Stuffed Peppers..2.0 Version

Stuffed peppers are a great homey fall supper. I made them a few weeks ago and my recipe is just about the same as my mom used to make, comfort food for sure.  My garden produced more bell peppers….not sure I wanted the same flavor so I went looking for a different take. I found this vegetarian recipe by Robert Irvine on Food Network.  I changed it by adding ground chicken and removing some veggies to make room for that chicken. The result was just a great combination of flavors and very satisfying. I will put my version here.  If you want it vegetarian look for his recipe on the website. It got five stars and they are well deserved. I guess you could use any ground meat for this recipe.  I got my dark meat ground chicken at Valley Farm Markets in Bethlehem.

I don’t cook with tarragon that often but it really makes the flavor of this dish so delightful and different. Just try it.

Notes: I used cooked brown rice, the original choice was wild rice. You can use whatever rice floats your boat or is in your pantry; just cook it and cool somewhat before mixing with the other filling ingredients.  This is a naturally gluten free meal and I never got tired of it – ate all the servings up in a week and know I will be making it again for sure.

 

Angie’s Italian Stuffed Peppers   makes six

 

6 green, red or yellow bell peppers; nice sized

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb ground chicken; dark meat if you can find it

1 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves minced

1-2 cups diced summer squash

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

½ cup diced red pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. fresh tarragon chopped

½ cup Asiago cheese freshly grated (Parmesan would also work)

Directions:

Cut the lids off the peppers, discard seeds, I cut about ½ inch down the pepper so the center and stem stays part of the lid.  Heat a cup of water in a big pot with a steamer in it. Add the peppers and their lids, cook about 8 minutes, remove lid and let cool.

In a large skillet pour half the olive oil, heat, add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.  After it is cooking a couple minutes add the onions and garlic.  Cook a minute or two and add the diced squash and red pepper.  Do not overcook the squash. I used a firm variety of squash(tromboni) so it stayed together and didn’t get mushy.  Add the tomato paste and tomato; don’t add all the juice in the can of tomatoes; reserve about half for adding to the baking pan later on. Stir and cook until onions are soft.  Total cooking time; no more than ten or twelve minutes.  Heat the oven: 375 degrees.

Dump the cooled rice in a big bowl, add the skillet’s contents. Season with salt and pepper to taste and fresh tarragon.  Mix up gently. Stuff the cooled and drained peppers, do not pack in filling. Put a bit of filling in the bottom of a large oval baking dish that will hold your six peppers and stand the stuffed peppers upright in there.  Sprinkle them with the grated cheese, put the pepper lids on the peppers, I would add that reserved tomato juice from the can to the stuffing loose in the pan to keep it moist.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy  stuffed pepper

 

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Yummy Bacon Quiche!

Quiche has sort of a clichéd reputation.  Something ladies eat for lunch. Something real men avoid.  A boring slice of eggy stuff. All NOT true. Well, except for it being a luncheon treat. I love a well crafted quiche. They can be pretty nasty though if not carefully made. I don’t want to go into negative details but what I aim for is a flaky crust, lots of fresh flavors and a creamy filling. I have an alternative crust if you are feeling lazy; you can butter the pie pan and lay down a single layer of buckwheat grouts (2/3 cup) and any left over go thinly over the first layer.  As it bakes they swell and create a sort of a crust. Nice, but today we are going for fantastic and that means real crust.  It is just like my fruit pie crust but minus the tablespoon of sugar.  You can use a store bought unbaked crust and no one will call you out.

To fill it I like mushroom slices, bacon and onions sautéed in the leftover bacon grease.   Totally yummy and a bit oinky especially when you add some cheese cubes. For this quiche I used fresh mushrooms which amped up the flavor quite a bit but generally the canned mushrooms are how I roll.

The egg/cheese part that holds it together; mine is a bit different than most. I use a mixture of cottage cheese, eggs and milk; blended in my blender. Easy peasy. I confess I never measure the cottage cheese but you might be more cautious so I gave an amount. My recipe adds cubes of cheese to amp up the cheese factor. I used Colby here but often I chose sharp cheddar, Swiss or Munster cheese.

