Eggplant Involtini

IMG_2845A friend from church recently  brought me some vegetables from his garden which included several lovely Japanese eggplants so I made these rollups.  The time spent in preparation was well worth the finished dish!

Eggplant Involtini

3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing on parchment to line the baking sheet

2 medium Japanese eggplant, ends trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 28 ounce  can diced tomatoes, with liquid mostly drained and reserved for other use

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

10-12 slices of thin sliced deli ham

10-12 slices whole milk mozzarella (I use the ready sliced logs of mozzarella, not sandwich slices)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the slices of eggplant on the parchment paper, brushing both sides with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once. This will make eggplant slices soft and easy to roll.

While eggplant is in the oven, saute onion for 3 minutes in the remaining olive oil. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add drained tomatoes then saute for 2 or 3 minutes.

When eggplant has baked, remove from oven and lower the oven temperature to 350.  On each eggplant slice, place a slice of ham and a slice of mozzarella. Roll the pieces from the small end forward and secure the bundle with a toothpick.

Put about a cup of the tomato sauce in  the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish, then arrange involtini in dish, seam side down.  Over each bundle, spread some of the tomato mixture, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella over all. Place in oven to warm for 15 minutes before serving.

Chicken Fricasee

IMG_2762An old fashioned and very French dish, Chicken Fricasee has been called a serving of history! Recipes exist that are said to have been served to Abraham Lincoln. Julia Child and other famous chefs made it. It is not often seen on restaurant menus now, and I had never eaten Chicken Fricasee much less prepared it, but I like saying the name and I was intrigued enough to try it. It was a great success in the Parker house, and has gone on our list of keepers. This is my version, but I found the recipe I started from in Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s Ultimate Cookbook. Once more, this was a matter of wanting to use ingredients I already had:  chicken thighs, leeks, and mushrooms! This is a fine entree to serve dinner guests.

Chicken Fricasee

3 Tablespoons butter

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 strips bacon, chopped

2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and sliced

8 ounces brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 teaspoon dried French tarragon (I used Penzey’s)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon flour

3 cups white wine

In large heavy soup pot, melt butter, add chicken thighs and brown on both sides, turning occasionally. Do this in batches to avoid crowding.

While chicken is browning, add bacon pieces to an iron skillet, cook until browned Add leeks and stir while cooking about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms to this mixture, stir and cook until their liquid cooks off, about 5 more minutes.  Sprinkle tarragon, salt, cloves, and pepper over vegetable mixture and stir briefly.  Sprinkle on flour, stir, and cook for a few seconds but do not brown flour. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the wine while and scraping up browned bits from pan. When simmering, add to chicken pieces in large pot while stirring with remaining wine.  Combine well, bring to simmer and allow to continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until chicken meat is very tender. Serve over white rice.

Pasta Caprese

IMG_2752A combination of two of our favorite summer salads, Pasta Caprese is perfect for Sunday lunch after church, for taking to a potluck, or as a side to serve with grilled meats or fish. We make a wide variety of pasta salads using ingredients that are in the pantry or frig. An all time favorite is Caprese made with fresh garden tomatoes, basil, and a slice of whole milk Mozarella. For this bowl of combined flavors, I use canned tomatoes and grated Mozarella, but you could also chop fresh tomatoes and/or use little Mozarella balls to make it even better. This recipe makes a large amount. Can be made ahead.

Caprese Pasta Salad

1 pound tube pasta such as penne or gemelli

1 28 ounce can or box of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid for later use)

2 cups shredded mozarella

fresh basil leaves , shredded (I used a large bunch, but add this to taste)

sea salt and pepper,

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Cook pasta to package directions, al dente. Drain past, add to large bowl, and add drained tomatoes, shredded basil, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Toss and add balsamic vinaigrette

Breakfast Ramekin with Sherried Eggs and Ham

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Perfect for breakfasts for lazy Saturdays, times when there are guests in the house, or for a light meal any time of the day – this is a tasty individual dish that is something old and familiar and something with a new twist at the same time!

Once again, I found a great starting recipe in my copy of Breakfast in Bed which has recipes from Northern California to British Columbia B&B’s. This is a variation of a dish served at the North Coast Country Inn in Gualala, California.

