Papoutsakia are sort of like individualized moussakas. The word literally translates to “little shoes,” because I guess they kinda-sorta look like that. :) You take smaller eggplants, halve them and scoop out the flesh, then fill them with a warmly spiced meatsauce and bechamel. They are delicious, and adorably so.

Although eggplant is the common vegetable used as a vessel, you can certainly use others. My grandma would often make these with various squashes, anything from zucchini to delicata. I didn’t start liking eggplant until I was older (and it’s still not my favorite, though I do enjoy it now, especially burnt and made into a dip with tahini or yogurt a la Ottolenghi) and I wasn’t sure what the kids would think, but they devoured these. It helps they are huge meatsauce fans and that bechamel is one of life’s greatest pleasures, I guess.

I typically make my Greek meatsauce with tomato paste but I wanted something slightly saucier for this so I used crushed tomatoes. I highly recommend the use of kefalotyri or mizithra but obviously not everyone has access to that. If you don’t, opt for a salty, sharp cheese like Pecorino Romano or a really good Parmesan. I must say I really miss the little Greek shop a couple blocks from my old place because I could just get mizithra to my heart’s desire. Moving away from it was big on the “con” list when it came to deciding whether to leave the city. :)

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

 

Chicken breasts are…not terribly exciting. We eat a fair amount of them because they’re healthy and basically a blank canvas but they are certainly no one’s protein of choice in this household, if I’m being honest (I mean, they’re not even our chicken of choice, being that we all prefer dark meat). When you find a new chicken dish that’s not only healthy but also really quick and flavorful, it’s pretty exciting. (Hey, I’m a 9-5 suburban mom; we get excited about lame things, okay?)

This chicken uses jerk flavors, but in the form of a pan sauce vs. a marinade you’re probably used to. There are a few benefits to making a jerk pan sauce vs. a jerk marinade. For one thing, if you don’t think your kids or other family members will want the spice, it’s easy enough to not add the sauce to their portion (Ian is fine with spice but Zachary has recently started having issues with it, so his portion was served without sauce but with allspice sprinkled directly to his chicken). The other thing is it’s quicker. Sure, marinades don’t take much time, but being able to get this done in one fell swoop instead of over two prep periods is nice. This was easily as flavorful as other jerk marinades I’ve used. The habañero (or scotch bonnet) gets sauteed so it isn’t quite as spicy as  you might think, but it does retain much of its heat since it’s actually being used in the sauce (vs. in a marinade where it will impart flavor but potentially fall off before actually being cooked).

I will totally cop to using a can of pineapple tidbits here due to laziness. I probably should have/could have chopped the tidbits more finely but ehhh. I said a few months back that relishes are my new thing and that still holds true. And since one of the reasons I love them is they add flavor without being difficult or time consuming, I decided another shortcut was not a bad idea. :)

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

Moving to the suburbs is when needing slow cooker meals the most became paired with the unfortunate inability to actually utilize most slow cooker meals. See, we’re out of the house for a long time, which doesn’t work with a lot of crockpot recipes. And I have little to no time in the morning to be prepping anything (never mind that I’ve never been a fan of smelling like a restaurant upon my arrival to work).

This recipe is pretty perfect for people like us, though. The prep can be done the night before and the cook time is long. You don’t need to sear the meat (although, by all means, if you want to, go ahead and do it in the bacon fat), so in the morning you really just need to piece everything together. You could probably assemble the whole thing and just stick the insert in the fridge overnight but I will admit I haven’t tried that yet.  Instead, what I do is make the bacon/onion/broth mixture and put that in the insert. I also cut up the roast and kielbasa. The next day all I need to do is stir in the beans (which don’t even need to soak overnight) and meat. Even a mom looking for one kid’s missing shoe while the other kid is yelling because he had to be the second to get his teeth brushed can pull it together.

