because what is life without good food?

Meatless

Chipotle Black Bean Quesadillas with Avocado Cream

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadilla with Avocado Cream

I have some exciting news for you! Well, it’s exciting to me, anyway, and I hope you find it exciting too … Sumptuous Spoonfuls is teaming up with Swiss Diamond International. I will be crafting some recipes for Swiss Diamond International using their cookware. They are not paying me to do this, but they are giving me samples of their cookware to use in developing their recipes.

I was really excited when Swiss Diamond International contacted me, and even more excited after I read about their cookware.  I was intrigued by the use of diamonds in cookware. This is from Swiss Diamond’s web site:

  • Diamonds are durable - As the hardest material known to man, diamonds give the coating additional strength and resilience.
  • Diamonds are a better heat conductor than metal - Four times more conductive than copper, diamonds create even heat distribution across the pan’s surface. Diamonds also allow the pan to brown food like stainless steel, creating a “fond” that can be used for gravy – or easily washed away with warm soapy water.
  • Diamonds are naturally nonstick - One of the most valuable properties of diamonds in a nonstick coating is that very little sticks to them. Coupled with their durability, this creates a lifetime of superior performance.

So I was curious to see if it really works … and I have to say I absolutely love these pans! They cook like a dream … the heat distributes across the pan so well. The food cooks faster and so evenly. And nothing sticks to the pan … with no cooking spray or butter. I tried some of the stickiest, most difficult things (like fried rice) and nothing stuck. And they’re so easy to clean too. (By the way, while Swiss Diamond did give me the pans, they did not pay me to say that … this is my honest experience.) I’m curious to see how well they retain that magic nonstick surface … I guess time will tell.

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadillas with Avocado Cream

For this recipe, I used the crepe/omelet pan. This little pan is by far my favorite so far. It has a low lip so that it’s easy to flip crepes, omelets, and pancakes. (Even the IHOP-style pancakes that have always been a struggle for me to flip … I found I can even make giant  pancakes – bigger than IHOP’s! – in this pan and they cook and flip SO nicely.) Anyway, I was craving a quesadilla the other day and thought this pan would be perfect for that. I wanted to try making it without any oil or cooking spray and see if the tortilla got properly crisped and browned on both sides. And you know what? It did.

You don’t have to have a crepe / omelet pan to make these quesadillas … any frying pan will do. But it sure makes cooking a pleasure.

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadilla with Avocado Cream in Swiss Diamond International Crepe/Omelet Pan

 Chipotle Black Bean Quesadilla with Avocado Cream

For each quesadilla:

  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado
  • 1 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • juice from 1/4 – 1/2 of a fresh lime
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons plain nonfat yogurt (optional)
  • 2 tortillas that fit the size of your pan. I used some whole wheat “wraps” that were a little smaller than my crepe pan.
  • Refried black beans (homemade or canned)
  • About a Tablespoon of finely chopped onion
  • About a Tablespoon of finely chopped chipotle pepper (a jalapeno roasted on the grill would also work)
  • About 1/2 oz. of finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • For serving: your favorite salsa. A fire-roasted salsa is especially nice with this quesadilla!

Directions:

  1. First, make the Avocado cream by mashing the avocado in a bowl, then mash in the cream cheese, onion, garlic and lime juice and stir until everything is mixed well and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add a teaspoon or two of plain nonfat yogurt if you like to get it to a nice spreadable consistency.
  2. Take one tortilla and spread it with a layer of refried black beans, then spread on a layer of avocado cream. Sprinkle the onion and chipotle pepper over, then sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheddar and top it all off with the 2nd tortilla.
  3. Heat your pan over medium heat. If your pan needs it, spray the pan with cooking spray, then slide the quesadilla into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then check to see if the bottom is nicely browned and crisp. Once it’s brown, flip the quesadilla over with a spatula and cook until it’s brown on the other side and the cheese is melted. (The bottom half is crisp by now so the quesadilla is fairly easy to flip, but if you are making a large quesadilla, you may need to slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board and then flip it over back into the pan.)
  4. Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve with the salsa.

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadillas with Avocado Cream

If you would like to purchase Swiss Diamond cookware, visit http://www.swissdiamond.us/.

This recipe was shared at Show & Share WednesdayCast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresGala Dinner PartyFit & Fabulous FridaysFriday Food Fight, Weekend Potluck and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gouda Soup

“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.”
~ Marge Kennedy

Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gouda Soup

The other day I was digging through my freezer trying to identify all the things that were too freezer burned to eat and I came across this “mystery” container with ugly brown stuff in it. I had NO idea what that was. I sniffed it. Poked it. Nope, couldn’t tell what it was. I set it in my pile of “things to discard” … and it wasn’t until morning that I realized it was MOREL mushrooms! Oh NO! my precious most favorite mushrooms in the whole world that my dad gave me … I just couldn’t let those go to waste! I quickly set my mind to thinking what to do with them …

Soup! Yes, mushroom soup. Something wonderfully creamy and cheesy … I originally thought I would puree this soup and make a rich cream of mushroom soup, but once I got it all done, I just didn’t want to do that to my soup. I wanted to savor the soft texture of the mushrooms and caramelized onions contrasted against the smooth creamy, cheesy broth. You can puree it if you prefer. I’m leaving mine with bits of mushroom and caramelized onion floating about in it.

I am SO glad I saved the mushrooms. I feel a bit super-hero-ish now. I have accomplished something most very worthwhile today.

Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gouda Soup

Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gouda Soup

This recipe makes about a quart of soup.

  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 1 cup sauteed mushrooms (Measured after sauteeing … I used morels, but I think you could substitute any mushroom and it would still be a great soup! Whatever mushrooms you choose, try the Chardonnay mushroom cooking method to avoid putting loads of extra fat in your soup … )
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup shredded Gouda  cheese
  • Salt & Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • For garnish: freshly grated cheese & snipped green onions

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium saucepan to medium and set the butter in to melt. Once it’s mostly melted, add the onions and sautee the onions in the butter. Cover and let cook for just a minute, then remove the lid and stir well. If the pan seems dry, add a little wine and stir well. Cover again and let cook, then remove the cover and stir. Keep repeating this process until the wine is gone and the onions are a lovely dark brown color.
  2. Stir the flour into the onions and stir to coat all the onions in a lovely jacket of flour, then add the milk, mushrooms, and broth and stir to mix well.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and let cook, stirring frequently, until the soup starts to thicken a bit. Add the cheese and stir to mix. Cook until the cheese is melted and the soup is heated through. Try a small spoonful of the soup and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. I like to put my soup in a glass jar so I can gaze at it every time I open the fridge.

Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gouda Soup

This is an #OnionLove Post … Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to see all the other great #onionlove posts …

This recipe was also shared at Show & Share WednesdayCast Party Wednesday, Everyday Mom’s MealsFull Plate Thursday, Share it Saturday, and Scrumptious Sunday.


Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie Noodles

Shhhh … they aren’t really “noodles” … they just look sort of like noodles. They don’t really taste like noodles either, but I love the noodley look of this colorful vegetable medley. The Pesto Rosso (a.k.a, sundried tomato pesto) really complements the sauteed veggies too, especially when you add some crumbles of cheese on top.

It was getting very close to bedtime last night when I realized I was hungry. I didn’t want to have a big, heavy meal right before bed, but I didn’t want my stomach waking me up in the middle of night either. So I decided at the last moment to cook up something light and healthy but filling enough to tide me over till morning. I’ve been toying with the idea of using zucchini and summer squash as noodles with sauce over top, but when I went to make it, I thought “why just zucchini? why not toss some other vegetables too?” … and so I did.

For me, this was a late night snack, but I could envision these lovelies as a beautiful bed for meat, fish or chicken. Can you imagine how appetizing that would look? Or you could eat them as is for a wonderfully healthy vegetarian dinner. If you want a heartier meal, toss them with some whole grain fettucine or linguine. The wonderful thing about eating vegetables for dinner is you can pretty much eat as many as you want without guilt or worry.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie Noodles

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”

This makes about enough for 1 hearty plateful or two side servings. Multiply if you have more mouths to feed!

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 of a small sweet onion
  • 1/3 of a large bell pepper (I used a yellow one)
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini (yielding a heaping cup or so of zucchini “noodles”)
  • 1 roma tomato
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used Basil and Terragon)
  • A splash of wine (or water)
  • About 1 Tablespoon Pesto Rosso (Sundried Tomato Pesto … recipe here)
  • About 1/2 Tablespoon white wine (or water)
  • To top: crumbled feta or queso fresco — or thin “shards” of freshly cut Parmesan & a cherry tomato or sprig of fresh basil or parsley, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop the garlic finely and, in a small bowl, mix it with the olive oil. Set aside to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil while you chop up the vegies.
  2. Slice the vegies into thin noodle shapes. For the onion, slice it vertically and very thin. The zucchini: slice it in half, then slice each half into very thin slices. Cut the slices into noodle-sized strips. The tomato: cut it vertically, then slice like you did the zucchini. The bell pepper: just cut it into very thin strips.
  3. Now heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic with olive oil, onion and bell pepper and sautee until the onion is soft. Then add the zucchini and tomato and sautee until the zucchini “noodles” are tender. If the pan gets dry while you are cooking, add a splash of white wine (or water) to keep the vegies moist and tender and make sure they don’t stick to the pan.
  4. Mix the pesto rosso with a bit of white wine (or water) to thin it out, then toss it with the vegies.
  5. Top with crumbled cheese or shards of parmesan, garnish with a cherry tomato and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie "Noodles"

This recipe was shared at Tasty TuesdayWonderful Food WednesdayCast Party WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday, Weekend Potluck and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich

on Toasted Ciabatta with Melted Gouda Cheese

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Ciabatta with Gouda

Today I was HUNGRY and needed something substantial. Something with protein. I briefly considered making up a BLT, but I decided I didn’t want to mess with making bacon. I needed something quick so I could get back to work.

So an egg sandwich sounded about right … But I wanted something really tasty that would satisfy my hunger AND my taste buds. Pesto rosso to the rescue! If you haven’t heard of Pesto Rosso, it’s a magical tomato pesto made with sundried tomatoes and almonds. The Foodie Physician introduced me to it. I have had this lovely red pesto several times spread on toast for a snack and reveled in the taste of it each time, but today I thought I would put it to the test in a sandwich.

A few minutes later I was munching on one of the BEST breakfast sandwiches I have ever had. The lovely ciabatta and fresh garden tomato are wonderful, of course, and the sweet pepper and onion certainly pitch in along with the melted gouda cheese, but the Pesto Rosso is what really turns this sandwich from a ho-hum regular run-of-the-mill sandwich … into a sandwich to remember.

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta with Gouda Cheese

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich

Makes 2 normal-sized breakfast sandwiches or 1 extra large one. I used Gouda cheese from Dofino, since they were so kind as to send me samples.

  • 1 egg
  • About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet bell pepper (I used yellow … red or green would work too)
  • About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet onion
  • Several slices of Gouda cheese
  • Ciabatta bread, sliced horizontally (I used my homemade ciabatta)
  • Pesto Rosso (recipe here)
  • Sliced fresh garden tomato

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a small spoonful of cold water till smooth (the water will help keep your egg moist and perfect). Season with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and fresh ground black pepper, then stir in the chopped sweet onion and bell pepper.
  2. Heat your frying pan to medium heat, pour in the egg mixture, reduce heat immediately to medium low. Cover the egg with gouda cheese slices, then set the cover on the pan and let cook, checking frequently, until the egg is cooked through and the cheese is melted. I pushed in some of the edges of the egg to make it into a more manageable size for the sandwich.
  3. While the egg is cooking, cut 2 pieces of ciabatta about the size for half of your egg (or a large piece of ciabatta if you are making a ginormous sandwich), slice them horizontally and toast the bread, then spread the bottom half of the ciabatta with a generous amount of Pesto Rosso. Slide the egg on top of the Pesto Rosso and then add fresh tomato slices and the top half of the ciabatta bread.

Enjoy!

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta with Gouda Cheese

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s TreasuresFull Plate Thursday, Friday FavoritesFit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend PotluckMelt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday and Kitchen Fun Friday.


Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato  and Bread Salad: something's missing ...

Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …

So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size?  You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:

  • 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
  • 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
  • A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
  • A few roasted sunflower seeds
  • Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet  and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
  3. Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayFriday Favorites and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Cheddar & Smoked Gouda Roasted Vegie-wich

Cheddar & Smoked Gouda Roasted Vegie Sandwich

Do you want to know a secret? Those Tarragon & Sunflower Roasted Vegetables that I shared the other day? There’s a way to make them even better … I didn’t think it was possible, but my gosh they make an incredible sandwich. Put them on a good bun and then melt smoked cheese over the top and oh my gosh it’s heaven. I’m telling you, you really need to try this.

It was Ann at the Fountain Avenue Kitchen that gave me the idea when she posted her Grilled Pesto Veggiewich, which looks totally yummy, and I LOVE that word: vegiewich! I didn’t have any of that gorgeous multi-grain bread, and I don’t have a panini maker, but I have some really good hot dog buns left over from our camping trip and I have a fridge drawer full of gourmet cheeses from Dofino cheeses that are just dying to be made into something delicious.

And thus a new sandwich is born. I have made this sandwich twice already and I’m going to have another one for lunch today. If you really must, you could add some chicken or something, but trust me, you won’t miss the meat. The vegies and cheese are just divine. It tastes like there’s some magical sauce in there, but I didn’t add any sauce.

Cheddar & Smoked Gouda Roasted Vegie Sandwich

 Cheddar & Smoked Gouda Roasted Vegie-wich

  • Good quality homemade or bakery buns (white or whole wheat … whole wheat of course is healthier)
  • A bunch of Tarragon & Sunflower Roasted Vegetables
  • Smoked gouda cheese, shredded
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Take your bun and pile a bunch of the roasted vegetables on it. Shred and mix the cheeses, then cover the vegies with the lovely cheese.
  2. Set the bun on a baking sheet, set it in the oven (or toaster oven) and bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so or until the cheese is nicely melted, the bun is toasted, and the vegies are hot.
  3. Take the vegiewich and put it on your plate and gobble it up while it’s still hot. A little bowl of melon is a lovely accompaniment. Have napkins handy because it might get a little messy …

Cheddar & Smoked Gouda Roasted Vegie Sandwich

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures, Everyday Mom’s Meals and Share It Saturdays.


Zucchini Chickpea Mock “Crab” Cakes

Zucchini Chickpea Mock Crab Cakes

When I saw these zucchini “crab” cakes over at My Kitchen Addiction, I so very badly wanted to try them. I love crab cakes. I love zucchini. I loved the idea of making a crab-cake-like thing with zucchini. I couldn’t wait till my sister brought me some zucchini so I could try them! She brought me these gorgeous striped Italian zucchini, along with some regular green ones. I used one of the pretty Italian ones for this dish.

These “crab” cakes have no crab in them at all … they are made with zucchini, breadcrumbs, spices and chickpeas. They don’t really taste like crab, but they are pretty yummy. They have that same soft, gentle texture that crab cakes have, which I really love. I think, though, the next time I make these I will tone down the Old Bay seasoning or replace it altogether with other seasonings. I love Old Bay seasoning on seafood, but it seems a little strong when there really isn’t any seafood present. (Or maybe, just maybe, next time I should toss in some real crab along with the zucchini! Now that would be fun.)

This time, however, I had some tzatziki on hand so I thought instead of tartar sauce, I smeared on some tzatziki and topped with slices of mom’s first fresh garden tomatoes. Oh yes, that was the perfect topping in my book. I also think they would be fun as sliders, served in little buns. I suppose most people would classify these as appetizers, but I think they make a nice little meal.

I was in a rush to eat so I didn’t salt and drain the shredded zucchini like she did … I just set it on a clean kitchen towel, covering it in the towel, and pressed to remove the excess moisture. I also added extra breadcrumbs and some chickpeas to mellow out the flavor a bit and give it some extra protein.

Zucchini Chickpea Mock Crab Cakes

Zucchini Chickpea Mock “Crab” Cakes

Adapted from My Kitchen Addiction. I think I got about 15 – 18 2-inch patties from this batch. It was hard to count because I kept munching on them as I cooked.

  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 – 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (I used 1 teaspoon, but I think that was too much. I recommend starting with a little bit and tasting it, then add more to taste.)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (again, start light and add to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • a sprig or two of fresh terragon, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 heaping cup of chickpeas, finely chopped until they are almost a mush in a handi chopper or food processor
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For frying: 2 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • For dipping/serving: tartar or tzatziki sauce (my recipe for tzatziki is here), fresh tomato slices, little buns if you like

Directions:

  1. Set the zucchini on a clean kitchen towel, cover and squeeze out the excess moisture. Put the zucchini in a large mixing bowl and toss it with the breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil and mix well. Form into patties.
  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the cakes to the pan.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. If you have more cakes yet to cook, add a Tablespoon more oil and wait till it heats up, then cook the rest of the cakes. Put the cakes in a clean towel to keep them warm until you’re done frying.
  3. Serve warm, topped with your choice of toppings. They can be reheated in the oven (or toaster oven) at 400 for about 5 – 8 minutes.

Zucchini Chickpea Mock Crab Cakes

This recipe was shared at Cast Party Wednesday and Manic Monday.


Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

Brianne at Cupcakes & Kale Chips is a great source of food inspiration for me. When she posted a recipe for sesame noodles, I wanted them right away … it was a simple, quick recipe, so I went into the kitchen and made them straight away. I have veggies galore in my kitchen right now, so I had to throw some of those in. So I sliced up some cucumber in thin noodle-like strips and tossed in some shredded carrot and sweet onion.

I also replaced the peanut butter in the recipe with PB2 … it’s a powdered form of peanut butter that has most of the oil removed. And I left out some of the oil to cut down the amount of fat. It was still quite delicious. I looove this sauce!

You could add in cooked chicken or shrimp or scallops to dress this dish up, use other vegetables or even replace the noodles with zucchini noodles (have you seen that? zucchini cut up in long thin strips like noodles? I want to try that one of these days!) Anyway, I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles and that worked wonderfully. My cucumber strips weren’t quite straight or thin enough to really act like noodles, but they added a refreshing crunch to the dish.

Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

Adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips (who got the recipe from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman)

There is enough sauce to cover about twice this much noodles/vegies, so go ahead and make more if you have more mouths to feed. I was just cooking for me … I’m lucky, though. Making this amount means I have some of that scrumptious sauce left for another day.

