Peach & Tomato Summer Salad

Remember when I mentioned that the July section of my Cooking Light cookbook focuses heavily on peaches? After reading that, I stumbled across flats of peaches at Trader Joe’s for $5.99 and decided to pick one up. Mine has 13 peaches in it, so it equals out to about $.46 per peach- not bad!

Now that I’m a wild child who makes sweet and savory salads {like watermelon & feta!}, I decided to try a peach & tomato summer salad from MyRecipes.com. It turned out so well and I would absolutely make it again. It would be the best salad to take to a July potluck!

For exact measurements, see the recipe or just follow my haphazard winging it approach (serves 1).

  • Chopped red onion
  • 1/2 ripe peach, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 large tomato or a handful or cherry tomatoes
  • A dash of red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil
  • A very small spoonful of honey
  • A dash each of sea salt and ground pepper
  • A small handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • A sprinkling of torn basil leaves
Combine all ingredients and let marinate anywhere just a few minutes or overnight.

Next on my peach agenda? Peach salsa!
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tuscan white bean gluten-free pizza

When I was trying to figure out pizza toppings, I remembered my recent Tuscan white bean soup soup and decided to go with a Tuscan theme again. I had leftover cannelli beans from my spicy sriracha bean dip, so I turned to Google for inspiration and found a great recipe on Vegan Planet.
 First I prepped my gluten-free Red Mill pizza crust. I only used half of it, which filled my whole pizza pan.
 I wrapped up the other half for later use!
 Pizza toppings laid out and ready to go

  • White cannelli beans
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Chopped roasted red pepper
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • A sprinkling of dried red chili peppers
  • Caramelized onions
  • Feta

Roast red pepper in a 400 degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes on each side; remove from oven and wrap in tin foil. After about 30 minutes, peel skin off {it should come off easily}. If you’d like, buy jarred roasted red peppers.

Caramelize onions {mine were already prepared, which cut down on prep time}.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium. When the oil is hot, add chopped garlic and saute until it becomes aromatic. Add cannelli beans and heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash with a fork. 

Spread bean mixture and tomato paste onto pre-cooked pizza crust. Layer with other ingredients except feta. Bake for 10 minutes at 425. Sprinkle with feta; bake for 5-8 more minutes.

Enjoy!

balsamic-splashed tuscan bean soup

Some of my best recipe creations come from cleaning out my fridge and using up leftovers {remember my easy lentil chicken bacon soup?}.

After preparing the kale + escarole + tomato bean casserole that I found on The Bitten Word, I had some cannelli beans and canned tomatoes left over. Inspired by a recipe on Food.com, this Tuscan-inspired soup was born!

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Toss in half a chopped onion, a clove of chopped garlic, and 1 1/2 to 2 peeled and sliced carrots. Saute until tender. Toss in half a can of cannelli white beans and half a large can of diced tomatoes with their juice. Cover with chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Add in sea salt, pepper, and a dash of red pepper flakes to taste. Sprinkle with a big pinch each of chopped fresh parsley and basil. Simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the flavors are well-blended.* Before serving, add a splash {use sparingly} of balsamic vinegar. 

This is a pretty basic bean soup recipe but the splash of balsamic vinegar really kicks up the flavor and adds a unique element for your taste buds!

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*Have you ever tossed soup ingredients into a pot and tried a bite? It most likely tasted a bit…off, like the flavors hadn’t quite blended. Maybe you could taste the basil or the cayenne or other spice, but all together, the soup didn’t seem to suit your taste buds in the right way.

Generally I find that simmering the soup for longer gives it a flavor with more well-blended depth. You may still be able to taste the different flavors, but the soup feels more coherent, for lack of a better word.

Try mixing up your spices too- I love the coriander flavor in this spiced tomato chickpea soup and the light cumin taste in this polychromatic soup. But remember- sometimes you only need salt and pepper, like in this potato leek soup!

gluten-free sweet potato or butternut squash mac & cheese

I’ve posted links to sweet potato mac and cheese recipes several times, but I’ve never posted my insanely easy {and gluten-free} version!

