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Pumpkin Pecan Patties with Maple Vinaigrette

July 9, 2013 Entrees, Menu No Comments

While doing research for this recipe, I found that there are actually a handful of pumpkin burger patty recipes available on various food websites, and they all use white beans as the key ingredient along with pumpkin puree. However, none of the recipes utilized traditional pumpkin spices. Instead, most rely on corn, peppers and other usual suspects found in a veggie patty. Because I wanted to stay true to the pumpkin taste, yet have it hold up as burger patty, I put together my own version, using pumpkin puree, chickpeas (any white bean would work well), traditional pumpkin spices, and some tarragon to add a little savory flavor. To keep with the pumpkin theme, I also cut back heavily on the recommended amount of breadcrumbs and compensated with ground pecans – which, of course, goes well with any pumpkin dish! I also substituted traditional condiments with a maple dressing…again, to compliment the spicy pumpkin taste.

Whether you are a fan of pumpkin, or just a lover of veggie burgers, I suggest you give this one a try. And while the upcoming autumn season is the optimal season, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy these any time of the year!

Pumpkin Pecan Patties with Maple Vinaigrette
Makes 4 to 6 burgers
1 15.5 oz can chick peas (or any type of white bean)
1-1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tspn allspice
1/2 tspn nutmeg
1/2 tspn ginger
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn tarragon
1 tbspn chives
1 egg
1-1/2 cups finely grounded pecans
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375˚. Combine beans, pumpkin, spices, tarragon, chives and egg in a food processor. Mix until well combined. Fold in pecans and breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper. Place the mixture  in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. After you remove mixture from the fridge/freezer, gently scoop a generous handful and shape into a patty (makes a total of 4 to 6 patties).

Place the patties on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking.

Serving suggestions:
plated with a side of vegetables or rice, on a bun with a side of chips, or over a salad.

Drizzle with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 tbspn balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tspn dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper into a bowl, whisk together. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream with continuing to whisk.

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Grilled Beer Soaked Honey Lime Chicken Breasts

June 6, 2013 Entrees, Menu No Comments

If you are a beer advocate and live in the Philadelphia area, you would know that Philly Beer Week is as celebrated as Christmas vacation. Philly Beer Week is once again upon us, and countless brewers and beer fanatics will be taking part in hundreds of special events and tastings throughout our entire city. Being that we are also now in prime grill-out season, I thought it would be fun to put together a dish for this week’s post that incorporates beer! After doing some fun research, I found a tasty recipe for chicken breasts marinated in a beer, lime and honey mixture. The original recipe also called for cilantro, although a few people who rated the original recipe felt that the cilantro wasn’t flavorful enough. They substituted the cilantro with other herbs and spices, such as thyme and coriander. I used my favorite go-to jar of Herbs de Provence. You can use whatever additional herbs and spices you prefer, and don’t be afraid to be liberal with the spices either! One 12oz can or bottle of light beer works fine for this recipe. If you have one of the summer light beers that are flavored with lime, all the better! Use the better beers that you have on hand as your drink of choice with this meal. With just 4 hours of marinating and 15 minutes of grilling, the chicken breasts were loaded with flavor in every bite. This dish will definitely be a regular part of my grilling menu this summer.

Grilled Beer Soaked Honey Lime Chicken Breasts
Inspired by the Beer Lime Chicken recipe at allrecipes.com

1 12oz bottle or can of light beer (lime-flavored light beer will also work well)
zest plus juice of 1 lime
1 tspn honey
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbspn herbs (such as cilantro, thyme, coriander, Italian seasoning or Oregano)
1-1/2 tspn salt
1/2 pepper
4 single serve boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix the beer, lime juice and zest, honey, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Place the chicken breasts in a container and pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat grill to medium heat, making sure to oil the grates. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding the remaining marinade. Grill the chicken approximately 7 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

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Summer Seafood Giambotta

May 24, 2013 Entrees, Menu, Soup No Comments

When I started planning to make this dish earlier this week, my original intentions were to simply sauté some vegetables and serve them over sliced polenta. Apparently my creative juices were in high gear that day. I found myself inspired and started reaching for additional complimentary ingredients. Before I knew it, I had a beautiful pan of giambotta (the classic stewed vegetable dish) simmering away on our new stovetop.Within a half an hour, my wife and I were enjoying a fresh, hearty and flavorful meal!

A traditional giambotta would normally include ingredients such as potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. For this version, I used zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, onion, diced tomatoes and spinach. These are all quick-cooking ingredients, which made for the ideal weekday meal. I like to keep a bag of frozen raw shrimp and frozen scallops on hand for impromptu dishes, and this was the perfect opportunity to put them to use. Letting the shrimp and scallops simmer in the sauce during the last few minutes of cooking guaranteed the perfect, tender texture and taste. We did serve this over sliced polenta, which worked perfectly. But next time I make this, I’m going all out and will be serving it up with a nice crusty loaf of Italian bread to scoop up every last drop of sauce!

SUMMER SEAFOOD GIAMBOTTA

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbspn olive oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced into circles, then circles sliced in half
1 medium yellow squash, sliced into circles, then circles sliced in half
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 dozen raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup raw small sea scallops

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add chopped onions, stir, sauté for 30-45 seconds or until translucent.

Add diced zucchini and squash, stir and sauté until zucchini and squash start to soften up. Add diced tomatoes and their juices, lower heat to simmer. Add spinach, stir. Add shrimp and scallops. Stir together, cover with lid and let simmer until shrimp and scallops are done, about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper (you can add some crushed red pepper for additional heat). Serve it over sliced polenta or along with crusty Italian bread.

Makes approximately 2-4 servings

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Baked Arancini Casserole

May 10, 2013 Appetizer, Entrees 1 Comment

Last summer, I had a wonderfully unique opportunity handed to me, when I was asked to make a dish for the Philadelphia Phillies. I put together Whole Grain Baked Arancini Rice Balls, which went over very well with the team. Ever since, arancini has been on my regular ‘craving’ list, but it’s tough to find the time needed to roll and prepare them. To satisfy my urge, and to save prep time, I put together a baked casserole version that no doubt holds up to the original!

Arancini, the popular stuffed and fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, are no doubt a well-loved Italian treat. This updated version of the classic dish incorporates all of the ingredients and flavors into a convenient and easy to make baked casserole. You can use any form of ground meat in this recipe (I went with ground turkey, along with peas and diced tomatoes), or you can get creative with other fillings, such as cheese, chicken, shrimp or asparagus (next time I will be trying a shrimp, asparagus and lemon version). Baking this dish is not only a healthier option, but it also frees up some time that you would normally spend rolling and frying, if you were making the traditional arancini balls.

 

BAKED ARANCINI CASSEROLE

Ingredients
1lb ground meat (beef, sausage or turkey would all work well)
1 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup frozen peas
1lb part skim ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked long grain white rice or multi grain brown rice
breadcrumbs
spices (onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper)

Directions
In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground meat. Use spices to season meat to your liking and taste. Add the peas and tomatoes, stir until heated. Drain excess liquid, then set meat filling aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan and cooked rice. Add the meat mixture, mix well.

Lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Add the mixture to the dish. Lightly coat the top of the mixture with breadcrumbs, then lightly spray the breadcrumbs with cooking spray. Bake uncovered at 350º for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Slice and serve!

You can add additional tomato sauce to each serving for extra flavor.

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