure it has the kick from the sriracha you’re looking for.  Place salmon skin side up in a deep dish and add marinade. Let the fish marinade for at least thirty minutes. 

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place the salmon in a baking dish and cook for 18-20 minutes.  You’ll know the salmon is done when it’s slightly pink and flakes easily.

If you would like to have this for dinner after being at work all day, prepare the marinade in advance and store in an airtight container.  Add the marinade to the fish while you pre-heat the oven. You could also use this marinade for chicken or pork tenderloin.

I served the salmon with brown rice and green beans.  The kiddos, and my husband, enjoyed the fish to the very last bite.  I consider it a success when there’s no running around the table during dinner, and everyone’s plate is clean.

Deviled Eggs- Hold the Mayo

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My friend was hosting a girl’s night after the holidays and we all agreed to bring something healthy.  As always, I wanted to use the ingredients I had in my fridge so I decided to make deviled eggs.  I substituted the mayo and used avocado.

Deviled Eggs with Avocado:

12 eggs

1 ripe avocado

2 slices bacon cooked crispy

1 tsp lemon juice

Salt and sriracha to taste

Smoked paprika

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a rolling boil and shut off heat.  Keep on burner for 12 minutes and rinse with water and place in fridge.

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Once eggs are cooled, peel off shells and slice in half.  Add the 12 of the 24 yolk halves and avocado to a bowl.  Mash avocado and egg yolks together until smooth.  Add desired amount of salt and sriracha to yolk and avocado and mix together.  Add mixture to a plastic bag and cut the tip.  Squeeze all the mixture to one side of the bag and pipe avocado into the egg whites. Then top them with a small slice of crispy bacon and a dash of smoked paprika.

If you find that it’s a little dry you can add a teaspoon of greek yogurt, but I would only recommend this if the avocado egg mixture is looking dry.   This will only happen if the eggs are over cooked or if the avocado wasn’t that ripe.

My husband is not a huge deviled egg fan so I called over my 5 year old to be my test taster and he says, and I quote “MOM, that is SOOOO good! Can I have another one?”

My girl friends and my Jackson all loved them and there wasn’t one left over.  I would consider that a success.  Hope you enjoy them, just as much. 

My Chicken Piccata, as seen in Cooking Light Magazine

To keep with the healthy food theme I wanted to share my first published recipe. When I was in college I entered a recipe contest and my recipe for Chicken Piccata with Artichokes was published in Cooking Light in the late 90’s.

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1 can artichoke hearts, undrained

½ cup fat free chicken broth

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup dry white wine

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Cooking spray

1 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons capers

1/4 black pepper

2 cups cooked wild rice

Optional parsley to garnish

Drain artichokes in a colander over a bowl; reserve 3 tablespoons liquid and set aside.  Combine reserved artichoke liquid, broth, and wine in a shallow dish.  Add chicken, cover and marinate in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes.  Remove chicken from dish, reserving marinade.  Add chicken to pan, sauté 1 minute.  Add reserved marinade, and cook for 12 minutes, 6 minutes per side.  Add artichokes, capers, and black pepper to pan, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve over rice, garnish with parsley and have with your favorite vegetable.

This recipe was a huge success with the whole family.  Although, I didn’t serve the kids the artichoke slices.  I’ve also made this recipe with 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and the same cooking time.  Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees.  If you don’t want to fuss with the ingredients at dinnertime, do all the prep before hand and then it will cook in less than 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Baked Haddock with Avocado Cream Sauce

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Tis the season for eating healthy and I wanted to create a recipe using some avocados that were on sale.  The creaminess of the avocado blends nicely with the flakiness of the fish, also the citrus from the sauce compliments the fish nicely.

Jackson was my little helper in the kitchen and especially enjoys helping when avocado is involved. He helped add ingredients and blending the sauce. 

For the Haddock:

1 lb Haddock

1/2 lime

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup chopped cilantro

½ cup chopped grape tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt to taste

For the Avocado Cream Sauce:

1 ripe avocado

½ lime, juiced

¼ cup cilantro

½ tsp cumin

2 TB olive oil

Salt and Sriracha to taste

Add Haddock to a baking dish.  Lightly salt fish on both sides and then squeeze ½ a lime over the haddock.  Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs on top of the haddock and drizzle it with olive oil.  Top with chopped cilantro.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.  Then, broil for 2 addition minutes to crisp up the panko breadcrumbs.

Add pitted avocados and the remaining six ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. 