If you are gluten free like me check the bacon package for a gf label as I have gotten quite ill from bacon that had gluten in it. I know…why would you put gluten in bacon? I guess it is in the brining solution? Or the spices?? No idea, but do be careful. I used four slices but if you are a bacon lover you could add two more slices and that will increase the pork factor a tad.

Sometimes I vary the filling a bit; sautéed chunks or slices of summer squash are nice.  Ham instead of bacon works nicely. Don’t use too much filling or it won’t hold together.

 

quiche sliceBacon and Mushroom Quiche  six servings

 Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 8-9 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of parchment or wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of parchment or wax paper and chill it all in your fridge for about 15 minutes. Make the filling while it chills.

Filling

4 slices gluten free bacon

1 small can mushroom slices or 1/3 lb fresh mushrooms

1 medium onion

1 ½ cup plain cottage cheese

3 eggs

1/3 cup whole milk or half and half

A chunk of bar cheese; about 2 inches of it: cheddar, Colby, muenster

Sprinkle thyme

Sprinkle paprika or smoked paprika

Filling preparation: cut the bacon into large dice; sauté in frying pan, stir often. Remove to a paper towel lined plate when nearly crisp.  Slice the onion in half rounds, not too thick and not thin and cook slowly in the bacon fat until soft but not browned; about 5-8 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain a bit.  If using canned mushrooms drain them. If fresh; slice and sauté  in a clean fry pan in about a tbsp of butter and a tbsp. of olive oil until fairly cooked; about 5 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. I use my bottom heat oven for this recipe to bake the crust nicely.

Put cottage cheese, eggs and milk in blender; put lid on. Blend 10-15 seconds or until well mixed.

quiche blender

Cut the cheese chunk into small cubes.

Assembly: Roll out the pie crust; fit into 9 inch pie pan. Flute or crimp the edge. If you don’t have a bottom heat oven bake it about 8 minutes before filling. Gently spread the onion then mushroom, then bacon on the raw or par-baked crust. Pour in the blender mixture. Spread evenly all the cheese cubes over the top. Sprinkle with just a bit of dried thyme and a touch of paprika.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center is just barely giggly when you bump it.  Cool at least 30 to 60 minutes before slicing. That is non negotiable; it will be a mess and not taste great if you cut it hot.

Keeps about 3 days in the fridge if it lasts that long; I cover it tightly with plastic wrap. To reheat, I warm a slice in the microwave about a minute until the cheese starts to bubble. Enjoy!

Seafood Cakes

Once at the Springtown Inn I had the most delicious seafood cakes, this was 8-9 years ago.  Well, to be honest, maybe twice I had them. Anyway, they were made with two or three different seafood proteins I think they had shrimp and crab but it was such a length of time that I can’t remember for sure.  Anyway, I had long wanted to create a similar dish.  Searched for a recipe and not finding one that was really close I took one from Food Network and modified it.  The recipe featured small sized cakes with a fresh salsa on top, made by Robert Irvine. I didn’t do the salsa and I made a few changes to the cakes.

I made them two different versions; lobster, shrimp and crab and one with flounder instead of the crab.  Both were easy to construct and delightful. The flavor is delicate and light. I didn’t make a sauce in the interest of that delicacy plus it was easier and included less calories. We agreed they were fine all alone but go right ahead and made a sauce of your choice. Mr. Irvine suggests a sauce of equal parts crème fresh and sour cream.  I might try that next time!

seafood cakes frying

Angie’s Seafood Cakes

¼ lb medium raw shrimp; peeled and no tails

a 4oz. lobster tail, removed from shell and still raw

1/3 lb raw flounder or crabmeat

2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup gf bread crumbs, preferably panko plus more if desired for coating cakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

Half a lemon, zested

1/3 cup Mayonnaise, might need a tad more….

