Sheet Pan Greek Pita

I’m constantly printing out recipes or ripping them out of magazines. Sometimes I take a second (or third) look at them and decide that I just don’t want to make it for various reasons. Usually it’s because it requires too many ingredients or more than I feel like buying. And while the ingredient list for this Sheet Pan Greek Pita is a bit long, it was thankfully ingredients that I normally have on hand or are part of a typical trip to the supermarket.

Another plus to this recipe… It came together in less than 45 minutes. Since the salad requires a little time to sit and marinate I decided to make it earlier in the day so it would be ready by the time my chicken was done.

And when it was time to eat, it was super easy to put together. I cut a pita in half, added in some of the salad, some of the chicken and topped it off with more of the salad.  This is one recipe that I won’t be tossing. This pita was delicious and I may have discovered a new way to make my chicken for salads!

Sheet Pan Greek Pita

For the Chicken:

4 boneless & skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

For the Cucumber Tomato Salad:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cucumber, diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 tablespoons chopped mint

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup black olives chopped (or Kalamata olives)

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 Pitas for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the salad and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Combine all the ingredients for the chicken in a medium bowl. Mix well and then spread on a large baking pan. Make sure to leave ample space between the chicken so it roasts as opposed to steam. Cook in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

To serve, slice a pita in half, spoon some of the cucumber tomato salad into the pita, followed by the chicken and top it off with more of the salad.

Recipe from Chef Jason Goldstein

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce

As I mentioned in my focaccia post earlier this week I decided to plant quite a few herbs. Today I am sharing with you what I opted to make with the fresh sage I picked… A Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce. This was the first time I had planted sage and while I have purchased it a few times in the supermarket, there is really nothing like growing your own herbs and vegetables. Although, the tomatoes, cucumber and eggplant I planted are in fact fruits thanks to the seeds inside of them and because they all come from the flower of the plant. Back to the sage though, the leaves were enormous and so fragrant.

I started by peeling and chopping up a small butternut squash. I usually take the easy route and buy butternut squash already chopped, but since it’s not Fall yet it wasn’t available at my local supermarket. I did learn though that peeling and chopping up a small butternut squash is much easier than a large one. Next, I tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven for about 35 minutes.

Next, I boiled some pasta. Now, I would stick with penne or farfalle for this dish. I just find that it mixes better with the sauce and the size of that pasta is a good ratio for the small chunks of butternut squash. And finally, I made the browned butter sage sauce. In a large skillet, I combined half a stick of butter along with my fresh sage leaves over medium-low heat. I let the butter cook until it was beginning to brown and then added in minced garlic and cooked it for a minute more. Now, you need the sage leaves to crisp up so you can crumble them into the dish. That won’t happen though until you add the garlic to the melted butter and everything begins to sizzle. Make sure you don’t overcook the butter or the garlic or your sauce will be bitter. After the minute, I removed the pan from the heat, removed the sage leaves and added in the cooked pasta and roasted butternut squash. I crumbled the sage and then added it back to the skillet. I gave everything a good toss to make sure it was evenly coated with the browned butter and then tossed in some parmesan cheese and dinner was ready!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients:

1 small to medium butternut squash, 2 pounds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces pasta*

1/4 cup unsalted butter

18-24 fresh sage leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

*Ideal pasta would be a penne or farfalle

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and then cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes. Transfer the cubes to a large baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper on top. Toss the cubes to evenly coat them with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, tossing them halfway through the cooking time. Set aside.

Cook the pasta per the directions on the box. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-low heat add the butter and sage leaves and cook until the butter begins to brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute. Make sure not to let the butter or garlic burn as the flavor will become bitter then. Remove from the heat and use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the sage leaves. They should be crispy.

Add the roasted butternut squash and cooked pasta to the skillet. Crumble the sage on top. Return the skillet to low-heat and toss everything a few times to evenly coat the pasta and squash with the browned butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the parmesan cheese in and serve.

