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Archive for the ‘Quick and Easy’ Category

I am loving peach season this year. The South Carolina peaches that we are getting in Charlotte seem extra sweet and have the perfect texture. As a result, there has been an endless supply of peaches in our house. I just can’t stop buying them because I know the season will be over soon.

I made a peach cobbler a few weeks ago and have been eating peaches plain, with yogurt and in my oatmeal. I was thinking of new ways to serve the peaches and remembered that I’ve been wanting to try them grilled. I added them to the dinner menu one night when we were planning on grilling pork tenderloin. My original plan was to serve them alongside the pork but Brandon convinced me to have them for dessert topped with ice cream instead. I have a really hard time saying no to the idea of topping anything with ice cream! ;)

We really enjoyed the grilled peaches. The brown sugar and cinnamon caramelize on the peaches and they get a very slight smoke flavor. This recipe would be a perfect side item or dessert.I will definitely be asking Brandon to throw some peaches on the grill again before peach season ends!

One Year Ago: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Grilled Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Glazed Peaches
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 peaches
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat grill to medium. Cut peaches in half, twist to separate and remove the pit. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Brush peach halves with vegetable oil and grill (cut sides down) for 3-4 minutes with the lid down. Flip peaches over so that cut side is exposed and sprinkle with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Grill for another 3-4 minutes, lid down, until brown sugar mixture has caramelized.

Serve as is or top with ice cream and sprinkle with more brown sugar.

Yield: 2 servings

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I came up with the idea for this dish when I was desperately hungry in the grocery store tonight at 8 p.m. after a yoga class that nearly was the end of me. I planned on making sauteed grouper but of course by that time at night the seafood counter was down to one last sad fillet that was not coming home with me.

I picked up a few organic chicken breasts and decided to make Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds. Then I realized that I didn’t have apricot preserves and brie was going to run me at least six dollars. I started brainstorming ideas for what I could make with what was in my fridge.

And that’s how these delicious Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts were born. I had all the ingredients on hand at home to make a Greek-inspired chicken dish. Rather than stuffing the chicken breasts, I took the lazy way out and made a tasty topping. It worked perfectly. The topping added so much flavor to the chicken. I pounded the chicken out thin to ensure that it cooked quickly, evenly and stayed tender and juicy.

I served the chicken with quick cooking couscous and green beans. This was a very simple meal for a weeknight that was on the table in less than 20 minutes. Both of us really enjoyed this dish and I will be adding it to my quick weeknight dinner repertoire.

One Year Ago: Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes

Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion,finely diced (or one small onion)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon (total) fresh basil and/or oregano, minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried)
2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in oil and saute about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove chicken from skillet and let rest on a plate, loosely covered with foil.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add broth and a squeeze of lemon and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh herbs and feta and spoon mixture over chicken.

Yield: 2 servings

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This recipe has been starred in my Google reader since October 3, 2009. Every time I scrolled through my starred recipes I would think, “oh that looks good, I need to make it soon.” And it finally made it on to the menu plan this week! Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite “special” vegetables and stuffing a burger with artichokes and cheese just sounded perfect.

The verdict? I am glad that I made these burgers nine months after originally staring them! They were an awesome change from traditional burgers. The original recipe used fontina but suggested subbing feta. I had a big block of feta in the fridge so I went with that. The feta was delicious!

The only negative about the burgers is that they were a little hard to work with. The turkey was difficult to shape – the mixture seemed really wet. Brandon was concerned about getting them on the grill but they ended up grilling nicely and firming up.

Overall, I would recommend these burgers to anyone looking for a twist on traditional burgers or looking for a lower fat (or red meatless) option. We might try the burgers with ground chicken next time!

One Year Ago: Strawberry (or Cherry) Muffins

Artichoke and Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers
(Recipe adapted from Proceed with Caution, originally from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 medium sweet onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
4 ounces crumbled feta
4 burger buns

Directions:

Mix together turkey, onion, balsamic, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Form three or four patties (depending on the size of your buns and keeping in mind that the burgers will cook down a bit on the grill). Place patties on a plate and remove the top third of them. Create a small well and place an artichoke heart quarter and one ounce of feta in the well. Replace the meat you removed on top of the filling and seal the edges.

Heat grill to medium. Cook burgers about 8-10 minutes per side, or until a thermometer registers at least 160 degrees. Be careful placing the burgers on the grill and try not to move them around much (so they keep their form).

Place on buns and serve.

Yield: 3 to 4 burgers

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In the past I’ve been pretty indifferent to pasta salads. I never feel like they really deliver on flavor. I’ve been lucky in the past couple months to try two outstanding pasta salads. First there was the Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives and last night my mother in law served this Orzo Salad as part of our joint birthday/Father’s Day celebration. (My birthday was last Wednesday and Brandon’s is this Tuesday.) I went back for seconds and took leftovers home for lunch. It is so full of flavor and I think it’s a very pretty and colorful pasta salad.

The ingredient list is a little long but the preparation is simple. I think it would be easy to cut down on the ingredients.  Although pretty, I don’t think it’s necessary to use three different colors of peppers and I also think you could get away with using one variety of olives instead of two. But I do recommend the recipe as is. I’m definitely keeping this one in my summer side dish lineup.

