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Corn and Salsa Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

Southwest Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

A spiralizer has been sitting around in my closet for quite some time, gathering dust. Something recently caught my attention and prompted me to buy a couple of zucchinis and dust that puppy off. Being that it is Summer, and the height of fresh veggie season, now is the time to do it!

First thing I did was set up the spiralizer with the smaller of the string settings.

Spiralizer and a few ingredients

I washed and trimmed the ends off of two zucchinis and ran them through the process.

Zucchini “noodles”

The center remains as a long “rod”, about the thickness of a pencil. I cut those into little chunks and set them aside. I added two or three good pinches of salt to the “noodles” and tossed them well. I set those aside, while I assembled my other ingredients: about a half of a cup of corn (fresh, cooked on the cobb, and removed), a half cup of salsa, the zucchini core pieces, a minced garlic glove, and a few grinds of black pepper.

In a 10″ nonstick skillet (or wok, if you prefer), add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. When melted and bubbling, add the veggies, except for the “noodles”.

Corn, zucchini pieces fron core, garlic clove.

Toss to saute for a minute, the add salsa. Make sure it’s all heated through, then add the zucchini noodles.

Almost done!

If there isn’t too much salt, it should be okay to toss straight in. If you think you added too much, rinse and drain before adding to the skillet. Toss the mixture a couple of times, to coat the noodles, cooking for a minute or so. Cover and steam for a minute. Add the black pepper and adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with cheese of your choice, if desired. If I had some fresh cilantro on hand, I would have added a handful of leaves at the last minute.

The Final product…yum!

And let me say, if you’ve never tried the spiralized zucchini noodle thing, you will be pretty amazed. They really do feel like noodles, with just a slight crunch. Both my wife and daughter thought I had mixed regular thin spaghetti noodles in with the zucchini. Of course, this could be sauced an endless number of ways, and with different veggies. Also, with or without meat. I might try an alfredo next….

 

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Soup for One from Home Canned Pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

I have several pint jars of pumpkin sitting in my pantry that I canned after Halloween this year. I decided to pop open a jar and make some soup!

First, I drained the liquid from the pumpkin and transferred it to a small saucepan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

(If you substitute store-bought canned pumpkin, you might need to ADD a little water, as it is “solid pack”, meaning that it has had a bunch of water removed.) Then I added about 1/3 cup of buttermilk and a pinch each of powdered ginger, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground coriander.

Spices and buttermilk added.

Spices and buttermilk added.

I combined those ingredients until smooth, using a hand blender, while I brought the soup up to temperature over medium-high heat. I decided to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of half’n’half and blend that in as well.

Blended, with half'n'half added.

Blended, with half’n’half added.

To have a little more fun, I added croutons to the glass canning jar that the pumpkin had been in, and topped them with about a 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

I poured the soup over the cheese and croutons and stirred. It was stringy with hot cheese and tasted like a soup and grilled cheese sandwich, all blended together!

Soup!

Soup!

Obviously, you could just eat the soup, without the croutons and cheese. You could vary the flavor by changing the flavor of croutons and/or the type of cheese. Also, you could vary the spices added to the soup. Cumin, instead of coriander; mustard powder, rather than garlic; add some chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option. It’s a versatile little soup that you can spice to suit your tastes, plus it’s quick and easy! Enjoy!

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Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits…MMM!

I have used the following recipe with great success and it’s very simple. I highly recommend it and give credit where credit is due. Please note the copyright included below and do not copy, forward, or print any of the contents without it!

>>>Recipe: Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 12 min | Yield: About 6 to 12 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cold soft, winter wheat, self-rising Southern flour (like White Lily brand)
  • 1/4 cup very cold butter, shortening or lard
  • 3/4 cup cold real buttermilk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch cast iron skillet with additional shortening or oil and place into the oven for 5 minutes. Put the flour into a bowl and cut the very cold butter into cubes and toss in the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it is crumbly. Add buttermilk and use a fork to mix very lightly. Dough will be very shaggy.

