blueberry buckle

I didn’t take any pictures while we baked because a certain someone was eager to lick the bowl.  Also, we’re barely unpacked from a 2,100 mile cross-country trip and it was a small miracle just to find the camera.  This is just another classic summer fruit recipe.  Take advantage of fresh, local produce and do something good with it.  Personally, my favorite way to eat berries is right off the bush, but layered in cake batter and smothered in a crumbly topping isn’t bad, either.

There are a ga-zillion versions of blueberry buckle awaiting you on the internet.  I’m not sure this one is much different, at all.  It’s done in a spring form pan versus a cake pan, but that’s about it.  It would also be easy to adapt for baking in individual ramekins.  Eat it in the morning with coffee, or add freshly whipped cream or a little dollop of vanilla ice cream and call it dessert.  Versatile, but classically summer!  Enjoy!

Blueberry Buckle

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 c blueberries, washed and de-stemmed

Topping:

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, cut in to mixture cold

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg to mixture.  Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add to butter/sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with milk.
  5. Add blueberries.  Fold to combine.
  6. Place in prepared 9″  spring form pan, add topping, and bake for 35 minutes.

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***Baker’s Notes:  If you only have an 8 1/2″ pan, bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes longer.

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strawberries with balsamic vinegar

So we’ve been away for a little while.  Two months, to be exact.  Tending to other things.  Our hearts, our souls, our peace-of-mind, our new (to us) cottage in Northern Michigan where we’ll happily watch the weather in the desert on our smartphones and say, “Oh, how good it is to be here in Northern Michigan.”

With two months of projects, including a white picket fence, I’ve been otherwise occupied with gardening, and beach walks and campfires.  The simple pleasures of life.  With that said, and with summer berries in abundance, I bring you another simple pleasure.  Some of the best and most simple pleasures of summer: strawberries and balsamic.  And vanilla ice cream.  Moomers, of course.

This is so easy to make and is so incredibly delicious, you’ll never want to put anything else on your vanilla ice cream, again.  Guaranteed.  Enjoy!!

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Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar (recipe courtesy Traverse Magazine, June 2012)

 Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/8 cup light brown sugar
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring vinegar, granulated sugar and lemon juice to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Simmer until syrup is reduced by half. Cool.
  3. Toss berries and brown sugar in a bowl.
  4. Pour vinegar syrup over berries, add fresh black pepper to taste.
  5. Serve over vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.

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***Cook’s Notes:  Use the very best balsamic vinegar you can afford…which is true no matter what you’re making.

cranberry-cinnamon goat cheese

Just before Christmas, one of the moms from our 3rd grade class hosted a gingerbread house decorating party for some of her daughter’s friends.  We happened to be on the guest list and had a blast.  Not only was it fun because the kids had a ball decorating their houses with all sorts of edible sweeties, but she had a spread of real food (and beverages) for those of us who don’t find Skittles and Everlasting Gob-Stoppers nearly as interesting as we used to.

One of the appetizers she served was a goat cheese roll smothered in the most delicious cranberry sauce ever.  I begged her for the recipe.  She said, “I got it at Costco.”

Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not a fan of Costco for a litany of reasons, and I had successfully avoided becoming a Costco member for a long, long, long time.  But then we got a dog.  And dog food is a lot cheaper at Costco.  Also, apparently I can buy Fage yogurt and 12-grain bread at a deep discount.  Not to mention, gas is 30 cents a gallon less expensive, and when you’re fueling with premium gasoline that’s a big deal.  So, now we’re Costco members.  Yippee!!

But I’m not buying prepared appetizers at Costco!  No matter how yummy they are!!

This recipe was easy enough to find and easy to put together.  On top of that, I’d put it up against the mass-produced Costco version (admittedly delicious) any day.  It was wonderful.  The cranberry sauce is tangy and lemony, yet with the warmth and savoriness of cinnamon.  It was one of my favorite appetizers on New Year’s Day.  I think it would also work as a Super Bowl party appetizer – the cranberries are pretty festive, but we’re not so far removed from the holidays that you couldn’t pull it off on game day.  Enjoy!

