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Category: Food (Page 2 of 8)

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

What the heck do vegetarians eat? I hear this all the time from friends and family who want to invite someone they care about over for dinner. But, when that person is a vegetarian many cooks get stumped. Ask my Mom. She will tell you. That poor woman has two daughters are totally or nearly vegetarian and two grandkids are vegetarian. She will tell you that she hates inviting us over for dinner because she has no idea what to make. So, Mom, Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers is one great alternative to consider. It is hearty enough that even carnivores (like your husband) will feel satisfied.

First, a little background about Picadillo which is a popular dish in Spain and many Latin American countries. Picadillo is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. It is often served with rice and used a filling for dishes like tacos or savory pastries.

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed PeppersI like this healthier version of Picadillo swaps out ground beef for lentils. Lentils are inexpensive to buy, low in fat, high in fiber, and full of protein. By sautéing aromatics like onion and garlic with chili powder, cinnamon, Italian seasoning, cocoa powder, and tomatoes, you can achieve a rich flavorful broth to coat the lentils.

This version of Lentil Picadillo is most similar to the Picadillo found in Puerto Rico which includes green olives for a salty bite and raisins for a sweet chewy texture. In Puerto Rico, Picadillo is a common filling for empanadas or fritters. In this recipe, I add cooked rice to the Picadillo and stuff it inside a sweet red bell pepper before baking.

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

Finally, lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers is a great make ahead meal. You could prep the Picadillo on the weekend and then on a weeknight, stuff the peppers and bake.  A healthy, homemade dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes. What is not to love about that? Also, can you say lunch leftovers? Just try not to gloat as your coworker pulls her sad little Lean Cuisine out of the microwave.

How to Make Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Pepper

Roasted Carrot and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

Life is too short for the same old, same old sandwiches. How many peanut butter & jelly, tuna, or egg salad sandwiches can one person eat in a life time? Sandwiches are simple, portable, and can be quite delicious with just a little bit of effort and creativity. I love sandwiches that have a mix of colors, textures, and tastes.

In this roasted carrot and goat cheese sandwich you get sweetness from the roasted carrots, tangy creaminess from goat cheese, and a bit of salty bite from the green olives. Are you familiar with the spice blend za’atar? It is a Middle Eastern seasoning made from dried herbs, spices, and sesame seeds. I buy za’atar at the Middle Eastern market. You can also order za’atar on Amazon.

You may recall this recipe for Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes and Pita Chips from earlier this year.

Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese you can use cream cheese instead. The cream cheese will have less tang and a smoother texture. Plus, it might be easier to find and more economical but I love goat cheese so usually use it for this sandwich. Also, if you aren’t a green olive lover you can leave them out, use black olives or substitute capers instead.

You will want to use a bread that when toasted is hearty enough to hold up to spreading the thick goat cheese mixture. I used plain white sandwich bread but I can think of a few other breads that would make a great sandwich. I like the idea of a walnut raisin bread or a honey wheat bread.

Next time I make this sandwich, I will use thicker carrots and slice them slightly on the diagonal in order to get more surface area to roast. I also think that thicker slices of roasted carrot will make the sandwiches more substantial when you go in for a bite.

Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

What are your slightly out-of-the-box sandwiches you like to make and eat? I am always looking for something new.

How to Make Roasted Carrot and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

roasted carrot and goat cheese

Almond Butter and Peach Toast

Almond Butter and Peach ToastThe end of peach season can nearly move me to tears. A perfectly ripe peach is as close to heaven as I can imagine. Dream sequence: I am standing in my kitchen, leaning over the sink, and bite into a big juicy peach.  The flesh just gives and the juices start running down my arm. The warm peach is so delicious that I can’t bother to grab a dish towel. Okay, enough of this nonsense, let’s get back to the recipe.

Back to the almond butter and peach toast though. You don’t really need a recipe, it’s just an assembly job. Peaches and almonds pair perfectly, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving almond butter a try. I prefer to buy almond butter at grocery stores where I can grind it myself from almonds. Grinding your own guarantees that there is no additives or other junk in your almond butter.

