Monday, August 18, 2014

Stuffed summer vegetables - Yemista

I know, trust me...

Trust me, even the most finicky eaters will eat this!  This is literally summer, on a dish!  The flavors, literally explode in your mouth!

This is one of the most traditional of Greek recipes, made in all the regions of Greece.  The name "Yemista" literally means "stuffed".  You know my fetish for stuffing things, right?
Every region as I have mentioned before, has their little tips and ever so slight variation of herbs that they use.  Nevertheless, I haven't had one variation that I have not loved and wanted more of.

This dish takes a little bit more time because of the prepping of the veggies, however, it is worth every extra minute.  But I love the fact that it is a one pan meal.  Okay, okay, I can come over and help you!  

Ready for this delicious recipe?  Here we go;

Prep: 35 minutes
Bake: 55-65 minutes
Yield:  6-8 servings

3-4 fairly large green peppers, seeded
5-6 medium tomatoes
6 medium potatoes, quartered
1 large onion, diced
1-1/2 cups rice
1lb ground beef
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp mint, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano (if you have fresh even better, add 2 tbsp)
15.5 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs *optional* 
2 cups water

For the potatoes:
-1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp (1/4 cup) olive oil

-Wash your vegetables and seed the peppers leaving them intact, set aside.  To your tomatoes, you can cut around the top, leaving it attached by a flap.  I have tried this and my flap always breaks, so I just cut the top part off and play the memory game, where I try and remember which flap belongs to what tomato.  What?

-Scoop out the inside of the tomatoes, seeds and all, RESERVE them.  Cut the bigger pieces into small if need be.  This is what gives this dish the amazing summertime taste.

-In just a few minutes, you should be all done with the hardest part of prepping the peppers and tomatoes.  I highly recommend getting yourself something to drink now.

-Chop your onion and herbs, set aside.

-In a large skillet, add your ground beef and cook till no longer brown.  Add in your onion and cook till just starting to soften.
Let's add in the rice and stir to incorporate.  Pour in 1 cup of water and let simmer for a few minutes.

-Let's add in the inside of the tomatoes.  Can you hear it?  They are singing...

-Pour in the remainder of your water along with your fresh & dried herbs.  Let simmer till water has evaporated.  The rice should be almost cooked, that's how you want it.

-Okay, it's time to play!  Let's stuff the vegetables.  I like to stuff almost to the top, leaving just a little bit of space for the rice to have enough room to continue cooking, does that make sense?

You know how I love stuffed...

-Continue stuffing till all the veggies have been stuffed.   

-In a medium bowl, add your olive oil to the potatoes, salt, pepper and dried oregano, toss to incorporate.  Surround the vegetables with your potatoes.  You can't add the potatoes unseasoned, right?  I know!  Blasphemy I say!

-Pour your tomato sauce over the top of your veggies and a little over the potatoes.  Sprinkle with your breadcrumbs.  

-Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, till the potatoes are cooked thru and you cannot wait to dig in.  

This my friends, is "summertime" in a bite!  The freshness of the filling and the vegetables, the succulence of the potatoes, and that little crunch from the breadcrumbs?  Heaven I say, heaven!
Let's not forget the ease of a one pan meal...

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, August 11, 2014

Spiced Apple Butter - Guest Post by Canning and Cooking at Home

 "Spiced Apple Butter,  I love making this in the slow-cooker"!!!

Apple butter is one of my ultimate favorites.  I don't know why I love it so much, but I surely do.  So do my children come to think of it...

I've never made it, and with apple season literally around the corner, I have had a hankering for making apple butter for a while now.  "What to do, what to do"? I ask myself.  


It hit me like  a ton of bricks.  "Diane from Canning and Cooking at Home".  She is an expert canner, cook, and just all around amazing!  Her heart is bigger than the Grand Canyon!  I reached out to Diane, and am honored to say she accepted my invitation.  

If you love to fiddle in the kitchen.  Would like to harvest your summer and autumn bounties, and are looking for amazing step by step instructions along with killer recipes.  Look no further!!  Diane fulfills all that and then some.  You can follow Diane at;

Let's see what Diane has to say...

If you don't want to can, you can refrigerate the butter for 2-3 months, or freeze for up to a year. 

Yield: About 6 half-pints or 3 pint jars. 

6 pounds apples, cored and peeled only if necessary, cut into quarters 2 cups apple cider 4 cups water About 1½ cups sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves 
½ teaspoon ground allspice 
½ teaspoon ground aniseed (optional) 
1 cinnamon stick (optional) 

Put the peeled, cored apples in a 6- or 8-quart heavy-bottomed pan. Add the cider and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat (I added a cinnamon stick to pot and removed after boiling) 
Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely broken down and the peel apples are soft, 30 to 40 minutes. 

