Roasted Zucchini and Carrots from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012

I’m a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fan. At one time I did like Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but as I grew up, Gene Wilder’s constant yelling wore on me. So, I was glad to trade Gene for Johnny Depp (for more reasons than one).

The trade-off that I wasn’t pleased with was the Oompa Loompa exchange. I adore those green-haired, orange-faced little guys.

There was no need for using computer magic to shrink normal men down to miniature and they didn’t have a somewhat sinister hollow-eyed look to them. It was their innocent appeal that made their morbid actions so much more shocking.

When a friend told me a story about her toddler son, whose skin took on a definite orange tinge as a result of his eating too many carrots over a long period of time, I immediately thought of my beloved Oompa Loompas. How cool would it be to eat a ton of carrots around Halloween, color your hair green and then go to a party as one of them?

Alas, Dudette has decided to park carrots in the ‘do not like’ line, a line which seems to be getting longer with each passing day. That doesn’t stop me from making them though. I figure this dislike is a phase and will eventually be traded for the disdain of something else (probably her parents).

When I saw the photo of the carrots and zucchini together, not only did I see another great way to use some summer produce, I saw Oompa Loompas.

The Process

I love one dish prep recipes. A little chopping, and everything can be tossed in the same dish in which it will be served. It just needs a good, high temperature roasting.

I had a chicken in the oven at 350, so in order to allow them both to cook at the same time, I simply raised the temperature when the chicken had thirty minutes left. I kept an eye on the bird and when it was done, removed it, leaving the vegetables to continue roasting while the chicken rested on the counter.

We like our carrots softer than firm so I did leave the dish in for a bit longer than the 30 minutes that the recipe called for.

The Verdict

Surprisingly, Dudette and her sleep-over friend ate carrots and Dudette had a slice of zucchini (it was one of my ‘if you eat this you can have that’ deals) and there weren’t complaints, at least not major ones. That’s a win in my book. Hubby enjoyed the carrots, but also not being a zucchini fan stayed away from that.

So, that leaves me, who loves both carrots and zucchini. I enjoyed this, but it didn’t overly ‘wow’ me. I thought it was a bit heavy on the thyme and light on the garlic.

All in all, it’s a decent dish though. It’s healthy, colorful and goes well with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d cut the fresh thyme by half and swap the granulated garlic to 2-3 cloves of the real deal, minced. I would also remove the one-dish prep and roast the veggies on a tray so they can caramelize a bit more, then transfer them to a serving dish. After all, leaving them in a bowl is really just baking them.

Roasted Zucchini and Carrots from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012
 
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from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced to ½-inch thickness
  • 4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced to ½-inch thickness
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon granulated garlic
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine carrots, zucchini, olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper and granulated garlic, tossing to coat evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tender, stirring halfway through cooking time.

 

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Mini Taco Salad from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012

Robin, one of the bloggers I read, is in the midst of a series. The first word in the title of each segment is, ‘Why.’ Her writings explain the why of the day. Why she writes, why she runs, why she cries easily, etc. Robin’s explanations are given with a wonderful sense of humor, poignancy and introspection.  I think you should visit Pink Dryer Lint and see for yourself.

Ok, that was mean. Before you go visit, know that I’ve just set you up. Once you begin reading Robin’s ‘why’s,’ you won’t be able to stop and and you’ll begin to personalize the word. It’ll be like that song that you can’t get out of your head. I’ve been thinking about ‘why’ for four days now. I guarantee that you’ll do the same.

It’s so cool.

For instance, I go through food magazine recipes to make sure a recipe turns out the way it’s supposed to, right? That’s an easy one. What you can’t see is what’s going on in my head as I’m actually in process with a dish.

I read a recipe at least a half dozen times before I ever make it because I’ve overlooked a simple step too many times. I get that little leap of elation inside me. That ‘I caught you,’ just before re-reading the directions and realizing that I’m the one that missed the instruction instead of the magazine not putting it in.

I force myself not to take short cuts and instead I do exactly what the recipe’s instructions say to do. Last week I made the null. I, and several others, questioned why Fine Cooking has us remove the cake from the pan, cool it on a rack, then put it back in the pan. Seemed superfluous, no? Yes.

However, ignoring my natural inclination to totally write off the method, I wrote and asked why. And they answered. Yeah, it’s a necessary step. It would probably turn out fine without doing that; but I did do it and it was incredible. Fine vs. incredible? I’ll take incredible.

Last night was another great example. These Mini Taco Salads include a bowl that’s made from cut-outs of large tortillas. They say I can get three circles using a four-inch cutter. So, I tried. And I got two. Again, I had that leap of elation that comes with ‘I caught you.’ 