2 tbsp. finely grated parmesan cheese (I made one version without)

1-2 tbsp. mild olive oil

Directions:

Chop the raw lobster tail into chunks. Put the seafood in a food processor, process briefly until fairly small particles but not even close to a paste.  Dump in a big bowl, add the shallots, parsley, bread crumbs, garlic powder, zest, mayo and cheese, stir to blend well. Don’t overblend; stop as soon as it seems fairly even. If you like; before stirring add salt and pepper to taste; maybe ½ tsp. sea salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Form into 4 cakes. If you want them crunchy on the outside gently press into some more bread crumbs to crumb both sides.  Put on a large plate and chill an hour so they hold their shape.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet to hot and fry them about 3 minutes to a side; do not let burn!  I turned down the heat after a minute so they kept cooking but at a temperature less likely to turn them dark brown. But don’t use low temps or you will get a greasy cake!

seafood cake with risotto

Serve with some rice pilaf and your favorite vegetable; asparagus comes to mind! I made pea risotto which was divine.

Ravioli with Greens

After a busy day everyone wants a quick and tummy filling meal.  Mine has to be gluten free.  I was looking for a meal that would use up some plain frozen raviolis I bought at Wegmans. They are quite tasty but they needed a sauce, some veggies and a protein component.  I had some unopened flower shoots, tender stems and leaves from a second year collard plant. So I went for it.  T hen I made it another time; first with canned chopped clams added and next with freshly fried chunks of chicken breast.  Both were delicious and so simple to throw together.  I had the clam version with parmesan cheese freshly grated on top.  Perfect quick supper for one.

You could use broccoli rabe or broccolini for this recipe. I happened to have all these flower shoots on my collard plant just begging to be used in a creative and tasty way. This is a riff off my homemade gnocchi with clams and bitter greens recipe I love but heck of a lot quicker to make.

 

Angie’s Ravioli with Greens

Serves one

Ingredients

4-5 frozen cheese ravioli

A handful of broccoli rabe (1/4 to 1/3 of a pound) or collard bud stems or broccolini

1 tbsp. EVOL

1 garlic clove

½ small can chopped clams or ¼ lb chicken breast

2 tbsp rice flour if using chicken

A pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tsp. butter

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Directions

Put on a quart of salted water to boil. When boiling drop in the ravioli and cook them about 6 minutes; 1 minute less than the bag says is a good plan.  Drain well, set them aside to add later and try to save a ¼ cup of the liquid for later.

In a mini wok or sauté pan heat the EVOL, if you are making the chicken cut it in small chunks, dust in the flour until well coated, and fry 4-7 minutes until golden on more than one side and done.  If they are fat chunks they will take longer.  Sometimes I flatten chicken breast chunks a bit to help them fry faster.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add the minced garlic clove, stir. Add the broccoli rabe and the red pepper flakes, stir and cook about 4 minutes until well wilted. Add the drained cooked ravioli and clams or chicken chunks you cooked earlier.  Stir well, cook a minute or two.  Add the butter and toss once.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and serve.  Enjoy!

Spicy Baby Eggplants and Pasta

This post is a slightly altered version of one I shared  two years ago for my friend Diane, queen of eggplants!  We share garden space at our church garden.  She really knows how to grow eggplants, dozens on a single plant every year.

Let me share my favorite method for dealing with those small eggplants you find yourself with when the first big frost hits your garden.  I pick them the night before no matter how small and this is how we use them in the best way possible.  Grocery stores usually have them in the fall if you are not a gardener.

I originally created this for the slow cooker using a base recipe from a friend’s Italian mom but this latest version was made on the stove top.  I really love being able to turn on my crock pot and walk away for four hours.  Still, sometimes you need dinner in an hour so here is the latest and quickest version.  It is perfect with gluten free ziti or spaghetti.