I’ve posted this sweet potato mac and cheese and this butternut squash mac and cheese, but I generally make a recipe that’s somewhere in the middle.

I didn’t list measurements because it’s easy to guesstimate as you’re layering the ingredients!

  • Caramelize chopped onions and shallots {combine butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium; throw in onions and shallots; and saute until golden brown, stirring occasionally. You may need to turn the heat down and/or add more butter to prevent burning}
  • Prepare gluten-free pasta according to instructions
  • Grate sweet potato or butternut squash; set aside
  • Grate cheese {you can use cheddar, gruyere, parmesan, gouda, you name it}; set aside
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper

Layer pasta, grated ingredients, and caramelized onions and shallots in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with spice mix and another layer of cheese {you can add ricotta if you’d like!}. Bake covered at 350 until cheese begins to bubble {about 30 minutes}.

Easy as casserole 🙂

Notes: You can add half-and half or broth if you’d like your mac and cheese more moist {I’m in pain writing that word}. You can also sprinkle breadcrumbs {try gluten-free ones!} on top for an added layer of crunchiness. It might be interesting to try sweet potato and butternut squash together! A bit of mustard adds a little more flavor as well.

Source: busy-mommy.com via Emily on Pinterest

recipe inspiration, chicken edition

After purchasing a big package of chicken tenders from Trader Joe’s, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to finish all of it before it went bad. Inspiration struck: I placed the chicken tender in separate snack sized Ziploc bags and added a different seasoning or sauce to each bag :

  • 21 Seasoning Salute
  • Italian seasoning {basil + marjoram + oregano + rosemary + thyme} + garlic powder + salt + pepper + dried minced garlic
  • Buffalo sauce
  • Some random experimental combination of cumin + curry powder + things I can’t remember 🙂
Then I zipped up each bag and popped it in the freezer. When I was ready to use it, I just defrosted each piece overnight and prepared using this method {totally failproof}.

Photo credit

Next time I plan to try one of the recipes below:

Coriander Cumin Chicken {via YumSugar}

Ginger Curry Chicken with Lentils & Leeks {via BHG}

Greek-Style Chicken Skillet {via BHG}

Zesty Ginger Tomato Chicken {via BHG}

Or one of my tried-and-true chicken recipes:

Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Chicken

Mashed Potato Casserole with Chicken

Healthy Chicken Masala

Tuscan Zucchini Pasta Casserole

P.S. When I searched my blog for “chicken,” a reference to the chicken dance popped up. Haha!

P.P.S. Lesson learned: throwing chicken tenders with salad dressing and chopped zucchini into a Ziploc and freezing it makes a pretty disgusting mushy mess! So freeze chicken separately from vegetables

lunchbox meal: buffalo chicken casserole

Photo credit

Craving an insanely quick lunch a la my “chicken parm” or healthy chicken masala? Well, here’s another lunchbox meal for you.

Saute a piece of chicken tender using this foolproof method. In the pan, add chopped red onion and buffalo sauce {like Frank’s Red Hot}. Chop chicken; toss with gluten-free noodles; top with grated mozzarella cheese. Voila! 

Even easier and just as delicious? Toss a can of {drained} tuna with buffalo sauce, cheese, and noodles. 

Craving more vegetables, like I admittedly was? Try this leek and dill tuna casserole or just pack some edamame on the side, like I did! And for fruit: Welch’s very addicting mixed fruit snacks. They have Vitamin C, so they count, right? No?

P.S. If you’re a vegetarian, try crumbling Morningstar Buffalo Chicken Bites and tossing them on top!

21 seasoning vegetable pasta

Photo credit

Did you read “21 seasoning” and feel a little overwhelmed? Don’t! This is the easiest recipe ever.

Remember when I wrote about Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and the soup I made with it? Well, I was determined to make a delicious pasta dish using only this seasoning. Success!

You can really use any vegetables for this {cauliflower and broccoli would be good} but here’s what I did:

Prepare pasta {gluten-free if you’d like} according to directions. Reserve some of the pasta water. Set aside.

