Tag Archives: Cheese

Zucchini Fritters

So for breakfast this morning I decided to make zucchini fritters.  In one of those highly anticipated moments of pure bliss, heaven and earth came together in a flash of blinding light when I stumbled upon a recipe that looked good (in Food and Wine) and actually had all of the ingredients on hand.  Not only that, but I was hoping to use up some zucchini and the rest of some ricotta cheese before our vacation starts on Saturday.

Those moments are just the best, aren’t they?

Zucchini Fritters Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 t salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients, mixing in the flour last until just combined.

So easy.

Traditionally, you would fry these fritters in olive oil for a few minutes on each side.  That’s what the magazine said.  I, however, would like to be able to wear a bikini and therefore baked and broiled my fritters.  But it’s up to you.  I won’t judge you either way.

Drop spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture on an oiled baking sheet and flatten with the back of a spoon (this recipe should make about 20 fritters).  Bake them for 5-10 minutes on the middle rack, then turn the broiler on and broil for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden and crispy.  You may have to do these in two batches.

I really liked these; Fritz, however, did not at all.  He ate one bite and then quietly packed them up into a Tupperware, trying not to hurt my feelings.

They weren’t hurt.  More fritters for me!

You can recrisp these in the oven, set at 350, for a few minutes on each side.

Fritters aside, I spent all day reorganizing the apartment and somehow managed to fully complete the main room.  I rearranged furniture, went through piles of books, and did a lot of dusting.  It’s amazing how we fit so much stuff into such a small space!  To show you the extent of my work, here’s on example–the dreaded linen (and everything else) closet.  Before:

And after!

The most fun part about doing this kind of reorganizing is when you first start and the house looks like it was completely ransacked–though Henry was so excited to have new places to play sleep.

Here’s some of the finished product–including the table piled with goods to donate and/or sell:

And of course I can’t forget CSA box number 10!  Boxes number 11 and 12 are going to be picked up by a friend of mine to enjoy while we are on vacation–I’ll miss them…but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it!

Good night!

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Filed under Side Dishes

Cheesy Peasy Couscous

Today was just one of those days.  One of those days when you feel a headache starting off as soon as you wake up, when class seems to take twice as long as normal, when the erratic driver in front of you on the drive home makes you want to cry rather than laugh, when you come home needing a simple and quick comfort food.

Just one of those days.

I needed the ultimate comfort food–one that contains the dairy trifecta: milk, cheese, and butter.  And because dairy does not equal “unhealthy”, you can use all three of those in some delicious moderation and eat comfort food that can still make you feel good.  ‘Cause on days like these, guilt is the last thing you need on your plate.

Cheesy Peasy Couscous (Printable Recipe Card)

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 C broth (I used one chicken bouillon cube and 1 1/2 C water)
  • 1 C frozen peas, defrosted and drained
  • 1 1/2 C dry couscous
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C Gruyère cheese (or other cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 t smoked paprika

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas and the broth (or bouillon and water). 

Bring the whole mixture to a boil and take off the heat.  Pour in the dried couscous and cover with a lid or plate, and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it absorbs all the broth and gets nice and fluffy.  Place the couscous into a casserole dish and get ready for the cheesy magic.

While you are waiting, make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the flour, milk, and cheese until a nice, smooth, thick sauce forms–it should only take a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the couscous mixture and mix it in.

Lookin’ good!  Add a bit of salt and shake the smoked paprika over the top.  Smooth the mixture out, and place under the broiler until a nice golden brown crust forms, about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!  Salt and pepper your serving to taste and eat right away.  It’s kind of like a cross between mac and cheese and a casserole.  I bet this would be even better with pearled couscous, ’cause it’d be even closer in texture to standard macaroni. 

Fritz walked in as I was taking pictures of the finished product, and he was super excited to see this–he grew up with a lot more casserole-type dishes than I did, and he loves seein’ them come out of the oven.  Spoon it all into a big dish, and let that comfort just roll over ya.

It’s okay if you want to add a little extra smoked paprika.  I’m going to need to join Smoked Paprika Anonymous if things keep heading in this direction.

I also did a little work in the garden a few days ago and harvested a bunch of lavender.  Since it seemed like a waste to hang them up to dry in the closet (far away from my eyes and nose), I put a few stems each into a bunch of glass jars and let them dry as a centerpiece for the table.  They looked beautiful, smelled great, and only took a few days to dry.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with them–lavender eye pillows? Lavender salt?  Lavender ice cream? 

So many ideas, so little time!

Have you ever made anything with dried lavender?  Any ideas for me?

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Filed under Entrees

Fennel Gratin

Things are a bit lazy around these parts:

We had a nice long gym session this morning (I did what felt like at least 3,326,359,644 split squats–my quads have never burned so much in my life), ran a bunch of errands, and come home just in time for lunch.  I was leafing through some cookbooks yesterday and found something that looked really promising–fennel gratin.

After hearing a lot about fennel, I bought a giant bulb a few months ago and tried grilling it–and I wasn’t a huge fan.  Just that weird licorice taste I don’t like that much.  Needless to say, when I received three little bulbs in my CSA box this week, I got a little nervous.  So what’s a girl to do with a vegetable she’s not too sure about?

