Zucchini Tomato Goat Cheese Bites

Well, I haven’t been cooking much these last few months, as I’ve been busy with a very demanding and strenuous job. In the end, I decided the position I was in wasn’t a good fit for me, so I’m in a transitional stage, working part time with a previous employer and searching for something new. The upside of all of this is now I have plenty of time to be back in the kitchen, and I’m loving every minute of it.

This week, my roommate is busy studying for law school finals, and in the midst of all the stress, we figured it would be good to try to eat some healthier dishes. This is a recipe I found on Pinterest and immediately fell in love with. http://distractify.com/fun/humor/scout-is-the-single-most-composed-dog-on-the-planet/
They are light, fresh, savory and the perfect snack or holiday party appetizer. Warning – it is a little annoying to make.

Zucchini Tomato Goat Cheese Bites

Ingredients:

  • 3 small zucchinis, sliced
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 2 oz sundried tomatoes
  • fresh chives, chopped
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Slice the zucchini
  2. Top with a layer of goat cheese
  3. Sprinkle with chopped chives
  4. Add small chunks of sundried tomatoes
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
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Greek Spinach and Feta Pastry

I just moved in to a new apartment with a lovely roommate and 2 hilarious cats. My dog Newton is slowly adjusting. The terrier in him is definitely being put on trial, but things are gradually calming down.

In the meanwhile, I am loving the new kitchen with way more counter space, and having someone with whom to share my kitchen creations so I don’t gobble them all up myself! Tonight I had a late dinner of some of my favorite Greek inspired dishes (including Greek Lemon Potatoes, which I will post soon). For now, enjoy this savory and delicious filo pastry.

Greek Spinach and Feta Pastry

Ingredients:

  • Filo dough
  • 2 cups (cooked) spinach
  • 1/4 cup feta crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • onion powder, pepper, lemon juice and salt to taste
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. Place about 4 sheets of filo dough in a round cake pan, letting the edges hang over the side. Brush each sheet with olive oil.
  2. Lightly saute the spinach in olive oil.
  3. Beat the 2 eggs.
  4. Add spinach, seasonings, lemon juice, sundried tomatoes (finely chopped) and feta cheese to the egg mixture. The mixture should be pretty firm.
  5. Scoop spinach mixture into the cake pan over the filo dough.
  6. Fold the sides of the filo dough over the spinach mixture so that it is covered.
  7. Brush the top with olive oil, or spray with pam.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until gold brown.

**For better results, after you have sauted the spinach, wring out excess liquid between cheesecloth.

Crispy Sesame Tofu

This recipe was a long time coming, but there have been numerous reasons I was putting off making crispy tofu. First, there is a local restaurant that has crispy tofu in a ginger sauce that is so incredible, I didn’t want to try my own hand and be disappointed. Second, deep frying still kind of scares me (even after the battered eggplant from several months ago). And third, I’ve never cooked with tofu before.

How could I be a vegetarian and never use tofu at home? Or better question, why? Honestly, tofu kind of freaks me out. I think because it comes in a package with water and has to be pressed. But tonight, I decided to be brave. I’m moving in about a week, and I wanted to make a large batch of rice before I packed my rice cooker. I had some of store-bought sesame garlic sauce I needed to use, and this was the perfect solution.

All in all, it turned out very well, though I need to tweak the frying time on the tofu pieces a bit. I did two rounds, and the first was over done, the second under done. I also used “lite” tofu because I figured since I’d never cooked with it before I wouldn’t know the difference. And I didn’t!
Here’s the recipe – enjoy!

Crispy Sesame Tofu
Makes 3-4 servings
(Serve over white rice)

Ingredients:

  • 14oz package of Lite Firm Tofu (I used Nasoya brand).
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • green onion
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup Iron Chef “Sesame Garlic Sauce & Glaze”
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Remove tofu from water, and “press” between paper towels and 2 plates for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  2. Pat tofu dry with paper towel, then slice into pieces, whatever size you desire.
  3. In a bowl, toss the tofu in the cornstarch until lightly covered.
  4. Heat about 1 inch vegetable oil over medium high heat (350 degrees). When it’s ready, the oil will sizzle if you flick water drops over it.
  5. Drop pieces of tofu into the oil and fry for about 3 minutes.
  6. In a separate pan, toast the sesame seeds over high heat, then add the minced garlic and sesame oil.
  7. Then pour in the Iron Chef Sesame Sauce and the 1/4 cup of water. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.
  8. Once tofu is done frying, add it to the sesame sauce, then serve over rice and enjoy!

