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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Turkey Pastrami Reuben Sandwiches

This is not so much a recipe, but more of a different spin on a common sandwich. I used to love the Reuben Sandwiches my mom made with the leftover corned beef after St. Patrick's Day. I always get exited when the Beefsteak rye in the shamrock-packaging starts popping up in stores because it means reuben sandwiches are getting close. When I stopped eating red meat many years ago, my parents figured my love of reuben sandwiches would fade away. This was not the case. I decided that turkey pastrami would be a good substitue for corned beef, and it turns out that it works really well. I've made this sandwich without meat before, and it's great, but I really like using turkey pastrami. Until recently I used regular turkey pastrami, which is a pink color. Lately I've used turkey breast pastrami, which is white (as in the picture below) and a little healthier. Both are delicious! These pictures are from a sandwich my mom made for me when I was home in March :) 

P.S. I finally updated my Grasshopper Pie post with pictures!!! 

Turkey Reuben Sandwiches

Turkey breast pastrami
Rye bread (seeded or seedless)
Swiss cheese
Thousand Island Dressing (purchased or homemade - see below)

For the Thousand Island Dressing:
When my mom makes this, she simply combines ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickle relish until it reaches the right consistency and color, adding more of any component that seems lacking. 

1. Preheat a frying pan over medium heat. Butter one side of each of two slices rye bread. Assemble sandwich: on one slice of bread layer turkey pastrami, a slice of Swiss cheese, and dressing, then top with other piece of bread.

2. Add sandwich to pan and cook as you would a grilled cheese sandwich.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Potatoes and Onions

Finally, the last of the Easter recipes! It's about time!

My mom has made these Potatoes and Onions for as long as I can remember. She takes them to family dinners and BBQ's with friends, and everyone loves them. When you cook them long enough, they form a nice, buttery crust on the bottom and edges of the dish - so delicious. Baking them covered ensures that they stay moist and 'juicy,' if you will. The list of ingredients is brief; it's a simple recipes that's simply tasty!

Bob and I had these potatoes for Easter dinner with Spicy Roasted Chicken and roasted asparagus topped with Hollandaise. It was a great dinner!
Potatoes and Onions

6-8 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
~3 medium-large onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400F.
1. Grease a 13x9 baking dish. Place a single layer of potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of onion slices. Add small chunks of butter sporadically on top of the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Repeat layers until the dish is filled. Sprinkle parsley on the top. 

3. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for at least 1 hour. Baking longer produces a delicious, browned layer on the bottom and edges of the dish. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quiche Lorrentine

If you haven't noticed by now, my posts do not follow a linear format. I sometimes have a method to the order of my posts, but sometimes not. And there are things I've made and keep forgetting to post, or when I think to sit down and type out the recipe, I forget what I did. I'm a little embarrassed that I've waited this long to post this quiche, which I made for Easter breakfast, along with the Monkey Bread Muffins, back in April! (yeah I know it's July) I kept putting off posting this because I had so many Easter posts, then I lost the paper where I wrote down what I had done, and by now it's just a faint memory. But, I really wanted to share this recipe because we thought it was really good. 

This was Bob and my first Easter alone, so I wanted to make the day special by making a great Easter breakfast and dinner. My family always has quiche on Christmas morning, so I figured there's no reason it wouldn't work for Easter as well. I saw this quiche recipe on Kerstin's blog and decided I could change a few things to make it a little less healthy (haha). This quiche is a hybrid of Quiche Lorraine and Quiche Florentine, in that it has (turkey) bacon and Swiss cheese combined with spinach. For this reason, I decided to call it Quiche Lorrentine. Lame, I know, I feel like Rachael Ray! I can't believe I've never made a quiche from scratch before, because this was so simple to assemble and so delicious! Turkey Bacon and Spinach Quiche AKA Quiche Lorrentine :)

1 pie crust of choice (such as Kerstin's chickpea crust)
4 eggs
2 cups skim milk
6 strips turkey bacon, cooked and broken into dime-sized pieces
10-ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed and all water squeezed out
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, plus more for topping
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare crust accordingly. Then, preheat oven to 350F. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Stir in other ingredients and pour into prepared crust. 