Cranberry-Cinnamon Goat Cheese (recipe courtesy Mission Food)

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 11 oz. log goat cheese
  • Crackers, for serving

Directions:

  1. Add cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest, and cinnamon to saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for about 8 to 10 minutes. The cranberries will pop, the mixture will foam and subside, and the sauce will thicken as the cranberries break down.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Spread about 1/2 cup of the cranberry mixture onto the plastic wrap, a little longer and wider than the goat cheese log. Lay the goat cheese log on top of the cranberry sauce and spread more sauce over the top and sides of the goat cheese (much like frosting a cake). There should be about 1/4-inch thick layer of cranberry sauce over all the sides of the goat cheese.
  4. Wrap the plastic wrap around the cranberry-coated goat cheese log and refrigerate.
  5. Remove the goat cheese from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to allow the cheese to slightly soften and become easier to spread. Remove plastic wrap before serving!

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spice cake

This cake could be frosted, but there might not be enough left to frost after everyone discovers how yummy it is.  So, if you frost it, do so quickly.

There are no prep pictures of this cake because I threw it together on a whim one evening after a bout of tears in the grocery store parking lot.  We’d been decorating for Christmas and we opened up several boxes of things I’d brought from my mom’s house last fall.  It was hard.  Really hard.  Walk-away-to-get-my-car-keys-to-go-to-the-grocery-store-for-some-obscure-item-so-I-can-sit-anonymously-crying-in-the-parking-lot hard.

And if there’s anything to make me feel better in an emotionally charged moment, well, it’s a good cry in a parking lot and baking a cake!

As I said above, if you want to frost it, don’t let anyone near this cake until you’ve done so.  I planned on it (a nice brown butter drizzle would have been excellent), but it was sliced and packed into lunch boxes before I had a chance.  After that, consensus was just leave it be.  It’s perfectly delicious without frosting and frosting is messy in lunch boxes, anyway.  This cake would make a wonderful addition to a holiday brunch buffet, in which case I’d definitely frost it to give it that finishing touch.  I think you’ll love it either way.  Enjoy!

Spice Cake (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c low-fat buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Grease a 13×9 baking pan, or grease and lightly flour a 9″ bundt pan; set aside.  Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat till well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, folding in after each addition just until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes for the 13×9 pan, or 45 minutes for the bundt pan, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool sheet pan completely on wire rack.  If using bundt pan, cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove cake from pan and cool thoroughly on wire rack.

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***Baker’s Notes:  The original recipe suggested baking in either the sheet pan or 2 8 1/2 inch cake pans, but I wanted a bundt cake.  Mine is a 10 1/2″ bundt pan which can hold between 10 and 15 cups of batter.  This recipe makes about 8 cups of batter, so my bundt pan wasn’t anywhere near full to capacity.  Therefore, the finished cake was a little thinner than if I’d used a smaller bundt pan.  My baking time was 45 minutes.  If you use a smaller bundt pan, just make sure to check the cake at about the 45 minute mark.  It may need a little more time.  When the cake begins to pull away from the edges of the pan, you’re just about there.

java spice bread

So….clearly I’m in the throes of some sort of fall spice preoccupation.  But it’s fall.  Fall doesn’t last that long around these parts, and neither does winter.  And that means I have to strike while the iron is hot, or, in this case, cool and overcast.  Which it had been for the last couple of days.  Rain.  Low clouds.  More rain.  Flooded washes.  Fall’s full weight.  And I’m loving every minute of it; the inspiration to bake on a cool, gray Friday afternoon.