But (there’s always a but), I had to make absolutely sure before I came to you and told you that the magazine was wrong. So, I tried again. And again.

And, yes, they were right. You really can get three 4-inch circles out of a large flour tortilla if you take your time and are careful. The cutter has to be right at the very, very edge of the tortilla.

You know what I learned about ‘why’?

I learned that I also go through magazines because I really want to catch these guys making a mistake. It’s just so darn hard to do. (But I’ll keep trying.)

The Process

See above. The rest is cake.

The Verdict

In truth, there is an error with this recipe. It says that it makes 12 servings. It does not. It makes 12 mini taco salads. For us, that made 3 servings.

Three servings that are carefully measured out. Three servings of which each bite was relished and totally enjoyed. Three servings, that when done, left us wishing there were more.

The bowl-making is time consuming, but I’m telling you that you don’t want to skip it. Tortillas brushed with melted butter that’s been whisked with garlic and cumin? Holy cow. They turned out beautifully crispy and oh-so-very tasty when paired with the meat (yum) and toppings.

It’s so, so very good.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Absolutely nothing.

Mini Taco Salad from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • ¼ cup prepared or commercial salsa
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup finely shredded green leaf lettuce
  • ½ cup seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, garlic salt, and ¼ teaspoon cumin; set aside.
  3. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut 3 circles from each tortilla. Brush both sides of prepared tortillas with butter mixture. Place centers of tortillas in wells of a 12-cup muffin pan, carefully pressing remainder of tortilla up sides of muffin pan, to form cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, combine salsa, sour cream, and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate.
  5. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground chuck for 6 minutes or until browned and crumbly. Drain meat completely. Return to heat; add water, chile powder, remaining 2 teaspoons cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and red pepper, stirring to combine well. Spoon meat into prepared tortilla cups. Top with lettuce, salsa mixture, tomato, avocado and cheese. Serve immediately.

 

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Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012

I am a fan of Sam I Am.

He’s a little pushy, but he’s also a go-getter. He doesn’t take no for an answer; he attacks problems creatively and he’s darn cute.

I can also relate to Sam I Am. He is an adventurous food eater. He wants others to share the fantastic flavors he finds. Even green eggs and ham.

Dudette is the un-named dude who doesn’t like anything. She’s willing to say she won’t eat something before it’s even put in front of her. No tasting required. The more she’s prodded to try a new food item, the more grumpy she gets. If she wasn’t forced, she wouldn’t try things; not with a goat, or a mouse or on a boat or in a house.

Like Sam I Am, however, I don’t give up.

The Process

Mix stuff together. Slice squash. Marinate. Grill.

If you don’t have a grill, you have my permission to use a grill pan in the kitchen (but that just gives you something to clean up.

If you use a grill, your sink will remain……empty.

The Verdict

I love zucchini and yellow squash. I would eat them on a boat and I would eat them with a goat. I enjoyed this grilled version tremendously. The marinade is delicious and works with the squash to the point where you can eat it hot or at room temperature with the same relish.

I took this platter to a get together and it disappeared. All gone. Everyone asked what was on the vegetables. People commented on how the zucchini and squash still had a great texture, even after grilling. This dish received a very high grade.

Dudette; some things never change. In her words, “It’s double the gross of normal zucchini.”  There isn’t a fox or train or plane that would have helped her enjoy this. I will keep trying though.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Not a single thing.

Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash - print this recipe
from Southern Lady’s Simply Southern Magazine, 2012

Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Magazine, 2012
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 medium zucchini squash, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 3 medium yellow squash, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, whisking to combine well.
  2. Place squash in a large, resealable plastic bag; pour marinade over squash. Seal bag and chill for at least 2 hours, turning occasionally. Remove squash from marinade and discard marinade.
  3. Grill squash over medium-high heat (350-400) for 4-5 minutes per side or until tender.

 

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No-Bake Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Special Issue, 2012

Did you know that Mermaid Man died earlier this week? Dudette and I just watched several episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants featuring him and Barnacle Boy today. It must have been to honor his passing, which was very sweet of the station.

You might know Mermaid Man by some of his other names: Commander Quintin McHale (McHale’s Navy), Cabbie (Escape From New York), Dutch (The Wild Bunch) and yes, Ernest Borgnine.

My generation is an odd one. I was a toddler while McHale’s Navy had its success, but I did watch the black and white reruns of the show as a youngster. There were many shows like that; The Andy Griffith Show, Dick Van Dyke Show, My Favorite Martian, Mr. Ed. . .

. . .Come on, my generation, help me with others.

