During hot summer months, I try not to spend too much time cooking over a frying pan or near a hot oven. My body craves meals that can be served at room temperature or cold. So even though there is some “hot” work involved with pasta salad, this is perfect to whip up and enjoy later in the day after it has had time to chill.
It’s also time for the corn and zucchini harvest, so this pasta salad is light, fresh, and in-season. All good things in my book!
This recipe is very easy to throw together. It’s great as a meatless meal, a side dish, or served with rotisserie chicken for a more robust entree. This keeps well at room temperature so you can bring this to BBQs as well, especially if you use vegan mayonnaise, like we did.
Note, we are not vegans we but prefer the taste of vegenaise.
In a large bowl, toss the corn and zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute for four to five minutes, until the zucchini browns slightly. Add shallot and cook for another minute. Pour vegetable mixture back into your large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Drain well and pour into same large bowl.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the mayonnaise with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the lime juice, chile powder; season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta, corn, zucchini, tomatoes and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl or individual bowls. Using a vegetable peeler or carefully with a knife, shave the frozen goat cheese all over the top and enjoy at room temperature or chilled.
Attention pickle lovers – you MUST try Pickle Soup!!
I am 50% Polish and 50% Filipino. Probably haven’t heard of that one before, huh? My unique heritage could explain why I love so many different types of food (or maybe I just like to eat good food?) Every time I visit my family in Wisconsin I have to indulge in the local European cuisine. The same goes with my Filipino family in California… lumpia and pancit all the way. Today, my Polish heritage won out.
The process of pickling has been used to preserve foods for decades. In Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe, pickled baby cucumbers in hot broth was the winter counterpart to the summer offering of cold cucumber soup. Fun fact for the day. So pickle soup might sound weird to us, but it’s a big dish in Eastern Europe.
When I first tried this soup, one spoonful in and BLAMMO!!! I was hooked. This recipe may not have started in my family, but I will pass it on to my friends and family! It’s so stinkin’ good!
Because soup is very easy to make, you have no excuse NOT to make this. My recipe uses a cream base where others use a tomato base. You could also make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. This is a good base recipe to work off of. I add carrots and celery to the broth when I have them on hand too. It’s a poor man’s soup, so anything goes really! Make it your own, just don’t forget the pickles!
2 large russet potatoes (about a pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
Add olive oil and melt butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir the thick mixture constantly for 2 minutes.
Add broth, potatoes and veggies. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Test and add salt and pepper, to taste.
In a small bowl, temper sour cream mixture with a little hot soup and whisk together. Pour the sour cream into the hot soup, whisking until combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add dill, old bay, pickle liquid and pickles. Adjust seasoning if necessary. The soup can be left chunky or pureed to a velvety consistency. Serve immediately with your favorite crusty bread or croutons.
I imaginee folks in the southwest drench their eggs in salsa on a regular basis. I didn’t attend the egg and salsa flavor-party until much later in life. We had all sorts of egg dishes when I was growing up, but never anything with so much flavor and heat like salsa. It seems like such a simple thing, but salsa just wasn’t on our breakfast table. More and more I have been adding salsa to my breakfasts – spicing things up with salsa on the side… until now.
Recently, the Mister and I attended a holiday food and craft fair. We sampled everything from fresh peach iced tea, delicious dips, to handmade toffee! We loved it all, but this El Fuego salsa really hit us in the kisser. It was so flavorful and fresh, we couldn’t say no and adopted our own container of it to bring home with us.
We really like Eggs in Purgatory in this household, so I figured, why not try to cook eggs in salsa this time around? Holy mackerel! I feel like I should have been doing this since the day I learned how to toast a piece of bread. This meal is so easy, it seems impossible that it tastes so good. But it does. And that’s the miracle that cooking is sometimes. Because the eggs turn out perfectly and we used such a flavorful salsa, I would even serve this as a nice brunch for guests. Heck, it makes a great weeknight meal too.
Now the key here is to get some pow-kisser salsa. I’m not necessarily talking heat here. I’m talking freshness and flavor. You really don’t want to have a bland salsa. So find your favorite salsa, add some eggs and enjoy!
Lately I have found myself eating more and more vegan and vegetarian meals. I was a vegetarian for many years (many years ago now) but I found that my lifestyle had changed and I incorporated more and more meat back into my diet. Nowadays, there are many fantastic meat substitutes available. I can cope with fake chicken and fake hot dogs, but the fake-in bacon (whether you make it yourself or buy it) just doesn’t quite make the cut for me. To me, the sound and smell of cooking bacon makes my mouth water and tummy growl.