Sauce:

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • A 2-inch hunk of ginger root, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons white or rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce (use more or less to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil (I used 1 Tablespoon, but I think it could use a little more)
  • 4 Tablespoons PB2
  • 3 Tablespoons water

Noodles and vegies:

  • 4 – oz. of noodles (I used brown rice pad thai noodles, but any long skinny noodle will work …)
  • 1/2 cup of cucumber, cut in long thin strips like the noodles
  • 1/4 cup of shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds (or chia seeds if you can’t find your sesame seeds … like me)

Directions:

  1. Make the sesame sauce: whir all of the sauce ingredients in a handi chopper, food processor or a blender until smooth. Set the sauce aside.
  2. Prepare the noodles according to the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the noodle cooking water (or 1 cup if you are making a full batch), then drain the noodles.
  3. Add the reserved cooking water to half of the sesame sauce and blend. Place the warm drained noodles in a large bowl and toss them with the sauce and vegies until everything is coated.
  4. I skipped this step because I was starving but the recipe says to let the noodles cool to room temperature because they will absorb more sauce as they sit. This might be true … I have yet to try it.
  5. Garnish with cilantro leaves and peanuts or sesame seeds and serve. Try not to inhale them like I did.

Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

This recipe was shared at: Foodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Fridays, Serendipity & Spice, Weekend Potluck, Summer Salad Sundays, Recipe of the Week and Manic Monday.


Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad with Feta & Pinons

This is one of those salads that came to me in the middle of the night.  I was trying to think of something different to do with cucumbers beyond the regular cucumber salads … hadn’t come up with anything, but then about 3 a.m., I woke up and thought “Pesto! Pesto would be awesome on cucumbers!” So yeah, I guess I never stop thinking about food, even when I’m sleeping.

I have a bunch of English cucumbers my mom gave me from her garden. They are the BEST cucumbers, so crunchy and sweet, tiny little seeds that are never too big, and no sharp bitter taste at all. She had brought in a box of them and said to me “this is today’s pick … tomorrow we will have another bunch like this. So you may as well take them all.”

I found a bit of buttermilk in my fridge and thought I should use that up, so I mixed it with the pesto along with some yogurt to make the dressing. Together they made this lovely creamy blend that made me smile. I had actually intended to put some chickpeas in this salad as well, but I completely forgot about them until the salad was gone. Oh well, the chickpeas will go into something else!

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad

Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad

with Tomato, Feta Cheese and Pinons

Salad:

  • 2  cups chopped English cucumber (or other fresh garden cucumber … )
  • 1  cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or chopped fresh tomato
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Pinons, toasted
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (if desired)

Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto (my recipe is here)

Chop up the cucumber and toss them in a bowl with the tomatoes, saving a few tomatoes for garnish on top of the salad. Mix up the buttermilk, yogurt and pesto till smooth and then toss the cucumber/tomato mixture with enough dressing to just coat the vegies. Top with feta cheese crumbles, pinons, the reserved tomatoes and fresh basil leaves and serve.

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysSummer Salad Sundays and Raw Food Recipes.


Egg on a Salad with Sundried Tomato Ranch

Egg on a Salad with Avocado, Sweet Onion, Hosta Flowers & Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

Let’s re-define the idea of egg salad, shall we? I mean, who decided that “egg salad” should be a bunch of chopped hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise on bread? Excuse me, but how is that a salad? I don’t mean to knock the traditional egg salad sandwich … there’s a comforting charm in a well-made egg salad sandwich, but I have to tell you, when I think salad, I think greens. To me, a salad really needs greens before it deserves to be called a salad.

Yesterday I redefined the whole concept of “egg salad” in my mind. I put a fried egg on my salad. Really, it’s nothing new, but it’s new to me … it’s been done before … I’ve seen it, but the idea of putting a fried egg on a salad sounded completely crazy to me. A fried egg? on a REAL salad? With greens? Seriously?

Egg on a Salad with Avocado, Sweet Onion, Hosta Flowers & Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

It sounded so completely weird to me until I made this sundried tomato ranch dressing. And my friend Melissa said to me: it would be great on eggs. Oh. my. gosh. YES! A fried egg, over easy, with that beautiful bright yellow messy, runny yolk … and toast … and crunchy green salad … oh let’s toss on some avocado too … oh yes! It’s brilliant! I could eat this forever … I made it again today. It’s like the quickest meal ever. And it’s SOooooo goood!

It is the sundried tomato ranch dressing that makes this brilliant. Without it, it’s just eggs oozing all over my greens and yeah not really that exciting at all … but add that dressing and some crunchy toast and I’m happy as a clam.

(Are clams really happy? I sure hope so, cuz otherwise it would make NO sense to say “happy as a clam” … then again, we don’t really know that they are happy, so why do we say that?)

Whatever. This egg salad made me happy. Like giggly from my toes to my nose kinda happy. I will never, ever, think of egg salad the same way again.

Egg on a Salad with Avocado, Sweet Onion, Hosta Flowers & Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

Egg on a Salad with Avocado, Sweet Onion & Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

I got so excited talking about the salad I forgot to tell you about the flowers! They are hosta flowers … the flowers of hostas, like hosta leaves, are edible. You probably have some growing in your yard. They taste like salad. And they are insanely beautiful, on or off a salad.

  • Mixed spring greens with spinach (or whatever greens you’d like to use …)
  • Green bell pepper, chopped
  • Sweet onion, sliced and chopped
  • Avocado, sliced and/or cut into chunks
  • Organic hosta flowers (or other edible organic flowers … totally optional but they look pretty! make sure yours aren’t sprayed with nasty lawn chemicals before eating, though)
  • Eggs, 1 for each salad
  • Thin slices of french bread or baguette, toasted
  • Sundried tomato ranch salad dressing (recipe here)

Directions:

  1. First mix up the dressing and set it aside.
  2. Make a good bed of greens in your salad bowl and tuck in some onion, avocado, and bell pepper. Add a few flowers if you like, around the edge, leaving a good space in the center for the egg.
  3. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and heat to medium heat. Crack a fresh egg into the pan and season with Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and freshly ground pepper. Cook it sunny side up or over easy, whatever you prefer.
  4. Toast the bread while the egg is cooking, then spread the ranch dressing on the bread slices.
  5. When the egg is done to your liking, set it gently on top of the salad. Top with the ranch (or serve on the side), and serve with the toast.

Fried Egg on a Salad with Avocado, Sweet Onion & Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdayFit & Fabulous FridayFoodie Friends FridaySummer Salad Sunday and Manic Monday.


Stella de Oro Salad with Cucumber, Pecans & 2 Cheeses

and a Tequila Lime Vinaigrette

Stella de Oro Day Lily Salad wtih Cucumber, Pecans and 2 Cheeses

Today I outsmarted the deer in our back yard. I ate the day lilies. The deer usually eat them before I even get to see them. For years I didn’t know I even had day lilies because the deer ate the blossoms before I ever saw them.

About.com says Stella de Oro day lilies are deer resistant. They obviously never met the deer that live here! … but once I tasted these luscious flowers, now I understand why my deer eat them. They’re delicious! They have a lightly sweet taste and they are CRUNCHY! Most flower petals are so delicate and thin they have almost no texture, but these! These were like having orange crunchy greens in my salad.

I did check before I tasted them to make sure they aren’t poisonous. I found a lot of conflicting information about asiatic and oriental lilies, but day lilies are definitely edible. I even found some nutrition facts. Also, I don’t use any herbicides or pesticides anywhere in my yard. If you are going to go picking your day lilies for food, I would recommend that you never use any sort of sprays anywhere near them. I wouldn’t go picking the ones in the park or the neighbor’s house, either … you never know what they’ve been sprayed with.

The blossoms of these day lilies only last a day, so I recommend picking them just before you plan to eat them. I expect different kinds of day lilies probably taste different–I can only vouch for the taste of the Stella de Oro lilies in my back yard. Other parts of the day lily plant are edible too … people often fry up the “pods” (blossoms) before they open and the roots can be eaten too, although I didn’t try that. I don’t expect I will get that many of them before the deer discover what they’ve been missing.

Day Lilies in Salad

Stella de Oro Salad with Cucumber, Toasted Pecans & Two Cheeses

  • Mixed greens
  • Cucumber, sliced and cut into triangles
  • Red onion slices
  • Several freshly picked day lily blossoms
  • Thinly sliced Dubliner cheese (or Parmesan or Romano)
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Toasted pecans
  • Tequila Lime Vinaigrette dressing (find the recipe below)
Fill your bowl 3/4 of the way with mixed greens. Add cucumber and red onion slices, then arrange the day lilies. You can separate the petals from the blossoms if you like, or leave the flowers whole. They are easier to eat if you separate them, though. I did a little of both before I took the pics, then pulled them apart as I ate them. Top with shards of the Dubliner cheese and  sprinkle with goat cheese and pecans. Drizzle with tequila lime vinaigrette and enjoy! (Recipe for the dressing is at the end of of my Basil Watermelon Salad post)

Stella de Oro Salad with Cucumber, Pecans, and Dubliner and Goat Cheese

Tequila Lime Vinaigrette

(from Cooking Light Magazine)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • Dash of salt

Directions:

  1. Toss all ingredients into a food processor and whir till blended. Or you can just whisk them all together in a bowl, but the food processor will chop up the cilantro really nicely. I used watermelon-infused tequila (made by soaking watermelon cubes in tequila for several  days). Cover and chill until ready to use.

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty Tuesdaysl, Cast Party Wednesday, Best Healthy Salad Recipes, and Summer Salad Sundays.


Wild Mushroom Grilled Pizza

Wild Mushroom Grilled Pizza

The last time I grilled pizza, I decided to do a simple wild mushroom ‘za. Just cuz I had some wild shrooms from my wonderful dad. Have I mentioned how much he spoils me? I am so so very lucky …

The mushrooms were fantastic, but really the best part about this pizza was the crust. The crust had such a wonderful flavor, probably because I used the liquid from cooking up the morel mushrooms along with some tomato juice for the liquid in the dough. Morel mushrooms are full of moisture. When you cook them up, the moisture releases and you end up with a sort of soupy mushroom mixture. You can keep cooking to reduce the juice, or you can save that delicious mushroom juice for soup … or pizza crust. I made two pizzas with this crust: this mushroom one for me, and a cheese one for my daughter. I still had some dough left, so I let it rise while I was cooking the pizzas, then baked it up as “flatbread” … my son gobbled those up in no time.

Wild Mushroom Grilled Pizza

Wild Mushroom Grilled Pizza

  • Pizza dough
  • Wild mushrooms (I used morels & shelf mushrooms, but others will work as well)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
  • Your favorite pizza or pasta sauce
  • Mozzarella or Italian blend of cheeses
  • Fresh chives, garlic scapes, snipped, & fresh basil leaves

Heat a frying pan to medium high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl about in the pan, then add the mushrooms and garlic and sautee for a few minutes. Season to taste with Red Robin seasoning. If the mushrooms get dry, add some white wine and cover for a couple minutes till the mushrooms are soft and moist. Pour off any excess mushroom juice (or wine) to use in your pizza crust.

Make the dough for the pizza crust (see recipe below).

When the dough is ready, light up the coals on the grill, and when they are hot, pile the coals up on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty to make a not-as-hot spot for the toppings to melt. (If you are using a gas grill, heat up one area to very hot and a lower heat area for melting the cheese.)

Arrange your mushrooms and cheese right next to the grill so you’re ready to top the pizza when the crust is ready.

Put the grate on the grill, and place a crust on the grill over the hot coals, cover and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, checking it periodically. The crust should start to bubble up a little and get brown on the bottom. Once it is nicely browned on the bottom, flip it over onto the cooler side of the grill, add the toppings and cover the grill again till the cheese is melted. (For some more pics showing how to grill pizza, see my Grilled Thai Chicken Pizza post.)

Top the pizza with chives, scapes and fresh basil, cut and enjoy!

Italian Mushroom Tomato Pizza Crust

  • 1 cup liquid (I used about 1/4 cup juice from cooking the mushrooms, 1/2 cup tomato juice, and filled the rest of the cup with water)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Put all ingredients into the bread machine and put it on the dough setting. When the dough is done, divide it into four balls. Shape each ball into a disc shape, cover with a towel and let rest about 5 – 10 minutes. On a clean, flat surface sprinkled with cornmeal, roll out the dough for your crust with a rolling pin. Cover and let rest until the grill is ready and you have all your ingredients prepped and ready. The trick to grilling pizza is to have all the toppings ready to add to the pizza quickly as soon as you flip the dough over.

