spiral slicer

ZUCCHINI NOODLE CAPRESE SALAD

Ahhhh the spiralizer. I love this kitchen gadget. You can turn veggies like zucchinis, cucumbers, and carrots into awesome healthy low-carb dishes. Turn zucchinis into noodles = Zoodles!

Here’s an easy no-cook salad that’s perfect for summer veggies from the Farmer’s Market or your garden. It has the delicious flavor of a traditional Italian caprese pasta salad, but without the pasta.

ZUCCHINI NOODLE CAPRESE SALAD

Zucchini Caprese Salad

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 medium zucchinis, cut into spiral “noodles”
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes (I used a combination of orange and red)
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/3 c. thinly sliced basil leaves
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • salt & pepper, to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

Place zucchini and tomatoes in a mixing bowl.

Make the marinade in a separate bowl by combining the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and garlic.

Pour marinade over the zucchini and tomatoes and stir gently to combine. Place in fridge to marinade for 10-20 minutes (the longer the zucchini marinates the more flavorful it will become).

Remove from fridge, add the cheese and basil to the bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and serve.

recipe adapted from Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci

Cucumber Avocado Tomato Salad Recipe 

Cucumber Avocado Tomato Salad Recipe - fresh and delicious not to mention easy!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced into halves or quarters
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced then cut in half
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 3 avocados, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

Place tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, avocados, garlic, and dill in a large bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine.

Just before serving, season with salt and pepper.

Here’s an addicting Chex party mix idea: use pretzel goldfish crackers, ranch dressing mix, lots of cereal (just for the halibut I tried some Kix with the Chex, really got crazy in here ha), and baby goldfish crackers, seasoned with parmesan cheese and ranch. I made a big batch in a 12×19 inch foil pasta/roasting pan, and baked it in the oven. Here’s how it turned out…. And if you have other tasty snack mix recipes like this, let minnow. Get it?!? Oh fish puns.

Gone Fishin Chex Party Mix - warning super addicting! Easy and delicious.

WHAT YOU NEED:

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 250°F. Place butter in a large ungreased roasting pan, and put in the oven to melt. Add remaining ingredients in the pan, and stir until coated. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes or so. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Gone Fishin Chex Party Mix - so easy and delicious - addicting too!

fish puns
source: uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Fish_Puns

Inspired by a sweet and sour meatball sauce recipe in Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, I made these:

Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe - perfect as an appetizer, or serve on noodles.

They were great as fingerfood on toothpicks, but would also be tasty served on a bed of noodles! Of course you can always make the meatballs without the sweet and sour sauce, and serve them with spaghetti and red sauce. Here’s what I did…

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1/2 c. Italian-style Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1 egg

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1-2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 2 Tbs. ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. steak sauce
  • 1/2 c. crushed pineapple in natural juice
  • 1-2 Tbs. orange marmalade
  • optional: cornstarch (if needed for thickening)

MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, Panko bread crumbs, milk, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 c. of the chopped onion. Shape mixture into meatballs; approximately 1-2 inches each. Place on cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

WHILE MEATBALLS BAKE, MAKE THE SAUCE: In a small saucepan, heat oil on med-high heat, then add 1/2 c. onion, and sugar. Cook for a few minutes until onions are soft and starting to brown. Add broth, ketchup, steak sauce, pineapple, and marmalade. Bring to a boil, and cook a couple more minutes. If too thin, add a little cornstarch a teaspoon or so at a time until desired thickness. Strain sauce into a bowl with a mesh colander, and discard “pulp” mixture left behind in the strainer.

TO SERVE: Dip meatballs in sauce, and place on serving dish or on noodles.

Our son brought home a “Top Secret” cookbook from his school library and asked to make copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m not a huge fan of baking or making candy (I love the improvisation and un-preciseness of cooking), but since he was so excited about a recipe I said sure why not. Plus… chocolate!!! Ha. Here’s how they turned out:

easy homemade peanut butter cups recipe

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/3 c. milk chocolate chips
  • 2 T. vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs. softened butter

WHAT YOU DO:

STEP 1: Line 10 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside

STEP 2: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 4 oz. baking chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals until it starts to melt. Add 2/3 c. chocolate chips and head an additional 30 seconds or until melted. Add 1 Tbs. shortening and stir until everything has combined and is melted. Pour into liners. Place muffin tin in freezer for 15-20 minutes, or until firm.

