Mmmeatballs

There are two things that I always regret ordering at a restaurant – meatballs and fresh pasta. Not to brag, but I make a damn good meatball, and my fresh pasta is fantastic (ok, I totally just bragged…). So I can’t justify paying someone else to serve me a dry, flavorless meatball or gummy, wrongly cooked fresh pasta – I’m almost always disappointed. And it makes me want to go home and make my own!

Browning Meatballs

Unlike most meatball recipes, mine does not call for bread crumbs. I know the rational behind adding bread crumbs (or even bread) is to prevent the meatballs from drying out – but dry meatballs are not a problem that I encounter. I think it is because of my preferred cooking method – pan seared then braised in tomato sauce. The browning ensures a good texture, flavor, and stability (ie, your meat stays in a ball) and the slow braise keeps the meat tender and juicy.

Meatball Ingredients

Let’s talk about meat! I like a 50/50 mix of lean ground beef and Italian sausage (I used hot chicken today, but sometimes use pork sausage). The fat ratio is good (not too fatty, but enough to hold your balls together and retain juiciness) and you are giving yourself a head start on the seasonings with the sausage. Ground veal is another popular option for meatballs, but it is not my preference. The price is too high, and the positive impact it makes on the meatball is too low to justify paying the price – or killing a baby cow for that matter. Now bring on a tender veal chop, and I’ll overlook the baby butchering…

Meatball Mix

Take off your rings, trim your fingernails, and get ready to be wrist deep in meat – because the best way to mix your meatballs is by hand. Similar to making hamburgers, you want all of your flavors evenly distributed. You also don’t want to over work the meat. Hands are the perfect tool for ensuring both. I start by mixing my seasoning, cheese, cream and egg (do this with a fork or a whisk). Then add in the meat and get to work. Once you are happy with the meat mixture, start to form the balls.

You may be wondering does size really matter? No, not really (not with meatballs anyways…). I like about 1 inch round balls, but feel free to go big (or small, if that’s how you roll). Just keep in mind that with larger meatballs, they will need a longer time braising in the sauce. If you are planning on letting your sauce simmer all day (which isn’t a requirement, but it is a good idea!) then this isn’t a problem.

Browning Meatballs2

Before you start cooking the meatballs, make your sauce. After they are browned, you’ll want to transfer them into the simmering sauce. If you have a go-to tomato sauce recipe, then use it. If you need a new favorite, use mine (recipe below)! But God forbid, do not dump a jar of Ragu in a pot. These meatballs deserve the best, and the best is homemade.

The ideal pan for browning the meatballs is a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, go buy one use a nonstick skillet. Heat the pan over medium heat and add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Take your time with the browning and don’t crowd the pan. It will take a few minutes per side to get a nice caramelized crust. If you go to check or turn your meatballs and they stick, wait a minute or two longer – once they are good and browned they will come right off. Move the browned meatballs over to the sauce, and give it a stir to make sure they are completely submerged.

Deglaze

Once all of your meatballs are browned and transferred to the sauce, you may notice some little bits of seasoned meat stuck to your pan. We don’t want to lose those – that is some good flavor right there! Turn the heat off and pour a little chicken stock (or water. Or red wine….no judgment here) in the pan to deglaze. With your wooden spoon, scrape up all the stuck on bits. Now pour it into your sauce with the meatballs. Give it a good stir, and leave it to simmer for the next couple of hours.

Meatballs

I like my meatballs served over a nest of fresh pasta and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Sorry, I don’t have a tutorial on making fresh pasta yet. I’ll need to grow a third arm or entrust The Man with the photography duties before I can feature a post about it. I’ll work on both…. But in the meantime, use the pasta that you prefer.

Meatballs

  • 1 Lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 Lb. Italian sausage (hot chicken)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 T. garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning (dried herbs)
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cream (can use 2% or whole milk instead)
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock

Whisk together egg, cheese, parsley, garlic, herbs, cream, pepper, salt and Tabasco. Add in meats and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Form into balls (about 1″ round) and refrigerate until ready to cook.

In a cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium. Brown meatballs on all sides. Do not over crowd the pan, work in batches if necessary. Once browned, transfer meatballs to simmering tomato sauce. Stir to cover.

After all meatballs are browned and transferred to sauce, pour chicken stock into skillet. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any meat that is crusted onto the pan. Pour chicken stock into tomato sauce and stir through.

