thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

Just in time for the weekend!

“Zucchini Cheese on Toast.”  This is a fabulous, fancy, easy-peasy breakfast.  When you read these ingredients together, you might think there’s no way this will taste good.  And, admittedly, even *making* this dish I had those thoughts.  But it was so good, I ate all of it, and – had I a spare zucchini in my refrigerator – might have made even more (nom nom nom).

This recipe is very simple to make, and is great if you have extra squash that didn’t get used up and might be ending its life span.  They usually aren’t as pretty, might not slice as nicely.  But grating them?  Yeah, you can grate anything and it’s tasty.  For reference, I used one whole zucchini, one egg, and it covered 3 pieces of wheat bread.  I kind of wish I had fancier toast, maybe something a little heartier (that didn’t crisp in the oven as much) but this was still delicious.

Grate the zucchini (either on a hand grater or in a food processor – I recommend a hand grater, less mess to clean up, which makes this meal even faster).  Put the grated veggie in some sort of tea towel and squeeeeeeze all of the water out of it, as best you can (nobody likes soggy toast).  Mix in the egg, shallots, cheese, salt, and pepper.  I toasted my bread just a little before topping it with the egg/veg mixture – this makes the toast a little more stable when trying to spread stuff on it.  Put the toast on a cookie sheet, top it with the mix, and broil for 5-8 minutes (I think i needed 7 minutes for mine).  Try to get the veggie mix as close to the edges as you can, so the bread won’t burn under the broiler.

I think a good way to describe this is “portable quiche.”  It has a lot of the same ingredients, has a savory component to it, but is less messy than trying to scoop out a pie-wedge of goodness when it’s hot from the oven.  Also, it’s enough for one person (eh, maybe 2 if you don’t mind sharing) so you’re not eating leftover quiche the rest of the week.   …not saying leftover quiche is a bad thing, but I feel bad making more meals when there are plenty of leftovers to be consumed, and I would definitely rather cook more and re-heat less.

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Mmmm, Toasty Goodness

  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup mature cheddar, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 slices bread
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the broiler (grill for UK readers).
  2. Toast the bread and put to one side.
  3. Put the zucchini in a clean cloth and twist to squeeze out the excess liquid.
  4. Place the zucchini, cheddar, egg, and shallot in a bowl.
  5. Add a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
  6. Lay out the toast on a baking tray.
  7. Spread the zucchini mixture on top of the toast, making sure to cover as much of the toast as possible to prevent the edges from burning.
  8. Place under the broiler at a medium heat until golden brown and bubbling (about 5-8 minutes).
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Apps for a Night Out

So a week or two ago I went out with my friend Theresa, which meant I got to make some appetizers 🙂  Three cheers for new recipe night!  I didn’t have a lot of time, so I found a recipe (ok, two of them) that were pretty quick, required very few ingredients, and were pretty tasty.  The first is a date log – this would be great served with crackers, cheese, and fruit.  It’s great for an appetizer for a gathering – it’s a very rich dish, but so easy you won’t mind making it.  The second is a ricotta-type empanada.  A great cheese dish, rich, but not over the top.

Date Log (http://thekiwicook.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/date-pecan-log/)

I only made half of the recipe – but it was really easy.  You don’t have to toast the pecans, they smell good, but if you’re short on time.   Toast the chopped nuts in the oven until they’re fragrant – about 10 minutes.20140314_174916Mix together the chopped dates, sugar, honey, orange zest and juice in a pot on the stove. 20140314_175459 Bring the pot to a simmer, until it thickens, then add in the pecans.  Here’s where I went wrong (don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, but I am ready to throw out all of the wax paper I own – it does me no good).  20140314_180557When the mixture has thickened, add to a sheet of parchment paper (not wax paper – do as I say, not as I do!) and mold into a log shape.  Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve (remove and bring to room temp when you’re ready).  Don’t use wax paper – the log is *very* sticky and you can’t peel the two apart.  Parchment would work so much better, I just didn’t have any.  This will be a sticky mess, but if you slice it with a sharp knife on a wooden board/solid surface, it will be worth it.20140314_181731

 

The cheese empanada (or Maltese Pastizzi http://mediterranealicious.com/2013/11/21/maltese-pastizzi-my-way/) was super easy to make – thaw out some puff pastry and roll it out.  Mix ricotta with an egg and some cheese, salt, pepper.   Cut out the puff pastry with a ring mold (i.e. an upside down cup), fill with a tablespoon of ricotta mix, and then seal up.  Brush with an egg (if you have one, but not needed), and then bake.  That’s it!!

 

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Cheese, Cheese, and more Cheese

I love cheese.  I love all things cheese.  When I have a chance to get together with my friends, I usually make things cheese-related.  So recently, when us gals got together, I made two cheese appetizers.  They are very simple, very easy to throw together – in fact, I was only missing one or two ingredients for both dishes, everything else I had on hand!!

The first dish:  Apricots and Cheese

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Ingredients:

a pack of dried apricots
1 oz. of cream cheese
1/4 C. (or so) of blue cheese (to flavor)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
1/4 C chopped walnuts
Fresh Rosemary

Sautee the walnuts (finely chopped) in the butter in a pan.  When they are slightly toasted, add the tsp of sugar, then 1-2 tsp of fresh, chopped Rosemary.  Sautee 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

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Mix the cream cheese with blue cheese.

 

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Layer the apricot with the cheese mix, then top with the herbed walnuts.  Eat in a bite-sized amount 🙂  *GREAT* savory appetizer!!

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The second recipe:  Mini Cheesecakes

Ingredients:
1/3 C Panko
1/3 C Ground walnuts
1/2 tsp dried Basil
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 4-oz package feta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped Kalmata olives
Fresh Basil
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I only needed a small amount of these cheesecakes, so I cut most of the recipe in half (including the egg).   For the crust, heat the oven to 350, and line a mini-muffin tin with cupcake papers.  Mix together the Panko, Walnuts, and butter.  Press a Tbsp of so of the crust-mix into the bottom of the muffin cups (I used the end of my pestle).

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In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, feta cheese, and egg until well combined (the less lumps the better).  Add the egg and the sour cream.  When well-mixed, add on top of the walnut crust (~1 Tbsp per tin).  Bake 12-15 minutes until the filling is set.

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Cool outside of the tin pan for a few minutes.  Top each cheesecake with the olive/basil mix before serving.

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These are both super savory dishes.  They’re great for a gathering, easy finger-food.  Hopefully you enjoy them as much as I did!!

 

 

 

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Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

So, I’m trying to use things I already have in the pantry, and only buying meats and fresh veggies.  It’s harder than it sounds :-p  I have acquired a lot of random things that I can’t find (good) recipes for!  And I’m really not very hungry most evenings, so no recipe even sounds good.  Ugh.  But I’m trying 🙂

Tonight I wanted to make stuffed peppers.  I had leftover hamburger, big juicy red peppers, and some homemade spaghetti sauce.  All the fix’ins.  Well the Mr. said stuffed peppers are hard to eat, what if we chopped them up into the meat mix?  Hmm, interesting idea…

So here’s what I did!!

Ingredients:
hamburger
cooked white rice
seasoning
spaghetti sauce
red pepper
white onion
extras

While the hamburger is browning in the pan, I chopped up the half onion I had, and one red pepper.
Also, cook the instant white rice (a cup or so).  I added some onion flakes to the rice (and garlic powder to the hamburger mix) when it was done to season it.  When the hamburger is almost done, add in the chopped onion.  Transfer to a bowl.

Throw the chopped pepper in the pan and cook (~5 min), then add a little water to steam.  When it’s almost done, add in some chopped green onion (more for color than flavor).

Mix all of the meat and veggies together in a big bowl.  Add in a cup or so of spaghetti sauce (mine went bad in the fridge – booo, last of the homemade!! so I used canned tomatoes and a little store-bought sauce – worked perfectly).  Mix and toss on a plate.  Top with a little bit of cheese.  The Mr. raved about it – so I must have done it right 🙂 (sorry the picture is a little sloppy – this was my 2nd helping – I always forget to take a picture before eating!!)

 

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Summer is here – time for easy dinners!

Ok, so summer isn’t quite here…yet.  But it’s getting close.  With my lawn boy (aka: the Mr.) mowing the green, green grass; with my car covered in pollen; the windows open letting that fresh air in.  Ahhh!!! (choo!!)

Since the weather is getting warmer, I’m slowly (albeit, grudgingly) getting away from my heavy comfort foods and back into the lighter, simple foods of the spring and summer season.  I’m also trying to use up whatever is in my fridge and pantry so when I move it will be much easier 🙂

Tonight’s dinner was a good one – the Mr. and I were both pleased with the way it turned out, and super full.  Always a good sign!

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla

Ingredients:
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1-oz package of goat cheese
1.5 C of shredded mozz/italian/provolone/white cheese
jalapeno
cilantro
salt
pepper
cumin
chicken (optional – but delicious!)
tortilla shells

 

I tried this recipe once before, and this time we added the chicken to it.  Made for a slightly heartier meal, and stretched the other ingredients a little farther.
Put the goat cheese in a bowl and crumble with a fork.  Add in the white cheese, the spices, and the black beans.  Meanwhile, slice up the jalapenos and set aside (note: this is only because I didn’t want any in my meal; I added it to the top layer after all the filling had been placed).

In a pan of hot oil (~1 Tbsp) brown the chicken. When the outside is cooked, you’re out of oil, and things are starting to maybe smoke a little, add about 1/4 cup of water.  Have the vent ready as this will cause a lot of steam.  When the water cooks off, add a little more oil and repeat.  This water keeps the chicken nice and moist while it continues to cook.  When the chicken is done, remove and cool, then chop (with scissors, that’s really the easiest way) and add to the bean and cheese mixture.

Spray a non-stick pan with some Pam and put in the first tortilla shell.  Layer the bean/meat/cheese mix on top of it, keeping a 1/2″ border around the edges, and smoosh it down with your hands (the cheese will stick together so this part is easy).  Add jalapenos, if you’re going to, then add the next tortilla shell.  Turn the heat on high and cook, flipping once.  When it’s done, slide onto a plate and cut with a pizza slicer.

I had a very ripe avocado so I made a little guac on the side – which made it (yum, yum) that much better.

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