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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spiralized Zucchini and Carrots with Pesto

SO!  I was challenged to do the ALS Ice Bucket challenge by one of my best friends. (Have you done it?)  Of course you have to videotape yourself doing it. When I saw myself…..oh. my. word. It was time to face facts. I have gained a lot of weight since I stopped breast feeding. (over 10 pounds-which is on top of the 10 pounds I never lost after having Lily Belle so really I'm 20 pounds over my usual weight!)

Time to get serious. This may affect my cooking, baking and blogging (Who am I kidding? Of COURSE it will!!) However, I may not get to EAT the stuff I make but I still want to make food!

Here is one recipe that is "Weight Watchers Approved" (I joined WW Online-I need to PAY and be held accountable!!)

So I saw this recipe that someone shared and knew I had to recreate it. On the WW Tracker-most fruits and veggies are "free" which means they have no point value. You can eat them all day long!!

Here's the recipe I saw: Spiralized Zucchini and Tomatoes with Pesto

I bought a Spiralizer through Amazon. You can get it here: Buy Spiralizer!!

I changed the recipe a bit. I didn't want raw veggies so I actually steamed my Zucchini and Carrots for less than 10 minutes. (just long enough to make them less crunchy and the carrots a little bit sweeter.)

I then made Basil Pesto (using a lot less Olive Oil than I normally would!)
and tossed it all with some cherry tomatoes.

Simple, light and a meal that even WW would approve of!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Savory Summer Squash Quick Bread

Savory Summer Squash Quick Bread

I was trolling the internet for recipes that use Buttermilk. I have a 1/4 gallon and don't want it to go to waste! This recipe caught my eye. A savory Zucchini bread??? I must try it! 

Here is the link: Savory Squash Quick Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with Olive oil. Set aside

Mix together: 

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk lightly to mix all ingredients. 

In a separate bowl:

2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil

Whsik till smooth

Add in:

2 cups of grated Zucchini
2/3 cup finely crumbled feta cheese

Fold in the ingredients till mixed. Don't over mix.

Fill loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. 
The bread is done when golden brown all over and a toothpick comes out clean. (Test a few areas just in case you get a pocket of cheese)

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. 
Remove from pan and cool 15 more minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Results?  I have to say this bread smelled pretty amazing as it baked. The Oregano, however made me think of Pizza. I bet if you added some Marinara and cheese this would make for an amazing "crust" 
I'm not 100% sold yet on this bread vs. traditional Zucchini bread. I can't figure out yet what it would taste great with. Do you have any ideas what to pair with a Savory bread?

Corn and Tomato Salad

I bought some fresh corn on the cob. (my corn hasn't come in yet from the garden. Close….but until it comes in I bought some.)

This morning I noticed the two ears of corn that I had left starting to dry out and I didn't want to waste them! So, though I wasn't 100% sure what I would do with it, I decided to go ahead and boil it and then figure it out after I got my Savory Summer Squash Quick Bread into the oven.  After that was done, I decided to improvise and make a Corn "Salad."

I didn't take pictures along the way as it's a pretty straight forward concoction.

Cut kernels from 2 ears of corn,
2 tablespoons of butter.
Fresh chopped Cilantro,
fresh chopped Parsley
salt (about 5 twists of the Sea Salt grinder).
Grape tomatoes
fresh grated Parmesan.

(I feel it's an abosolute MUST to have chunks of Parmesan in the fridge which you then grate fresh!)

Voila!  Easy, DELICIOUS, buttery and salty corn with the sweet tomatoes and savory Cilantro. It is the PERFECT side dish. (Of course I didn't have a main dish so it was just on the "side" of my glass of water….lol)   I tried to save 1/2 for my dinner later work but that did not happen. I can't wait until my corn comes in so I can make more!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I am LOVING Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook The 'Can't Cook Book"
This is the third recipe I have made from it. I look forward to making many more! 
This one is a GREAT recipe. It sounds rather fancy but in actually it just as easy as regular pancakes. 
And, it gives ordinary pancakes bit of Lemon Zing!  They are light, flavorful and even The Tot likes them.

The dry ingredients:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour 
(the book calls for whole wheat flour but I always substitute whole wheat pastry flour- it's fluffier!)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Add two eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup of part-skim Ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract

Whisk everything together. (Don't over mix)

Grate fresh lemon Zest (about 1/2 tsp)

Make as you would normally make pancakes. Pour batter into hot skillet. When you see bubbles, flip!
Add butter, syrup and enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Whole Wheat Pastry Chocolate Chip Cookies

While perusing Amazon they suggested a cookbook called Kitchen Revelry Cookbook
I looked for more information and found out it was by actress, Ali Larter.

On her website I found this Whole Wheat Cookie Recipe
I loved the idea of a Whole Wheat cookie. However, I find whole wheat to be too heavy. Often for "Whole wheat" I substitute Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. So, in the ingredients I made that substitution. The result is some pretty tasty cookies!!  I really love them! They are less SWEET than regular cookies and are a tiny bit chewy. I hope you make these today and share them with someone you love!