Recipe modified from The Spruce Eats

Homemade Pickles

Pickles, you either love them or hate them. It’s one of those food items that there doesn’t seem to be an in between about. I am on the “love them” side of the fence so when my cucumber plant started producing more cucumbers that I could possibly eat or give away I decided to turn them into one of my favorite snacks.

To begin, I sliced two cucumbers into spears. I first sliced each of the cucumbers in half and then sliced those halves into halves or thirds depending on the size of the cucumbers. Next, I placed the cucumbers into a 32oz. wide mouth jar. I topped the cucumbers with chopped dill and smashed garlic cloves and tucked a bay leaf on the inside of the jar.

In a liquid measuring cup I combined water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper and stirred everything together until the salt dissolved. I sampled the mixture to ensure that it had the right about of sweetness and spiciness.

I then poured the mixture into the jar with the cucumbers.

And then sealed it and refrigerated it for at least 24 hours before trying one of the pickles.

Now, my pickles were more on the spicy side than sweet side, but delicious nonetheless. If you would prefer a sweeter pickle, like a bread & butter one, increase your sugar amount, if you just want a delicious pickle without the sweet or spicy aspect I would omit the red pepper flakes. One more thing to note, make sure you are starting with cucumbers that have a nice crunch to them. They will hold up much better, and still have that crunch, after sitting in the water/vinegar mixture. You could also try this recipe with other goodies from your garden… Carrots, sting beans, or even asparagus.

Happy pickling!

Homemade Pickles

Ingredients:

2 medium-to-large cucumbers

1 cup water, at room temperature or cooler

1 cup rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 bay leaf

Directions:

Slice the cucumbers into spears. Slice the cucumber in half. Then slice each half into quarters. If your cucumbers are on the thinner side then only slice the halves into halves as well. Use your best judgment. Alternatively, you could also slice the cucumbers into rounds

Place the cucumbers inside of the jar you will be using. Make sure the jar is tall enough to leave about 1 inch of space between the cucumbers and the top of the jar. This recipe is ideal for a 32oz. jar.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Give everything a few good stirs until the salt has fully dissolved.

Top the cucumbers with the dill and garlic and place the bay leaf on the inside of the jar. Pour the water mixture into the jar until the cucumbers are fully submerged. Seal the jar and refrigerate at least 24 hours before enjoying.

Recipe modified from Cookie and Kate

Savory Focaccia Bread Pudding

As promised a second bread pudding recipe this week. This time a savory bread pudding made with focaccia bread. Once again, I had this focaccia left over after ordering Italian food. It was too much and I didn’t want it to go to waste and bread pudding is always a great way to use up left-over bread, but a typical bread pudding that is normally sweet wouldn’t work for this focaccia so I thought I could possibly make a savory version and I was right.

Here’s a look at the leftover focaccia. I let it sit for a day, so it became quite hard but that was perfect. It meant I wouldn’t have to toast it before using it.

I cut it up into cubes and added it to a large bowl.

In a large skillet I cooked mushrooms, onions, green pepper and celery that I seasoned with minced garlic, chopped thyme, salt and pepper until the vegetables were soft and most of the juices in the pan had evaporated.

While the vegetables were cooking, I made the custard by whisking together heavy whipping cream and eggs that I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Once the vegetable where ready I added them to the bowl with the focaccia cubes along with fresh parsley and gave everything a few good stirs.

I let the vegetables cool for about 10 minutes before adding in the custard mixture to the focaccia cube mixture. I then transferred it to a 9×13-inch baking dish that I sprayed with cooking spray and then topped it with shredded parmesan cheese. I let it sit for about 15 minutes so the focaccia cubes could soak in the custard.

I then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about an hour. After letting it sit for a few minutes it was time to slice. This was delicious. Definitely something I will make again. An added bonus, it tasted even better the next day as the flavors really had time to marry. And if you are trying to adopt a Meatless Monday diet this is ideal with a side salad and you will have leftovers for a few days. If you don’t have focaccia or want to use another type of bread, like an Italian or French loaf, I would suggest toasting the cubes before using them or letting the bread sit for a day or two so it can become stale and withstand the custard without becoming too soggy.