I’ve kept track of these guys over the years and my heart breaks a little every time one of them leaves us. Andy Griffith last week; Ernest this week.

I liked Andy, who couldn’t? But there was something about Ernest that was just so cool. The fact that this 95 year-old man was Mermaid Man proves that.  Did you know? Would you have ever guessed it?

In between episodes of Sponge Bob, I made these cookies. Because there was no baking, I was able to throw everything together during commercials and scooped out the balls while watching the television from the kitchen.

It was nice to enjoy and laugh with Ernest one last time.

Speaking of Mermaid Man, don’t forget about Barnacle Boy. He is, after all, 78, and another one of those that I’m keeping my eye on.

The Process

You’ll need your stove for about three minutes in order to heat the sugar, milk, honey and butter. That’s it. If you have three minutes, you can make these cookies.

The Verdict

My child has issues. Texture issues. Because of the oatmeal in these and the fact that they’re balls instead of flat, ‘normal’ cookies, she decided that she didn’t like them. So, I tested them on her friend Ashley; they were found very good. Ashley’s mom loved them and reluctantly passed along a good portion of her cookie to her preschooler who asked for more. I’d call that a success.

These are delicious. Hubby and I both think so. In this case, Dudette’s in the minority and her finickiness is our gain. I love how easy they are to make and how good they taste.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

For Hubby, chocolate chips instead of raisins, but that would require making things a bit differently since the hot peanut butter would melt the chips. I’d pour the peanut butter mixture in the oatmeal without the chips and stir to combine; wait a minute or two, then add the chips and fold them in carefully.

No-Bake Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies from Southern Lady's Simply Southern Special Issue, 2012
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Cookie
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1½ cups raisins
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ⅔ cup peanut butter
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats and raisins; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, honey, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until peanut butter is melted.
  3. Add sugar mixture to oats mixture, stirring to mix well.
  4. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper. Let cool for 1 hour or until completely set.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen.

 

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Orzo Salad from Southern Lady/Simply Southern Magazine, 2012

Question: What is underneath Lady Liberty’s (the Statue of Liberty) foot?

No cheating by googling it. Do you know?

Don’t worry; I didn’t know either until yesterday when Dudette and I were doing a little summer studying and the Statue was our topic.

I found out then that the seven spikes on her crown stand for the seven continents and seven oceans on our planet.  I found out that she’s stepping forward on purpose; to symbolize progress and our moving forward.

The Statue of Liberty is one amazing woman.

My mom has special feelings for Lady Liberty as well. In 1960 she was on the S.S. Statendam making her first trip from France to the United States. The day before arriving, the announcement was made ship wide that they were approaching New York. Everyone went on deck to try and catch the first glimpse of the torch.

It’s a beautiful thing to see from the land; I know that because I’ve seen it. Mom says that it’s even more spectacular from the ocean. After spending three days surrounded only by water, to see the lady rising up out of the blue struck her with awe. In fact, as she was telling me the story, goosebumps crept up and down her arms.

I’ve seen it that way too. A year later, Mom made the voyage again, this time with a two year-old boy and a four week-old little baby; me. I can’t say I remember anything, but my passage to becoming a U.S. citizen began with a view of the Statue of Liberty and a trip past Ellis Island. How cool is that?

Oh yeah, what’s under her foot?

It’s a broken chain, representing the United States’ fight and commitment to freedom.

The Process

I love that we celebrate our Nation’s declaration of freedom by joining together around the table. Of course, I’m always a mess days before a gathering, trying to decide what to bring. For today, I chose something that would stand up under temperatures that were doing their best to hit triple digits again.

This pasta salad without a hint of mayonnaise hit the mark perfectly. It’s totally summer with the crunch of cucumber and flavor of garden-ripe tomato. It’s creamy with the olives, tangy feta and tender artichoke. It’s fresh with the splash of lemon vinaigrette seasoning it.

Also, it’s so very easy to throw together.

The Verdict

Success! The salad is delicious. For youngsters (like Dudette), the feta may be a little to tangy, but for adults, it pairs perfectly with whatever was grilled. I’m not admitting to anything, but keeping an eye on the bowl in hopes that it’s not all eaten and I’ll be able to have some as leftovers tomorrow might just be on the agenda this afternoon.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I think avocado added to it would be delicious, but it’s fine as is too.

Orzo Salad from Southern Lady/Simply Southern Magazine, 2012
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound box orzo pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 seedless cucumber, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 14 oz can quartered artichoke hearts,drained
  • 6 oz can whole pitted black olives, drained
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, chives and and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and feta cheese. Pour lemon juice mixture over pasta and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

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