• Grilled Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Basil

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    This recipe comes from the July 2005 issue of Cooking Light. We made this back in 2005 and just made it again. Since we were having the flatbreads as our main course, I felt that the recipe needed just a little help. The big change I made to the recipe this time around is that I added fresh mozzarella cheese, which really put this recipe over the top. It’s exceptionally tasty!!!

    The faltbreads would work really well with hummus or any time you would use fresh pitas.  The flatbread is much better than any store purchased pita bread!

    Ingredients for Flatbreads:

    • 2.25 cups bread flour, divided
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP warm water (100 to 110 degrees), divided
    • 1 package dry yeast
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 TBSP bread flour

    Topping:

    • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 4 cups sliced tomatoes (I used grape and cherry tomatoes)
    • 1 cup finely chopped basil
    • fresh mozzarella, sliced

    Directions:

    1. Lightly spoon four into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup water and yest in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; let stand 30 minutes. Stir in 2 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, 1 TBSP oil and 3/4 tsp salt. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; sprinkle with 1 TBSP flour (dough will feel slightly tacky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). You may need to add a small amount of water to your dough, depending on the weather conditions.
    2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
    3. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
    4. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion into a 6 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough circles on a grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 2 minutes on each side or until golden and crisp.
    5. To prepare topping, combine the vinegar, 1 TBSP oil, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add tomatoes and toss gently to coat.
    6. On each grilled flatbread, place fresh mozzarella, a 1/2 cup of tomato mixture, and 2 TBSP of the fresh basil.

    Grilled Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Basil:

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  • Balsamic BBQ Sauce

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    This recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and is located at foodnetwork.com. It’s very good, and the sauce can be used for either chicken or beef. We grilled chicken tonight, but in the next few nights we’ll use the remaining sauce and grill some beef. The sauce is sweet, tangy, and rich which I really like. Even though there’s ketchup in the sauce it’s not a ketchup-y sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make, and we’ll definitely make this one again.

    I liked the spicy cucumber salad from last night so much that I made another batch of the salad to serve with the chicken along with some grilled zucchini.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 3/4 cup ketchup
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper

    Directions:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
    2. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 12-20 minutes.
    3. Reserve some sauce for table side sauce.
    4. Grill meat, basting with the sauce.

    Balsamic BBQ Sauce:

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  • East-West Flank Steak

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    This recipe comes from Southern Living, but I’m not positive about the year published…I think it was April 2004. The flavors of the steak are excellent. The steak should marinate at least 8 hours in the fridge, but we usually do an over night marinade. It’s really easy to prepare and cook, and it’s perfect for those hot summer nights. Serve the steak with some grilled zucchini or veggies of your choice. The important thing to keep in mind when slicing flank steak is to slice against the grain, because if you slice with the grain, you will have stringy shoe leather meat.

    The leftovers work great as a topper for salads, tacos, and even a steak and egg dinner. We’ve prepared this recipe numerous times, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP brown sugar
    • 2 TBSP lime juice
    • 1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
    • 1 tsp. dried crushed red pepepr
    • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 4 green onion, finely chopped
    • 1 (2 pound) flank steak, trimmed

    Directions:

    1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a shallow dish or large zip-top freezer bag; add steak. Cover or seal, and chill 8 hours, turning occasionally.
    2. Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade.
    3. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into thein slices diagonally across the grain.

    East-West Flank Steak:

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  • Pasta Salad With Grilled Veggies

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    With the remaining fresh veggies and herbs from our purchase at the market, I decided to make a pasta salad with grilled veggies. It turned out really well, and it was great as a light dinner on a hot summer day. I made a homemade vinaigrette that went really well with the grilled veggies. The veggies I used were the ones we had in our fridge, but don’t let that limit your creativity…use whatever you have and whatever you enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    • 1-2 large cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of the knife, turning garlic into a paste
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 2 TBSP fresh basil, chiffonade
    • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 c. canola or veggie oil
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar or to taste
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice
    • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella or feta cheese
    • Grilled veggies: zucchini, yellow squash, onion, eggplant, sliced and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper
    • Basil for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, basil, vinegar, oil and sugar in a jar with a tight lid. Shake well to emulsify the dressing.
    2. Slice veggies and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper
    3. Cook pasta according to directions
    4. Grill veggies
    5. Cut your cheese choice into chunks
    6. Combine pasta, grilled veggies, cheese, and as much dressing as you like.

    Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies:

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  • Basil Pesto

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    We’re eating our way through all the yummy produce from the weekend, and tonight’s feast was basil pesto. The basil and tomatoes were fresh from the market. Pesto not only tastes wonderful, but it is extremely versatile. You can add it to pasta, soup, meats, or keep it vegetarian. If you happen upon a large quantity of basil, you can make extra batches and freeze it by making the pesto as directed, but leave out the cheese and oil. Then fill some ice cube trays or ziploc bags with the pesto, and when you’re ready to use the pesto during the dregs of winter when you can’t find fresh basil, simply defrost the pesto, put in the food processor add the cheese and oil. Viola, just like fresh summer basil pesto!

    This is a classic version that’s super tasty and a staple on our dinner table.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups fresh basil
    • 6 oz pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 cup walnuts, pine nuts, pecans or almonds
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • salt to taste
    • pepper to taste
    • 1 pound pasta of your choice
    • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    • grilled chicken

    Important notes — add pasta water to thin if necessary, don’t add salt until after cheese is incorporated because cheese can be very salty

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to directions
    2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken and grill, then cut into bite-sized pieces
    3. Place basil, cheese, nuts, and garlic in a food processor; process until well blended. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute, process until well blended. Add pasta water, if desired to thin pesto.
    4. Combine pasta, tomatoes, chicken, and pesto; toss to combine.

    Basil Pesto:

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  • Cilantro Pesto Pasta

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    The inspiration for this recipe came from a recipe from Cooking Light, but we’ve adapted the original recipe to create our own family favorite. If you’re vegetarian or don’t have any chicken on hand, omit the chicken, and it’s still delicious. Definitely a crowd pleaser, and if you omit the serrano, it’s very kid friendly. Everyone we’ve ever served this to has LOVED it, so enjoy!
    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
    • 1 package fresh mint, leaves removed from stem
    • 6 oz cotija cheese
    • 3 TBSP pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, or almonds
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 serrano chile (optional)
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt to taste
    • Black pepper to taste
    • 1 lb. pasta
    • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    • Grilled chicken

    Important notes — add pasta water to thin if necessary, don’t add salt until after cheese is incorporated because cheese can be very salty

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to directions
    2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken and grill, then cut into bite-sized pieces
    3. Place cilantro, mint, cheese, nuts, garlic, and serrano in a food processor; process until well blended. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute, process until well blended. Add pasta water, if desired to thin pesto.
    4. Combine pasta, tomatoes, chicken, and pesto; toss to combine.

    Cilantro Pesto:

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  • Steak Salad with Queso Fresco

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    We received a cheese cookbook to review: Cheese, Glorious Cheese! If you like cheese, you’ll love this cookbook. As in this recipe, cheese isn’t always the star ingredient, but the cookbook and the recipes are still very good.

    This salad is excellent. Quite refreshing and will be really nice on a summer day. It’s not a heavy salad, but it’s still very filling. The recipe calls for steak, but you could easily substitute chicken if you prefer. The chipotles give this salad a kick, but it’s not too spicy, because the sweetness from the honey balances the smoky kick of the chipotles.

    The salad is also really easy and quick to prepare, which is a big plus in my book!

    Chile Glaze:

    • 1/2 of a small 7 ounce can of chipotle chiles in adobe
    • 1/4 cup honey

    Assembly:

    • Pour the chipotle chiles with adobo sauce and the honey into the food processor. Process until smooth. You can also use a blender.

    Salad Dressing:

    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 4 TBSP lime juice
    • 1 TBSP Chile Glaze
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Assembly:

    • Combine the olive oil, lime juice, chile glaze, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify.