Allow meatballs to simmer in sauce, uncovered on low heat for at least 1 hour. For best results, simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. thyme, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 box Pomi strained tomatoes (or 28 oz. can pureed tomatoes)
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in onion and saute until translucent. Add in garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. continue to cook until onions are lightly browned. Pour in tomatoes and water. Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Herb Crusted Lamb Chops

The traditional meat for Easter Dinner in The Man’s family is lamb. A roasted leg of lamb alongside roasted potatoes, vegetables, and usually some excellent popovers. But since I don’t have  a large family to feed, I skipped the larger leg (or my favorite, the shoulder) and went with some thick meaty rib chops!

Herb Crusted Lamb Chops

I had some garlic bread crumbs leftover from making Shrimp Scampi the other night. Along with a blend of freshly chopped herbs, I was able to create a crunchy crust for the chops. I went with what I had – parsley, rosemary, and thyme – but I think the addition of mint would have been ideal.

I served the chops with Ina Garten’s Dill Fingerling Potatoes. Although I didn’t use dill or fingerlings….but the cooking method is what’s important here. I went with petite Honey Gold potatoes (but any small potato will work) and topped them with rosemary and garlic. The potatoes cooked in a Dutch oven over low heat for half an hour (no peeking! You want to keep the steam trapped) and come out perfectly fluffy inside with a nice golden outside. Perfect pair for our crusty, juicy chops.

Herb Crusted Lamb Chops

  • 4 lamb chops 
  • 1/4 C. garlic bread crumbs
  • 2 T. mixed herbs, chopped (parsley, rosemary, thyme)
  • 1 T. olive oil

Combine garlic bread crumbs and herbs in a small bowl. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper, and pack bread crumbs onto each side. Set aside. In a cast iron skillet (or non stick) heat up the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the lamb chops 3 to 4 minutes per side (for medium). Remove from heat and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Lemon & Honey Grilled Chicken

After a trip to the Savannah Bee Company, I’ve been mildly addicted to their Sourwood Honey. The local store is a favorite of ours. Beyond the great honey and products, they have a live hive inside (no, the bees don’t fly around the store…but you can watch them work through the clear walls!) and a children’s “hive” for coloring and reading. While shopping one day, I indulged in no less than 8 samples before deciding I really ought to buy some of the liquid gold.

sourwood honey

Even if you don’t have a jar of sourwood, you should try using some good honey the next time you fire up the grill. Lemon & Honey Grilled Chicken combines the tang of lemon (which tenderizes the meat during the marinating time) with the sweetness of honey to create a flavorful departure from your standard grilled BBQ chicken.

Lemon & Honey Chicken

Marinade

  • Chicken (thighs, trimmed)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 C. red wine vinegar
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T. dried Italian herb blend
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a food processor or blender. Pulse until well chopped and blended. Pour marinade over chicken, and refrigerate for a few hours (I did 4).

Lemon & Honey Glaze

  • 1/4 C. lemon juice
  • 1 T. honey (sourwood)
  • 1 T. butter, melter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Whisk all ingredients together. Brush onto chicken in at the end of the cooking time.

Grilled Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi always seems like a good idea – until you look at recipes that call for mountains of butter or oil. I’m not afraid of butter – but my ass and thighs can be a little vindictive. I recently came across a scampi recipe that replaced all of the fat with chicken stock. Good idea! I thought, but the rest of the recipe had little to offer. So I incorporated the use of chicken stock with a better Scampi recipe, and came out with a pretty good (lower fat) Shrimp Scampi.

Grilled Shrimp Scampi

I marinated and grilled my shrimp. If you don’t feel like grilling (or the weather isn’t so good) you can saute the shrimp in the pan before you start your sauce. Drain the shrimp from the marinade, and quickly cook them in your pot. Set them aside when they are slightly under cooked, they will cook through while they rest on the plate (this goes for grilling the shrimp too).  The sauce goes together quickly, so don’t worry about your shrimp getting cold.

Grilled Shrimp Scampi

  • 1 Lb. pasta (linguine)
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1. T. olive oil
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 C. white wine (Chardonnay)
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grilled shrimp
  • Garlic bread crumbs

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large pot, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add in garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the wine, and allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Add in stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper; simmer for 5 minutes. Add reserved pasta and handful of parsley to sauce. Reduce heat to low, and cook pasta for about 5 minutes or until pasta is cooked through and soaked up most of the sauce.

To serve, plate pasta into a shallow bowl. Top with 6 or 7 shrimp and 1 to 2 Tablespoons of bread crumbs.

Grilled Garlic & Lemon Shrimp

  • 1 Lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • wooden skewers

Combine lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Add shrimp and marinate for 30 minutes. Put shrimp onto skewers (5 or 6 per stick). Grill over medium heat for 3 minutes per side, or until almost cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to rest while you prepare the sauce. Remove from skewers to serve.

