Monday, April 19, 2010

Go Greek Tonight

I am not Greek myself, but I love Mediterranean style food: briny olives and capers, salty feta cheese, vinegary dressings. One dish that has become regular in my rotation in the past few months is this Greek style meat pie made with zucchini and feta.

This recipe is adapted from a Kraft recipe which I came across in a "Quick and Simple" magazine. You can view the original recipe at the Kraft Food website. In my version, I use a bit more meat and breadcrumbs, and I keep the zucchini peels on when I grate them. (FYI: This guards the vegetable fiber and antioxidants, plus it adds color to the final product, so that the pie is not entirely brown.)

The most important redo I do that saves a ton of time is to replace the filo dough in the Kraft recipe with store-bought pie dough. You won't have to spend any time spreading multiple layers of melted butter on expensive filo dough.

My recipe:
2 medium zucchini, washed but unpeeled
1 tsp each salt and pepper
3/4 lb. ground beef (I buy a full pound, but make 2 small burgers for my kids and use the rest in this recipe)
4 oz. container crumbled feta cheese
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 sheet of a 9" pie crust
1/2 Tbsp butter, for greasing pie dish
1 Tbsp half-and-half, or milk, for the crust

First, grate the 2 average-sized zucchini over a bowl lined with a double layer of paper towels. After 10 minutes or so, fold up the corners of the paper towels and squeeze the excess water from the zucchini shreds. (You could do this step with a dish towel, but I use dryer sheets for my laundry, and I prefer not to have the zucchini come away with the taste of Bounce.)

Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and get the ground beef in a pan to brown it off. Season with the salt and pepper as it cooks, then drain.

In a large bowl, blend the seasoned ground beef, feta, eggs, milk and bread crumbs. Butter your 9" pie dish. Lay out the store bought pie crust inside it.

Pour the combined filling into the pie shell, using the back of a spatula to make it even all the way around. You can get as fancy as you want with the edge of the crust. I just folded the minor excess over to bulk up the edge. Plain and simple, no fluting or crimping for every day fare. Then use the tablespoon of half-and-half (or milk) to baste the entire edge. This will keep the crust from drying out.

Bake for 35-45 minutes. Remember, the beef has already been cooked. You only need to bake it off in the oven to cook the egg binder and bake the pie dough. If you feel like the edges are getting too brown, but the interior needs more time, you can place foil around the edges for the final 10 minutes.

Cool a few moments, then slice into wedges and enjoy! My husband enjoys topping his with mango chutney. I like to pair it up with a quick prep salad of tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and feta, tossed with a bit of Geek or Italian dressing. Warm, savory meat pie and a cool, crisp salad. Super tasty!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Today's Inspiration II: Paper Coasters

In keeping with April's green goals to avoid buying new craft supplies, I decided I needed to de-shelve an idea 'from the vault' and turn a green inspiration into reality.

Thankfully in the last week I had come across Jessica Jones' recycled magazine coasters (here) that only require 6 pages from a magazine. And I do have magazines around (believe it or not!), just right for the job.

Trust me, you want to use her tutorial for the instructions. It's not quite origami, but you do have to make multi-step folds. The six starter pages are halved, making 12 rectangles. Those twelve rectangles are folded in half, then into thirds, and they will eventually look like these 12 Vs.

The Vs are woven together, like a double-sided pie crust. Six down and six to go...

Unlike Jessica's instructions, I did not cut any of my loose ends. For instance, the tab that's bent up in the photo below, I refolded back under the square with the red checks. For some of the ends that were edges, I tucked back into the center itself.

I tried to expose the most colorful sides of the paper on the topside of the coaster. The underside, seen above, is practically all typeset. If I were to make more of these coasters in the future, I would definitely make a few dozen strips first, then match them up by color family before weaving.

So, critique of the final product. It was a moderately fun activity. Not as much fun as, say, browsing the internet for cool craft projects, but I considered it an exercise for the hands, and for the mind as well. My daughter's opinion? "You did a really good job, mom." Then she asked if she could put her drink on it. Passes the test.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April Awareness: Think Globally, Act Locally

Well, I can't get any more local than my own closet, and the mighty craft stash within.

With Earth Day looming, I have seen more and more ideas about 'stash busting', or basically, 'use what you've got', instead of continuing to ACCUMULATE. With the convincing argument of Heather at Dollar Store Crafts, I pledge to participate in the April Stash Bust. I am *forbidden* to buy more craft supplies 'just because'. And to encourage others to resist the temptation of buying more STUFF and put what they are no longer using to good use, you can also participate in a swap of what you are no longer using, or simply have too much of, as it is in my case.

If you would like to read all of Heather's great ideas of why YOU should take the leap and bust YOUR stash, you can find it here:

But, but...I have a coupon for Michael's...(sniff, sniff). Stay tuned for the swap results.