So as I transition back to a (mostly) vegetarian diet, I still find myself craving bacon from time to time. We completely indulged with this bacon, cream and cheese pasta dish. As you can imagine, it’s decadent and delicious. Salty bacon, creamy pasta and pops of sweetness from the green peas – yum!!
12-ounces of pasta (a little less than 1 full box)
8 pieces of thick cut bacon, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole eggs, beaten
3/4 cups grated Parmesan
3/4 cups heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup green peas
Cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon until just barely crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off all of the bacon grease, but don't clean the pan. Return the pan to the stove over medium-low heat and throw in the onions and garlic. Cook until golden brown. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix together eggs, Parmesan, cream, and salt and pepper until smooth.
When the pasta is done, reserve a cup or two of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and place it in a bowl. While the pasta is still really hot, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture, stirring the pasta the whole time. The sauce will become thick and should coat the pasta. Splash in a little hot pasta water if needed for consistency.
Halfway through, add the peas, bacon, and sauteed onion/garlic. Finish adding the sauce, stirring until it's all combined.
Lettuce wraps are a favorite appetizer of many at restaurants. They are a light and refreshing way to enjoy a variety of fillings. I just can’t help but wrap my fingers around them!
I wanted to do something with ground turkey because of the lighter fat content, but I didn’t want to sacrifice any flavor. Because ground turkey is so lean, it can be very bland when cooked. I got this recipe idea off of a friend of mine (who’s baby just turned 1!). She made cheeseburger lettuce wraps that looked super delicious. I wanted to add an Asian/Hawaiian flare to mine, so I packed the turkey with loads of garlic, ginger, soy and hoisin to start then I added the big players: cilantro, green onion, sweet pineapple and some peanuts for texture.
This recipe is perfect for those of you who order lettuce wraps as an appetizer at restaurants but want a lighter version at home. I love the flavor profile that came out of this boring ground turkey, but feel free to come up with your own combination. Perhaps you’d like to try this with tofu instead of ground turkey. Let me know if you find a combination you fall in love with!
2-3 teaspoons chopped unsalted cashews (or peanuts) as topping
Mix cooked ground turkey with all ingredients except the pineapple, cucumber and nuts. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (if it needs more salt, add more soy, if it isn't sweet enough, add a bit more hoisin, etc). Remove from heat and fold in the the pineapple and cucumber bits.
Spoon onto romaine leaves (you may need to double yours up so they don't fall apart)
When I tell people I made something “egg-free” and “dairy-free” they usually look at me in horror with a weird, scrunched-up face. Here’s how I solve that problem, I tell them that I added avocado instead. Cue faces of relief. The avocado makes this tuna salad creamy without the addition of mayo or hard-boiled eggs like some other tuna salad recipes call for. This might be something to keep in mind for those of you who can’t stand the sight or smell of mayo too.
Obviously, this is a tuna salad and still has animal product in it (i.e. tuna). I’m not sure if there is a good replacement for tuna for vegan or vegetarian folks. Do you know? We also added real cheese to our sandwiches, but you can just as easily use Vegan cheese or omit this completely.
This is a quick recipe to whip up any time you’re looking for something easy. Tuna lasts forever in your cabinet, so as long as you have some ripe avocados, you’re pretty much ready to rock. If you’re feeling extra lazy, double the recipe and save the leftovers for sandwiches or a lettuce salad later on. Simply pack the leftover tuna salad in a container, then place a layer of plastic wrap over it and push it down into the tuna salad (so the plastic is touching the salad). This will help prevent the avocado from oxidizing and turning that ugly brown color.
5-ounces canned or packaged tuna (in water), drained
1/4 cup carrots, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup cucumber, minced
1 tablespoon onion (or 1-2 green onions), minced
1/2 avocado, mashed
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Juice from 1 lemon or 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
A splash of sri racha (optional)
2 slices of cheese (sub Vegan cheese or omit if you'd like), cut in half to make 4 slices
4 small slices of your favorite bread
2 large leaves of romaine lettuce, cut in half to make 4 leaves
Slices of tomato
Combine all ingredients except for the bread, cheese, lettuce and tomato in small bowl and set aside.
Toast the bread in a toaster oven until it just begins to brown. Add the cheese and toast for another minute until the cheese is melty. Top each slice of bread with a piece of lettuce, a scoop of Tuna Salad, and tomatoes.
