avocado-lime-mason-jar-salads-zucchini-noodles-and-fresh-veggies

Our garden still runneth over with zucchinis. I made a batch of mason jar salads, using spiralized zucchinis instead of lettuce. I threw in some baked chicken breast and fresh veggies. Then put the jars in the fridge for a week’s worth of lunches. For the dressing I mixed up avocado, lime juice, fresh cilantro, garlic, and olive oil. Can you say delicious?!?

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci, and she uses a big fancy spiral cutter called “The Inspiralizer.” However I just use a tiny GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer. Anyway here’s what I came up with:

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 c. sliced black olives
  • 2 or 3 zucchini, spiralized into noodles
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 pint-size mason jars

WHAT YOU DO:

Make the dressing: In a food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, lime juice, and avocado. Pulse until creamy. Add some room temperature water a few teaspoons at a time then pulse after each addition of water, until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the salads: Divide the ingredients and the dressing among the four jars: First the dressing (bottom layer), then the remaining ingredients up to the top. Place lids on the jars and refrigerate.

*I assembled everything in advance except for the dressing (just in case the avocado browned), so I prepared the dressing right before serving.

Italian Zucchini UNpasta Salad

The zucchinis in our garden are growing like, well, zucchinis in August, ha. I love using my spiral cutter to turn them into noodles AKA zoodles. This recipe is simple, delicious, and is a great make-ahead option since the more it marinates in the dressing the more intense the flavors become. It has all the usual ingredients of an Italian pasta salad — red onions, black olives, oregano, basil, salami, olive oil, red wine vinegar, cheese — minus the pasta! It’s a great recipe to keep on hand for summer potlucks because it is sure to be a crowdpleaser.

Italian Pasta Salad without the pasta - Spiralized Zucchini noodles
This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci, and she uses a fancy big ol’ spiral cutter called “The Inspiralizer.” However I just use a basic GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer. No matter how you slice it (pun intended) spiral cut zucchinis are an awesome low-carb alternative to pasta.

Alrighty then. Here’s the recipe…

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 medium zucchinis, spiral cut into “noodles”
  • 1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a combination of red and orange)
  • 5 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 3/4 c. sliced salami
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. sliced black olives
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • fresh basil, minced, to taste (I used 4 large leaves)
  • Parsley, chopped, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper, to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

In a large bowl combine zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, onion, and olives.

In a separate bowl, whisk these together to make the dressing: vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

Pour the dressing on top of the salad ingredients and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until the dressing starts to soften the zucchini. Serve chilled.

 

 

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