May 222013
 

Finally, a recipe that seems fitting for a summer holiday weekend.  I made these Pasta Salad Skewers for my cooking club, inspired by a pin that I saw from Babble.  They are meant to inspire kids to eat vegetables, but I think they’re fun for adults too!

I used cheese tortellini, grape tomatoes, peppers, cucumber slices, artichoke hearts, and olives.  The original recipe included fresh basil leaves, which would have been a nice touch.  You could even include grilled vegetables like onions, zucchini, and mushrooms.

The skewers are a clever way to serve pasta salad, and would complement any BBQ.  I offered a salad dressing for “dipping” that’s not pictured.  Whether you make these skewers or not, have a great Memorial Day!

 

pasta salad skewer

May 212013
 

I got on a roll last weekend with my crockpot, and after cooking a turkey breast, I used it to bake potatoes.  I got the idea from a Budget Bytes post, and just had to try it myself.  She baked white potatoes, but I wanted to try both white and sweet.

The method is simple.  First, you wash the potatoes and pat them dry.  Then, prick them with a knife in several spots.  Rub them with a little olive oil, and wrap them up on foil.  Place them in the crockpot, and cook on High for 4-5 hours, or Low for 8-10 hours.  That’s it!

The original recipe warns against crowding too many potatoes in the crockpot, so I cooked 2 white potatoes, and 2 sweet potatoes.  Both of them came out great!  In a blind taste test, I don’t think I could tell the difference between a traditional baked potato and the crockpot version.

You might think of potatoes as a fall/winter food, but potatoes make a great lunch or dinner any time of year paired with a big green salad.  And when it’s 90F in your kitchen, you’ll be happy you don’t have to turn on the oven.  Enjoy-

 

 

crockpot potatoes

May 072013
 

As promised, here is one way which I enjoyed my Cilantro Lime Rice and Beans.  I was inspired by Closet Cooking’s Asparagus Huevos Rancheros, but I ditched the corn tortilla.  The layers include the rice and beans, freshly steamed asparagus, a fried egg, and sliced avocado.

You could add some salsa verde, or queso fresco, but I was very happy with this combination.  The other ingredients balanced the spice level of the rice, and this was both delicious and filling.  It could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

 

asparagushuevos

May 062013
 

I hope everyone had a great Cinco de Mayo.  I celebrated by making this dish, inspired by Closet Cooking’s Cilantro Lime Refried Beans.  It was great, but a lot spicier than I expected and had me reaching for a margarita!

The original recipe is a clever take on refried beans, using white beans instead of the traditional pinto beans.  The  cilantro and lime flavors are fresh, and perfect for spring.  The jalapeno adds the heat, but you can leave that out of course.

You could eat the rice and beans all by themselves, or along side something like Oven Fajitas.  I ended up using this dish as the base for another meal.  Come back tomorrow to see; you won’t be disappointed!

 

cilantrolimericebeans

 

Cilantro Lime Rice and Beans

1 T canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 t minced garlic
1 t cumin
1 (15 oz.) can white beans
1/2 c. water
1 c. cooked rice
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
2 T lime juice

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add onion, and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until starting to brown.  Add pepper and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes more.  Add cumin and stir to mix.  Add beans and water, and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Using a potato masher, mash about 1/2 the beans in the pan.  Add cooked rice, cilantro, and lime juice and stir well.  Cook on Low until heated through.

-Adapted from Closet Cooking

Apr 022013
 

When Easter was over and the kitchen was clean, I realized I still had a bunch of asparagus left in the refrigerator.  I couldn’t risk it going to waste with a busy week ahead.  So I decided to make a quick (and small) strata.

You could combine just about any vegetable with bread, eggs, and cheese, and it would be good.  But asparagus has a fairly strong flavor that works really well here.  A quick saute on the stove ensures that the asparagus doesn’t get overcooked.  🙂

I don’t usually make strata unless I am having company because it doesn’t freeze well, but this loaf-pan sized version is perfect for just a few meals.  If you have a big family, or if you are having company, go ahead and multiply this by 2 for an 8″square pan, or by 3 for a 13″x9″. Easter may be over, but it’s still asparagus season so enjoy!

 

Asparagus Strata

2 t olive oil
1 lb. asparagus, ends removed, cut into 1-2″ pieces
2 pieces Great Harvest Old Fashioned White Bread
4 medium eggs
1/2 c. nonfat milk
3/4 c. part skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add asparagus, and saute until tender, 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, beat eggs with milk; season with salt and pepper.

Coat an 8″x4″ loaf pan with cooking spray.  Place bread slices on the bottom of the pan.  Cut them if necessary for a good fit.  Place prepared asparagus on top of the bread.  Pour egg mixture on top.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.