RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Spinach

Parmesan Cheese Nests with Grilled Veggies

We needed to use up the veggie’s in the refrigerator and decided to do some grilled veggies.  I heated up the Panini Grill and misted the veggies with a little olive oil.  We had cherry tomatoes, sweet little peppers, asparagus, and red onions.  To top it off I sliced some garlic and fried it in a little olive oil.  Once the garlic is done place on paper towel to absorb some of the oil. 

The parmesan cheese nests are so easy.  First make the cheese bowls and then do the veggies.   To make the nests use about a half cup of parmesan cheese per bowl and put in a heated stainless skillet, spread the cheese a little.  When it is melted and a golden brown flip it onto an inverted bowl (I used cereal bowls.)  Then gently press the melted cheese around the bowl put aside until you have your veggies grilled. 

Mound two nice piles of spinach on grill when they are each browned some flip over and brown the same.  I left the cherry tomatoes whole, sliced the red onions and mini sweet peppers around ¼ inches thick.  Grill the asparagus whole, grilled each until you see the grill marks. 

What a nice mix with the drizzled balsamic vinegar.  We had some mushroom soup and bread sticks to finish off the meal….

I wanted to let everyone know that a friend of mine Geraldine, at My Real Life Reviews has some contests going on right now that gives away “free prizes!”  She has invited all of us to visit and to join in on the prize give-aways!  Hope to see you there!

I am still waiting for the face of spring….

Almost!

Nothing kills moss… here is deer moss or deer lichen.

Chicken Panini and Spinach Orange Salad

It been a long month so to speak, it is time to try to have a normal day in and day out life again.  As normal as can be at the present time… I have not been eating right and my body is telling me that I need something that is fresh, crunchy, something with a little zing to it… something a little different that we have not had in some time.

T went to the market yesterday and stocked up on all kinds of fresh fruit and veggies.  Produce is something that I have always been very keen on.  As a child and even as an adult I have been known to eat right out of the garden.   I love fresh produce, the fresher the better!  We had a wonderful roasted chicken the other night and then had a nice cob salad but still have a little left.  We need to think of something that can use the last of the left over’s and still be enjoyed… thank goodness T does not mind having the same thing several days in a row.

We neither one felt like cooking and wanted something easy, quick and with little clean up.  But we were both ready for something that would left us up so to speak.  I told him I would do dinner; he has been so good to me the last few weeks.  Not one complaint out of his mouth and making sure I have everything I would need and more.

I decided to make us a Chicken Panini… spinach, sliced chicken, some cranberry relish… nothing fancy just a simple sandwich.

Then I thought a Spinach Orange salad would be really good with… I had everything I needed… everything was so fresh it would be perfect.  The salad I decided to mix some romaine hearts and spinach together and throw in some red onion, cherry tomatoes, orange slices, pistachios, to bad T forgot to get an avocado… it will not be missed.  With the Orange Salad Dressing I make it will be perfect.  It has lots of zing that we need to help left our spirits… it would put it out of the park that is for sure.  Late this evening after dinner I was trying to get caught up on my blogs and commenting and found that someone had the same thing in mind… a different version than mine but it sure looks look too!  Check it our at Chef in disguise, her looks incredible!

Orange Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon Lemon Pepper… can use fresh ground black pepper too
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon French Grain Mustard
  • Shredded Apple Smoked Gruyère Cheese for topping (not mixed in dressing)

Put everything into a jam jar (or such) and put the lid on tight (that is important… I know) and give it a really good shake.

The salad did not let us down and the  panini’s were perfect.  Everything united together to make one spectacular dinner.  We were both pleasingly surprised.  T said I could cook for him anytime….

‘Ninnie being Ninnie’ Things have not been normal around here and animals do pick up on when you are sick or down and such.  She has followed me around like a dog and wants to make me happy, she has even been sleeping at my feet at night, I think she thinks she has done something wrong… we all know better!  Today she got lots of love and was so happy until the high winds started and then rain was added to the mix… she decided to sleep through it all.  She is not a happy camper when the weather does not cooperate and she cannot go in and out a gazillion times!  Look at her wrapped up in her own little goodness!