Almond Butter and Peach ToastAlmond butter and peach toast is so simple but the genius comes from using quality ingredients. Get a nice artisan loaf of bread or try to make your own. I often use this no-knead bread recipe when I make bread. The results will blow your mind. It’s so easy and the end product is a tender crusty loaf that will impress your friends and family.

But, let’s get real, the star of this dish is the perfectly ripe peach. When peaches are season, I will stop at nothing to get them from the farmers markets, produce stands, or best of all from a friend’s tree. Then, I use them in every way possible. I have canned peach salsa (yum!), made this Peach, Zucchini, and Basil Pizza, and this peach tart.

Almond Butter and Peach ToastWhen I buy too many peaches, I will make this Almond Butter and Peach Toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s so quick and easy to prepare but so completely satisfying. I add the sliced almonds and hemp seeds for a little texture and crunch.

Almond Butter and Peach Toast pin

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Zucchini Scramble Toast

It all started when my Mom showed up with three zucchini from her garden. She was heading out of town but her garden was still producing like crazy. Of course I could use them, no way would I let them go to waste. That is what I told both of us.

My garden has two zucchini plants so I already had zucchini pickles in the fridge. I’d made zucchini pie at least three times. Crispy zucchini chips? Yup, I had made them at several times. Chewy zucchini oatmeal cookies? I made those too.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Coffee has a way of clearing my mind and as I sipped my morning cuppa, I eyeballed the zucchini, thought about eggs, and that day old loaf of bread on the counter and Zucchini Scramble Toast was born.

I shredded the zucchini and thinly sliced part of an onion. All the veggies needed was a quick sauté in olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Once the vegetables softened, I added a couple of lightly beaten eggs to pan and let the eggs set for about a minute before gently pushing them around the pan. Just a little more salt and pepper to the eggs and scrambled until set. Remember the eggs will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove the pan from the heat.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

While the eggs were cooking, I toasted and buttered the bread. When the eggs were done, I divided the eggs evenly onto the toast. I sprinkled chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs on top. Chives and basil are terrific on the toast.

The beauty of Zucchini Scramble Toast is that while it is perfect for breakfast, it also makes a super quick weeknight supper. Plus, with the price of avocados these days, it may be time for the avocado toast trend to exit stage left. Who wants to help me start the next ‘toast’ fad?

So, Mom, if you are reading this, I used up all three zucchini. I hope you are having a great time on your trip and when you get home, come over for Zucchini Scramble Toast and a cup of coffee. I want to hear all about your adventures.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

It’s almost like heaven. Fresh, garden tomatoes are everywhere! Neighbors bring them over, coworkers bring them to work, farmers markets have them in a rainbow of colors, and if you are very lucky, you can go into your own garden and pick them just before you eat them. A neighbor was drowning in tomatoes and brought me over some beauties. I made tomato sandwiches, gazpacho, and with the two most perfect specimens I made a tomato and caramelized onion galette.

A galette is similar to pie but it is baked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie pan. Galettes are typically more rustic in nature and you typically don’t see fancy crimping or decorating like you do on pies. Galettes can be sweet or savory. This savory tomato and caramelized onion galette would be my first choice over any fruit pie, any day of the week.

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

Baking isn’t really my forte so you won’t see a ton of recipes that feature baking rather than cooking. In my mind, cooking is like jazz music, you can freestyle the heck out of most recipes. But, baking is a whole different thing. Baking is like the symphony, where each individual component is perfectly precise and deviations from the plan are not appreciated and can often sink the endeavor.

For these reasons, I typically buy pie crusts in the refrigerator section of the grocery store rather than attempting to make them from scratch. I have several friends who make pie crust from scratch and they tell me it is a cinch. The few times I have tried, I ended up with pile of buttery crumbs. But, if you make excellent pie crusts from scratch, by all means, use those. In fact, why not drop a link in the comments below to the recipe you use. Maybe I will get the nerve up to try again.

But, the real star of this dish is the tomatoes. Don’t you dare use grocery store tomatoes for this recipe! I only make this tomato and caramelized onion galette during the summer months when garden fresh tomatoes are available.

Caramelized onions add a wonderful flavor which complements the tomatoes. You can skip the onions if you don’t have the time or inclination to caramelize the onions but I rarely skip this step because I love what they bring to this dish. I slice the onions vertically. See the video below if you aren’t sure what I mean.

