Friday, July 30, 2010

What's a Falafel?!

Well....I am here to tell you what it is and how wonderful it really is.  We had it for dinner last night, and it was divine!  Okay, okay, I will tell you what it is.... it's a pan fried patty made from chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans) and vegetables and other yummy stuff.  You put it in a pita pocket with hummus and all kinds of fresh veggies and tahini sauce.....oh, heavenly!  I am also including a recipe I have for Spinach Hummus.  So branch out of your meat and potatoes box and try something different!  I am sure you will enjoy it!!

** I borrowed this falafel recipe from my friends Damaris and Steve, and the hummus recipe was given to me by my friend Julia.  Both are delicious**


¾ c sliced green onions
½ c sliced celery (forgot to get this, turned out alright anyway...but probably would be better with the celery)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained  (I used all garbanzos, but I can see why the recipe uses pinto now that I have made them.  Both ways turned out great!)
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed, drained
1 egg
2 T flour
2 t lemon juice
½ t salt
½ t ground cumin
¼ t pepper

Heat small skillet; spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Cook and stir onions, celery and garlic until tender;  remove from heat.  Process beans in food processor until smooth.  Combine bean mixture, egg, flour, juice, salt, cumin and pepper in a large bowl; stir in cooked vegetables.  Form mixture into about 24 patties.  Heat large skillet and pour in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Cook patties over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 5 min per side.

Serve in Pitas or flat bread w/ cucumber, tomato, thin sliced onion, sliced red pepper, and/or anything else that sounds good.

Spinach Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 10-oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 c tahini
2 tbsp garlic (about 6 cloves.....haha I really like garlic, so I go crazy)
3 tbsp lemon juice (about equal to one lemon worth)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
pepper, to taste (I used a dash)

Process in your food processor, starting with beans and garlic and spinach.  Add tahini and oil and lemon juice, then salt and pepper.  Continue to process til smooth and creamy.  Can be made up to 2 days ahead, kept in a tightly covered container in refrigerator. 

**Assembling your falafel:  Cut a pita bread in half, and separate to make pocket.  Spread hummus inside, then add tahini, veggies, and then a falafel patty.  My in-laws enjoyed adding some of the leftover tzatziki sauce I made for the gyros, but thats not really traditional.  I had sliced a red pepper, some tomato, cucumber and some thin sliced red onion.  You can use whatever floats your boat.  Once stuffed to capacity, stuff your face with it!   Haha.  It's tasty, you'll love it!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Greek Night!!

So I have been wanting to do gyros for awhile, and for some reason, lately I have just wanted stuff from different countries.  So I planned an exotic menu for the week and we shopped for all of the ingredients.  Tonight was Greek Night...we had gyros, greek salad and we're about to have baklava for dessert as soon as it's cool.  I think it was a success, but it was not my husband's favorite.  Though I do think my in-laws enjoyed it.

Traditionally, gyros are made with lamb and beef together,  roasted on a spit and then shaved very thinly.  Lamb is kind of pricey in Utah, so we went with just the flank steak.  It turned out well, even though not quite as authentic.  I include the recipe for the toppings, as well as the greek salad dressing, and the baklava.


1 flank steak
steak marinade (I didnt use my recipe this time, I used a bottle of Lawry's steak and chops marinade.  Use whatever you have)
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)
tomato and red onion salsa (recipe follows)
4 pitas

Directions for gyro below sauce recipes.  (sorry, just works better that way)

Tzatziki sauce

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced very finely
1 c plain greek yogurt (the thicker stuff)
1 tsp dry dill weed
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (I used a press)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper

Mix together, refrigerate til needed for gyros.  Can be made ahead.

Tomato and Onion Salsa
1 small tomato (I used a roma, but whatever you have), diced very small
1/4 small red onion, diced finely
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

Stir together ingredients, place in fridge til needed.

Marinate flank steak overnight in a ziplock bag.  when ready to serve, grill steak, 5 minutes per side over medium high heat.   Let it rest for a few minutes, then slice it thinly.  Warm pitas in microwave or on very low temp in oven.  Assemble gyros by starting with tzatziki sauce in the bottom of center of pita (fold it like a taco, not like a pocket bread), then the meat, then the tomato onion salsa, and then finally the lettuce.  Enjoy!

