Greek Dip with Some Assembly Required

This is the easiest dip ever. There’s no cooking involved…some assembly required. Make this for your next BBQ or pool party and you’re guaranteed to wow people. I really enjoy the simplicity of this in relation to how much folks rave about this dip! Yesterday was Ms. L’s bday and she likes this one ;)
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Ingredients

8 oz hummus
2-4 oz feta
1 cucumber
2 tomatoes
3 tbs Italian salad dressing

Directions

Spread hummus onto a plate
Chop cucumbers and tomatoes and toss with feta and dressing
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Arrange on top of hummus
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Serve with pita chips, wheat thins, or your favorite crackers

That’s it!

It is a nice alternative to other dips served. It is lighter but really fresh tasting and goes with anything. I’ve made the topping and assembled on-site when it was time to eat so I can attest to how portable it is.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged it before. It tends to be a crowd pleaser. Even when people tell me they won’t like it, they try it and are surprised. Happens. Every. Time.

It would be good as a crostini if it is easier for you not to serve a dip. If you do make it as a dip I assure you folks will be standing around devouring this one! (I love when that happens at a party but crostinis would help when serving a crowd.)

Cost Breakdown

Hummus: $3.50
Feta $1.99
Cucumber $0.75 (English cuke $2.00)
2 plum tomatoes $1.00
Wheat thins $3.00
Total = $11.49 (for the dip & dippers to serve 6-8 for <$2.00) That’s even using an English cuke which is totally worth it not to have to peel it!

Greek Meatball Wraps

On one of those beautiful pre-spring days I wanted to put something together for dinner that was filling but lighter. This hit the spot. These Greek meatball wraps were warm, cool, crispy, meaty, and crunchy. I was really happy with these and will definitely make these again.
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Ingredients:

16 oz ground chicken
1 tsp ground garlic
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup oatmeal
1 shallot, chopped

Directions:

Mix meatball mix together and let sit for 5 minutes before baking.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll into balls and bake for 30 minutes.
greek_meatball_formed_590_390I use a cooling rack ontop of a baking sheet. It helps keep the meatballs crispy and not soggy from the grease (there’s not much grease since I used ground chicken rather than beef).
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I served them on wheat naan wraps with tzatziki, veggies, hummus, and feta. Check out whose nose was a bit too close for comfort!
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These were really good. The meatballs were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I don’t fry my meatballs since a) I hate frying for the mess & the oil and b) it’s much easier and healthier in the oven.

I liked the wraps. The naan was perfect. Since it’s more pricy, leftovers were in wheat pitas. The pitas worked fine. I liked how doughy the naan was.
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Greek Stuffed Burgers

Way back when I made stuffed burgers. These were themed for Mr. J (blue cheese & bacon) but I had all sorts of plans for other fillings.
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It’s been quite awhile, but I made them again! This time I made a Greek inspired one and grilled it. Ohh my burger goodness. I filled them with feta and topped them with spinach, red onions, and cucumber. These burgers are delicious and great for something different.
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Hmmm. Sky’s the limit for burger toppings/stuffings. Maybe a cowboy caramelized onions/bbq sauce/cheddar stuffed burger will be next. Or maybe a Southwestern with Pepperjack cheese and salsa.

Easy-Peasy Pizza

This isn’t just any pizza…it is Greek pizza. I remember making this pizza back in my grocery shopping days at Trader Joe’s without a car. It wasn’t alllll that long ago, but it sure feels like a different life. My shopping modus operandi was: lightweight. Carrying bags on the subway is really not fun, especially when they are heavy. Trader Joe’s is great for random ingredients to put together. I came home with an artichoke tapande and wasn’t sure how I would use it. This time I used a sundried tomato spread that wouldn’t be great as a sauce otherwise.
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This pizza is super easy and thrown together. I whipped up these for a week of lunches while making dinner one night. My recipe makes 5 pizzas. Making little pizzas only took me about 20 minutes, including the baking time! So simple!
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Ingredients
wheat pita bread
1 cup tapenade or pesto (I used sundried tomato pesto)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 cup fetaDirections
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Top pitas with pesto and dried herbs & salt/pepper.
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Layer mozzarella onto the pizza
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Add chopped spinach to each pizza and top with feta.

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Bake 10 minutes.I undercooked these somewhat so I could pop one in the toaster oven at work for lunch each day. It was good! The flavor comes from the pesto and the seasoning. Feta gets even better after being baked.

My fridge only had scant amounts of mozzarella and feta leftover so next time I might use more. I used full sandwich sized pitas but think the mini pitas would turn this into a fun appetizer.
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I like the freshness and ease of these.

