Tag Archives: Cheese

Summer Squash Tacos

Veggie tacos are a great way to use up lots of produce because you can put almost anything spicy in a tortilla and- voila!- tacos!  These tacos combine traditional harvest vegetables- sweet corn, summer squash, onions- with spicy peppers, tart lime, and salty Cotija cheese.  The squash and peppers in these are straight out of this week’s Greenling Local Box.  I had onions and limes on hand from previous deliveries, and the corn was a surprise!

Let me explain.  The “surprise me!” is an under-publicized item on the Greenling website, and one of my favorite ways to stretch my grocery budget. When you add a $2 “surprise me” item to your shopping cart, Greenling will include a portion of whatever they have extra of that day.  Sometimes it’s produce, sometimes eggs, sometimes cheese or other artisan treats. The “surprise me” item is listed in the fruit and vegetable areas of the website, or you can just search for “surprise” and find it that way. Last week I added two “surprise me” items to our Local Box order and I got 2 ears of sweet corn and a few beets.  Even though I didn’t plan for those items, it has been easy to fit them into my meal plan and I saved several dollars over the regular price of the produce.  Okay, public service announcement over– I hope you enjoy these delicious tacos!

Summer Squash Tacos (serves 2, doubles or triples easily)
Adapted from “Veggie Tacos” by Elise Bauer on SimplyRecipes.com

Filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 ear sweet corn, cut off the cob
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 summer squash, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/2 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Tortillas and toppings:
4 tortillas
4 very thin slices jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija cheese (Feta or Chevre works well, too)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and peppers; cook until onions are translucent and peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add corn, squash and dried seasonings, and cook for about 3 minutes, until corn starts to get tender and squash is heated through. (I like the corn to be crunchy!) When veggies have reached desired tenderness, add chopped cilantro to the skillet and stir to distribute. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

For toppings, chop fresh cilantro and jack cheese into chunks.  Heat tortillas individually with a little oil in a skillet, or by wrapping the stack of  tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwaving for about 10 seconds.  Spoon vegetable filling into warm tortillas and top with jack cheese and cilantro.  Crumble a little Cotija cheese over the top, and garnish with a squirt of fresh lime juice.  I like to serve these by stacking the tortillas on top of each other and putting the whole mound of toppings on top.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

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Zucchini Breakfast Bites

These savory breakfast bites evolved from a  Crustless Zucchini Pie recipe I found on allrecipes.com a few months ago, and they have become one of my favorite healthy snacks.  Although they look like muffins, their texture is similar to firm quiche.  I like to make a big batch of these on Sunday night and store them in the fridge for on-the-go breakfasts during the week.  This recipe freezes well, too, so it’s a good way to use up extra summer squash.  If you prefer a casserole to these portable muffins, use two 9-inch pie plates and increase the baking time to 35 minutes.

Zucchini Breakfast Bites (yields 24 muffins)
1 large onion, about 3/4 cup diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, about 3 cups shredded
1 cup baking mix*
1 tablespoon dried dill weed or minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mild cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Grate squash with a hand grater or food processor.  Put shredded squash in a potato ricer to drain out as much liquid as possible.  No potato ricer?  Let the squash sit in a mesh strainer for half an hour before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tins with paper liners. (Don’t skip this– these will stick to muffin tins and make your life miserable.)  Beat 4 eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  Divide batter evenly between 24 muffin cups and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until muffins are firm and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool breakfast bites on wire racks. Store completely cooled breakfast bites in an airtight plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week.

*Either regular or gluten free baking mix work well here.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Central Texas Cheeses with Red Pepper Relish

Tonight’s dinner was one of the best kind: romantic, inexpensive, and no cooking involved.  I bought all the ingredients for this cheese plate from Wheatsville Co-op and Greenling, but you can find Texas artisan cheeses and fresh produce at almost any farmers’ market in Austin.  The whole presentation was ready from fridge to table in less than 10 minutes, except for the pepper relish which I made the night before.

Tip: Wheatsville Co-op will often place very small pieces of local and other sustainably-produced cheeses in a basket together in the cheese cooler.  These odds and ends are typically less than $2 each and they’re a great way to try new cheeses and plan a sustainable, ultra romantic date night for under $10.

Red Pepper Relish (yields about one cup)
6-8 sweet or hot bell peppers, seeded and cored
1 yellow onion
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Chop the vegetables and put them in a medium saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving.

The texture of this relish is not as thick as commercially processed relishes which use cornstarch or corn syrup for consistency.  If prepared correctly, the peppers are soft and sweet, and the relish will be about the consistency of pancake syrup.  It’s terrific on sandwiches, in tuna salad, and served as a dip over top of cream cheese or chevre.

Cheese Grits

Today I went to a brunch hosted by my new friends Grechen and Cassiday where I met lots of wonderful Austin bloggers! Although it was only the second time I’d been to an event, this group meets about once a week to chat, network, and eat good food.  Most of the ladies who lunch/brunch are fashion bloggers so when I see them I have to restrain myself from asking them annoying questions about accessories.  (Can I wear leggings with flats? In September in Austin??)

