Zesty Zucchini

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We are eating more vegetables than ever since I started trying so many vegetables to roast, and  different ways to make them special.  Don’t get me wrong, a simple brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper gets delicious results.  But the addition of lemon zest, shredded basil, and a few cherry tomatoes definitely makes zucchini that is a favorite to add to any easy summer supper.

Zesty Zucchini

3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

olive oil for coating

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place zucchini and tomatoes in ZipLoc bag with enough olive oil to coat.  Lay zucchini halves on  baking sheet, cut side up with cherry tomatoes on top and around them. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top with lemon zest and basil.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

There are many variations and combinations that work to make this one of the most versatile side dish for your summer meals.  Try mixing yellow squash or any other summer squash with chopped thyme and sliced lemon.  Fresh mint and a squeeze of orange juice is a bright, fresh taste for a change.  You can also use your outdoor grill for roasting if you prefer.

Special K Crunch

016There are certain family favorite recipes that are connected with people (Iris’ Toffee, Mother’s Lemon Icebox Pie), some with holidays (Christmas -Crusty Fennel Potatoes, Thanksgiving – Cornbread Dressing, others with places (Singapore Chili Shrimp, Indonesian Nasi Goreng), and even some that come from restaurants where we first enjoyed the dish (Tino’s Flautas, Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscano).  But I have one category of family favorites that came from simple snacks we enjoyed making with children in Vacation Bible School. The star of that collection is the sweet, crunchy confection shown here.

I still work in VBS at our church each year.  We don’t cook with the kids, but I have as much fun as they do. Now, over 30 years later, we are very careful about serving peanut butter or anything with high fructose corn syrup to the children. But I suspect our family will never stop making this treat. Recently our youngest son invited us to join him and his wife for a Saturday night dinner.  This was the dessert he asked me to bring!

Special K Crunch

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup granulated sugar

Bring to a boil and add:

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

4 cups Special K cereal

Mix well and quickly spread in buttered 9 inch square pan.  Cool and cut into squares.

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Shrimp Mosca

019Sweet Texas Gulf Shrimp are a treat whether you boil, broil, bake, or fry them.  This skillet of spicy shrimp served with rice is just as perfect for a special guest dinner as for a casual family gathering.  I cooked Shrimp Mosca first from a recipe found in one of my Louisiana cookbooks:  Shadows on the Teche.  In New Orleans everyone knows of  Mosca’s restaurant, owned and operated by the Mosca family. Its claim to fame is that it serves  THE BEST ITALIAN  food in the South.  It reminds me of my recipe for Singapore style Chili shrimp because traditionally the shrimp are prepared and served with the shells on, with the messy fun of peeling at the table and having the sauce to dunk your bread in. In this version of Shrimp Mosca, I peel and devein the shrimp before cooking.  The addition of bread crumbs does soak up some of the sauce but gives a delicious crusty topping.

2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 stick of butter,

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper

5 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

2  teaspoons fresh thyme

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and minced

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 cup bread crumbs

Set oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and devein shrimp and place in large baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Put all ingredients escept the shrimp and bread crumbs in a pan and simmer on low for about 5 minutes without bringing to a boil.  Pour sauce over shrimp and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with rice and crusty French bread.

Leek, Kale, and Red Pepper Quiche

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I have always like to plan meals by using ingredients I already have in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry.  I dislike wasting food, and try to be creative in using up our perishables.  So last Saturday when I was putting together a late breakfast, I made this quiche because we had leeks, kale and red pepper.  I have used leeks in quiche and tarts before, and certainly red pepper is a common enough addition, but I wasn’t sure how well we would like kale for breakfast.  Turns out we liked it very much.  This would also be a wonderful light lunch or supper with the addition of a salad.  The fresh vegetables were beautiful as I chopped and wilted them.

007I used a prepared pie crust since I had one in the refrigerator, but you could certainly make your own.  The finished product smelled so good our mouths were watering as we sliced it.  I garnished with a nasturtium leaf and flower.

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Leek, Kale, and Red Pepper Quiche

              4 fresh eggs
              1 cup milk
              2 tablespoons flour
              1 teaspoon dried French thyme
              1 teaspoon dried mustard
              1 cup shredded cheddar
              2 tablespoons olive oil
              1 large leek or 3 small leeks,  sliced very thin
              3 cups kale, sliced very thin
              1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
              Salt and pepper to taste
              nutmeg
Saute the leeks in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add kale and red pepper and saute another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs, add to milk, flour and seasonings in a bowl, stir in cheese. Spread vegetable mixture in crust. Pour egg/milk/cheese mixture over. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Navajo Avocado Rice

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There are versions of avocado rice in several cookbooks and a number of internet sites.   I made it the first time from a recipe in the Houston Chronicle in 1997, where someone  had won a recipe contest.  I have posted my adaptation of the recipe, with ingredients listed as I have cooked it for 26 years!  My youngest son recently called to ask me how to make it!  I always consider that a big compliment.

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup uncooked Basmati rice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon dried Turkish oregano

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

14 1/2 ounce can chicken broth

1 avocado

Heat butter and oil in 2-quart pan.  Saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add rice and stir constantly about 3 minutes, until rice looks milky and opague.  Add spices and broth and bring to a simmer.  Cover, reduce heat, cook for 20 minutes and all liquid is absorbed. When rice is tender, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. . Peel, pit, and dice avocado and add to rice mixture. Toss gently to mix, let stand 5 minutes before serving.