Much Needed Scutra for Dinner

Before we return from our honeymoon, I needed to share a drool-worthy meal we had before the wedding.During major wedding planning crunch time we were lacking groceries, we were in need of a date night, and we definitely needed a fun distraction while racking our brains for creative table themes. The wedding wasn’t a DIY affair, but Mr. J designed everything and the table blurbs in frames was our only project. Luckily we had a gift certificate to Scutra in Arlington that was burning a hole in our pockets!
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It was such a blissful and relaxing evening. We got dressed up, kissed the pup goodbye, and headed to our reservation. Of course I scoured the website menu before going and honestly I’m sure I would have enjoyed everything on the menu. Love Mediterranean food!
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I started with the garlic baked muscles. Garlic butter and feta? YES PLEASE! They were beautiful and thought the feta was great for a touch of saltiness.
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Mr. J had the roasted tomato soup with Parmesan encrusted scallops. He just recently started to enjoy scallops and I think the Parmesan crunchy exterior was a perfect contrast in texture for him.
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These aps were awesome and got us really excited for the main dish. Each was a perfect size to leave us adequate room to keep eating!

I got seafood crusted salmon. Oh. My. Goodness. My perfectly pink salmon was topped with crab and lobster. It doesn’t get any better than that. It was served with an asparagus risotto and a pesto drizzle. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It was hot and flavorful. Such a great combination of flavors that didn’t overpower one another.
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Mr. J got a special, and boy was it special. He had 14oz sirloin steak with a butter and raspberry beer sauce over mashed potatoes. Mr. J heard it listed with the specials and was hooked. He loved it and finished every bite.
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I had a crisp chardonnay knowing I’d have seafood for dinner and Mr. J had a final Sam Adam’s summer ale. I enjoyed every bite. This was such a wonderful dinner. Mr. J was happy with his choices and we definitely got dinners we couldn’t/wouldn’t make at home. There was no room for dessert.

The reviews seemed mixed regarding the service and atmosphere. We thought it had a really nice atmosphere, our server was friendly, and I’d be happy to go back anytime. I liked that it was classy and well decorated, allowing us to dress up a bit for a really special meal.

Have you had a meal recently that you just thoroughly enjoyed AND appreciated happening right when you needed it? This was one for me. I’ll be back next week with LOTS of tastes to relay from my trip to Spain & Italy! Stay tuned!

Lemon Pepper Kebabs Without So Much Pepper

Summer mugginess and I don’t mix so something cool, fresh, and Mediterranean sounded perfect. It was also a good use for some marinated chicken hanging around.
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The boneless skinless lemon pepper chicken came from our fav butcher. Mr. J thought it was too peppery so I thought re-marinating it in a basic Italian dressing would tone down the pepper a bit.

One of my favorite things about Greek and Mediterranean food is that the fresh ingredients get to be the focus. It screams summer to have so much crunch and individual flavor.

Ingredients

1 large boneless chicken breast, marinated, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 tomato
1 English cucumber
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup Italian or Greek dressing

Directions

Soak wooden kebab sticks in lukewarm water
Skewer chicken chunks alternating with pepper chunks and grill.
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Chop tomato and cucumber before mixing with feta and dressing.
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Serve kebabs with rice pilaf and cucumber tomato salad.

I couldn’t stop marveling over how perfectly cooked the chicken was. It was perfectly juicy. I think the size of each piece had a lot to do with that. The peppers got a nice char too without losing all the crunch.

The kebabs, plus buttery rice pilaf, plus salty feta in a crisp salad was awesome. I was really happy with it and thought this meal was nicely well rounded.

Have a good Labor Day Weekend everyone! Can you believe it is already September?!

Mediterranean Bliss

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Mediterranean food? It’s definitely my favorite. I never get sick of it. I love all the dip-able things….and all the olive oil…and all the feta…and all the marinades. I just can’t get enough. I recently enjoyed a Mediterranean meal with some of the most wonderful ladies in my life during my bachelorette weekend.

We went to an amazing winery earlier in the day, more on that later, but our dinner was at Temple in Providence, RI! We started with a few cocktails, in our own room within the restaurant with a less-than-enthused waiter, and the appetizer sampler to share. The Temple Mezze Platter was delicious and perfect for sharing. It had tzatziki, baba ghanoush (the best I’ve ever had, btw), hummus, dolmas, spanakopita, moroccan carrots & warm pita. Loved it! We ordered 2 platters to serve 4 each. It was plenty with some leftover.

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I got a mango lime cocktail. It was sweet but tart and I loved it. temple_drink_200_290
They brought out an assorted bread basket and roasted garlic. So good! temple_garlic_290_200

The menu seemed to have plenty of options for everyone. We ordered from every section of the menu! I got the Maine Lobster Flatbread. It had leeks and St. Andre cheese…also a fav. I’ve loved this buttery cheese but I’ve never melted it. Duh! I’m embarassed to say that I didn’t take a photo of my meal. Gasp!  It was really good but I was full quickly. I ended up eating the lobster off the remaining pieces once I just couldn’t eat anymore. I’d never let lobster go to waste. One Ms. L got the lobster flatbread too but I didn’t bug her to get a photo since I had the same.

Ms. L got Spring Vegetable Fusilli. It was full of all different veggies. The server didn’t think she’d put too much of a dent in it…there just was so much!