Wild Mushroom Grilled Pizza

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Morel Mushroom, Havarti & Chive Souffle

Morel Mushroom & Chive Souffle

I actually intended to make a “puffy baked omelet”, but what I made turned out more like a souffle than an omelet. Which seems to me is a very happy coincidence, because it happens to be National Cheese Souffle Day today. The bonus is it is very easy to make; took me about 10 minutes to put it together (but I did cheat a little … I already had the mushrooms sauteed in my fridge).

Those big brown lumps in my souffle? They are not the prettiest things, I know, but they are a rare treat … an elusive and highly prized possession. Morel Mushrooms. My dad and sister and brother-in-law go hunting for them every year. I used to go along, but after the last long bout of poison ivy last summer (which I got despite all my protective measures and extensive after-the-hunt washings), I’ve decided that these mushroom hunts are not for me. I will let them go on the hunt … and hope they feel like sharing their treasures. I feel so lucky … they didn’t get that many this year, and Dad shared about half of his small stash of morels, so I wanted to make something  that really focused on the mushrooms.

Morel Mushroom & Chive Souffle

Morel Mushroom, Havarti & Chive Souffle

This makes a small souffle that I was able to eat most of all by myself in one sitting … if you’re sharing, you probably want to double or triple or even quadruple the recipe.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons snipped chives + 2 chive flowers (or just use extra chives if you don’t have the flowers)
  • 1/3 cup cooked morel mushrooms (I sauteed mine in a teaspoon of butter with garlic scapes and red robin seasoning … if you don’t have morels, you can use other mushrooms, but if you can get your hand on some morels, I highly recommend them)
  • 2/3 cup shredded Havarti cheese
  • Chive flowers for garnish

Directions:

  1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, putting the yolks in a little bowl, the whites in a slightly larger bowl.
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then beat in the cream of tartar.
  3. Now take the bowl with the yolks and whisk in the flour, baking powder, water and chives. Season with a little Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and some freshly ground pepper.
  4. Carefully fold the yolk mixture into the whites, along with about 2/3 of the cheese, and sprinkle with chive flowers (removing the bottom stem that holds the tiny flowers together).
  5. Spray a flat oven-safe bowl, mini casserole, or individual ramekins with cooking spray and slide or spoon the puffy egg mixture  in.
  6. Tuck the mushrooms into the fluffy egg mixture and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set (they spring back when touched lightly in the middle). Let the souffle settle for about 5 minutes before eating. Garnish with fresh chives and/or chive flowers.

Morel Mushroom & Havarti Chive Souffle

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s Meals, Mealtime MondayManic Mondays, and Tuesday Talent Show.


Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

My chives are growing like crazy right now and they’re in full bloom with big, beautiful purple flowers. They’ve taken over a big chunk of my raised bed already … Mom warned me that they would, but I’ve never had anything grow like that here . Perhaps it’s because the deer eat everything … except for the daffodils and the chives.

Their loss! I love them. Besides that they are gorgeous, I think chives taste marvelous. And chive flowers even moreso. While chives add sort of a subtle onion taste to a dish, chive flowers are more intense, little bursts of flavor.

And Dad gave me some beautiful fresh shelf mushrooms he found … I thought they’d go perfect with the chive flowers.

Chive flower, mushroom, white bean and walnut salad

Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Cooked white beans
  • Fresh mushrooms, sliced or torn into chunks
  • Fresh cut “shards” of parmesan cheese (thinly cut slices)
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Chive flowers
  • Avocado ranch salad dressing (recipe here)

Fill your bowl most of the way with greens, then toss on some beans, fresh mushrooms, parmesan, and walnuts. Tuck in the chive flowers and drizzle with avocado ranch.

Before you eat the salad, make sure you take a moment to savor the beauty of these flowers. Then dive into the taste of them … You might want to pull them apart and scatter them all over your salad.

Chive flower, mushroom, white bean and walnut salad

This recipe was shared at  Tastetastic ThursdaysFit & Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Manic Mondays.


Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad with Walnuts & Feta

on Wild Greens with a Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing

Rainbow Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

We made rainbow fruit kebabs for my daughter’s birthday party. Both of her parties, in fact (one for her school friends, one for her dance friends). The second party was smaller, so now my fridge is filled with fruit. Fruit in literally all the colors of the rainbow.

That just screams for a salad, doesn’t it?

Rainbow Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

Now, you could arrange all these pretty fruits over the greens in the shape of a rainbow I suppose. I just wanted a sprinkle of fruit amongst my greens, though. And a crunchy nut flavor with some salty, creamy cheese. The best part of this salad, I think, was each time I encountered a new fruit, the taste was a little different. But the greens, the dressing, the cheese and the walnuts held it all together so it was a constant symphony of taste with changing fruit highlights. Sort of like different singers singing the same melody, or different instruments playing the same tune. It felt a little like listening to a really good orchestra playing a beautiful piece of music … like being at the Symphony.

Rainbow Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad on Wild Greens

with Toasted Walnuts & Feta Cheese

  • Greens of your choice (I used dandelion greens.)
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Honeydew melon
  • Chopped fresh pineapple
  • Fresh orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Feta cheese

Fill your salad bowl most of the way with greens. Tuck the fruits in amongst the greens, sprinkle with a few toasted walnuts and a bit of crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing.

Honey Citrus Poppyseed Dressing

Okay this isn’t really a NEW salad dressing recipe … it’s a salad dressing transformation. I wanted that honey lemon, but I also wanted a bit of creaminess, a bit more sweet citrus taste, and some poppyseeds, so I just added them. I think you could get away with using the Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette as is. Or you could go a different direction and just add some honey to the orange juice, yogurt and poppyseeds.

Mix all ingredients and drizzle over the salad.

Enjoy the symphony.

Rainbow Symphony Fruit Salad on Wild Greens with Toasted Walnuts and Feta Cheese

This recipe was shared at Mealtime MondaysTotally Tasty TuesdaysTrick or Treat Tuesdays, and Tastetastic Thursdays.


Delicious Thai Peanut Noodles in Minutes

Thai Peanut Noodles with Shrimp, Carrots & Broccoli

Yes, you DO have time to cook! This is faster than fast food and WAY healthier. You can have it on the table in under 15 minutes.

