Beautiful, Chunky Roasted Veggies

I love roasted vegetables, but sometimes forget how much veggies shrink while cooking. By cutting the chunks larger, and spreading them out, you can get wonderful flavor without overcooking them. Plus all of these truly beautiful vegetables are hardy, so you can prep this early and roast them later.

Ingredients

1 large red onion, halved and cut into eighths
1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into quarters
2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 small summer squash, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 green bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
1 carton baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced thickly
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 blue potatoes, halved and cut into 3/4″ slices

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
good-sized pinch each of Oregano, Basil, Red Pepper Flakes & Parsley
smaller pinch each of Rosemary and Thyme

Mix oil and spices in a small bowl. Pour a little extra olive oil on two baking sheets and sprinkle a little more garlic powder, salt and black pepper on them. Spread around with your hand, and then dump the vegetables on one pan. Pour the olive oil mixture over and toss gently until all of the veggies are coated. Spread the veggies evenly on the two trays and bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes. Give them a bit of a stir half way through. The veggies should still have all their beautiful colors, but still be nicely cooked.

These vegetables are so beautiful:

Update: After roasting, toss with a quick little vinaigrette. If you make a lot of vegetables, just double the vinaigrette.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp parsley
pinch of salt

Mix in a cup and drizzle over and gently toss vegetables. The vinaigrette adds a really nice bright note and I’ll probably keep making it like that.

Palak Paneer

Beautiful Baby Spinach from Pille-Riin-Priske on Unsplash.com

I’ve always loved Palak Paneer, but had never tried to make it. We had Samir’s birthday supper last night and I made it, along with Biryani and a really delicious Mango Trifle, which I’ll add soon. Kumy made his amazing Potatoes, too.

I used a modified version of Swasthi’s recipe from IndianHealthyRecipes.com, which was excellent, if a bit confusing. Basically, you cook the spinach mixture first, and then the spice, onion tomato mixture. You add the spinach back in near the end, and Paneer goes in last, just before serving. It’s actually fairly easy.

It looks like a million ingredients, but they all go together beautifully.

Part 1:

2 Tbsp oil
4 green chilies (Long, skinny ones, seeded) or 2 small/medium Jalapenos, seeded
1 lb. organic baby spinach, washed and well-drained
20 cashews (unsalted or salted is fine)

Part 2:

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, whole
2 green cardamoms, whole
1″ cinnamon stick, whole
4 cloves, whole

1.5 cups onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic

1 14 oz. can crushed or petite-diced tomatoes with juices in can. (Can carefully buzz with an immersion blender in the can if you want a smoother curry.)
1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
12 oz. Paneer, cut into 1/2″ cubes

In a dutch oven, heat oil. Saute chillies, cashews and spinach until spinach is completely wilted, but still bright green. Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl and let cool. Use an immersion blender or food processor to buzz the spinach into a smooth mixture.

Melt butter in the dutch oven and add the whole spices. Let cook until the spices are starting to sizzle a bit – maybe a minute or two. Add the onions and cook until golden – about 8-10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice and salt. (If you used salted cashews, go easy on the salt.) Cook for several minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. If you buzzed the tomatoes, you’ll have a smoother curry. If you left the tomatoes in chunks, you’ll have a chunkier curry. Both are fine.

Add the garam masala and about 1 cup of water to the pan, and cook down until you have a nice, fairly thick gravy consistency. When in doubt – let it get a little drier. You can always add a bit of water at the end to loosen it up if you need to.

Add the spinach mixture and the dried Fenugreek leaves. Cook another 2-3 minutes to bring it back to the simmer. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed, and if it’s very thick, add a couple of spoons of water.

Add the paneer and mix gently to coat with curry.

Serve with Naan, or roti.

Red Cabbage & Sausage

Maya bought a gorgeous red cabbage when she was last home and I had a half package of turkey sausage I wanted to use use up. Cooked cabbage and sausage sounds like a nice German style dish, I thought. I love sauteed cabbage, so I improvised and came up with what ended up being a really tasty dinner. Leave out the sausage and you’ve got a lovely, colorful side dish.

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped
2 tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
good pinch of caraway seed
8 oz turkey sausage, cut 1/2″ thick

Heat butter in a medium frying pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic puree and cook another minute, stirring. Add salt, pepper and caraway seed and give a stir. Add cabbage and toss to combine.

Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage pieces, stir to combine, cover and cook another 1o minutes, until sausage is warmed through.

Check seasonings and serve.

Delish!!

Smoky BBQ Beans (Vegan)

This is another side that I made for our Smashburger dinner the other night. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, and somewhat simplified but we loved its smokier, tangier flavor.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion rough chopped,
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 2 heaping tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup pureed tomatoes
2 small cans vegetarian baked beans
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, which is vegan)
1/2 tsp kosher salt – or to taste

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and garlic and sautee several minutes until softened and just starting to turn golden.