** I add water to the sesame sauce because I think some of the flavors in this brand are a bit overpowering. This is also why I add the sesame seeds, sesame oil and garlic.

** Now the only problem is what to do with my leftover oil?

Baked Eggplant Parmesan Dippers

I always want to make large portions of food that are good as leftovers, thinking then I can have an easy snack the next day. These make excellent leftovers – just pop them in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for a few minutes and they’re good to go. However, I should warn you that they are so good I never manage to save them until the next day.

This recipe was modified from one that I found through pinterest. I left out the parmesan cheese (which she adds to the breadcrumb mixture). Also, it can easily be made vegan by leaving out the eggs as explained below. The original recipe can be found here: http://www.pinottopampers.com/2012/05/12/better-than-fried-eggplant-parmesan-appetizers/

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 – 1 cup Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten ****If vegan, substitute cornstarch paste mixture or milk alternative
  • Garlic salt or other Italian seasonings, to taste
  • Pam cooking spray
  • Marinara sauce, for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the eggplant (optional) and slice into “fries.”
  3. Spray baking tray with pam, or brush with olive oil.
  4. Dip each eggplant piece in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
  5. Place the coated pieces on the baking tray and spray with oil.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping once.
  7. Serve with marinara for dipping.

 

Avocado Blackbean Wraps

This week I am in Michigan helping out with a wedding. I love Michigan for hanging out on beaches, having great craft beer, and seeing great friends. The only downside of such an extended stay is that I get really tired of eating out and eating badly. On Saturday, I was fortunate to hang out with two of my favorite friends on the beach, talking and learning how to paddleboard. Then for dinner, we went shopping for fresh food and made this wonderful meal.

This wrap is one of my all-time favorite things to eat in the summer. It is quick to make, very healthy, and oh-so-delicious! Also, when you buy the ingredients to make the wraps, you end up having just about the perfect amount for a week’s worth of lunches.

Ingredients:

  • Large tortilla wrap
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (fresh or canned and rinsed)
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup black beans
  • Salsa, to taste

Strawberry Walnut Salad

Here’s one more summer salad for hot days like today.

Strawberry walnut salads typically have some raw red onion on them. Confession: I actually hate raw onions on things. This fact used to be embarrassing, until in recent years Scott Conant (one of the judges on the show Chopped) also admitted to hating raw onions on dishes because they overpowered other flavors.

This salad has goat cheese on it, so those who are lactose intolerant like myself better have some lactaid on hand.

Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Goat cheese, or feta crumbles
  • Candied walnut pieces
  • Newman’s Own Raspberry Walnut dressing

Peanut Sauce Salad

I’ll be the first to admit that most of the time, salads sound really boring. Maybe I just need more calories than other people, but I avoid ordering salads at restaurants because they never seem to fill me up… or satisfy my palate. My inner germaphobe is also really concerned about the potential bacterial breeding ground I’d be exposing myself to. I mean, I’ve worked in several restaurants, and I know cooks don’t usually change their gloves (if they are even wearing any) before making a salad.

But, it’s summer, and in the middle of especially hot days cooking over a stove or oven is pretty incomprehensible. So here’s a go-to salad I like to make that manages to capture multiple textures and a lot of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • Greens (I like to use spinach)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Asian Sesame Salad Accents
  • Bangkok Thai Peanut Sauce, to drizzle as dressing
  • Optional: Add chopped celery and green onion

** Tip: If you buy your avocados underripe, you can speed up their metabolism by storing them in a brown paper bag, preferably with another softening piece of fruit. This helps to concentrate their exposure to ethylene, the gas that speeds their ripening.