With all of the recent tragic events it’s really made me sit back and count my blessings. America is supposed to be a nation of nations, where people come to be free and thrive and build better lives. What is happening lately? Too many public shootings, then Newtown and now the Boston Marathon. As one of my friends put it, it’s like the pendulum has swung and we’ve all become vulnerable. I can’t imagine what all of the victim’s families must be going through. I feel so helpless. America needs to unify again and make a come back. Anywho my heart goes out to everyone in Boston this morning.
Moving from my darker rant to something that always lightens my mood: Fresh Pesto.
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to add to a dish of steaming pasta. I wanted to add some more nutrition to my bowl and thought it might be fun to incorporate broccoli into the mix too. As it turned out, many other foodies and bloggers alike have had this same idea of pureeing broccoli into a pesto. However, most of them omit the basil completely. I decided to make a hybrid.
We have also added whole wheat pasta to our regiment. Although I don’t use it 100% of the time, I try to at least incorporate at half and half mixture to our pasta dishes. I’ve found that some wheat pastas are a bit “wheatier” than others and may take a bit of adjusting to if you are used to all white, smooth flour pastas. Mixing wheat and white pastas are a great way to start.
I really loved the texture of this sauce. If I were going to add anything to this recipe, it would be a bit of fat from either heavy cream or greek yogurt. Either would work great.
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or your favorite nuts to use in pesto)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
grated parmesan, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into florets. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stem and chop the stem into 1/2-inch discs. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets and stem to the water to boil until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove broccoli to a bowl, leaving the water in the pot.
Maintain the water at a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside.
Return the pot to the heat. Add the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook 1 minute more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through. Season with pepper to taste.
Transfer the broccoli mixture, fresh basil, lemon juice, black pepper and nuts to a food processor. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add a bit of pasta water to thin out the sauce until it is smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. In a large bowl (or in the pot), toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with chopped tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan if using.
Grilled Cheese month continues! And with the recent bout of cold weather, comfort food really hits the spot. Grilled cheese is always a favorite in this household. Even the cat loves to nibble off of our sandwiches. She has good taste.
I love the contrast of textures in this sandwich. The inside of the sandwich is soft and chewy while the outside is crispy and buttery. Plus the addition of Parmesan onto the buttered bread puts this sandwich over the top. I will absolutely keep doing this to grilled cheese sandwiches in the future! Why haven’t I done this before?!
Butter one side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the buttered bread. Place buttered sides of two bread slices in a frying pan. Bring pan to medium heat. Arrange a slice of mozzarella cheese, turkey, avocado, and a second mozzarella slice of cheese on bread slices, dividing evenly.
Arrange other slices of bread on sandwiches, butter side up. Cover pan with a lid and cook over medium heat until the underside of the sandwich is crunchy-golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Lift sandwiches, flip, cover and cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.
Hello friends! It has been too long since we’ve chatted. It turns out that I did not have internet in Wisconsin after all. I apologize for the hiatus. I know you were worried and I dearly appreciate your concern. All I can do is promise you that it will not happen again… anytime soon that is. I have many photos from my time in Wisconsin, but I will save those for another day.
Colorado weather has been absolutely beautiful the last few days. As I catch up on laundry and chores, I also began working on my balcony garden. I planted my seeds (fresh herbs, lettuce and tomatoes) and purchased flowers to plant on my deck. I also took a couple bike rides and my first hike of the year. Spring has sprung here!
Now, you know the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” right? Do you know what else April brings? Grilled Cheese month!! Being from Wisconsin (the land of cheese and beer) this is an extra special month for me.
Upon every return from Wisconsin, I bring back an embarrassingly large amount of cheese (I swear that’s the real reason Mister doesn’t mind me going to Wisconsin so often, he does get to eat a lot of delicious cheese afterwards!). I bring home anything from squeaky cheese curds to stringy mozzarella sticks, creamy cheese spreads to rich chocolate cheese; there is always an amazing selection to choose from. This time around I brought back some tomato basil monterrey jack, which inspired this recipe.
If you do not have access to tomato basil MJ for this recipe, simply use regular MJ and load extra basil and tomato onto your grilled cheese. It’ll be just as good, I almost guarantee it. You can also omit the chicken breast if you’d rather keep this vegetarian. We just like to eat meat in this household.
