Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

Each week as part of my CSA farm share, I come home with a sack full of “fresh from the farm” vegetables. Part of the fun in having the CSA is figuring out what to do with your weekly harvest. One of the easiest side dishes you can create with them is a medley of roasted vegetables. This method of cooking them in a very hot oven gives them a caramelized exterior, which brings out the sweetness of the vegetables, while keeping the inside moist and tender. This roasted eggplant and tomato with feta recipe can be a perfect side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian entrée on top of a bed of couscous, quinoa or orzo pasta.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

 

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta

1 large eggplant cut into 1” cubes

4 large plum tomatoes, cored and cut each into 8 equal-sized chunks

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tbsp. dried parsley

2 tbsp. dried basil

1/3 c crumbled feta cheese (fat-free is okay to use)

Salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place all ingredients except the feta cheese in a bowl and toss together.

Place all ingredients except the feta cheese in a bowl and toss together.

Place all ingredients except the feta cheese in a bowl and toss together.

Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve warm. Yields 4-6 servings.

This recipe can be a perfect side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian entrée.

This recipe can be a perfect side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian entrée.

 

What’s your favorite summer “fresh from the farm” vegetable?

Have you tried roasting vegetables?

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili

Comfort foods can be perfect for the warmer summer months if you can find less time consuming versions that use a few “convenience foods” that save time but don’t sacrifice flavor (e.g., canned beans and tomatoes). This quick cowboy chicken chili recipe does just that. It can be a perfect entrée over rice, or it can be a great hamburger or hotdog topper.

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili over brown rice

Quick “Cowboy” Chicken Chili over brown rice

Quick Cowboy Chicken Chili

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 lb. ground chicken

1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, with liquid

1, 14.5 oz. can petite-diced tomatoes with liquid

6 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

1-cup reduced-sodium canned beef broth

2 cans pinto or kidney beans (low-sodium), rinsed and drained

2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Salt & black pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a medium-sized stockpot at medium heat. Once warm, add the onion and cook until soft. Add ground chicken and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or potato masher until no longer pink. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, garlic, parsley and black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the beans and salt. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Top with your favorite – shredded cheddar cheese, sliced onions, or sour cream. This chili is a mild version. Feel free to spice it up to your taste by adding red pepper flakes or hot sauce. Yields 4-6 servings.

Top the chili with your favorite – shredded cheddar cheese, sliced onions, or sour cream.

Top the chili with your favorite – shredded cheddar cheese, sliced onions, or sour cream.

 

 

What’s your favorite summer comfort food?

Do you like your chili spicy or mild?

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

Many of us have a certain food or foods that conjures up fond memories. Something that just by it’s taste or smell can transport you back to your childhood. Recently, my husband and his family have been reminiscing about Grandma Flynn’s icebox cake. So when his milestone birthday came up, I decided to recreate the old fashioned treat with a few modern tweaks. This striped “cake” is a perfect dessert for summertime because it doesn’t require any baking or using the oven. Give it a try and see if it creates any special memories for your family!

Double chocolate icebox cake is a perfect dessert for summertime!

Double chocolate icebox cake is a perfect dessert for summertime!

 

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream

12 oz. cold mascarpone cheese

1/3 c sugar

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

2, 9-ounce packages Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers cookies can be found in the grocery store.

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers cookies can be found in the grocery store.

You will need a large bowl to make the whipped cream. I use the bowl from my electric stand mixer. Before starting, place the bowl in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. This will ensure everything stays cold during the mixing process. To assemble the cake, you will need an 8” spring form pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Use the whisk attachment for your mixer (either stand or hand version). In the bowl, combine the cold heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix on low speed for a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Once combined, slowly raise the speed and continue mixing until the whipped cream forms into firm peaks.

To build the cake, arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom as much as possible, breaking some cookies to fill in the spaces.

Arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan.  Cover the bottom as much as possible.

Arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom as much as possible.

Using an offset icing spatula, spread about a fifth of the chocolate whipped cream evenly over the cookies. The cream should be about half an inch thick. Place another layer of cookies on top, followed by another fifth of the whipped cream. Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer. Smooth the top. Garnish it with chocolate chips, or if you want to get fancy you can top the cake with shaved chocolate.

Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer.

Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer.

Cover the cake (still in the spring form pan) with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours. The cookies will absorb the cream and soften slightly.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Run a sharp knife around the outside of the cake. Unlatch the side ring and remove it from the pan.

Double chocolate icebox cake is perfect for a summer birthday.

Double chocolate icebox cake is perfect for a summer birthday.

Cut in wedges and serve cold. Yields 8-10 servings.

From start to finish, double chocolate icebox cake is an easy summer dessert!

From start to finish, double chocolate icebox cake is an easy summer dessert!

 

 

Have you ever made an icebox cake?

Do you have a favorite food that takes you on a trip down memory lane?

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

As the summer heat starts to sizzle and you’re being asked to “bring a dessert” to the next gathering, you will be looking for something simple and that features the season’s flavors. Lemon blueberry pudding cookies are a great solution.

Lemon Blueberry pudding cookies

Lemon Blueberry pudding cookies

The recipe starts with a cake mix, which cuts down on several prep steps. Then it adds a box of pudding, making the cookies stay soft and chewy for days. Finally, nothing beats the sharp tang of lemon for a refreshing summer dessert and pairing it with seasonal blueberries makes for the perfect combination!

 

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

1 package of yellow or butter cake mix (any brand)

2 eggs (you can also use egg substitutes, which I did)

1 package of dry instant lemon pudding (sugar-free is okay to use)

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1/3 c vegetable oil

½ c fresh blueberries, washed and dried

1/3 c powdered sugar

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, dry pudding, lemon juice, lemon zest and vegetable oil. If you have a stand mixer, use it and make it even easier on yourself. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be smooth, but stiff.

Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful not to break open the blueberries or it will turn the batter green.

Scoop the cookies out in tablespoon-sized dollops. Place the powdered sugar in a small shallow bowl. Dip the tops of the cookie dough dollops into the powdered sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. They don’t spread much while baking.

The cookies are ready to be baked in the oven.

The cookies are ready to be baked in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Before removing from the oven, check the bottom of the cookies to see if they are a light brown. If not, continue baking until that point.

Remove the cookies from the oven and keep them on the warm baking sheet for 1 minute.

Lemon blueberry pudding cookies ares a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

Lemon blueberry pudding cookies ares a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow cooling completely.  Store in an airtight container. Yields 18-24 cookies.

The cookies have a glazed, glossy top from the powdered sugar melting during baking. The inside of the cookie will be soft and chewy from the dry pudding in the batter. It’s a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

 

Have you ever made cookies that use a cake mix and dry pudding?

What’s your favorite “finger dessert” to bring to picnics or cookouts?

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce

According to the National Pasta Association, 75% of Americans eat pasta on a weekly basis. That percentage increases to 84% if you live in the Northeast. With this consistent consumption, you may find that you’re becoming bored with the weekly red sauce with noodles. Brown butter sauce is a great option to mix things up. It’s so simple you barely need a recipe. With the addition of a few more ingredients, this sauce becomes something truly amazing. It is the perfect compliment to stuffed (e.g., ravioli and tortellini), gnocchi and flavored pastas.

Here’s my recipe for Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce:

Pappardelle pasta with sage and honey brown butter sauce

Pappardelle pasta with sage and honey brown butter sauce

 

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce

1 stick unsalted butter

15 fresh sage leaves

2 tbsp. honey

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. pasta

Directions:

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat until hot. Add in the butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes. It will start to melt, sizzle and eventually foam up. The butter will begin to brown. Be careful it doesn’t burn. Lower the heat if you need to. Add the sage leaves and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. The leaves will become crispy.

Add the sage leaves and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. The leaves will become crispy.

Add the sage leaves and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. The leaves will become crispy.

Take the sage out and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. You can use these as a garnish later.

Turn down the heat to low. Stir in the honey, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. I chose garlic, chive pappardelle noodles.

Garlic chive pappardelle noodles

Garlic chive pappardelle noodles

Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan containing the brown butter sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce to coat evenly.