Plate the fish and top with avocado cream sauce, chopped grape tomatoes and garnish with cilantro. This meal was a huge hit with all 3 of my Boys and they all cleaned their plates. 

Serve with a tomato, cilantro, feta quinoa salad and steamed veg.

The avocado cream sauce goes great with any white fish or even baked chicken.

Cranberry Goat Cheese App - 3 ways!

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I love the combo of cranberry, goat cheese and walnuts and wanted to create a new bite size appetizer for the Christmas Party.  It was a risk trying something new for the party but hey; cooking for a crowd is the best way to know what people think.

First I’ll give you the recipe:

Cranberry Salsa:

1 bag fresh whole cranberries

1 jalapeño, chopped

¼ cup of fresh cilantro

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp cumin

2-3 TBs of chopped scallions or chives

¼ cup water

Dash of salt

Walnuts, chopped and toasted (portions vary depending on appetizer)

Goat cheese (portions vary depending on appetizer)

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The cranberry salsa must be prepared the day before to marinate. My little helper Nolan, was in the kitchen with me this time around and helped mix, and measure all the ingredients.  We added the first 8 ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and mixed.  We then let the salsa sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.   

The next day, put the salsa in a saucepan and bring up to a boil.  Remove from heat right away, cool and put back in the fridge. 

For the Goat Cheese Snowballs:

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Bring the goat cheese to room temperature.  While they’re cooling, place 1 cup of chopped walnuts in a blender and blend into crumb like pieces.  Use the cooled cranberry salsa from the fridge for this recipe.

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Put a tablespoon of goat cheese in the palm of your hand and flatten like a pancake.  Add ¼ tsp of cranberry salsa in the middle and fold over the goat cheese.  Lightly roll the cheese into a small ball and roll in walnut crumbs.  Serve cold and enjoy!

For the Dip:

Add  1-cup of goat cheese in a shallow pan and spread on the bottom, and then add ½ cup cranberry salsa on top and bake at 325 for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with 1/2 cup of walnuts.  Serve with Melba toasts or crostini.

For the Cranberry Bruschetta:

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Cut Italian bread into ¼ thin slices.  Spread out bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and spread with a Tbsp of goat cheese and top with a ½ Tbsp cranberry salsa and a few walnuts on top.  Broil on low for 5-8 minutes.  The goat cheese seems to get creamer when melted and works well with the sweet tart cranberry salsa.

Overall, I think the Bruschetta is the best way to have the goat cheese, cranberry salsa combo, especially for a large crown.  But many guests also loved the snowballs.  No matter how you serve it, enjoy.  Oh, and very important, don’t skimp on the quality goat cheese you use. And most important, it’s better when you eat this festive appetizer 2gether during the holidays.

Less Guilt Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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This was the most requested recipe at my Christmas party. So by popular demand, I am sharing it with all of you! Not only is it lower in fat than your average spinach and artichoke dip, but also, it’s just as tasty and creamy.  Lower in fat, includes nutritious veggies and tastes good…that’s all I needed to know to keep spooning heapfulls onto my plate and NOT feeling guilty.

This recipe is best if prepared the day before.  Nolan helped and really enjoyed all of the measuring, blending, stirring and tasting. 

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1 can artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed

¼ cup low fat mayo

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

½ cup pecorino Romano cheese

1 medium to large clove garlic, crushed

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1 Tbsp of dried marjoram

1 tsp sriracha sauce

Add drained artichoke hearts to blender and pulse for about 25 seconds. You want the artichokes to still have a little bite to them.  Mix remaining ingredients in a medium-mixing bowl. Add the artichokes and stir.  Place in a pie dish and sprinkle with pecorino Romano cheese.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips or bagel chips.  Enjoy!

Savory Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

My annual Candy Kayne Christmas Party is fast approaching. I’ve had great success in the past with bacon inspired bites, so I decided to keep the theme alive and create the Chicken Bacon Bite.

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Because my Christmas Party is the weekend after Thanksgiving, I had to get a start on the appetizers early.  So I actual usually make these about 3 weeks before the party and pop them in the freezer.  Then I thaw them, cook, and serve hot out of the oven.

2 large chicken breast, cubed

7 sliced of bacon cut into thirds

1/2  cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup maple syrup

2 TBs fresh rosemary chopped

¼ tsp of cayenne pepper

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Wrap the bacon around the chicken breast and secure it with a toothpick.  Mix the remaining ingredients to make the marinade. Add all the ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag and toss.  They can be cooked 1-2 hours later or placed in a freezer.  If you decide to freeze make sure you thaw out 2-3 days prior to cooking. 