Greek Salad

1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 small can sliced olives, or 1/2 regular can of sliced olives (usually this is kalamata olives, but the family likes black olives better.  Use what you like.)
1/2 small block feta cheese, cut into thin strips, or crumbled
1/4 small red onion, diced finely
Dressing, recipe follows.

Greek Salad Dressing

1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/8 c white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small clove garlic, pasted or pressed
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c canola oil

Mix together either in a salad dressing mixer or in a bowl with a whisk.  Shake or whisk til well blended.  Pour over salad and toss.

Toss all ingredients together.  Pour over dressing, toss.  Enjoy.


40 sheets of phyllo dough (1 full pkg) thawed.
3 sticks butter, melted
5 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
honey syrup, recipe follows

Honey Syrup

2 c sugar
2 c water
1 c honey
zest of 1 lemon

Mix together in small saucepan, bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Should be warm when putting on top of baklava.

Directions for baklava assembly

Mix the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Layer 12 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing with butter between each sheet.  Keep the sheets moist by covering with a damp paper towel.  After layering the dough with the butter for 12 sheets, top with 1/3 the walnut mixture, and spread evenly.  Layer again on top another 12 sheets of dough, again, brushing each sheet with butter before adding another sheet.  Then add another layer of walnuts.   Top with 8 more layers of the dough sheets, again buttering each time you lay a sheet down.  Top with last bit of walnut mixture, and then cover with the remaining 8 sheets of dough.  Cover the top layer of dough sheet with the rest of the butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Top with warm syrup, then cool completely, and serve.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wonton Soup

Okay, I got a request to find a recipe for Wonton Soup, and because I love requests and new challenges, I have been working on doing this for awhile.  We finally got all of the ingredients, and so now I am happy to announce that I found a good recipe, tested it on my in-laws, and I am now very excited to share this information with you.  I made veggie tempura on the side, and it was a hit!

I must admit, I did borrow this recipe from Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network website.  But I loved it, and so did my family.  Try it, you will like it too!

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped
  • 10 cups canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • About 30 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced bok choy
  • 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots


In a large saucepan or soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low so that the broth just simmers. Allow broth to simmer for at least 20 to 30 minutes while the wontons are being assembled.
In a small mixing bowl combine the remaining teaspoon of minced garlic, remaining tablespoon of chopped ginger, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped scallions, the pork, egg yolk, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and crushed red pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Working on a flat work surface, lay out a few of the wontons. (Keep remaining wonton wrappers covered with plastic wrap.) Fill a small bowl partially with cool water and set aside. Using a teaspoon measure, place a heaping teaspoonful of the meat filling in the center of each wonton. Using your fingers, lightly wet the edges of the wonton. Bring 2 opposite corners of the wonton together to form a triangle and enclose the filling, pressing edges firmly around the mound of filling to eliminate any air pockets and seal. Moisten opposite corners of the long side. Curl moistened corners toward each other, overlapping one on top of the other, and press the edges together to seal. You should now have a rounded stuffed wonton with a triangle poking up at the top. Assemble the remaining wontons in the same manner. When the wontons are all assembled, set aside.
Add the sliced bok choy, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots to the broth and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using your hands or a slotted spoon, gently add the prepared wontons to the simmering broth. Increase the heat slightly so that the broth returns to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally (very gently), until the wontons float and the pork filling is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

**NOTE** Instead of chopping the ginger, I used a fine grater (grates stuff really small) or you could use a microplane.  I used a garlic press for the garlic, as well.  I think the broth tasted good, but I think I could probably get away with watering it down a bit next time, it had a strong enough flavor that if you needed to stretch it with some more liquid you could.  I also used dehydrated shitakes, and just hydrated them by boiling some water, removing it from the heat, and then tossing in the mushrooms to soak for about 20 minutes.  Make sure if you have leftovers, you fish out the wontons and store them in a separate container, or they will get mushy in the soup broth. If you have leftover wontons, either freeze them or refrigerate them on a cookie sheet, and then once frozen, transfer them to a ziplock bag.  You can fry them in a deep fryer or toss them in the soup the next time you make this.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Pizza Dough recipe

Right so we really like this Whole Wheat pizza dough that we've done in the past.  But Carmel makes it.  Pizza dough seems to take for ever to make and have endless complications to recipes.  So this my new recipe, I got it from these guys.  What I like about this recipe is that it is simple enough that I can memorize.

