Caprese Toast!

I’ve got beautiful tomatoes, basil growing like crazy in the garden and fresh mozzarella – so naturally I think of Caprese Salad. But we wanted something a little more for supper.  We love BLTs and I thought, why not Caprese Toast?

We made this for supper and it was to die for. The Balsamic Mayonnaise is ridiculously good.  (We were all sneaking back into the kitchen and dipping the leftover tomatoes and Mozzarella into the Balsamic Mayonnaise to eat right over the counter – it was that good.)

Love when something turns out so delish and so easy!

Ingredients

Good, hearty bread for toasting (whole wheat or oatmeal)
Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
Fresh Basil, roughly sliced
Ripe tomatoes, halved and cut into slices
Arugula

Balsamic Mayonnaise:

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup good Mayonnaise
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sugar  (add less and taste to see if it needs more)
1/8 tsp kosher salt
several grinds of black pepper

Mix balsamic mayonnaise ingredients well in a small bowl, and set it out with bowls of Mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and arugula.

Toast bread and smear with the Balsamic Mayonnaise. Top with a layer of Mozzarella, then tomatoes and basil. Drizzle a little more mayonnaise, and then add a layer of Arugula. Spread more mayonnaise on a second piece of toast, and top the sandwich.

This is a rather messy sandwich to eat, with the mayonnaise dripping out, but soooooo good!

We’ll be eating this often – I can guarantee that!

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Tex-Mex Black Bean, Roasted Pepper and Rice Supper

A great vegetarian skillet supper that was simple, delicious and hearty. I didn’t really have anything much in mind for supper tonight and threw something together from what I had in the pantry and fridge. Maya loved it and I’d definitely make it again.

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp crushed Garlic
1 bag frozen fajita peppers from Trader Joe’s, or 2 fresh peppers cored and sliced into 1/4″ strips
2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix  (I used McCormicks.)
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed
1/4 cup salsa
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup Mexican or cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a skillet and saute onions until softened. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add frozen fajita peppers and taco seasoning mix and saute until the liquid from the frozen peppers is mostly gone. Add the black beans, salt and pepper and the salsa. (You can add a little water if anything is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.) Cook for another 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally until the black beans are warmed through. Dump in the rice and fold the bean mixture and rice together, cooking for a few minutes until the rice is warmed. Sprinkle the cheese on top, remove from the heat and cover for a couple of minutes.

Serve hot with a simple arugula salad. Yum!

Leave off the cheese for a vegan version.

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce over Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Rice

Our friend Sharon recently served us this incredibly delicious Vegeterian/Vegan dish and was kind enough to share the original recipe with me, from CookieandKate.com. I made it almost exactly as shown, and then a couple nights later used the leftover peanut sauce as a dipping sauce for oven-roasted sweet potatoes. It is so delicious and uses ingredients you probably have in your pantry already.

INGREDIENTS

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup soy sauce (Can use Tamari to be gluten-free)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 and 1/2  Tbsp honey (or agave nectar, to taste)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp water

Roasted vegetables

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1 inch long, ½ inch wide chunks
1 red bell pepper, cored, deseeded, and sliced into bite-sized strips
about 2 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/2 tsp cumin powder (I used more than original recipe.)
1 tsp Sea salt (to taste)

Rice and garnishes

1 1/2 cup jasmine rice (could use any rice, really)
3 green onions sliced into thin rounds (green and white parts)
Handful cilantro, chopped
Handful peanuts, crushed

Sriracha sauce on the side (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and cumin. Put the sweet potatoes in a roasting pan and drizzle with about 2/3 of the oil. Drop the peppers in the remaining oil and toss them. You’ll add them to the pan a bit later.

Spread the sweet potatoes out, but leave about 1/4 of the pan empty. Bake for 15 minutes and toss. Then add the peppers in the empty space and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.  Check to be sure the potatoes are cooked and the peppers are soft and starting to caramelize.

In the meantime, cook the rice. Add 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice and 1 tsp kosher salt to a pot. Add a bit less than three cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cover and cook for 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Make the sauce: in a bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. If the sauce is too thick whisk in a little more water.

To serve: Spoon rice onto a large serving dish, and top with sweet potatoes, then peppers, a nice heavy drizzle of sauce, and sprinkle chopped green onions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve any extra sauce in a little pitcher.