Savory Focaccia Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

10 cups cubed focaccia*

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 8oz. packages sliced baby portabella mushrooms

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 celery stalks, thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

8 large eggs

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt

Pepper

 

*Can use a different type of bread. Just make sure it’s stale or if using fresh bread, cube and then toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 F.

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13–inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Place cubed focaccia in a large bowl.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat-high heat. Add the mushrooms, chopped onions, chopped green pepper and sliced celery along with the chopped thyme and minced garlic to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are soft and most of the juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Add the cooked vegetables and chopped parsley to the cubed focaccia. Give it a few good stirs and then let the vegetables cool for about 10 minutes.

While the vegetables cool make the custard. In a large bowl whisk together the heavy cream and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the vegetables have cooled, add the custard to the bowl with the cubed focaccia and vegetables. Give it a few good stirs and then transfer to the prepared baking dish. Top with the shredded parmesan cheese.

Let the bread pudding sit for 15 minutes and then bake in the preheated oven uncovered for 50-60 minutes, until set and the top is golden. Let sit for 20 minutes before slicing.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Modified from Epicurious

Baked Feta Pasta

Thanks to TikTok there are so many viral food trends / hacks / challenges that have gone viral. While I may not have the app myself that doesn’t mean I am immune to them. There are some I am willing to try and others that are a quick no.  I did try Dalgona Chocolate and while it was good, I have not made in since. As I mentioned in that blog post, I don’t see it worth the extra time. And while I may like pickles, I will pass on Pickle Juice Salad Dressing. I did recently make my own Hot Cocoa Bombs and those were a delicious success that I will definitely be making again. A post will be coming soon. Another success, one of the latest trends, Baked Feta Pasta.

This is probably one of the simplest things I have ever made. After preheating my oven to 400 F. I combined two pints of grape tomatoes, a quartered shallot and olive oil in a 9×13-inch baking dish. I seasoned everything with salt and red pepper flakes and then tossed it all together. I placed an 8oz block of feta cheese in the center and then drizzled the top of the feta with olive oil and placed a few sprigs of thyme over the tomatoes. I baked this in the oven for about 40 minutes. While the feta was in the oven, I cooked a box of pasta per the box directions, reserving a 1/2 cup of the water. I would avoid using spaghetti or angel hair pasta. I opted to use Rotini.

Once the feta began to melt and the tomatoes were bursting, I knew it was ready.

I removed it from the oven and added my cooked pasta along with the reserved pasta water and used tongs to toss everything together. And that was it! Dinner was ready in less than an hour and didn’t require much effort on my part. And yes, in case you are wondering, this did reheat well.

While I kept mine simple, you can add in spinach, garlic, basil and so forth to add in some extra flavor. One thing I will do different next time, add in more shallots. They have a nice sweetness when baked in the oven.

 

Baked Feta Pasta

Ingredients:

2 pints grape tomatoes

1 shallot, quartered

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt

Crushed red pepper flakes

1 8oz. block feta cheese

3 sprigs thyme

10z. pasta

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In 9×13-inch baking dish combine the grape tomatoes, shallot and most of the olive oil (reserve 3 tablespoons to drizzle over the feta). Season with salt and red pepper flakes and toss to combine.

Place the feta in the center of the tomato mixture and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Place the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes and bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bursting and the feta cheese is golden on top.

While the feta is in the oven, bring a large pot of water to boil, season with salt and cook pasta per the box directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to the dish with the tomatoes and feta and toss to combine.

Recipe from Delish

Spinach & Mushroom Stromboli

I’m not a fan of working with yeast. I think it’s because the first time I did so it was a bit of a disaster. It took three tries before the yeast proofed and the bread I was making never fully rose. Ultimately the bread did taste good, but I knew that it could have been better. After that experience I have avoided certain recipes that involve yeast. The key to working with yeast is to make sure the temperature of your water/milk is spot on, that you knead your dough enough without overworking it and that you have the right environment for your dough to rise. With those three points in mind I am hoping to curb my apprehension and delve into making more yeast-based recipes. Recently I make homemade Stromboli.

