SCR: Zucchini Fries

zucchini fries with hummus

September already? Certainly doesn’t feel like it here. Nonetheless, there are several good things that September brings with it mainly football and my birthday. With the change of the month, that means another thing. It is time for the Secret Recipe Club!

My blog assignment this month was Kim’s blog Everyday Mom. She describes herself as partial to sweets, but that she’s also trying to build her skills in other culinary areas. (Sounds a little familiar to how I would describe myself).

Kim has a fun selection of recipes, and as indicated by her about me, I was immediately sucked in by her baking. This Hungarian Coffee Cake anyone? Sign me up. Nonetheless, as you can tell from my picture, I ended up choosing a savory recipe for the SRC reveal. In fact, these zucchini fries worked perfectly to use up a zucchini that had been living in the crisper drawer for awhile…

zucchini fries

So how were they? Really good. The Panko makes them surprisingly crunchy (a word I thought I’d never use with zucchini?). As Kim indicates, they are great on their own, but my favorite was in a white bean and basil hummus. Yum! Definitely a recipe to keep in mind for zucchini season. Enjoy! 

(Printable Recipe)

Zucchini Fries
Adapted from Everyday Mom

Ingredients:
1 lb. zucchini cut into medium-large strips
1/2 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1/2 Tbsp. (1-1/2 tsp) Italian seasoning 
lemon zest to taste
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If needed, grease a baking sheet.

In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Add flour and egg mixture to separate bowls (you will have 3 total).

Dredge each zucchini strip through the mixtures in this order – flour, egg, bread crumb mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bread crumbs start to look golden brown. 

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SRC: Watermelon Cucumber Salad

watermelon cucumber salad

One of the things I love about having a garden is how exciting it is when your plants do well. Our cucumber plants are kicking out cukes like it is their job (guess it kind of is?). This is great because not only do I know EXACTLY where my food came from, but homegrown food always tastes so much better than produce from the store. These cucumbers actually have flavor!

I tell you that to tell you this – the recipe I chose from my Secret Recipe Club blogger this month, Cooking Rookie from Cook Book Trial and Error, could not have come at a better time! Her watermelon cucumber salad is a unique combination of flavors, one that I am certain I never would have come up with on my own. In addition, the recipe is very customizable. Want more watermelon and less cucumber? Go for it. Want to add some mint. Try it. One thing to note is that this salad can get a little watery if you let it set for awhile. We just drained off the liquid after storing it for awhile. Nonetheless, you may want to wait to mix it up until just before serving.

watermelon cucumber salad before mixing
watermelon cucumber salad close

Any way you do it, I would recommend this as a great, refreshing way to enjoy that summertime produce! 

(Printable Recipe) 

Watermelon Cucumber Salad
From Cook Book Trial and Error

Ingredients:
2 cups cubed watermelon (1/2-inch cubes)
1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 tsp salt (more or less depending on salt level of your feta)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. olive oil

Combine the above ingredients just before serving. Enjoy!

Quick Whole Wheat Rolls

quick whole wheat rolls with hearty chicken and sweet potato stew

I am definitely less than prepared for Easter recipes. What can I say? Knowing that I work this weekend, I have not been planning any big meals for the day, and it sneaked up on me.

So, if you haven’t planned ahead (like me) and find that you may have used all your eggs for other purposes (hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs, omelets for breakfast/dinner), you will be glad to know that you can still make these rolls for Easter dinner. Soft, light, whole wheat, quick. There are lots of adjectives that describe these rolls. The recipe is originally from Finding Joy in My Kitchen. In her post, SnoWhite states that she adapted her hamburger bun recipe to come up with these great rolls.

quick whole wheat rolls

As you can see from my pictures, I originally made them to accompany a soup we made this past winter, but they’d work equally as well as with any meal. One of the things you’ll notice about this recipe is quite a bit more yeast than usual (1 pkt = 2-1/4 teaspoons). Just go with it. I promise. Enjoy and have a Happy Easter!

