Friday, May 30, 2008

Asparagus Avocado Medley

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1) Place asparagus and 2 Tbs water in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 3-6 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring once; drain and cool.
2) In a large bowl, combine the asparagus, mushrooms, avocado, zucchini and tomato; toss gently. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients; shake well. Pour over salad and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Review: Oh so yummy - and healthy!!!! I've become a big fan of these "alternative" salads, where there's no lettuce. It's just yummy and a great summer dish.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Campanelle With Asiago Sauce

8oz dried campanelle or penne pasta
2 small zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs light cream
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
2 Tbs parsley
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1) In a Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions, except add zucchini during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain; return mixture to pan.
2) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the garlic, wine, and broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes. Stir in light cream; heat through.
3) Add sauce, cheese, nuts, parsley, and the pepper to the pasta/zucchini mixture. Toss to coat. Serve.

Review: Ah, once again, I realize once I'm typing this up that I didn't read the directions thoroughly. I didn't toast my nuts. I had also forgotten to buy vegetable broth, so I used 1/2 cup wine. It would have been better with vegetable broth to balance the taste. This was yummy, but will definitely tweak the recipe by actually following the directions next time!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baby Bellas & Ziti

8oz uncooked ziti
4 Tbs butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
16oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Pepper to taste

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Keep warm.
2) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute 4 Tbs butter and 3 cloves garlic, until butter is melted. Add mushrooms and cook over medium-heat until mushrooms are browned, stirring occasionally.
3) Place pasta in serving bowl; top with mushrooms. Cover; keep warm.
4) To same skillet, add wine. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping skillet often, until mixture just comes to a boil. Add 2 Tbs butter, 1 clove garlic and salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.
5) Spoon butter mixture over mushrooms and pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and pepper.

Review: Normally I don't like cooking with white wine. I'd been using chardonnay and it made everything taste so sweet. I switched to sauvignon blanc and it's a much better fit. This sauce has a bit of a tang, which is just soooooo tasty. I really loved it. Besides, how can you go wrong with pasta, mushrooms, butter and garlic? mmmmmmm

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Orzo With Root Vegetables

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
14.5oz can vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
3/4 cup orzo
2 medium carrots, cut into thin strips
1 medium turnip, cut into thin strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
15oz can red beans, rinsed and drained

1) In a large saucepan, cook garlic in hot oil just until tender. Stir in stock, water, thyme, and ground red pepper. Bring to boiling. Stir in orzo and carrots. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
2) Stir turnip, red bell pepper, and red beans into orzo mixture; return to boiling. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes more or until orzo is tender.

Review: This was super yummy. No overwhelming flavor prevailed, it just all complemented each other! The turnip adds a nice peppery spice to the dish, that I'm learning I like and need to find more turnip dishes!

Made again on 1/28/2012, but used a mix from Trader Joe's:

This blend was much better than just plain orzo. It cooked in the same amount of time, but required twice as much broth (I used the whole bag). This dish was done in 20 minutes and was a good, hearty meal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Risotto-Style Barley

1 thinly sliced zucchini
1 Tbs dried minced onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
14.5oz can vegetable broth
1/4 cup light cream
salt and black pepper

1) In a medium saucepan, cook and stir the zucchini, onion, carrot, rosemary, and black pepper in hot oil just until vegetables are tender. Stir in barley.
2) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring the vegetable stock to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer. Slowly add 1 cup of the stock to barley mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. (This should take 10 to 15 minutes total).
3) Stir in the light cream. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and additional black pepper.

Review: This unbelievably tastes cheesy!! I guess it's the combo of the vegetable stock and cream. It's just a great taste, along with the texture, makes it a great (healthy) comfort food. It said it makes 4 servings, but in my books it was only two. I will make this again, but double the ingredients.

Made again on 1/25/2012, but I used pearl barley. It took a lot longer to cook and still made just as little food. This is definitely a dish that needs to be doubled.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nutty Lentil & Brown Rice Salad

4 cups water
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup uncooked instant brown rice
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped red sweet pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1) In a large saucepan, combine water and lentils. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in rice. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes more or just until lentils and rice are tender; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again.
2) Meanwhile, for dressing, in a screw-top jar combine the vinegar, oil, thyme, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Cover and shake well. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, combine the drained lentil mixture, carrots, sweet pepper and pecans. Shake dressing. Pour the dressing over lentil mixture; toss gently to coat.

Review: Boy, I screwed this one up. I didn't realize I was out of thyme, so I substituted parsley. Typing this recipe out, I also realized I used white vinegar instead of white wine vinegar. I also didn't realize I was supposed to toast my pecans. Regardless, this was tasty. I imagine it would be even tastier if I'd made it correctly! So, I'll have to make this again, just to try it out.