A fellow blogger, Sally’s Baking Addiction , posts a monthly baking challenge for her followers to try. Along with recipe she provides full step-by-step directions as well as pictures and videos to help you along. For this first month of the year her challenge was homemade Stromboli. While hers was filled with sliced deli meats I opted to fill mine with vegetables – specifically spinach, mushrooms and jarred roasted red peppers.

To make the dough I began by combining warm water, instant yeast and sugar in the bowl of my stand mixer and covered it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for a few minutes. I then added in olive oil, salt and flour and using the dough attachment on my mixer, I mixed the ingredients on low for 2 minutes. Next, I dusted my counter with flour and kneaded the dough for a few minutes. I knew it was ready when I poked it and it slowly bounced back.

Next, I sprayed an ovenproof bowl with cooking spray and placed the dough inside of it, turning to coat it. After covering the bowl with aluminum foil, I placed it in a warm spot so the dough could rise for an hour. To ensure a warm enough environment, while prepping the dough I preheated my oven to 200 F and once I was ready to let it rest I turned the oven off and placed the covered bowl inside leaving the oven door slightly ajar. I ended up having to prop it open with a measuring cup so it would be open just enough. After 30 minutes I closed the oven door completely.

And this is what my dough looked like after an hour. It may not look like it doubled in size, but, it did.

Now, this dough was enough to make 2 Stromboli’s, but I was only planning on making one. So, I divided the dough in half, coated one-half in olive oil and then wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer. The other half I formed into a 10×16 rectangle and brushed it with melted butter and minced garlic.

I then sprinkled some dried parsley on top.

Next, I arranged cooked spinach and mushrooms along with jarred roasted red peppers I sliced, leaving a 3-inch border on one long edge and a 1-inch border on the other side and on both short ends.

And finally, since everything is better with cheese, I sprinkled shredded mozzarella on top.

Next it was time to roll it up. Before rolling, I brushed the edges of the dough with an egg wash. I then carefully rolled the Stromboli starting with the long-edge with the 1-inch border, tucking the sides of the dough in as I rolled it. I then carefully transferred it to a baking sheet I lined with parchment paper.

Before placing it in a preheated 400 F oven I cut 4-slits into the top of the dough and brushed it with the remaining egg wash and sprinkled it with dried parsley.

After baking for about 25 minutes my Stromboli was done.

I let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Spinach & Mushroom Stromboli

  • Servings: 2 Stromboli's
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the dough (for 2 Stromboli’s):

1 1/3 cups warm water (between 100 – 110 F)

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 7g / 1/4 oz. packet)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting

 

For the filling (for 2 Stromboli’s):

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons dried parsley

5 oz. bag spinach

8oz. package sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced jarred roasted red peppers

3 cups shredded mozzarella

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

 

For rolling and topping:

Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Additional dried parsley for topping

 

Directions:

In the bowl of your stand mixer whisk together the water, yeast and sugar. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for five minutes.

Add the olive oil, salt and flour and using the dough attachment beat the ingredients on low speed for 2 minutes. Lightly dust your counter and hands with flour and knead the dough for 3 – 4 minutes by hand. The dough is ready when it is soft and when poked it slowly bounces back.

Lightly grease a bowl with cooking spray (or oil) and place the dough inside of the bowl coating it with the cooking spray (or oil). Cover with aluminum foil and place in a warm spot to rise, about 60 minutes with instant yeast. The dough should double in size.

While the dough is rising cook the spinach and mushrooms. In a large non-stick skillet warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms begin to soften and release their juices. Add the spinach and season with additional salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are cooked and the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Once the dough is ready… Preheat the oven to 400 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Punch the dough down to release any trapped air. Divide the dough in half*. Dust your counter with flour and dust a rolling pin with flour and shape each half of the dough into a 10×16-inch rectangle.