This recipe is delicious.  I opted to eliminate the pecans simply because I didn’t have any in my pantry and didn’t feel like going out for one item.  The bread is warm and spicy and aromatic.  It would make a wonderful addition to a breakfast or brunch buffet on Christmas morning.  I know I didn’t care for the raisins in my previous recipe, but they worked beautifully in this one, giving an added burst of sweetness.  This one comes highly recommended.  Seethe Baker’s Notes, below, for further suggestions in prepping this lovely bread.  Enjoy!

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Java Spice Bread (recipe courtesy Grand Temptations:  Recipes from the Junior League of Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1 3/4 c + 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1/8 c (= 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c strong black coffee, cold
  • 1/2 c pecans, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine the raisins with water to cover in a small microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on High for 3 minutes; drain.  Remove the raisins to a paper towel and let stand until cool.  Place the raisins in a small bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp flour and toss to coat.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Combine eggs, honey, butter, and coffee in a bowl and mix well.  Fold in to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Stir in raisins and pecans (optional).
  4. Pour batter into greased and floured 9-inch loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Store, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 1 week.  The loaves also freeze well.

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***Baker’s Notes:  Use really strong coffee.  If your average daily brew tends to be on the mild side, brew an extra strong cup for this recipe to give your bread a nice coffee undertone.  Also, the original recipe instructed to bake for 1 hour, cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  That was way too long.  I adapted to 55 minutes in the oven, but I think you might even want to check it at 50 minutes to ensure maximum moistness.  This bread would make excellent hostess or teacher gifts.  Bake in mini loaf pans and wrap in pretty Christmas cellophane bags.  Re-calculate baking time for the mini loaves.

spicy pumpkin muffins

I had some leftover pumpkin puree in the refrigerator that needed to be turned into something before it passed its prime.  This recipe popped out at me while I was re-organizing my cookbooks.  On a side note:  Is it just me, or do cookbook collections seem to have a life of their own?   It’s as if I slide the door closed over them and they throw a dance party and drink too much and forget where they leave their pants!  Every time I reach for a cookbook I think, “I really need to reorganize these again.”  Anyway…

These muffins were average.  I’d make a few changes the next time.  First, they weren’t nearly “spicy” enough for me.  Obviously, not in a muy caliente sort of way.  But in a pumpkin-y, fall, seasonal spicy sort of way.  And I actually included allspice; a seasoning not called for in the original recipe.  Also, as much as I love golden raisins, I didn’t love them in this recipe.  Too mushy or something.  The texture was wrong.  See my Baker’s Notes below for some suggestions to improve this recipe.  It has the potential to be really good.  Feel free to comment, too, if you make them, and let me know what you did or didn’t do to change the recipe.  I might like to try it.  Enjoy!

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Spicy Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from A Literary Feast: Recipes From the Grosse Pointe Public Library)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c low-fat milk
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.  Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray such as Pam for baking.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix well.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg, milk, and pumpkin puree, until smooth.
  4. Fold dry ingredients in to pumpkin mixture, about 1/3 at a time, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Stir in raisins (or, walnuts).
  6. Spoon equal amounts into muffin cups and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then finish cooling on rack.

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***Baker’s Notes – First, as you can see above, I used cupcake liners for my muffins.  If you do this, make sure the muffins are completely cool before removing the paper.  My first one (yes, I was anxious to try it) stuck miserably, but the paper on the fully cooled muffins did not.  Second, add more spice.  I’d double everything:  1 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and throwing caution to the wind, 1/2 teaspoon ginger.  They’re pumpkin muffins.  They’re supposed to be overflowing with the flavors of fall.  The original recipe just fell flat.   Third, the raisins were too soft.  I’d use nuts next time; walnuts, pecans, or even roasted, unsalted pepitas, for some complimentary texture.  Last, what you don’t eat the first day, refrigerate.

pumpkin chocolate chip squares

So, yesterday I spent too much time reading news and scanning the Twitter feed re: the current state of affairs in Washington D.C.  I’m a fiscal conservative.  Borrowing money to pay your bills is ludicrous.  You wouldn’t run your household budget that way, so why is it ok for the government to spend like a passel of reckless teenagers with a stolen ATM card??  (I’d refer you to the recent glitch in the welfare EBT system in which recipients of government-funded, i.e., my tax dollars, debit cards went on a spending spree…knowing full well their cards did NOT have balances to support their spending).  Get it?