Drizzle a skillet with olive oil. Over medium, saute a shallot, half an onion, and half a leek until they begin to caramelize. Add in chopped zucchini, yellow squash, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle with 21 Seasoning Salute. Saute until tender. If needed, add some of the pasta water so the vegetables don’t dry out.

Combine vegetables and pasta; sprinkle with shaved or grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Done!

Tips:

  • I didn’t have any fresh parsley so I popped a parsley cube on top of the prepared pasta in a Tupperware. By the next morning, the parsley cube had melted!
  • I think this pasta is actually better the next day; it allows time for the seasoning to marinade with the other flavors.
  • This would be an even quicker recipe if your vegetables are already chopped. If you’re more tight on time than money, pick up pre-chopped vegetables at the grocery store. I even saw one blogger who grabs vegetables from the salad bar and uses them in recipes!

gluten-free key lime bar

After I became the proud owner of a big bag of key limes for $.75 from the Harris Teeter old aged produce shelf, I immediately performed my requisite Google search to find a suitable recipe. When I stumbled upon this imitation Key Lime Larabar recipe, I was a bit hesitant to try it because I haven’t been a huge fan of the Larabars I’ve tasted {Apple Pie & Cashew Cookie}. But on the plus side though, Larabars are gluten-free, so props to them for finding a niche in the bar market!

Back to the recipe. Oh my goooodness. It kind of tastes like a lemon tart. I kept sneaking bites of it from the fridge before it firmed up!

Photo credit

I have to admit that I ad-libbed with the measurements {as per usual} but I pasted an adapted recipe below for you!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups cashews {I didn’t have any unfortunately}
  • 3/4 cups almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups soft dates, soaked and drained {I used Trader Joe’s Fancy Medjool dates}
  • zest of 1 lime {I used key limes}
  • juice of 2 limes {Again, key limes}
  • 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, optional {I didn’t use any}

Directions

Process cashews, almonds, and dates in food processor until finely ground and combined- I used my Magic Bullet. Add in remaining ingredients, except oil, and puree until it starts to stick together (when you pinch it it should stick together – if it doesn’t you may want to add the oil in). Press into a glass casserole pan or pour on a piece of tin foil and shape into a bar. Drizzle with extra lime juice or sprinkle with extra coconut if you’d like! Refrigerate for an hour or so to let flavors work together and to firm up. Cut and serve!

These bars are healthy and filled with fiber. I think they’ll be great bars before my morning work out or for a quick snack during the day. They can even be dessert since the key limes add tartness and the coconut adds natural sweetness.  I shared a nibble with my sister and she gave it the thumbs up.

P.S.  Upon further examination of the Larabar website, I discovered saw on the front page that they have a new flavor- Cappuccino! I’ll have to give it a go. I also want to test drive some other flavors like Coconut Cream Pie, Ginger Snap, and Carrot Cake.
P.P.S. Happy Leap Day!

on the menu for the week

After five days of being waited on hand and foot- including having multiple lobster tails delivered by my favorite waiter, Bling Bling- cooking doesn’t feel very appealing. But since I’m cheap and have to go back to my frugal ways, it’s a necessity. And I did just say how it always makes me happy!

So below is what’s on my menu for the week!

Rainbow Veggie Chili

Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs in Broth {via Martha Stewart}

Cabbage and Cilantro Soup

Cauliflower Pizza Crust with Toppings

Baked Cauliflower Poppers

P.S. Just a few hours after I got out of the car, I started feeling really sick. At least my body had the good sense to wait until vacation was over! The cabbage cilantro soup is a good sick food- it’s light on the stomach and the hot sauce clears out the sinuses!

sweet potato rainbow chili

I posted this recipe awhile back during my 7 Vegetables, 11 Recipes blog series, but I wanted to bring it back to light since it is on my personal menu for the week!

Rainbow Veggie Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cups water

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, jalapeno, sweet potato, garlic, and onion. Cook 5 minutes, just until tender.
  2. Mix tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste, corn, and beans, and water into the pot. Season with chili powder, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an 1 hour or until sweet potato are soft, stirring occasionally.

Bon appetit!