Monday, March 31, 2014

Shrimp Macaroni Salad

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Call it, we finally got temperatures in the 40's, well actually 43F.  Or the fact that I'M SO DONE WITH WINTER!  But spring and summer were on the brain today.

So as I was driving home from work and cranking my music, I thought to myself; (I know, so scary) "Self, why don't you make a nice macaroni salad and brats for dinner.  I almost "yahood" in the car, along with an extra big fist pump and pounding on the steering wheel.  

I know there are many versions of this salad on the web.  Trust me. However, I have been told that my "salad" tastes just a bit different, and it really tastes light.  I think it's the few squeezes of lemon juice to break the mayonnaisey taste.  Is that a word?  Plus a few extra dried herbs we have on hand... and you are well on your way to a salad that is chock full of flavor.  I know you will have empty plates, praises and requests for; "more please"!

Ready for this very simple recipe?  Here we go;

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8-9 minutes

1lb (16 Oz) your favorite pasta
8oz frozen baby shrimp (or 1 large can, drained well)
1-1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 medium stalks celery, diced fine
3 green onions, diced fine
1/3 cups milk
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp lemon juice (1/4 of a fresh lemon, squeezed)

-Dice your celery and onions, set aside. 

-Boil your favorite pasta as directed till ala dente.

-About 1 minute before the pasta is ready, add your frozen baby shrimp to the pot of boiling pasta, (if using the canned shrimp, drain and rinse, no need to add to the pasta).  Let cook for 1 minute till shrimp are no longer frozen.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

-In a small bowl, add your milk, mayonnaise and lemon juice, mix till thoroughly combined. 

-Using a large bowl, add half of your mayonnaise mixture, half of your onions and celery.  Add your drained and cooled pasta and shrimp right over the mixture.

-Add the rest of the mayonnaise mixture along with the rest of your celery, onions and dried herbs on top of the pasta and shrimp.  

-Mix thoroughly, let sit for about 1/2 an hour and serve.
What I like to do at this point is...

I fork a piece of pasta, I make sure I get a shrimp too.  I then look around the room.  I also peek around the corner of the kitchen, you know, to make sure no one is near me...
Then my friends... I POP IT IN MY MOUTH!!  Yes, yes I do!  I strongly suggest this method of tasting the food, between you and me, I mean amongst friends and all.  Shhhhhhhhh it is our secret. Pinkie promise?

So easy, right?  I know!  Full of flavor and just perfect for the upcoming warmer months!!  Don't forget to snag a few shrimp for yourself and all. I mean, it is the chef's privilege!  

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Greek Meat Pie - Kreatopita

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This is the ultimate comfort food, trust me!  You won't be able to stop eating it, oh wait, "that's me"!  In all seriousness though, you won't be able to stop eating it!  I'm almost 100% sure it's the crispy flakiness of the homemade pastry dough that brings this dish to the ultimate level!! It is chock full of ground beef, rice, seasonings, including one you will be surprised to see listed, yet that spice is what makes this dish out of this world.

There are many versions of this dish throughout Greece of course. Every family has their own version, every region, adding just a smidgen of this, or a smidgen of that.  Never-the-less, it is a very popular Greek dish, and now my friends, you can enjoy it too! ♥

Truth be told, my family prefers this pita as their #1 choice, followed by the "tiropita" or cheese pie as #2.  Pumpkin pie is their #3 choice, and lastly, the famous spanakopita...
I know, who would of thunk right?

Now you all know my fetish with stuffed things right?  I know, I have a serious problem.  *Didi hanging head in shame*  But it is what it is...
So instead of making the "traditional" pita which is crust on the bottom and crust on top with the filling in the middle, and because I am a true and honest crust fanatic, I made my pita in logs.  This way you have your own piece of stuffed decadence!

Ready for this very simple recipe?  Here we go;

Yield: 4 logs - 16 pieces
Prep time: 20 minutes (not including dough, linked below)
Cook time: 50-60 minutes

**You can certainly use your a bread dough for this, just make sure it is rolled out very thin**

Prep and ingredients with step by step for homemade phyllo dough: HERE

1/2 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced fine
3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2-3/4 tsp cinnamon *magic ingredient*
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped or 1-1/4 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1-3/4 cups water

-Place ground beef in your favorite skillet with cover and brown, drain any excess fat.

-Add your diced onion, and saute till just starting to become soft and aromatic.

-Let's add in our rice, stir till the rice is thoroughly mixed in and add in the tomato paste.  Stir again till thoroughly incorporated.

-Now we add in those amazing aromatic spices, stir and just; "INHALE".  "Oh wait, that is me again"!  Pour in your water, bring to simmer, cover, turn off heat and let sit for approximately 15 minutes.  Fluff the rice, taste for seasonings, adjust if necessary.  Our filling needs to cool and we are ready to roll.  Pun intended!

-Our dough should be ready for us.  Follow the instructions in the link above.  

-When your dough is to your suiting regarding thinness, let's make that circle into a rectangle shall we.  How?  "Never fear, Didi's here"!

-Preheat oven to 350F. Dive your dough into 4 equal pieces.

-Facing your round circle dough, take the farthest piece away from you and bring almost to the middle.  Bring the closest piece to you towards the middle also, overlapping. That is your filling base.  Let's make those ends nice too shall we? Bring the end to your left over, about 2 inches or so and straighten it.  Now do the same for your right end.  See, we have a rectangle? A nice square surface to work with.  I would never steer you wrong! 

-Add a good amount of filling in a straight line about 1/2 inch from the end closest to you.  You want a good amount of filling, about 1/2 cup, maybe a little less, and add it from end to end.  

