Greek Stuffed Tomatoes, SRC September

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

So.. excuse me but I’m a little busy getting MARRIED RIGHT NOW! Like, not even kidding, as this is posting at midnight on 9/1, my wedding will be just wrapping up (and the after party will be starting of course). Isn’t that crazy?!  I SOMEHOW still found time this week to not only cook a fun recipe but to blog about it for you for the Secret Recipe Club!  Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures on facebook and instagram this coming week 🙂

For those of you who are new to the blog (shoutout to the new work friends!), The Secret Recipe Club is an awesome program I’m in where every month, I’m assigned a new blogger in the program.  I get to visit their site and check out some new recipes.  Then, I have to make one of their recipes and blog about it!  We all do the same thing and post on the same day.  It is awesome to try new things and read about everyone else’s experiences!

This month, I was assigned to check out Francesca’s blog, Della Cucina Povera.  She is amazing!  I could not decide what to make because all of her recipes sounded so yummy and also her photography is GORGEOUS.  Francesca has such an interesting background which I’m sure attributes to her creative recipes… she is an Italian-Iranian-American living in Amsterdam.  WOW.  I’m also super jealous of all of her travels!  Due to my serious decision making issues… I also tried her Carmelized Onions & Blue Cheese Pasta… holy cow it was so good!   I’m also making these Lamb Meatballs next… omg.

just AWESOME blue cheese pasta recipe.  So simple but so good.

just AWESOME caramelized onions & blue cheese pasta recipe. So simple but so good.

For now though, let me share with you these crazy good Greek Stuffed Tomatoes!

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

4-6 Large Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon + 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, grated

bunch of Fresh Mint, chopped

1/2 cup Brown Jasmine or Basmati Rice (cook it ahead of time if you can!)

Salt & Pepper

a few Red Potatoes, chopped

1/2lb Ground Turkey (I would so use lamb but I didn’t have any!)

Directions:

1.  Rinse tomatoes and cut off the tops.  Using a spoon, take the insides out making sure not to scoop all the way to the skin.  Place the tomato pulp into a foodprocessor or blender and pulse.  Place hollowed-out tomatoes in a baking dish and surround with potatoes.

2.  Saute the grated onion in the first Tablespoon of EVOO.   Add the ground meat (whatever you use) and saute, chopping.  Continue until the meat is almost cooked through.  Add the tomato pulp, mint, and cooked rice to the pan.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until the meat is done. 

3.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Fill each tomato and replace the “lid”.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the tomatoes and add salt and pepper to the potatoes.

4.  Bake for about 45 min – 60 min, or until the “lids” start to brown.

Recipe from:  Della Cucina Povera, Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffin' ingredients ready to do work!

Stuffin’ ingredients ready to do work!

Tom's surrounded by Po's... not too bad!

Tom’s surrounded by Po’s… not too bad!

The crispy, crunchy, delicious finished product!

The crispy, crunchy, delicious finished product!

Even the potatoes were outrageous

Even the potatoes were outrageous

Fresh Mozz, Organic Jersey Tomato, & Basil Pizza

I did it.  I made my first homemade pizza.  And let me tell you, it’s life changing.

In order to avoid missing out any longer, I’ve done what I do best (made a list) of why homemade pizza will be my new “thing”:

1.  First and foremost- it tastes AMAZING

2.  It’s so EASY!

3.  It takes LESS TIME to cook than most other dinners I’ve ever made.

4.  DAVE loved it.

5.  You can make it with whatever you want!  CREATIVITY strongly encouraged.

So I have been reading so many of my favorite bloggers raving about their pizza recipes for a while now.  What finally pushed me over the edge was this picture…

mozzarella-heirloom-tomato-basil-pizza-ck-l

… right?!

I saw this and immediately had to try it out.  The original recipe called for Heirloom Tomatoes which I fully intended to use until I saw the display of bright red Organic Jersey tomatoes practically calling out my name.  I couldn’t resist.

Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Jersey Tomato, & Basil Pizza

Ingredients:

1 Pre-Made Pizza Crust**

1 cup fresh Basil leaves + 2 Tbsp for garnish

6 cloves of Garlic

3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (divided!)

4oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese- thinly sliced

2 Organic Jersey Tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Directions:

1.  Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.  Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in the oven.  Preheat to 500, keeping the stone or baking sheet in the oven.

3.  Place basil, garlic, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a mini food processor (I used our Magic Bullet for the first time in 3 years).  Pulse a few times to form a paste.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil and pulse until smooth.

4.  Roll dough as large as possible (14 inches or so), on a floured surface.  Piece entire surface with a fork.  Carefully remove the stone or baking sheet from the oven and arrange the dough on the surface.  Spread the basil mixture over the dough.  Top evenly with cheese, tomatoes, and black pepper.  

