Progress on the house is somewhat delayed. Due to the non stop rains Tampa Bay has been having all week they have been unable to seal our newly refinished terrazzo floors. I had hopes of heading over to IKEA this weekend to order our kitchen, but with the floors possibly not being finished until Monday and leaving on Tuesday for work, that may be pushed to later in the week.
Lucky for you I made Baked Falafel before all this construction started.
I have never been a huge tahini fan, in fact I used to leave it out of my hummus because I thought it gave it a weird flavor. Over the years I have added tahini back in to my hummus recipe in small amounts, but I would never think to eat it on it’s own. Until Liz of The Lemon Bowl posted this Chicken Shawarma Pita with Tahini Garlic Sauce, I was sold. I needed to try it ASAP.
A falafel platter seemed like a great starting point.
I have made falafel in the past, but have always pan fried it. Obviously it is delicious fried in oil, but it’s also pretty darn good when you save a few calories by baking it.
I basically just made a salad here with arugula, tomatoes, red onion, red pepper, and feta cheese, and in the end mixed everything together. You could also serve a big platter with pita bread and allow everyone to assemble their own falafel wrap.
Last year I had my first taste of fresh figs, with my Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza and this year I was excited to experiment with them again in their short little window of opportunity.
I started seeing them pop up at Farmer’s Markets and the grocery store and scored some Buy One, Get One Free at Publix. Well now I had about 2 lbs of figs to use, better get cooking.
First we tried out these easy grilled cheese sandwiches. I loved the taste of the salty Manchego with the sweet figs. Add in a little balsamic glaze and you have an mmm good sandwich. We might have eaten these for a week straight for lunch.
Manchego can be a little pricey, but a little bit goes a long way. With one hunk of cheese you could make a lot of sandwiches (or just enjoy it on crackers like we have been doing).
Well apparently we are just getting the week off to a Greek start. Yesterday was Greek Meatballs and now today I’m sharing Spanikopita.
Phyllo dough is a little tricky to work with, don’t worry if it tears a little or crumbles some, you can always add another layer. Be sure to keep it covered with a towel when not using to help keep it from drying out.
I imagine this would be a great freezer to oven dish. Prepare it ahead of time, maybe let it thaw (or just cook it a little longer if frozen) and stick it in the oven on a busy night for dinner. I’m not a huge casserole fan so it sounds like a much better option to me.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8×8 square glass baking dish.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onion until soft. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Stirring frequently.
In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, parsley, and onions. Let cool. Add eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir to combine.
Layer 1 sheet of phyllo at a time, spray with olive oil spray between each layer. Layer 6-8 on the bottom, letting it hang over the edges of the pan. Spread spinach mixture evenly over the top and fold edges over. Layer 2 more sheets, spraying olive oil between each layer and tuck the edges into the pan to seal.
This salad was inspired by the delicious Kale salad I had at Public House in Temecula, CA. After eating there I saw that salad in my dreams and knew I had to recreate it. The salad itself was pretty simple. Some kale, cabbage, red peppers, carrots and roasted peanuts.
The dressing was a little trickier. I had to search through a few different recipes to come up with this combination. It ended up being a little thicker than the dressing at Public House, but some additional water would thin it out more.
I made this for dinner one night and took the leftovers for lunch. Even with the dressing already mixed on the kale holds up great.
Make sure to chop up the kale into very small pieces. Having everything chopped and shredded makes this an easy salad to eat without a knife.
It’s very rare that I plan out a meal and it’s side dishes. Usually I pick out the main dish and sides come together based on what I have in the fridge. Salad or some roasted vegetables, I don’t usually get too fancy. But for our Cuban dinner I went all out and actually made a big pot of Cuban black beans to go along with the Crockpot Lechon (sharing later this week) that I had going.
I love black beans and could probably live without meat as long as I had an endless supply of black beans. I love that this recipe made a big batch because now I have plenty sitting in the freezer waiting for other times for me to enjoy them.
This recipe is relatively painless, although it does require some hands on time. And it will feed a crowd so be prepared for leftovers or a whole lot of dinner guests.
Rinse and refill the pot cover the beans with 1 inch of water. Add ½ of the onion, ½ of the bell pepper, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, and bay leaves.
Bring pot to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to a simmer, cook uncovered for 2 hours. Add more water if necessary.
Remove vegetables and transfer to a food processor add a ladle of bean juice and puree. Return puree to pot.