Although most people eat stew in the cooler months, I thought this one worked pretty well even when it was warmer out. It’s a good summer/fall straddler recipe, especially since tomatoes are still good (and the peppers we’d given up on in our garden have literally just started to grow). I think just adding the simple “hot sauce” (which is really more of a relish) to the top brightens this meal  up a lot and makes it feel a little less heavy. We’re all big fans of this recipe, which is good because it makes a ton. :) I always freeze much of it (after leaving some for lunch leftovers the next day) and it holds up well.

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

This salad quickly became one of our favorite meals this summer. Tom goes crazy for arugula (and the boys actually like it too). Everyone thinks prosciutto is the bee’s knees, and what makes a salad better than homemade croutons? (Maybe cheese. Maybe.)

This is a really simple salad with a big payoff. The arugula is  nice and peppery, the prosciutto is crisp, the cheese has a nice salty bite, and the dressing is light, fresh, and tangy.

I bulked this salad up not only so it was a dinner-sized portion but to up the protein (and because I didn’t feel like buying a rotisserie chicken that day since I already had chicken breasts. And because prosciutto is delicious). I used the same pan I crisped the prosciutto up in to cook the chicken and just put together the rest of the salad as it was cooking, so this wasn’t really any more time consuming than buying already-cooked chicken. You could also use the already-heated oven to bake the chicken.

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

Summer is starting to wind down, and I’ll greatly miss its bountiful produce. Since we had a late start to summer this year, everything in our garden was pushed back a bit and tomatoes are both plentiful and reeeeally wonderful right now. We’ve been throwing them on everything. We’ve been roasting them like it’s our job.

I first made this pasta quite a while back. We really liked it then, but for whatever reason (49850 saved “to try” recipes, perhaps?) it didn’t get made again for a long time. I looked back at my notes (um, that would be me searching my email because I remembered telling someone about it) and saw that it didn’t quite make enough sauce, so I upped the sauce a little bit and changed the proportions a bit to something that works better for us (this usually means we all eat it for dinner and Tom & I have enough for lunch the next day).  One time, I also added chicken to this to up the protein (pro-tip: You can cook it in the bacon fat before cooking the onion).

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

I held off on posting this for a little bit because I figured you guys were MEATBALLED OUT. But then some time passed, and last week we  had fall-like weather—which I totally associate with Swedish meatballs for some reason—so I moved these up. And now it’s a million and a half degrees outside again!

I posted a Swedish meatball recipe way back in the day and there was nothing wrong with it; in fact, it was extremely similar to the version I’m posting below. It just needed a slight facelift and a new picture since it was 9 years old and all. Sometimes even *I* forget I have a pretty deep archive, so it’s a good reminder to myself, too, that we should really eat more Swedish meatballs. :)

I’ve always loved Swedish meatballs. I think that hint of allspice just reminds me of the warm spices Greeks use to cook meat, so it makes sense. And nutmeg just makes everything better. Add to that a slightly creamy sauce and egg noodles (which, really, are the best kind of noodles) and I’m a pretty happy camper—as are the other members of my family.

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

Linzer Cookies

August 28, 2015 · 2 comments

in desserts/sweets

Just a reminder, the reader survey is still open, but will only be open through the end of the month. If you haven’t already filled it out, please do! I’m so surprised (and pleased!) with the number of responses received, so thanks to those who have already completed it.

Now, onto cookies! I make cookies…almost never. I also buy cookies…almost never. Cookies are really good though, aren’t they? That’s precisely why I don’t keep them in the house. Until they change the serving of Oreos to an entire line or make it so cookies taste like cilantro or mayo and are therefore inedible, I will eat far too  many. You may think, “they are perfectly portioned,” but I think, “they are small enough that I can have another one!” The good thing about cookies, though, is that they are so easy to bring somewhere else. You can eat a cookie to see if it’s good and still bring a dozen into work, but you can’t make a cake at home and then bring it to work with a missing piece. At least in theory. Also, why would I share cake?