5.  Bake at 500 for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is browned and crisp.  Top with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sliced fresh basil and sea salt.  (Crushed red pepper an an extra little drizzle of EVOO optional!)

Recipe adapted from:  Cooking Light

**So I don’t feel like I’m cheating because the original recipe says you should use refrigerated dough.  Maybe one day I’ll make my own, but for now, I’ll recommend using Trader Joe’s dough.  I also have to admit that for this pizza I used dough from Lazaro’s- a famous pizza place in Philly down the street from us.  I just had to.  YUM**

I could sit here and rave about the pizza, but it might be more fun to just shut up and let you look at some really naughty pizza porn.  I think that’s what we’ll do.  ENJOY!

P1020039

Since this is only my first pizza- I don't even have a rolling pin!  Will have to add that to my list this year :)

Since this is only my first pizza- I don’t even have a rolling pin! Will have to add that to my list this year 🙂

Was able to use my mandolin for the second time ever!  Cut these gorgeous tom's perfectly!  (I also used it for the Mozz)

Was able to use my mandolin for the second time ever! Cut these gorgeous tom’s perfectly! (I also used it for the Mozz)

Fork'd dough!

Fork’d dough!

Delightful basil sauce... so bright!

Delightful basil sauce… so bright!

Ready to pop in the oven

Ready to pop in the oven

golden crust...

golden crust…

So much flavor!  Love the globs of fresh mozz...

So much flavor! Love the globs of fresh mozz…

MMMMMMMM!

MMMMMMMM!

And hey… look… it’s Meatless MONDAY!

Chicken Tomato Soup w/ Gorganzola

Oh right, I forgot about you.

It’s again been way too long since I’ve last blogged about all of the fabulous things I’m cooking up.  Life has been crazy with the Holidays, moving, New Years, Stella, and just all around too busy for blogging (and even sometimes too busy for cooking!).

Last night, I came home from work and was determined to put something together that was easy enough to share with you.

I turned to my handy dandy cookbooks of recipes I’ve saved to try, and picked out this soup recipe from an old Cooking Light magazine.  It’s rare that I follow recipes word for word, but for this recipe I did- just another reason it’s so easy.

Chicken Tomato Soup w/ Gorganzola

Original from:  Cooking Light 

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Minced Garlic

1 cup Celery, diced

1 teaspoon (ish) Crushed Red Pepper

3/4 lb (I used 2 Breasts) Shredded Cooked Chicken**

1 can Diced Tomatoes, undrained

14 oz Fat Free Low Sodium Chicken Broth

1/2 cup Gorganzola Cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1.  Heat Olive Oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add Garlic and saute for one minute.  

2.  Add Celery, Crushed Red Pepper, and Cooked/Shredded chicken.  Cook for 6 minutes stirring until it’s heated through.  

3.  Add tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes.  Serve and sprinkle with Gorganzola.

**I wanted to mention that this recipe is super simple but it does ask for pre-cooked chicken.  I didn’t see this and had to turn off the oil/garlic while I cooked my chicken real quick.  I wanted to make sure you noticed this!**

Yummy Hunk O Blue Cheese!

Yummy Hunk O Blue Cheese!

This soup was great for leftovers too!

This soup was great for leftovers too!

 

So, the soup was surprisingly awesome.  I was skeptical at first, thinking it was too simple, but the broth is REALLY good!  I couldn’t believe I didn’t need any other seasonings besides the red pepper.  The only thing I’d say is that this took no time to cook- so be hungry when you get started!  I also would add more Gorganzola next time (I think I WAY underestimated!).  YUM!

I hope you all had a very happy new year, and I can’t wait to get my life together so I can bring more recipes and restaurant reviews to you!

Here are some other recipes you may like:

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Purple Pesto Chicken w/ Tomatoes

Present Beth would like to give a big shoutout to Past Beth for freezing lots of leftover Purple Pesto.  Back when I brought home this pretty Purple Basil from the farmers market in Baltimore, I decided to freeze the leftover Pesto I made using it into little individual Tablespoon packages.  I wrapped them separately with some Plastic Wrap and kept them all together in a Sandwich Bag.  This was a great thing to use to make a normal, boring chicken dinner into something fabulous!

Purple Pesto Chicken w/ Tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 Chicken Breasts, sliced in half to make thinner and then into half again to make into smaller strips

Salt, Pepper

2 Tablespoons Purple Pesto (recipe below, or store bought pesto sauce)

1 Large, Ripe Tomato

1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I used reduced fat Cheddar, that was all we had)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.  Place the raw chicken into the baking dish in one layer.  Sprinkle with Sea Salt and Black Pepper.  Put the baking dish in the oven.  Let cook for 8 minutes.