(Printable Recipe)

Quick Whole Wheat Rolls
From Finding Joy in My Kitchen (adapted from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventure)

Ingredients:
1-1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. warm water
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups white whole wheat flour

Place the warm water in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water. Let sit for 3-5 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Add the oil, sugar, and salt. Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, stirring until incorporated into the dough (may need to add extra flour – add just until the dough comes together).

Remove the paddle attachment and add the dough hook. Knead the dough on low for 3-5 minutes (can also do this by hand if desired) until well formed. Divide the dough into 9-12 sections and roll into balls. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel to avoid drafts. Set in a warm place and allow the rolls to rise for about 20 minutes.

While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Enjoy warm.

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

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I always seem to miss the foodie holidays… Pi day, national pancake day, etc. I really need to get up with it a little more because it always looks like a lot of fun to participate in these days. One thing that I do know is that today is the first day of spring, so here is a “springy recipe to celebrate 🙂

Side dishes are something I don’t plan for very well… I usually will do okay with having a side of bread with soup but for most meat and casserole-type dishes, I really don’t do sides. There are a couple of reasons behind this: 1) I’m already making the main dish and don’t want to have to work too hard on another aspect of the meal and 2) I don’t want sides that are loaded with calories. It has been a little while since I have made this, but this asparagus recipe meets both of those qualifications. Quick, pretty simple, and it clocks in at 69 calories a serving (4 servings). 

asparagus with basalmic tomatoes cooking tomatoes
asparagus with basalmic tomatoes close

I’ve talked before about how much we like asparagus, and this recipe is no different. My only swap was feta for goat cheese, as I am not the biggest goat cheese fan. Be sure to use a vinegar you really like here as the balsamic flavor is quite prominent (a bonus in my book). Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes
Adapted from Cooking Light April 2011

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add trimmed asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and cook 3 minutes. Mix in salt. Arrange asparagus on a serving platter on on individual plates. Sprinkle with feta and black pepper.

Club: Baked – Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

I resisted as long as I could, but I am finally admitting that it must be fall. I have had a hard time this year getting “in the mood” for fall. I know it officially became fall on the calendar last weekend and football has been on for several weeks now, but I still am in a summer state of mind. In fact, my husband had to beg me this week to put up our fall decorations. It has started to cool down a little here, and I have been able to venture outside for a couple of outdoor runs. Hoping this will help me get excited for fall and all the seasons coming!

These muffins are our next recipe for Club: Baked chosen by Billie of Chocloate and Chakra. As you may have guessed from above, these muffins were my first venture into anything that could be considered “seasonal cooking,” but I think they may have given me the kick I needed into fall cooking and baking. The savory nature of these muffins made them more of a dinner pairing than a breakfast treat in my mind, so I went completely into the fall state of mind and served them with some soup. 

I halved the recipe and ended up with six muffins. One thing to note is that the muffins don’t rise very much. I took the advice of some of the other group members and filled the muffin papers pretty full, and it seemed to work really well. While pumpkin and cheddar cheese may not be first two flavors you would choose to pair, we really enjoyed these muffins. The cayenne and black pepper give these muffins a little bit of a kick, and they paired really well with our soup. My husband was even thinking further ahead in the fall season thinking that these would be great for Thanksgiving. We’ll see 🙂

A big thanks to Bille for choosing another great recipe and giving me the kick I needed into fall! Be sure to stop by the Club: Baked page to check out the muffins from the other bakers!

Tangy Cucumber and Avocado Salad

I know it is ridiculously hot just about everywhere right now, but I still have a love affair with summer. What other time of year is it okay to pile your plate with fresh, in-season produce and call it a meal? I know as the temperature goes up it certainly has me actually craving things like large salads or vegetable combos to get my fill at meal time! 