Well, enough of that.  After an overload of (more) bad news out of our nation’s capital, I shut down (ha ha…no pun intended) the internet and headed to the kitchen to bake.  With ingredients I bought with hard-earned money contained within our monthly household budget.  Get it?

Oh, never mind.  Just bake these.  They’re yummy and perfect for fall – pumpkin, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and chocolate.  Good stuff.  Good stuff.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5/8 cup sugar (weighed on a kitchen scale = .625 ounces)
  • 1/2 large egg (approx 1 Tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp)**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (I used a combination of white and semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray bottom of 8 x 8 baking pan with Pam Non-Stick Baking Spray
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

*Pumpkin Pie Spice is easy to make at home:  Combine 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

**I halved this recipe which created the dilemma of halving an egg.  A typical large egg contains about 2 Tbsp egg white and 1 Tbsp yolk.  So, to half the egg, you’ll need 1 1/2 Tbsp of whipped egg (1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp).

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***Baker’s Notes:  First, the original recipe called for chocolate chips.  I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but I had a partial bag I wanted to use up, so I divided the 6 ounces into half white chocolate, half semi-sweet.  The end result?  Perfect way to eat white chocolate.  You can’t even really taste the difference.  Secondly, because I halved the recipe, I ended up baking in an 8 x 8 pan rather than the 9 x 13.  Watch the baking time.  I pulled them the first time at 30 minutes, but quickly reconsidered because they’re much thicker.  Last, the one thing I might add to give this recipe a little more punch (not that they’re not delicious), is cayenne pepper.  Heat and chocolate and pumpkin.  Triple threat!!

white bean chicken chili

I’ve never been a huge chili fan.  As an adult, I’ll be polite and eat it if someone invites me to dinner and serves chili.  I’ll eat, but I wouldn’t ask for seconds.  In fact, I’ll probably feign fullness about 3/4 of the way through the bowl.  If there’s anything else on the menu, I’ll order that.  My poor mom, though.  Oh, the torment.  As a child, I hated chili.  The world record for the longest time taken to eat a teaspoon of chili was most certainly set by yours truly in 1973.  If there was a way to consume that teaspoon of chili without ever allowing said chili to touch my teeth, lips, or tongue, I mastered it.  There weren’t enough Saltine Crackers in a box to make a bowl of chili palatable to my budding taste buds.

And my mom was a good cook!

So how I became fixated upon white bean chicken chili, I have no idea.  For some reason, a couple of years ago, I began ruminating.  White beans instead of kidney, chicken instead of ground beef, lots of flavor from fresh veggies in lieu of dried spices, etc., etc., and the obsession was born.

This recipe is absolutely, positively going in the regular rotation.  It’s so good, so flavorful, so healthy and delicious, I can’t wait to make it again.  Even the kiddo, who has the world’s slowest chili eating record in her cross-hairs, wasn’t terribly offended by getting chili on her teeth, lips, or tongue!  How’s that for raves from an 8-year-old??

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional red bean and beef chili, this one is an excellent replacement.  It goes together quickly and doesn’t require a lot of attention while it simmers to perfection.  It was even better the next day, too.  Serve it with some baked tortilla chips, cheese, cilantro, and/or low-fat sour cream to adapt to your particular tastes.  I think it’ll be a hit.  Enjoy!

