Zucchini Pizza Boats

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Anyone’s New Year’s resolution involve dieting?  I know at our house it does.  Yes, now that the holidays have been put away it’s time to get back to normal eating and perhaps back to a diet.

To my husband that means eating low-carb and even Keto.  Whenever he went on one of his strict no carb diets I always ended up making 2 different dinners, no or low carb for  him and normal for the grandkids.  Well not this year!  I decided that low-carb or Keto friendly doesn’t mean that those not on diets can’t enjoy the same foods.  Seriously!  So I embarked on a journey to find dishes that would meet my husband’s needs and be tasty enough for the whole family!  I’ll be sharing recipes as I go!

My first keto friendly dish enjoyed by everyone in the house are these Zucchini Pizza Boats.  They are absolutely delicious, even for those who don’t particularly care for zucchini.  (That would be the grandson who refused to eat anything “green”! But he loves these Pizza Boats!)

This is such as easy recipe to make and it is seriously yummy!  It’s a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!

They’re a meal on their own, but feel free to serve them with Garlic Bread if you feel the need for carbs.  I serve them with a nice crisp salad of mixed greens with Italian dressing.  Very nutritious!

The recipe calls for Marinara Sauce, you can use store bought, your favorite homemade sauce, or try some of my yummy homemade Marinara Sauce.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Ingredients:

3 Large Zucchini

1 Tbs. Olive OIl

1 Lb. Ground Beef

1 Tbs. Garlic Powder

1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning

2 Cups Marinara Sauce

1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cooking spray

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat oil in frying pan.

Place ground beef in pan and add garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Cook until meat is crumbly.

Add marinara sauce and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10-15 minutes.

Combine 3 cheeses and stir in half of cheese mixture into beef mixture.  Set aside.

Cut off zucchini stems and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise.

Using a melon baller scoop out insides of zucchini, save the insides for later uses.

Place Zucchini boats on to baking pan.

Spoon meat mixture into each boat making sure each boat is filled to the brim.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over each boat.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and started to turn brown.

Serve hot with salad or garlic bread.

 

Zucchini Pizza Boats
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Zucchini Pizza Boats
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. Heat oil in frying pan. Place ground beef in pan and add garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Cook until meat is crumbly. Add marinara sauce and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10-15 minutes. Combine 3 cheeses and stir in half of cheese mixture into beef mixture.  Set aside. Cut off zucchini stems and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller scoop out insides of zucchini, save the insides for later uses. Place Zucchini boats on to baking pan. Spoon meat mixture into each boat making sure each boat is filled to the brim. Sprinkle remaining cheese over each boat. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and started to turn brown.  Serve hot with salad or garlic bread.
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Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Macluba

Maqluba is a Levantine dish popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The name literally means “upside down” because the meat, vegetables, and rice are stacked in a handleless pot to cook, then flipped over and placed on a large tray for serving.

These days Maqluba is described as a one pot dish, which I suppose it could be; assuming you don’t count the pot you stew the meat in, and the pan you fry the veggies in.  Not to mention the bowl you soak the rice in, and if you’re adding vermicelli and pine nuts the pan you brown the pasta and nuts in.

Maqluba is very similar to Paella which is also a one pot dish composed of meat or seafood, veggies, and rice.  Considering that many parts of Spain was under Moorish rule for a total of about 800 years it would be fair to say that Paella is the Spanish version of Maqluba or vice versa.

It is honestly the only Arabic dish I can claim to have mastered.  After years of making Maqluba I’ve finally gotten it right every single time.  It’s really not that difficult to make, it’s just tedious due to all the steps in the recipe and the time it takes to make it.  If you count the time it takes to soak the rice this dish takes all day to make, at the very least about 3  hours.  But it is truly worth the time and effort.

Maqluba is typically made with stewed meat, either lamb, beef, or chicken; fried vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant; and rice.  All the ingredients are stacked in that order into a large deep pot preferably without handles.  Of course you can omit the meat and make a vegetarian dish.