Anyway, these cookies are practically health food. They have fruit in them (kind of) and not a whole lot of sugar at all. I loved the hint of cinnamon and clove in these, which I am not used to with most linzer cookies. We made these with almonds since I had some at home already, but I’m a sucker for a hazelnut linzer for sure. Like I do with Dorie’s standard sablés (still one of my favorite holiday cookies, for the record), I added a teaspoon of vanilla to these. I just feel like vanilla is a requirement for cookies. Or any baking, really.

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

For his birthday (way back in early June) Tom requested salmon. I kind of knew he was going to request some sort of seafood since he loves it and we don’t eat it much (thanks to me) but I was kind of hoping for…not salmon. I’m just not a big fan of it. I re-tried it and it was okay, but still not my thing. Trying things again is always good practice, but when you have kids this is a rule you live and die by to set an example. :) “At least you tried it again, right, Mom? You never know!”

That said, the kids and Tom devoured their giant salmon pieces and I enjoyed this salsa over a pork chop, so I’d still call it a hit. We recently made the salsa again and I had it with a za’atar and lemon grilled chicken thigh, which made for a great combo. The salsa is really light and fresh tasting, not at all overpowering. Just a nice complement to the protein. I made the recipe as indicated the first time but when we had it again I used jarred peppers since we had some around, and that worked just fine, too.  I did cut the amount of dressing from the very beginning because it seemed like a lot, and I’m glad I did.

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

We got back from our mini vacation on a Wednesday, and I decided to take Thursday and Friday off because why not? I have a good amount of PTO this year since my kids are at the age where they don’t really get sick often and have officially fought every daycare/school illness known to man. (I totally just jinxed myself, didn’t I?)

I wish I could tell you I used those 2 days for something really fun and interesting but actually what I did was…organize my pajamas. And stuff like that. Because, I’m old.

But, I did want to make some new stuff while I had the time, and I was thinking about a really delicious sandwich I’d had from the local Caribbean place recently (Caribbean Corner, if you happen to be in the Western Chicago suburbs!), which spurred me to make something Caribbean-y. You can’t really go wrong with bowls because as my 5  year old will tell you, meals are better when they include lots of different things.

These were delicious! There isn’t really anything in here that we don’t eat regularly but they just all go together really well. The chicken has a bright, citrusy marinade (and I reserved some of the marinade that didn’t go on the chicken to drizzle over the top of everything), the beans and rice and comforting are and homey, the plantains sweet with just a tiny bit of spice, and the salad nice and fresh for that crisp counterpoint.

This recipe looks rather…long, but I promise it’s not difficult or terribly time consuming. The chicken can be marinated early in the morning and can cook while your beans and rice cook. You can also chop the salad and pan-fry the plantains during that same time. So, really, however long it takes to make the rice (about 40 minutes) plus a little prep time is how long it will take to make the meal.

You may have a little of the rice/bean mixture leftover depending on how big you make your portions. I am here to tell you it makes a delightful breakfast with an egg and some hot sauce the next morning. :)

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }

This was the first year we were able to plant a garden (and by “we” I really mean Tom, since he and the kids did all the work). We had a great yield of tomatoes and spinach, a small yield of green beans, and like 2 jalapeños. Not sure what happened with our peppers (in addition to jalapenos, we also planted poblanos and red bell peppers), buuut better luck next year?

I’m not a canner (and am really too lazy to both learn how and actually do it) so I knew I needed to come up with some recipes to use with our tomatoes, other than throwing them on top of endless salads and making everything Caprese-esque. I asked Tom if he wanted roasted salsa or fresh salsa, and he chose roasted.

Salsa is one of those things that’s insanely easy to make. It has so few ingredients, takes almost no time, and comes out tasting worlds better than the stuff you buy in the jar.  The only bad thing about it is that there is no greater complement to it than tortilla chips, which are perhaps not the best thing to eat. I mean, they ARE, but you know.

This salsa had a nice kick to it, which we really enjoyed. Obviously the heat will depend on the jalapeños, so you may want to taste-test them first to see what their heat level is like before deciding whether to add 2 or 3 to the salsa.

 

Related Articles:



{ 3 comments }