Transfer the pasta to the pan containing the brown butter sauce and toss together.

Transfer the pasta to the pan containing the brown butter sauce and toss together.

Garnish with the reserved sage leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve it hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Garnish with the reserved sage leaves.  Serve the pasta hot.

Garnish with the reserved sage leaves. Serve the pasta hot.

The brown butter sauce’s flavor is rich and nutty. It’s very versatile because the star ingredient – butter – pairs well with so many other things.

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce -- from ingredients to finished plate.

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce — from ingredients to finished plate.

 

 

What’s your favorite sauce for pasta?

Have you made a brown butter sauce for pasta?

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Summer means long days filled with carefree adventures around every corner. It doesn’t have to mean long, complicated meals filled with recipes that heat up the kitchen. This simple salad requires no cooking – perfect for summer. This dish’s inspiration came from the three pickling cucumbers I received in this week’s CSA farm share and trying to find a special recipe for them.

Differences between Pickling and Salad Cucumbers:

  • Pickling cucumbers typically have thinner skin, which allows the vinegar, brine or pickling liquid to better penetrate the skin and flavor the vegetable.
  • Pickling cucumbers are typically short and squat, instead of long and lean.
  • Usually, pickling cucumbers have “warts” or little bumps on the skin, while salad cucumbers have smoother skin.
  • Pickling cucumbers have fewer seeds than salad cucumbers.

 

Here’s my recipe for Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad:

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

3 pickling cucumbers, sliced with skin on

1 medium-sized, shallot very thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped dill

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the cucumbers and shallots. It may seem like not enough liquid for the amount of cucumbers. Trust me it’s enough. You want your cucumbers coated, but not swimming in liquid.

Add the cucumbers and shallots in the bowl and toss to combine.

Toss the cucumbers and shallots with the liquid to coat

Toss the cucumbers and shallots with the liquid to coat

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars. Allow it to sit for at least 1 hour prior to serving. The salad will keep crisp in the jars for 3-4 days.

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars.

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars.

I paired this salad with southwest ground chicken burgers and hand-cut baked fries. It’s perfect for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

It’s a perfect side for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

It’s a perfect side for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

 

Did you know the difference between pickling and salad cucumbers?

Have you ever made a mason-jar salad?

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

For many of us, the pinnacle of the summer months is the highly anticipated vacation. While we are away, we enjoy the sites, relax and sample the local cuisine. According to Trip Advisor, about a third of travelers introduce new foods into their diets during and after a vacation. I often find that the specialty foods that I’ve sampled while on vacation inspire me when I return home to either recreate or create a new dish that captures the flavors in my memory palate. It is with this inspiration that I created this new recipe.

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

 

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

2 pints of roasted cherry/ grape tomatoes (see note below)

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

5 medium shallots, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. sweet turkey sausage, casings removed

8 sage leaves, washed and roughly torn into large pieces

2/3 c white wine

12 oz Feta cheese, crumbled (fat free is okay to use)

½ of 14 oz can of low sodium chicken stock

¼ c chopped scallions

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lb. whole-wheat penne pasta

Roast the tomatoes as directed in the deconstructed bruschetta recipe and allow cooling.

Slow roasting the tomatoes brings out their sweetness!

Slow roasting the tomatoes brings out their sweetness!

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Then, add in the sausage, seasoning with salt and pepper, and cook until completely browned and crumbled (about 10 minutes).

Add the wine and sage leaves and cook until the wine is evaporated. Stir in the feta, roasted tomatoes and half the scallions.

Add the chicken stock in ¼ cup increments as you continue cooking for 5 minutes. The “meat sauce” should not be dry or soupy. You want just enough liquid to keep the sauce moist but not wet.

It's a heart "meat sauce" mixture rich with flavors!

It’s a hearty “meat sauce” mixture rich with flavors!

While making the sauce, cook the pasta as directed. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the meat mixture and cook for 2 more minutes over high heat, stirring to combine the pasta and sauce. Garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

 

Yields 4-6 servings.

 

How have you ever tried to recreate or create a recipe after a vacation?