There are “enhancements” you can add to make the dish fancier.  Some folks like to mix vermicelli and even garbanzo beans in the rice before cooking, then sprinkle it with pine nuts before serving.  And of course in our family I slip tomato wedges between the meat before cooking, and some of us like to top the cooked dish with corn kernels and plain yogurt.  In short I suppose each family has it’s own version on how to cook and eat Maqluba.  But one thing is certain, it’s delicious!

Here’s how we make it at our house, but first here’s a quick tip.  When making Maqluba use a deeper pot with no handles (a maqluba pot is the best, but hard to find in the US, you may find one at a middle eastern grocery store) and a lid, or a pot with removable handles or handles that aren’t too close to the pot lip.  This will make flipping it over easier as handles can block the tray you flip it on to from laying flat on top of the pot.  The pot has to be deep enough to layer the ingredients and still have enough space for the rice to expand as it cooks.

Maqcluba

Ingrdients:

4-5 Cups Long Grain Rice

1 Tbs. Turmeric Powder

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

8-10 pieces of meat (lamb, beef, or bone in chicken thighs)

1 Large Onion, cut in chunks

1 Tbs. Garlic, crushed

1 Tbs. + 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. + 1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Box Stock (beef or chicken depending on the meat you use)

1 Large Cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 Large Eggplant, cut into rounds

3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds

Oil for frying

Cooking spray

2 Tomatoes cut in wedges

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled

Vermicelli (Optional)

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained (Optional)

1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Optional)

Butter (Optional)

1 Can Corn Kernels (Optional)

1 Cup Fresh Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)

Directions:

Place rice in a big bowl and cover with water.

Add Turmeric to water and stir until it is evenly distributed and water turns yellow.  Set aside for at least 2 hours. Check periodically as the rice will absorb the water.  If all the water is absorbed add more and stir.

Heat olive oil in a stock pot.

Saute onions in hot oil until it starts to turn translucent.

Add crushed garlic and cook another minute, stir to keep from burning.

Add meat, 1 Tbs. Cumin, 1 Tsp. Nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook until meat starts to brown.

Add stock and then add water to completely cover the meat.

Let simmer until meat is tender and fully cooked.  About 2 hours.  Set aside when done.

Meanwhile place about 1″ oil in frying pan.

Fry your veggies until cooked and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

If using Vermicelli and/or Pine Nuts:  Melt about 1 tbs. butter in a small frying pan.  Add vermicelli and cook until it starts to turn brown, stir constantly to keep from burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Repeat this procedure with Pine Nuts.

When ready to stack meat in the pot:

Spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray.

Drain rice then stir in vermicelli noodles and/or garbanzo beans if using.

Starting with the meat, remove meat from pot it was cooked it, reserve the broth do not discard.

Arrange meat at the bottom of the pot.

Slip garlic cloves and tomato wedges between the meat.

Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. nutmeg.

Arrange veggies on top of meat.

Pour rice mixture over the veggies and smooth out to make the top flat.

Gently pour reserved broth over the rice.  Fill until the broth just covers the rice, if you don’t have enough broth add water.

Cover with lid and simmer over medium heat until rice is cooked.  Check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the liquid has not all evaporated before the rice is cooked.  If you need to add more liquid, either broth or water.  This takes about 30 minutes.

If the rice is cooked and you still have liquid remove lid and raise the heat for about 5 minutes so that the rest of the liquid evaporates.  Be careful not to burn the bottom.  Or you can carefully drain extra liquid before flipping.

When rice is cooked and there is no more liquid remove pot from lid.  Let rest about 5 minutes.

Flip over onto a large tray.

Garnish with cooked Pine Nuts on the meat if desired.

Serve with bowls of corn kernels and plain yogurt.

 

 

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish
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Christmas Ham Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Christmas Ham Wrapped in Puff Pastry

There’s ham under that golden puff-pastry pineapple! A riff on the iconic glazed ham covered with pineapple rings and cherries, every slice of this show-stopping main course has flaky pastry and salty ham topped with sweet pineapple sauce.

Level: Easy

Total: 2 hr 20 min

Active: 25 min

Yield: 14-16 servings

Ingredients:

One 6-pound boneless ham

Two 17.3-ounce packages puff pastry (4 sheets)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Two 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple

3/4 cup light brown sugar

 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

5 cloves

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 maraschino cherries

Directions:

1. For the ham: Arrange 2 oven racks in the middle and bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Put the ham cut-side down in the middle of one.

2. Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a clean work surface and brush lightly with egg wash. Layer a second sheet on top and brush with egg wash. Repeat with the remaining sheets but do not brush egg wash on the top sheet. Roll the pastry with a rolling pin so it is 3 inches longer than the length of your ham and wide enough to drape over the ham completely. Cut off the extra 3 inches of pastry and set aside. Using a long sharp knife, score the pastry diagonally one way and then the other to form a diamond pattern, cutting halfway through the pastry layers.

3. Drape the pastry over the ham, pulling it gently to cover. Trim the excess pastry on the corners and set aside with the 3-inch-wide strip. Brush the wrapped ham with egg wash and bake on the middle rack until the pastry is golden and the ham is hot through (about 140 degrees F), about 2 hours.

4. For the pineapple top: Meanwhile, cut the 3-inch-wide pastry strip in half lengthwise on the diagonal so you have 2 long triangles. Cut the other pastry scraps into long thin triangles of various sizes. Transfer to the second prepared baking sheet, brush with egg wash and bake on the bottom rack until golden, rotating front to back half way through, about 30 minutes.

5. Combine the pineapple, sugar, cloves and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pineapple sauce, bring back to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the cloves. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and top with the cherries.

6. Put the ham on a serving platter and arrange the baked triangles at the top of the ham in the shape of a pineapple crown. Serve with the pineapple sauce.

Christmas Ham Wrapped in Puff Pastry
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Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kabobs

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kabobs

Kalbi KabobsOne of our favorite food is Korean Kalbi, or barbecued beef short ribs.  We usually order this at one of the local fast food Korean restaurants, but it’s pretty pricey; you get 3 thin short ribs, a couple of scoops of steamed white rice, and a choice of 4 side dishes (kim chee, bean sprouts, tofu, etc.) for a over $12 a plate.

My husband’s main complaint about the local restaurants isn’t the the price or the serving size of the kalbi, it’s about the flimsy plastic utensils they provide which usually snaps in half the moment you try to cut into the meat.  Hence he has decided not to patronize any of the fast food style Korean barbecue joints.

There are sit down Korean restaurants where you can grill your own meats, the meal comes with many side dishes, soup, and steamed rice; but they also come with a hefty price tag.  The last time my girlfriend and I stopped at one for lunch it cost us a little bit over $65, and that’s without drinks or tip! Not to mention that was the least expensive barbecue dish on the menu!  The food was good, specially the kalbi, but I’m sure we won’t be repeating it often.

To solve all these issues I’ve found a great Korean Kalbi recipe to make at home.  I make it of our Sunday barbecue and it was a big hit with my family.  I used thin cut boneless beef short ribs which I threaded  on to bamboo skewers to make them into kebabs.  You can use bone-in short ribs and don’t have to thread them on to skewers, I do however recommend that you use the thinner cuts so that the marinade will infuse the meat better.

I served this with steamed white rice, macaroni salad, and kim chee cabbage;  it was even better than the plates we get at the Korean restaurants at less than half the price! (The short ribs cost $6.97 a pound, if you get the thin cut that’s 6 short ribs).

Another way to serve this is on small white corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, just like the Korean Kalbi Tacos from the food truck in L.A.!  We served it this way for my mom’s 80th. birthday party a few years ago.

Just in time for your Labor Day barbecue!  Here’s my recipe!
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Makes 18 skewers
Ingredients:
3 lbs. thin cut boneless beef short ribs (you should get 18 short ribs.  You can use bone-in ribs if you prefer)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbls. fresh ginger – finely grated
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tbls. white sesame seeds
1 tbls. black sesame seeds
2 stalks green onions – chopped
Directions:
1.  Cut short ribs into thirds if you will be threading them on to skewers, if not then don’t cut them.
2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix until sugar dissolves.
3.  Pour marinade into large ziplock bag.
4.  Put meat into marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.
5.  Thread meat on to skewers and barbecue on the grill to desired doneness.  If you’re not making kebabs then cook ribs on the grill until done.
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Serve hot immediately off the grill.
Looking for more grilling inspiration?  Check out PersonalCreations.com and see how people grill around the world!

