Crispy Bits

Doesn’t matter what you are actually eating, the crispy bits are always the best!

Lasagna, meatloaf, pizza, hot dogs or even french fries to name a few – all have crispy bits (and in the french fry’s case – the extra crispy bits!) And those are always the best part!

So recently when my husband asked me if I had used breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni and cheese (I had not) I knew the extra time in the oven “crisping up the top” was totally worth the wait!

mac and cheese with ham

A little paprika sprinkled on top makes it “fancy” :)

Now for a few secrets about this particular dish ( mostly to see if my husband is reading all the way to the end!)

I used a gluten-free pasta and thickened the cheese sauce with arrowroot flour! Also I added cubed ham but you could easily leave this out and have a vegetarian version too! Be sure to sprinkle some extra shredded cheese on top for that extra yum factor!

Demand & Supply

One thing about my local grocery store is that they rarely stock ground lamb. Sometimes around Easter I can get it but most of the year – very tough to find. Since I live in the metroboston area my “local” grocery store that is only 2 blocks from me is not my only option. I can get in the car and actually drive about 2 miles to another grocery store that is much more diverse in their meat selection and they reliably supply ground lamb any time of the year due to the demand created by the crowd that shops there.

However for the last 6 weeks or so that hasn’t been possible because the store has all but shut down.

Call it a Greek tragedy or maybe just a family feud, but obviously I must be talking about Market Basket!

While they were closed/striking the other, closer grocery store decided to step up its service and selection – a fact that I appreciated since they are only 2 blocks away. That is how I happened upon the ground lamb one day. And well-priced to boot! That immediately became the catalyst for lamb burgers on the grill.

closeup burger

Seeing that it was lamb, it definitely needed a homemade Tzatziki sauce (made of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon etc) to bring it to perfection. Served along with a side salad made simply of tricolor garden cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta with a drizzle of good olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper.

While I am excited that the folks at Market Basket won their battle, and soon I will be shopping there again, I am interested to see if my closer, local market continues to supply the demand, even if the demand dwindles – probably not. But it was yummy and close by while it lasted!

lamb burger dish Production Notes

I simply mixed in a heaping teaspoon of Penzeys Lamb Seasoning per pound of meat along with a teaspoon of salt at the same ratio and formed patties perfectly sized for grilled English muffins.  Use more seasoning if you want things a little zestier but I wanted the flavor and richness of the meat to shine through.

(and no I didn’t receive any compensation from Penzeys for mentioning their product but if they are reading they can feel free to send me some product!)

Corn Season

This time of year in New England fresh “Corn on the Cob” is king!

And while many people are busy thinking up new ways to use up all the Zucchini, I spend my time thinking up ways to eat more fresh corn!

The latest way…..

“Fresh corn pudding with roasted sweet potatoes & red bell pepper!”

(served with grilled steak or not)

final plate

 

The key here is the not only the 4 cups of fresh raw corn taken right off the cob, but the roasted sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes - Simply peeled, cubed, drizzled with oil, salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees till tender and browed a bit.

Sweet potatoes – Simply peeled, cubed, drizzled with oil, salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees till tender and browned a bit.

Tip: Scrub and roast your potatoes in the cool summer nights and make the corn pudding the next day or better yet if early morning is your thing, get it all done before the heat of the day sets in.

Another Tip: I like roasting potatoes or any veggies just to have on hand for quiche fillings, sandwich stuffers, omelets or quesadilla.

 

the recipe

2 cups cubed, roasted sweet potatoes

1 small-medium sweet red bell pepper diced

1 cup small dice white onion

4 cups fresh corn kernels (be sure to reap the “milk” from the cobs too!)

1 heaping TB fresh chopped sage

1/2 cup melted and slightly cooled butter

4 medium size eggs (adjust according if yours are smaller or bigger)

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 1/4 cup finely ground corn meal (yellow or white okay)

1 1/4 cup “half and half”* or Whole milk     *I used fat-free because that is what I had but I think it would be richer with full fat.

salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8×12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

mix the potatoes, onion, bell pepper, corn kernels and corn milk together and dump into the baking dish. In another bowl mix the butter, eggs, sage and baking powder together. Alternately whisk in the cornmeal and milk (or half and half) – watching consistency. The batter should be thick but still very pourable. You may end up using more or less of one of these two ingredients. Salt and pepper should be added in and pour over the veggies in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake 20 more mins. Baking time may vary – the edges should be brown and the middle firm but soft – kinda like quiche.

Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

 

Superfecta Of Summer

Corn and tomatoes are one of  my favorite parings and I have written about them before….here and here.

This time I paired them in a quiche. Easy and summer-y this quiche tastes like a fancy brunch dish and is so light that you feel almost like you are eating healthy! (never mind the eggs, cream and cheese in the mix!)

summer quiche The key was the fresh corn – sweet and in season now –  I carved it raw off the cob making sure to include all the “milk” into the bowl as well. I had never used a soft, fresh cheese like goat cheese before, in a quiche, but I had some already crumbled in the fridge and decided to throw it in. The fresh basil and cherry tomatoes cut in half rounded out this trifecta (or perhaps its a “superfecta?”) of ingredients. The moist goat cheese added a bit of luscious-ness to it.The quiche is rich but not heavy.

