Broccoli Bites

Posted on: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Driving along Route 127 through Swampscott and Marblehead always brings me back to car rides in high school. Friends and I would pile into one of our cars, blast a mix of the Steve Miller Band and Allman Brothers, and drive aimlessly along the coast. On my most recent excursion, I decided to stop at Bill and Bob’s. While known for its signature roast beef sandwich, my friends and I would periodically stop at the eatery for a different snack: Broccoli Bites. Fried and cheesy, with a touch of green make for an addicting car-ride snack.
With broccoli in abundance this time of year, I decided to make my own version a tad on the healthier side. Instead of frying, I bake them. I am also a little heavier on the broccoli and lighter on the cheese. They are just as addicting!
Broccoli Bites

2 c broccoli florets
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 c Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c grated smoked Gouda cheese (Cheddar or Manchego could also be subbed in)
1 large egg
1/2 t garlic powder
Salt and pepper throughout
Your favorite tomato sauce
Few dashes of hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath, then drain completely and pat dry with paper towels. Once cooled, chop the florets into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the chopped broccoli, flour, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg and garlic powder until a uniform batter has formed. It should be thick, but easy to form. If the dough is falling apart, add more breadcrumbs and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

To form the bites, measure off a medium meatball-sized ball. Then, press gently in the middle to form an oblong shape. (You can leave the bites as orbs, but the oblong facilitates easier dipping!). Form 12 evenly-sized bites, place them in a lined, plastic container, and transfer them to the refrigerator to meld, about 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a cookie sheet generously with cooking spray, and spread the bites evenly across. Spray the tops of the broccoli and bake for 20 minutes, flipping them at the 10 minute mark to brown evenly.

Heat your favorite tomato sauce, add a few dashes of hot sauce, and pour it into a dipping bowl. Once the bites are ready, spread them around the dipping sauce, and serve! Makes a dozen.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Butter

Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017

In the midst of a busy start to July, Marni and I were fortunate to take a needed respite over at our cousin, Connie’s charming, historic colonial in Essex. After big hugs and catching up over coffee on Connie’s patio, she eagerly motioned us into her lush garden. We walked through the woven-stick entryway and were overcome by an abundance of flourishing vegetables, fruits, herbs, you name it. As Connie weaved through the patches, she clipped and clipped. Next thing we know, we were headed home with an overflowing pile of assorted lettuces, radicchio, ramps, and a medley of herbs.
Driving back to Connecticut, Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics, ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’ filled my mind and mood. When home, I chopped all the fresh herbs and stirred them into some softened butter with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.
I slathered the herb butter in between crusty, warm slices of a French baguette. I placed the rest of the butter in the fridge - on hand to top grilled filets, seared scallops, a simple pasta dish. I’ll be savoring this gorgeous, flavorful butter all summer.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Butter

1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 c finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme)
1 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper

In a small bowl, stir togeter all ingredients with a rubber spatula until the herbs pop throughout. Cover with plastic wrap (or a Tupperware lid) and chill in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy. The blend can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for several months.

There are endless possibilities to liven up your butter. Adding honey, and chopped walnuts slathered over morning toast is another variation - can’t wait to experiment more!

Skillet Street Corn Salad

Posted on: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Thanks to a new charcoal grill and sunny nights, I’ve been grilling up all kinds of things. The other day, I assembled a Twin Tastes favorite, our Spanish-Style Chorizo Burgers. With sangria in one hand, I was set on a Spanish-style menu (classic for Kara, but a little new for me!)
For a fresh and smokey side, I was inspired by Toro’s MaĆ­z Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija - grilled corn on the cob smothered in creamy aioli, cotija cheese, lime and spices. Before I grilled the burgers, with charcoals aflame, I heated my cast iron pan and charred up some fresh corn kernels with a couple cloves of garlic. After a few minutes, I poured the kernels into a salad dish and added crumbled feta (you could use cotija, but I’m Greek so feta it is!), fresh picked herbs from my windowsill herb garden, a touch of mayo for creaminess, lots of lime juice for zing and a dash of chili powder for pow. This sunny side dish is a spirited take on a summer classic - Just in time for the 4th!
Skillet Street Corn Salad

4 ears of corn, kernels removed (about 4 c)
3 T canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T mayonnaise
2 T fresh lime juice
1/3 c chopped fresh basil
1/3 chopped fresh cilantro
4 oz crumbled feta
1/8 t chili powder
Salt and pepper throughout

Place a cast iron or nonstick pan over a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or medium-high stove top. Pour in the canola. Once the canola is shimmering, add the corn kernels. Toss the pan every now and then, allowing the kernels to char all over, about 8 minutes. When the kernels are just about ready, throw in the minced garlic, salt and pepper, and saute for 1 minute longer. Pour the corn kernels into a salad bowl.