Breakfast Ramekin with Sherried Eggs and Ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set desired number of buttered ramekins on baking sheet.  This recipe is for 2 individual servings, but may be multiplied by as many servings as you need.

3 Tablespoons finely chopped ham

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons half and half

2 teaspoons dry sherry

1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Worcestershire sauce

sea salt

black pepper

paprika

Put finely chopped ham in bottom of buttered ramekins, Break 2 eggs onto top of ham. In a small bowl, mix half and half, sherry, a dash each of Worcestershire sauce and Tobasco, salt, and pepper.  W ith a teaspoon, carefully drizzle this mixture (divided evenly) over top of eggs. Sprinkle with shredded cheese on each cup and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake about 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Serve hot.

Zucchini Onion Pie

IMG_2701Summertime vegetables are best when cooked simply. Even though I prefer not to heat up the kitchen with baking, this veggie pie is a great one dish meal, delicious with a crisp salad for supper.  I like adding some color with slices of red pepper from our garden.

Zucchini Onion Pie

3 eggs

1 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cooking oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced zuchinni

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup biscuit mix ( I used Cheddar Bay biscuit mix and loved it)

In a large bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients. Stir in the zucchini, baking mix and onion. Pour into a greased 9-in. deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.Yield: 6 servings.

Southwestern Meatloaf

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We enjoyed a new twist on traditional meat loaf this week.  I have made meat loaf like Mother did (ground beef, tomato sauce, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, and green pepper) as well as substituting bread crumbs or oatmeal  for the filler and different seasonings, but this spicy version is a keeper. Crushed tortilla chips and salsa make it a super quick and easy. I liked serving it with fresh roasted corn, black beans, and a garden salad.

IMG_2706Southwestern Meat Loaf

1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 crushed and minced garlic cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup peach salsa (or salsa of your choice)

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup cup grated cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons spicy ketchup

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, crush tortilla chips in sandwich bag, add to mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, cumin,garlic and salsa and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.  Add ground beef and cheese.  Mix well, shape into an oval, place in loaf pan, and bake for 50 minutes.  Mix ketchup and lime juice and spread over top of meat loaf, then return to oven for another 10 minutes.

I used some tasty peach salsa but you can use any salsa, preferably a chunky one. Turn up the heat by trying Chipotle or Habanero Salsa!

Eetch

IMG_2552Eetch (pronounced Yeetch) is a traditional Armenian side dish made from Bulgar wheat. It is similar to tabbouleh but much thicker and grainier, and not as tart. Its color is derived from tomato paste and tomato sauce. It is a great way to use summer vegetables, another take on salads, and you can add as much spice as you wish.  I think the next batch I make I will omit cayenne pepper, but add some chopped jalapeno!  OK, I know that is not traditional, but we could call that Texas Eetch!

Eetch – Armenian Bulgur Salad

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon tomato paste ( I buy tubes of tomato paste rather than cans, so easy to use small amounts)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water (just measure by rinsing the tomato sauce can)

1 1/2 cups Bulgar

chopped parsley

juice of 1 lemon or more to taste, optional

a pinch of cayenne pepper ( to taste, and optional)

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan. Add onion, green pepper, 1 T tomato paste and salt, Cook over medium heat about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato sauce, water, and when back to boiling, stir in bulgur, mixing well.  Cover, remove from heat and   let stand.  Fluff and stir in parsley plus lemon juice and cayenne if using.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.   This is beautiful served on a Romaine lettuce leaf with a sprinkle of chopped fresh tonatoes and green onions, but also works well as a side dish or  a stuffing for peppers.

Mary Ann’s Tuna Salad

IMG_2517 Sometimes I forget that something I have made and eaten for as long as I can remember is considered a “family favorite” recipe. I think that is why no one ever wrote down Grandma Terrell’s tea cake or cornbread recipe, or Daddy’s recipe for homemade rolls.They were made so often that they were learned by heart and hands but now, generations later, the recipes would be treasured, knowing that we were doing it just like they did..

