I’ve written about quesadillas before- the five-minute, 3-ingredient kind.  These (from Guy Fieri) are a little more labor intensive, but they’re totally worth it.  They’re loaded with cumin-dusted summer veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, corn, and red onions!) and oozing gooey cheese, with a super smoky chipotle sour cream on the side.  The recipe calls for grilling the corn but you can put the shucked corn under the broiler for about 10 minutes, turning halfway, and still get a nice char on the kernels. (more…)


This recipe is perfect for using up all those zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers you’ve no doubt got filling your fridge from farmers’ markets and gardens.  Now, I know that this isn’t a real ratatouille, (there are no tomatoes, it’s cooked on a grill, and there is- gasp- cheese in it) but whatever you want to call it, it is absolutely delicious.  The sharp feta cheese complements the vegetables well, and the balsamic vinegar adds just the right tang.  Even veggie haters will be going back for seconds!


Ingredients Cost
1 12-14 oz eggplant, sliced into rounds $1.89
1 zucchini, sliced $1.30
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips $1.50
1 medium onion, cut into slices $0.70
3 T olive oil pantry
3 garlic cloves $0.30
3 tsp balsamic vinegar pantry
2/3 c. crumbled feta cheese $1.50
2 T. fresh basil, slivered $1.40
Total cost (4 side servings) $8.59
Cost per serving $2.15

Prepare grill (medium-high heat) or preheat the broiler.  Place eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; turn to coat.  Grill/broil veggies until tender and tinged brown, turning frequently.  Transfer veggies to a bowl, add vinegar, cheese, and basil, and toss to combine.

I love meals that I can prep ahead of time, especially if I have company coming over.  This recipe for Matar Paneer is just one of those, as it only takes about 10-20 minutes to make if you prepare the paneer and masala beforehand.  I made the paneer and masala the day before, but you could also make the masala well in advance and freeze until you’re ready to use it.

This was my first cheesemaking adventure, and it was a learning experience.  To make paneer, you bring whole milk to a boil, add acid,  then separate the curds from whey using a cheesecloth.  Well, when I brought the mixture to a boil hardly any curds formed.  I added a little more acid, and nothing happened.  I gave it a few minutes, and nothing happened.  After some internet searching, I found that you must bring the milk to a full boil, and if you mess up the first time you can try again.  So, I brought the milk to a boil again and this time curds formed immediately and the liquid turned clear.  Cool!  There you have it: making paneer at home is really simple, and even if you don’t get curds the first time, try, try, again! (more…)

This recipe was inspired by my half-full jar of tahini in the fridge, begging to not be turned into hummus yet another time.  After looking through every single recipe in my Middle Eastern cookbook and not finding anything besides hummus and baba ghanouj variants, I almost gave up.  I started thumbing through Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book, uninterested in the pasta dishes and casseroles.  Blah.  Then all of a sudden, I was in the burger section!  Oooh, I thought.  I don’t have a real grill, but I have a George Foreman grill.  I kept flipping, more and more interested by the second.  And then I saw it: falafel burgers.  I scanned the ingredients list, and lo and behold: tahini!!  A tahini dipping sauce!  My mind was made up. (more…)

These quesadillas are so simple to make that it’s kind of embarrassing.  Tortillas, refried beans, and cheese, folded up and tossed on a George Foreman grill until crispy.  That’s it!  This is a perfect meal to make when I get home late or am so tired that I can’t even keep my eyes open long enough to chop up ingredients.  Of course, you could make these more elaborate if you had time and ingredients: chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, corn, onions, cilantro, the sky’s the limit.  If you don’t have a George Foreman grill or sandwich press, you could simply cook the quesadillas in a skillet. (more…)

I recently celebrated my birthday, and that can only mean one thing: I’m in desperate need of lots and lots of vegetables to counteract the chocolate cake and ice cream I’ve had every day for the past week.  Eek!  Luckily I came across this recipe from Rachael Ray, which has tomatoes, peas, and asparagus to make me feel healthy, but still loads of pasta and three kinds of cheese to make it edible.  The flavors are subtle but the whole dish is very light and spring-like, which I am in such need of after eating heavy meals all winter.  This would be a great dish to entertain with since it makes a whole 9×13 casserole, or if you live by yourself like me you can have leftovers for a week and still freeze some!

I made garlic bread to go along with this meal.  This is one of my favorite tricks: buy a regular baguette from the store and slather it up with your own garlic butter.  For mine, I use half a stick of softened butter, 3-4 cloves garlic, and a few tablespoons of fresh basil.  Mix the ingredients together, spread it on the baguette sliced in half lengthwise, cover in foil, and put in the oven for the last 5-6 minutes that the casserole is baking.  Delectable! (more…)

In keeping with my bread-making ambitions, this week I made whole wheat pita bread along with some hummus.  I haven’t really baked too much with whole wheat flour before, but I bought a bag a few weeks ago to try out some new bread recipes.  I must say, I absolutely love the texture and bite that it gives to these pita breads!  They are much more flavorful and fresher than store-bought whole wheat pita breads.  Granted, it took me almost three hours to make them- but the recipe made a lot (8 large pitas) which will mean I get to freeze some.

The hummus recipe is pretty basic, but it is the best I have ever made.  Ever.  I attribute it to using tahini, instead of just olive oil as I have previously done.  I think this is definitely a case where the cost of a bottle of tahini is worth it, especially considering it still cost me less to make this recipe than buying a container of hummus at the store.

Hummus (Epicurious)

Ingredients Cost
3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 1/2 tsp. salt $0.10
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained $0.76
1/3 c. tahini, well-stirred $1.89
2 T. fresh lemon juice $0.79
2 T. olive oil pantry
1 tsp. cumin pantry
3 T. water
Total cost (4 servings) $3.54
Cost per serving $0.89

In a food processor blend together garlic paste, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, oil, and cumin, scraping down side, until smooth. Add water, salt and pepper to taste and pulse until just combined.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread (Epicurious)

Ingredients Cost
2 1/2 tsp. yeast $0.30
1 tsp. honey pantry
1 1/4 c. warm water pantry
2 c. flour pantry
1 c. whole wheat flour pantry
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil pantry
1 tsp. salt pantry
Total cost (8 servings) $0.30
Cost per serving $0.04

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack.

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