Regarding the cheese, I love the tangy creaminess from the goat cheese but I wouldn’t drive to the store to get goat cheese if I had feta or Parmesan in the fridge. I like to serve this galette with a salad and a crisp white wine.

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette

Looking for other tomato recipes? Check out these posts:

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Oh, garden, my garden, let me count the ways that I love thy bounty. Seriously, am I the only one who waxes poetic about the amazingness of a humble garden? I don’t think I will ever get over the magic of planting a few seeds in the ground, providing water regularly, and coming home each day to magic. Absolute and total magic. Zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, greens, and beans delight me daily during the summer months.

I am a vegetable lover through and through and I never tire of summer and the incredible food that I can grow with minimal effort and expense. Picking veggies and herbs then walking a few steps into my kitchen is what fuels my fire of local and seasonal food. I bank the sights, smells, and sounds of summer while weeding and watering, to draw upon through winter. But, I know not everyone feels this way about vegetables and that some of you may face challenges of cooking for people or kids who proclaim to hate vegetables. Well, I have an idea for you.

Want to sneak some additional vegetables into your family’s meals? Then I highly recommend making theses crispy zucchini chips to accompany your next burger or BLT. You will love these baked zucchini chips. The coating is crispy, light, and full of flavor. The beauty is that they are baked not fried. Plus, your non-veggie loving family members will eat them. I promise.

Crispy Zucchini ChipsEven my vegetarian, non-vegetable loving son will devour these Crispy Zucchini Chips. So, when zucchinis are coming on strong I make crispy zucchini chips at least once per week. If you or your kids like to dip, you can serve crispy zucchini chips with ketchup, marinara, ranch dressing, or my favorite, Green Goddess dressing.

Also keep in mind, as I have mentioned before, I use a mandoline to slice the zucchini evenly. The OXO brand that I have lets you set the slices to the exact thickness that you want. To make the coating extra crispy, I use a combination of seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs which can found with the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store. To boost the flavor of the coating, add some salty parmesan and a bit of kick from cayenne pepper.

I like to use zucchini that are on the small side because they are tender and don’t have many seeds. I hope you like this recipe and you may find that you don’t want to give your extra zucchinis away.

How to Make Crisp Zucchini Chips

Crispy Zucchini Chips

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

I have been making Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts for years, well over a decade, in fact. This is one my go-to recipes that is in heavy rotation especially during the summer months when I crave cool, crisp, and refreshing meals. I prefer to use English (or hot house) cucumbers for this recipe because of their thin skin and few seeds but if you grow your own cukes, by all means, use them.

The funny thing about cucumbers is that I didn’t like cucumbers (at all) until I was an adult. I adored pickles as a kid but wouldn’t touch cucumbers with a ten-foot pole. That’s weird, right?

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts is super easy to make. You combine a few ingredients like rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. The dressing is terrific blend of sweet, spicy, and acid.

While the dressing cools, slice the cucumbers very thin.  Using a mandoline makes this job a snap and results in perfectly uniform slices. The video below shows how to use a mandoline and features the exact same OXO brand mandoline that I use. I love it because I can set the width of the slices and it makes slicing so easy, just be very careful because the blade is sharp. Always use the included safety guard when using the mandoline.

After slicing the cucumbers, I recommend putting the slices into a colander and sprinkling them liberally with salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumber which results in crisp slices in your salad. Be sure to rinse the salt off the slices and then use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and pat the slices to remove excess moisture before adding the dressing.

Just before serving Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, sprinkle the salad or individual servings with chopped up dry-roasted peanuts. The peanuts add that salty crunch which is the perfect foil for the cool, crisp cucumbers.

Sometimes I will make a pot of rice and serve the Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts in a bowl with a scoop of rice. I love to make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts to accompany Hawaiian Poke. Check out my recipes for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke or Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado. Grilled meat or fish would also make a great accompaniment to this salad.

How to Make Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Salmon and Mangos and Avos….oh my!

I could eat Hawaiian poke (pronounced poe-kay) every day, it is so light and fresh, perfect in the summer. Poke is a raw fish salad seasoned with flavors common in Japanese cooking. Ginger salmon poke is flavored with a dressing of fresh ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Once the cubes of salmon are coated with the dressing, onions, sesame seeds, mango and avocado are added to poke.