Put a bit of additional flour on the countertop and scoop dough out. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top and gently push together to form a rectangle. Do not overhandle the dough. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold them in toward the middle, turn the dough, gently press down into a rectangle again and repeat. Repeat this folding once more and pat into desired thickness, usually about an inch. This folding creates flaky layers in the biscuits.

Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small juice glass, cut out into rounds, taking care not to twist the cutter and gently gather scraps for the last biscuits. Transfer biscuits to the prepared skillet or baking pan and bake at 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through.

Cook’s Notes: This recipe uses self-rising, Southern soft wheat flour. Do not use regular all purpose flour.

To Freeze: Prepare as above, except set down parchment on or butter a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once you’ve cut out the biscuits lay them out on the pan, freeze until they are set and then transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, reduce oven temp to 375 degrees F, and bake until browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more or less, checking at 22.

Herbed Biscuit Variation: Add up to 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. Good choices include sage, chives, parsley, dill, thyme, or a combination. Reduce to about 2 teaspoons max if using dried herbs. Make biscuits a smaller tea size for a potluck, church supper or a party and fill with Chutney Chicken Salad.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com<<<          http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2008/10/perfect-buttermilk-biscuits.html#axzz3hsC3wqoy

Mmmm...cheesy deliciousness!

Mmmm…cheesy deliciousness!

Now, my variation is to add a scant half teaspoon of garlic powder and a half cup of fine shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the flour and mix well, AFTER cutting in the butter and BEFORE adding the buttermilk. (You could add some parsley or chives, but my kids would refuse them if they had green specks, so I didn’t.)

In the oven.

In the oven.

And I brush the biscuits with melted garlic butter when they come out of the oven.

Done! Garlic buttered!

Done! Garlic buttered!

Great to go with dinner! Enjoy!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

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Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese and Cream of Mushroom Soup

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So, I’ve had this really easy recipe for a chicken dish that I got out of Southern Living Magazine decades ago. It’s boneless chicken, swiss cheese, cream of mushroom soup, white wine, bread crumbs and melted butter…baked for 45 minutes at 350F. Now that I have to cook for a vegetarian, I need to try some new things. I was looking for something to do with yellow squash from my garden and I decided to make this recipe.

Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese & Cream of Mushroom Soup

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

5 c. Yellow Squash. cut into approx. 1″ cubes

1 medium Sweet Onion, thinly sliced

1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

About 2 cups of Shredded Swiss Cheese

2 cups Plain Panko Bread Crumbs

1/4-1/3 c. Dry White Wine

Salt & Pepper, to taste

5 T. Butter, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saute pan, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, but not browned. Spread the onions evenly over the bottom of a large casserole dish.

Sauteing onions

Sauteing onions

Cover with yellow squash and season with salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute the shredded swiss cheese over the squash.

Swiss cheese.

Swiss cheese.

In a bowl, mix the cream of mushroom soup and the wine. Ladle the soup mixture over the casserole, to cover.

Mushroom soup layer.

Mushroom soup layer.

Next, cover the casserole with the panko bread crumbs. Melt the remaining 3 T. butter and drizzle over the bread crumbs.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40minutes, until bubbling throughout. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve hot, over rice.

Served over rice...yum!

Served over rice…yum!

Vegetarian approved…and I liked it too! Enjoy!

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Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

I decided to create this lasagna after having seen similar ingredients used in a different dish. I thought,”Ooh, that would make a great lasagna!”. So, I picked up a few ingredients at the grocery store that I didn’t already have on hand and I sat down and wrote the recipe.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

As I worked my way through the recipe, I tweaked it to follow what I actually found while making the dish. A couple of observations: I had three layers and no problems. I used an 11″x13″ baking dish and I had to break a few noodles to fill in some space where whole noodles would not fit…no problem. You could use a smaller dish and make more layers, but make sure you leave some room at the top, so that the sauce won’t bubble out while cooking. Also, I started with 8oz of mozzarella and upped it to 12oz, because I ran out and opened another bag. On the other hand, I didn’t quite use all of the parmesan cheese. Cheese should be to your liking. Additionally, I used cottage cheese, instead of ricotta, because I don’t care for ricotta. To me, it’s just to dense and pastey. The cottage cheese is lighter and creamy. I bought a one pound container and used a little over half. The toasted pine nuts were a terrific addition. You could skip them…I know that they are expensive, but a few tablespoons really make a big difference!