You can make double the marinade and serve on the side as a dipping sauce.  This recipe can also be made with pork tenderloin as well. Enjoy!

Makes 20-24 pieces

Hushwee- Lebanese Meat Stuffing:

Thanksgiving is not the same without our traditional Hushwee.  As other traditions have changed, the stuffing remains a staple.  I’ve mixed it up a bit by adding turkey stock and drippings to help compliment the Thanksgiving turkey.

1 lb ground beef

2 cups brown rice

2 TBs of turkey fat drippings

4 cups turkey broth, from boiled neck and gizzards

½ cup toasted pine nuts

2 TBs ground cinnamon

Salt and Pepper to taste

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First, add the turkey neck, gizzards, pinch of salt and pepper to a small sauce pan with 5-6 cups cold water and bring to a boil for an hour or so.  In a large saucepan add turkey drippings and ground beef.  Brown beef until cooked through.  Add pine nuts, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir.  Then add turkey broth and rice and stir.  Cook for 40 minutes and serve with your turkey gravy.  By the way, this so good left over or for your Thanksgiving midnight snack!

Serves 8-10. 

Crockpot White Chicken Chili:

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This recipe came about because I wanted to make chili from the ingredients I had around the house.  It was a great success for Soup Sunday and our company. This crockpot recipe was quick, easy and inexpensive.

 

1.5 lbs chicken thighs chopped, partially frozen

1 large shallot, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 can cannellini beans, drained

1 can small white beans, drained

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 Anaheim and/or jalapeno pepper, chopped, add both if you like more heat

1 can diced tomatoes with adobe seasoning

1 bay leaf

1 tsp marjoram

1 Tbs Chili Powder

1 Tbs Cumin Powder

4 cups chicken broth

Salt to taste

1Tbs cornstarch with equal parts cold water

1 cup of frozen sweet corn

As I was prepping for the soup, Jackson came over and asked me if he could help.  I welcomed the opportunity to spend a little more time with my kindergartener. I chopped the veggies and chicken and Jackson helped open and add the canned tomatoes, drain the beans and add the chicken broth to the crockpot.  We added the herbs and seasoning then mixed.  He did say it looked gross but after it cooked for 6-8 hours he was the first person to taste it.  He liked it, but the soup was primarily for the adults.

After 6-8 hours on low add the frozen corn and stir.  After about 5 minutes, add the cornstarch mixture.   Serve with your favorite corn bread muffins or tortilla chips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supper Club:

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It all started a year ago when I had a group of my close girlfriends and their families over for a shrimp boil.  I asked them if they would be interested in starting a supper club and voià Super Club was born!

There are currently four couples involved and NO KIDS.  We love them, but the mamas need a break.  It’s a potluck supper club where the host picks the theme and cooks the main meal.  All other couples bring apps, dessert or a special drink/wine.

This month, to mark our one-year anniversary, I was cooking at my home and cooked an authentic Lebanese meal.

The menu was as follows:

Mazza Platter- Lebanese mixed appetizer platter that consisted of hummus, tabouli,  feta, olives, pita bread and veggies.

Rolled Grape Leaves, also known as Mahshi Warak Areesh – recipe to follow

Rice Pilaf

Kibbee (Lebanese Meatloaf)- The art of kibbee making will be something to look forward to in a future blog.

Foul Maddamus- recipe link below

Green Beans with Tomato sauce – Also called Lubiyeh, recipe below

Bakalawa- dessert with filo dough and nut filling

This time around I was a bit nervous because this was my first time cooking and serving a full Lebanese meal.  I cooked my heart out, with my grandmother, Tattee, and my Aunt Emily with me in spirit.  Both are in higher places but with me while I prepared these very traditional meals we always enjoyed together.  I also took advantage of my mom’s recent visit. We made the Kibbee weeks before and froze it.

All supper clubbers came with growling bellies and indulged in the food I was raised on.  My husband, the not so adventurous eater, even ate a few of my grape leaves.  It brought me such joy to share food that I grew up with.

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Rolled Grape Leaves:

 

1/2 16 oz. jar grape leaves in brine

½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground lamb

½ cup short grain white rice, uncooked

2 TBs of canned tomatoes sauce

1 cup water

Juice of 2 lemons

Salt and Pepper

Separate grape leaves and cut off stems.  Let leaves soak in cool water in a shallow bowl.  While they soak, mix the beef, lamb, white rice, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

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Now for the fun part, place the leaf, point facing away from you.  Place a heaping tablespoon of the beef mixture in the lower middle half of the leaf and shape into a log shape.  Then, fold over one side of the grape leaf then the other and somewhat tightly roll the leaf away from you.  Place leaf in a deep saucepan.  Although time consuming, it’s fun to use your hands and the final result is well worth it!  Once all leaves are rolled then add water and lemon.  Place a dish on top of the leaves to make ensure they stay under the liquid.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes.  I think that when they sit for a day then you reheat them they taste the best.   I plan on having a You Tube video in the near future to show you the process.

