Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Quiche

It's that time of year again. Zucchini time!! I look forward to this time of year - zucchini are so satisfying to grow. I swear, you just plant the seedlings, water them when you think of it and they just go nuts! I love them. And they taste good, so there's another plus in the pro column. In the Pacific Northwest, my zucchinis hit a few weeks before the tomatoes are ripe, but when they all come in together, it's magic.

Summer Quiche
Serves 6-8
Preheat oven to 350

For the filling
6 eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini, drained (about 2 medium/small zucchini)
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter 
Pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper

For the shell (double recipe, and you'll only need half. Save the rest for another quiche or some other delicious option.)
11 tablespoons butter chopped
2 1/4 cups flour (I split mine 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 1/4 cup white flour)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
~1/4 cup very cold water
For complete pie dough instructions, click here.

Step one - make the pie dough and let it rest in the fridge. While the dough rests shred zucchini and wrap it in a clean dish towel and weight it so the water starts to come out of the zucchini.

Next, chop onion and basil and shred cheddar cheese. In a skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter and add the red pepper flakes and the onion. Saute onion for about 5 minutes until it's starting to become translucent. 

Roll out the chilled dough and fit it into the pie plate. I am terrible at making pretty pies edges, but I try my best. 

Mix together the eggs, half and half, zucchini, the basil, salt and pepper, the cooked onions and half the cheese. Mix together until well combined.

Fill the pie shell with the egg and veggie mixture. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on the top of the pie. Cover the pie and the tomatoes with shredded cheese. 

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the egg is not jiggly and the crust is toasted. I like using a clear glass pie dish so that I can see when the bottom of the crust is done. Let the quiche cool a bit, cut and enjoy!

Made this time last year...

Mango Chilli Chicken Salad


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Individual Blackberry Crumbles

Everyone loves their own mini or individual desserts.  There is something about knowing that what you have in front of you is “all yours” that makes the anticipation of the serving even better.  The other thing that makes individual sizes awesome is that you can control portion size.  People are less likely to go back for seconds if they have their own personal mini mac n cheese or mini apple crisp.  Just try it!  You’d be surprised what little amount can satisfy you. 

I made a special dinner for my husband recently because he received an awesome promotion at work.  (Go Julian!)  Special dinners typically involve 2 or 3 courses in the Duncan household.  I felt this one definitely called for a desert round.  However, since it was the middle of the week, I also wanted something easy.  Blackberry crumbles it is!  The tartness of the blackberries pairs so incredibly well with the buttery-sweetness of the crumble.  The cooking time takes the longest so be sure to time it appropriately!

Individual Blackberry Crumbles

4c blackberries
¼ c sugar
¼ c all-purpose flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch
juice from half a lemon

1c chopped walnuts
¾ c all-purpose flour
½ c brown sugar
½ sugar
¾ stick very cold butter, cut into small pieces
pinch of salt

Make the crumble: Combine chopped walnuts, flour, brown sugar, sugar, butter, and salt in a bowl.  Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to cook the crumbles.

Modification: This recipe is heavier on the blackberries than the crumble crust.  Therefore, if you’re a crust lover, you can double the crumble recipe and use both on top and bottom of the blackberry mixture.  Also, if you’re not a fan of the larger blackberry seeds, try this with raspberries, blueberries, or a combination.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter 4 large ramekins or mini cocottes.  Carefully combine berries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, cornstarch, and lemon juice.  Divide into each of the 4 ramekins.  Top with crumble mixture. 

Kitchen tool: Cocottes are like mini-Dutch ovens and are perfect for individual portions.  They can be used as a substitute to ramekins and are often dishwasher and oven safe.  The brand seen in these pictures are Le Creuset 12oz mini-cocottes.

Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove the crumbles to a rack to cook slightly.  Optional: serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tzatziki Potato Salad

We at the No Pressure Cooker are fans of tzatziki. We've used a dill version as a dipping sauce for zucchini chips and a garlicy version as a dolloping sauce for zucchini fritters. It's just so delicious! It's tangy, it's creamy, it's amazing. I made potato salad with a nice, thick tzatziki sauce in place of the mayo/mustard dressing that is often used. In place of the celery, this version uses cucumbers for some crunch. We ate this with grilled tri tip and more artichokes. It was really a great summer dinner.

Tzatziki Potato Salad
Serves 6-8

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, boiled (about 6 small potatoes)
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic 
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup slivered red onion
2 cups chopped cucumber
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes with skins on until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Let the potatoes cool and chop into 1 inch cubes. While the potatoes cool, mix together yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, garlic, parsley and chives.

In a large bowl, mix potatoes, onions and cucumbers. Fold in the dressing and let the salad chill in the fridge. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chicken Quesadillas with Peppers and Onions

As you have noticed, I like to make versatile dishes.  There is little pressure to keep things exactly the same and usually the experiments turn out well with a little tweak here or a little tweak there.  Chicken quesadillas (or quesadillas in general) are one of those things.  As long as you have cheese, you can just add whatever you have leftover in the fridge.  Also, they make for a super quick weeknight meal when you serve with a side of rice and beans.

For these quesadillas, I used rotisserie chicken (one of my staple ingredients).  Having a rotisserie chicken on hand really helps to take the “work” out of making chicken.  Chicken can be hard to make because many people overcook it as a precaution to undercooking and it potentially being harmful to your health.  If you use a rotisserie chicken, all you have to do is chop it up and use it in sandwiches, soups, salads, or…quesadillas! 

