Grilled Zucchini and Herbed Ricotta Sandwiches

I planted a second round of tomatoes in the garden last week. And while I was at it, I went ahead and stuck a new zucchini plant in.

Because this is the first year I haven’t wanted to wretch at the mere sound of “zucchini” before the 4th of July. I seriously cannot get enough of it. And I haven’t even made zucchini bread, the sure sign that Zucchini Fatigue has set in, once.

(Muffins are a different story. For next week.)

But this dish. Pure zucchini amazingness. I took my favorite summer side dish (that has already gotten the sandwich treatment plenty this summer) and gave it the Annie’s Eats sandwich treatment: served on some crusty ciabatta with a beautifully simple and creamy herbed ricotta.

I made my own ricotta. You don’t have to. But I highly recommend it. Because it takes like 20 minutes, a candy thermometer, and some $3 cheesecloth.

And your 4 year old will look at you with complete wide-eyed amazement because she just helped you make cheese. “Real cheese but it’s cheese that we eat with a spoon.” (And eat with a spoon she will until you take it away.)

Grilled Zucchini and Herbed Ricotta Sandwiches

Creamy herbed ricotta and grilled vegetables served on crusty, grilled ciabatta bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced into 1/3-inch rounds
  • 1 red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more for spraying/brushing
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 large basil leaves, minced
  • 1 lb loaf of ciabatta

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Carefully thread the onion rounds onto skewers (this will keep them in tact as rounds while grilling), making sure the skewer goes through every onion ring.
  3. Brush onions and zucchini rounds with 1/4 cup olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill vegetables 9-10 minutes each side, until nicely caramelized.
  5. Cut the ciabatta loaf in half horizontally and lightly spray/brush with olive oil - transfer to the grill for 1-2 minutes until crisped.
  6. Stir the ricotta with the lemon juice and zest, garlic, and basil leaves in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Spread ricotta over the bottom half and top with zucchini and red onion slices.
  8. Spread any remaining ricotta on the top half of the bread, place on top, and then cut into serving sizes (smaller for appetizer; larger for entree).

Notes

Yields: Servings vary

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Watermelon Salad with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette

Last week, a picture of a pumpkin cheesecake popped up in my Facebook feed and I was like no.

And then I went all Tracy-Morgan-from-Cop-Out.

NO. NONONONONONO.

HELL. NO.

It’s July. And I want no part of pumpkin creamy salted apple Thanksgiving caramel candy corn baked casserole pumpkin anything.

What I do want? Sweet, figure-friendly summer fruit. Doused in figure-unfriendly tequila.

And we all know that fruit and tequila go together perfectly.

Watermelon Salad with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette

One of my favorite throw-together summer side salads is watermelon, red onion, feta, jalapeno, and a big handful of cilantro, sprinkled with just a little salt and a squeeze of lime. It has everything you could want in a summer side, except tequila.

Cut in larger chunks, it makes a fabulous salad. Cut in smaller dice, it’s makes a fabulous salsa for a no-cook chips-and-salsa dinner on the patio.

So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite recipes from Pastry Queen Parties is a similar blend of flavors taken to the next level with a tequila-lime vinaigrette. It has everything you could want in a summer side, including tequila.

The Pastry Queen serves her spiked watermelon salad in scooped out personal-sized watermelon bowls. So fancy. I opt for the no-fuss approach: a 12-year-old tupperware bowl that’s missing its lid.

Watermelon Salad with Tequila-Lime Vinaigrette

Watermelon and feta salad get a summery kick from a tequila and lime vinaigrette.

Ingredients

  • For the salad:
  • 5 generous cups 1.5-inch dice watermelon (about 1 small watermelon)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (optional - but go for it)
  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tequila
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Lightly toss the watermelon, onion, cilantro, feta, and jalapeno in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, tequila, 1 Tbsp honey, salt and red wine vinegar together.
  3. Taste for sweetness and whisk in the extra honey, if desired.
  4. Pour over immediately before serving.
  5. If you anticipate having leftovers, only dress half the salad with half the dressing - the watermelon will water down the dressing the longer it sits. Dress additional salad as needed.