Garlic Bread Crumbs

  • 4 – 6 slices bread
  • 1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 2 T. olive oil

In a food processor, pulse bread and garlic until finely ground. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in garlic bread crumbs and cook until golden, stirring frequently.

Getting Saucy & Getting Fit

The Man and I recently started a new workout routine. “Workout routine” is kind of an understatement…more like The Man and I have chosen to get our asses handed to us every day for the next 60 days and we love it! And even though we walked into this with no real intentions of changing our diet, we have both been craving more protein and more fresh veggies. So for dinner last night it was Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and a heaping pile of Snow Pea Salad on the side. Full of flavor and color, everyone can get into this healthy meal – even if you aren’t working on your beachbody.

Chicken Satay with Snow Pea Salad

I found this recipe for Snow Pea Salad on Pinterest a few months back. The dressing is simple, and the ingredients are fresh and crisp. If you can’t find fresh snow peas, sugar snap peas would be a good substitute. And I couldn’t find fresh edamame beans (frozen just won’t work for this dish) so I skipped them. And the only yellow peppers I could find were the size of my head….so I went with orange. But that is kind of the beauty of this recipe – you can modify it endlessly. Thin sliced mushrooms, cilantro, diced avocado, baby corn…any and all would make awesome additions!

Chicken Satay Marinade

Anyone can put chicken on a stick and throw it over the hot coals….but to get this chicken extra tender and full of flavor, I suggest marinating it for a couple of hours before cooking time. I was happy to find thin sliced chicken breasts at my store (and on sale!) which I just had to cut into 2-ish inch strips. If you can’t find these, no worries. You can always slice your chicken in half lengthwise – just be sure to use a sharp knife and take your time to get two even halves. Marinate the chicken for about 6 hours before draining and threading onto the wooden skewers.

Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Since the chicken is thin, it won’t take long to grill. Towards the end of the cooking time, it’s time to get saucy. Brush a thin layer of the peanut sauce on one side, flip them over, and let the sauce cook on for a minute or so. Then do the same with the other side. Alternatively, you could serve the peanut sauce on the side and let people dip to their liking. I did both….because I can’t get enough peanut sauce!

Chicken Satay with Snow Pea Salad2

Did you make too much peanut sauce, and need a good idea on how to use it?? Try a Thai Chicken Pizza!

Satay Marinade

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, 1/2″ thick and 2″ wide
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. seasame oil
  • 1 T. Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1/2 C. water

Combine all ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Refrigerate for 6+ hours.

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 C. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C. chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger (powder or freshly grated)
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Heat up oil in a small sauce pan. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Add in peanut butter and remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer then remove from heat. You want the sauce to be slightly runny. Set aside until ready to use.

Grilled Chicken Satay

  • Marinated chicken, drained
  • Wooden skewers (one per chicken piece)
  • Peanut sauce

Run a wooden skewer through each piece of chicken. On a medium heat grill, cook chicken until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side). Brush peanut sauce on each side, cooking for another minute per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Here in Savannah, St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a big deal. The city boasts the largest parade in the country, and people flood this town by the thousands. If you don’t mind a crowd, enjoy people watching, lot’s of bagpipes, and lax open container laws, then you should add Savannah St. Pat’s Parade to your bucket list. However, if you are daunted by overt drunkeness, lack of parking, and over priced hotel rooms….this may not be the scene for you!

Corned Beef & Cabbage

The handful of times I’ve cooked corned beef, I started with pre-brined meat – you know, the shrink wrapped cut of brisket that’s swimming in red slime and comes with a convenient flavor pack? Have you read the ingredients list on that packaging? If not, then don’t…it’s disgusting. This year I decided to step up my corned beef game by doing my own pickling brine. So on Friday morning I started looking at recipes, most of which want you to brine the meat for up to ten days. Ten days!? Damn, and I thought I was planning ahead…

Brined Brisket

Tyler Florence to the rescue with a 5-star recipe whose brining instructions are “overnight or as long as 10 days.” Perfect.  I’ve got a few hours to spare now… My brisket choices were slim – I could choose between a 10 pound full cut of meat, or small 1.5 pound portions. I went with two of the smaller pieces and picked one flat end (leaner, tougher) and one point (fattier, more tender) for a total of 2 and 3/4 pounds of meat.

Get your brine and meat in a large ziplock bag, and forget about it in the fridge. The longer you can marinate the meat, the more pickled and flavorful it will be. Before you are ready to start cooking, drain and rinse the meat.

