Baked zucchini and mozzarella

Baked zucchini and mozzarella

Posted on December 6, 2011 by

There are few things as easy and delicious as this zucchini magic trick. Slice, sprinkle, bake et voila, deliciousness. The zucchini become soft and buttery, the garlic salt gives depth of flavor, and the cheese bubbles in to a golden brown crust.

Baked zucchini and mozzarella

2 medium sized (or about 5 small) zucchini
garlic salt
salt
olive oil
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Slice your zucchini up into 1/2 inch rings. Lay them out flat on a large cookie sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt and a bit of salt. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until crisp tender.

Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the zucchini with cheese. Turn the oven to broil and let the cheese get all bubbly and a bit browned. This should only take about 3-5 minutes.

Enjoy right out of the oven.

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Flower of the zucchini plant.
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asparagus in phyllo dough

From Lynn on Google+:

Lynn Warren – I wrap asparagus in phyllo dough that’s been brushed with melted butter and parmasean cheese, you wrap the asparagus with it and bake. very easy, and can be eaten at room temp, etc.

Sounds ridiculously excellent & easy.  If you’re a fan of asparagus, you may enjoy it steamed, grilled, roasted, or even nuked.  I love the stuff if it’s prepared well.  This sounds like it would go over quite well.  Parmesan cheese is always a win.  Maybe some Romano… and I may add garlic.  If we wanted to get really nuts, we could wrap ’em in bacon & and the dough.

Found a recipe from Paula Deen that says to bake at 375° for 15-18 minutesGoogle for ideas!

Kitchen Adventures: Homemade Beef Jerky (via All Things Simple)

This looks ridiculously awesome…

Kitchen Adventures: Homemade Beef Jerky I've always had a weakness for beef jerky. There's something satisfyingly primitive about tearing into a piece of dried meat and all its salty goodness. It's the perfect snack–high in protein, low in fat, and undeniably delicious.  I've always eaten store-bought beef jerky out of convenience, but the sad fact is that the  mass produced stuff is chock full of preservatives, artificial flavorings, and nasty additives. I recently learned that beef … Read More

via All Things Simple

Corn Salsa with Peppery Chicken

Corn Salsa with Peppery Chicken
Corn Salsa with Peppery Chicken

Made this for dinner last night, it was pretty tasty.  I baked the chicken breasts instead of boiling.  I used full-size breasts, rubbed with olive oil and peppered, and roasted them at 375° for about 45 minutes.

We served w/ a little sour cream.

Chicken-stuffed Shells

 

Bethany made these for dinner on Sunday night. They’re one of my favorites.

There are many variations on the ‘net out there.

I’d use Miracle Whip instead of mayo if I was doing it, but there’s not enough to taste the difference.  We also generally add a 2nd can of cream of chicken soup so there’s more (& thicker) gravy.  We have used the light Miracle Whip and the “healthy request” can of chicken soup with no discernible difference.

Obviously, a rotisserie chicken makes this go a little more quickly.  Ha ha.  Also, I like to grill the chicken breasts on the counter-top electric grill rather than boil them.  Seems easier, and I like the dark edges.

This is one of my favorie meals, it lasts for lunches for days or freezes well.  I like ’em with a side of nice fresh green beans.

Also… you could change it up with Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery or Cream of whatever soup…  Not sure how you’d adapt to a vegetarian/vegan version if you wanted to… I know Campbell’s “cream of” soups have “natural flavors” that could have once been alive & self-aware… and I’m not sure about stove-top stuffing but I’m sure there’s chicken flavoring in there.

We’ve also done this with leftover Turkey & stuffing after Thanksgiving.

Acorn Squash, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Skillet Steaks, & Duquesne Beer

Recently, we had a ridiculously excellent fall dinner.  I could eat this meal several nights a week, and not grow tired of it.

Delicious Fall Dinner
Acorn Squash, Corn on the Cob, Skillet Steaks, & Duquense Beer!

First up was the acorn squash, which is really easy to prepare once you get the damn thing cut open.  I have recently stopped trying to go through the whole thing at once.  I use a serrated knife and poke from the beside stem into the center, then slice out form the stem all the way back around until I hit the stem again, then crack it open.

After scooping out the seeds (which I always wonder about cooking like pumpkin seeds) and stringy gross stuff, I placed the two halves orange side up in a glass baking dish in about ½” to ¾” of water.  Don’t worry, they actually generally do sit up that way without a problem.  I sliced the tops/insides a little in preparation for the next part…

Acorn Squash, after roasting.
SQUASH!

I melted some butter (or some Country Crock spread actually) in the microwave, probably about 3 tablespoons worth, and added a little bit of brown sugar, stirred, then ladled it on the top & into the cup formed in the middle.  Add it to taste.  I don’t really ever measure this.  If you’re looking for a measurement form me, add what you think is too much brown sugar, then add a pinch more.  I also added a tiny bit of black pepper & paprika to mine this time… but I add that to almost everything.