Notes

Yields: ~8 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen Parties

Estimated time: 20 minutes

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(Half) Marathon Mondays: Here we go again!

by Shawnda on July 14, 2014

in Running

There can’t be too many things on this earth that are more masochistic than training for a half marathon in July in Texas.

Like pushing a jogging stroller holding a 38lb turkey through the “feels like 103″ convection oven that is training for a half marathon in July in Texas.

Things that might come close? Jumping in a pool of rubbing alcohol 2.8 seconds after shaving your legs or remaining friends with people whose idea of a good time still involves a gigantic block of ice and a bottle of goldschlager [gaaaag].

Week2

Our big run yesterday was interrupted by me having a very public sobfest on the side of an extremely busy street because it was just so hot and I just couldn’t understand why I do this to myself over and over again. So I hate-walked the rest of the way home and tried to tell myself over and over: It sucks now. A LOT. But running in this heat is going to make you totally f&^%ing fast come late October.

We are (I am) slow. SLOW. Some of that is the jogging stroller, some of that is the completely oppressive heat, some of that is constant fussing at Landry to keep up on the days she insists on riding her bike for 2 miles. But mostly? We’re (I’m) just slow.

Jason and I are registered for 2 half marathons, the Houston Half in October and the big fancy schmancy Chevron/Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January (which might turn into a full – we’ll see).

And later this week, we’ll be registering for the inaugural Katy Half Marathon in our new hometown.

Because I clearly hate myself.

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DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

The first time I made it, I called it “Cheater’s Cherries Jubilee.” For a few nights more in a row than I’ll admit on the internet, I pitted ~2 dozen cherries into a small bowl, dropped a piece of orange peel in, and popped it in the microwave for 90 seconds.

I scooped the still-warm, slightly-tart cherry sauce over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and borderline inappropriately oooh’ed and aaah’ed my way through dessert.

But only borderline inappropriately.

DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

90 seconds. That’s all it took for a quarter-pound of fresh cherries to cook into a borderline magical dessert sauce. No butter, no booze, and most importantly: I still have both of my eyebrows.

After a couple of nights of making single-serving cherry sauce in the microwave, I buckled down and pitted an entire pound of cherries for a larger, “yogurt topping” batch.

It took two 90-second trips through the microwave with a couple of pieces of orange peel, a little cornstarch to help it “gel” just a bit more, and a few drops of liquid stevia at the end just to sweeten it enough to take the edge off my morning bowl of plain Greek yogurt. (When I make it for ice cream, I dodn’t add sweetener at all.)

DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

Making your own fresh cherry dessert topping couldn’t be easier. I mean, maybe it could… but I think you’ll be happier with a DIY version than opening up a jar.

And it’s applications are endless: top pancakes and waffles, scoop over ice cream, swirl into your favorite brownie batter, serve over plain cheesecake, swirl into yogurt… I could keep going. But then I’d have to make another batch.

DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

Fresh Cherry Sauce

Fresh cherries are turned into a decadent ice cream or yogurt topping in just 3 minutes in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • ~1 1/4 lb cherries, pitted to yield 1 lb
  • 2 1x3-inch lengths of orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • Sweetener of choice (optional; I used 4 drops liquid stevia)

Instructions

  1. Place cherries and orange peel in a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle cornstarch over top.
  2. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, stir, and heat for another 90 seconds - the mixture will bubble up so don't walk away! Or better, place a paper towel under the bowl.
  3. Add any sweetener, if desired, and let cool a bit.
  4. Scoop the still-warm sauce over ice cream for Cheater Cherries Jubilee or chill completely and swirl into yogurt.
  5. Will keep at least a week in a jar in the fridge.

Notes

Yields: 2 cups

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 15 minutes

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