Zucchini & Feta Pie

DSC_1032

This is such a perfect summer dinner! Zucchini is usually so large and beautiful in the summer. And if you or a family member has a garden, you know that it is abundant this time of year. People are giving it away, begging everyone they know to take some! Try this dish, which features the zucchini itself, instead of relegating it to the side like usual! We’re always trying to find a new way to eat zucchini – we probably zoodle it more often than necessary! {“Chicken Lo Mein” ZoodlesZoodles with Roasted ChickpeasCaliente Chicken & ZoodlesFrench Onion Chicken ZoodlesMediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad}

Oh and side note. Please feel free to make your own pie dough. I’m sure it would be better than my freezer-case dough, but I was just not feeling making my own today! And see our Spinach & Feta Gözleme recipe for my rant about feta cheese. Go try some delicious, not pre-crumbled feta today!

DSC_0001

Zucchini & Feta Pie

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • Pre-made pie dough
  • 6oz feta cheese
  • Fresh basil, chopped
Instructions: 
  1. Place all of the sliced zucchini in a colander over the sink and toss with salt. Allow to sit and dehydrate while preparing the onions.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the sliced onions and toss to coat the onions with the butter.
  4. Saute onions until caramelized, stirring occasionally and covering with pan’s lid in between stirrings. [Truly caramelized onions take AT LEAST 30 minutes, if not more like an hour! I get most of my cooking tips from The Kitchn, you should too!]
  5. Follow the directions on your pre-made dough. Spray a pie pan and place the dough in there to line it. (If the packaging indicates your dough should be baked for more than 30 minutes at 375 degrees, go ahead and pre-bake it a little bit.)
  6. When onions are done, place them in the pie pan, forming the bottom layer of the pie.
  7. Add the sliced zucchini to the pan that held the onions and cover for just 2 minutes, so they soften up a little bit.
  8. Place a layer of zucchini on top of the onions.
  9. Follow this with a layer of scattered feta chunks, followed by another layer of zucchini, more feta, and lastly, a layer of zucchini. Sprinkle some chopped basil through the layers.
    • To recap: layer 1 – onions; layer 2 – zucchini; layer 3 – feta; layer 4 – zucchini; layer 5 – feta; layer 6 – zucchini.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
  11. Top with a little bit more fresh basil.
Serves 3 as a main dish; 6 as a side.

Hot Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

DSC_0976.jpg

When I think about a dinner that screams SUMMER! – for whatever reason, my go-to is fish with a fruit salsa. I don’t know about y’all, but I always am more interested in fish in the summer – I can mentally transport myself to the ocean and pretend that fish just got hauled in a few minutes beforehand. And as for fruit salsa, that’s kind of a no-brainer. Who doesn’t appreciate the sweet, juicy bounty of summer harvest fruits? As you can see from one of our first recipes from last summer, I have a template when making a dish like this. Salmon (my favorite fish of the easily-accessible-at-the-grocery-store varieties) + spicy flavoring on the salmon + cool, juicy, & sweet contrasting salsa. Hey – if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

DSC_0972.jpg

Hot Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

(Salmon inspired by Little Spice Jar blog)
Ingredients: 
  • Salmon
    • 2 salmon portions (~5-6oz each)
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp hot sauce (we used Frank’s)
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 5 turns fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • Pinch of ancho chili powder
  • Salsa
    • 2 cups diced pineapple
    • 1/2 medium onion, diced
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 3 tbsp lime juice
    • 3 turns fresh ground black pepper
    • Pinch of salt
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until time to eat.
  2. Whisk together all of the ingredients under the salmon bullet, except the salmon itself.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Place the salmon portions on a piece of foil large enough to fold around the salmon.
  5. Paint the hot sauce mixtures on all sides of the salmon.
  6. Close the foil around the fish, pinching the edges closed.
  7. Bake on a cookie sheet for ~15 minutes. [FDA recommends a safe minimum temperature of 145 degrees F.]
  8. Open the foil and turn oven to broil. Broil, which watching closely, for just a minute or two to crisp up the top.
  9. Serve salmon with salsa on top.
Dinner for two. There is a lot of salsa – we intended it to be a topping/side dish, but it’s plenty to serve with 4 or 6 portions of fish.

Slow Cooker Cider Brats

fallleaves
Fall leaves, looking towards the Blue Ridge Mountains ❤ ❤ ❤

Not going to lie. I’m mildly obsessed with fall. It’s my favorite season. I may or may not have mentioned this in pretty much all of our posts since the beginning of October. Since this is our first fall in South Carolina, I’m learning that fall comes slowly down here. It’s halfway through the month; the majority of the leaves are still green and we’ve hit the upper 80s several days this week! Ho hum. But fall peeks through now and then. We’ve carved some pumpkins. We’ve made and eaten chili. I’ve worn jeans a few times (albeit with short sleeve tops and sandals…) There are decorative gourds topping every surface in our house. Our neighbors are rockin’ some Halloween window decorations and fake spiderwebs. And best of all, we’ve turned off the A/C and had the windows open for several days!!

So when thinking about making some brats for dinner tonight, I logically wondered how I could make them “fall brats.” Because the traditional and perennially delicious, grilled, topped with mustard, peppers, and onions, tailgate brats apparently don’t scream fall loudly enough for me? (Could have something to do with the fact that we don’t have a grill…)

ciderbrats

Peeking in the fridge/brainstorming, I noticed a bottle of my favorite cider.