1/2-pound chicken breast tenders, pounded to 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch thickness
salt and pepper
Oil for sautéing
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded tomato basil monterrey jack
4 slices of tomato
10 large basil leaves, slightly chopped
8 slices of white or sourdough bread
Put about a tablespoon of oil in a pan and bring it to medium heat. Pound the chicken so all pieces are even in thickness. Season both sides of each tender with salt, pepper and a bit of Italian seasoning. Saute chicken on one side until the sides begin to turn white, about 2-3 minutes. Flip each piece over and cover with a lid. Cook chicken for another 2 or so minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Set aside.
Heat a griddle or a large pan to medium. Assemble each sandwich by adding a pile of shredded cheese, basil leaves, chicken, tomato, and another pile of cheese on top of a piece of bread. Heavily butter another piece of bread and place it on top of the sandwich, butter-side up. Yep, these mamba jambas look tall and intimidating, but they will shrink down once you start cooking them.
Place each sandwich, butter-side down on the hot griddle. Cover with lid and leave until the bottom of each sandwich is golden and toasty, about 2 minutes. Lift the lid and carefully flip each sandwich over (this takes a little finesse), re-lid and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove each sandwich, cut in half and serve hot.
Being unemployed has left me with a lot of free time. At first it was great – like a stay at home vacation. I got to sleep in, chill out, do whatever I wanted to do. But that got old really fast, once I realized that the things I wanted to do with my free time cost money and I could only watch the movies I already owned for so long. Netflix has become my new cheap best friend.
I reunited myself with old Nickelodeon cartoons for a few weeks. That was nostalgic. I blew through a few documentaries, movies, and then moved onto tv series. Now I am hooked, heck, I am completely addicted to Breaking Bad. Have you watched this show? It’s about a chemistry teacher who begins cooking meth. This show has everything – great characters, memorable lines, awesome music, and it’s packed with drama, action and bits of comedic relief too. Anywho, I will be sad when I get to the end of this series, but I am excited to indulge in another, just as addicting show. I was thinking about watching Mad Men next. Any other suggestions out there?
Anywho, I hate to admit it, but I’ve been more of a couch potato than anything recently. Mister made some beautiful pesto this week so I thought it might be a good opportunity to try this Skinny Taste Chicken Pesto Bake. This dish is light, easy and so flavorful – perfect for those days when I just don’t feel like exercising. 🙂 I added mushrooms to my dish, but you obviously do not have to if you don’t like fungus. I also added more pesto than Gina, because it’s delicious.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up. Wash and dry chicken with a paper towel. Slice chicken breast horizontally to create 4 thin cutlets. You can skip this step if you are using chicken breast tenders. Season both sides of each cutlet with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
While the chicken is baking, heat a small pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally. Set aside.
Remove the chicken from the oven and spread a tablespoon of pesto on each cutlet. Line each cutlet with the sauteed mushrooms, a layer of tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. You could also place the chicken under a broiler on high for 1-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
I love poached eggs. I really, REALLY love poached eggs. I love dipping buttery toast into runny egg yolks and gobbling it all up. I could eat the stuff all day every day, but then I wouldn’t have anything to post on here! So to avoid blogger monotony I came up with this creamy eggs florentine.
Combine a poached egg, creamy spinach hollandaise sauce, fresh tomato and crispy toast and you have one happy foodie. Okay, now that I’m done blogging about this, I’m going to make another batch for myself.
Man, it has been colder than cold here in Colorado lately. I think the high maybe squeaked into the teens today. BRR!! It was time to whip out some warm, hearty recipes… like this one!
Besides my recent “splurge” at Sprouts Grocery Store (I bought an eggplant and some potatoes) I have mostly steered clear of the grocery stores overall. Continuing with my Fiscal Cleanse, I didn’t buy anything for this recipe. I still had leftover cheese tortellini from a previous recipe, frozen peas, and mushrooms in my fridge. If you don’t like mushrooms, feel free to omit them, but do not (and I repeat DO NOT) skimp on the Parmesan sauce. It is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!
1/16 crushed red pepper, extra crushed in your hand, optional
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Boil your tortellini according to the package directions. Drain, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
Saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil and butter. Once the mushrooms have begun to soften, about 5 minutes, add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and red pepper. Saute for another 2 minutes then add the vegetable broth, heavy cream and frozen peas. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low (simmer). Stir occasionally and allow the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon and Parmesan and remove from heat. Stir until the Parmesan is incorporated in the sauce.
Add the cooked tortellini and gently toss. Serve immediately.