3. Top quiche with shredded Swiss cheese, as desired. 

4. Bake at 350F for ~40 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.

Source: Adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fresh Berry Tart

I have wanted to make a tart for a very long time - years even - and in particular this Fresh Berry Tart, as it's on the cover of one of my favorite cookbooks. Unfortunately, I did not have a tart pan and could never rationalize buying one just to satisfy my tart-making urge. Earlier this summer, my mom gave me a hand-me-down tart pan, and I couldn't wait to use it. My cousin's birthday was in mid-June, and she loves fresh fruit, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with my first tart. 

Like I've said before, the recipes in the Pie and Pastry Bible are lengthy and include a lot of details, which are extremely helpful but can make assembling a dessert like this somewhat overwhelming. For example, the book groups recipes by type - the dough recipes are first, followed by the pastry cream recipes, and then other recipes for add-ins. This means that the actual tart recipe refers you to one page for the crust recipe, to another for the pastry cream, and then to a third for the whipped cream that is added to the pastry cream. I'm exhausted just thinking about it! :) I hope that I've been able to simplify the recipe here. When broken down into steps, it's really not that difficult or time consuming, it just takes some organization. 

I dropped this tart off with my cousin on her birthday, but there was a little extra dough and filling, so I filled a ramekin with it so Bob and I could taste test beforehand. We really liked this tart, especially the pastry cream! I will definitely be trying more varieties in the future!

Fresh Berry Tart

1 batch Sweet Cookie Tart Crust (see recipe below)
1 batch Whipped Cream Pastry Cream (see recipe below)
3-4 cups fresh berries, rinsed and dried
3 Tablespoons + 1/3 cup apricot preserves, warmed and strained 

1. Brush cooled crust with 3 Tablespoons strained warmed apricot preserves. 

2. Put whipped cream pastry cream inside shell. Arrange fruit on top. Refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

3. Brush strained warmed apricot preserves (~1/3 cup) on top. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour before serving.

Sweet Cookie Tart Crust
(Pate Sucree)

For a 9 1/2- or 10-inch by 1-inch tart pan

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup superfine sugar (can pulse regular sugar in food processor to make superfine)
200 grams (1 1/2 scant cups - dip and sweep method) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

1. Prepare the tart pan by greasing and lightly flouring, tapping out excess flour (or use Baker's Joy).

2. In a food processor with a metal blade, pulse the butter and sugar about 15 times or until the butter is no larger than small peas. 

3. In a small bowl, stir together the yolk and cream. Add it to the mixture and pulse just until incorporated, about 8 times. The dough will still be in crumbly pieces. Empty into a plastic bag and press the dough from the outside just until it holds together.

4. Remove the dough from the plastic bad and place it on a very large piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, knead the dough a few times until the dough becomes one smooth piece. Flatten it into a 6-inch disc.

5. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or freeze for 10 minutes until firm enough to pat into the pan or to roll. 

6. Roll the dough to 11 inches (for a 9 1/2-inch tart pan) between pieces of floured plastic wrap. Slip dough onto a baking sheet and into the refrigerator for a few minutes before transferring to the tart pan. 

7. Put dough into pan and chill 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400F (for at least 20 minutes before baking crust).

8. Spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray and fit into tart, add rice or beans as weights.

9. Bake tart on a baking sheet for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 375F for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. If not set, the dough will stick to the parchment paper. If this is the case, lift out the weights with the parchment and prick dough lightly, then continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more.

Pastry Cream

2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 liquid cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter 

1. Have a strainer set over a small bowl near the range.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs and cornstarch. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the half-and-half, whisking until the mixture is smooth and the cornstarch is dissolved.

3. Place the sugar in a medium, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Stir in the remaining 1 3/4 cups half-and-half and the salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Whisk 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the egg mixture. Pass the egg mixture through a strainer into a small bowl. 

4. Bring the half-and-half mixture back to a boil over medium heat. Quickly add all of the egg mixture, whisking rapidly. Continue whisking rapidly for about 20 to 30 seconds, being sure to go to the bottom edge of the pan. 

5. The mixture will become very thick. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter. Whisk in the vanilla extract at this point. 

6. Immediately pour the mixture into a bowl and place a piece of greased plastic wrap directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold.

7. For whipped cream pastry cream, fold whipped cream into the plain pastry cream. Use from 1/2 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped. To prevent thinning, it is preferable to use gelatin-stabilized whipped cream (see Superstabilized Whipped Cream below).