After that, I placed it in the already pre-heating oven at 400° for about an hour and 5 minutes.  I was going for somewhere between an hour and an hour & 15 minutes, and it worked out closer to the hour this time.  Check on it around the hour mark.  This one was roasted perfectly… the meat of the squash was just melting on to the spoon, & peeling right off of the skin inside.  It was really a great flavorful vegetable.  I don’t know if this is baking or roasting, but whatever it is, it works.  It would have also been good scooped out & served like groovy orange mashed potatoes.

Corn, unressed, re-dressed, & bound for doom!
Corn, undressed, re-dressed, & bound for doom!

Up next was the corn, figuring temperature was more important for the squash, I typically roast corn at 425° or 450° for 20 minutes to a half hour… but figured why not let it ride along with the squash here?

My wife & I carefully pulled back all the husks… just pulled them back not off, then removed the silk.

We buttered (again, we used Country Crock’s butter approximation), salted, & peppered the corn.

Next we wrapped it back up, and tied the tops back together using a loose strand of the husk.  This doesn’t always work out, so sometimes I use foil & make little caps to keep ’em all bound together.

I did a whole post on corn & why you should keep it in the husk, and never ever boil it unless you’re making soup.  You can read that here if you’re interested.  As you can see, “other stuff in the oven” is not even a good excuse to boil corn.  It can go along for the ride.  Proof?  It turned out beautifully:

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
Why would you boil corn, when you could have this awesomeness every time?

I wish my cell phone’s camera got better shots.  I need to think farther than Facebook or Twitter when taking food photos, and get the real camera so I can post more to this blog.  The corn husks did smoke a little… but I didn’t see any flames, and it let me know when it was done.  Ha ha ha.  I’ve grown to not rely on timers so much, but to go with temperature and a gut feeling.

Oddly enough for a carnivore like myself, the steak was not the star of this meal.  We just got some thin  skillet steaks and put them on the Foreman grill oiled, salted, & peppered for about 5 minutes, maybe a little less.  They turned out fine.  The Foreman Grill seems to be my go-to tool for cooking meat until I get new knobs for by real grill outside.  I’m in a Yahoo! Group that’s a really good resource for innovative GFG cooking.

I topped it all off with the newly resurrected Duquesne Beer.  [Insert zombie and or Jesus joke here.]  I have a collection of antique bottles and have a Duke beer bottle in with my local stuff… so when I heard that they were making it again, I knew I had to try some.  I was born after the company was dissolved the first time, so I can’t compare it to the original… but it is a nice mellow pilsner that goes well with this kind of dinner.  It rounded out the meal perfectly.

It was aggravating to get my hands on some though… they’ve had a weird release schedule, and no 6 pack shops around me were carrying the stuff.  When one local pizza joint was listed as having the stuff, I went there to buy some and they had no idea what I was talking about.  I ended up buying a case, but luckily I don’t feel “stuck” with something that I don’t like.

Homemade Pizza with Pillsbury Crust

The other night, the wife & I were in the mood for pizza, but not for any of the plethora of local pizza places.  We decided to make our own.  We were going to get one of those pre-made Boboli crusts, but while at the grocery store my wife came across one of those cardboard tubes of pizza dough by Pillsbury.  We decided why not try that?  I like a puffy doughy not quite fully cooked crust.

Well, this wasn’t that… but it was tasty.  It seemed to be pretty thin, but it was flavorful.  We bought the Giant Eagle brand jar o’ pizza sauce because it was way cheaper than the real brands.  I added some brown sugar ’cause I like sweet sauce… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My wife spread out the dough and I brushed on some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled on some garlic powder.  Then we put down the sauce & brown sugar mixture, and a 2-cup bag of “4-cheese Italian” shredded cheese.

We put diced green peppers, turkey pepperoni, and canned mushrooms on the whole thing… and I put diced Canadian bacon & chopped olives on my half.  I topped it off with a little leftover taco cheese, and put some crushed red pepper flakes on my side.

We baked it according to the instructions on the weird cardboard roll, and it turned out great.  We need to do homemade pizza night more often!  I think we’ll skip the EVOO step though… I don’t think it was all that necessary.

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Homemade pizza FTW!

Leave your corn in the husk

Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob
Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

The only way to cook corn on the cob to me any more is in the husk.  Be it on the grill, over a campfire, or in the oven… it’s the way to go.  Next would be microwaving… but for goodness sake… please stop boiling corn. All the flavor is sucked right out of it into the water.  Unless you’re making a creepy corn-based soup stock… quit it!