This is a salad that I adapted from allrecipes.com to use some of the produce that we were getting from our garden. The cucumbers and tomatoes in this are all ours! Sadly, our cucumber plants have since burned-out in the heat, but my yellow bell tomato plant is still producing those little guys like they are going out of style! The salad makes a great side to just about any main dish you are serving – think grilled chicken, steak, burgers, brats, heck even a Mexican-themed meal would go here, or you could mix in a grain and call it a meal. Love it! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Tangy Cucumber and Avocado Salad
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
2 medium cucumbers, cubed (can peel them or leave it on, your choice)
2 slightly firm avocados, cubed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced 
1/4 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste (freshly ground if you have it)
1/4 lemon, juiced (or about 1 Tbsp.)
1 lime, juiced

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Stir in garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon and lime juice over the top and gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. 

Roasted Asparagus with Browned Butter

While I definitely have more strawberry recipes to share with you, I wanted to interrupt the berry goodness with an easy side dish recipe in case any of you were still looking for something to go along with your Easter dinner. I never really remember eating asparagus prior to starting this blog, but since then, it’s become one of my favorite vegetables to prepare. It is great prepared a lot of ways and also cooks relatively quickly. Speaking of asparagus, a couple weeks ago I saw a great tip about how to find where the woody portion ends. Take a spear and bend it towards the bottom. The place where it snaps is the end of the woody portion. You can then use it to roughly measure the other pieces so that you don’t end up cutting off too much of the vegetable. I used this when I was trimming some asparagus last week, and it worked great!

This recipe is one that I found in Cooking Light in their section about Meyer lemons. I actually cheated and used a normal lemon, but I’m sure that Meyers would make it that much better. It’s pretty simple in that you roast asparagus and then combine it with browned butter (what doesn’t get better with the addition of a little bit of browned butter?). Easy. Simple. Delicious.

On a side note, I’m not sure this is “food blog appropriate,” but has anyone else ever noticed that asparagus makes a certain liquid that leaves your body smell a little funny? It actually contains a sulfur-like compound that is broken down in your digestive system. Only about half of us actually have the enzyme that creates the smell. So, take a poll and impress your friends with your knowledge – I’m just joking about the poll 🙂

Jokes aside, this is a side dish that I’m going to keep in my files. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Roasted Asparagus with Browned Butter
From Cooking Light March 2011

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (or scant 1/4 tsp. table salt)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice (or normal lemon juice)
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. grated Meyer lemon rind (or normal lemon rind)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place asparagus in a foil-lined roasting pan; drizzle with oil. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in juice. Drizzle butter mixture over asparagus; toss well to coat. Sprinkle thyme and rind over asparagus. 

Yield: 4 servings

SMS: Irish Soda Bread

irish soda bread after baking

Well, it’s been several months at best since I’ve been able to make a recipe with SMS. I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed participating in the group and getting to know many of you wonderful ladies a bit better. I really appreciate the fact that you’ve let me tag along while I was finishing school, but if this post means anything, it means that I’m home! In reality, I’ve been here for about 3 weeks now, and it’s been great getting back in my kitchen. We definitely have been eating well =)

This was a fun first recipe to get back in the swing of things. This bi-monthly recipe was hosted by Julie of Little Bit of Everything. I love reading Julie’s blog, so check it out if you get a chance! I’ve never actually had Irish Soda Bread, but it has been one of those recipes that has been on my “to make” list for awhile. I am glad this gave me the little shove I needed. We were having corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day anyway, so this fit right in with the theme. 

In her post, Julie mentioned that her bread dough was pretty wet. I noticed this as well and also added a little extra flour. I did bake mine on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and my loaf really spread out when cooking. In fact, the cuts that I made before baking it just opened up rather than staying indented. I also ended up needing to bake it for 6 minutes longer than the time called for in the recipe before my toothpick came out clean. The resulting loaf was really good but also really crumbly. I feel like soda bread is traditionally a little bit crumbly, but it went from wet to crumbly really quickly?

irish soda bread before baking
irish soda bread slice

Neither of us ever having soda bread, both my husband and a I really enjoyed the flavor of the loaf. Because it was crumbly, it didn’t cut into pretty slices, but I’ve never been one to care much about how my food looks when it tastes good =) Head over to Julie’s blog to check out her post and the SMS blogroll to see how the other bakers fared. I know we liked it enough here that I’m already looking for a different variety to test out next year!