The “magic” in this recipe is the Super Simple Thai Peanut Sauce. If you make some of this up and keep it in your fridge, you can have delicious meals in minutes … if you haven’t made it yet, go do it! Click the sauce picture for the recipe … the sauce itself will take you maybe five minutes to make. It’s super simple.

I don’t claim that it is truly “authentic” Thai food, but it tastes amazing … and if you are a busy working mom who’s starved for Thai food like I am, with no Thai restaurants anywhere within hundreds of miles, well, then I think it’s okay to take some shortcuts.

Super Simple Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Okay, now that you’ve got the sauce done, all you have to do is …

1. Cook up some noodles. I used Angel hair pasta. Angel hair is beautiful and fast, and I love the delicate-ness of the noodles! You can use whatever noodles you like, though. (For SUPER expedient gourmet meals, have some noodles pre-cooked in your fridge, then just warm them up when you need a quick delicious meal.)

2. While the noodles are cooking, steam some veggies. You can use whatever vegies you think would go well with Thai peanut noodles. I used broccoli and carrots. Here’s my quickie tricky method for doing that in the microwave. Put your fresh or frozen veggies in a bowl. Add a bit of water to the bowl. Just a splash; you don’t need a lot. Sprinkle the vegies with a little salt and pepper if you want. Cover it with a plate. Stick it in the microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Take the veggies out and check them. Are they crisp tender? If not, stir, cover, and microwave a bit longer until they are crisp tender. Strain the vegies, or use a fork to remove them from the bowl.

Faster than fast food!  Thai Peanut Noodles with Broccoli, Shrimp and Carrots

3. Optional! Heat up (or cook up) some shrimp or leftover meat. I’ve tried this with leftover grilled chicken and also with tiny frozen (thawed) shrimp, but I also think it is just wonderful without meat at all.

4. Toss the noodles and vegies (and meat or shrimp, if you’re using them) with the noodles and about 2 tablespoons of the sauce per serving. Top with chopped roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves and serve.

Faster than fast food! Simple Thai Peanut Noodles in minutes

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck,  South Asian BlogHop and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Bread and White Bean Salad with Feta & Basil

Bread and White Bean Salad

5,000 likes on facebook! :)Yesterday my little blog reached a new milestone: 5,000 “likes” on my facebook page. I was so excited I took a screenshot! … I have met sooo many wonderful foodie friends through this blog. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey for me. My foodie friends take me on culinary journeys all over the world, but not only that, they lift me up when I am down, they always have a cheery good morning and a good night, a cup of hot coffee, and oh the amazing foods we share. We have parties together, share stories, food, music, drinks … They are my inspiration, but more than that, they are my friends … I want to do something to celebrate and thank all of you but I wasn’t quite sure what to do. One of my friends suggested “5 different things” … we tossed around some ideas for that … at first I was thinking party foods, but I think I will go with 5 favorite foods.

First of Five Favorites: Salad. One of my very favorite foods is salad. I loooove salad! I think I could eat salad every day. Salads are often meals for me. I dress them up with all sorts of things, and I love to make my own salad dressings. And I love sharing my salads with my foodie friends.

For this salad, I wanted to do something like an Italian Bread Salad with my sunflower spinach parmesan bread, but I didn’t follow a recipe. This salad just sort of “happened”, like a lot of recipes in my kitchen do. I just wing it. Most of the time it turns out pretty good. This one was really good, but I’ll warn you it’s super garlicky. Personally I like that. One of the things I want to do before I die is to get to the garlic festival in Gilroy, CA. I already have two garlic cookbooks from there and they are very well used. We drove through Gilroy once. You can smell the amazing garlic from inside the car. For a couple minutes, our car smelled like an Italian kitchen. I bet everyone in Gilroy cooks with a LOT of garlic. I think I’d fit right in …

Bread & White Bean Salad with Feta and Basil

Bread and White Bean Salad with Feta & Basil

Makes 1 “meal-sized” salad or 2-3 side salads. Multiple if you are cooking for more people!

Croutons

Beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked Great Northern, Cannellini or other white beans
  • 2 whole canned tomatoes
  • Granulated garlic
  • Red Robin seasoning (or seasoned salt)
  • Italian seasoning

Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Red onions, thinly sliced
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Sunflower seeds, toasted
  • Lowfat garlic ranch dressing (I used this one) … or I think a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette would be nice on this salad too …

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and granulated garlic. Cut the bread into cubes, and brush lightly with the olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 – 10 minutes or until the bread is toasted and crunchy.
  2. While the croutons are baking, put the beans in a small bowl and crush the tomatoes over them, allowing the juices to drip into the beans, then add the tomatoes. Season to taste with garlic, Red Robin seasoning and Italian seasoning. Heat the beans in the microwave or a small pan till they are hot.
  3. Assemble the salad: in a salad bowl, toss the greens with the onions, beans, and croutons. Sprinkle with feta, basil leaves, and sunflower seeds and drizzle with the dressing.

Bread & White Bean Salad with Feta & Basil

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysMidweek Fiesta, Cast Party Wednesday, Tastetastic Thursdays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays and Weekend Potluck.

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Click here to see the other great #greenslove posts.


Garlic Ranch Rosemary Potato Pizza with Goat Cheese

Garlic Ranch Rosemary Potato Pizza

There’s a local pub in town that serves Mashed Potato Pizza. It’s my favorite pizza ever. I have tried to duplicate it SO many times … and while I’ve come close, it’s just not the same when I try to duplicate it. So this time I decided I’m not going to try to re-create someone else’s potato pizza … I’m just going to make one of my own.

Duh! That was SO much better! For all those messages I post on facebook about “just be yourself”, you think I would have learned by now … I think this would be even prettier with purple potatoes … I think I may have to do this pizza again, in purple.