2.  Place the frozen pesto in a small saucepan with a few drops of Olive Oil.  Heat, or open up your store-bought pesto.  Slice your tomatoes to make 8 pieces or more if you’d like.

3.  Remove the chicken from the oven, flip and cook for another 5-8 minutes depending on thickness of chicken.  Take the baking dish out of the oven, add a little bit of Pesto to the top of each piece… then add tomato… and a sprinkle of cheese.  Put back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melty.

Purple Pesto Recipe:
Ingredients:
2 Cups Purple Basil Leaves, stems removed, rinsed, dried.
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
¼ Cup – ½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (what I used) Cheese
¼ Cup – ½ Cup Sunflower Seed Oil (or other oil)
½ Cup Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Salt, Pepper
 Directions: 
Put the basil and sunflower seeds in the food processor.  Blend for 30 seconds or until the basil no longer takes up most of the space.  Add ¼ cup of Oil to start (you can always add more) and ¼ Cup of Cheese (again, you can always add more).  Blend in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, more cheese or oil if you need to.

Check out those Tomatoes… perfect.

We ate this dinner with a small salad on the side.  It would go great with pasta if you’d like, but I really liked how light the meal was with just the chicken.  What else should I make with my leftover Pesto?!  Yum, yum, yum!

 

Goat Sausage & Peppers

 

We ate GOAT!  Although I’d like to feel super brave for doing this… honestly goat did not taste any different than any other meat I’ve ever tried.

The Goat came from a vendor called Many Rocks Farm @ the JFX Farmers Market in Baltimore (so did this week’s Purple Basil!).  Donny suggested we try it, and the vendor told us that the Goat Chorizo Sausage was a great bet “if we like spicy”… duh.

(Goat) Sausage & Peppers

A recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Serves:  4 Sandwiches, with some sausage/peppers leftover!

Ingredients:

4 Fresh Hoagie Rolls

2 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped into small strips

2 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped into small strips

1 Onion, sliced on the thinner side

1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic

Olive Oil Spray (or 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil)

4 links Goat Chorizo Sausage (or other sausage!)

1 Can Tomato Paste

1 Can Tomato Sauce

Fresh Basil (I used maybe 12 leaves, chopped)

Italian Seasoning Blend, Red Pepper Flakes (optional) Salt, Pepper, Asiago Cheese (Grated)

Directions:

1.  Heat a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the Olive Oil Spray, then the garlic, onions and peppers.  Sprinkle with just a touch of salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally and let cook for 10-12 minutes. 

2.  Meanwhile, cut the sausage into small circles.  Try to keep the sizes the same so they cook evenly.  Once the peppers are starting to soften, add the sausage.  Cook for 5 minutes, then stir around or flip them to cook the sausage evenly. 

3.  Add the Tomato Paste, Sauce, Basil, Italian Seasonings, Red Pepper Flakes, and again- a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir around to combine.  Cook for another 5-8 minutes.  Take out a piece of sausage and cut it to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. 

4.  Carefully spoon onto dug-out hoagie rolls.  Top with desired amount of grated Asiago Cheese. 

 

So pretty! Lots and lots of peppers and onions cooking up first.

Peppers, Onions, Basil, Seasonings, and Sauce… gettin’ hotter!

These were so good! I want to make them again…

Dave and I were really surprised how much we liked the goat sausage!  Granted, if you put anything with tomato sauce and peppers, it will probably taste great… but we loved it.  The Chorizo had a nice kick too.  Believe it or not, goat is actually one of the healthiest meats out there.  I wished we lived closer and could get the Goat Sausage again. YUMMY!

I made a nice fresh TBM stack to go along side using Jersey Tomatoes and some super Fresh Mozz. My new fav. salad.

The saucy finished product

 

Sriracha-Tomato Jam

OMG!!! OMGOMGOMGOMG!!  I LOVE this recipe!!!!  

I found this recipe not too long ago from one of my favorite bloggers, Gabi who writes a really great blog called Broke-Ass Gourmet.  I’ve had it saved for a while now and have been dying to make it.  I’m sooooo glad I did… it turned out awesome.  I have a feeling I’ll be making it again very soon once my certain someone comes home from Vancouver!

MMM!

Sriracha-Tomato Jam

A Recipe by:  BrokeAss Gourmet

Ingredients:

2lbs Ripe Jersey Tomatoes

½ Medium Onion, finely chopped

2/3 Cup Honey

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

3 teaspoons or more Sriracha

½ teaspoon Salt

Fresh Black Pepper

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 15-30 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Put into a different bowl in the sink and rinse with cool water so it’s easier to handle.  Slip the skin of the tomato off (Gabi reassured us it would come right off and they definitely do!).  Core, seed, and chop.