Add the mayonnaise, lime juice, basil, cilantro, feta, chili powder, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Serves 4.

Feel free to make this savory side ahead of time - it’s super flavorful served chilled or at room temp!

Nutty Chocolate and Date Granola Bars

Posted on: Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Inspired by Marni’s make-ahead morning oats, I too find myself on the go juggling day-to-day demands. One of my favorite ways to decompress after a long day is to go for a late afternoon stroll with Shiloh. Our pup waits patiently during the day (likely counting down the hours), and once she hears me approach our red front door, she is a jumpy bolt of energy.
To match Shiloh’s stamina, I often grab a handful of candy while tying up my sneakers, but lately have been opting for a healthier, make-ahead snack.
At the beginning of the week, I whip up a batch of granola bars and like Marni, usually stir in whatever nuts, dried fruits and seeds I have in my pantry. I often add chia seeds for a burst of energy, dates for natural sweetness, and cashews for a savory crunch. Once the bars are set in the fridge, I cut them into thick slices and wrap each in parchment - an easy grab-and-go snack while keeping up with Shiloh.
Nutty Chocolate and Date Granola Bars

2 T chia seeds
6 T water at room temp
12-15 Medjool dates, pitted
1 T coconut oil
1/4 c honey
1/4 c crunchy or creamy peanut butter (I love Teddie's Super Crunch)
1 1/2 c oats
1 c cashews, halved or loosely chopped
1/2 c dark chocolate chips
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt

In a small bowl, place the chia seeds and water and let sit. 

Meanwhile, process the dates in a food processor until a dough-like ball forms. About 1 - 2 minutes.

In a small saucepan, warm the coconut oil, honey, and peanut butter over low heat. Once melted and combined, add the dough ball and stir to combine.

Pour the warmed mixture into a large bowl and add the oats, cashews, dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Thoroughly mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Once combined, transfer the mixture to an 8 x 8-inch baking dish lined with wax paper, parchment or plastic wrap. Place another piece of wax paper or plastic wrap on top and firmly press down the mixture with your hands or a flat bottomed vessel.

With the wax paper or plastic wrap on top, place the dish in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

With a sharp knife, cut the bars into slices sized to your liking and wrap them, or store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They last for a week or so in the fridge.
Grab and go! 

Mango and Blueberry Overnight Oats

Posted on: Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It’s the little things, like the first signs of spring, that can instantly add pep to your step. When I wake up, I open the windows wide, let the breeze flow in, tie up my sneakers and run around the daffodil and lilac lined streets of Cambridge to the Charles River. These runs rejuvenate my morning as I head into the city to start the day.
Instead of cooking breakfast after my morning jogs, I save time by prepping the night before. I’ve been obsessed with overnight oats lately. I line up a few mason jars, stir together oats for heartiness, chia seeds for a burst of energy, sliced almonds for protein, agave for a touch of sweetness, and almond milk for calcium. I screw the lids on the jars and head to bed. The next day, I pop one open, give the pudding-like oats a stir, and top with a colorful sprinkle of antioxidant-rich blueberries, Vitamin C-rich mangos, or whatever fruit I have on hand. These make-ahead morning meals are simple to prepare, satisfying to get you through to lunch, and oh so pretty!
Mango and Blueberry Overnight Oats

1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 t chia seeds
2 T sliced almonds
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t honey or agave syrup
1/4 t salt
1/2 c milk (I used almond, you could use skim, low fat, water, just some kind of liquid)
1/4 c cubed mango
1/4 c fresh blueberries

In a mason jar or vessel of your choice, add the oats, chia seeds, almonds, cinnamon, honey/agave, salt and milk. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to enjoy, remove the jar from the refrigerator and stir the porridge-like oats together. Sprinkle the cubed mango and blueberries on top and dig in. Makes 1.
Have fun with toppings! I’ve tried banana, creamy peanut butter and dark chocolate; peach, spicy ginger and pecan; strawberry, salty pistachio and orange zest. If you’d prefer a warm start to the day, feel free to zap the oats in the microwave for 1 minute or so before digging in.

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