Spinach, Cherry Tomato, Feta Bruschetta with Blackberry Balsamic Syrup

 

One of the things I dearly love to start a dinner party with is Bruschetta, it always brings with it conversation.  Happy conversation with lots of explicatory expressions and too the added wonderful ooh’s and aah’s!  It makes me feel so good!   The variables are as many as you could possibly think up and then add some more.  It is one of those things that goes well with wine and most any kind of drink before dinner.  It is also good as part of a dinner, I love it with a salad or soup… it is as endless of what you can serve this with as the variables of how to make Bruschetta.  I also have been known to eat just Bruschetta when I do not have an appetite, almost always it is just what I needed.

Lemon-Garlic-Herb Dressing   

     Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon mix of chopped basil, oregano, thyme (this can be one or a mix of all three or even other herbs… your choice I prefer to use fresh, but you can use dried, just remember it does not take as much they are more intense in flavor!)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice (I go very light on the lemon mix because of using the blackberry balsamic vinegar later, just a hint)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Flake Sea Salt to taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

I put all the ingredients in a pint size jar with a tight-fitted lid and shake thoroughly.  I usually have some in the refrigerator or make this the morning I need.

I learned something as a young bride.  I had no idea about herbs… fresh or died.  I was finally enlightened… if you did not know about how much seasoning  to add…  then to your mix add just a pinch and taste, you will know if you want more or not and add a pinch more and taste just remember you can never take away a herb once it is added.  I did a lot of pinching and tasting those first few years!

For the spinach, tomato, red onion topping:

       Ingredients:

  • About 2 cups of assorted cherry tomatoes – I used red and yellow that I had on hand, halved (I quarter if large)
  • ½ small red onion sliced in ½ inch length about half that width
  • Fresh Basil or Oregano, Thyme (your choice, or even something else)
  • One loaf of Ciabatta Bread (I like to cut about 3-4 inch squares and then cut diagonally
  • One garlic clove peeled and halved
  • 3 Cups of steamed (de-stemmed) spinach
  • Feta Cheese
  • Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar

 

Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar

     Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

Put vinegars in sauce pot and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and reduce by half.  It should have a nice thickened-syrup consistency, will lightly cover a spoon.  Let cool and pour into a cruet or small pitcher.  You could also use one of the plastic dispensing bottles (it makes it easier-less messy to drizzle the blackberry balsamic Syrup on the Bruschetta.)

Combine the halved-quartered tomatoes, red onion, and drizzle with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing, set aside and let set at room temperature. You can make this in the morning, just refrigerate.  Preheat oven to 400˚when you are ready to bake-roast the tomatoes and red onions.

Steam the spinach.  Get the Ciabatta Bread sliced and take the halved garlic and rub on the top of each slice of bread.  Place the tomato mix on jelly roll pan, I sprinkle a little of the herb mix and just a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper on the tomato mix (does not take much you have already added to the tomatoes with the herb dressing.)  Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the skinned are starting to get browned and blistered, take out of oven.

Dip the jelly roll pan until the tomato-juices mixed with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing has went to the one end of the pan.  I set the tomato end of the pan at an angle on a folded pot holder so the juices kind of stay at the other end of pan.  I then take a pastry brush and brush each piece of the garlic-ciabatta bread with the tomato juices.  Place bread under broiler until the bread is nicely toasted.  Lay jelly roll pan with tomato mix flat so the juices blend again.

Put a layer of steamed spinach on the toasted ciabatta bread.  Top with some of the roasted tomatoes and onions.  Scatter some of the feta cheese on top, and then drizzle each with blackberry balsamic syrup.

Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and intensifies the taste with the lemon-garlic herb dressing adding to that blend the flavor of the feta cheese and the topper of all this is the blackberry balsamic vinegar, what a wonderful mix, united it is a fusion of nothing but pure ecstasy… definitely over the top!  It makes such a wonderful pairing of the whole and makes it so easy to savor every bite… it wakens up your taste buds from first bite.  This is something that I love to serve knowing full well that the instant my guests start eating I can see on their faces what they think of this Bruschetta….

Mom’s Tomato ~ Vegetable Sauce


Mom’s Tomato ~ Vegetable Sauce

This sauce is good for everything that needs a tomato sauce or base.

Ingredients:  

(you can add any veggies you like to this blend)

  • One quart or so of water ~ you can use broth
  • 2~3 Eggplants, nice size
  • 2~3 Yellow Squash
  • 2~3 Zucchini
  • Winter Squash ~ couple of nice size pieces of, (it takes a little longer to cook winter squash, so I cut it up a little smaller than the other veggies) I have not tried but am going to try adding pumpkin to the mix next time…
  • 6 or so Parsnips’
  • 8 or more carrots
  • Spinach, if I have any on hand I throw in as much as I have
  • 2 Large Onions Cut into Big Chunks
  • 6~8 Large Cloves of Garlic Smashed
  • Tomatoes ~ 8~12 diced ripe roma or so if you have, if not I add two quarts of stewed tomatoes

Let this cook, and when blended add the following per directions:

  • 1 can Tomato Paste
  • 2~4 Tablespoons of Tomato Powder, (depends on how much I am making)
  • 1 Quart of stewed Tomatoes or 1 large can of stewed or diced tomatoes, (this is in addition to the other two quarts you have already used)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves ~ sliced thin
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Basil, Parsley, Oregano, 1 Bay Leaf ~ each to your tastes, if you are not sure, add 1/2 Teaspoon first and taste and then adjust to your taste

I wash the outside of my veggies (you do not have to wash onion and garlic) with a mild mixture of Dawn Detergent and water.  Be sure to rinse off thoroughly.  Take off tops and remove any blemishes from the veggies.  I scrub the parsnips’ and carrots well (I do not peel).  Chop all the veggies into large chunks and place in 6 quart or larger pan.  I add about a quart or so  of water (you can use broth here if you want) then add the ripe diced roma tomatoes or stewed tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes you do not have to add as much water or broth there is liquid in the canned tomatoes,) which ever you are going to use.  Put lid on pan and when the water comes to a boil turn the heat down to medium heat and cook for at least thirty minutes or so just watch for the winter squash and parsnips to be really tender and the juices to boil down some.

When the winter squash and parsnips are real tender, and juices have boiled down some take off heat and let cool down some.  I do this in batches; I ladle the cooked veggies into my blender and only fill about half way and I am very careful when blending hot foods in the blender, I stop and release the cap a few times to release some of the heat so it does not blow up.  I blend to a puree consistency making sure I use all of the fluids in pan too.  It is okay if you have small pieces left in the blended sauce.

Once you have blended all of the cooked veggies and fluids put them back in pan add another quart of stewed tomatoes, if you do not have them a large can of stewed tomatoes can be added instead.  Add tomato powder now if you are using, you can add more tomato paste if you like to have more tomato taste if not using the tomato powder.   Add the tomato paste, sliced garlic cloves, sea salt and pepper to taste, the basil, parsley, oregano and bay leaf.   Return lid to pan and put on medium heat, when it starts to boil a little turn heat down to low and cook for about an hour or so with lid on.  Be sure to check on it often and do stir it once in a while, you do not want to scorch or burn this sauce.  All the work would be ruined.  The garlic will be real tender when it is done.

I cool it down and put in quart size bowls, except what I will be using with the meatballs today.  I place bowls in freezer and when frozen I then vacuum in FoodSaver bags and return to freezer.  It makes them very handy and I do not have to worry about freezer burn and such.  It is as fresh as the day I made it when I go to use any of it weeks later.

I have been eating this sauce for years, company always wants to know what brand it is and I tell them it’s ‘Mom’s Sauce.’  They always want the recipe, and are shocked at how easy it is to make.  I too tell them, it is 100% all veggie sauce with no additives and no sugar added.  I use ‘Mom’s Sauce’ for everything….

Pulled Pork Sliders with Grain Mustard Orange Sauce

We had a wonderful pork sirloin roast last evening.  I was trying to decide what to do with the left over’s and sliders came to mind.  An easy, quick dinner with little clean up.  I would make a salad for the side.  I love pork and orange together so decided to make a grain mustard-orange sauce to put on the pulled pork instead of the usual barbeque sauce.  It is a quick and easy sauce to make.  I was glad I decided to bring a little different blend/mix to the table.

Last evening before I put the left over pork in the refrig, I removed all fat; it takes little effort when it is still warm.  Today, I sliced the pork and put it in a steam basket.  It is much easier to heat the meat this way and two it steams off any leftover fat/grease all going to the water below the basket.

Once heated completely through I placed on a sheet pan and brushed on the grain mustard-orange sauce.  When everything was just about done I put this under the broiler until bubbly and just turning a golden color.

The rolls, I cheated, I used the frozen dinner rolls that you let rise until double and then bake.  I did not want to make a trip to the market, nor did I feel like making rolls from scratch.  I wanted a quick and easy dinner.  I baked them per package directions.  Once done I brushed them with a little melted compound butter with sage added.  They were the perfect size and really delicious.  They actually taste just like home made from scratch and they too fill the house with the smell of bread baking.

There are a few steps to make these little sliders but well worth it.  I made the rolls per package direction.  Once the rolls were in the oven I started first with the sauce. While it was simmering I got the meat cut and heating in the steam basket.  Then moved on to the fresh spinach beds for the bottom of the slider and peeled and sliced the oranges.  Once I had this done I put the orange slices on the griddler and the meat under the broiler.

Sauce ~ Grain Mustard – Orange Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ Cups Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice (can use regular orange juice)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Coarse Ground Mustard  (I used Grey Poupon)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, just a pinch

 

Mix all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan; bring to boil turn heat down.   l then simmered and reduced to about one cup of sauce.  I simmered mine for around 30 plus minutes, stirring once in a while to make sure it did not scorch.   It coated the spoon when done.

I then pealed two oranges’ making sure I removed all the pulp and sliced them a little thicker than a quarter inch, you want them all even in depth for cooking on the Panini/Grill press pan.  I put the slices on my Cuisinart Griddler and grilled until they were showing grill marks.

Bed of Salad:

Ingredients:

  • Around ½  Cup of Fresh Spinach Leaves sliced in quarter inch ribbons
  • 8-10 Cherry Tomatoes sliced in thirds
  • Purple Onion a few thin slices
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Fresh Ground Pepper

I cleaned and de-stemmed the spinach and then took the spinach leaves and stacked them on top of each other.   I sliced through all making ¼ inch wide ribbons.  The cherry tomatoes are cut in thirds and several thin slices of onions that are halved.  I mix all this in a bowl and put just a small pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Set aside until ready.

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 Oranges for slices
  • ½ cup Shredded Gouda ~ I used a Holland Import  Gouda Lite

Once I had the meat broiled, the rolls cooked, the sauce was ready and I had the spinach salad readied for the bed of the sliders, the oranges were grilled it was time to make the sliders.  Once I compiled the slider I then crowned each slider with some shredded Gouda Cheese.  The heat from the grilled orange slices helped to melt it some.  Each step of the way was easy, did not take much effort and well worth the little bit of work that needed to be done.

 

They were delicious, we enjoyed every bite and there were no leftovers.  We will do this again.  If you enjoy a spinach salad with orange slices with an orange mix dressing you will love these sliders.  Now the clean up….

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