2.  Dump the hot water out of the large pot and add the chopped tomatoes, onion, honey, balsamic vinegar, Sriracha, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour or until there isn’t much liquid left.  Stir a few times to check on it.

Hot Hot Hot!!!  When I tried this on a cracker once it was done and a little bit cool, it was so F****** spicy!  I immediately regretted “ruining” another recipe trying to be tough and make things extra-spicy.  I used 4.5 teaspoons of Sriracha instead of 3… oye vey!

I was so happy the next day to taste it again and see that the heat definitely backed off since I had first made it.  It is spicy, for sure… but not only is it “edible” now… but it is FANTASTIC.

I have only eaten this spread on crackers so far, but I plan on making us some kind of fancy grilled cheese when Dave gets home.  I loved this and it was SO easy.

Thank you Gabi!!!

Peeling the tomatoes was a little bit creepy to me but I DID IT!

Everything goes into the pot at the same time. Couldn’t get much easier than that!

Here’s what it looked like when it was done.

Do you like the old-school Jelly Jar I used? I need to double the recipe and pick up some Mason Jars…. hmmmm

Healthy Dinner Idea: Steak, Baked Potato, & TBM

It’s hard to eat healthy and keep yourself interested in what you’re eating.  I know it’s easy to get stuck making the same things over and over again because they’re safe.  You know how many calories, or points, or whatever you count… and it’s not hard to get stuck in a dinner rut.

I have been trying to avoid this dinner rut by making new and exciting meals but keeping to my diet.  I make a lot of chicken, salmon, eggs, and tons of salads.  This week, I wanted to expand my horizons and try out steak.  

Of course, I love steak, and I’ve eaten it a million times… but with my new diet, and my the advice of John the Dietitian, I have to stick with lean beef– not the usual Rib Eye.  😦

The cut of meat I decided to try out first was a Top Sirloin Steak.  It was super cheap at the market, and I could see just by looking at it that there wasn’t much fat in it.  I marinated the steak in a gallon ziplock back for about an hour.  The marinade consisted of a little bit of Sunflower Oil (Trader Joe’s), Worcestershire Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, & Minced Garlic.  Pretty simple.  I cooked the steak in my new cast iron skillet, for maybe five minutes on each side.  I took the steak off and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

The steak was a little bit more tough than my typical Rib-Eye, but it was still really good.  The pieces that were on the rarer-side were even more delicious, so I might try to not overcook it next time.  I also would love to try an Asian marinade too!

Yummy steak!

Along with the steak, we baked some potatoes.  I was inspired by Robert Irvine’s Hasselback’s Roasted Potatoes that were featured on “Best Thing I Ever Made” which looked absolutely bomb.  (amazing) lol.  

Robert Irvine’s Hasselback Potatoes…. WOW! Wish mine came out that way… lol.

Since his potatoes are drenched in butter, basted with butter, then cooked with 3 Cheeses… I decided to just take his method from the Hasselbacks.  I sliced the potatoes 3/4 of the way down into several thin slices.  This opened up the potato which allows it to fully bake on the inside but get nice and crispy on the outside.  

First, I soaked the 3/4 of the way cut poatoes in a big bowl with lemon juice (plop the lemon in there too!).  This was also inspired by Robert Irvine and prevents the potatoes from turning color!  I also think it kept it nice and fluffy too.  When I was ready to bake them, I took them out, patted them dry, and sprayed them with just a touch of Olive Oil & Salt & Pepper.  Four of these were baked in the oven on 400 degrees ontop of a foil-lined baking sheet.   They turned out great.

Make sure you don’t slice them all the way through! They will open up just a crack when they bake.

Finally, in the grand story of this exciting new meal, I’ll tell you about the TBM. I actually happened to make these first!  I started this meal off with a nice, fresh , little salad topped with Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella.  

The tomatoes I used for this experiment were “Kumato“s.  From my recent Wegmans shopping trip, they’re just smaller tomatoes… they’re a little bit sweeter than Grape Tomatoes and have a reddish-brown color.  I love them.  

They might be “ugly” tomatoes, but they’re so sweet

I stacked slices of the Kumatos with a small square of fresh Part-Skim Mozzarella, and small Basil leaves.  They were finished off with a splash of Balsamic Vinegar & just a pinch of Sea Salt & Pepper.  For showing-off-to-you-people purposes, I held it all together with a basil-topped toothpick.  MMM!

How pretty! Super easy too…

Finished product

Do you have a meal that you’ve recently tried for the first time?  – OR – Do you normally keep to the same rotation of dinners?  

How cute is Miss Stella?! She’s snuggling with her crab stuffed animal. Had to throw this one in there!