One Year Ago: Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli

Orzo Salad
(Recipe source In Order to Serve: Christ Church Cooks II)

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if necessary)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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I have been all about Josie’s blog, Pink Parsley, lately. I think we have really similar cooking/eating styles and I’ve just gotten so much inspiration from her the last few months. I’m pretty sure that I have at least 10 recipes from her blog starred in my Google Reader right now. I’m having so much fun cooking things that are not from Gourmet even though I have made two recipes from The Gourmet Cookbook since 68 Days of Gourmet ended!

Our standby preparation for grilled chicken is simple – olive oil and a Dizzy Pig rub. I thought that this recipe would be a fun way to mix up our grilled chicken and use rosemary from my new herb garden (which I’m proud to say I’m keeping alive – I’m remembering to water the herbs and keeping the little plants happy!). I placed the chicken in the marinade before work and later that night Brandon grilled it on the Egg while I prepared goat cheese mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli. The only changes I made to the recipe were slightly increasing the rosemary in the marinade because I just love it so much and using chicken breasts instead of thighs. A simple and delicious dinner.

I will definitely be keeping this simple marinade in my repertoire!

Rosemary Grilled Chicken
(Recipe source Pink Parsley, originally adapted from Southern Living, September 2008)

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (increase if you want more rosemary flavor!)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 lemon

Directions:

Combine the garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt and rosemary in a shallow dish or large ziploc bag.  Add chicken and turn to coat.  Marinate, chilled, for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.

Prepare grill and heat to about 350-375. Grill chicken breasts about 8 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 160 has been reached.  Remove chicken from grill, cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest 10 minutes. Before serving, top with the juice from half of a lemon.

Yield: 4 servings

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When our friends Graham and Cristen visited last month they came with all kinds of South Georgia goodies – a bag of Vidalia onions, local honey and tons of fresh mint from their garden. I was eager to find a recipe that used lots of fresh mint and after looking around for a while I settled on Jumbo Shrimp with Mint and Basil Pesto from Giada De Laurentiis.

I have to be honest here…it’s been fun to search for recipes from sources other than Gourmet although Epicurious is still my number one choice for online recipes. I’m actually not a huge fan of the Food Network (and I hate their website – not user friendly…I digress) but I do usually like most of Giada’s recipes and this one was great.

You can easily have this dinner on the table in under 20 minutes – especially if you follow my lead and serve it with cous cous. The pesto is very flavorful and the mint and basil complement each other nicely. I did not have time to make it to the bulk bins to purchase pine nuts and was not about to pay $10 for a small amount of them at my normal grocery so I substituted toasted walnuts. The recipe calls for pan sautéing the shrimp but I also think they would be great on the grill. We loved this simple dinner and I enjoyed the leftovers served atop a bed of lettuce for lunch the next day.

I made up the cous cous as I went. I sautéed diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil in a small saucepan and then added in whole wheat cous cous, water and salt. Once the cous cous had absorbed the liquid, I stirred in feta, diced tomatoes and chopped fresh basil and mint.

A great summery dish using the herbs in your garden!

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – my go-to oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. So good!

Jumbo Shrimp with Basil and Mint Pesto
(Recipe source, Giada De Laurentiis – Everyday Italian)

Ingredients:

3/4 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Combine mint, basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup of olive oil, until well blended. Transfer pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Toss shrimp with the extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.

Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes, careful not to overcook. Toss shrimp pesto to coat.

Yield: 6 servings

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Fish tacos are one of my favorite easy, healthy dinners. They are also a perfect warm weather dinner. As we were eating these we talked about how fun it would be to entertain with a make-your-own fish taco bar and margaritas or sangria. Just might have to do that soon!

Another great thing about fish tacos is that they can be totally customized based on your flavor and topping preferences. We happen to love ours finished with this Baja Cream that I discovered when I was making these shrimp tacos. I like to serve all of the toppings on a big platter so we can each build our own tacos.

I usually use a mild white fish and saute it with a Dizzy Pig rub like Jamaican Firewalk or Shakin’ the Tree.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you should be familiar with these rubs. I can’t sing The Dizzy Pig’s praises enough. These rubs have the best flavor and use high quality ingredients. Also, their customer service is awesome!

I’m sharing my base recipe for fish tacos but feel free to change it up to meet your tastes. But whatever you do, don’t skip out on the Baja cream – even if you’re not a mayonnaise fan – it sounds so simple but adds a wonderful, bright flavor to the tacos.

One year ago: Greek Inspired Flounder

Fish Tacos with Baja Cream
(Recipe source: tacos – Bakin’ and Eggs, baja cream – Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BAJA CREAM
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
Salt, to taste

FOR THE TACOS
1 1/2 pounds white fish fillets such as tilapia, flounder or mahi
Seasoning rub of your choice – recommended Dizzy Pig’s Jamaican Firewalk
2 tablespoon olive oil
Shredded red or purple cabbage
Shredded cheese such as cheddar, colbyjack or your choice
1 avocado, sliced
Salsa
Lime wedges
Hot sauce, such as Cholula
8 soft taco sized tortillas

Directions:

FOR THE BAJA CREAM
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead.)

FOR THE TACOS
Drizzle fish with olive oil and coat with seasoning rub. In a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add fish and cook about 3 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove fish from pan and cut into slices.

Arrange Baja cream and toppings on a platter and serve with fish and warmed tortillas (I usually wrap mine in a paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds).

Yield: 4 servings

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