Garlic Ranch Rosemary Potato Pizza with Goat Cheese

Garlic Ranch Rosemary Potato Pizza with Goat Cheese

  • 1 – 3 yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin (I was making an individual pizza, so just one potato)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Red Robin Seasoning (recipe here … or use your favorite seasoned salt)
  • 1 thin pizza crust (I used my Sunflower Rosemary Flatbread)
  • Some Skinny Garlic Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dip (recipe here)
  • Goat cheese, crumbled
  • Fresh rosemary leaves
  • Sliced green onion (optional)

Directions:

  1. Slice your potatoes thin. If you have a mandolin or fancy shmancy potato slicer, that would work just perfect here!
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, onion powder and granulated garlic. Lightly brush both sides of the potato slices with the olive oil, sprinkle them with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and grind a bit of pepper over them and set them on a baking tray sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes and flip the slices, then bake for 5 more minutes on the other side or until the potatoes are tender. If your slices are thinner than mine, it might not take as long … watch them!
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, whip up your garlic basil buttermilk ranch dip and spread it all over your crust. Serve the rest of the dip with vegies to tide over your hungry crowd while you’re finishing up the pizza.
  4. Turn the oven up to 425 F.
  5. Arrange the potato slices in a spiral pattern on the pizza crust and top with goat cheese crumbles and rosemary leaves.
  6. Bake on a pizza stone for about 10 minutes or until the goat cheese gets puffy and just a tiny bit browned on top.

Garlic Ranch Rosemary Potato Pizza with Goat Cheese

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysCast Party Wednesday Midweek FiestaTastetastic/It’s a Keeper ThursdaysFit & Fabulous Fridays Weekend Potluck, and Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays.


Black Bean, Feta and Avocado Couscous Citrus Salad

with cilantro, cucumber, and toasted pinons

Couscous, Black Bean, Kumquat and Avocado Salad with Feta, Cucumber, and Toasted Pine Nuts

I couldn’t stop eating this salad. It was one of those find-things-in-your-fridge-and-toss-them-together kind of meals … but once I got it all together, I could not believe how good it tasted.

I was telling my yoga friend about this salad and she asked how it is that I have all these strange things “on hand”  in my kitchen …  I think what I do is I just collect interesting ingredients and let them flow together. Oh, yes, there are times when I buy things specifically to make a particular dish, but it quite often doesn’t work out that way. Life gets in the way. My plans get thrown out the window. I have learned along the way that plans are only a point of departure, and you have to be ready at any point in life to make new ones. I find myself doing a lot of that.

In any case, this was a very happy accident.

Couscous, Black Bean, Kumquat and Avocado Salad with Feta, Cucumber, and Toasted Pine Nuts

Black Bean, Feta and Avocado Couscous Citrus Salad

with Cilantro, Cucumber, and Toasted Pine Nuts

If you haven’t got any kumquats, you could try substituting other citrus fruits.

  • 2/3 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 of a large cucumber, sliced and cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • Roughly 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 kumquats (about 2 inches in diameter, add more to taste depending on how large your kumquats are), sliced thin and chopped (reserving a few slices for garnish)
  • About 2 cups of green leaf or romaine lettuce, chopped fine
  • About 3/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
  • About 1/3 cup of toasted pinon nuts
  • 1/2 of an avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped

Directions:

  1. Prepare the uncooked couscous according to the package directions and make the dressing.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss everything but the avocado until mixed.
  3. Toss the avocado in the dressing to coat (the kumquat juice in the dressing will help the avocado from turning brown), then toss the avocado and the dressing into the salad and stir gently to combine.
  4. Garnish the top of the salad with extra feta crumbles, slices of kumquat, cilantro leaves and a few pinons.

Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons of kumquat juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Black Bean, Feta, and Avocado Couscous Salad with Kumquat, Cucumber, Toasted Pinons

This recipe was shared on Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Everyday Mom’s Church Supper, Weekend Potluck, Love your Hearth MonthMidnight Maniac Meatless Mondays, and Freaky Friday.


White Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce on Angel Hair

with fresh parmesan and basil leaves (and shhhh! … it’s kind of even  … almost … healthy)

White Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce over Angel Hair Pasta with Parmesan and Fresh Basil

There is a bit of a funny story surrounding this dish … we like to joke around a lot in my office. Normally this doesn’t extend to our clients, but today something came across the email trail and our client jokingly said “10 lashings for Mike” … which my boss responded to with “with a wet noodle … al dente”. I was sooo tempted to respond with “and a white wine mushroom cream sauce”.

Because I wasn’t sure how the client would react, I held my tongue and just went into the kitchen and made this. It’s a very quick dish to prepare …  You could have it for lunch or dinner just like this as an elegant vegetarian meal … and it is so amazing just like that! … maybe with a salad on the side? I didn’t have the patience to do that today … I was SO hungry. If you are a meat eater, I think it would be lovely to add chicken, shrimp, or a luscious grilled hunk of salmon … or some broccoli or asparagus or maybe a bit of chopped tomato.

I honestly could not think or wait to eat this for even a moment longer. It was SO hard to refrain from inhaling this while I took the pictures …

White Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce over Angel Hair Pasta (low fat, healthy!)

White Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce on Angel Hair Pasta

Serves one hungry person or perhaps as a side dish for two … multiply the recipe for the number of mouths you have to feed!

  • 1 serving of angel hair pasta (I recommend using whole wheat pasta or something like Smart Taste that has more fiber in it … )
  • 1 heaping cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Bruschetta seasoning and Red Robin seasoning (recipe here)
  • 1 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fat free half and half
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese (or a mix of both)
  • Fresh basil leaves, sliced (or not)

Directions:

  1. Start the water for your angel hair pasta heating.
  2. Spray the pan with cooking spray, then add mushrooms, onion, & garlic. Sautee briefly, then add the white wine and sprinkle on some of the seasonings. Sautee for a while and adjust the seasonings to taste.
  3. When the water starts boiling, throw your pasta into the water. The rest of this isn’t going to take long …
  4. To the pan with the mushrooms, add the light cream cheese and the fat free half and half. Cook and stir on medium to medium-low heat until the sauce starts to thicken a bit, then add most of the shredded cheese (saving a bit for the top).
  5. Check if the pasta is done. Throw it in the strainer.
  6. Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened to the consistency you want, put the pasta on a plate, pour the creamy mushroom sauce all over it, then sprinkle with your fresh basil leaves.
  7. Try to slow down and savor it … I really wouldn’t recommend the inhalation method I used …

White Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce over Angel Hair Pasta ... a lower-fat, healthified recipe ...

This recipe was shared on Talent Show TuesdaysCast Party Wednesdays, Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTastetastic Thursday and Full Plate Thursday, {Fusion Friday}, Weekend Potluck, Meatless Mondays and Katherine Martinelli’s Pasta Blog Hop.

This recipe was FEATURED on Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays.


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