STEP 3: In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar on low until blended. Spoon mixture evenly among the cups of chocolate. Place back in freezer for 15-20 minutes, or until firm.

STEP 4: Repeat step 2 with remaining baking chocolate, chocolate chips, and shortening. Pour chocolate evenly among peanut butter to top. Freeze for 15-20 more minutes or until set.

recipe adapted from Copycat Candy Bars Cookbook

Here’s a fun and easy muffin-tin recipe: mix up frozen hash browns with some cheese and melted butter, then bake.

Cheesy Hash Brown Cups- Easy Muffin Tin Recipe

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 16 oz. frozen shredded hash browns (I used a package that had onions, and green and red peppers mixed in)
  • 4 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • optional add-ins: crumbled bacon bits, cubed ham, sliced mushrooms, etc.

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin tin (or spray with nonstick spray).

Mix all ingredients in a bowl then spoon into muffin pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until crispy around the edges, remove from oven, and serve.

Muffin Tin

Cheesy Hash Brown Cups in a Muffin Tin

 

 

Here’s a simple and delicious recipe I tried: Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs. I adapted it for the slow cooker, and then broiled it in the oven for a few minutes to make the thighs nice and brown. 

Slow Cooker Lemon Ginger Chicken - from Crock Pot to broil a few minutes to crisp

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 8 chicken thighs; bone-in, with skin
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • for garnish: sliced green onions and lemon wedges

WHAT YOU DO:

Finely grate the peel of 1 lemon into a bowl. To this, add ginger and salt. Stir to combine. Rub this mixture under the skins of the chicken thighs.

In slow cooker, combine the juice of two lemons (the grated lemon, plus another lemon), honey, soy sauce, oil, and water. Add chicken, making sure to coat all pieces with liquid.

* tip: I love slow cooker liners. Much easier and faster clean-up afterward.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until internal temperature of chicken reaches at least 165ºF. Once chicken is cooked, preheat oven to BROIL.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place chicken in oven and broil 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown, then remove. Top with green onion slices, add lemon wedges cut from the remaining lemon, and serve.

recipe adapted from bhg.com

Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker liners for Crock Pot recipes

IMG_20160302_221704_159000

One-Pot Beef and Guinness Stew Recipe

Easy freezer-friendly beef stew. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime you crave warm comfort food. Just start everything in a dutch oven or heavy pot on the stove, and transfer the whole thing to the oven.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 4 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 lbs. small potatoes (I used a mixture of red and yellow), cut into chunks
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • Irish stout beer – I used one 11-oz. bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, for seasoning
  • 16 oz. frozen baby peas, thawed

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a heavy pot or dutch oven (5-quart size or so) on the stovetop, toss beef with flour and stir in tomato paste. Add potatoes, onions, broth, beer, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, occasionally.

Cover with lid and place pot in oven. Cook until meat is fork-tender, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, then season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

TO FREEZE: Prepare according to recipe. Cool, then divide into a few containers, label, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw, reheat, and serve.

adapted from marthastewart.com

 

I am officially obsessed with handmade pasta! You need only a few simple ingredients and the combinations of flavors, herbs, spices, and fillings you can add are endless. The kids love cranking out the pasta into sheets, and noodles, and cutting ravioli shapes. Here’s some ravioli we made with my favorite red sauce:

Cheese Stuffed Ravioli Recipe with Red Wine Marinara Sauce Recipe - pasta dough with just 2 ingredients!
WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 ½ cups (14 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus any additional needed for dusting/kneading
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: grated cheese for topping
  • Red Wine Marinara Sauce

WHAT YOU DO:

STEP 1. MAKE THE DOUGH

MIX: Mound the flour in the center of your work surface. Using your hands, make a well in the middle that will be wide enough and deep enough to hold 4 eggs. Add 4 eggs (save 1 egg for the filling), and add any optional liquids or flavoring (for example chopped spinach, or ½ cup dry white wine, and/or herbs and spices such as basil or parsley). Using a fork, beat the eggs (and any liquids/flavors). Gradually incorporate small amounts of flour from the sides of the well as you go, until all the flour is mixed in. This will be a lumpy mess, but the next step will take care of that.

