Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eggplant Feta Casserole

Slices of crisp baked eggplant chips layered with feta cheese and smothered under tomato sauce. Served on a bed of spaghetti, this is a vegetarian casserole that will please the whole family.

Sometimes I've got a lot on my mind. Sometimes I don't have much to say.

This is one of the latter times. If you've been getting a lot of eggplant in your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share like I have, then you may be ready for a new idea without scrolling through a story. If the weather is turning a touch cooler in the evenings like it has been here, you may even be willing to turn on the oven.

If you've got eggplant and you're willing to turn on the oven, this Baked Eggplant Chip recipe from our old CSA farmers of Blenheim Organic Gardens is a must try. I took it one step further and added a layer of feta cheese, because while living in Richmond, Virginia the Greek spaghetti from Texas Wisconsin Border Cafe was one of my favorite take out meals. I often throw a layer of feta between the noodles and the sauce on my plate when our family eats spaghetti just to recreate this memory.

For other recipes using eggplant, please see my Eggplant Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Make Your Own Layered Taco Dip Bar

Set out skillets and bowls of your favorite fixings, along with plenty of chips, and let everyone make their own layered taco dip just the way they like.

I think this time of year is an ideal time to strut your stuff. Show off what you've been up to in the kitchen, show off the fabulous job your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers or you cousin's sister's daughter* did in the farm or garden. I think a Make Your Own Layered Taco Dip Bar is an excellent way to do so.

A Make Your Own Layered Taco Dip Bar works for a variety of eaters and appetites. Vegetarians and omnivores alike can heap their plates high, and if you just want a nibble of a few things you're good as well. It can be an appetizer spread or a full on meal. Most of the toppings can be prepared in advance, making this as easy as browning ground beef and whipping up a Fast & Easy 3 Ingredient Bean & Hatch Chile Dip.

You can set up this concept any time of year as fresh vegetables--while delightful--are not integral to the spread. Preserved [I've put up 4 kinds of salsa so far this year] and frozen vegetables work just fine. A Superbowl party, an entertainment industry award event, basketball playoffs, the Stanley Cup . . . [do they do something for baseball?] or just because. Or you could just set up a Make Your Own Layered Taco Dip Bar for a family dinner, like I've shown here.
My brilliant friend Cathy, upon hearing all about the salsas I've been making, suggested I host a Salsa and Margaritas party. I love the idea! Right now is hectic--along with putting up the garden bounty as it comes in fast & furious, I'm spending my energy helping my spouse deploy. The idea of a party is a wonderful thing to clean the house for look forward to, so I've scheduled one for later this year. I'll provide the house, my Cheater Margarita Smoothies and an assortment of salsas [and dogs, I also have an assortment of dogs--but they will be out of the way with the kids]. I will invite my guests to bring their favorite margaritas, guacamole or salsa, chips, or dessert. Let me know if you host one!

For more appetizers, please see my Awesome Veggie Apps and Snacks board on Pinterest. For more Layered Vegetable Appetizers, please check out my Clickable Collages of Recipe Suggestions page and scroll own past the beets. Finally, because I started this blog not to bury Caesar my recipes, I've got both a Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient and a drop down menu of ideas on the right sidebar. Want to know how to use this blog? Click here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Onion Mascarpone Grilled Naan Pizza

This easy yet elegant vegetarian pizza combines cream-tossed onions, feta and mascarpone cheese on a simple naan bread crust. Cooked quickly on the grill, you've got fancy flavors in a flash.

For other recipes using onions, please see my Onion Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. For other vegetarian pizzas, please see my Visual Pizza Recipe Index or my Friday Night Pizza Night Pinterest board.

While I am always inspired by the contents of my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box, the freezer, the fridge, and the pantry--sometimes I get additional inspiration for a recipe while I am in the shower. Sometimes I am inspired by my email inbox. Other times it is social media. When the Pizza Cipolla from Karen's Kitchen Stories came through my Facebook feed I was intrigued, and inspired.

First, it caught my eye because it is a pizza, and I make pizza nearly every Friday night. [With a son in the high school marching band the 10-12 weeks of football season are a slight aberration.] Second, I happened to have 2 bags of onions lying around. It's August, I'm canning, and in a fit of 'what if I run out?' I sent said son to the grocery store for 'better make that 2 bags!' of red onions to supplement the pint in the farm share box. [Said son did not mind--he know he can buy a coffee with the change, and he's got plenty of room on his wheelchair for packages.] Third, I'd bought a bunch of heavy cream and mascarpone cheese to make this delightful Low Carb Mascarpone Mousse by Carolyn of All Day I Dream About Food. [It is delicious, even if you're NOT looking for a diabetic-friendly dessert for a luncheon honoring someone living with diabetes.] Since I had the right stuff for a good topping, I was all set.

Except, as I mentioned, it's August. I'm canning tomatoes. [So far I've made crushed tomatoes, salsa, and pizza sauce. My plants are nearly dead--some weird brown leaf fungus this year--so I will end up bringing in the rest to ripen in the house and can later.] I had no desire to a) fuss with pizza dough or b) turn on the oven. Instead, I opened the freezer and fired up the grill. [Did you notice all the packages of naan in this photo of my freezer?] With an easy crust, I used Karen's pizza topping and added a bit more white stuff--mascarpone, feta, and shredded Italian blend cheese--to make a very easy, elegant, vegetarian pizza.

One thing I probably should have done--grabbed some fresh thyme. I've got plenty in the garden but walking into my backyard these days is kind of a minefield. [Not the 'you've got 3 dogs minefield' or the 'we've marked the cleared path and don't recommend you step off the marked area, Lt' minefields, either.] It's more like the If You Give A Mouse A Cookie minefield. If I walk into the garden to get fresh thyme, I'm going to stop to check the progress of the volunteer squash vines taking over the patio. I'll notice a few baby zucchini and make a mental note to pick them later in the week. Then I'll see a bunch of peppers ready to be pickled and scoop up a handful. Even though my daughter harvested tomatoes the day before, there will be more to add to my arms. Walking back into the house to get a basket I'd trip over the now baseball bat-sized zucchini and smash my face into an impromptu salsa. I chose to use dried thyme to avoid that fate.