    Steak Salad:

    • 1 pound flank steak
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1 head of romaine lettuce
    • 1 small red onion (we used 1/2 of the onion)
    • 1/2 red pepper (we used the entire pepper)
    • 1/2 green pepper (we used the entire pepper
    • 1/2 small jicama
    • 2/3 cup black olives (we omitted)
    • 1 to 1.5 cups tortilla chips
    • 3/4 crumbled Queso Fresco
    • 1/2 cup corn, roasted (we added)
    • 1 avacado, diced (we added)

    For the Steak and Corn:

    • Rub both sides of the meat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear both sides, and turn the heat to medium. Brush the remaining chile glaze onto the meat while it’s cooking, and turn it often so the glaze caramelizes on the meat. Cook 8-10 minutes.
    • For the corn, take a piece of foil and spray with nonstick spray, then place on the grill with the steak. Corn is done when it’s hot and has a roasted taste. If you’ve never grilled corn or corn on the cob before do it, because it’s delicious!

    Assembly of Salad:

    • Cut the lettuce
    • Slice the onion, peppers, jicama, and olives thinly about 1/4 inch thick
    • Dice the avacado
    • Place chips in a plastic bad and press down on them with a rolling pin to crush them into small pieces (we just served the chips on the side)
    • Slice the steak thinly
    • Combine the lettuce, onion, peppers, jicama, olives, corn, avacado, and steak in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top and toss well. Add the chips and the cheese.

    ENJOY!

    Cookbook:

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    Steak Salad:

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  • Chicken Kebabs and Spinach Pie

    Super Bowl Sunday proved to be a Mediterranean feast day. We had chicken kebabs, spinach pie, grilled zucchini and rice. It turned out fantastic! The kebab recipe is from A Taste of Persia, and the spinach pie recipe is from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

    Chicken Kebabs

    Chicken:

    4 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1.5 inch pieces

    Marinade:

    1 tsp ground saffron threads, dissolved in 2 TBSP hot water

    1 cup fresh lime juice

    2 TBSP olive oil

    2 large onions, peeled and thinly siced

    2 TBSP plain yogurt

    2 tsp salt

    2 tsp freshly ground pepper

    Basting:

    2 TBSP butter

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

  • In a large glass bowl with cover, combine 1 tsp saffron water, the lime juice, olive oil, onions, yogurt, and salt and pepper. Beat well with a fork. Add the pieces of chicken and toss well. Cover and marinate for at least 6 or up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. Turn the chicken twice during this time.
  • Spear the chicken on skewers.
  • In a small saucepan melt the butter and add the remaining saffron water, lime juice, salt, and peeper. Mix well and keep warm over very low heat.
  • Grill and baste.
  • Spinach Pies:

    Dough:

    1 tsp active dry yeast

    pinch of sugar

    About 1 cup of lukewarm water

    3 cups of bread flour

    1 tsp salt

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes, until it froths.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix in the oil. Add the yeast mixture and a little at a time, just enough of the remaining warm water so that the dough holds together with your hands. Knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
  • To prevent a dry crust from forming on the surface, pour 1/2 TBSP oil in the bottom of the bowl and roll the dough around in it to grease it all over. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1.5 hours, until doubled in bulk.
  • Spinach Pies: makes about 50, but you can easily half this and the dough recipe
    Filling:

    2 lbs. frozen leaf spinach, defrosted

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 onion

    4 TBSP sumac

    Juice of 1 lemon

    1 cup of pine nuts or chopped walnuts (optional)

    salt and pepper

    1. Put the spinach in a colander and press out the water, then squeeze the leaves between your palms to get rid of any remaining liquid. Coarsely chop the spinach and mix in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients.
    2. Punch down and knead the risen dough. Divide into 4 or 6 balls for easier handling. When rolling out one ball, keep the remaining ones wrapped in plastic.
    3. Roll out each ball on a lightly floured surface, and keep turning over the dough and dusting underneath with flour so that it doesn’t stick. Roll out as thinly as possible. Cut the sheet into 1.5-2 inch rounds with a pastry cutter. pick up the scraps, roll them into a ball, and roll out again to make more rounds. Take each round and roll out again, then pull out and stretch until it is paper-thin and about 3-3.5 inches in diameter.
    4. take each pastry round, lay it flat on one hand, and put a TBSP of filling in the middle. (1) Shape into the traditional 3 sides and bring them together over the filling. (2) Pinch the edges together, making thin, ridged joint in the shape of a 2 sided start and losing the pies. (3) Place th pies on a lightly oiled baking sheet and press down a little to flatten their bases.
    5. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

    Rice: prepare rice and then sprinkle sumac on top to serve.

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    Chicken Kebab Recipe:
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    Spinach Pie Recipe:
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