Baked Eggplant and Zucchini Fries with Honey Mustard Aioli

Hello. My name is Jamie, and I am addicted to french fries.

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I’m definitely a non-discriminatory addict. I love regular fries, shoe string fries, seasoned fries, truffle fries, wedge fries. Sweet potato fries hold a special place in my heart, especially when eaten at Sweetwater’s in Burlington, VT.  The best fries I’ve ever had are at Caseus in New Haven. Try them. They’re amazing.

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But I can’t just stuff my face with fries on the reg (oh my god how awesome would that beeeeee). So, I needed to be creative and come up with a healthy alternative. Thus, baked eggplant and zucchini fries were born. Baked instead of fried, and real veggies as opposed to potatoes. Because, lets be honest, potatoes are kind of veggie impostors.

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I was nervous, but I LOVED these zucchini and eggplant fries. Zukes and eggplants are pretty hearty veggies and they held their shape well when baked at the high temp. The aioli for dipping was clutch. The spiciness of the mustard went perfectly with the little bit of onion powder and lemon pepper that seasoned the fries. They were perfect.

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For my fellow fry addicts out there, you need to try these. They’re a perfect alternate for the real deal when you feel like you need to behave yourself.

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Recipe:

Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 25-30 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Fries

  • 1 medium sized eggplant
  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Aioli

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 º F. Slice eggplan and zucchini in to homogenous strips, about 4 inches long and about 1/4-1/2 an inch thick. Place on baking sheet, drizzle on olive oil and add seasonings. Mix by hand then distribute the fries evenly over the baking sheet, keep in them all in one layer. If some of them are overlapping, just put them on an additional baking sheet; if they’re layered, they wont be crispy! Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned and crispy.

To make the aioli, simply mix the mayo, honey, mustard and vinegar together until smooth. And dip away!

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Roasted Garlic, Browned Butter and Sage Hummus

Roasted garlic. Browned butter. Sage. Hummus.

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Four of the best things known to mankind combined in to one awesome appetizer.

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This was literally gone in 5 minutes and I felt like a kitchen superstar. Seriously, the flavors and texture in this were perfect. I mixed it up in a food processor in no time and  then served it at room temp.

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By the way, if you love garlic, this hummus is for you. The roasted garlic makes your house smell amaaaaazzzinnnggggg and the hummus taste even better (to anyone who is within 5 feet of me at any given time in the next few days, sorry I’m not sorry- this was totally worth it.)

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Not kidding, make this ASAP. For reals.

Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes |Cook time: 45 minutes | Total time: 50 minutes

Serves 4

  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted (see below)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt, pepper for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 º F. Cut off the top of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and wrap in tin foil leaving top exposed. Roast for 40 minutes or until garlic is soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

While garlic is cooling, brown butter. Melt butter in a sauce pan, then heat until it’s bubble and then begins to brown, stirring constantly. This will take approximately 5-7 minutes and you will know it’s done by the nutty smell the browned butter gives off. Remove from heat immediately.

Remove the skins from the garlic and place in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together until smooth. Spoon in to serving dish and eat up!

Adapted from Bake Your Day.

Smokey Shrimp Quesadillas with Avocado Yogurt Dipping Sauce

I dreamt about making these ‘dillas for weeks. Seriously. It was really weird and finally I just had to make them randomly one night because I just needed them out of my head.

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I’m not sure if it was the shrimp or the avocado dipping sauce that was the focal point of my fantasies. I still couldn’t tell you. Both were so delicious and tied together perfectly. The paprika added to both imparted this delicious smokiness that I find quintessential of Tex-Mex cuisine and just craveeeeeee (apparently).

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The sauce took literally seconds to make and was creamy, smooth and so yummy. It would be amazing and instantly devoured if served with just simple tortilla chips. Just a thought…

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The shrimpies were perfect and would also be great on just their own. But smothered in cheese and black beans, folded in between a crispy whole wheat tortilla and dipped in pretty much the best dipping sauce ever? I mean. I just can’t even.

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Currently fantasizing again. Siggghhh.

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Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 ‘dillas

Quesadillas

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bag mexican cheese, shredded
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 whole wheat tortilla

Avocado Yogurt Dipping Sauce

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used Chobani, obvi)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt

For the sauce: simply place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. It’s so easy it’s not even fair!

For the quesadillas: Heat a large  pan over medium-low heat. Toss shrimp together with paprika, cumin and olive oil. Cook in pan until pink and springy, about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside. Lay tortillas on a flat surface and coat half of the tortilla with cheese (as much or as little as you like). Spoon on black beans (again, as much or as little as you’d like!) and then evenly sprinkle 1/4 of the shrimp on top of the beans. Top with a little more cheese if desired. Fold the naked half of the tortilla over the dressed half. Heat a medium pan over medium high heat and coat with a little olive or coconut oil. Carefully place your ‘dilla in to the pan and heat until cheese is almost melted. Flip the ‘dilla carefully and heat the other side. Remove from heat and cut in to thirds. Let excessive-yogurt-sauce-dipping commence!

Loosely adapted from A Southern Fairytale

Classic Guacamole

In case you haven’t noticed, this past week has been all about keeping it simple on the blog.  One bowl cookies, four ingredient hot dips, and dessert that you can mix up in minutes and leave to bake while you enjoy dinner … all so unbelievably easy it’s not even funny.

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I was out on the Vineyard last weekend (more on that tomorrow!) and, when on vacation, keeping things simple, easy and fast is a must. Don’t get me wrong, there are many times and places for complicated, fancy desserts and dinners, but the Vineyard is not one of them. That’s a fact.

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Which is why, despite it being one of the most simple and commonly made appetizers ever, guacamole is the perfect thing to make while on vacation. It can be made in minutes, served with a bag of tortilla chips and everyone will be soso happy.

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So you guys, when it comes to entertaining on vacation, don’t complicate things! Keep it simple. Kick back, relax and make guacamole.

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Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Remove the pulp from the avocados and scoop in to a medium sized bowl. Mash until avocado is desired consistency (I like a few chunks for texture!)  Add the red onion, tomato, cilantro and lime and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve up with your favorite chips and enjoy!

Blueberry Cheddar Dip

I’ve been having a problem with dips lately. Particularly the hot ones.

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It seems that I have absolutely no self control around them. When they come out of the oven I must taste them immediately. Like righthissecond.

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Then I burn my mouth. Every time. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, but no.  No, I must still have my dip absolutely as soon as possible. I guess I should start making worse tasting dips.

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No such luck with this one. It’s a little out there, but I had to try it. I’m obsessed with the sweet-salty combination of fruit spreads and cheese on crackers, so I knew this blueberry cheddar dip would be a winner. I was so right. I love it when I’m right.

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The cheese is cream and slightly salty, with a hint of warmth from the nutmeg. The blueberries bake up and burst in your mouth when you bite in to them. The texture and flavor combo is killer, ten times better than regular cheese and crackers. I know… I didn’t think that was possible either.

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Seriously, you guys, do not be skeptical of this dip. It’s different but delicious and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. And it’s like the easiest dip to make, ever.

Just try to  learn from my mistake and wait a few minutes before spooning it into your mouth.

Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 25-35 minutes | Total time: 30-40 minutes

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 12 oz white cheddar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • Whole wheat crackers, for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 º F. In a bowl, mix together the cheddar, cream cheese and nutmeg. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon mixture into serving dish (I used an 8×8 pan). Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top of the dip is golden and bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve with your favorite crackers or bread.

Adapted from How Sweet Eats