 

 

 

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Skewers
Instructions
  1. Cut short ribs into thirds if you will be threading them on to skewers, if not then don't cut them.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  3. Pour marinade into large ziploc bag.
  4. Put meat into marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.
  5. Thread meat on to skewers and barbecue on the grill to desired doneness. If you're not making kebabs then cook ribs on the grill until done.
  6. Serve hot immediately off the grill.
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Meat Filled Piroshki

Meat Filled Piroshki

For years now I usually write about travel on my Wednesday articles.  Lately due to the worldwide Pandemic travel has become difficult and many times ill advised.

Many of us have chosen to stay home this summer perhaps planning our next trip whenever we feel safe enough to venture further away from home.  In our case I’m not really sure when that will be, specially since cruising is one of our favorite vacation travel.  Sadly the cruising industry has canceled cruises thru September and will likely cancel cruises thru fall and possibly the rest of the year.

Yes we’re sad and even restless.  We haven’t been able to visit our daughter and her family in Italy since last fall.  And yes we miss traveling.  That’s why I’ve been trying to bring a little bit of our travels in to our home.  What better way to “re-live” some of our favorite vacation spots than thru food.  I’ve decided to share some of our favorite cuisine which we discovered during our travels.  Because isn’t food a big part of traveling anyway?

So for the next little while on my Wednesday post I’ll share a recipe for a favorite food we discovered during our travels.  I hope it will inspire you to try something different and maybe make plans to visit one of the countries!

Today I’ll share this Piroshki recipe.  Piroshkis are very similar to American meat pies, British Pasties, Middle Eastern Fatayer,  and even Empanadas from Mexico, Spain, and other Latin countries.

Piroshkis are a popular street or comfort food in Russia and the Ukraine.  They’re fried or baked oblong buns (I prefer the fried) filled with a variety of fillings including beef, chicken, pork, mushrooms, and cheese.  In Russia they’re considered a main course when eaten with a soup or salad.  It’s often served with sour cream.

Today I’ll share a recipe for Beef or Chicken filled Piroshkis.  They’re not too difficult to make and if you’re not used to working with yeast breads this is a fine recipe to start with as it’s fairly simple.

Meat Filled Piroshkis

Ingredients for the dough:

4 cups flour

1 Tsp. Active dry yeast

1/4 Cup warm water

1 Cup Milk

3 Eggs

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

2 Tbs. Sugar

1 Tsp. Salt

Filling Ingredients:

1 Lb. Ground Beef, Turkey, or Chicken

1 Large Onion very finely chopped

1/2 Cup Mushrooms very finely chopped

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Pepper

2 Tbs. Fresh Dill

1 Tsp. Dried Dill

1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic – minced

Oil for frying

Directions:

First prepare dough as follows:

Dissolve yeast in the warm water and place in a warm place until it’s frothy – about 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan on low heat pour in milk and let warm up.

Whisk in the eggs, oil, sugar, and salt.  This mixture will be warm and lumpy.

Remove from heat.

Place 1/2 of flour in bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl if mixing by hand).  Using the dough hook gradually stir in the milk mixture until fully combined.

Alternately add yeast mixture and rest of the flour, be sure you mix well between additions.

Mix well.

Knead until the dough forms a ball and does not stick to sides of bowl.  You may have to add some more flour (1 Tbs. spoon at a time) to get the dough to the proper consistency.

Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size. About 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

When dough has doubled in size place the ball into a lightly floured surface.

Pinch of pieces of dough to form a ball about 2″.

Flatten dough and using a rolling pin roll each ball into disks about 4″ in diameter.

Place a heaping Tbs. of filling in the center of dough.  Form filling into a line across the diameter.  Fold dough over meat and pinch both ends to seal.

Place filled piroshki on to a sheet with the seam side down and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Heat enough oil in a pan deep enough so that the piroshkis will be at least halfway immersed in oil.

Place piroshki in hot oil seam side down.  Fry until golden brown.

Gently flip over and fry other side.

Drain cooked piroshki on paper towels before serving.

Meat Filled Piroshki
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Meat Filled Piroshki
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Meat Filled Piroshkis
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