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February Royal Foodie Joust — Mushroom Pastitsio with a Cauliflower “Bechamel”

I was pretty excited by the selection of February’s Royal Foodie Joust ingredients: cauliflower, mushrooms and noodles. There were a million different ways to go with these humble ingredients for my second entry into this friendly competition hosted by Jenn over at The Leftover Queen. If you aren’t already a member, please visit Jenn’s forum where you’ll find a great spot to interact with fellow food bloggers, participate in giveaways, join in on the friendly Joust or simply vote for your favorite Jouster–of course, that would be me …
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Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)

A quick go-to meal for my family is often a pot of lentil soup, a hearty pasta and veggie dish or a vitamin-packed helping of spanakorizo. The latter, in particular, is an ideal meal that takes no more than 30 to 35 minutes to make, is filling and is laden with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. According to sources, eating spinach can prevent memory loss and cataracts. And that’s not all: this iron-rich leafy green can help protect us against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis and numerous other diseases. In fact, researchers have identified at
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Festive Gemista

Gemista are a staple for us. As children, my mom and Giagia would stuff peppers and tomatoes with ground beef and rice but in my own kitchen I’ve grown accustomed to stuffing the vegetables simply with rice and various herbs. This time I sauteed the rice with some white wine and added some pine nuts to the mix. The end result was deliciously moist and delectable. Be sure not to overstuff the peppers as the rice needs room to expand–loosely filling the peppers only about 2/3 full should do the trick. I’d like to think the green of these peppers and the
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Kounoupidokeftedes (Cauliflower Fritters) with a Caper Cream Sauce

Oddly enough the inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook which is actually a compilation of Greek monastic recipes from the Iera Moni Tatarni in Evrytania, a prefecture of Central Greece. Two summers ago while visiting my husband’s family in Agrinio, his aunt–an avid cook–knowing that I love the kitchen as much as she does, gave me this book, among a number of others, as a gift. Now, to be completely honest, I returned from my trip and kind of set the book aside thinking there wouldn’t be much to interest me in it. I stumbled upon it the
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Kolokythopita (Squash Pie) Two Ways

Winter squash is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and carotene Although I cherish the traditional Greek recipes of my mother, grandmothers and aunts and incorporate them daily into my family’s diet, I enjoy reading up on recipes from different islands and areas of Greece as dishes can change dramatically from city to city, island to island. One of my favorite sources for island recipes is Aglaia Kremezi’s The Foods of the Greek Islands – Cooking and Culture at the Crossroads of the Mediterranean. For the last seven years, I thumb through the pages every
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Lemon

U2 is among my favorite bands and I was lucky enough to see them in concert once, be it over 11 years ago, during their 1997 PopMart tour. I was thrilled to get tickets and it was a great show–despite the steady rain, crowds packed Giant’s Stadium. The concert’s set design was among U2’s most elaborate, complete with a huge LED screen, a 100-foot high golden arch, a 40-foot motorized lemon mirrorball and a 12-foot olive atop a 100-foot cocktail stick. The lemon mirrorball was created as a reference to U2’s “Lemon,” a track from their 1993 Zooropa

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