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”
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mix the pesto rosso with a bit of white wine (or water) to thin it out, then toss it with the vegies.
- Top with crumbled cheese or shards of parmesan, garnish with a cherry tomato and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.
After the Zucchini Lime Cake went over so well and I came home from Mom and Dad’s house with a zucchini the size of a baseball bat (only fatter), I thought I might try a lemon version of that cake … but with poppy seeds because lemon and poppy seeds are just sooo yummy togehter. I also wanted to make it in cupcake form because my daughter really really loves cupcakes.
Anyway, I decided to take a short break from work and whip up some cupcakes right before my girl came home from school. And she just happened to come home that day with this book about cupcakes that she checked out from the library. So it was quite serendipitous that I happened to be baking cupcakes. She really wants to try some of these cupcake recipes out of the book. I am supposed to choose which one we will make. Maybe I need to just buy her that book so we can try them all. The cupcakes finished up just as we were supposed to head out the door for dance, so I grabbed one of the smaller cupcake pans and brought it along and she ate two of them on the way. The rest of the six I fed to my yoga friends, right out of the cupcake pan, at the bar we go to after yoga for a glass of wine.
Most of these cupcakes we ate unfrosted, but I did make a lemon cream cheese frosting to go on some of them. Do you want the recipe for the frosting? It’s just light cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice. You can add lemon zest if you like to intensify the lemon taste.
Zucchini Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes
You could also bake these as a cake in a 13x9x2 inch pan or two rounds or … well, whatever you like. Just add more cooking time for a cake.
- 2 cups finely shredded zucchini
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of 1 lemon + juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 – 4 teaspoons poppy seeds (I used two and my daughter and I both agreed they could use more poppy seeds)
- Preheat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients.
- Spray your cupcake pans with cooking spray or use cupcake liners and fill each cupcake about 2/3 full.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Frost them if you like with lemon cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with poppy seeds (and lemon slices if you want to be extra fancy).
and some blue cheese crumbles and a few sunflower seeds too …
Ann from Fountain Avenue Kitchen posted this beautiful recipe this morning. She started out her morning with this lovely breakfast … only to have it fall and land on the floor, breaking the plate. Oh how I can relate! I have mornings like that. Days when everything seems to tumble and break. She didn’t seem too upset about it … she was just glad that there was another serving left … I was mourning the loss of that beautiful square plate! And it wasn’t even mine.
But her breakfast quinoa sounded really good and it just so happens I had a bit of cooked quinoa in the fridge and an over-abundance of fresh vegetables in the house. So I made this for myself, and served it on a square plate … in honor of my friend Ann who gave her plate to bring me this recipe.
Savory Breakfast Quinoa with Harvest Vegetables & Blue Cheese
Adapted from Fountain Avenue Kitchen. I didn’t have the same ingredients on hand so I switched out the vegies and the cheese. Feel free to mix up the vegies and cheese to what you like/what you have on hand.
For each serving:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (hot!)
- about 2/3 cup fresh chopped summer squash and/or zucchini (or other vegetables)
- About 10 cherry tomatoes (or 1 small garden fresh tomato, chopped)
- a sprig of tarragon
- a few basil leaves
- 1 egg
- a tablespoon or so of blue cheese crumbles & a few roasted sunflower seeds
Mix the olive oil and the garlic in a small bowl and let it sit for a few minutes to infuse the olive oil with the garlic flavors while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Once you have everything together, toss the summer squash with the cherry tomatoes in the garlic and olive oil. Toss in the basil and tarragon as well. Set them on a small baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees or until the squash is crisp tender.
While the squash and tomatoes are roasting, heat a frying pan on medium heat and fry up an egg to your liking. I prefer them over easy, but do what makes you happy.
Now, when the squash and tomatoes are roasted, mix them with the hot cooked quinoa. Put a bed of the quinoa mixture on your plate, top with a few blue cheese crumbles and sunflower seeds, then when the egg is cooked properly, slide it on top of the quinoa.
It is September … the weather is starting to cool down. I was really loving the cooler weather … until my allergies kicked in …
Ah but I am lucky! I “inherited” some wild rice from my sister. She said it was too salty and brought it along up to my parents’ place last weekend for us to “fix” for her. Well we didn’t get around to making anything with it, she left and my other sister left and there was still the wild rice in the fridge, so my mom asked if I would take it. Sure, I said. Then I can make soup!
So yes, I made soup. And what’s better than soup in the fall when there’s a little chill in the air and your allergies are in overdrive? Soup is just the thing to make you feel better … it’s so warm and comforting and wonderful.
Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
This is a very thick and chunky soup. Feel free to adjust the amounts of vegies, rice and meats to your liking … if you want more of the delicious cheesy broth, put in fewer vegies and rice. Like many soups, it is really better the next day. If you want a vegetarian soup, leave out the meat and use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth
- 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (reserve the leaves!)
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup shredded Edam cheese (I used some Dofino Edam cheese that Dofino sent to me as a “sample”)
- 1/4 cup Asiago cheese (or other sharp cheese such as parmesan or romano)
- 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup corn
- 2 cups cooked wild rice (use the wild Minnesota wild rice if you can find it … it’s SO much better!)
- 3/4 cup cooked leftover chicken (or more if you want a meatier soup)
- 1/2 cup corn (frozen, thawed or pre-cooked fresh)
- 1 teaspoon Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt
- The leaves from a few sprigs of fresh oregano and parsley
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- For garnish: shredded cheese and oregano or parsley leaves
- Heat a saucepan or your soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and swirl it around.
- Pour the celery, onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic into the pot. Over medium-high heat, sautee the vegies until the onions are soft and translucent and the zucchini is tender.
- Add the flour to the pan and stir, coating all your little vegetables and garlic bits in flour. Do this quickly before the flour starts to brown.
- Add the milk and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 – 10 minutes or so or until the mixture thickens.
- Add the shredded cheeses and cook for a few minutes longer until the cheese melts, then stir in the broth, rice, chicken, corn, and lower the heat to a simmer (on medium low to low) and cook for 15 – 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in the reserved celery leaves, oregano, parsley and Red Robin Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot, garnished with a bit more shredded edam cheese and a few fresh oregano or parsley leaves. Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.
The great thing about being a food blogger is sometimes you get to have cake for breakfast. Which is a very good thing when you stayed up too late baking zucchini cakes to take along to your parents’ house for the 50th wedding anniversary party and didn’t have dinner and woke up STARVING.
I just wanted to use up the last of my zucchini before I visit my parents’ garden again. It is always overflowing with good vegetables this time of year. Besides, we are going to have lots of extra mouths to feed this weekend and it will be good to have something relatively healthy and totally delicious to snack on. The last big zucchini was big enough to make two cakes, so I made a chocolate one and this beautiful zucchini lime cake that my sweet friend Dor from La Difference Catering made when her house was overflowing with courgettes. She calls them courgettes. I think that’s a marvelously elegant word! Still I refer to them as zucchini. That’s just what we call those big green squash things here in the midwest US.
By the way, today we are on the letter Z in the A-Z Health Challenge on facebook! We made it! I have to thank all the wonderful bloggers who contributed their recipes, tips and knowledge along the way. That’s what made it so very fun. I will do a wrapup post with all the letters and their health benefits once this anniversary party is over.
For today, Z is for Zucchini! Let’s eat cake!
Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios
Slightly adapted from La Difference Catering. I made just a small amount of frosting because I like it light on the frosting, so if you want a heavily frosted cake, you will need to make extra frosting.
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 Tablespoons golden rum
- 1 3/4 cup finely shredded zucchini
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 oz. light cream cheese
- zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1/2 lime
- Topping: a few Tablespoons of chopped roasted pistachios
- Set the raisins in the small bowl, pour the rum over and let them soak for a good while (an hour or so) until they plump up good.
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Stir in the raisins and rum.
- Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, pour in the batter and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Mix up the powdered sugar with the cream cheese till smooth, then add the lime zest and juice. Once the cake is cool, frost it. Just before serving, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of chopped pistachios.
It’s finally cooled off enough here to BAKE (yay! happy dance!) and I decided I needed to make some flatbread. My son loves flatbread … he came upstairs just after I took these flatbreads out of the oven and decided he was going to have flatbread and a fruit smoothie for dinner. I panicked a little because that boy has a BIG appetite and he could easily polish off just about all the flatbread in one sitting, but he only ate 3 of them! Whew! There were still plenty left for the photo shoot.
I’m participating in an A-Z health challenge on my facebook page and today is the letter I. A was Avocado, B was Basil, C was Cilantro, D was Dill. E was Eggs. F was Flax. G was Garlic. I was scratching my head for the letter I … how many healthy things can you think of that start with the letter I? All I could think of was Ice Cream, and even though I have several healthy ice cream recipes, it didn’t seem like a very good choice, so I asked my kids who are both wonderful at brainstorming. My daughter suggested Italian Seasoning and that led me to think: Italian food! There are lots of health benefits to eating Italian food. You should see all the wonderful Italian recipes on my facebook page today! (If you happen to miss it or want to see some of the other recipes that were shared, I’m pinning all of the recipes to my A-Z Health Challenge Pinterest Board.)