KNEAD: Knead for 3 minutes or so. If the dough is really sticky, add a little more flour. The dough should be slightly springy and just a tiny bit sticky. Knead for 10 additional minutes until the dough becomes smooth. Wrap ball-shaped dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, for an hour or so.

STEP 2. WHILE THE DOUGH RESTS, MAKE THE FILLING
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 1 lightly-beaten egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

STEP 3. After dough has rested, roll into sheets. I used a hand-crank pasta machine, but you could use a rolling pin and flour as well.

Place dough sheets on work surface and place dollops of ricotta cheese every few inches. Wet the dough with a few drops of water around each cheese, then place a second dough sheet on top, and seal with your fingers. I used a cutter to cut out square shapes (a roller tool or knife would work well too). If you want to get really gadget-y (ha) I have also seen molds/forms for homemade ravioli.

STEP 4. COOK

Bring 6-8 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta, and boil until firm but not mushy (fresh pasta only takes a few minutes). Drain and serve with red wine marinara sauce.

adapted from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Two-Ingredient Homemade Egg Pasta Recipe

Two Ingredient Homemade Pasta Recipe - Just eggs and flour - I will never buy the boxed stuff again.

Here’s a fun and easy recipe: homemade egg pasta. It’s just two basic ingredients: flour and eggs. You can use this to roll out in flat sheets for cutting into fettuccine noodles or tagliatelle. It’s also perfect for filled pastas such as ravioli or tortellini.

The fun part is you don’t even need a mixing bowl – just make a “bowl” out of flour right on your work surface and place the eggs in the middle.

We used a hand-crank pasta machine to roll out the dough. Our kids thought this was great. It was like a PlayDoh Fun Factory – except we got to eat our work.

I cut some of the pasta dough into fettuccine and spaghetti noodles, and used a hand stamper tool to make ravioli another time.

Of course there are tons of flavors and liquids you can add to this basic pasta dough: try 6-10 oz. of spinach, or a teaspoon of grated lemon zest and 6 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or even ½ cup dry white wine to your dough while mixing. Herbs and spices (basil, parsley, etc) or even vegetable purees can be great additions.

And if you’re making ravioli or tortellini, there are so many delicious options for the filling besides the usual ricotta: for example butternut squash, mushrooms, blue cheese, etc.

I made the batch in the photos with just plain old, boring, flour, since we have a bunch of it. I do want to try switching up the flour, though, and experiment with cornmeal, rice, semolina, whole wheat, and/or buckwheat.

Anyway, here’s the basic recipe. It makes approximately the same amount as 1 pound of store-bought dried boxed pasta.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 ½ cups (14 oz.) all-purpose flour

WHAT YOU DO:

MIX: Mound the flour in the center of your work surface. Using your hands, make a well in the middle that will be wide enough and deep enough to hold the eggs. Add eggs, and any optional liquids or flavoring. Using a fork, beat the eggs (and any liquids/flavors). Gradually incorporate small amounts of flour from the sides of the well as you go, until all the flour is mixed in. This will be a lumpy mess, but do not worry. The next step will take care of that.

KNEAD: Knead for 3 minutes or so. If the dough is really sticky, add a little more flour. The dough should be slightly springy and just a tiny bit sticky. Knead for 10 additional minutes until the dough becomes smooth. Wrap ball-shaped dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, for 30 to 60 minutes.

ROLL OUT (<– said in my best Transformers voice): Using a rolling pin (and extra flour for dusting) or pasta machine to turn the dough into sheets. Cut into desired shapes, or add filling if you’re making stuffed pasta.

Tip: I sprinkled a tiny bit of cornmeal on the dough before I put it through the roller the first time to keep it from sticking, and I put a tiny amount of cornmeal on the plate for the finished pasta and tossed the noodles around to keep them from sticking. To keep noodles from drying out, cover with a damp towel as you go.

COOK: Bring 6 to 8 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta, and boil until firm but not mushy (depending on the thickness of your pasta, anywhere from 30 seconds-2 minutes or so). Drain and serve.

adapted from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Two Ingredient Homemade Pasta - just flour and eggs - I will never buy the boxed stuff again

 

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