Braising Brisket

Since I’ve previously used the pre-brined brisket, I’ve always used the package cooking instructions (and the pitiful flavor pouch….). Typically the package wants you to do everything on the stove top – but Tyler says to put it in the oven. I’m going with the oven – just put the lid on, pop it in, and come back in 3 hours. No baby sitting to make sure the simmer is correct, and no temptation to peak at it (I get paranoid and feel the need to look every half hour…) I was a little disappointed that Tyler added only water to the braising liquid. Come on, it’s St. Patrick’s Day – a can of Guinness needs to be present in this meal (and no, I’m not counting the one I’m drinking…)

Corned Beef

As for serving this beefy goodness, cabbage is a must. The original recipe wants you to cook the cabbage along with the meat – but I am not into mushy cabbage. So instead I went with a quick saute of bacon, garlic and a full head of green cabbage. And then I made French Potato Salad. Yep, I did. And I received multiple scowls of disapproval from my English Father-in-Law who requested boiled potatoes. I did boil them….then I slathered them in a vinegar-mustard-caper-green onion vinaigrette.  And then everybody forgot that I had bastardized this Irish dinner with a French side dish :)

Corned Beef Brisket Brine

  • Water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole coriander
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole allspice
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) brisket

Combine 1 cup water, salt and brown sugar. Whisk until sugar and salt have dissolved. Put water mixture and all remaining ingredients into a large ziplock bag. Add enough cold water to cover meat. Brine in the refrigerator overnight or up to 10 days (I did 2 and a half days).

Corned Beef Brisket

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • Brined brisket
  • 1 can Guinness (16 oz.)
  • water to cover

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Add in vegetables and seasonings, saute until softened (about 10 minutes). Place meat over vegetables. Pour in Guinness and enough water to cover meat. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then cook in a 300F preheated oven for 3 hours. Remove meat from cooking liquid and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving. Slice meat against the grain.

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s Corned Beef and Cabbage

Curried Chicken Salad

I’ve always shied away saladized dishes – chicken salad, potato salad, coleslaw, egg salad…pretty much anything that is slathered in mayonnaise. I just don’t like the thought of yummy fresh ingredients swimming in mayo. But then I realized I could cut the mayo in salad dishes with sour cream or Greek yogurt…and now I’ve opened my horizons to all things saladized (except egg salad….that’s still on my no-thank-you list).

Curry Chicken Salad

I made chicken stock on Sunday, and decided to use the leftover meat to try out Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad recipe. Curried Chicken Salad is such a retro dish, but it definitely deserves a comeback (if skinny jeans and neon can make it in the 21st century, then this dish certainly has a place in modern culture!) If you don’t happen to be making chicken stock today (come on, why not?) feel free to use bone-in split chicken breasts, as in Garten’s original recipe. You could even use a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you don’t have the time (or inclination) to cook a chicken today.

Curry Sauce

Before starting on this 5-star dish, I looked through the comments and reviews it received. That’s the great thing about finding recipes on the internet – you can get tips and suggestions from people who have actually tried it out. Whether it’s adding/substituting ingredients, modifying measurements, or handy information about the dish (like the fact that you will have WAY too much sauce!), reading the comments before making a new dish is always worth your time.

chicken salad fixins

Considering the number of people who gave Garten’s recipe rave reviews, I didn’t want to make many modifications. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – right? But I know my taste buds, and there are a few things I changed to suit my own tastes. The first thing I addressed was the mayonnaise situation – one and a half cups!? Gross….I cut the yick factor by replacing 1/2 a cup with low-fat plain Greek yogurt. Some reviewers of the recipe actually replaced all of the mayo with yogurt – which I may try next time. I chose to add a little red onion and Italian flat leaf parsley. I had them both on hand, and I like the extra crunch and color. But I stuck with the raisins (some suggested craisins or grapes) and cashews – and I think you could go heavy on both.

Curry Chicken Wrap

When it came to eating this fabulous curry concoction, I went with a wrap. A soft flour tortilla, fresh mixed greens, a generous squeeze or Sriracha, and a few extra cashews, and your taste buds will scream Thank you!! This would also make a great sandwich, a dip with pita chips, or just eat it with a spoon….

Curried Chicken Salad

  • 3 C. cooked chicken
  • 1 C. cashews
  • 1/2 C. celery, diced
  • 1/4 C. raisins
  • 1/4 C. red onion, diced
  • 1/4 C. green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C. parsley, chopped
  • 1 C. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 C. mango chutney
  • 1/3 C. white wine
  • 3 T. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

In a large bowl combine chicken, cashews, celery, raisins, red onion, green onion and parsley. For the sauce, whisk together mayo, yogurt, mango chutney curry powder, salt and pepper. Pour just enough sauce over chicken mixture to moisten. You will have extra sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

These pancakes are light, fluffy and chock full of blueberries. The buttermilk gives them a little zing, while whipped egg whites and ricotta cheese deliver a great texture. These are perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast, or a quick week night meal. Add bacon and eggs and a little maple syrup to finish off this meal.