Mike made this on 12/2/2010 and read through list of mistakes I previously made, and corrected them all this time!  This time around it had a bit too much of a vinegar taste, despite using white wine vinegar.  So, probably just reduce the amount.  I also believe this could use some cheese, but I'm not sure what kind to suggest!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Two-Cheese Pasta Casserole

16oz mostaccioli pasta
26-30oz jarred spaghetti sauce
15oz ricotta cheese
10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
4 medium green onions, chopped
2 Tbs sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp pepper

1) Heat oven to 350F. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
2) Mix pasta and remaining ingredients. Spoon into ungreased rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches.
3) Cover and bake about 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Review: I left out the onions and used fresh spinach. It was an interesting dish. I really liked the addition of the olives, but this was basically a dressed up baked ziti. I found it to be kind of bland. It didn't "wow" me enough to make it again. I bet kids would love it, though.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Olive Lover's Pasta

12oz uncooked rotini pasta
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
2 cups broccoli florets
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1) Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
2) While pasta is cooking, heat oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, red pepper and garlic in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.
3) Cook olives, broccoli and zucchini in oil mixture, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is crisp-tender.
4) Toss with pasta.

Review: It has a "kick" to it, due to the red pepper. It is yummy with a nice balance of olives and other veggies. I actually made the dish with spaghetti, as I'd forgotten to add rotini to the grocery list! I also left out the vinegar. It was a good dish, but I may add more olives next time.

Made again on 1/29/2011, with rotini:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pasta With Asparagus & Lemon

1 1/2 lbs asparagus
1 lb penne
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
2) Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus, snap off the tough lower stems, and discard them. Cut off 1 1/2 inches of the asparagus tips and reserve. Chop the rest of the stems. Cook the asparagus tips in boiling water to cover for 3 or 4 minutes, until tender. Remove to a colander with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same pot, blanch the chopped asparagus stems for 6 or 7 minutes, until tender. Drain, rinse in cold water, and reserve separately.
3) Cook the past in the boiling water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, puree the asparagus stems, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender or food processor until smooth. If necessary, add a little of the hot pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4) Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in the asparagus puree, the asparagus tips, and the grated cheese. If the pasta has cooled, stir it in a pot on high heat for 1 or 2 minutes, until hot. Serve immediately.

Review: I am happy to have used my blender. I convinced my dad to buy me one a couple of years ago, despite his belief that it would only get used for milkshakes and margaritas. While it has been used for those purposes many times, it's occasionally been used for nutritious things, too. This dish was shocking at first, as one's palate is not used to the lemon/asparagus combination. But, it quickly won me over. The puree serves as a different type of sauce, which greatly compliments the asparagus tips and pasta. This is definitely a keeper!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Baked Celery With Cream

1 head of celery
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cilantro
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup pecan nut halves
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2/3 cup light cream
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1) Trim the celery and cut into matchsticks. Place the celery in an ovenproof dish (8x8), together with the cumin, cilantro, garlic and pecans.
2) Mix the stock and cream together and pour over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3) Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together and sprinkle over the top to cover the vegetables.
4) Cook in a preheated oven, 400F, for 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the top crispy. Serve immediately.

Review: This was so yummy and creamy. It only makes two servings, really. The 8x8 dish portion was added by me. If I knew how little it made, I would have immediately doubled the portions. I really recommend it, though. Even if it's just a side. It'd be great at Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lentil Roast

1 cup dried lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs breadcrumbs
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 1/2 oz button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper

1) Put the lentils, stock and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the lentils have softened. Discard the bay leaf.
2) Base-line a 2lb 4oz loaf pan with baking parchment. Grease with the butter and sprinkle with the dried breadcrumbs.
3) Stir the cheese, mushrooms, and breadcrumbs into the lentils.
4) Bind the mixture together with the lemon juice and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
5) Bake in a preheated oven at 375F, for about 1 hour, until golden.
6) Loosen the loaf with a spatula and turn on to a warmed serving plate. Serve sliced.

Review: I've been dying to make a lentil loaf for a long time, but most of the recipes seemed too hard. This one was awesome!! It came out of the oven smelling yummy. It was a great alternative to meatloaf - definitely a stick to the ribs kind of meal. After awhile, it dried out, so I'll make it with a 1/2 cup more broth, to keep it moist.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


8oz rigatoni pasta
2 15oz cans cannellini beans
4 tomatoes, chopped
8oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup tomato juice
ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

1) Cook rigatoni in boiling water until al dente. Drain, and set aside.
2) Drain and rinse cannellini beans; set aside.
3) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms, garlic, pepper and basil.
4) Add tomatoes, pasta, beans, and tomato juice to skillet. Bring skillet mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture is hot. Serve immediately. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Review: So many times I only half read things. Typing this out, I realized I was supposed to put the pasta in the sauce and cook it. Ooops. I cooked the pasta and the sauce separately, once it was all done, dumped the sauce on the pasta and topped with cheese. It turned out just fine and I can't imagine fitting all of the food in a skillet!! The sauce barely fit in the pan! This is a hearty dish, though. Very yummy and I'll make it again.