This flatbread might not be “traditional” Italian cuisine, but it does have lots of the wonderful healthy things that Italians use in their cooking: whole grains, olive oil, lots of herbs (via the Italian Seasoning!) and the wonderful flavor of Asiago cheese. And hey, what’s a good Italian meal without bread? This flatbread is a wonderful base for a pizza, or serve it as the bread with your meal with some olive oil for dipping. Oh they go wonderfully with hummus too! … or you can just eat them plain, hot out of the oven, like my son. If you have any leftover flatbreads, put them in a bag and freeze them for quick meals (add sauce, cheese, and toppings and you have instant pizza!)
Italian Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread
Inspired by this recipe from Red Star Yeast. I just saw that recipe and thought it was such a cool idea to put zucchini in a yeast bread!
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini
- 2 – 3 Tablespoons shredded asiago cheese
- 2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/3 – 2/3 cup water (or other liquid)
- Put all the ingredients in the bread machine (or the bread attachment to a KitchenAid … that works too!), using 1/3 cup of water to start. Set the machine on the dough setting and watch it as it starts mixing: add water as needed until it forms a nice ball of dough. I had to use the full 2/3 cup on mine.
- When the dough is done, take it out and cut the dough into equal-sized pieces for the desired number of flatbreads. I made 12 mini-flatbreads, but you can make 2 large rounds for pizza or 6 for individual pizzas if you prefer.
- Dusting the dough with cornmeal to keep it from sticking, shape the dough into discs with your hands, cover and let rest for 5 minutes or so, then stretch the dough further with your hands or use a rolling pin to roll the flatbreads to about 1/4 inch thick (adding more cornmeal as needed to keep it from sticking).
- Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place till your breads are the desired thickness, then bake at 425 for about 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. I like to cook my flatbreads on a pizza stone to get them nice and crisp on the bottom, but you can bake them on a cookie sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone.
If you haven’t noticed, I have an affection (obsession) for cheese. I have a drawer in my fridge dedicated to cheese. I buy little chunks of flavorful cheeses and use them frequently in my cooking. Some sweet soul at Arla (the maker of Dofino cheeses) noticed my affinity for cheese … and sent me several “samples” of Dofino cheeses. Ironically, these “samples” are the same size as the little chunks I normally buy at the store … and there are six different kinds … some of them I can’t even find at my local stores. I’m in cheese heaven! They did ask that I share my recipes that I make with their cheeses. Are you kidding? There’s no way you could shut me up!
On to the recipe: if you’ve never had a really good chorizo with eggs and potatoes, it’s a sublime experience. Those three ingredients together are simply magical. Add a little cheese and it’s heaven on a plate. My dad makes this wonderful chorizo (one of these days I’ll get the recipe for it!) and I found some in the freezer, so I cooked some chorizo with eggs, potatoes and cheese while my sis was here. I had about 3/4 cup of the cooked chorizo left after they left, so I decided to make it into a breakfast boat, using one of those gorgeous Italian zucchini that my sister brought me. It made such a beautiful boat I was tempted to add a mast with a little sail just for fun, but I didn’t want to mess up the perfection of the melty cheese …
Cheesy Zucchini Chorizo Breakfast Boats
This filling will stuff two medium (14-inch) zucchini if you cut the tops off lengthwise, or two halves if cut in half lengthwise and both halves are stuffed … or even more if your zucchini are small!
- 3/4 cup good quality lean chorizo, cooked
- 1 cup potato, cut in small cubes, cooked
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used about 2/3 cup shredded Dofino Gouda cheese, plus about 1/3 cup Mexican fiesta blend I had in my fridge that I needed to use up … I mixed the two to make my own amazing cheesy blend)
- Cut the zucchini lengthwise to make two boats and with a grapefruit spoon (or other scooping device), scoop out the insides to make boats. (Save the seedy inside part to make Zummus.)
- Cook up the chorizo in a frying pan over medium heat, chopping it up into little crumbles as it cooks. When the chorizo is done, remove it from the pan and drain off the excess fat from the pan. Fry up the potato till it’s cooked, then add the zucchini, sweet onion and jalapeno and sautee for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the zucchini is tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the eggs with 3 tablespoons of water till smooth. Sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt.
- Add the chorizo back into the frying pan and stir to mix, then pour in the eggs, scrambling them just for a few minutes. Fold in about 1/2 of the cheese mixture as well. You want to leave the eggs very moist, not quite done, because they will finish cooking in the boats.
- Spoon this lovely mixture into your zucchini boats, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes (or broil briefly) until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
- Serve hot. Plates are optional. ;)