There are a few things to consider before attempting to make poke at home. First, buy your fish from a reputable fish monger or a grocery store which carries high-quality fresh fish. I recommend mentioning that you plan to make poke with the fish when you are buying. Also, you will want to use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into cubes. A knife that isn’t super sharp will tear the fish so be sure to sharpen your knives before cutting up the fish.

Do you have a good knife? The single most important kitchen tool for me a sharp chef’s knife. This is the knife that I use to cut almost everything while preparing recipes. I have a serrated bread knife for slicing bread and a paring knife that I occasionally use to slice up a peach or remove the segments of oranges.

Having a solid chef’s knife is the first step, keeping the knife sharp is the second step. You should invest in a steel to sharpen your knife. The video below will show you exactly how to use the steel to keep your knife in perfect cutting condition.

With this in mind, you will become a poke-making master in no time. I love to serve poke in a bowl with steamed rice (brown or white). Then, I like to add some fresh vegetables like shredded cabbage or a lightly dressed cucumber salad to round out the bowl.

If poke is your thing too, you may want to check out my post on Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke too.

How to Make Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Raise your hand if you currently have more cucumbers in your fridge than fingers on one hand. Am I the only one raising my hand here? I doubt it. I don’t know what happened but a whole bunch of them come on at once. So, now I am busting out all the cucumber recipes that I love and eating cucumbers all the time. You have probably had a version of this cucumber sunomono salad one time or another at a Japanese or sushi restaurant.

Sunomono salad is a perfect side dish to accompany meals. It is light, crispy, and refreshing. The vinegar dressing is a perfect foil for any richness you may serve alongside it. For example, sunomono salad is perfect with spring rolls and a peanut dipping sauce. Or, I adore sunomono salad with Hawaiian Poke salad. You can find my recipe for Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke here. One of my friends makes sunomono salad as a side dish alongside a marinated grilled flank steak or ribs. I think it would be terrific paired with grilled salmon too.

Sunomono salad can be dressed up or down. Vegetarians can skip the imitation crab altogether and consider adding chopped peanuts instead. You can kick the sunomono salad up a notch by adding shrimp to the salad. If you add shrimp, don’t use the little salad shrimp. Buy something bigger and then slice them in halfThe possibilities are endless!

I often make up a batch of sunomono salad on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch during the week. The cucumbers will soften as they sit but if you are using fresh cucumbers, the salad will remain crisp and flavorful. The salad also comes together so quickly that you can make it as a side dish on a weeknight and pair it with something that you’ve grilled.

How to Make Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Poke is a raw fish salad. In Hawaiian, poke means ‘to cut or slice’. The fish is cut into cubes and seasoned with ingredients that are common in Japanese cooking such as soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.

This summer has become the summer of poke in my kitchen. I am not sure how it happened but suddenly I find myself craving it all the time. Perhaps it is because the temperatures this summer have been unbearably hot and I can’t stand eating anything hot or even turning on a burner most nights. Or, maybe it is just that I have come to appreciate the simplicity of chopping up a few quality ingredients and combining them into an incredibly tasty dish. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop making and eating poke. Today’s recipe for spicy ahi tuna features fresh ahi tuna with a little kick.

I get my fish from a local fishmonger which has fresh fish flown in every day. Many of the local sushi restaurants in town order their fish from them too so you know it has to be good. I always ask the fishmonger which fish that they have in that day would be good to use to make poke. On my last visit, I picked up some ahi tuna and salmon.  I will have a few more poke recipes coming your way in the coming weeks.

Figure that you will want between 4 to 6 ounces of fish per person. I always serve poke with rice and either shredded cabbage, a cucumber salad, or seaweed salad to round out the meal.

The beauty of poke is that you make a simple, flavorful dressing that will lightly coat the fish. The fish is cut into small cubes which maximizes the surface area available to soak up the flavorful dressing. Then, you simply add rice (either brown or white) into a bowl, top with the spicy ahi tuna, and some vegetable matter and you have a perfect summer meal. I will often make a little bit extra of everything so I have leftovers for lunch the next day!

How to Make Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Pin

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