Finely dice the remaining half onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, add pepper and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar and ½ teaspoon cumin. Mix well. Add to beans and cook an additional 1½ – 2 hours covered on low heat.
Last week was a mess on the back end side here. I attempted to switch servers (one with hopefully a lot more up time!) and ran into a ton of issues. I ended up having to just bring over my content and start from scratch with design and programming. Of course all of this right before we head down south to the beach for the weekend. But we had to get it done and we successfully did.
Now I start the rebuilding process, new design, new features, it will be a slowly evolving process, but I’m hoping the new design will make everything much more functional.
Thank goodness for my husband! There were a few times when I was too stressed out to figure out one more line of code. He learned WordPress like a champ in about 2 days. And handled the whole transition.
I am starting to compile an ingredient lists. You can check out the new “Browse by Ingredient” page to select recipes based off your likes or what you have on hand. I still have a few hundred posts to go through and tag, but it will get there eventually with all the recipes.
Needless to say with all of that going on last week I didn’t get around to posting these last few recipes for the week.
This Strawberry and Feta Salad made a great lunch. I whipped it up after picking up some strawberries on sale at the market. I planned to freeze them all for smoothies, but I saved a few for salads.
To make salads quickly I toast up a bunch of nuts and and keep them in the freezer.
My obsession with spinach and mushrooms is getting a little ridiculous. I now think it is not a dinner unless their is either spinach or mushrooms in the dish, preferably both. This combination is taking over my life and making it so easy to eat vegetarian almost every day.
I have drastically cut down on my red meat consumption. I’m now trying to eat it about every other month or less. Really, I won’t miss it because I never liked steak growing up. I do enjoy the occasional hamburger, but a loaded turkey burger can satisfy that craving.
As for chicken and fish, my goal is to eat more fish and less chicken. Chicken is currently my go to animal protein. I cook with it about twice a week and most of the time order it out at restaurants. Fish is a hard one for me, don’t get me wrong I absolutely love fish, but I get into a rut where I cook it the same way over and over.
Over the next few months I’m thinking of a rebrand for this blog focusing more on the healthy and delicious food I prepare and less on the menu planning. It’s just an idea floating about in my head at the moment, but don’t be surprised if it happens.
Now where were we? Oh yeah Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini…
This Stuffed Zucchini makes a great light dinner or side dish. Serve it with some quinoa for a healthy and filling dinner.
I love that the Greek yogurt adds a little bit of creaminess and tartness to the dish.
Orzo Pilaf with Mushrooms could either be a side or a small vegetarian meal (use vegetable stock instead of chicken).
We had it as a side to a simple stuffed zucchini, which I will be sharing the recipe for soon.
I’m not much of a side person, usually I throw together a quick salad using whatever I can find in the fridge and whip up a quick vinaigrette, but that is the extent of our sides the majority of the time. When I do decide to actually cook a side dish, I love dishes that are rich and flavorful, but don’t require a big time commitment on my part.
It’s no secret that I absolutely loath doing the dishes. I’m sure I’m not alone. I try to avoid them like the plague until they pile up to high for me to deal with. Sometimes I’m able to sweet talk my husband into doing them, but the majority of time I am the dishwasher.
I always try to use minimal pots and pans and do some of the dishes while I’m cooking. But if I could hire someone specifically to do the dishes (and maybe the laundry) I would jump at the chance.
I saw a Martha Stewart recipe for one pan pasta on Facebook recently and knew I had to try the idea. I already planned to make Pasta Puttanesca, but what if I took combined my Puttanesca recipe with Martha’s one pot idea?
The pasta came out perfectly cooked and the liquid made a slightly thickened light red sauce. It was genius.
Spinach could be substituted instead of the arugula, but I happen to LOVE arugula.
Watermelon and Feta, I’ve been seeing the combination everywhere, but it wasn’t until last Thursday that I finally experienced it.
It was love at first bite and simply had to recreate the salad at home.
The watermelon and feta was served with toasted pine nuts over a bed of arugula. Seriously could this salad get any better? Finished with a herb vinaigrette I could have eaten bowl and bowls of just this salad for dinner. But we did have other food on the way so I had to save room. Our other food was pretty great also by the way. I ordered a stuffed chicken which was stuffed with olives and served with a side of olive oil poached asparagus and my husband ordered triple tail served over bacon grits.
I have since made the salad twice for myself at home along with a delicious homemade herb vinaigrette.
Watermelon and feta might sound like an odd combination, but give it a try and you just might like it.