Something about the recent time change has me in a GREAT mood.
I mean, a few extra hours of sunlight each day does wonders for this woman 🙂
I’m probably jumping the gun here… it’s only mid-April… but I’m already busting out the grill pan and pretending it’s summer!
And one of my favorite parts about summer, is hot veggies fresh off the grill.
They get that delicious char on them, remain crisp tender, and are SO easy to make.
Since grilled veggies have so much flavor on their own, I like to keep it simple.
Just a simple vinaigrette, and maybe a little cheese tossed in there, and you’re good to go.
For this recipe, I’ve tossed my grilled zucchini with lots of lemon, fresh mint, and crumbed feta cheese.
It’s a perfectly balanced bite.
You’ve got the fresh pop of lemon, creamy tangy cheese, and the palate-cleansing fresh mint.
And one of the best parts?
It’s ready in just 20 minutes. Winning.
- 4 medium zucchini, cut on the bias into 1/2 inch thick slices
- olive oil, for grilling
- sprinkle of kosher salt & ground black pepper
- 5 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Preheat a grill or grill pan over high high heat.
Place the sliced zucchini in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Toss with your hands until all the zucchini are evenly coated with oil and salt and pepper (make sure you use a generous amount of oil, or else the zucchini will stick to the grill!)
Add half of the zucchini to the grill (you'll probably need a grill basket) or grill pan. Grill for a few minutes on each side, until the zucchini is nicely charred but just tender. Remove to a large bowl & repeat with the second half of the zucchini.
As the zucchini cools, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mint. Pour over the warm zucchini.
Sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese over the zucchini & toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Do you ever crave those warm, yummy, crunchy, crispy, salty tortilla chips you get at Mexican restaurants?
The ones that everyone at the table can’t stop eating? (Thank god they’re bottomless)
I mean let’s be real, the prepackaged ones from the grocery store just aren’t the same… Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a store that makes them in-house.
Well, next time you’re having people over, you can make your own chips at home!
And it’s REALLY freaking easy.
The secret is using high quality corn tortillas. If you can find some made locally, that would be awesome. Otherwise, search for a brand that is just corn, lime, and salt. No added preservatives or stabilizers needed. They make the best chips, and are better for you anyways. Trader Joe’s usually carries some, as well as Sprouts and Whole Foods.
The process goes like this:
- Cut the tortillas into 8 wedges (or into strips if you want tortilla strips for soup or salad)
- Fry in oil on the stove until golden and crispy.
- Let cool on a paper towel lined plate and season with fine sea salt
Homemade chips are an easy and delicious snack for game day.
Serve with fresh salsa or guacamole & watch them disappear.
- Corn tortillas (preferably ones made with only corn, lime, and salt)
- Generous amount of vegetable oil for frying
- Fine sea salt
Take a stack of tortillas and cut in half. Cut in half again, and then cut each quarter in half, so that one tortilla makes 8 triangle shaped wedges. Cut as many wedges as you need (each wedge = 1 chip).
Pour vegetable oil in heavy skillet until there is a 1/2 inch thick layer on the bottom of the pan. Warm over high heat until the oil is very hot. You'll know the oil is ready for frying when you dip a piece of tortilla into the oil and it starts bubbling intensely.
Once the oil has reached the proper temperature, add a handful of tortilla wedges to the pot, using metal tongs to separate them in the pan. Add enough to fill the pan, but not so much that they are on top of each other. The chips will shrink slightly as they cook.
Let cook for a minute or two until golden on one side. Use tongs to flip the chips over and brown the other side for a minute or so. Remove the chips to a paper towel lined plate and season lightly with fine sea salt.
Repeat with the next batch of tortilla wedges, adjusting the heat up or down as needed to prevent burning or sogginess, and add more oil as needed if the pan is getting low.
Store the cooked chips in a plastic bag in the pantry for up to 1 week. Goes great with fresh salsa or guacamole.
Let’s be honest here.
Decadent potato dishes are one of the best parts of holiday meals.
Mashed potatoes drenched in gravy, gooey cheesy potatoes au gratin, or crispy golden latkes served piping hot off the stove.
Potatoes are a corner stone of the holiday meal, providing an anchor between the light salad and heavy roasted meats.
Au gratin potatoes are a classic in my family.
We have a tried and true 1950’s recipe in which thin slices of potato are mixed with a creamy beschamel sauce, topped with shredded cheddar and breadcrumbs, and baked until gooey and golden.
It’s delicious, BUT, dare I say, I’ve found a way to make it better.
By adding cauliflower!
I know, it sounds crazy, but adding cauliflower does two amazing things:
- It adds a new texture to a typically one-note dish.
- It boosts the nutrients in the dish, adding some extra fiber and heart-healthy flavonoids.
Cauliflower works particularly well in this gratin, because it manages to blend right in with the creamy potatoes.
It’s the same color, and has a pretty mild flavor, so if you don’t tell anyone, they might not even know it’s in there! (Perfect for the secret veggie haters in your life).
I also upgraded the original recipe by using a mixture of Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses instead of plain Cheddar, and using extra crispy panko breadcrumbs seasoned with garlic and thyme instead of traditional breadcrumbs.
The final upgrade?
Baking the gratin in a wide 9×13 baking dish so that each serving gets plenty of the garlicky crispy topping. I mean, that IS the best part of a gratin, right??
Seriously, this dish will be the star at your holiday party. You should probably make it.
And everyone will love you for it.
- 2 lbs russet potatoes
- 1 1/2 lbs cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided for 2 uses
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
- 4 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 3 quart (9x13 inch) baking dish and set aside.
Cut the russet potatoes in half crosswise and add to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. When they are fork tender but still have some resistance, scoop them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and place on a plate to cool.
Meanwhile, place the cauliflower florets in a small pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add an inch of water to the bottom of the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Steam the cauliflower until just barely tender, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the steamer basket and spread out on a plate or tray to cool.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, carefully peel off the potato skins and discard. Cut the potatoes into a 1-inch dice and set aside.
In a small nonstick skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and cook over medium-low heat until golden. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, and thyme and remove from the heat.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter over low heat. Add the 1/4 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Keep the heat low to prevent the butter from browning or the flour from burning and cook until the roux is bubbly and barely a light golden color.
Whisk in the heavy cream and milk. Continue whisking over low heat until the sauce is thickened and coats the whisk when removed from the pan. This shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and remove from the heat.
Place the cubed potatoes and cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Pour the creamy white sauce over the vegetables and toss with a soft spatula until evenly coated. Dump the creamy vegetable mixture into the buttered casserole dish and shake to spread out the mixture evenly. Sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese followed by the Parmesan cheese, and finally, top with the breadcrumb mixture.
Bake uncovered in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let rest for a few minutes and serve.