Production Notes

I just use a store-bought crust that I blind bake for 10-15 minutes so the crust will be crisp and not soggy. I also firmly believe that glass pie dishes get the best result with crust. For the liquids I simply start with 6 whole eggs and about a cup of dairy – milk cream or even half and half. I fill the cooled crust with the filling of the choice and carefully pour the liquid mix over it all. Be careful not to pour to fast as sometimes the liquid doesn’t get into the nooks and crannies as fast as it should and you can easily spill over the edges! S & p to taste.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until set in middle. Cool a bit before slicing.

quiche ingredients

The “superfecta” of summer ingredients!

 

Can You Really Ever Get Enough…

…of grilled food?

on the grill

Especially in the short New England summer season?

I can’t. I just love to take advantage of the grill for dinner (or lunch or breakfast even) and getting outside to cook. It also reminds me to water the garden too. (Although that sometimes leads to “well-done” grill food. But the “flavor is in the brown right?”)

Here is a classic grilled meal!

grilled chicken dinner

Marinated & grilled chicken with grilled veggies and cole slaw!

Like my meatloaf, my marinades are never the same!

To make my marinade, I simply combine some oil, (extra virgin olive is nice but almost any will do) some acid, (lemon juice or vinegar) salt/pepper and whatever spices strike my fancy that day. Mix it up in a little dish as a “flavor concentrate” – tasting it until you basically have the same balance as a strong salad dressing, then add a little cold water to “extend” the volume of marinade to cover whatever cut of meat you plan on using. Pour over meat and refrigerate until grill time! This could be an hour or it could be a day.

This chicken had a citrus influence with lemon-pepper seasoning, coriander seed, and cumin.

 

Tropical Twist

Recently I was inspired to put a tropical twist on an old favorite: stuffed peppers.

It might have been the gorgeous colored bell peppers at the store inspiring me or perhaps I was just craving a lighter version of this dish. Whatever it was – I am pleased with the results.

tropical stuffed pepper

I also decided to keep things light by using ground pork instead of beef.And of course I used some rice – a lazy bag of frozen white/wild rice blend. I also added in some frozen corn kernels and a bit of leftover shredded carrots that was kicking around the fridge.

But the real tropical twist was the use of fresh pineapple!

Chopped fresh Pineapple along with the diced tops to the peppers, Maui sweet onion and garlic!

Chopped fresh Pineapple along with the diced tops to the peppers, Maui sweet onion & garlic!

A good dose of teriyaki sauce (use your favorite brand) and some freshly grated ginger also packed some flavor into this dish!

Light, tasty and many tropical miles away from your standard stuffed pepper recipe, this really delivered!

 

The Recipe:

Note:  Mine made plenty of filling for 4 decent size peppers, but I only had two HUGE peppers so I just cooked the extra filling in the dish along with the stuffed peppers and then used it to help the peppers stand up on the plate.

 

3/4 lb +/- ground lean pork

7 oz cooked rice (could be a bit more or less)

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion or half of a sweet onion like Maui or Vidalia

2-4 large peppers to stuff

1 tb minced fresh ginger

1 cup small diced fresh pineapple

the pepper “tops’ diced small

4-5 tb teriyaki Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil for browning meat in pan

Brown the onions, diced pepper tops and meat in a bit of oil in a saute pan. (pork is really a ‘white’ meat so it won’t really get too “brown” but use some butter too if you really want some color!) Add the garlic about 1/2 way through so it doesn’t burn. Add S&P to taste along the way. Add the fresh pineapple, ginger and teriyaki sauce to deglaze the pan and coat everything. Take off heat and add cooked rice, stirring to combine. At this point you could cool the filling and fill the washed, cored and topped peppers and refrigerate until time to bake. Otherwise stuff the peppers and surround them with any remaining filling. (personally I like to spray the baking dish with cooking spray to make sure nothing sticks) Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees, covered tightly with foil to keep things moist for about 30-40 minutes. Check and see how tender the peppers are – if they need more time to get tender then recover and bake longer. I like to finish my peppers by removing the cover and baking about 10-15 mins just to get a little brown on top.

 

 

Show Me The Beef!

Sorry mom , but I love a good steak sandwich! And this one was made by my husband so I love it even more!

He started by marinating a London Broil cut overnight in one of those “flavor injector” packaged marinades. It must  a “guy thing” to use those, it just sounds masculine and impressive!

To prepare the sandwiches, he fired up the grill, cooked it perfectly, sliced it thin and added some grilled mushrooms as well before piling it all onto some toasted, cheesy-topped “scali” bread!

open face steak sandwich

The only way this sandwich could be better is with some juicy sliced garden tomatoes