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This Mrs. E got Greek Style Chicken in a lemon, garlic, & oregano marinade. Ms. M got this as well.
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Check. Out. This. Flatbread. How amazing does that look?! One Mrs. E and one Ms. L got this sausage and argula flatbread and liked it. Ms. L wasn’t overly into the argula on top. temple_sausage_290_200
Another Ms. L got the Temple Burger. It’s lamb with black olive tapenade and tzatziki. I was eyeing that one. temple_burg_200_290
Ms. A got Greek Salad and Portuguese-Style Caldo Verde. It was leek and potato soup with chorizo. temple_soup_290_200
I loved everything about this weekend and everything about this meal. I was so pleasantly stuffed. Then, just when I thought the meal was over, they bring out these guys: temple_cupcakes_290_200 These are the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. The cake part was so good! Normally I’m just into the frosting on cupcakes from bakeries but these were different. We also amused ourselves trying to identify them. I ate the one that looks like s’mores (bottom left). They were specially delivered by Ms. L’s sis from Nancy’s Fancies. Seriously unlike any other bakery cupcake. What a nice touch to finish the meal with?! I have the greatest friends ever.

Easy 3 Ingredient Dip

I made an ap for Easter and wanted something lighter and healthier than I’d usually head towards. This is a white bean based dip with homemade pita chips. This ended up being a good one to bring somewhere since it is served cold and the pita chips could be made ahead of time or purchased.

Ingredients

1 can white beans, drained
1 jar roasted red peppers (with liquid)
½ cup fresh parsley
1 tbs garlic
2 wheat pita pockets

Directions

Rinse and drain white beans
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Add beans, red peppers with liquid, parsley, and garlic to a food processer.
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Blend, stirring partway, and leaving some chunks.
Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
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I toasted some of my own pita chips. Tearing the pitas all the way apart made for a thinner chip with fewer calories. The dip was good, fresh, and super easy. It would be great on bread, stirred into pasta or soup, or anything!

I think you definitely have to like these ingredients to enjoy this but this handy dip includes a simple list of ingredients to have on hand.

Baked Orzo Flop

I thought I was super clever when I started waking up earlier. This gave me the chance to get stuff done before leaving for work. I unloaded the dishwasher, I poked through my RSS feeds, and I planned dinner.

Once again, I started thinking about what I could make with what I had around…anything to avoid grocery shopping. Baked Orzo came to mind and I thought a Greek dish was exactly what I wanted. I had orzo, artichokes, tomatoes and high hopes for this quick meal.
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Ingredients

1/4 pound Orzo
1 tbs garlic
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 cup plum tomatoes in liquid
½ cup red wine
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin

Directions

1) Cook orzo
2) Saute garlic, atrichoke hearts, and tomatoes with liquid on medium high.
3) Add wine and spices and simmer for 5 minutes.
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4) Turn to low and stir in orzo.
5) Sprinkle with Parmasan before baking for 20 minutes.
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Partway through my super speedy meal I hear:
Mr. J: is there cumin in there?
me: yup
Mr. J: ohh ok.
me: why?
Mr. J: ohh. {silence} Cumin is not my favorite.
me: hmmm

That’s where the dish goes awry…but it didn’t have to. I wanted to mellow out the cumin so I peek into the fridge and spot 2 ingredients I think will make the spices not taste as strong. Ricotta or sour cream. I went with the former. I had been a bit heavy handed with the wine so already my Baked Orzo had lost the great red color from the tomatoes (the wine made it a bit purpley).

I chose ricotta thinking it would be creamy and rich. It was indeed creamy but it also wasn’t smooth & silky. It was a bad choice, but you know…they can’t all be winners.

After I got it going I wasn’t feeling great about it. I actually said we might need to order pizza (which we never do to replace a meal). Mr. J was a trooper and ate it. It wasn’t amazing but I think it easily could be a great dish.

This Baked Orzo sounded amazing and is my inspiration to give it another go!

Better luck next time. Spoiler alert: I’ve since grocery shopped.

Make-Your-Own-Falafel

I looove falafel. I think there’s something about the nutty crunch, the cucumbers, tomatoes, and creamy tahini. I hadn’t really even thought about making it myself until a couple of years ago.
falafel_plate_290_200At that point  a few years ago, I soaked the chickpeas overnight, I cooked them for an hour, mashed them, etc… It’s such a process unless you’re mass producing falafel! The mix is the way to go…10 minutes and it is ready to cook. I bake them instead of frying them, partly for ease and partly for health. They get crispy and delicious.

Ingredients

1 package falafel mix
2 wheat pita pockets
2 cups lettuce
1 tomato
1 cucumber
¼ cup feta cheese
Italian, Greek, or Balsamic salad dressing
3 tbs tahini

Directions

Prepare falafel mix with water (as package directs)
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes on each side.

falafel_baked_290_200Chop lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and toss with feta and dressing.
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Serve in pita, drizzled with tahini.
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I’ve made these as appetizers like a slider in halved mini pitas. They’re always a hit and super easy to make. I definitely don’t think you need my instructions, BUT I think falafel is something that doesn’t always come to mind to make at home.