If you don’t have baby eggplants I think you could use smaller eggplants cut into halves.  This picture isn’t that pretty; a collapsed and well cooked eggplant is kinda ugly but you gotta love that cheese on top; good quality freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  I served it with penne as usual for the first time I enjoyed a plate of this spicy treat and with spaghetti squash tonight which was surprisingly good.  Hadn’t had that in many years.  Two of them were gifted to me last month; finally made half of one.  Nuked it in microwave for 15 minutes; cut, remove seeds; cut down on big plate, add a bit of water for steam effect.

forgotten-kisses-and-spicy-eggplant-002

Spicy Baby Eggplants

Ingredients

7-10 small eggplants from tiny up to about six inches long

1-2 ounces hard Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp EVOL

1 32 oz can crushed tomato

1 large carrot in rounds

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼  tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. sea salt

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup oil cured black olives

1-2 tbsp. capers

Directions:

Cut the Parmesan cheese into tiny wedges.  Trim off the top cap of the eggplants.  Cut 3-4 slashes in the side of each eggplant going in the direction from the cap to the bottom. Put a wedge of cheese into each deep slash.  I only put 1-slashes in tiny eggplants, 3 in bigger ones and 4 in the largest eggplants.  Heat 1-2 tbsp. EVOL in a large heavy sauce pot.  Add the onions and saute a couple minutes.  Add the minced garlic, stir for a minute.  Then add in the tomato sauce and carrot rounds.  Heat up and add the eggplants and the herbs/spices. Heat to a bubble and add the olives, and capers.  Cover and cook on low for 40 minutes stirring every few minutes to keep the sauce from sticking to the pot’s bottom.  Cook until the eggplants can be easily pierced with a long fork.

Cook gluten free ziti, enough for how many people you are serving, and drain it one minute before the package directions say it will be done. Put it back in the now empty pot and add the eggplant mixture.  Cook a minute stirring it all around the pot.  This allows the ziti to soak up some of the sauce and get a great authentic flavor.

Serve in a low wide soup bowl as is or add a good grating of Parmesan cheese on top.  If you have some gluten free rolls or freshly baked gf bread – heaven!

Notes: I used olives with pits but if you can find them pitted; great! If you are an olive hater, leave them out but they really add to the flavor.  Or cook the dish with them and remove before eating; get that earthy salty flavor but it is more subtle without the actual olives on your plate.  Add more salt if you leave them out. If you like things really spicy double the red pepper flakes.  I found it just about right for me with a quarter teaspoon. Spaghetti squash works well in place of pasta.

Chicken Gumbo Bowl

Chopped, October 2016 edition.  I have a raw chicken breast, boneless.  There is a packet of fresh tender okra in my fridge.  Yeap, I have more fresh okra; picked it up in Valley Farm Markets in Bethlehem, PA.  Great produce there.  It is a southern veggie: needs a hot summer around here to really produce and only plays well in a limited array of dishes.  Most times at my local store it looks kinda beat up and I pass it by but this day I was shopping one town over: selected a good looking packet of it to build my supper around. Other ingredients I had around were: the last two fresh homegrown tomatoes and a red bell pepper, plus the usual items available in my pantry: onions, garlic, broth.  What to make in 35 minutes that tastes like late summer in a soup bowl but isn’t soup?

Originally I had been all for fried chicken fingers but that okra sent me off on another path.  I was suddenly thinking gumbo because of the okra.  Yeah, I have commented before about the whining regarding the alleged slimy nature of okra.  This cook was determined to never let that travesty occur, so my  beautiful okra was sliced right before adding to the pan.  I sautéed and stirred my pan full of chicken, veggies and a few shrimp and before I knew it; supper was ready.  It isn’t quite a gumbo as I didn’t cook it for a long time nor did I make a roux but my results were darned delicious.  The ripe tomatoes from my garden were perfect with the okra and the chicken which was so tender I cut chunks up with a fork. I added a few rounds of turkey pepperoni to add an almost hot sausage flavor.  Totally optional; you could use andouille sausage if you prefer that; not too much though; no more than ¼ cup.  Or no other protein.  Could even leave the shrimp out and I bet it would still be awesome.

