Crab & Avocado Salad; Vegetable Bake

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today was a scorcher!! I tried to run on the boardwalk this morning and it was almost unbearable! By 11:30, temperatures were reaching 96 degrees! My mom and I were supposed to take a walk to Ocean Grove (about a mile away) for lunch, but I decided to surprise her by making lunch instead.. I figured it would be a little unpleasant walking to lunch in this heat!

My mom arrived home from her tennis match around 12:30 and this special lunch was awaiting her on the balcony:
I searched the fridge for anything that would taste good in this salad, and I must say that this salad was AMAZING. It consisted of a bed of mixed greens, chopped red bell pepper, chopped jicama, avocado, heirloom cherry tomatoes, lump crab meat, and a laughing cow cheese wedge crumbled on top.

We didn't have many dressings to choose from, so I took out some Bragg's Amino Acids spray, Frank's Sweet Chili Sauce, and Siraracha Sauce. The combinations of these 3 condiments were perfect on this salad!
Yum! What a refreshing summer lunch! I also had some sparkling water with lemon for both of us. We were both very satisfied :)

It's just my mom and I at the beach house today, so we wanted to take advantage of the moment without any boys to make a healthy vegetarian meal. I would normally go to my computer and search my library of recipes, but my computer broked down!!!! Yea, just won't turn on. All of my cookbooks are at the other house, so my only other choice was to make up something myself. I LOVE making up recipes. Especially when I know my mom loves the same foods I do. I had a basic idea in my head of what I wanted to make (a vegetable/cheese bake), but was very flexible with the ingredients depending on what looked fresh at the grocery store.

This was the end product:
Vegetable "Lasagna":

-1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (I used a funky yellow zucchini that looked really fresh at Wegmans!)
-1 white eggplant, thinly sliced (or you can use any small eggplant)
-1 8 oz package of sliced shitake mushrooms
-1 12 oz package of baby spinach
-2 ripe tomatoes on the vine, sliced
-3/4 cup fat free or low fat cottage cheese
-1/3 cup packed basil leaves, chopped + whole leaves for garnish
-olive oil spray
-2 T. balsamic vinegar
-Coconut oil or spray
-salt and pepper
-1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. garlic flakes
-about 1 cup of your favorite marinara

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Arrange eggplant slices on a sheet tray and spray both sides with olive oil and brush with balsamic vinegar. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Bake approximately 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and browned (flipping halfway through).
3. Heat a 9 inch skillet over medium heat and spray with coconut spray (or add 1 tsp coconut oil).
4. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. garlic flakes. Reserve.
5. In the same skillet, spray again with coconut spray or add another tsp. of coconut oil. Heat on high.
6. Add shitake mushrooms and cook until the moisture is evaporated and mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
7. Mix the cottage cheese with salt, pepper, chopped basil and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.
8. In an 8x8" casserole dish spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce and layer the zucchini, overlapping.
9. Add a thin layer of cottage cheese mixture (about half of it) and top with spinach and mushrooms. Top with more sauce and the eggplant. Add the rest of the cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
10. Uncover the casserole and increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Top with goat cheese. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and a bit browned.
11. Important: Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing! My mom and I were too impatient and hungry and dug right in. BIG mistake.. It was too watery and didn't set yet. We realized later that the casserole cut better once it cooled off a bit!
Served on the balcony with some Zinfindel, ice water in a JAR (such a cool way to serve drinks), and Copolla crushed red pepper.

We were licking our bowls because it was SO good! I can't wait to make it again!

Father's Day Menu

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I apologize for being MIA for a while! Life has been crazy busy and the commute to my internship was completely wearing me out. So, a brief update: I finished up my internship at Good Housekeeping yesterday! It was truly an amazing experience and I am so lucky to have been exposed to so many aspects of the industry. Luckily, there were plenty of television shoots while I was there that I was able to be a part of. I prepped shoots for Emeril and Guy Fieri, along with a show called "Food-ogrophy" on the Cooking Channel. I loved every minute of it!

I was extremely sad to leave! Unfortunatley there aren't any positions available at the moment, so I am now on the job search! (Wish me luck!!)

Last Sunday my mom and I organized a casual Father's Day dinner for my family. My uncle was in town from Cali, so he came along with my other uncle and aunt, 3 cousins, and grandparents.

I made sandwiches for lunch to bring on the beach with us. While on the beach, we sipped on some Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.. so light and refreshing!

I headed back to the condo early to prep dinner and appetizers. Our appetizers were pretty basic and included gourmet cheeses, crackers, hummus, etc. I wanted to make a little something special and prepared Giada's Deviled Eggs with Crab. It was delicious! I made a few minor changes: I added in the yolks of 3 eggs to the filling and ended up filling 8 eggs instead of 6. I also sprinkled the tops with paprika (afterwards I realized old bay seasoning would have been nice!):
We had a nice spread for dinner that was not too gourmet (my family enjoys comfort food!) but still incredible. I made an Asian barbecue chicken from Food and Wine magazine. I made this earlier in the afternoon and heated it up later. I made the mistake of coating it in the toasted sesame seeds too early because when I heated it up, the sesame seeds weren't as crunchy and toasty. time I'll make sure to coat them with the seeds a la minute!
Since these had a distinct Asian flavor and were a little spicy, I made a few extra chicken drumsticks with Emeril's barbecue sauce.
We also made a double batch of Giada's Sausage, Peppers, and Onions. We served this with toasted Italian rolls, and pasta tossed with olive oil.
My mom also made a tray of homemade mac & cheese (a healthier version that included whole wheat panko and fresh sliced tomatoes!). I think the adults liked this more than the kids! We also had a tossed salad with toasted pine nuts, craisins, croutons, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and raspberry vinaigrette.

The night ended with my mom's famous Strawberry Roll and my grandpa's favorite cake.

Perfect Summer Meal

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This past week I have been craving a summer meal consisting of fresh seafood and a bright summer salsa. I have made Ellie Krieger's crabs cakes many times in the past and it has always been a hit. With a minimum amount of fillers, but a lot of flavor, this is the perfect healthy version of a crab cake. You can find the recipe here... I followed the recipe exactly, except I used whole wheat bread crumbs and did not use the tarter sauce.

To go along with the crab cakes, I made a salsa that I have been thinking about all week! I didn't know how it would turn out, but it was AWESOME and the perfect addition to the crab cakes. It was a bit spicy from a jalepeno pepper and sweet from the mango. Here's the recipe:

1 ripe mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped roma tomatoes
1 jalepeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 T. lime juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I served the crab cakes over a small bed of peppery arugula, topped with the salsa and a few drops of siracha. Of course I added more siracha after this picture was taken :) I like everything super spicy!!
I also made a mustard sauce for dipping, since I knew my dad wouldn't like the salsa or siracha and my family loves a selection of condiments! I mixed dijon mustard with non-fat strained yogurt (siggi's..but you can also use any greek yogurt) and apricot preserves. This was an amazing sauce that was tangy from the yogurt, sweet from the preserves and a bit spicy from the dijon. I will definitely be making this sauce again to top fish, chicken, or even steak!

We also had some fresh corn on the cob with our crab cakes. I love having corn on the cob in the summer!

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