Superstabilized Whipped Cream

1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 liquid cup heavy cream, cold
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Refrigerate the mixing bowl and beater for at least 15 minutes.

2. In a small heatproof measuring cup, place the gelatin and water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Set the cup in a pan of simmering water for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the gelatin is dissolved (or microwave on high power for a few seconds, stirring once of twice). Set it aside briefly. (The mixture must still be warm, or it will lump when added to the cold cream.)

3. In the chilled mixing bowl, beat the cream and sugar until the cream just begins to thicken. Gradually beat in the warm gelatin mixture and beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Store:  Refrigerated, up to 3 days

Source:  Adapted from the Pie and Pastry Bible

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins

A quick note: I haven't been blogging as much lately because I've been so busy with school. Earlier this week, I got permission to begin writing my PhD dissertation, so I think things will get even more hectic. I'm trying to post things I've made in the past few months since I'm not doing as much cooking lately, at least not new recipes. Hopefully I'll get back to my regular posting soon!!!

This Chocolate Banana Bread recipe looked so chocolately and delicious that I wanted to make it for our weekly lab meeting. It's a semi-healthy recipe from Rancho La Puerta fitness spa. I decided to make this into muffins since they are easier to pass out than cutting a loaf of bread - big mistake. While the bread takes 40-50 minutes to bake, the muffins cooked in only 15!!! This meant that the banana chips didn't have time to rehydrate, so they were still a little hard. Other than that, the muffins were really good, so I would love to try this recipe as a loaf. If you'd like to try the muffins, I'd just suggest skipping the banana chips! By the way, I didn't make a mistake typing the ingredients - there's no actual sugar in this recipe other than the 'natural' sweetness from the prunes, bananas, and banana chips (and chocolate chips, haha)!
Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins

9- or 10-ounce package pitted dried prunes*
3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour**
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup banana chips, chopped coarsely
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Note: you may substitute 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) unsweetened prune baby food for the pitted prunes, and omit the water and cooking in Step 1 below.
**I used 1 cup of regular pastry flour: 1 cup = 130 grams pastry flour, which can be made by mixing 87 grams all-purpose flour + 43 grams cake flour (it's a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio by weight).

1. In a small saucepan, bring prunes and 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until prunes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 5x9-inch loaf pan and line bottom with a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit. Alternatively, place paper liners in a muffin pan.

3. In a food processor, whirl prunes and bananas until very smooth. Add eggs and whirl to combine.

4. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir in banana mixture until evenly moistened. Stir in banana chips and chocolate chips. Scrape the thick batter into pan and spread level.

5. Bake bread until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out a little chocolately but not gooey, 40 to 50 minutes. Loosen bread from pan with knife and invert onto a rack. Remove parchment. Turn bread right-side-up and let cool at least 1 hour before slicing. The muffins baked for 15 minutes and were completely done!

Servings: 16 slices or muffins

Source: Adapted from Recipe Girl

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I think it's pretty obvious that I have a thing for soup. Even though I typically think of soup as cool weather fare, we had an unseasonably chilly start to the summer in Chicago, so soup was still on my mind. Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of my favorites, and I'm always looking for new versions to try. 

About a month and a half ago, Bob and I went to Whole Foods to get some tomatoes for this soup, only to discover that it was closed down! Thankfully, we read the sign more closely indicating that they had moved locations. We followed the road to the new store and OH MY GOSH it's amazing!!!!!!!!  If anyone who reads this in in the Chicago area, have you been to the new Whole Foods in Lincoln Park???  WOW! We started by descending the escalator into the vibrantly colored produce section. Amazing. To the right of the produce is a bar where you can get drinks to sip while you shop (genius, right?). I don't need to go into all the details, but let's just say this store has it all and then some - complete with a wine bar in the center of the store which specializes in wine and cheese flights, and culminating in a ginormous gourmet food court and a bakery with an extensive, mouth-watering pastry selection. If you live near Chicago, you must go!

Anyway, I've always wanted to try jicama, but have never found it in our regular grocery store. The new Whole Foods not only labels each produce item with a sign stating the identity and country/region of origin, but it also tells you how to prepare it! I decided to buy some jicama and throw it in this soup.  