Cover it in cheese.

Fennel Gratin (from Allison Fishman’s You Can Trust A Skinny Cook–serves 4)

  • 2 medium or 3 small bulbs fennel, cut into thin wedges (I also used the stalks, sliced into small circles)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 C shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1-2 T grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wash the fennel and slice it into wedges by cutting the bulbs in half lengthwise, then into wedges from there.  I also sliced the stalks at this point.  Place into a baking dish (I used a 9″ pie pan) and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cover with foil and place into the oven until the fennel is softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the foil and roast for another 15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the top with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is bubbling and golden, about 3-5 minutes.

Oh gosh, this smelled so good.  The scary fennel taste went from straight-up black licorice (ew) to a slightly oniony, sweet and nutty flavor.

I was so wrong about fennel.  Fritz and I ate this entire dish for lunch (it’s okay–only 110 calories per serving, ya know), and I could have gone for more.  This is the perfect side dish for any fancy dinner (hello, Thanksgiving!).

The best part was obviously the cheese, but I am pleasantly surprised to be able to tell you that I have been converted over to fennelism.  You should try it!

Fritz also managed to capture this handsome guy perched out on our deck.  We have a nice blue jay couple that hangs out in our backyard, accompanied by the duck couple that frequents our pond.  Guess the animals can just tell that love is in the air around here.

And on another exciting note, by popular request, I’m trying out a new feature: printable recipe cards.  I’m putting it here for now, but in the future they’ll be located by the recipe title.  Let me know if they work, and what you’d like to see changed about them!

 Fennel Gratin Printable Recipe Card

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Filed under Side Dishes

Pear and Gorgonzola Spinach Salad

As you all know, I’m trying to be all about salad this year.  Tryin’ real hard, in fact.

Since this week has been very stressful (finals and all that), I decided that after presenting my project at school, I would come home and make myself a nice lunch before starting to study again.  At the grocery store I snagged a couple of eggplants on quick sale and thought a Thai roasted eggplant salad would be just the ticket.

So, so, wrong.  It was awful.  It was a horrendous pureed texture, the flavors just did not work together, and it smelled and tasted like Henry’s post-catfood breath.  Not a good smell, and definitely not a good taste.

Being the “calm under fire” type of person who reacts especially well when stressed, I promptly threw it out and sat down to study.  And then I thought about all the food I wasted.  And how much time I lost from studying.  And how the house still smelled like old salmon left out to ripen on a hot sunny day (darn you, Thai fish sauce).  And then I cried.

Turns out I’m not really the “calm under fire” type.  More the “cry under fire” type.  So I let it out for about 30 seconds and then gave myself a (figurative) slap across the face.

Gotta get it together!  There’s always still time to have a good day (and a good lunch).  One emergency phone call to Fritz (only a little teary), and a lovely tub of gorgonzola cheese arrived home only a few minutes later.

Sometimes you just need some cheese.

Pear and Gorgonzola Spinach Salad

  • 4 C baby spinach (or a few handfuls…which is how I actually measured)
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 1 ripe Anjou pear (any would work, I’m sure!), cored and diced
  • 1/4 C gorgonzola cheese
  • 1-2 T balsamic vinaigrette per serving (I used Newman’s Own, light)

First important step: attempt to cheer yourself up by making your salad in the gorgeous wooden bowl given to you by your parents, passed down from your great-aunt.

Incidentally, the fabric under the bowl is also from my great-aunt.

Toss in the spinach.

I must have felt better by this point, because I took the time to do a little photography experiment.  Because it was so dark and rainy outside, and it was already past five, it was really dim in the kitchen and difficult to get a good shot so–I broke out the tripod!  I’ve been using it for some occasions like these where I want a clearer shot.  Can you tell the difference?  Other than the tripod, I took them at exactly the same settings, distance, etc.  I love how much clearer the spinach is in the entire bowl in the top picture.

Anyway, add in the raisins:

The pear (which was so perfectly ripe, I couldn’t stand it):

And, of course, the cheese:

No one will judge you if you add in a little extra.  Give the salad a toss, and then admire.  Further cheer yourself up by using your favorite serving spoon, given to you as a wedding gift by Fritz’s aunt.

Serve the salad and drizzle the dressing over the top.  You could add the dressing in now, but I didn’t want to have dressing already involved in case there were leftovers.  Which there were (it made about three main dishes and probably six side salads).

So delicious.  I call salads that I like “restaurant quality” and this one definitely fits the bill.  I threw some leftover ham in Fritz’s salad (that man-protein complex) and he ate the giant salad in about four minutes.  Impressive.

This actually reminded me a little of a salad my high school boyfriend’s mom used to make, except I think her recipe used craisins, apples, and walnuts with a raspberry vinaigrette.  I loved that salad a lot, too–maybe that’ll be my next one, since I have some cheese leftover.  Any other gorgonzola cheese-involved salads that I need to try?

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Filed under Salads