Mimi’s Fried Squash

Last weekend my grandparents came down to see the house, since they havent yet and we cooked dinner for them and just kind of hung out and then David and I picked my grandma’s brain for some of her old family recipes. She makes some of my favorite side dishes, like most souther grandmas! Things like macaroni salad, cucumbers in vinegar, creamed corn, annnnd the famous fried squash and onions, which I suggested we have as a side dish to our tasty meal so she could give me a little lesson. Its not that I can’t sauté up some summer veggies on my own but she gets them just the right amount of crispy and delicious so I was looking for a few tips on improving upon any failed attempts I have made in the past, annnnd a little help with some of the side dishes, and she definitely delivered! If you’re looking to make some hearty southern fried squash, here is my attempt to rehash Mimi’s hands on lesson in the kitchen.

Ingredients: 

  • 2-3 large squash sliced (or quartered, whichever you prefer)
  • 2 onions halved and sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • flour

IMG_4072

Slice the squash and onions and mix them together in a large mixing bowl. then spoon flour on top of the ingredients and mix well.

IMG_4074

Mimi says the best method is to hand toss it, starting form the bottom and folding the flour through the mixture until all the pieces are coated. Also, make sure none of the pieces stick together since you want all the sides coated pretty well. While you’re doing this put enough vegetable oil in a large pan to coat the bottom

IMG_4076

Continue to let the oil heat until you can flick flour in it and it sizzles and crisps right up, then you know you’re cookin’! Start with the pan on high and if needed you can reduce the het throughout, but you never want to be below about a 7 unless your stove is unusually hot and fast cooking.
Next, add large handfulls of the squash and onions to the pan, making sure to distribute them evenly across the bottom.

IMG_4078

Then make sure that they are all pressed flat to the bottom and there are no air pockets and that something is always touching the bottom of the pan to get crispy and delicious.  Once everything is spread evenly, let the mixture simmer for a bit to let to bottom get nice and toasty. you can check occasionally by pulling up the sides with a spatula because it starts to stick as you cook it.

IMG_4084

When you feel that the bottom is pretty browned, slide the spatula underneath to lift and flip large sections of the squash and onions all at once, so they are kind of stuck together.

IMG_4087

Continue this process until they are relatively browned on all sides and the squash are cooked all the way through. This takes about 30 minutes. As you finish, tilt the pan at an angle and pull all the squash and onions to the top side to drain off as much of the oil as possible and then move the drained veggies to a serving bowl.

IMG_4089

Then its time to eat! Its best to make sure these finish just as you are getting ready to eat, as they are not as good cold. AND, if you have left overs like we did, you can reheat them by throwing them into a warm pan with no oil for a few minutes until they heat all the way through. Microwaving is definitely NOT your friend here. But MMMMM are these good! Hope I can pull it off on my own next time!

IMG_4090

Advertisements

I ate Brussels sprouts and I liked it…

**to the tune of that catchy Ke$ha song** But really… I did. I have to admit have fear the sprout for sometime now. all I knew is that it looked like a miniature version of collards, which (shocking southerner confession) I absolutely hate. I hate the smell, the appearance, the texture, the taste. EVERYTHING about collards. So when I saw everyone and their grandma posting all these pictures of Brussels sprouts and my friend Katy telling me she was obsessed with them I figured it was worth it to give them a shot, so we did! And we always go big or go home, so for our first soirée into sprout city, we cooked a whopping 2lbs of Brussels sprouts in the oven and prayed the whole time that we would at least SOMEWHAT be able to consume the final product. I am not normally nervous about the end result of our meals, because I know if I pick things that look delicious and follow the recipe I am bound to get something remotely close to the desirable end result. But… this one just had me nervous. Luckily I liked them and David was OBSESSED. He said that he would eat them like potato chips. haha I thought that was a bit extreme but I am glad we had a favorable end result. So, if you are looking for a good way to get into Brussels sprouts, I recommend trying this, it has a balsamic glaze and its cooked with olive oil and garlic, so there are a few other flavors working to your advantage to make it delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup good Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 400. Slice brussel sprouts in half through the core. Toss with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.

IMG_3250

2. Place on cookie sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

IMG_3252

3. To make balsamic reduction: put 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup. About 15 minutes.Then, place brussel sprouts in a serving bowl and toss with balsamic reduction.

IMG_3253

Super quick and easy, and we served ours with a pan seared porkchop that was topped with David’s homemade BBQ sauce. It was quite tasty and when combined with a salad…. we figured we had a rather healthy dinner on the table that night!

IMG_3254

I definitely suggest giving this one a try of you have been a little weary of trying brussels sprouts, it made me a fan!