Makes about 25-30 rolled grape leaves.  Serve warm with plain yogurt, known as Laban, to dip and a lemon wedge

Green Beans with Tomato Sauce:

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half

1 medium onion chopped

1 16oz can tomato sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive oil

 

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In the bottom of a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add green beans, sauce, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium-high until you have a slight boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.  You can also add ground meat or lamb meatballs for a full meal. 

I was happy that people tried things they have never had before and enjoyed it.  The taste of home cooked Lebanese food not only brings back memories of my own family growing up, but also makes it more enjoyable when eaten together with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foul Mudammas:

Do you remember the tahini recipe I posted a few weeks ago?  Well, that was for my vegan friend and sister-in-law.  This flavorful protein packed dish accompanied her vegan dinner. 

This dish is very popular in the Middle East and can be served warm and as breakfast with pita bread.  I like to serve it as a cold side dish with a hot entree.

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1 can fava beans

½ large lemon juiced

1 clove garlic crushed

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 med tomato chopped

3 TBS olive oil

Salt to taste

Mix the above ingredients, except the tomato, and let sit for 2-4 hours so that the beans are marinated.  When ready to serve, top with tomato and garnish with parsley and another drizzle of olive oil.  

On a side note, I’ve also seen restaurants put tahini sauce on top of the Foul Mudammas and serve that way as well.  No matter which way you try it, enjoy!

 

Middle Eastern Pesto:

I wanted to bring shrimp to my book club but wasn’t sure how to prepare it.  I didn’t have a lot of time and I was going to someone else’s house where I didn’t want to use the stove.  So, I decided to use some of my favorite Middle Eastern ingredients and made pesto.  I like to test out recipes on my book club buddies and see if they approve before I post.  It was a huge hit and we were using the left over pesto to dip the veggies in too . 

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1 cup parsley

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

1 small garlic clove, crushed

¼ cup feta

½ lemon, juiced and zested

Salt and crushed red pepper to taste

Olive oil

1 lb medium shrimp 

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until pureed.  Then add olive oil, about ¼ cup, until it’s mixed.  Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  If you are serving with shrimp, add 2 TBs of pesto as well as the shrimp in a plastic bag or bowl and mix.  Put the remaining pesto in a bowl for dipping.  Serve chilled.  Add rice or pasta if you would like to make as a main meal.  You can also substitute shrimp for Chicken or tofu. 

The Middle Eastern Pesto really awakens your taste buds with a brightened fresh flavor that makes you realize you are eating something bold and your taste buds will thank you for it.  Enjoy.  

 

 

Tahini Sauce

My sister-in-law is vegan and was coming to visit.  I like having food at the house for her other than my hummus, which she loves.  It’s very simple yet savory.

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6 Tbs. tahini

6-8 Tbs. Water

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ lemon, juiced

Salt to taste

Chopped parsley for garnish

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  The sauce should be a little thinner than the consistency of yogurt.  You can serve this sauce over caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower or as a sauce for falafel, just to name a few.  The sauce might come up a few times again as it’s very popular in Middle Eastern cooking.  Not only did my sister-in-law love it, so did my vegan friend that came over for dinner a few nights later.  Shhhh, it’s great left over too.

This serves 2 and makes about a ½ cup.

 

 

Black Bean Corn Salsa:

I was tired of making the same old tacos every week, so I created this black bean corn salsa to jazz things up.  It can be served as a side dish, enjoyed with tortilla chips or it can replace the refried beans in your tacos and burritos.

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1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 ear of corn, husked and kernels cut off

1 garlic clove, crushed

½ onion, chopped

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin powder

½ cup cilantro, chopped

2 small or 1 large tomato, chopped

Juice of ½ lime

Zest of ½ lime (optional)

1 jalapeño, chopped and seeded (optional)

Salt to taste

2 tsp Olive oil

Add olive oil to a saucepan and put on medium to high heat.   Add onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes.   In this recipe I like to salt as I go.  Salt onions then add fresh corn, jalapeño and stir.  Add beans, lime zest and season with cumin and chili powder.  Sauté for 5 minutes.  Then add lime juice, cilantro and tomato and stir.