For the slow cooker: 
Pour the softened apples into a slow cooker, and stir in the sugar and spices. Puree with immersion blender. Cook on the low setting with the lid propped up or set askew to allow the liquid to evaporate for 9 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally when you can, until thick and dark. (Keep in mind different slow cookers cook at different temperatures.) 

For canning: 
Bring the apple butter to a boil (you can turn the slow cooker on high for 10-15 minutes, or transfer the butter to pot to achieve this). Ladle hot apple butter into hot jars, leaving ½-inch head space. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove the jars from the canner, and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check to see that the lids have sealed, and immediately refrigerate any jars that haven’t sealed. 

Recipe Adapted from: 'Canning for A New Generation' by Liana Krissof 
Photos by: Diane Baker for Canning and Cooking at Home

Easy and delicious right?  That's what I mean!!  I know how delicious first hand as I was humbled by her generous homemade gifts to me.  Diane out of the blue sent me an amazing package.  I made good use out of her spicy relish and her vanilla infused cherries in light syrup.  Talk about killer cheesecake and appetizer for my daughter's grad party.  

I love my foodie blogger friends, they are like a second family to me!  Their doors are always open, and they always want to feed me!! ♥

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Zucchini & Potato Salad with Green Pepper and Fresh Herb Dressing

I was planning on video taping this episode.  I actually curled my hair, I KNOW!!  However, you know what they say about the best laid plans!!  Of course it started to "thunderstorm" when I started to prep, but of course it did!  The skies grew dark and black, I had to turn my lights on and the rest as you say is; "history"... However, have no fear, this salad/side dish is delicious, I PROMISE YOU! 

That being said; the zucchini season is upon us, yes? 

Earlier today I had about 1 hour to play around in my herb garden.  My veggie garden is all shot, literally because of the amount of rain we have had for almost two weeks straight.  However, my herb garden is thriving.  So after cleaning out the baby plants that will never grow because of the weather.  I was ready to tackle my herb garden.  Out went another 22 sprigs and roots of mint (the most unruly of herbs), and trim down the rest.  They looked so good after the trim, I almost kissed them, well I caressed them, does that count?

So I harvested; chives, oregano, thyme and tarragon.  Then walking up to my deck, I heard my name being called.  Yes, yes I did.  I heard; "Didi, oh Didi, we are here, ready for your picking".  
Me being me, I  looked around the deck, and then looked at the dogs, thinking I was imagining things along with hearing voices...
Well lo and behold, there was a bright light upon one pepper that caught my attention.  I swear it "swooned" as I drew closer...

So I picked it.  Off to make that awesome dressing with now the star of the show, the green pepper.

Ready for this simple and delicious recipe?  Here we go;

Yield:  6 servings
Prep:  15 minutes
Cook time:  10-12 minutes

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 tbs salt (to boil and season vegetables)
2 medium zucchini, scrubbed, seeded and cubed
1 medium green pepper, seeded and quartered
1-1/2 cups chives
1/2 cup herbs of choice, fresh - I used tarragon, oregano and thyme.  (Any herbs will do except for the minty kind, they will take away from the fresh onion flavor)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Zest of 1/2 of lemon
2 garlic cloves
3/4 tsp  
1/4 tsp pepper

(easy enough right)


-In a cold water basin, sink, swirl your fresh herbs a few times till they are rinsed thru.

-Place on a paper towel

-Roll the herbs in the paper towel and set aside till ready to use.

-In a small food processor (I used my silver bullet), place your green pepper, herbs of choice, chives, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt & pepper into the processor.  Pulse till smooth and creamy.  Adjust for seasonings as needed.
I found the 3/4 tsp of salt perfect for my taste and so did my family, please adjust according to your taste.  Set aside.

-Place your potatoes in your salt seasoned water and boil till tender, about 8-10 minutes. 

-A few minutes before the potatoes are ready, add the cubed zucchini.  Why dirty another pot, right?  I know!

- Zucchini cooks fast, so it should take bout 2-3 minutes.  

-Drain potatoes and zucchini, set aside.

-Meanwhile, as zucchini & potatoes are drying, add 1/3 of your dressing to the bottom of the same pot you just cooked your veggies in.  Add in the zucchini/potatoes.  Top with other 1/3 of the dressing.  Finally add the rest of the zucchini potato mixture and top with the remainder 1/3 of the dressing.   Toss to incorporate.

-Plate on your favorite platter and enjoy with your favorite meat, or as an amazing vegetarian mean!  This can definitely be served room temp, and I have to be honest with you, I prefer it that way!!

 All I can tell you is that even my "non zucchini loving" daughter, loved it and wanted seconds.  Darn this weather...
Next time, and trust me there will be a next time, I plan on adding a few cherry tomatoes just for color don't you know, sans the seeds.

Till next time! 

Dishin with Didi