Category Archives: Dinner

Marinated zucchini salad

You can find an earlier version of this recipe here from back when I first started this blog. I thought about just updating that post but didn’t want to wipe out the memory of our early garden completely.  This year we’re in a new house and our garden isn’t quite ready to give us tasty zucchini. However this no cook meal was just right to celebrate the first day of summer.

Marinated Zucchini Salad

  • 1 zucchini, sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh, crumbly cheese of your choice
  • Fresh herbs
  • Optional prosciutto or pine nuts

Layer thin slices of zucchini with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. It’s key to let the salad sit for about an hour before eating to let the lemon juice tenderize the zucchini so that it doesn’t taste raw.

Experiment with your favorite crumbly cheese and fresh herbs. Today’s version featured fresh cotija cheese and basil. I’ve made this before with feta, ricotta salata, and goat cheese.  If you want to make a heartier salad, proscuitto and toasted pine nuts are a great addition. I’d love to hear about your favorites.

 

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Filed under Dinner, Garden, Quick Healthy, Salad, Vegetable

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak

IMG_6044Most years for special occasions like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and birthdays hubby and I splurge on getting a really good steak from an actual butcher shop like Siesel’s or Iowa Meat Farms. Our favorite is to get a Delmonico Rib Eye, which still has the bone in, and is available in a double thick cut. One really giant steak to cook to a perfect medium rare, and share between the two of us. It feels fancy, it’s cheaper than going out to a steak house on a crowded night, and we have a lot of fun cooking together. IMG_0081

I think we have finally perfected our method for cooking an amazing steak with a crunchy seared exterior, and perfectly tender interior.

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Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak

  • Servings: 2 (with left overs for steak and eggs)
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients:

  • The best steak you can get your hands on
  • Olive oil
  • A well seasoned cast-iron skillet
  • Salt and Pepper

Take your steak out of the fridge at least a half hour before cooking to bring to room temperature. Rub with olive oil, and generously season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.

Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat. Sear your steak on all sides. You may need to hold it upright with tongs to brown the edges. For our double thick steak, we seared it for about 45 seconds per side.

Once the steak is browned on all sides, slide it in the cast iron skillet into your oven. Cook the steak for 2-7 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. (2 minutes per side for a medium rare 1 1/2 inch steak, 7 minutes per side for a 3 inch thick steak)

Let steak rest for about ten minutes before slicing it.

 

 

 

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Filed under Cooking Project, Dinner, Recipes

Stuffed tomatoes

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I love this time of year. It’s usually when our backyard garden is at it’s peak, and my menu planning is guided by a Sunday afternoon harvest. We had a late and rocky start to planting this year due to some unexpected SDGE projects in our yard, and I was worried that we wouldn’t have the success we’ve had in previous summers. Thankfully we’ve got a very powerful “volunteer” tomato that sprouted and has completely taken over a corner. It’s been giving us a handful of tomatoes every week, and this week we got an abundance!

I saw a video online recently for stuffed tomatoes, and was reminded of making stuffed tomatoes in a cooking class in Italy during my study abroad program in 2005. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my hands on that recipe, but between perusing The Silver Spoon and a few online recipes, here’s what we landed on: Plump hollowed out tomatoes stuffed with zucchini, rice, tomatoes and herbs, surrounded by diced tomatoes.

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Stuffed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 min
  • Difficulty: Medium
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7 tomatoes
1/2 yellow onionIMG_2635 3 garlic cloves
1 zucchini
1/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 lemon
2 small yukon gold potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese optional for finishing
an abundance of italian herbs. I used rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the tops off of the tomatoes and reserve. Using a spoon, hollow out the inside of the tomato, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. If desired, turn the tomatoes upside down and let them drain. I’m not entirely sure of the benefits of this, but I do feel like the sides of my tomatoes held up a bit better. Pulse onion, garlic, 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch salt in a food processor or blender, and dump into a large bowl. Separate tomato flesh chunks from the juice and pulse in the food processor, add to large bowl. Shred zucchini in food processor or with a grater, and add to large bowl. Add rice, lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and chopped herbs to everything in the large bowl. Place the tomatoes into an oiled baking dish. Using a fork to slightly drain the mixture, stuff the hollowed out tomatoes with the zucchini rice mixture.

Dice up the potatoes and toss with salt, pepper, olive oil and herbs. Stuff potatoes all around tomatoes. Pour the remaining tomato juice and any juices from the stuffing mixture over the potatoes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 385 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes. If desired, finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese before the last 5 minutes of baking.

Serve with a small green salad and some crusty bread, and a nice glass of red wine. Bon appetit!

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Oven Roasted Salmon over Pasta with Greens

imageA quick and easy weeknight dinner that has a little bit of carby goodness to keep you warm at night, but can easily transition to a light summer meal. Perfect for this time of year.