Anyways, at this brunch I ate some terrible cheese grits.  Everyone knows that cheese grits should be tender and creamy, but these were flaky and dry. Lame! I have been so irritated all afternoon about these grits that I decided to make them for dinner tonight.  Here’s to you, ladies!

Cheese Grits (serves 2)
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chicken broth (vegetarians, sub water or milk)
1/2 cup grits or cream of buckwheat
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 centimeters jalapeno, minced (I left the seeds in)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

I have a little corn allergy, so I like to use cream of buckwheat instead of hominy grits for this recipe.

1. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil in a saucepan.  Meanwhile, mince the garlic and jalapeno. Add to saucepan.

2. Once liquid is boiling add the grits and lower the heat to medium low. Whisk constantly until the grits are creamy and thick, about 10 minutes. This one boils over easily and it will scorch if you use milk, so pay attention and stir away!

3. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, whisking until completely melted. Season and serve immediately.


Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Kraft macaroni and cheese, never again!  Thanks to Pioneer Woman, I found a delicious recipe for Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese and decided to puree our Greenling squash this week to make the recipe.  Here’s what I ended up cooking:

(Sorta) Healthier Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

  • 3 cups Small Whole Wheat Pasta (Shells, Elbow Or Piccolini)
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Wheat  Flour
  • ¾ cups Skim Milk
  • ½ cups Butternut Squash Puree
  • 1-1/4 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ⅛ teaspoons Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoons Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk flour and melted butter together for 4 minutes; mixture will thicken and resemble glue. (YUM!) Add milk gradually, whisking constantly, until liquid is warmed through and light brown. Next, add the squash puree and whisk until combined, followed by the cheeses.  Remove sauce from heat and continue to whisk until everything is smooth and creamy.  Whisk in seasonings, adding cayenne to taste.  By now the pasta will be done; drain and shake off excess water.  Stir pasta and cheese sauce together in a serving dish. Garnish with paprika.

Bacon. Wrapped. Dates.

Today my mom’s going to teach us to make bacon wrapped dates! This recipe makes a dinner portion for four very naughty football fans, but it could feed eight to twelve guests at a cocktail party if it were paired with other hors d’ouevres and booze.

First, gather the ingredients you need:

  • 24 pitted dried dates, medjool if you’re feeling fancy
  • 12 slices of bacon, applewood smoked if you’re feeling fancy
  • stinky cheese crumbles. We used feta, but bleu cheese is good, too
  • toothpicks. Don’t use cheap, splintery ones!
  • salt & pepper

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Next, use a knife to cut your bacon slices in half. If you’re on a budget, you can get more bang for your buck by slicing the bacon slices in thirds and increasing the number of dates accordingly. We were feeling indulgent, so halves it is.

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After this, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Mom couldn’t find a cookie sheet with sides in this kitchen, so she chose to use a pyrex casserole instead. I wasn’t going to argue with her, she’s my momma.

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Once your bacon’s cut, your oven’s hot, and you’re pan’s foiled, you’re ready to stuff the dates with cheese and wrap them up in the bacon.  They’re like little, delicious gifts, when you finish with this step.

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Since your dates are pitted, there’s already a convenient little hole where you should stuff the cheese.  Just make a slit in the date with the knife, smush in a stinky cheese crumble or two, and close up the slit.

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Dried dates are pretty soft and sticky, so you’ll be able to smooth the slit shut with your fingers. It’s like mother nature wants us to stuff stinky cheese in our dates.

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Now for the fun part.  Grab yer stuffed date and yer bacon slice, then wrap yer bacon around yer date.

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Then you stick yer toothpick through the whole thing. Make life easy by pushing the toothpick completely through the bacon wrapped date but no further.  That way there will be one long toothpick end attached to the date, which you can use as a convenient handle to place the date in your foiled pan.

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Once all your dates are stuffed, wrapped, and speared, you should arrange them so they are evenly distributed throughout the pan.  Ideally, none of them will touch too much.  Finally, sprinkle the dates liberally with salt and pepper.  You won’t regret it.

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Now it’s time to bake the dates.  Put them in your preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the bacon has browned and appears crispy.  Whatever you do, don’t neglect your dates! Keep an eye on ’em and turn them every 15 minutes or so.

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To turn the dates, take the pan out of the oven and use the toothpicks to rearrange them and rotate them in the pan.  It’s easier to do this if the toothpick handle is long, as Mom instructed earlier in the recipe.  Heads up: These dates burn easily if forget to turn them or leave them in the oven too long.  Don’t do that!  If you used thin cut bacon or 1/3 slices, your dates might be cooked sooner than 30 minutes.  Thick cut bacon takes longer.

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Once the bacon’s brown and crispy looking, plate your dates. Mom recommends letting them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before taking this final step. Enjoy!