Chicken Quesadillas with Peppers and Onions

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
4 10-12” flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1 rotisserie chicken, breast and leg meat removed and chopped (~2.5c)
2 c shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 tsp Southwest seasoning

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and then peppers and onions.  Top with salt and pepper.  Stir peppers and onions to coat in oil and seasoning.  Continue cooking until tender and lightly browned.

Heat a cast iron griddle (or a large skillet) over medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray once heated.  Add flour tortillas, in batches, to heat and lightly brown on both sides.  Once the tortilla is heated, remove from pan.  On one half of the warm tortilla, spread a layer of cheese, then a layer of chicken, grilled peppers and onions, and then another layer of cheese.  Sprinkle Southwest seasoning over the top.  Fold tortilla in half so that chicken mixture is between each half of the tortilla.  Move back to the heated griddle and cook until the cheese is melted and the flour tortilla is browned (about 5-7 mins on each side). 

Kitchen Tool: I have a cast-iron griddle that has a grill pan on the other side.  Place over two equal sized burners and it provides for very even heating and allows for great browning.

Cut in thirds or quarters and serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cheesecake in Jam Jars

I'm one of those people who thinks that food is even tastier when it's cute. Yes, I like tea sandwiches, and there is no reason to like butter and cucumber on white bread. But it's CUTE!! I saw these cheesecakes in jam jars in the Oregonian a few weeks ago and knew I had to make them. The cheesecake batter is very easy, and these tiny bites of cheesecake bake up in 25 minutes. These don't use a crust, so I also made the crumbly, graham cracker crust topping to sprinkle on top. And since cherries are in season, I a cooked up about a cup of pitted cherries with a tablespoon of sugar. Mighty tasty!

Cheesecakes in Jam Jars - from The Oregonian
Makes 10 cakes
Preheat oven to 325

2 8oz packages cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
lemon zest from one lemon

In a stand mixer fitted with the whipping whisk, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy - about 6 minutes. Next, beat in the sour cream until thoroughly mixed, about 1 minute. Add in eggs one at a time and beat until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and last beat in the lemon zest until just mixed in.

Fill 10 jars leaving about 1/2 of space at the top. Place jars in a 9x13 inch baking dish and pour in enough hot water (hot from the tap, no need to boil or heat on the stove) until the water reaches about half way up the jars.

I had some cherries that I was planning on using for the topping, but on a whim, I decided to chop some up and put them in the bottom of the jars. The middle picture shows this. When we try these, I'll let you know how the turned out. Right now they are kicking it in the freezer waiting until we come back from a bathing-suit-rich vacation!

Bake the cheesecakes at 325 for 25 minutes or until the middles are no longer jiggly. Cool on a wire rack and then store in the fridge until chilled. Conveniently, the jars come with lids! ;)

Graham Cracker Crust Topping
Makes WAY too much
Heat oven to 350

6 whole graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, blend graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Once crumbly add in the melted butter and pulse until incorporated. 

Spread the crumbles on a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Next time, I will cut this recipe into thirds. It was way too much crumbles, even as yummy as they are.

A few things about this recipe...

I added a bit more lemon zest than the recipe called for, and these had a nice little tang to them, but I like a little bit of tang in cheesecake.

This batter and the crumb topping are nearly identical to the cheesecake tart I made last summer. Both are really easy and lemony.

I made cherry topping this time, but strawberries, blueberries, or chocolate sauce would be delicious too.


Made this time last year: Pizza and Bread Sticks

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad... with Sweet Potato Chips

There are about a million different ways to make chicken salad.  At the end of the day, it really comes down to your own tastes and how you are going to serve it.  Some people bake their chicken and then dice it.  Others (like me) take the easy way out and use rotisserie chicken.  It adds great flavor and the chicken is always juicy.  Some prefer it without fruit and nuts and others like both.  Some serve it on bread and others serve it on crackers.  I’m sure you get the point by now :)

I make my chicken salad with shallots, cranberry, and walnuts.  I choose shallots because they give the salad a bit of a garlic flavor and a mild onion flavor.  The dried cranberries allow the chicken salad to last longer in the fridge as opposed to grapes.  However, I have used grapes before and I could go either way.  The walnuts add a textural element along with the celery that comes in most chicken salad recipes.  The last thing that puts my version over the top is the lemon juice.  Lemon juice adds a little bit of a zing and brightens up the overall dish.  I can’t wait for you to try this!

Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad

1c mayo
1 tsp mustard
juice from half of a lemon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
1/8 c chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 rotisserie chicken, breast and leg meat removed and chopped (~2.5c)
¼ c cranberries
¼ c chopped walnuts
1 celery rib, chopped into small pieces
Sliced whole grain bread (optional)
Leaf lettuce (optional)

Whisk together mayo, mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, shallot, parsley, and thyme in a large bowl.  Add chicken, cranberries, walnuts, and celery to dressing.  Stir well to combine.

Optional: To make sandwiches, lightly toast 2 slices of whole grain bread.  Place chicken salad in between slices and top with lettuce. 

…with Sweet Potato Chips

I think the American “way” is to have chips with salad.  I decided to fry up my own sweet potato chips for this weekend lunch I had.  To make these, use a mandolin to get very thin slices of sweet potato.  Try the thinnest setting or one level thicker. 

Heat vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, add the sweet potato slices to the frying oil.  No need to coat with anything!  Once the chips are brown and crispy, remove and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with kosher salt immediately after removing from the oil.