Also, we’ve got swiss chard growing so happily in the yard that we’ve got to incorporate it into every meal :). Feel free to sub any kind of green.

Oven Roasted Salmon over Pasta with Greens

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS
2 fillets of salmon
1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and chopped
2 servings of pasta
Parmesan cheese to taste
2 Tb prepared pesto

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Add the salmon, and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice a 1/2 a lemon and layer slices over the salmon. Roast in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, turn the oven to the BROIL setting and broil for 2 additional minutes.

While the salmon is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until almost al dente, about 7 minutes. Add the swiss chard and boil for one more minute. Scoop out 1/2 c of cooking water, and drain pasta and chard. Return to the pot.

Mix the 1/c of cooking water with 2 Tb of prepared pesto, and add to the pot of pasta and greens. Add the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon. Stir to mix well.

Plate up pasta and greens and top with a fair amount of grated parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Plate your salmon on top and enjoy!

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Crispy Chicken Thighs with Olives and Artichoke

IMG_1183One pot meals are just the greatest, aren’t they? So much flavor and so little clean up. This one is full of Mediterranean flavors of artichokes and olives, and results in a super tender chicken. 
IMG_1181Pretty simple preparation: Sear your bone in-skin on chicken thighs skin side down to get them nice and crispy. Flip them over and fill the pan with veggies, and toss the whole thing in the oven. Dinner is served!IMG_1190Plate this up with some crusty bread and some fresh parsley. Enjoy!IMG_1180

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Olives and Artichoke

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 50 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Adapted from Crispy Chicken Skillet with Artichokes, Beets, Lemon, Olives

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
7 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
Salt, pepper, granulated garlic to taste
Zest from 1 lemon
I cup chicken stock
2 cups chopped mushrooms
8 oz artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
Juice of 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Heat up olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium to high heat. Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and sautee for about 10 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper and granulated garlic on all sides. Place the thighs skin down into the hot skillet, and leave them for 5-7 minutes to develop a nice crispy skin. Flip the chicken thighs and add the remaining ingredients to the skillet.
Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, and then transfer the whole skillet into the oven to bake for 30 minutes, or until the juices of the thighs run clear and the chicken is cooked through. Finish by squeezing a lemon over the whole dish to brighten up the flavors.

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Game of Thrones Dinner Party

IMG_1205Who here is a Game of Thrones fan?? I certainly am. For the season premier this past weekend, I invited a few friends over for a Game of Thrones inspired dinner. IMG_1202A snack of hard salami and cheese, you know something you can pack on your horse.IMG_6099Roasted Chicken, to eat with your hands, the juices running down your chin.IMG_1203“Dornish” peppers – the prep anyways (it was a little chaotic once everyone showed up). A mix of onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and spicy anaheim chilis from my garden. IMG_1204Round it out with some green salad, crusty bread, and some delicious bulgarian pastries. IMG_1208Finish with Sansa’s Lemon Cakes

imageand some Game of Thrones beer to wash it all down.  Happy viewing fans. 

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Turmeric and Ginger Sweet Potatoes

IMG_1102I love potatoes. Who doesn’t love potatoes? And what I really love are sweet potatoes. The bright orange delicious ones.IMG_1095I was inspired by Gina of So…Let’s Hang Out and these Turmeric Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsley Tahini Sauce. Sadly, when I was meal planning I did NOT check the weather, and it was way too hot to turn on the oven the day I decided to make these.  So, I improvised and went with big slices of potato that could be cooked on the grill. Also, I only have whole cloves in my pantry and was feeling a bit too lazy to grind them up (on a Tuesday, forgive me!). So I tossed slices of yams with coconut oil, ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper, and threw them on the grill with some asparagus and fish. So delicious! Honestly might be my new favorite way to cook potatoes. Such a great combination of sweet, salty and earthy. Thanks Gina for the inspiration! One note: if your potatoes are cold out of the fridge, the coconut oil will harden as you toss it with the cold potatoes. Nothing wrong with this, but it does make it harder to evenly distribute the oil and spices.IMG_1097Of course, if it is not 80 degrees at 8 pm at your house, feel free to cube the potatoes and roast them in a 400 degree oven.IMG_1101I did make the Parsley Tahini Sauce, but honestly I didn’t think the potatoes needed it. They were just so good on their own. However, it was a nice addition to the salmon and asparagus, so all in all a good endeavor.IMG_1103

Grilled Turmeric and Ginger Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • Approximately 3 sweet potatoes or yams sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Toss all of the ingredients together, and lay out on a perforated pan for your grill. Cook the potatoes for approximately 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

The message that I hope to convey to you with this post is to be inspired, and never feel held back by the circumstances of your kitchen. Don’t have a spice or an herb? Substitute another! Too hot to cook something you were dying to try? Take it outside! Don’t have a grill? See if you can pan sear or broil whatever it is that inspires you.

I’d love to hear about how you make substitutions in a pinch.

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Filed under Quick Healthy, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetable