Zucchini and Ricotta Bites

Hi all!

I don’t know about you, but, for me, sometimes a big ol’ meal with mounds of bread and meat is the last thing I feel like eating. Sometimes it’s the only thing I feel like eating. But sometimes it’s not. So for the days that its not I’m probably in the mood for something light but that has enough good calories to get me through the day.

So I’m sharing with you today one of my go-to filling and healthy snacks that takes about 5 minutes to make and is almost impossible to screw up.

Zucchini and Ricotta Bites

I came up with this recipe because I am currently growing some gorgeous looking zucchini on my roof and they are gonna be ready soon so I need to have a variety of zucchini recipes tested and at my fingertips when my bounty is finally ready to be harvested. Plus I am one of those girls who loves zucchini. Really, I do.

Now, you don’t have to smear your ricotta onto your cutting board, I just did that for creative effect.

What you’ll need:

1 zucchini

1/3 cup ricotta, homemade or store bought

1 lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for your pan

*This will make about 15 zucchini pieces, so you can adjust according to how much you want to make

What to do with it:

Start heating some olive oil in a frying pan on medium-low, not to much, just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan

Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch pieces, cutting on the diagonal…this will give you slightly elongated pieces which I think just looks nice

Place the slices in the pan and generously sprinkle with salt and peper

Allow to gently brown on both sides without getting too soggy, remember, you want your bites to maintain their firmness so you can pick them up with your hands

*If you end up overcooking them, just use a fork to eat

Once browned, place on some paper towels to drain off some of the excess oil

Then place on your serving platter or plate and top with a small spoonful of ricotta

Squeeze literally 2 drops of lemon juice on top of each bite – too much more and it will overpower the light flavors of both the zucchini and cheese

Garnish, if you want, with very thin slices of lemon rind, making sure to avoid using any of the white pith of the skin because it will give your bite a bitter taste

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Parmesan Thyme Crackers

Sometimes I think we take the carbs in our lives for granted. Breads, crackers, chips, ect. They are always there when we need them, they last for a considerable amount of time, come in a multitude of flavors and pair nicely with TONS of stuff.

So, this post goes out to the crackers of the world. I salute you and your ability to accompany cheese so delightfully.

But first, let me introduce you to someone special. Someone that I rarely get to spend time with due to distance and my busy schedule when I do come into town.

I’d like you all to meet my mother’s Kitchen Aid Mixer.

It’s big, blue, and beautiful and my mother has adorned it with a many fantastic attachments.

If anyone was to ever bestow upon me this fine piece of machinery, I very well might die of excitement. I just don’t know what color I would want yet…mint green, royal purple, copper? With over 20 different colors how is a girl ever supposed to choose!?

I would surely feel the need to buy every attachment as well; the pasta maker, the meat grinder, the ice cream bowl, the citrus juicer, the ravioli maker. Yea, Kitchen Aid would make a lot of money off of me.

Anyway, moving on.

Crackers. I don’t make a habit of keeping them in my house. But they are one of those things I have always wanted to make myself.

I thought to myself, if I’m gonna take the time to make crackers, they are gonna be fancier. Personally, I think that anything containing fresh herbs are automatically elegant. And, as you may know, I adore anything with cheese.

Parmesan Thyme Shortbread Crackers seem to fit the bill.

Adapted from: Ina Garten

Makes about 46 crackers

What you’ll need:

2 sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temp

6 ounces finely grated Parmesan Cheese

2 1/2 cups Flour

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Tbs. water*

What to do with it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Mix butter with an electric mixer or a hand mixer until creamy

2. Add in the Parmesan, then the Thyme, salt and pepper

3. Slowly add the flour 1/4 cups at a time

*if the dough seems a bit dry, add water

4. Flour a cutting board and when the dough has been well incorporated place it on the board and divide into 2 evenly sized mounds

5. Roll into 9 inch long logs (2 logs total)

6. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 25-30 minutes to firm

7. Take out of the freezer, unwrap and cut the dough into 1/4-1/2 inch slices with a very sharp knife. I got about 23 crackers per log

8. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven. For a moister, breadier cracker, bake for 24 minutes, for a drier, crisper cracker about 32 minutes. Check on them all the while, I wanted my crackers to develop some extra color, so I left them for the 32 minutes.

Put a little salami on top for a protein filled snack

Smear a little cream cheese over it and top with a baby sprig of thyme for a creamy and cooling afternoon treat.

Or because I know you all to be crafty little foodies, make both of them, turn ’em in on each other and have a mini meat and cheese sandwich.

These crackers are herbaceous and savory and wonderful and addicting and light (despite the butter) and unique and a crowd pleaser.

So make them. You won’t regret it.

Spinach and Water Chestnut Wontons

Do you ever go to Chinese restaurants and order wontons?

When they get to your table, do you ever stare in fascination at how those sumptuous babies are made?

I do!

I love wontons. Especially cream cheese filled wontons where the filling melts into the cracks and folds of the crispy shell.

I would consider myself to be pretty DIY, and so the other night, I decided, hey, I might as well try to make some.

I had to watch this Youtube video to learn how to wrap wontons, and turns out it’s amazingly easy!

I went to the corner market and got the ingredients I would need. I wanted to make some wontons that were a little healthier than just cream cheese and fried dough (delicious as that is). So in addition to the cream cheese, I stuffed my tons with:

Spinach, lots of it

Green Onion

and Water Chestnuts for crunch

You start with your filling, the measurements are really based on your preference.

I used roughly

4 oz Cream Cheese

3 Green Onions

3-4 handfuls of Spinach

1 small can of Water Chestnuts

Mix all that together

Assembly is simple,

Lay out a wonton on your counter (or cutting board)

Have a dish of water handy

Place a dollop of filling right in the center

To fold them, trace a half moon of water around one side then fold the 2 sides together, squeezing out the air and pinching the sides tightly shut.

I chose to fold my wontons in the “Nurse Cap” style. Its easy as pie. Fold the right edge over the left and pinch it shut with your fingers.

I rounded this one out to show you the bottom, but you can push the folded top flap and the filled portion together.

After you’ve finished, its time to start frying!

In an appropriate sized sauce pan, place about an inch and a half of oil inside and heat on medium, not to the point that the oil starts smoking though.

Place a few at a time in the pot, remember though, don’t crowd the wontons! They need their space to fry.

Your wontons will float on one side, so halfway through flip them over.

I found that turning the heat down a little and cooking the wontons low and slow worked well for me. But if you’re starving go ahead and keep it at medium/medium-high and just watch them like a hawk so they don’t burn.

Yea, they were incredible. The spinach warmed and softened while the green onions maintained their subtle crisp flavor and the water chestnuts were that extra crunch vital to keeping a dish from flat lining.

If you wanted to go a healthier route, you could poach the wontons in chicken or vegetable broth. For me though, I think this method is better suited for a wonton soup, rather than an appetizer, and I think I would prefer a meat and veggie filled poached wonton. I’ll leave my cream cheese crisp.

What are some of your favorite wonton fillings?

Pancetta Walnut Goat Cheese rolled Grapes

In case you couldn’t tell, I LOVE cheese.

I would say it’s my favorite food group. Not dairy. Just cheese.

Especially goat cheese.

So here is a little appetizer recipe my friend Sohini and I came up with for all of us to enjoy!

Start by letting your package of goat cheese sit out for a little while, goat cheese is easier to work with when it’s a tad soft.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and pop some Pancetta up in there for 7-10 minutes until it’s crispy!

This is just the before shot, so don’t worry, it will look much crunchier when it’s cooked

While its cooking, rinse some fresh cold red grapes and then pat them dry. Make sure they are cold though, its much more refreshing to have a crisp cold grape pop in your mouth to contrast and cut the cheese flavor.

When the Pancetta is done, mash it up in a bowl with the softened goat cheese and some finely chopped walnuts.

Mix together and then use a toothpick to pick up a grape and let it roll around in that cheesy spread for a minute ’til it looks like this!

Wowie!

What a perfect way to start a meal, or if you eat enough of them, what a great meal!

Nutty and Crunchy

Yet Savory and Sweet

Gosh, isn’t food just so neat!

(A poem by KMK).