Step 1
1 1/2 C luke warm water
stir in 1 T yeast
wait 5 minutes

While waiting
Step 2
3 1/2 C flour
pinch of salt

Put them together using a spatula
Mix some flour in it with your bare hands

See seriously how hard is that.  That's all there is to it.  I think I'll make a movie.  Then I thought no my main man Alton probably already has a movie somewhere around here and I saw THIS:

So I've decided it's time I go capture some of my own yeast, so if this works out I'll make a video.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cous Cous Stuffed Bell Peppers

Okay, so I was chatting it up with my friend Amie on Gmail chat (she lives in California, so we keep in touch that way), and she was telling me what she made for dinner that night.  You know me, I like to get ideas from others and try all kinds of new things.  Well, she had made stuffed red bell peppers that night.  Easy enough, I've had it before.  But get this...she stuffed them with cous cous!  Hooray for that Moroccan carb I love so much!  She gave me the basics and I took it from there....and we had them for dinner last night.  Super tasty, and I hope you enjoy them too!

Cous Cous Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 box flavored cous cous, any kind
1/2 to 3/4 lb pork sausage (Amie used turkey sausage I think, and I used the lean jimmy dean stuff, whatever works)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and chopped very finely
any other veggie you like.  mushrooms would have been good, but I didn't have any
4 sweet bell peppers (I used red, but you could use orange or yellow as well.  Green ones are a bit more bitter, so I stay away from those for this)

Cut the tops off your bell peppers and then gently remove the ribs and seeds.  Set aside.  Brown your sausage and break into small crumbly pieces, and then add garlic and onions and whatever else you like to the mix.   Remove from heat when veggies are tender.  Cook the cous cous according to the pkg.  Generally it says to boil the water with some oil or butter and seasoning packet, then add cous cous and remove from heat and cover.   Let it steam for 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork.  Add to your sausage veggie mixture, and then stuff your peppers, and then top it all off with some parmesan cheese.  In a square baking dish, place peppers evenly spaced (one in each corner, generally) and then add about 3/4 c water to the pan to keep them from burning (releases steam into the oven, and therefore doesn't roast your peppers).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

**Note** My mom says she generally parboils her peppers first, but I kind of liked that I hadn't this time.  Makes them a bit more crisp and I like the added texture.  You can do that if you like them a bit softer.  All you have to do is bring your water to a boil and then toss in the peppers until they turn a bright red or yellow or whatever color your pepper is, then pull them out.  I like my bell peppers more on the raw side, and everything inside the stuffing is cooked, so it's a personal taste thing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Pizza

Alright, so I have posted a couple of recipes for pizza dough, but I haven't posted this recipe for pizza.  Jeff and I like to try different toppings on our pizza, and because we don't have any kids yet, we can get away with a lot of more adult flavors (rather than cheese and pepperoni only).   We tried this recipe out and then tried it for his parents and his family loved it!  I enjoy it a lot as well, and I hope you will too!

1 recipe Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (makes 2 pizzas)
1 container spinach artichoke dip (I like to use the stuff that is meant to be warmed, you can find it at Costco or Sam's Club, and it's usually in the refrigerated section)
1 small can of artichoke hearts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 chicken breast, cut into small bite sized strips
olive oil, salt and pepper
about a lb (16 oz) of mozzarella cheese, shredded

Once dough has risen and you have punched it down, stretch it out to about a 12 inch round.  I like a thicker crust, so I kind of make a bit of ridge at the edges.  Bake this dough for about 8-10 minutes, at 400 degrees. Top with dip, and spread to cover the crust, then add artichoke hearts,