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White Bean Chicken Chili (recipe courtesy Mayo Clinic Diet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz diced chicken (I used a roasted chicken)
  • 3 C white beans, cooked, or 2 14-oz cans
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 4 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium orange or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 6 Tbsp reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • low-fat baked tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot, add chicken, beans, tomatoes and chicken broth.  Cover and simmer over medium heat.
  2. While soup mixture is simmering, spray a nonstick pay w/cooking spray.  Add onions, peppers, and garlic, and saute approx 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and pepper mixture to the soup pot.  Stir in the spices and simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes, or until veggies are soft.
  4. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with cheese (optional) and cilantro.  Serve with baked chips.

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pumpkin pie smoothies

October is here.  That means pumpkin pies, spice breads, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, and…the pumpkin smoothie!

This recipe appears in so many places all over the internet I don’t even remember where I found it.  Frankly, there are so many variations on this recipe, it’s hard to say where it was first conceived.  Again, it’s a recipe that takes well to adaptation.  This one is dairy-free and vegan friendly.  You can easily make this gluten-free, as well, by using a gluten-free rolled oat (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill).  I thought it was delicious.

My child, however, did not.  She tried it, rolled it around over her taste buds, and then promptly handed the glass back to me and asked for an alternative snack.  I’ll give her credit for actually trying it, though.  My husband refused it outright.  He never even tasted it.  Something about the color!  Admittedly, he saw it a few hours after I’d made it, and anything with banana in it is susceptible to discoloration.  Bananas turn brown pretty quickly once you peel them, and this smoothie is not exception.  Make it, drink it.  Don’t save some for tomorrow.  Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (recipe adapted from all over the internet)

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 3/4 C pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 C rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp flax seeds, ground (optional)
  • 1 tsp all-natural maple syrup
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice
  • fresh grated cinnamon or nutmeg for topping

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Add whipped topping (optional) and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice,

Dive in!

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grilled vegetable sandwiches

Summer is ending.  Fall is arriving…slowly, but arriving.  We had a couple of evenings recently where we sat on the patio and enjoyed what had the makings of a cool breeze.  I think we’ve survived another desert summer!  Which is good and bad, because that means summer veggies are going by the wayside.  But it also means fall root veggies, key to many comfort foods and soups, will be in abundant supply.

While flipping through a cookbook looking for something entirely different, I came across these grilled veggie sandwiches which sounded (and looked) delicious.  My usual cooking routine includes incorporating a meatless meal or two each week.  And, since no one has put up too much of a fight, I’m not rocking that boat.  These veggie sandwiches were the perfect meatless meal, and made for a tiny celebration of the end of the season by using the last of the summer veggies.  For those of you in colder climates, the benefits will be two-fold: enjoying the last of summer vegetables and lighting up the grill one more time – before the lid is frozen shut!  Enjoy!!

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Superfast Suppers, Oxmoor House Publishing)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into eighths
  • 1 (1 lb) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions:

  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine mayo and minced basil; cover and chill.
  • Combine oil and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add bell pepper, eggplant, onion, and zucchini to dressing mixture;; toss vegetables to coat.
  • Place bell pepper and eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill about 6 minutes.  Add onion and zucchini; grill 5 minutes.  Turn vegetables often, baste with dressing, and cook just until tender.  Remove from grill and keep warm.
  • Place bread on grill, cut side down, and grill 2 minutes.  Turn bread, cut side up, and place half of cheese slices on bottom half of bread.  Grill 1 minute or until cheese begins to melt.
  • Spread mayo mixture over top half of bread.  Top bottom half with vegetables, remaining cheese slices, and top half of bread.
  • Serve immediately.

sandwich©zouptonuts***Cook’s Notes:  I used a grill basket for the veggies, which made worries about losing vegetables through the grill grates a non-issue.  Choose a nice, hearty roll.  The ciabattas are great because they hold up well to the moisture from the dressing, grilled veggies, and melted cheese.  Also, I came across this little gem while working on the post; the website for the book Simply in Season, which offers a fruit and vegetable guide for tips on how to choose, store, prepare, and use selected fruits and vegetables.  Good stuff!