So good!!!

So good!!!

Toasting pine nuts...carefully!

Toasting pine nuts…carefully!

I also made some fettucine alfredo for my kids and had a little extra alfredo sauce, so I drizzled a little on the top of my serving. It wasn’t really necessary, but it looked nice. I didn’t have any leftover pesto bechamel, but if I had, I would have used it for a little drizzle. Finally, I chopped whole artichoke bottoms into a medium dice.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

You could use hearts, if you like, but sometimes you get a fibrous leaf or two…no big deal, but maybe not the best idea for guests. And I don’t think you would want to use “marinated” artichokes…just plain, canned. My wife thanked me for leaving out mushrooms…she has lost her taste for them recently, for some reason. But, in my head, I was thinking how good some sautéed mushrooms would have been! I hope you’ll try this recipe! If you do, leave me a comment on what you think of the recipe…and enjoy!

Pesto & Artichoke Béchamel Lasagna

(Using “No Boil” Noodles)

Ingredients:

1 box “No Boil” Lasagna Noodles

1 small jar prepared Pesto

1 12oz bag shredded Mozzarella (or more, if you like)

1 8oz bag shredded Parmesan

1 container small curd Cottage Cheese (or Ricotta)

1 can Artichoke Bottoms, drained and chopped medium

2 T. Pine Nuts, toasted (for garnish)

For the Béchamel:

2 c. Half’n’Half

1 c. 1% Milk

1 small Shallot, chopped fine (or sub. sweet onion and a garlic clove)

3 T. Butter

3 T. all-purpose Flour

2 c. Vegetable Stock

Pinch of Salt

 

Directions:

Make the béchamel. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Sauté shallot for 2 minutes, whisk in Flour, whisk until the Flour and Butter are well combined. Add Half’n’Half and Milk. Increase heat and bring to a simmer and allow to thicken/reduce for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and continue to simmer for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in jar of Pesto.

Roux

Roux

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Assemble the Lasagna: Cover the bottom of an 11”x13” baking dish with Béchamel. Cover the béchamel with Lasagna Noodles and cover with Béchamel.

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Start with pesto bechamel.

Dot the surface with small spoonsful of Cottage Cheese (or ricotta). Next, spread a layer of Mozzarella Cheese and follow with a light layer of Parmesan. Evenly sprinkle chopped Artichokes. Repeat with another layer and then finish with Béchamel and Cheeses.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375F for 50 minutes.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered. Garnished with pine nuts.

Remove foil and put under a broiler for a couple of minutes to brown a bit and bubble the cheese on top (or bake additional 10 minutes). Allow to set up for a couple of minutes while toasting the Pine Nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes…move frequently and do not burn! Sprinkle Pine Nuts evenly over the lasagna, cut into squares and serve.

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Boursin Cheese Rangoon Packets…I know, right!?

 

Ingredients. Simple.

Ingredients. Simple.

My wife loves Boursin cheese and she loves the rangoon, like you get at Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately for her, she has allergies to shrimp, shellfish and sesame, so that pretty much forces her to steer clear of Chinese restaurants for the last 25 years or more. So, in response, I have learned to make a few Chinese style dishes “my way” and most turn out pretty well…stir fry, fried rice, kung pao with peanuts, etc. And then there’s the rangoon. I ain’t kiddin’ man…this stuff is crack-a-licious.

Set-up. Easy.