[Side note: if you have access to Bold Rock cider, you should check it out. They distribute pretty much only in the Mid-Atlantic. As of today, you can find Bold Rock ciders in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They have a variety of ciders for your tasting pleasure. My personal favorites are the Virginia Apple, which is a bit more tart, thanks to its origins as a Granny Smith apple, and their drier, champange-style ciders. And if you want to make an amazing and low-key road trip out of it, you should check out their Cider Barn in Nelson County, Virginia. It’s a gorgeous (especially in the fall!) and fun place to visit. Even better, you can combine your visit there with a trip to one of the many wineries and breweries in the area! (In all seriousness, if you want some suggestions of places to check out in the area, we love pointing people in the direction of our favorites!) End side note.]

Deciding to combine my favorite, quintessentially fall cider with these brats was an interesting experiment. I wanted the sweetness of the cider, but didn’t want to ruin the brats with a cloying sweetness. Hence the other ingredients. I think it worked out pretty well. For me, it definitely was a new, sweeter flavor profile. It’s interesting that there is still a strong “meaty” taste and smell, that is countered with the sweetness of apple cider. I think the other new and interesting part of the dish for me was the texture of the brats themselves. I’ve never had brats any way other than fresh off a grill or sauteed in a pan. They’re essentially braised in the crockpot, which gives them a softer texture, without that tautness you would normally feel biting through the sausage.

ciderbrats2

Slow Cooker Cider Brats

Ingredients: 
  • 5 large bratwursts
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 12oz bottle of ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the bratwursts.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ingredients from cider through black pepper. Whisk a few times to combine.
  3. Pour liquid over top of brats & veggies in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Serve however you’d like! Throw the brats and veggies on a bun like a traditional brat or serve them with a little bit of the liquid over top rice or lentils like we did. (I wasn’t really intending the liquid to be a “sauce,” which it’s not, but I enjoyed topping my bowl off with a bit of it.)

Finally Fall Chili

pumpkins

It’s finally fall!

We’ve been waiting through the hottest summer of our lives for the cooler temperatures to finally get here. We had to wait until October for all that, but at least my favorite month hasn’t disappointed yet.

pumpkins2

While it seems like everyone else marks the changing of the seasons with a pumpkin spice latte, that’s just not quite my style. (Selim isn’t a pumpkin spice latte guy either, but he is on his second tin of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice coffee of the month, just sayin’…) I do, however, require pumpkin carving and some chili to confirm the season change.

We had a great night of hanging out with our friends, pumpkin carving, and this perfect-for-fall chili. Please be impressed by our amazing pumpkin carving skills in addition to this slightly spicy, hearty chili.

chili2

Finally Fall Chili

Ingredients: 
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 orange bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 small ears of corn
  • 1 can (14oz) red kidney beans
  • 1 can (14oz) white kidney beans
  • 1 can (14oz) black beans
  • 1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp “regular” paprika
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Fresh-ground black pepper

chili

Instructions: 
  1. Slice the strips of bacon into very small lardons. Add to large pot, topped with 3 turns of black pepper, and cook over medium heat until the fat is released, ~ 5 minutes.
  2. Now add the diced onion. Cover the pot with its lid and sweat the onions for another ~5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, fish sauce, and beef. Stir occasionally, breaking up the ground beef. Continue cooking over medium heat until beef as browned.
  4. Now add all of the rest of the ingredients (vegetables, beans, herbs, & spices). Stir to combine well.
  5. Bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer for just 5 minutes and then turn heat down to low. Cover the pot and leave alone for an hour, or as long as you can! (We let ours go for 6+ hours.)

chili3

Serves 8-12.

Ancho Chili Salmon with Sweet Summer Salsa

This was an easily thrown together dinner from the other night. We almost always have salmon in the fridge and wanted to try something a little different to go with it. So basically, we looked at our fridge and fruit bowl, mixed a few ingredients together, and ended up with an awesome, repeat-worthy dinner!

The “salsa” could easily be modified to include whatever fruits you wanted. The fruits are so sweet and flavorful on their own that they barely need anything else.

IMG_2131

Ancho Chili Salmon with Sweet Summer Salsa

Ingredients: 

Salsa
  • 1 champagne mango
  • 1 peach
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 of a medium sized yellow onion
  • Juice from 1 small lime
  • Salt & pepper
Salmon
  • 2 salmon fillets (approximately 5-6oz each)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp Ancho chili powder

Instructions: 

  1. Remove salmon from refrigerator. You want it to be room temperature before cooking it.
  2. Chop fruit and vegetables. Dice the onion finely, but the others should be chopped in slightly bigger chunks. Toss with lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Mix all of the salmon spices in a small bowl. Heavily season the top of the two fillets.
  4. Set the oven to broil (low broil if your oven does that). Once hot, place the salmon fillets on foil and put in the oven directly on the top rack. Broil for approximately 10 minutes (may need less or more time depending on size of salmon fillets). Close oven door, but watch closely through the window so fish doesn’t burn.
  5. Serve salmon over top of the salsa.
Makes 2 servings.