I served mine over cooked brown rice but you might try using tiny rice grained gluten free pasta. I actually like that better than rice.  Of course, you could use another protein like cod, monkfish, or any firm white fish.  Enjoy!

Angie’s Chicken Gumbo; Serves two generously

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 chicken breast cut into roughly 1 inch chunks

½ cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup chopped celery

1 garlic clove minced (about 1 tsp.)

A sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

¼ tsp. dried thyme

¼ tsp sea salt

1 cup broth: chicken or veggie

1 cup chopped fresh ripe tomatoes

8-10 rounds of turkey pepperoni (optional)

1 1/2 cups sliced okra; cut in 1/3 inch slices

8 medium shrimps, peeled (optional)

1 cup hot rice or cooked rice shaped gf pasta

Directions:

Cut the chicken into small pieces and roll in some rice flour to cover.  Shake excess four off, Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan; add the chicken pieces.  Cook 2-3 minutes, turn over, cook 2 more minutes, stir up and cook another minute.  Chop the veggies while the chicken cooks or do it before you even start the chicken cooking.   Then add the onion and sauté for three minutes on medium heat, add the pepper and celery, cook 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, sauté another minute, stirring. Then add the thyme, half the parsley, and the salt.  Cook for 3 minutes stirring often. Add the broth, pepperoni and chopped tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the okra and cook for five minutes, add the shrimp, cook for 3-4 more minutes add the rest of the parsley.  Taste, add more salt if necessary and up to ¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper.  Serve over the rice or pasta in a shallow soup bowl.

If you want it spicy, add a dash of Tabasco and a pinch of cayenne when you add the thyme.  If you want it soupier; add another ½ cup of broth.  I had a bottle of green Tabasco sauce available and that worked fine to spice it up even more.  chicken-gumbo-009

This recipe is based on one from Jane Brody’s “Good Seafood Cookbook” with my modifications.

Eggplant Potato Moussaka: Opa!

It being fall, the garden is winding down but there are still eggplants to pick in my garden.  Kinda tired of the usual stuff I make with eggplants so I did some research and came up with moussaka, a Greek eggplant casserole.  I made it once long ago and remembered it as tasty. This recipe is from food network and is by Emeril Lagasse, he of the “Bam” exclamation.  It is a fair amount of work; took me about 90 minutes to put it together, 45 minutes to bake and another 50 minutes of resting time before you can cut into it.  Gotta say it was worth the effort. Everyone who ate it were crazy about the flavors.mousakka-014

My alterations: I used a mixture of ground pork and ground lamb (recipe is 50/50 ground beef and ground lamb) and subbed in white wine for red as that was all I had.  Ditto in my subbing of a red onion for the yellow onion and chopped fresh tomatoes for the crushed tomatoes.  Sometimes I am unwilling to make a second run to the grocery store to spend $ for something if I can sub in a different but similar ingredient.  To make it gf I used white rice flour; it was okay; next time I am trying brown rice flour or a flour blend to see if it sticks tighter and browns better. Worked but not sure white rice was the best flour choice.  I used brown rice flour in the sauce but I am guessing any gf flour will work.  The cheese I used was fresh grated Parmesan; three choices are provided.  Never heard of Kefalotiri and I am allergic to Romano.  Plus: that’s what I had in the cheese drawer.

I read some of the comments people made on the recipe; I’m thinking about roasting my eggplant slices if I am in a hurry. I used less oil than the recipe and some of my oil was canola as I was running out of olive oil; couldn’t tell the difference in the final product. I might add a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg next time too, and there will be a next time as this tastes amazing.  PS: I used a mixture of whole milk and 1 percent for the béchamel sauce.

This recipe is too involved to put in my post; here is a link to the recipe.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/eggplant-and-potato-moussaka-recipe.html

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Have fun making it; a great recipe for 2-3 folks to work on together.  Super entrée choice for a family gathering.  Enjoy!