First of all, this soup is reallllllly delicious. Definitely the best tortilla soup I've made at home. We also really liked the addition of the jicama - it gave it a slight crunch. My opinion - don't skimp on the toppings here; they really do make it sooo good. Seriously, each component (tortilla chips, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, fresh tomatoes, and fresh cilantro) add to the soup, and I couldn't bear eliminating even just one. 

The first time I made this soup, I baked the chicken and then shredded it. The second time, I put frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot on low with some water and a generous sprinkling of salt in the morning, then had easily shreddable chicken by the time we got home from work. A shredded rotisserie chicken would also be great. If you like Chicken Tortilla Soup, you'll love this recipe!
Chicken Tortilla Soup

5 vine-ripened tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small jicama, julienned
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chicken broth
2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

(Not so) optional toppings:
Crushed tortilla chips
1 Roma/plum tomato, diced
Chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Light sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F. 
1. Slice the tomatoes in half. Spread 1 tablespoon of the oil oil on a foil-lined baking sheet and arrange the tomatoes on top, skin side up. Drizzle the tomatoes with another 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes are slightly brown around the edges.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, jicama, and bell pepper, and saute about 5 minutes, until the vegetables become soft. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup water, and half of the diced jalapenos. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover and decrease heat to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the remaining jalapenos, the canned tomatoes with their juices and the roasted tomatoes (including as much as possible of the juices and browned tomato bits) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree the jalapeno-tomato mixture about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the soup and continue simmering, covered, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Add salt and pepper to tasted, along with the cooked chicken. Allow to simmer a few more minutes, until the chicken is heated through.

6. Ladle soup into bowls. Top as desired and serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Friday, July 10, 2009

Easy Cheese Danish

My dad saw Ina Garten make these Cheese Danish when I was home back in March. He kept asking when I was going to make them for him :) I went home the weekend before Father's Day and thought that was the perfect time to try this recipe. I had made Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes for breakfast (which by the way are even better with my favorite pancake mix, Aunt Jemima!) so we had some blueberries left over. My sister suggested I stick a few in some of the danish, and it was a great idea! The ones with blueberries were a hit! The combination of lemon and blueberry went really well together, otherwise the lemon is a bit overpowering. I might suggest backing off on the lemon zest if you don't use blueberries, unless you really like lemon.

This was my first time working with puff pastry. I have to say, it's amazing! I really couldn't believe how wonderfully it puffed up in the oven. This is such a quick, simple recipe that would be great for a brunch or even as dessert!

With blueberries:
Without blueberries:

Easy Cheese Danish

8 ounces cream cheese (I used light)
1/3 cup sugar
2 large or extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest, or less to taste (~2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water (for egg wash)
fresh blueberries, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream together on low until smooth. With mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

3. Unfold 1 sheet puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheets into quarters with a sharp knife.
4. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

5. Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chicken and Vegetable Bake and a Note

I'm always looking for new recipes to make when the weather is warm. Sometimes it's just too hot for a bowl of soup or a plate of hot pasta. This recipe makes for a lovely summer meal. The vegetables are delicious, and it's a very healthy dish. The great part - you can add any vegetables you prefer. Bob and I both really liked this dinner, and I'll be making it again!

On a separate note, you may notice in the coming days that I have added some advertising to my blog. I recently used up all of my photo space on Flikr and must upgrade my account. From my rough calculations, adding this bit of advertising will almost offset the cost of that upgrade. Hopefully the ads won't be too distracting :)

Chicken and Vegetable Bake

2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch half slices
1 sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
5 large basil leaves, chiffonade
few splashes of balsamic vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil
shake of rubbed sage, dried thyme, garlic powder
Generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.
1. Combine all ingredients except tomatoes in a large bowl and mix well.

2. Transfer mixture to a 13x9 baking dish and top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

3. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, or longer if necessary. You may prefer to stir half-way through to ensure even cooking. NOTE: I did not cover my dish and it took my chicken 45 minutes to cook, at which point some of the potatoes and zucchini were still raw (and not necessarily the larger pieces). The oven was filled with steam, so we thought that perhaps everything would have cooked better had I covered the pan. We were hungry so we took out what we wanted, trying to avoid the potatoes, and covered the pan with aluminum foil to bake for another 15 minutes or so. At that point, the potatoes were cooked much more and delicious. Use your judgement. 