To serve it as a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries, just gently stir in the onions, cilantro and peanuts. So good!

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant, Peppers and chicken

Made this for Kumy’s birthday last week while we were away from home. We had kind of limited supplies, but I’d brought a couple of Tbsp of Thai Green Curry Paste, which made it crazy easy. We were all starved and this was the perfect dish!

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Eggplant, not peeled – cut into 1″ cubes
1 green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, cut into fat slivers
1 carrot, julienned
1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into small bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp Mae Ploy Green Curry Paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (optional – I didn’t have any and it was still good)
juice from 1/2 lime
pinch red pepper flakes (totally optional – the paste is already very spicy)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Thai Basil Leaves, julienned (optional – I didn’t have any and still good)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet until it’s quite hot. Add eggplant and cook, flipping the eggplant to sear it. Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the onion, peppers and carrot and saute for another 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and the peppers are softened. Add the chicken and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes.

Shift veggies to the edges, and add a little more oil, and the green curry paste. Cook the green curry paste for a couple of minutes and add 1/2 cup water, the juice of 1/2 a lime and the salt and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together well and add the coconut milk. Cook for just another 30 seconds to warm the coconut milk and serve over rice.

Would probably be great with chopped peanuts, too.

Update:  Last night Maya and the gals made amazing vegan egg rolls, which Samir fried.  Since we had a lot of folks home for supper,  I made this dish without chicken, and realized it really doesn’t need the red pepper flakes!  Taylor made Sherry Trifle, so it was fine dining all around.

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

caprese salad

Nothing is more beautiful than tomatoes, mozarella and basil, drizzled with a tangy, sweet balsamic vinaigrette!  And takes almost no time at all.

4 tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 ball of fresh Mozarella, cut into 1/4″ slices
Handful of fresh basil leaves

Vinaigrette Recipe:

3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (Costco’s is amazingly good)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix vinaigrette up in a mason jar, and shake well.

Layer tomatoes with Mozarella and basil leaves on a broad serving dish, and drizzle the vinaigrette over. So good.

Pepper, Mushrooms & Eggplant on Pasta

We had roasted eggplant a couple of days ago, and had some leftover.  I also had peppers in the fridge and a bunch of mushrooms, so we threw together a lovely dish. A little parmesan would have been good, but we were out. It was delicious as is.

Maya wanted “hodge-podge” pasta tonight. (We keep a large mason jar with the tail ends of all different pastas. Even if they cook at slightly different times, they’re usually close enough to be fine, plus it’s fun to have all different shapes.)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp of bacon drippings (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
8-10 large mushrooms, sliced fairly thinly
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Roasted eggplant
Pasta

Start water boiling for pasta. When you start the mushrooms, you can start the pasta and it comes out about the same time.

Meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add peppers to oil and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down a bit, and loosely cover the pan with a lid. (I used a lid that was smaller than the pan, but still covered the peppers.) After a couple of minutes, I uncovered them, and stirred again. Back on with the cover for another couple of minutes.

Stir again, and remove the peppers. Wipe out the pan in case anything was getting close to burning. Add butter to the pan, and the bacon drippings. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook them the same way you did the peppers. Stir fry, then cover, stir again, cover and stir again.  For the final cook, you’ll want to leave them uncovered until most of the liquid dries up.

Add the peppers back into the pan, along with any juices. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh out of the roasted eggplants along the edge of the pan. Break up the eggplants into smaller chunks. Some parts will be stringy, but that’s okay. Toss with the peppers and mushrooms to warm and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

I added another little pat of butter to my pasta since I love butter!

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini Sauce

From the Wall Street Journal – though simplified. Eggplant and tahini are so good together! The original recipe called for fresh herbs on top, but we like it just like this.

6 small eggplants, halved, skin and stem intact
olive oil
kosher salt

Put eggplants on a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 425 for 20 minutes.

1/4 cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
sprinkle of garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

Mix all together and drizzle over eggplant just before serving. Trader Joe’s also sells a Tahini sauce which you can substitute for the tahini paste and water. Just use 1/2 cup of the sauce instead.

You can use larger eggplants – just cut them in slices about 1″ thick.