Blueberry Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 C. buttermilk
  • 1/2 C. ricotta
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C. blueberries

Whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, ricotta and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold egg whites into batter. Fold blueberries into batter.

Lightly spray a griddle or nonstick pan with cooking spray. Heat to medium heat, and spoon batter out in 1/4 cup heaps. Wait for bubbles to form on top of each pancake and for the bottom to be golden brown before flipping. Cook on second side until golden brown (4 to 5 minutes total cooking time).

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Recipe modified from Martha Stewart

Grilled Vegetable Couscous

Spring has come and gone a dozen times in the last few months. It’s 75F and sunny one day, then 45F and raining the next. I am so ready for this hard-to-get Spring to make it’s appearance and stay! Maybe if I grill up some Spring veggies, and act like the cold doesn’t bother me, Springtime will quit playing games….

Grilled Vegetables

Couscous is a quick-cooking, small granule pasta. It is bland and boring a blank slate, that is ready and waiting for tons of flavor. Treat couscous like pasta (technically, it is pasta), and consider this dish a “pasta salad”.  My store had zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes on sale – so they were all a must. Then I picked up a purple onion and a red bell pepper to round out the flavors.

Grilled Vegetable couscous2

 Grilled Vegetable Couscous

  • 1 C. couscous
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/2 purple onion, cut into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Pt. cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 C. parley, chopped
  • 2 T. sliced olives
  • 1 T. capers
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sliced Vegetables

Brush zucchini, squash, onion and bell pepper with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Make a boat out of tinfoil for cherry tomatoes. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put all vegetables onto a medium-heat grill. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables have softened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

Grilled Tomatoes

Put couscous in a large bowl. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Pour stock over couscous, then cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Stock & Couscous

Add chopped vegetables to couscous. Add in parsley, olives, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Mix in feta. Serve warm or room temperature.

Grilled Vegetable couscous

Grilled Vegetable Couscous pairs well with Beer Can Chicken. Also serve it with some warm pita bread and hummus.

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Strawberries & Pretzels

Strawberries are on sale this week at my local grocery store – 3 pints for $5! That’s a steal! So of course I bought 3 pints, and needed to brainstorm ways to use them before they spoiled. Blender drinks came to mind, but it was only 8 in the morning (and we are out of rum…). My next thought was pie.

Strawberry Pie

If pie can be healthy, this is a healthy pie. I’m not saying it’s good for you or will aid in whatever diet/weight loss plan you subscribe to. But in a dessert world full of butter, cream, and sugar, this pie is relatively low on all three. So in my humble non-scientific opinion, this pie must be healthy. To start, it has 2 pints of strawberries. They are sliced thin and piled high. You are guaranteed to eat at least 6 strawberries with every slice. Next is the crust – it’s pretzel! Pretzels are considered a “healthy” salty snack, much preferable to potato chips or french fries….and it’s lower in calories and sugar than the traditional go-to for crumb crust – the graham cracker. Finally is the topping. It may look like whip cream, but it’s actually yogurt and sour cream. So there….it’s healthy….for pie.

Strawberry slicer

One quick tip before we get to the recipe. I suggest everyone invest (all of $5) in an egg slicer. It’s this cool contraption with 10 wires used to thinly and evenly slice hard boiled eggs. It can also be used to slice strawberries, kiwi, mushrooms or any other soft (and small, the cutting area is only 2 – 3 inches wide) food. I perfectly sliced 2 pints of strawberries in about 10 minutes (including the hulling part). Not too bad!

Strawberry Pie

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 package (.3 ounce) sugar-free strawberry gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pretzel crumb crust
  • 2 C. yogurt topping

In a medium saucepan, combine  cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil and whisk for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and add strawberry gelatin and sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Add in strawberries then pour into cooled crust. Allow pie to cool then refrigerate for 2 hours. Top with yogurt topping and serve.

Pretzel Crumb Crust

  • 1 1/2 C. pretzel crumbs*
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 1 T. honey

Combine all ingredients. Press into a lightly greased pie pan. Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes or until starting to brown. Allow crust to cool before adding in the strawberry filling.

*This is an estimate

Yogurt Topping

  • 1 C. French vanilla yogurt
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until needed.

Strawberry Pie recipe modified from Taste of Home.