Mix the melted butter and garlic together and brush on the dough and then sprinkle with parsley. Spread half of the spinach mushroom mixture and the sliced roasted peppers onto the dough leaving a three-inch border on one long edge and a one-inch border on the opposite long edge and on both short edges. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.

Brush the egg wash along all 4 borders. Now you are ready to roll the Stromboli. Begin with the long edge with the 1-inch border. Carefully roll towards the opposite long edge while also tucking in the edges of the short sides. Once completely rolled tuck in the ends and carefully transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets.

Brush the top of the Stromboli’s with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with dried parsley.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden-brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and enjoying.

*If you are only planning on making 1 Stromboli shape one-half of the dough into a ball and coat it with olive oil and the wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a resealable bag and freeze. When you are ready to use, place the dough in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ham & Potato Soup

For as long as I can remember I’ve eaten ham on New Year’s Day. My parents did so before I came along and continued to do so with me. And in case you didn’t know, eating pork on the first day of the New Year is supposed to bring good luck as pigs take their snout and root forward and are full of fattiness which when combined can symbolize progress, wealth & prosperity. There were some years where I wasn’t keen on the ham and other years when I look forward to it. The type of ham wasn’t the fancy spiral ones that come in a shiny red wrapper along with a brown sugar glaze, but, a canned ham that I find confusing in the sense that you can slice and eat cold, but, if you are going to “cook” it, it needs to cook in the oven for over an hour and come to an internal temperature of 140 F. My parents would always line the top of the ham with cloves, stick pineapple rings along the sides and on top and then drizzle it with light brown sugar. It’s the exact same way that I make it now. Inevitably though I always have leftovers and way too much of them. This year I decided to turn some of those leftovers into a delicious Ham & Potato Soup.

The soup starts with a mirepoix cooked in butter. And then the potatoes and ham are added and next minced garlic. To help thicken the soup flour is then stirred in and cooked for a few minutes before adding chicken stock and finally milk.

This soup is delicious… One of the best homemade soups I have made.

Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1/2 cup diced celery

3 cups peeled and diced potatoes*

2 cups cooked ham, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

3 cups whole milk

Salt and fresh cracked pepper, if needed

*I like to leave my potatoes on the larger side when cutting so they don’t break up too much while cooking

Directions:

In a large pot heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until beginning to soften (4 – 5 minutes)

Add the ham and potatoes, cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Mix in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock, mixing all the ingredients together. Increase the heat and cover the pot and bring the contents to a boil. Boil for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the milk. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken.

Taste, if needed, season with salt and pepper.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

While pumpkin is predominantly used in dessert dishes, it can also be used to make some delicious savory dishes. Pumpkin is actually really good for you, so, by using it in dishes that aren’t overloaded with sugar you can get some great health benefits from it. It can boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health. So, while the past couple of weeks I have brought you pumpkin desserts this week I am bringing you a pumpkin dish that is perfect for the cold days ahead… a Turkey Pumpkin Chili.

As with most chili’s this one is cooked in just one pot and takes minutes to prepare. I started out by sautéing onions and then adding in the ground turkey and spices. Once the meat was browned, I added in the beans, pumpkin, water and chicken broth and continued to cook it until it was thickened.

And enjoyed it with a dollop of sour cream and hot sauce on top.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 15oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 15oz. can pumpkin

1 14.5oz. can chicken broth

1 3/4 cups water

Hot sauce, sour cream and scallions for topping

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender. Stir in the turkey, coriander, smoked paprika and salt, cook, stirring occasionally to break up the ground turkey, until the meat is browned.

Add in the beans, pumpkin, water and chicken broth to the turkey mixture. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often until everything is heated through and the chili begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.

Top with hot sauce, sour cream and/or scallions.

Recipe from Real Simple Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Baked Zucchini Fries

If you have been following along, you know that I decided to plant a garden this year. I posted about it a few weeks when I shared a recipe for Walnut Pesto.  I mentioned in that post that I was hoping to make zucchini fried with the zucchini I was growing. Well, a day or so after picking my first decent sized zucchini another one was ready for picking. So, it seemed like the perfect time to make zucchini fries.