Source: Adapted from The Hungry Housewife

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chicken Gyros

My first experience with gyros was at this little Lebanese restaurant called Haddad's a few steps off campus from Bradley University. You walk into Haddad's and you feel like you've stepped into someone's living room, with toddlers busily crawling about, and the entire family conversing in a booth. Luckily for me, they had chicken gyros, which were pretty good. When I saw this recipe, I knew Bob would love for me to try it. Let me tell you - these are fantastic. I mean really, really good.

My only mistake - the pitas. I know pita pockets are not ideal because they tend to be stiffer than more traditional pita, but it was all I could find. I think I would have rather gone pita-less! I'd love to try making homemade pitas sometime with this recipe - I really think it would make a huge difference. UPDATE: Try these with Soft Wrap Bread!!!

Since making these gyros the first time, I've also made them using a salad base instead of pita, which was really delicious too. Another option would be to serve it as a salad, then have toasted pita on the side. Regardless, this recipe is outstanding!

Chicken Gyros
For the marinade:
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tablespoons low fat Greek yogurt (see explanation below)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano

2 large chicken breasts
salt and pepper

diced tomatoes
sliced onions
pitas (or try this amazing Soft Wrap Bread)
tzatziki sauce (see below)

1. Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Transfer marinade and chicken breasts to a resealable plastic bag, making sure the chicken is coated completely. Refrigerate for about an hour.

2. Preheat the broiler (or grill or a pan on the stove). Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and broil until cooked through (mine took about 8 minutes per side). Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.

3. Meanwhile, heat pitas. One way to do this is by lightly spraying with olive oil and sticking on the burner of a gas stove for a few seconds per side.

4. Top pitas with chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, and onion.

Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa!

Tzatziki sauce

Note: In Elly's recipe, she calls for plain yogurt strained through cheesecloth for several hours or overnight. I didn't have any cheesecloth, or several hours for that matter, so I found some Greek yogurt at Trader Joe's that says it's already been strained. I believe it because it was very thick, and our tzatziki sauce was nice and thick - not runny. I also didn't seed my cucumber like she recommends because frankly, I didn't see it in the directions until I was done! Please see her original recipe if you'd like a more authentic version of this delicious sauce!

The first time I made this, I used a 16 oz. container of yogurt, which was more tzatziki than we used in one dinner. The second time, I halved the recipe, scaling down to a 7 oz. yogurt, which ended up being the perfect amount for the two of us, but not much to spare.

1 16-ounce container of low fat, strained Greek yogurt (Trader Joe's has it, I took out the 2 T. for the marinade above and used the rest of the container for this sauce)
1 cucumber
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1. Shred cucumber and squeeze out as much liquid as possible using a towel or paper towels. Once you think you've finished, try and squeeze even more - a lot will come out!

2. Mix together all ingredients. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more before serving.

Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

My infatuation with orzo doesn't seem to be going away. These Orzo Stuffed Peppers looked so amazing I had to try them. Originally I thought about stuffing tomatoes with this orzo mixture, but ultimately Bob and I decided to use the peppers. I love cooking orzo in chicken broth - it truly imparts a wonderful flavor to the pasta. We loved this dinner!!!

Note: I made the entire recipe of 'stuffing' (enough for 6 peppers) and just used it to stuff 2 peppers, then baked the rest in a casserole dish to have for my lunches the rest of the week.

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

2 14-ounce cans petite cut diced tomatoes
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish if desired
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry orzo
6 sweet peppers (any color) 

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl. Add the zucchini, basil, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

3. Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes (I think you can even reduce this amount depending on the thickness of your orzo because the orzo really expands when it's cooked in the peppers). Do not fully cook. 

4. While the pasta cooks, prepare the peppers by cutting off the tops and scooping out the ribs and seeds. 

5. Pour the orzo/chicken broth into a strainer set above a 3 quart baking dish so that the broth collects in the dish. Transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mix to combine. 

6. Fill the peppers with the orzo mixture and place in the baking dish containing the warm chicken broth. Cover the dish and bake for 45 minutes. (If using less than 6 peppers and you have leftover orzo, put it in a covered casserole dish and bake alongside)

7. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top of each pepper with Parmesan cheese. Continue baking uncovered until cheese is golden, about 15 additional minutes. 

8. Remove from oven and carefully transfer peppers to serving dish. Garnish with extra fresh basil if desired.

Source: Adapted from La Bella Cook

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