-Roll from the edge closest to you up and over the filling, pinch the ends, or as my kids call it; "pinch the butt".  Continue rolling and pinching, it takes about 3 to 4 rolls.  You have formed your LOG!  I am so very proud of you! ♥

-Place the log on an oil covered baking pan and continue with the rest of the 3 dough balls and filling.  

-Baste each log with olive oil.  Taking a sharp knife and using your judgement for proximity, lightly score each log into four equal parts. You don't want to go all the way thru, this is just for easier cutting after they come out of the oven.  Bake for approximately 55-60 minutes or till logs are nicely golden.  

-Let rest for about 10 minutes for easier handling, cut and enjoy!!  
Unless you can't control yourself, which I totally understand, trust me.  Hence the cut off piece... I know!

Get ready for compliments and totally empty platters my friends! Oh yes, the best feeling in the world!!

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rustic Greek Omelet

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Grab your fork...

I know, I know!  The entire family loves this dinner.  It is super easy, nutritious, budget friendly and most of all, family friendly!  What is not shown is our salad that went with this delicious dinner.  I have this issue you see, whereas my windows face North.  Therefore, I receive very limited natural lighting in my kitchen.  I try and capture pictures while there is still natural light filtering thru.  Alas, in my haste to capture the picture, I forgot all about the salad.  Sigh!

Anyway, back to the omelet.  Hubby promptly proclaimed it one of his very favorite Mediterranean meals.  I just looked at him.  Greek omelets are just like their cousins the "frittata's" from Italy.  They are open faced and not folded over and stuffed.  The ingredients are usually layered all in the pan and then the egg poured over and simmered low or baked, or both.  Hence, they can be served for a very hearty lunch or in our case, dinner.  

So back to the omelet.  It's bursting with thinly sliced potatoes, can you see them peeking through under that amazing cheese?  I also left the skin on the potatoes for extra potassium don't you know! Let's add not one, but two various cheeses, a dash of dried oregano and the rest as they say is history...
I mean, how more simple can that be right?  Did I mention delicious?  I love making this in the summer time with fresh tomatoes and extra Feta cheese, my ultimate favorite!  Don't forget the bread, hello!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go; 

Yield:  4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

8 large eggs
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 medium potatoes, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
Salt & pepper to taste

-Using your favorite oven proof skillet, add your olive oil, place heat to medium and add your diced onions.

-When onions have just started to soften, turn down heat to low and place your sliced potatoes, evenly around the pan.  Season with salt & pepper, and let cook for about 5-6 minutes.  After allotted time, flip potatoes, season once more, this time adding the dried oregano and cook for another 4-5 minutes or till the potatoes have been cooked.  They do not need to be crispy, just cooked through.

-In a bowl, add your eggs and water, and whisk till eggs are thoroughly beaten, set aside.

-Crumble your Feta cheese over the potatoes, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

-Pour your beaten eggs over the potatoes and allow to cook.  Make sure to gently push the outer sides of the cooked egg towards the middle of the pan, and allow the rest of the beaten eggs to come the outer sides as to ensure that the omelet cooks uniformly. You can make this one of your exercises for the day, I do.  I call it "THE SKILLET TWIST".  What? 

-Preheat oven to 400F.  When omelet is almost ready, and is slightly moist in the middle, remove from heat and place in oven for approximately 3-5 minutes. 

-You do not want it crispy on top, you want all that delicious melted cheese just glistening and waiting to be plated up for your dining pleasure!

So that's it my friends, how easy right?  I know your family will love you, mine did!  I just wish someone would do the darn dishes...

Till next time! 

Dishin with Didi

Friday, March 7, 2014

Didi's Lentil Soup

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I posted this picture of our dinner on my FB page and received quite a few requests for the recipe.  

I can honestly tell you, it's delicious.  It is meat free, and completely vegetarian.  I grew up on a version of this lentil soup, and as much as I love my mommy, I just don't like so much tomato product in my soup. She used tomato sauce and paste in the soup, so I actually didn't like it growing up.  When I grew older and wiser, well, maybe wiser..
I revamped the recipe to "my" liking, and my entire family loves it. As do my friends.  I think it's the simplicity of the ingredients that makes it taste so fresh and savory.  Did I mention I love a thick and hearty soup?  I do!! With the addition of the potato, the starches thicken it naturally and provide such a silky flavor to the lentils. 

Ready for this very simple recipe?  Here we go;

Yield:  8 Servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40-50 minutes

1lb (16Oz) lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 large potato, diced
2 celery, diced
1 can (15.5Oz) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1-1/2 tsp onion powder
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper

-Using your favorite stockpot, add your olive to the bottom of the pan and let the olive oil come to heat.

-Add in your onions and saute till just starting to soften.

-Add in your celery and carrots, saute for a minute or so, or till they just start to sweat.

-Let's add in our diced potato, stir to coat with the veggies and then pour in your can of diced tomatoes, juices and all.

-Finally, we add in our lentils, bay leaves, salt and pepper at this time. Add in enough water to cover lentils by 1" (inch).

-Let the lentils come to a full rolling boil, and turn heat down to simmer. Semi-cover, allowing a little bit of steam to escape from the pot and cook until lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

-Take off cover, add in your onion powder and the chopped parsley. The soup should be pretty thick at this point, so I usually add about another 1-1/2 cups more water.  I do like broth ya know!!  What?
Taste for seasonings, does it need more salt, pepper?

-Semi-cover once more, and let the lentils cook till tender, about another 15 minutes.  

-Serve with your favorite crusty bread.  

I mean we have to have something to dunk into all that goodness right?  I know!
How easy is this recipe right?  So what are you waiting for...

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi