I’ve been making bread using my homemade sourdough starter for a couple weeks now. I’m on try #4 and each one gets a little more sourdough-y. I’m not sure, but I’m assuming that the sourdough starter gets more and more sour as as you use it and feed it. The last two tries, I’ve put the dough in two standard loaf pans. It’s easier to slice and use for toast and sandwiches this way. Take a look: Continue reading
So I’ve been attempting to get my family to sit at the table together for dinner at least a few times a week … I know, I know … such an archaic concept! I grew up in a family in which my mom cooked every single night. Every. Single. Night. Dinner was at 5:00 and we all sat down together. I loved it then, and I appreciate it now and am attempting to pass this on to my family. It’s difficult to juggle 5 people … with my teaching schedule constantly changing, sports practices, workout schedules, etc … In order for this to happen, it’s on me to get the food on the table when everyone is actually in the house. Not always an easy feat.
Today, I had a meeting, office hours, taught a class, picked up my kids and made it home by 5:00. Dinner, dinner … what to make for dinner? When I’m in a hurry, one of my go-to dishes is a big bowl of spaghetti. I do use pasta sauce from a jar, but I hook it up with lots of diced vegetables – some are even from the garden. I often make garlic bread to go along with it, but recently, I’ve been trying to cut down on the carbs. Also, I’m trying to use what I can from our garden. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. Baked zucchini and tomatoes is born …
- 1 medium-ish zucchini (I grow Black Beauty)
- sliced tomatoes (quantity depends on the size of your tomatoes – mine have been quite small this year – I think I used 5-6 small-medium sized tomatoes of various varieties)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- bread crumbs (I use plain)
Preheat the oven to 375. Put the olive oil in a roasting dish. Microplane in the garlic. Add salt and pepper. Slice the zucchini and toss them around in the oil, evenly distributing the oil and garlic. Slice the tomatoes and arrange by alternating the zucchini and tomatoes slices. (Notice: I do all this in the dish I’m going to put in the oven – I’m all about using less bowls/dishes for preparation – that just means more dishes to wash!)
Microplane some parmesan cheese over the entire dish.
Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a couple small handfuls or breadcrumbs and microplane some more parmesan cheese. I don’t have exact measurements – just add as much or as little as your taste buds desire. Bake for another 5-7 minutes or so, making sure the top doesn’t burn.
I forgot to take a picture before we dug in, but here it is. This is a great side dish. It is easy to make, simple, and most importantly, homegrown … not to mention the calories you save by not eating piece after piece of garlic bread, delicious as it is … Enjoy!
My sister and I are pretty famous for our parties (not to brag or anything …). Our spreads are various, colorful, and tasty – we’ve thrown parties for groups as small as 20 and as large as 100. My sister always buys the cheese. She is vegetarian, but is an avid cheese-eater. She gets an assortment and lays them out with various crackers and breads.
Usually, we have leftover cheese. They end up in my fridge and I snack on them for several days. Now, I love cheese, even strong ones (e.g. blue), but a girl can only eat so much leftover cheese. Not wanting to waste (of course), I finally came up with a way to use up all that leftover cheese: introducing Leftover Party Cheese Potato Gratin! I have a friend who does not like blue cheese, but she tried it and said that although she can tell there’s blue cheese in the mix, it’s mellow and overall delicious. Adding zucchini from the backyard makes it just a tad healthier, and the onions become sweet and delicious. I’m happy to report that the dish turned out great! Here’s the run-down:
- 4 potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 cup milk (I used skim, but for a richer dish, you can use whole milk or cream)
- about 1 cup total leftover cheeses (the idea is to use whatever leftover cheeses you have – for this recipe, I had blue cheese, Saint Andre, and an herbed goat cheese)
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325. Put the milk and leftover cheeses in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Heat until lightly simmering.
While the milk is warming and the cheese is melting, prepare the vegetables. Lightly brush olive oil on the bottom and sides of an oven-proof baking dish. Use a mandolin to slice your vegetables. First, put down one layer of potato slices. Lightly salt and pepper.
Next, put down one layer of zucchini slices. LIghtly salt and pepper.
Sprinkle one layer of onion slices. Finish with a final layer of overlapping potato slices.
Pour the heated milk and cheese mixture over the vegetables.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 325. Then, turn up the heat to 400 for another 10 minutes or so to brown the top. Enjoy!
One of my favorite things to do is reading cookbooks. During a snack with Maya today (one of many snacks since she is always hungry), I was reading a couple and came across a picture of a calzone. So, I said, “Do you want to make calzones?” Not even knowing what a calzone is, she of course said, “yes.” She loves helping me in the kitchen. And I love cooking with her too. Why use a stand mixer when you have a willing 4-year-old? Not to mention that I have been trying to find more ways to use my homegrown zucchini. Although I’ve never made calzones before, they turned out pretty good. Here’s the run-down:
Dough Ingredients (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
- 4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 3.5 teaspoons dry yeast
- 2.5 tablespoons honey
- 3.5 teaspoons salt (I use kosher)
- 1.5 cups warm water (from the tap is fine)
Filling Ingredients – The possibilities are endless, but here is what I included today:
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium-sized zucchini, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- salt, pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- mozzarella, shredded
I believe that the original purpose of the calzone was to use up odd bits and ends of things leftover in the kitchen. I can see adding bits of salami, prosciutto, leftover meats, ends of cheeses, artichoke hearts, olives, pickled peppers, etc. Like I said, the possibilities are endless!
First, make the dough. I wish I had a large cutting board because then I could make the dough right on there and not have to wash any bowls, but my largest one isn’t big enough. So, we used a bowl. Put all the flour in a bowl (or on a large cutting board), make a well in the center, and fill the well with the yeast, honey, and water.
Mix the ingredients in the center, then start to incorporate the flour into the mixture. Add the salt.
After the dough has come together, put it on a lightly floured board, and knead 10-12 times.
Cover loosely with a cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Lightly brown the filling ingredients (except for the tomatoes) over medium heat.
After a few minutes, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal is to evaporate as much of the water from the tomatoes as possible. After all, you don’t want soggy calzones! When the mixture is relatively water-free, put it on a wide, shallow plate. This allows it to cool quickly.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll into 7-8 inch circles (about 1/2-inch thick). Put a little cheese on half, spoon on the filling, and add a little more cheese. (At this point, I added olives to one of the calzones. I kept it separate from the mixture because not everyone likes olives.) Fold the dough in half, pinch the edges together, score with a knife to allow steam to escape during the baking process, and place on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
Nico (1) has decided that homegrown zucchini is the vegetable of the week, so he ate almost all of my filling. Hopefully you can eat more of yours than I got to! Enjoy!