Tuna salad is like that for me. When I was a little girl, I loved our famiy’s tuna sandwiches. They were a staple when teenage friends gathered at our house.  I still make it just like Mother did with 2 slight alterations:  I use white albacore tuna packed in water, not the Chicken of the Sea packed in oil that Mother always used, and I use a lighter version of mayonnaise. Neither of these products was available all those years ago!  I have eaten many variations of tuna salad in different places. I know I can add onions if I want, or chopped pecans. Or celery and fresh dill. I know it does not have to have boiled eggs and apples. But as a family favorite, here is the way I make it.

Mary Ann’s Tuna Salad

2/ 7 oz. can’s white albacore tuna packed in water.  (Costco’s version is very good.)

2 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1 large apple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup dill relish, or 1/3 cup whole pickles, chopped fine

1/2 cup Mayonnaise  (I prefer Hellman’s Mayo with Olive oil)

Drain tuna and add to bowl along with eggs, apple, relish and mayonnaise.

Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Mix and spread on bread slices or served on a lettuce cup.

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Garden Salad

IMG_2461After our weekend family gatherings with meals that inlcuded a Saturday dinner of smoked pork tenderloin, roasted corn, roasted green beans, a lunch of sausage,vegetables, and rice, baking (and eating) breakfast scones, root beer popsicles, ice cream treats, and our Memorial Day feast of grilled hot dogs, Kielbasa, smashed potatoes and all the trimmings – we were more than ready to have salad for a meal.  All the food was pretty healthy, there was just alot of it!  If you begin to feel that way as summer arrives, there is no tastier choice than a fresh vegetable salad.

If you are going to avoid a long session of prepping, remember to save those small amounts of leftovers that sometimes get tossed.  Of course you can always make soup, but think salad and stash those left behind cooked vegetables – green beans, corn, beets, asparagus, Grilling and roasting vegetables is very popular, and nothing tastes better topping your fresh ingredients. Quantities suggested below will vary according to what is in your own frig. I love it when I have a few things from my own garden. The combination of colors, textures, and flavor make this crunchy salad a feast!  Top with make-your-own or bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below photograph.

Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cups mixed leaf and Romaine lettuces

2 carrots, sliced

4 -5 radishes

2 ears roasted sweet corn, cut from cob

1 cup roasted green beans left whole or cut into pieces

1 small yellow squash, sliced

1 small green pepper, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

chopped red onion (optional)

Prepare all vegetables and place on top torn lettuces in large bowl.  Add Balsamic Vinaigrette and toss.  Serve with a crusty baguette.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a jar, tighten lid, and shake!   Taste and adjust amount of vinegar or seasoning as you wish.

Apricot Scones

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I fell in love with scones in 1991 during a trip to Scotland. While we were living in Indonesia, I read an enchanting article in Victoria Magazine which featured a tearoom in the Highlands housed in a 200 year old cottage. When we planned soon after to include a trip to the UK on summer trip back to the US from Jakarta, I hoped to add a visit there. Joe managed to find Shore Cottage (not easy), and he and I and our youngest son, Ben had tea there. I bought a Shore Cottage Tearoom Book of Recipes which still holds a place of honor on my shelves of cookbooks. Tell me, wouldn’t you be drawn to go to a place with this description?

“Through a periwinkle gate and a rose-bedecked door, one enters the white cottage where Lilly McNaught was born Perched above Loch Etive, it is now a tearoom noted for the sweets Lilly bakes with her daughter and granddaughters.”

This recipe is not in Shore Tearoom’s little blue book, but it comes from an intrigue with scones begun there in the Scottish Highlands.  When I think of baking them, I am reminded of the Shore Tearoom and our scones there. As you can see, I still have the article which drew me there.  I keep it folded inside the recipe book. I don’t know if Lilly still bakes with her granddaughters, but tomorrow I plan to bake scones with mine!

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Apricot Scones

2 Cups flour

3 Tablespoons. sugar 

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 Cup white chocolate chips

1 1/2 Cups whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 Cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons. orange juice

Preheat oven to 400°. Line with silpat or grease baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, apricots and vanilla chips.Stir to coat apricots. Add the whipping cream and almond extract all at once and stir just until ingredients are moistened.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured cloth, turning a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 6-inch rounds. Cut each round into 6 wedges. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5minutes. While the scones cool, combine powdered sugar and orange juice. Drizzle over warm scones. These are best served warm.