Add spices and cook a little longer. Add tomato puree, beans and BBQ sauce. Stir wlel, heating through and put in a baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

We griddled out last night and the boys made amazing Smashburgers. So good – we’re definitely hoping for an encore! I started potatoes boiling for potato salad as a side. But I don’t really like potato salad all that much and neither does anyone else.

So what do you really want with burgers? Fries, of course! And what goes better with a Smashburger than Smashed Potatoes? I found an amazingly good recipe from melskitchencafe.com. It’s easy, delicious and everyone loved it!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. baby red or yellow potatoes
1 Tbsp plus ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, chives and/or green onion (optional)

Add 1 Tbsp salt to a pot of boiling water and add potatoes. Cook until quite soft, but not totally mushy. Let cool.

Drizzle and smear a little of the olive oil on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Using a potato masher, or the bottom of a water glass, press down on the potatoes until they’re smashed about 1/2″ thick. Don’t crowd them.

Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder and a little kosher salt. Grind fresh pepper over.

Bake in a 425 oven for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden on the top and nicely browned on the bottom.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, or ketchup. Delish!

Easy Cheesy Toast

The weather is suddenly feeling cooler here and I was hungry for something warm and cheesy. My brother Tom and I used to make cheese toast when we were kids and I always loved it. Since I’d just baked a fresh loaf of bread, I thought Cheese Toast would be fun and fast. I used The Pioneer Woman’s Recipe, with slight variations. Either way – it’s warm, cheesy, crunchy and delicious and when Ali stopped by, he loved it, too!

Ingredients

2 cups grated Sharp Cheddar
2 cups grated Monterey Jack (or quesadilla cheese)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp seasoned salt (Lawry’s)

Slices of a hearty loaf (I used my easy French Bread.) Cut the slices in half if they are large.

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, Parmesan, pepper and seasoned salt.

Mound the cheese mixture on the slices of bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Switch to the broiler and broil for another few minutes, until the cheese is utterly bubbly and starting to get brown in places.

These cheese toasts freeze well. To reheat, just bake them for 5 minutes, then broil another minute of so.

Note: Ree adds 1 tsp of salt and 4 Tbsp of melted butter, but honestly I don’t think you need either. I might also try adding a few drops of hot sauce or Worcestershire Sauce.

This would also be a humdinger served with Tomato Soup!

Chicken and Veggie Greek-style Sheet Pan Wraps

Another great recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  I made a few tweaks of my own, but what I love about this recipe is that it uses all the produce that is so good right now.  My garden is bursting with tomatoes, peppers and zucchini and this is a great way to use them.

It’s also crazy quick – you could start marinating the chicken and make the Tzatziki sauce mid-afternoon and then the whole supper can come together in 20 minutes.

We always have frozen naan in the house, so I made it with naan.  But flatbread would be good, too.

This would also be great with shrimp or for a vegetarian version, try using sliced mushrooms instead of chicken. Just be sure to bake the mushrooms long enough so they’re tender, since they take a little longer to cook.

Chicken:
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp garlic powder, or 1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin slices

Vegetables:
2 bell peppers (any color), cored and sliced thinly
1 medium zucchini, sliced into strips (no need to peel)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Tzatziki:
1 cup grated cucumber, squeezed and drained
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar is fine, too.)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Naan

Toppings:
Thinly sliced red onions
Diced cucumbers
Chopped tomatoes
Romaine lettuce, quartered and cut into thin ribbons

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix the marinade in a medium bowl and add chicken. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Make the tzatziki sauce in another small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly grease 2 half sheet pans. Remove chicken pieces from the bowl and place on one sheet pan.

Toss bell peppers and zucchini in the marinade for a few minutes and spread in a thin layer on a second sheet pan. Discard leftover marinade.  Lightly salt and pepper veggies.

Bake for 6 minutes, and rotate pans. (Drain excess liquid from the chicken pan, if any.) Bake another 6-8 minutes until chicken is done and peppers are fork tender.

Warm the naan in the oven for a couple of minutes. I removed the chicken to a plate and reused the chicken sheet pan.

Serve the chicken and veggies on naan with the Tzatziki sauce and other toppings. It’s also fun to make these at the table.

So good!!!

Vanna’s Nam Van – Coconut Milk & Fruit Dessert

Our dear friend Vanna is the most amazing cook.  Literally everything she makes is the best I’ve ever eaten – no matter what she’s cooking!

Last night she was in town and made supper for all of us, including one of my favorite desserts – Nam Van, and she shared the recipe with me.

Nam Van is a popular dessert in Southeast Asia, and it’s a fruity, coconut milky dessert that’s unlike anything you’ll ever try. More liquid than a pudding, it’s refreshing and not overly sweet. The green jelly make it a pretty light green color, too.

We are lucky to have a great Asian Market close by, so we were able to pick up all the components, but you can always order these items online as well.  All the fruit and coconut milk was Arroy-D, and the green jelly is Chin Chin brand.

