Monday, July 30, 2012

Caprese Salad

If you haven’t tried this simple salad, it’s a must for summer menus! No cooking is required and it showcases the best flavors of summer. Enjoy!

Caprese Salad
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh tomatoes, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Alternate mozzarella slices, tomato slices, and fresh basil leaves around the edge of a plate or platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Loaded-With-Veggies Salad

This recipe is the result of my need to clean out the fridge and the pantry. Don’t be grossed out—the combination is delicious! The salad features grilled eggplant, artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, minced red onion, red bell pepper, and feta. The dressing is simply a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fresh oregano rounded out the flavors. Enjoy!

Loaded-With-Veggies Salad
This would be delicious paired with pasta.
Grilled eggplant chunks
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
2 small cucumbers, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/4 cup kalamata olives
2 to 3 tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. diced red onion
1/2 cup feta
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
Salt and pepper

1. Combine eggplant and next 7 ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; sprinkle with oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pork Tostadas

This past weekend, I cooked a Boston butt in the slow cooker with chipotles in adobo sauce, beer, and orange marmalade. Strange combination, but the flavor worked. It’s no secret that we love Mexican food and I’m always trying to think of new ways to enjoy it. Instead of the usual nachos or quesadillas, I decided to use the shredded pork and reheat some pinto beans I had in the freezer to make tostadas. (You can substitute ground beef or shredded chicken, black beans, and tomatillo salsa.) This will definitely become part of our menu rotation. Enjoy!

Pork Tostadas
4 corn tortillas
Canola oil
Pinto beans
Shredded pork
Tomato salsa (I omitted the corn in this batch.)
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Chopped fresh cilantro

1. Pour oil to a 1/2-inch depth in a cast-iron skillet; place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place tortillas, 1 at a time, in the oil, and cook for 1 minute on each side. (This softens the tortillas.)
2. Place tortillas on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Spread each with beans, and top with pork and next 2 ingredients.
3. Bake at 400° for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with sour cream and cilantro, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tilapia With Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

I decided to pair my homemade pesto with tilapia. This mild fish is one of our favorites; it is easily adaptable for many flavors. You can’t get any easier than this recipe—spread pesto over fish, top with canned tomatoes, and bake for 15 minutes. I served roasted zucchini and squash on the side. Delicious!

Tilapia With Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
4 tilapia fillets
Sun-dried tomato pesto
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper

1. Drizzle olive oil in an oven-safe skillet, and place tilapia in pan. Spread pesto on top of fish fillets. Top with canned tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Italian Sausage-Vegetable Lasagna

Andy finds lasagna with vegetables to be suspicious—to him, it’s not lasagna if veggies are involved. So to get around his hang-up, I decided to make an eggplant-and-squash lasagna that had Italian sausage in it as well. He liked the flavors a lot (and kindly picked out the eggplant with no fuss). This was a great use of my farmers market basket produce.

Italian Sausage-Vegetable Lasagna
1 eggplant, cut into slices
1 zucchini, cut into length-wise slices
1 yellow squash, cut into length-wise slices
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans tomatoes
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 (15-oz.) container part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 (16-oz.) bag egg noodles, cooked (You can substitute lasagna noodles, if you prefer.)
1 (16-oz.) bag shredded Italian-style cheese blend

1. Place eggplant slices on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes; rinse eggplant slices, and pat dry. Place eggplant, zucchini, and squash slices on a grill pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until veggies begin to soften.
2. Sauté onion and sausage in hot oil, cooking until sausage is browned and crumbled (about 10 minutes). Stir in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients, and cook 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir together ricotta and next 2 ingredients; season with salt and pepper.
4. Spread some of tomato mixture in bottom of a baking dish; top with half of noodles. Spread half of ricotta mixture over noodles. Repeat layers once. Sprinkle top with shredded cheese.
5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


My friend Eileen has an abundance of fresh basil in her garden, and she generously shared some with me to make pesto. I made basil and sun-dried tomato pestos and froze them in 1 Tbsp. measures in ice-cube trays. Once the pesto was frozen, I removed the cubes from the ice tray and placed them in heavy-duty zip-top bags, which are stored in the freezer. Homemade pesto is super easy and is a great addition to many dishes. A food processor is a must-have appliance for this recipe.

Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place basil and next 3 ingredients in a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth; gradually add in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place tomatoes and next 4 ingredients in a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth; gradually add in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Peach-and-Goat Cheese Salad

This simple salad tastes like summer! I paired beautiful peaches from my farmers market basket with green-leaf lettuce, crumbled goat cheese, and crushed bagel chips. The dressing is my favorite vinaigrette. Just the thing for dinner when it’s too hot to cook!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oatmeal Bars (take 1)

A friend asked me to come up with a recipe for a breakfast cookie that would taste good, fill you up, and be relatively good for you. This was my first attempt. My tasters agreed the flavor is good, but the texture leaves something to be desired. The longer the bars set, the more crumbly they became. I plan to continue working on the recipe to increase the amount of fiber and protein while reducing the amount of fat.

Oatmeal Bars (take 1)
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 cups dried cranberries

1. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Mix in vanilla and applesauce.
2. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in almonds and dried cranberries. Spread mixture into a lightly greased half-sheet pan.
3. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool completely in pan. Slice into 28 bars.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade

My grandmother is famous (in our family, at least) for her homemade lemonade. Because it’s been so hot, I decided lemonade would be just the thing for our Fourth of July cookout. The hardest thing about it is squeezing the lemons—definitely worth it!

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 to 6 lemons
3 to 4 cups cold water

1. Microwave sugar and water in a glass measuring cup at HIGH for 2 minutes or until water is hot. Stir to dissolve sugar.
2. Squeeze lemons to measure 1 cup lemon juice. Stir lemon juice into sugar mixture. Add 3 cups cold water; taste and add up to 1 additional cup cold water, if needed.