Initially I was planning on frying them. And while I have nothing against fried food, I just don’t like the clean-up involved after frying things indoors. The oil always splatters, and you must wait until the oil cools down before you can wash your pot. I am one of those people who likes to clean as they go while they are in the kitchen. So, I randomly came across a baked option and thankfully I had all the ingredients on hand. And the recipe was super simple, I had them in the oven in less than 10 minutes. And best of all, they didn’t get soggy like fried zucchini fries get and they didn’t need a dipping sauce since they were seasoned perfectly!

Baked Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchinis, sliced into fries/spears

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the breads crumbs, garlic powder, dried basil, salt and pepper and set aside.

In another large bowl combine the zucchini with eggs and mix them well to make sure the zucchini is evenly coated by the eggs.

Toss the zucchini in the bread crumb mixture a few at a time and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Continue doing this until all the zucchini has been coated with the bread crumb mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping the zucchini halfway through the baking.

Recipe from Tasty

Walnut Pesto

I decided to plant a small garden this year. Granted, my garden isn’t your typical one. I opted to plant my herbs and veggies (peppers, tomatoes & zucchini) in pots instead of in the ground. Although, I ended up having to transplant my zucchini plant into the ground when it started to take off and produce a lot of zucchinis, or zucchini flowers which will ultimately turn into zucchinis.

The first thing I ended up picking from my garden was cilantro. I picked this super early, back in the beginning of June.

And decided to make Cilantro Lime Rice with it.

Soon after it got quite hot outside and my cilantro bolted and began to flower. I did a little research and I learned that the flowers would ultimately become seeds and those sees are coriander. So, after letting the coriander seeds stay on the plant for a while they began to brown. I then cut off the stems with the seeds and hung them upside down in a brown paper bag to dry them out. I am planning on crushing the dried seeds into coriander powder.

There’s also some flat leaf parsley in my herb garden that I have been cutting to use in salads.

Also, from my mini herb garden… Basil. I planted three basil plants and while at first it didn’t seem like they were growing, they had a bit of a growth spurt and one of them started to flower. I pinched the flowers off hoping that by doing so the plant will continue to bear leaves.  I ended up picking a bunch of the larger basil leaves off the plants…

And turned them into a delicious pesto sauce, using walnuts instead of pine nuts. Totally random, but did you know there was a condition called Pine Mouth / Pine Nut Syndrome. With it you end up with a metallic taste in your mouth soon after eating pine nuts, it’s not permanent, but it can last a few weeks. This isn’t the reason why I used walnuts, but something I came across that I found interesting and thought I would share.

Here are some jalapenos that I grew as well. Thankfully these will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks until I decide what to do with them.

And here is a picture of my zucchini plant and the zucchini that I recently picked. I learned that you can’t leave zucchini on the plant too long as they will end up with too many seeds. I am hoping that I will have a few ripe ones at the same time so I can make zucchini fries.

And I also picked some of my tomatoes that have grown to a decent size. I didn’t intend to pick them green. I had one red tomato on the plant that was going bad (it had a huge black spot on the bottom) and when I went to cut it off, two of the green ones came off with it. After doing a little research to make sure that it would turn red sitting on my counter, I went and picked off the other two tomatoes that were also a decent size.

I’m also growing some bell peppers and snacking peppers, but they are not ready for picking yet.

And there you have a tour of my mini garden.

Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

2 cups lightly packed basil leaves

1/3 cup walnut pieces

2 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor chop the walnuts into fine pieces. Add the garlic, basil salt and pepper and process until the mixture resembles a paste.

With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube.

Add the parmesan cheese, and process for an additional minute until well combined.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Add olive oil as needed so the pesto does not dry out. Alternatively, you can divide the pesto among an ice cube tray to freeze and once frozen transfer to a resealable bag to have on hand when needed.