This is very quick and easy to prepare and cook.  The boys love to help husk the corn, peal the onion, put the garlic in the press and rinse the beans.  They also help add things to the pan as well.  This dish is too much for Nolan’s pallet but Jackson loves it so much he usually asks for seconds.

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Crockpot Dill Pickles

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved pickles.  My parents knew if a pickle was on their plate in a restaurant, I would claim it as my own.  Even when I was in college, my mom would stop at my favorite farm, Berberian’s, and get the best pickles in town (and do what with them? Send them to you? Save them for you? Eat them and then tell you how much she enjoyed them?).  The love of pickles is in the genes and my boys now steal my pickles.

So when my garden gave us plentiful cukes, we made pickles.  This is a great project for the whole family to get involved with.  From picking the cukes all the way to helping make the brine.

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This recipe is very easy recipe and has been tested by many of my pickle guru friends and family.

½ Sour, ½ Dill pickles:

6-8 small pickling cukes, washed

½ cup kosher salt

2 cups water

½ bunch dill

4 cloves garlic, pealed and smashed

1 ½ cups cider vinegar

1 cup white vinegar

 

Nolan was very excited to help make pickles, so he was the first to wash his hands.  I filled up the sink with cold water and the cukes, gave him a veggie brush and he scrubbed away.  While Nolan was working on the cukes, I called Jackson over to help at the stove.  Now that he’s five, it’s a big treat to help at the stove to stir the pot.  We added the salt and water to a saucepan, which was on medium heat, and stirred until the salt was dissolved.  We removed the pan from the heat to cool.

I took my 8-quart crock-pot and added some 2 springs dill and 1-2 cloves garlic to the bottom of the crock.  Then, Nolan helped add the cukes to the crock as I added the dill in between the layers and the rest of the garlic.  Once the salt water was cooled, I added the white and cider vinegars to the saucepan and mixed.  Next, we added the mixture to the crock-pot and topped with a small plate to weigh it down.  We stored it in our basement, which is a cool dry place for 3-4 weeks.  Once pickled, we put pickles in jars to store.

Now for my trick- once we were done with the pickles and had brine left over. I added some left over cut up cukes.  These cukes only took 3-4 days to get the pickle flavor and were just as scrumptious.  I might even try adding some green beans or green tomatoes next.

The kiddos really enjoyed this pickling project and they always ask to please pass the pickles!



 

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10 minute Naan Pizza

8 minute Naan Pizza:

2-4 garlic Naan

½ fresh mozzarella ball, sliced

½ cup shredded low fat shredded Italian cheese

¼ cup basil and basil, chopped

Olive Oil

Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

Toast Naan in toaster on under broiler for 3-4 minutes.  Place Naan on pizza pan with toppings and drizzle with olive oil.  Place pizza under broiler for another 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Other topping ideas:

Salami and provolone

Butternut, ricotta and cranberry

Alfredo, chicken and broccoli

Artichoke, Feta and Olive

Join in- What are some of your favorite toppings? Comment below.

 

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20 minutes Chicken Broc Pasta

3 chicken breasts

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

1 box cavatappi pasta

1/2 cup of your favorite Caesar dressing

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

2 Tbs of chopped parsley and basil

1/2 cup Olive oil

1 Tbs butter

Parmingiano to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

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The morning of, I sliced up the chicken breast and put in a gallon size zip top bag. Nolan poured the Caesar dressing in and we let the chicken marinate all day. The chicken should be marinated for a minimum of 2 hours before cooking.

 Add a palmful of salt to pasta water and bring to a boil, add pasta.

 In the meantime, add olive oil to the bottom of a saucepan. Add crushed garlic and crushed red pepper and put on low heat to meld the flavors. You do not want to boil or sauté the garlic. Your goal is to make garlic flavored olive oil.

 There is not much that Nolan can do to help, so I filled up the kitchen sink with bubbles and gave him a bottlebrush to help me "clean". While he was busy I started sautéing the chicken on medium heat in the Caesar dressing marinade for 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink. In the last minute, add the parsley and basil.

Now, back to the pasta. In the last 4 minutes of your recommended cooking time, add the broccoli to the boiling water. When pasta and broccoli are done, drain and add to a large bowl. Mix in butter until melted. Add the garlic olive oil, chicken with sauce, cherry tomatoes and toss. Add salt and shredded Parmigianino to taste. Now it's time to eat- 2gether!

 Serves 4-5 people