Greek “Nachos,” Winter Version

I am slowly trying to shift our diet further and further away from processed foods (which turns out to be easy for me but harder for the kids; all those Whole Food family bloggers GROSSLY underestimate my children’s attachment to Trader Joe’s mini sandwich crackers and toaster pastries) and reducing the amount of meat in our diet. The less-meat thing is a little harder (pork shoulder in a crockpot is my go to time crunch meal, and vegetable dishes usually require more prep) but not, so far, impossible. I have been giving Mark Bittman’s Food Matters cookbook a spin with solid results so far.

Tonight we had Greek “nachos.” Bittman had me at nacho but I didn’t want to wait until summer to try the tomato-cucumber version. Fortunately he suggested an alternative using eggplant and roasted pepper, so that is what I made. I had some roasted pimentos in the freezer but you can use jarred. I also had some leftover pickled red onion so I used that instead of slicing fresh red onion, but either works… and if you roast the pita wedges along with the eggplant you can have the whole thing on the table in 20 minutes. (Okay, maybe 25 minutes. Still not bad for a weeknight.)

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Instagrammed food pictures are not ideal but easy for the lazy food blogger

Greek “Nachos” With Eggplant and Roasted Pepper, via Mark Bittman

Serves 2 as a generous entree

  • 1/2 eggplant, cubed
  • 2 whole wheat pitas
  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 oz feta
  • 1/4 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • Chopped fresh mint to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon plus zest
  • Diced roasted red pepper
  • Sliced red onion
  • Handful of kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1) Heat the oven to 400; spread the cubed eggplant on a baking sheet and toss with one teaspoon of olive oil. Roast the eggplant for 20 minutes.

2)Meanwhile, split the pitas in half and cut them into triangles. Place them on another baking sheet and drizzle one teaspoon oil over them. Put them in the oven ten minutes into the eggplant baking. (And give the eggplant a little toss while you are at it.)

3)In a food processor or mini chopper combine the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, feta, yogurt, mint and lemon until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4)Remove the pita chips from the oven when crisp (you will probably want to flip them over half way through their ten minutes of baking) and arrange on one serving plate or two dinner plates. Top with eggplant, roasted pepper, onion and olives. Top with the feta/yogurt mixture.

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Turkey Day Minus One: Caketastrophe

Just tried to invert the chocolate chocolate chip bundt cake onto the cake stand and only half of it made it out of the bundt pan.

So I guess we are having pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie, and trifle for dessert.

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Turkey Day Minus Three: Seating Charts

We have seven adults and five children attending and a dining table that seats six. The plan is to bring out the craft table from the playroom, set it in the hall (making an L with the kitchen table) and toss a tablecloth on it; we should have enough chairs to not have to resort to a stack of books and a pillow.

I also have a low bookshelf that can double as a sideboard but I am leaning towards just putting the serving dishes on the tables. The bookshelf is VERY low and I don’t trust turkey left within reach of the poodle.

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Turkey Day Minus Seven: What The Turkey, Doug Allison?

I was going to just post about this Melissa Clark column, as it also ponders Thankgsiving-in-advance, but then got totally distracted by this question sent in by one Doug Allison. Can you defrost and eat a turkey that’s POSSIBLY AS OLD AS I AM? (Okay, I was born during the Carter administration but still, a 30 year old turkey is not any more edible than a 34 year old turkey.)

Surely Doug Allison is just pulling Julia Moskin’s leg. Right?

 

 

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Turkey Day Minus Eight: Pie Crust

Nathan has been asking me to make cookies for a billion years, and while I have a batch of Nigella’s butter cookie dough in the freezer, I am a mere three pounds away from my Weight Watchers goal and am not going near that dough til I hit it.

However, the part of cookies that he likes is eating the dough (me too, kid, me too) so I offered him the alternative of helping me make pie dough instead. He agreed, so we’re making the pie dough from The Gift Of Southern Cooking this afternoon, and I’ll wrap it and freeze it until the day before Thanksgiving. (Pie dough, like cookie dough, freezes perfectly but I also wrap it in a billion layers of saran wrap before putting it in a ziploc because I am paranoid about it picking up freezer flavors. So it’s not the most environmentally friendly thing to freeze, but it is a time saver.)

This year I’m just making a chocolate pecan pie and having my in-laws bring over a pumpkin pie. I feel like I need a third dessert but can’t think of what- I have a chocolate bundt cake that’s super easy, or a pumpkin cheesecake that I love which is not super easy. Or maybe I’ll finally defrost that cookie dough and let Nathan cut out a bunch of turkey cookies.

What desserts are on your Thanksgiving menu this year?

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Turkey Day Minus Nine: Packaged Foods

Every time I’ve done Thanksgiving I’ve made my own dinner rolls, because I am a masochist. This year I finally realized what my mother has always known, which is that dinner rolls are one area where you can’t improve that much on frozen so why bother?

Which is why I went to Wal-Mart yesterday, to pick up a few trays of Sister Schubert‘s (if I am going to do store boughten, I’m going to get the store boughten dinner rolls Julia Reed recommends, at least) rolls and was thrilled to discover a whole ginormous end cap full of nothing but Pepperidge Farm her seasoned stuffing mix. My grandmother’s stuffing recipe is half cornbread, half Pepperidge Farm mix, and every Thanksgiving I check Ralphs and Vons and elsewhere and can never find it, and my stuffing never tastes exactly like my mom’s. Clearly I should have been checking Wal-Mart all along.

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Turkey Day-Minus Ten: Squash Casserole

My parents are in Hong Kong this year and I am missing them like crazy, especially right about now. My mother makes the best Thanksgiving feast ever, and while I am pretty competent at duplicating it by now, I am a little anxious about hosting twelve in my much smaller, dual oven and dishwasher lacking kitchen. So I’m doing as much ahead as I can, and heading in to my freezer first is one of the side dishes, a yellow squash casserole. I don’t know why my family makes a summer squash casserole in November every year, but we do, and it’s amazing. (My mother also usually makes a corn casserole to go with it, and while the corn is probably more traditional, the squash casserole is better so I’m ditching the corn and keeping the squash.)

Yellow Squash Casserole (from San Francisco Encore)

  • 2 lbs summer yellow squash, sliced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 more tbsp butter, not melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 9 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  1. Boil the squash in salted water until tender. Drain well and mash in a large bowl. Add eggs, cream and melted butter.
  2. Heat the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium high and cook the celery and onion until transparent. Add the celery and onion to the squash mixture along with the salt, pepper, and half of the cheese.
  3. Pour into a 9×13 casserole dish. Cover with remaining cheese and bacon. Wrap well and refrigerate or freeze. (Defrost overnight in the fridge before cooking). When ready to cook, bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

 

 

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