Garlic and Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Sometimes I feel like as food bloggers that we put on a little bit of a front. Not that we aren’t really making what we show you, but many of us (myself definitely included) really only post the “winners” of all the things that we make. This doesn’t always mean that the recipe went well, but even if the recipe failed us, it is typically still a “good” recipe. For example, my morning microwave oatmeal with applesauce, cinnamon, and a sliced banana when we have nice green ones hasn’t yet made the blog (or even earned itself a photo). 

One of the things that I hope to do better in 2011 is to better show you the simpler, healthier recipes we eat on a day-to-day basis. I love a great cookie, but we certainly can’t live on cookies alone. Let’s face it, we all need a couple recipes that we can turn to when you don’t get home from the gym until 7:30 wanted dinner 45 minutes ago =) While I’m definitely looking forward to finally get to permanently move to AZ and having a couple months off, after I get licensed in early summer and start my job, I’m more than likely going to need those simple, healthy recipes too. 

This recipe is one of those simple ones that we’ve made twice now – for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. In both cases, we were having a smaller meal, and I wanted to keep things on the healthier side. In fact, the recipe comes from Oven Love, and Natalie advertises it as just that, a “healthier alternative to the calorie-laden green bean casserole.”  Nevertheless, I’m positive these certainly don’t necessitate a fancy meal. With the exception of the brussel sprouts themselves, I bet you already have the rest of the ingredients in your kitchen, and with a shorter roasting time of 25-30 minutes, they’ll finish up while you are prepping the rest of the meal. 

P.S. If you are thinking, “Really Tessa, I know it’s January and all, but you’re actually bringing us brussel sprouts?” then you really have to try these. I promise you that I stay a mile away from the frozen ones that my husband eats out of a bag, and if I can make a believer out of my dad and younger brother, then you just may like them. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Lemon and Garlic
From Natalie at Oven Love

Ingredients:
1 lb. brussel sprouts, rinsed and halved 
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon juiced (I used 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice)
salt and fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (or parchment paper if you happen to find out your husband doesn’t have any foil in the house) and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the brussel sprouts with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing once, until sprouts are soft and brown in spots. Serve immediately.

SMS 1 Week Rewind: Bosc Pear, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Muffins

Well, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve been in on the weekly SMS bake-alongs, and I’m still not quite there. I was able to make an impromptu trip to Phoenix last weekend over my birthday to see my husband. Exciting, I know!! Unfortunately, it was only after making these muffins that I realized I had forgotten my camera cord. Thus with sincere apologies to Andrea (and to Melissa of Lulu the Baker for not having this week’s pie), my muffins are a week late.

Andrea from Nummy Kitchen was our host for last week’s SMS. Melissa’s muffins seem to have been problematic for the group in the past, and it seems that each of us has fiddled with the recipe to make them a little less heavy and dry. After reading last week’s posts, the consensus seems to be substituting sour cream for either the milk or the heavy cream. 

I started out similarly using fat-free plain yogurt in place of the milk, but ended up having to add some milk anyway to thin out the batter. The muffins did turn out quite moist with the addition of the yogurt, so I’m thinking that when we make these again in October that I’ll add the yogurt in place of the heavy cream to take advantage of the more liquid milk. On a side note, I halved the recipe, and still ended up with 14 muffins! I’m sure that I added a few more “wet” ingredients than were called for, but I can’t believe that I got that many extra muffins!

As far as flavor was concerned, I think my husband enjoyed them. I’ve never quite been the biggest fan of blue cheese, so I’m not quite sure what I thought. I was definitely more on the fence. Maybe with a different variation and a big bowl of soup I’ll change my mind on the whole idea of a savory muffin =)  

A big thanks to Andrea for hosting and to the rest of the group for putting up with my sporadic posting! Head over to the SMS blogroll to check out the others’ muffins as well as this week’s lemon blueberry buttermilk pie!