Ingredients for cookies:
3 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
8 oz. cold Unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extra
8 oz. (2 bars) Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup Organic Walnuts, ground
Flaked Sea Salt, to taste
Directions for cookies:
Preheat oven to 350F, then line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Sift the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Kosher Salt into a large bowl - whole grains can be very heavy, and sifting will add airiness to the mixture and, ultimately, lightness to the cookies.  
In a standing mixer on a low speed, mix the Butter and Sugars until blended, then add Eggs one at a time until fully combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the Vanilla, and the Flour mixture, and blend on a low speed until the flour is barely combined - roughly 30 seconds.  
Add the Chocolate and the Walnuts, and mix on a low-speed until they are combined throughout the dough.  Remove the dough onto a clean workspace and mix with your hands until everything is evenly distributed.  
Scoop 3-tbls. mounds of the dough onto the cookie sheets, 6 mounds per sheet, leaving three inches between each ball.  Bake for 16 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through.  Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer them to the counter, leaving them on the parchment paper to cool.  Re-line the baking sheets with parchment paper, and repeat with remaining dough. 
These cookies are delectable straight out of the oven, or up to 3 days later!  If you’d like to prep the dough in advance, make sure to scoop your cookie balls before placing in the refrigerator, as cold dough can be very difficult to scoop.  Refrigerated dough will keep for about a week.
Total Cooking Time: 45 mins.
Serves: 20 cookies

Two sticks of cold, unsalted butter cut up. 

Butter, and Dark Brown sugar blended together.

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Baking Soda and salt after sifting. (Sifting also helps make these cookies lighter)

Cookie dough with the ground Walnuts and Dark Chocolate Chips mixed in. Yum!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was watching an episode of "Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives" and Guy Fieri went to a place in Phoenix, AZ called St. Francis. (St. Francis Restaurant) The chef there made a fantastic looking meatball dish.  I loved every dish he featured. Everything was so bright and colorful mixing flavors and used lots of ingredients that I love. I was so inpsired I had to try my own.

The beginnings of spaghetti sauce. 
My friend's MIL cans pureed tomatoes so I start with a large jar of that. I added chopped up Zucchini squash, cut up tomatoes from the garden, chopped Parsley from my garden, chopped red onions, salt, pepper, sugar and about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for almost an hour.

As it nears being done, (You want to cook it down, and make it thicker) you can either puree it in a food processor or if you have a submersion blender that's the quickest and easiest way to puree it. I leave it a bit chunky though as I don't mind a bit of the veggies in the sauce. 

For the meatballs I used a pound of ground beef (85/15), more cut up parsley, red onion and then tore up two pieces of the homemade bread we make. One eggs, salt and pepper and mix.

Roll into small balls and place in a skillet with Olive Oil over medium heat. Cook the meat balls on all sides. I like to let mine get a bit of a "crust" as it makes them more flavorful later.

Next put the meatballs in a baking dish. I tore bits of fresh Mozzarella cheese, topped with 1/2 of the homemade sauce and then grated fresh Parmesan and put in the over at 350 for 20 minutes.

Make spaghetti noodles according to the directions. 
When done, drain, rinse to stop the cooking and toss with Olive Oil.

The finished meatballs!

Add some pasta to the plate and top with meatballs and more sauce. 
I loved the sweetness of the homemade sauce. I ate WAY too much of this. It's so good! I also put some away in my travel crock pot contatiner to take to work. What is your favorite meatball recipe?

More Garden 2014

These really took off this summer. I planted them from seed. 
Elephant Ears. Next summer I want even BIGGER Elephant ears.

Canna. These were a transplant-a gift from a neighbor. I had no idea they get so big!

My first EVER Sunflower!



Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Spinach

Spinach, and Ricotta Scrambled eggs.

Spinach! Wash and clean and add to skillet with Olive Oil. Heat on medium till the spinach wilts.

Crack 2 eggs into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of Ricotta cheese. Mix. Pour over spinach. Season with Salt and pepper.  Pull edges into the middle until cooked through. Don't overcook.

Add a sprig of Dill if you are so inclined (I am!) and a piece of rustic bread with butter and Cherry preserves. What an amazing, QUICK and delicious breakfast!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Skirt Steak Tacos (with fresh Guacamole a la Jessica Seinfeld)

My stepson spends 1/2 of his summer with his Mom in Arkansas. He got home today and so I wanted to make an awesome dinner for his return. I think this was a winner!
I chose to make Skirt Steak Tacos with fresh Guacamole from my new ""The Can't Cook Book" (Oh Yes You Can!)

First up-make the Guacamole

Here are the ingredients:

2 avocados 
small red onion (I used less than 1/2 of this onion)
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt


Chop, mix, mash and then add the juice of 1 to 2 limes (Depending on your taste I used one)
 It's that simple!

I enlisted The Tot to help with this recipe. She did the MASHING!  She also added salt and with help- added lime juice.

GUACAMOLE! Fresher than Chipotle. How can you go wrong? You could even add chopped up tomatoes if you prefer.

The fixin's  Salsa, homemade Guac and tomatoes.

For the skirt steak, rub with salt on both sides and then place in a lidded cooking sheet and use the broiler. (The cookbook also suggests rubbing the meat with Chili powder but we didn't have any. I will have some on had for the next time I make this!)
The cookbook calls for 4 minutes each side but I discovered that was not long enough. 
I actually did about 6 minutes each side. (I think even longer is needed unless you cut the meat into the strips beforehand. Keep an eye on the meat/broiler and cut a slice for your desired temperature.)
Pull out, place on a cutting board and allow it to rest for five minutes.

(I also put some of the strips back in for a few minutes for myself as I like my meat cooked well done.)

You can serve as is but I like to brush a little Olive Oil on each side and warm then in the oven. 
If you leave them for about 10 minutes they puff up like a "puffy taco"

Taco Party!!
I chopped up more red onion, cut up black olives, and also put out sour cream. I had some leftover "Chipotle" rice that I pulled out and it was perfect on the tacos!!  

Dinner! We ate everything up! This all made enough for the 4 of us. It was delicious and I can't wait to try it again after I buy some Chili Powder!!

And in case you are curious, here is a little interview I found with Jessica Seinfeld regarding her new cookbook.