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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recipes for Summer

As much as I love to cook, I hate cooking in the summer. Things have been sooo busy lately, that I barely am able to keep up. Ok, I'm NOT able to keep up.

On Sunday, we had a pot-luck (also known as a carry-in) for the MVAQN summer social. I made up this as my vegetarian offering (as someone who was a vegetarian for a number of years, I usually bring two items, one a vegetarian offering and another which isn't).

I had found a package of Harvest Grains Blend mix at Trader's Joe's. It is "a savory blend of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa." sounded healthy, but what to do with it? Hmmmm.

Here's what I did: (if you don't have access to a similar blend, just use orzo pasta, although I suppose you could also do it with rice).

Orzo Salad...or Harvest Blend Salad...or the grain of the moment

A half package, or about 8 oz. uncooked Harvest Grains Blend (or orzo, or rice) --cook it according to the directions. If you are not doing a vegetarian course, then you can cook it in chicken broth for extra flavor...or you could use a good quality vegetable broth.

2 medium tomatoes (more or less) coarsely chopped

4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled (I like to use the peppercorn one, but any Feta is good.).

1/2 c cup minced parsley

1/2 c. minced fresh basil leaves, or dill.

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (or bottled, but fresh is better)

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Italian dressing, or just add some more oil and a minced garlic clove and 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning or a mix of oregano, and marjoram to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

If you are using orzo, drain and rinse with cold water. Add tomato, Feta, parsley, basil (or dill). Combine remaining ingredients and pour over salad and toss. It's best if you let the flavors blend in the fridge overnight.

(Options: you could put in some cold chicken diced, and/or diced cucumber. This won raves from my family).

Last night, as well as Monday, I was enslaved to the princess following her around the mall as she did her back to school shopping. We ran home last night and what I intended to make was thrown out the window, but here's what I did REALLY quickly and it turned out good.

Pepper steak over Rice

1 1/2 pounds chuck roast or London broil, sliced very thin. Marinate this with 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar, 2 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce, three cloves garlic, and a dash of soy sauce and a dash of lemon juice. If you wanted, you could pump up the spice factor with a couple of spurts of hot sauce.

1 can diced tomatoes, either with Jalapeno (which is what I did) or Italian style

1 1/2 large onion ( didn't measure this, just threw it in)

2 Tbsp. oil

1 green pepper

three large fresh mushrooms or you could used canned

one large fresh tomato (it was sitting on the counter and needed to be used :) )

one small zucchini

1 Tsp. basil

Make a pot of rice, I used 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice and three cups water, this makes about three cups rice, and takes about 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, put the oil in the pan and quickly saute the beef, keep the marinade. When the beef is browned, remove the meat and set aside. Put in the onions and cook, I like to have them caramelized, but you can cook them less if you want. Add in the green pepper and the mushrooms. Cook a tiny amount and toss in the can of diced tomatoes and the marinade.

Put the meat back in and lastly, add in the zucchini. Cook very quickly and Please don't overcook the zucchini....the goal is to have it cooked, but not mushy, and this is done in 5 minutes or less over medium heat.

Serve over rice. This makes about 6 servings. You can stretch it if you want by adding more veggies.

It's fast, and my daughter and husband gave it the thumbs up, even if it did come flying off the top of my head....

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