Farm Fresh Saturdays

In an attempt to make the best of what little weekend time David and I get to spend together, due to my work schedule, we got up and hit the ground running everyday this past weekend. For some fresh produce and just to have something to do for a while we took to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market just to see what we could find. Typically, when I think of a farmers market, I think of a huge field in the middle of no where with all this awesome fresh produce , etc etc. Well, that was half right. This is right in the middle of the city and they had 4 or 5 buildings FULL of fresh produce, plants, homemade breads and pastries, fresh cut flowers, and tons of other things! It was tons of fun and we are already making plans to go back again this weekend!  So, heres a little peak inside our adventures at the farmers market, if you’re in the Charlotte area, you should check it out!

One of the most exciting prospects of the Farmers Market trip was that on Saturdays the craft barn is open. Lets just say that that portion of the farmers market did not live up to the expectations I had for it, so I will just leave it at that and not bore you with the details of my disappointment. However, upon leaving the little craft barn, we found ourselves in the greenery shed that had more plants than the walmart parking lot at the beginning of summer (you know, when they block up all the spaces with their shrubs and flowers) However, these were better quality at a much better price, and they had everything you could think of!
It was almost overwhelming the amount of options that surrounded us, I already have some flowers and herbs on my porch, but I was so tempted to buy more and am debating getting a flower box for my railing. My neighbors are going to think I am crazy and my small little porch is going to look like a jungle, but I can’t help it! Flowers are so fun a cheery. Even David caught the bug,

and he purchased some purple cherokee tomato plants for $2.50 and has since planted them on his porch, so hopefully we are going to be reaping the benefits of that in a month or so! These are his favorite, so we made sure to stop by and get some fresh grown ones at the produce stands on top of a variety of other things. However, before we left the garden shed, we could not resist the urge to purchase one of my summer favorites:
Boiled peanuts…. probably the best thing ever. And a bag was $3. Does it get any better than that? No, it does not.

After we exhausted the options in the garden shed, we headed to the produce stands. This is where we dropped some serious cash (not really, but it was the primary reason for our visit to the farmers market) And these sheds were literally crawling with people. I think summer just makes you want fresh fruits and vegetables, boy was this the place to get them! There was produce for as far as you could see in any direction, and everything looked so delicious.
 We got some fresh tomatoes (regular and some of David’s favorite) as well as some peaches and cucumbers, and all of the above were delicious!


 If your mouth is not watering right now, I don’t know whats wrong with you, but I can’t do much else to describe to you the awesomeness of this farmers market and the availability of fresh foods! It just makes you feel healthy to shop around AND everything is such a bargain, AND you are supporting local farmers and people who work really hard to bring these foods to the market every day. Apart from the plants, produce, and craft barn, I am sure you remember me mentioning a few other things we found at the farmers market, well…. heres the scoop on all of those other things!
First of all, this might have been my favorite thing I found the entire day!!!
This guy made homemade olive oils and they were infused with tons of different flavors. I LOVE olive oil, for cooking, for bread dipping… for everything, I just love it! These olive oils were infused with flavors like chipolte pepper, basil and garlic, and citrus, as well as an original flavor. I bought the basil and garlic one and I can’t wait to cook with it! I know its going to be delicious! We also found some homemade pimento cheese that David got, and some fresh wild flowers to jazz up my apartment, which David so kindly bought for me, such a gem!

Also, this was interesting, they had some little fish that you could buy so you can make yourself a little coy pond, so ya know, you can get pretty much anything you need here!

So, heres the loot. I have to say i was really impressed with what we were able to get. I think we spent $40 total for everything we brought home, which was quite a handful of stuff, especially to carry up to my third floor apartment!!
Like I said earlier, we are already planning to go back this weekend, but I think we are going to head out a little earlier to try some of the fresh bake breads and pastries and homegrown coffee for breakfast. Which I can’t wait for, BUT the reward of the whole trip??? A true sign that summer is finally here, my first tomato sandwich of the year!

A delicacy that any southern mother, or grandmother would be proud of, oh, and my pawpaw too!