There are several methods online, but I’ve found this one to work well for our purposes…

  1. Soak the corn in water for a while (or even overnight) if you have the option… this prevents the husks from burning.  But, I must confessed that I’ve skipped this step several times with no disastrous consequences.  (Also, if you’re storing corn in the fridge, it may have the same effect.)
  2. Peel back the husks, don’t rip them off!  Leave ’em attached at the base.  Pull of the silk… we have a corn silk brush that works really well for this.
  3. Brush with some butter, I can’t believe it’s not butter, or even Mayo or Miracle whip.  The latter two sound crazy, but it’s unhealthy and decadently awesome.
  4. Season with your favorite spices… I prefer fresh ground black pepper, hot shot, and some salt.  The wife likes Season-All.  I hear lime juice goes well with the aforementioned Mayo slathering… I guess it’s a Mexican thing?
  5. Gently wrap the husk back up over the corn as closely as you found it.  If you’re adventurous, use one of the outer husks to tie it back together at the top.  If not, use a string or make a nice foil cap.

Now the cooking part…

  • The Grill: All grills are different, but this is probably my preferred method.  I generally put them on at whatever heat I need to cook my “main” dish… if they’re the star of the show, I’d say a medium-high heat is in order, turn them often.  You’ll get some nice grill-lines… it’s generally done once the outside layer of husks is charred & brown.
  • The Oven: The main advantage to using an oven is a nice even cooking.  We did these in the oven right on the cooking rack the other night at 425° for 30 minutes, just flipping once… and they were absolutely perfect.
  • The Campfire: If you haven’t cooked corn on the campfire, shame on you!  Get the fire going nice & hot with some nice white coals at the bottom.  (They’ll be glowing orange if it’s dark out.) If you’re using a cooking grate, I’d put the corn on top around the outsides, so it wasn’t being hit by direct flame.  The pre-soaking does come in handy here.  If you’re not using a cooking grate… I’d wrap the re-husked corn in foil and place it on the coals under your fire ring, or just on the inside.  Check it for done-ness when you’re nervous about it… ’cause you’re probably right… but be patient.

I’d love to hear how you cook corn, and what you top/pair it with!

Oven-Roasted corn in Bethany's little corn-dishes.
Oven-Roasted corn in Bethany's little corn-dishes.

Ciabatta Chicken Carb Overload Sandwiches

A while ago, I saw some Ciabatta buns in a 2-pack at my local Giant Eagle, and I thought that they were perfect for  my wife & I because we didn’t have to buy 6 or 8 at a time and let some go bad by the time we got around to eating them all.  Around that time, we had some leftover chicken breasts that had been prepared Shake ‘n Bake style the night before.  Out of that, my favorite new sandwich was born.

Ciabatta Chicken Carb Overload Sandwich
Ciabatta Chicken Carb Overload Sandwich

We made some the other night, making he Shake ‘n Bake chicken exclusively for the sandwich, saving leftovers to top a salad the next day.

Here’s what you need to make two sandwiches…

  • 1 2-pack of ciabatta buns
  • a few sprays or a spread of butter or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or whatever passes for butter in your house
  • a sprinkle of garlic salt or your favorite spice(s)
  • a pack of your favorite chicken breasts
  • Shake ‘n Bake
  • Meunster Cheese
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce  (I generally like most BBQ sauces, so I go with whatever I’m in the mood for, or whatever’s on sale. – This time we used Bullseye, I think.)

All you need to cook it is your oven.

  • Prepare the chicken according to the Shake ‘n Bake directions.
  • Pull it out to cool, and get a cookie sheet ready with your buns.
  • Cut the buns in half, prepare like you would garlic bread, placing the Meunster cheese on the top half.
  • Pop that in the over at around 357° for less than 10 minutes or so… until it’s to the crispiness you desire.
  • Dice the chicken and place into a bowl… mix with desired amount of barbecue sauce.
  • Pull the bread out of the oven, top with BBQ-laced super-carby chicken and it’s the most awesome sandwich you’ve had in a while.

We served these with sautéed zucchini and yellow squash, and it was a nice compliment.  Is the Shake ‘n Bake overkill?  Probably.  I like to think that it helps the sauce stick to the chicken, and prevents it from falling out all over your shirt or lap.  Maybe you need to heighten your carb intake because you’re running a marathon or something.  Maybe you just like being fat like me.

If they still made the Yuengling barbecue sauce, I’d totally use that for this.  The Bob Evans Wildfire sauce is pretty awesome too.  At any rate, if you’re not making these and you’re a fan of bread, breading, chicken, Meunster, and BBQ… then you don’t know what you’re missing.

Oh yeah, I think I put some Parmesan/Romano shake cheese and some Hot Shot pepper on mine this past time too.

Enjoy some photos…

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