Next time I’ll photograph it before it’s all gone!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup palm sugar (or 1/3 cup brown sugar)
1/2 cup water

1 can lychees in syrup  (save lychee syrup)
1 can longans in syrup
1 can rambutans in syrup
1 can toddy palm seeds
1 can jackfruit in syrup

3 cups of coconut milk (We used Arroy-D cartons.)
2 cups ice
2 cans Green Jelly (We got Chin Chin brand)

1 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
1 cup fresh muskmelon chunks

Make a simple syrup with palm sugar and water, by heating them in a pan until it comes to the boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

Open all the cans of fruit. Drain the syrup and rinse all the fruit.  Be sure to save the lychee syrup – you’ll add it back in later!

Palm seeds are oddly slick and sticky at the same time, but add a wonderful chewy texture. Don’t freak out – just put them in a colander and rinse them really well.

Place all rinsed, canned fruit into a large bowl.

Add the coconut milk, lychee syrup and about half the simple syrup. Stir the fruit gently until well mixed. Add ice and stir more until the mixture is a little chilled.Stir very gently and taste – adding more of the simple syrup as needed.

Shake the jelly out of the can, and cut it into 1/2″ cubes.  Cut melons into chunks and add both to the coconut fruit mixture, again stirring very, very gently.

Refrigerate at least a couple of hours.

To serve, add a little crushed ice to a bowl or cup and fill with fruit and coconut mixture. The ice helps keep it cool.

You could probably save time by refrigerating the cans and carton of coconut milk overnight so they’re cold to start with.  Still add ice to the mix and to the cup – this lightens the milk a bit.

Low Country Shrimp & Sausage “Boil” (It’s Baked!)

I can’t really remember where I found this version of the classic Southern recipe. I had jotted down the ingredients on a piece of paper that rattled around in my purse for weeks.  But I finally made it, and it was crazy good and so easy.

Rather than boiling you roast everything in the oven.

Ingredients

1 lb. baby red potatoes, halved
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

1 lb. shrimp peeled and tails removed
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1″ pieces
4 ears of sweet corn, shucked and cut into three inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces (not traditional but I love peppers)
1 1/2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

6 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
lemon wedges

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place potatoes in a big bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they’re quite soft when you poke them with a fork.

In the same large bowl, toss shrimp, sausage, corn, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning until everything is nicely coated. Add to baking dish. (I used a rubber spatula to get every last drop out!)

It will be pretty crowded, but that’s totally fine. Just spread things out a bit, and bake another 12 – 15 minutes, until the pepper is a little softened and the shrimp looks done.

Stir garlic powder into melted butter and drizzle over the whole pan. Serve with wedges of lemon.

So quick, easy and delicious. I’m going to try other vegetables – perhaps zucchini or eggplant? Everything tastes wonderful in this dish.

Note:  I looked up a recipe for Old Bay Seasoning (Food.com has a pretty highly rated one) but it uses a million ingredients, and makes an awful lot.  But if you really want to make your own, here is the link: https://www.food.com/recipe/old-bay-seasoning-copycat-189447

Baked Crunchy Shrimp Tacos

Another great recipe from MelsKitchenCafe.com that I’ve been wanting to try. All the stars aligned last night and Maya and I made it for supper. It was amazingly good and really very easy. Kumy gave it his highest praise, “you should make this for guests.” Agreed and hopefully someday soon…

I checked the garden for ripe tomatoes(surely by now, right?)but alas – nothing but green tomatoes, so I substituted a can of Rotel tomatoes for the diced tomatoes. If you do use Rotel, go easy on the jalapeno.

INGREDIENTS

Tomato Sauce Mixture:
1 can Rotel tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbsp ketchup or BBQ sauce
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch black pepper

1 tsp olive oil
1 pound large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled, deveined, tails removed and cut in half, and well-drained

2 Tbsp olive oil
10 6-inch corn or flour tortillas
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (I ended up using part Swiss and part
Cheddar.)

Toppings:
shredded romaine lettuce
diced avocado
lime wedges
chopped fresh cilantro
salsa or hot sauce
sour cream (optional)  

Turn oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the tomato mixture in a medium bowl. Heat a frying pan and add the teaspoon of oil. Let it get nice and hot and then add the tomato mixture. Cook for 5-6 minutes until tomatoes are softening.

Add shrimp and cook another two minutes. Remove from heat. (The shrimp will finish cooking in the oven.)

Meanwhile, spread oil generously on two baking sheets and place tortillas on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Spoon a couple spoonfuls of the shrimp mixture in a row down the middle of each tortilla. Bake for 7-10 minutes one sheet at a time.

Remove from baking sheet and fold gently in half. Fill with toppings as desired.

So good – the tortilla is warm and crunchy with the coolness of the lettuce and cilantro!

Note:  Mel didn’t add sour cream, but I love a little sour cream with a big squeeze of lime in it, so we did.