Summer on a Stick

Ok people, I know this might come as a surprise to some of you, but I have a confession to make. I am a grilled food addict. I don’t just mean I like to eat a steak every once in a while, I mean I crave all kinds of things you can smoke or grill. Salmon, chicken, chopped veggies, corn on the cob, pizza… you throw it on the grill I am probably going to AT LEAST debate eating it. So, after this confession, it should come as no surprise to you that the idea of being away from home and my dads masterful grilling has been somewhat of a struggle for me, especially in the summer when my hypersensitive nose can pick up the scent of a bar-b-que from a few blocks over. Well, imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when my boyfriend informed me that he in fact DID like to grill, and I was open to make suggestions for grilled foods we might want to make over there summer months (although communal apartment complex grills don’t quite get me as excited about slapping together a grill friendly dinner) BUT, nonetheless that is exactly what we did this past week. Confession two, my new career has landed me with a weird schedule so I was off in the middle of the week last week, so don’t just think I am sitting around having all this time to cook, I just got lucky. Anywho, back to the purpose for the post, one of my FAVORITE FAVORITE  FAVORITE things to have in the summer is kebabs. Did I mention this is my favorite, because it is. AAAAND!!!!!! because I had some time off and an epic craving for something top notch from the grill I took to the produce section to create my perfect summer kebab, and BOY was it perfect, ranking right up there with those stuffed shells I shared with you a few months ago winning accolades like “the best thing we have ever cooked” and “my favorite meal we have made”.

And, as the title would lead you to believe, when you make this meal it literally tastes like everything summer, right there, on a stick, on your plate. AND we had some top notch grilled corn with it, which also tasted a lot like summer… and was on a stick because I didn’t have any cob holder… things. Anywho, I am sure you are wondering how you can serve up a platter of summer on a stick, well, here ya go, if you don’t enjoy this…. don’t come back! Just kidding, if you didn’t enjoy it there are only 3 options 1. you didn’t marinate it properly, 2. you didn’t cook it correctly. 3. your tastebuds are broken.

Ingredients:
– bone less skin less chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
– 1 bottle of italian dressing
– 1 small red onion chopped
– 1 small sweet onion chopped
– 1 red/gree/yellow bell pepper chopped (I used all 3)
– mushroom caps
– Corn on the cob
– Olive oil

Instructions:
– Marinate the chicken in 3/4 a bottle of italian dressing, leave some dressing for on the grill marinating to add some delicious flavor!
– Also, ahead of time soak the wooden skewers for at least 30 minutes in water so the chicken and veggies won’t stick on them while the are cooking and I guess so they don’t catch on fire or something!
– chop all the veggies and assemble the kebabs placing a few pieces of chicken  and a variety of veggies on each stick

– After the kebabs are made, prepare the corn for the grill by tearing off one square sheet of aluminum foil and placing olive oil, salt, and pepper on it, and coating the corn cob in the mixture, then wrap the corn up leaving knots on each end for easy grill removal, as shown below!

Cook kebabs on the grill until the chicken is cooked all the way through, occasionally marinating the kebabs with the remaining italian chicken. Cook the corn on the cob for about 20 minutes inside the foil, on the grill. Make sure to leave everything in the grill for a few minutes with the lid closed so it can get that nice , charred, smoke flavor that screams “I taste like summer, eat me!” Once everything is cooked all the way through, remove from the grill and celebrate the deliciousness of summer. Also, please note that you have received this recipe just in time to start off summer right, by serving to all your favorite people at your memorial day celebrations, enjoy and kebab and think of me, because I will be at work, making that cash money, so I can do more awesome things to tell you about on this blog! lucky you! Happy grilling, I know you will enjoy this one!

Crockpot Veggie Lasagna

Inspired by another interest recipe, and my desire to spend minimal time in the kitchen while producing a tasty meal, this crockpot treat was much more delicious than anticipated AND more healthy than the meat infused alternative. I was a little worried that the noodles wouldn’t be full cooked, or the veggies would be mushy and soggy, but none of that was the case. This meal was a huge hit, and the hardest part was selecting which veggies I wanted to include in this dish. It got rave reviews from the kitchen table and now I am sharing it with you. If you’re looking for something to cook when you have minimal time, this is the meal for you. Forewarning it does only cook for 4 hours on low sooo, if you’re working for 8 hours, I am not sure this is the best option for a weekday dinner, unless you have a timer or something on your crockpot to delay when it turns on. Needless to say, you have to try this healthy alternative to the traditional meaty lasagna! Its top notch.

3 Cups of Chopped Veggies ( I used zucchini, eggplant, squash, onions, and mushrooms)
1 15 oz Container Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Large Egg
1 25 oz Jar Pasta Sauce
1 Box Lasagna Noodles (uncooked)
2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated

1. Chop veggies (I used a slap chop or you can use a food processor, or die cutting them by hand.)
2. Place the ricotta, parmesan cheese, herbs, garlic powder, salt and egg in a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Pour half of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a crock pot.
4. Place a layer of noodles on top of the sauce, covering the entire surface, breaking the noodles to fit the pot.
5. Layer half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, followed by 1 cup of the chopped vegetables and then one cup of mozzarella cheese.
6. Repeat with another layer of noodles, followed by the remaining ricotta mixture and the chopped vegetables.
7. Pour the remaining pasta sauce on top of the lasagna and top with the remaining cup of the grated cheese.
8. Cook on low for 4 hours.
9. Serve.