Set-up. Easy.

All you need is a stack of won ton wrappers and some Boursin cheese, water, oil and a little time.

Here’s what you do:

Lay a won ton wrapper on a flat surface. Take a small amount of the cheese…maybe a teaspoon…and put it in the center of the wrapper.

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Went a finger and use it to moisten two adjacent side of the wrapper.

Fold the two dry sides over to meet the moistened sides, making a triangle. Press as much air out as possible and then press the edges to seal, leaving the cheese in a little mound, inside the wrapper.

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Dab a touch of water on the lower,  right corner of the triangle, fold the lower, left corner across the cheese, from left to right. Fold the moistened corner in the opposite direction and press carefully to make it stick.

You should have what looks like an open envelope.

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Moisten the flap and fold it over to “close the envelope”, tucking it slightly under the other folds. Now you have a nice little package that will fry quickly and evenly.

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Once you get the hang of it, you can pick up the pace a bit. I put together a tray of 20 in about 20 or 25 minutes. If not frying immediately, cover with a wrung out, damp paper towel and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. I imagine these can be made ahead and frozen as well. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine they could go directly from the freezer to the frying pan.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

To cook: Bring a frying pan with about an inch of oil up to about 350F. Fry the rangoon in batches. Do not crowd the pan. Watch them carefully, because the cooking goes very quickly. Don’t let the oil overheat. The cooking time isn’t an exact science, but about a minute on either side…watch for them to turn golden brown on one side, turn over and repeat.

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(By the way, a deep fat fryer would be a great option for cooking these, but I’m doing a small quantity and it didn’t seem worth the trouble.  I also didn’t want to have to deal with all that oil.)

Side #2

Side #2

Frying the rangoon.

Frying the rangoon.

 

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt,  if you like,  when they are removed from the oil.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Serve with duck sauce or plum sauce…or Chinese hot mustard…or, as I like to do, mix a little mustard into the duck sauce. Allow the rangoon to cool for a couple minutes before serving. The cheese filling will be very hot!

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned  and delicious) on the outside.

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned and delicious) on the outside.

I cooked a sample for testing purposes. Being the cook has a *few* benefits. My wife will get a nice surprise at dinner tomorrow! Give these a try and enjoy!

 

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Potato Au Gratin. It’s Probably Easier Than You Think!

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When was the last time you had potatoes au gratin? I mean, not dehydrated slices from a box and powdered cheese in a packet, but the real deal? It’s probably easier than you think! And if you have a decent food processor, it’s pretty quick, too. A quick search on Pinterest and I found a recipe by the ever-reliable Betty Crocker. Follow the link for the recipe:

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/au-gratin-potatoes/9fd8b127-ae50-4bb0-b1f3-98ed1f6e917e

I like to give credit where credit is due. It is nice to have some non-professional photos and personal experiences to encourage you, though! So, the most time consuming step is peeling the potatoes. Buck up, soldier! It’s not so bad, but learn to do it with a paring knife! Peelers are fine for carrots, but not so great for spuds. Next, slice the potatoes in uniform disks, about 1/8″ thick. I used the slicer disk in my food processor and zipped right through them.

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Then grate the onion with your grater attachment or finely chop by hand. (If my kids can’t see the onions, they are more likely to try the dish, so I grate them.) Then saute the onions in the butter and add the flour to make a roux.

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Add the milk and salt/pepper and whisk until fairly thick.

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Combine the sauce with the shredded cheese and whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.In an oven-safe casserole dish, spread out the potato slices in a layer, slightly overlapping. You may have enough for more that one layer. Cover with sauce and repeat as needed.

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Bake at 375F for one hour, uncovered. Mix breadcrumbs with the rest of the shredded cheese and top the casserole and pop back in oven for about 10 minutes more. Let rest ten minutes and serve.Image

Note: I used my processor to make bread crumbs from a dried out, leftover. Canned breadcrumbs would be fine here, as well. Enjoy!

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