Tag: summer

Crockpot Baked Beans with Bacon

My favorite recipe for Baked Beans is a vegetarian one, but we were at a family party a few weeks ago and had an amazing version with bacon.  My Mom tracked down the details, and it turns out to be an old family recipe.  I hate to tinker with tradition but the original recipe used a pound of real bacon and I was convinced that you could get the same smoky flavor with much less.  I also wanted to convert it to a crockpot recipe since oven space is a precious commodity when you are cooking for a crowd.

This recipe was easy to put together, and makes a lot of baked beans.  Good thing we had that much, because they turned out to be quite a hit at the party.  In fact, there was only a large spoonful left at the end of the night.  I like using a mix of beans, but you can use whatever you happen to have on hand.  I am not ready for summer to be over, but if you must have an ‘end of summer’ BBQ, you might want to give these a try.




Crockpot Baked Beans with Bacon

12 oz. turkey bacon, such as Oscar Mayer
2 (15 oz.) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz.) cans light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (26 oz.) jar pasta sauce
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

Cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy.  Cool slightly and crumble.  Add crumbled bacon, beans, and sauce to the crockpot and stir well.  Cook on High for 3-4 hours, then turn to Low until ready to serve.

Summer Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

I was inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light, but think of this as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style salad.  Choose a pasta.  Choose a variety of fresh vegetables, and don’t forget the avocado.  Choose a fresh herb or two.  And then toss it all together with a spicy buttermilk dressing.

This combination in particular was good, but not spectacular.  The salad needed something else – maybe some queso fresco, or perhaps something crunchy like pumpkin seeds.  The buttermilk dressing has a nice kick, but be sure to make some extra so the salad isn’t dry.  This was a fun adventure, but I’ll just choose a slightly different path next time!



Summer Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

1 c. orzo, cooked and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
1 green pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts only, chopped
2 c. mixed greens
1 avocado, diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4 c. buttermilk
3 T lemon juice
2 T plain Greek yogurt
2 T light mayonnaise
1 t chili powder
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper
1 t minced garlic

Mix orzo, tomatoes, pepper, scallions, mixed greens, and basil in a large bowl.  In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk, lemon juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, spices, and garlic.  Toss dressing and salad.  Chill before serving.

-Adapted from Cooking Light


Zucchini Cheddar Drop Biscuits

I’ve had this recipe for Zucchini Cheddar Drop Biscuits saved on my Pinterest for months.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to a dinner party, and thought it would be a good opportunity to try the recipe.  I felt very Southern taking a dishtowel-lined basket of biscuits to a party, and I am happy to report they were a hit!

I changed a few things from the original recipe, cutting back the salt and increasing the amount of zucchini.  You might notice that these biscuits appear a little flat.  I think the extra zucchini may have weighed them down a bit, but the texture was still fairly light.  Although I love just about anything with zucchini, I think it’s the cheese that really makes these taste great.

If you have some extra zucchini around, try these biscuits for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  If you still have extra zucchini, drop them off at my house please.  🙂



Zucchini Cheddar Drop Biscuits

1 c. shredded zucchini
2 1/2 c. flour
1 T baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 c. nonfat milk
1 c. shredded cheddar, such as Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar

Place shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt.  Press with a fork, and allow to drain for 30 minutes.

Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl.  Cut in butter with two knives, or a pastry blender, until all of the butter pieces are the size of small peas.  Add milk, cheese, and drained zucchini.  Drop batter in large spoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes.

-Recipe slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

Spinach Basil Hummus

My extended family has an annual summer picnic complete with swimming and bocce, and I was assigned to bring chip and dip.  There is some seriously good food at this picnic, including several traditional recipes like my favorite Zucchini Appetizer, my Mom’s Potato Salad and Lemon Squares, and even Pizzelles.

I wanted to bring something relatively simple but flavorful.  While I am definitely not the first person to put spinach in hummus, I threw this dip together without working from a specific recipe.  I think it came out pretty well, although it had to compete with a lot of other great appetizers.  But with fresh basil, this dip would be good for any summer party.




Spinach Basil Hummus

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 (15 oz.) cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lemon juice
2 T minced garlic
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

Puree all ingredients in a food processor.  Chill and serve.

Kale with Grilled Sausage and White Beans

I told you I was in a cooking rut in July, but thankfully my family kept me well fed on the weekends.  My Mom found this recipe for Kale with Grilled Sausage and White Beans in the Hartford Courant, and decided to give it a try.  With greens and beans and sausage, she figured there would be something for everyone in this dish.

There are so many nutritional benefits to eating kale, but it just doesn’t cook as easily as other greens like spinach.  In my experience, you generally need to give kale two things: time and liquid.  The recipe says to cook the kale for 6 minutes until wilted, but we cooked it much longer than that for a more tender texture.  This recipe also uses a combination of wine and water for liquid, but any broth would also work nicely.  The sundried tomatoes were a good addition.

The kale and beans turned out soft and flavorful, and I loved it, but not everyone in the family was sold on this dish.  Anticipating that, we served the sausage on the side.  It worked out well for me, because I got to take home all the leftovers!  In fact, I think this dish was even better the second day.  Whether you already like kale, or want to try it for the first time, I would recommend this recipe.


Vegetable Pasta Salad

In traditional pasta salad, vegetables are usually an afterthought.  You might add a little red pepper for color, or throw in some diced tomatoes or olives to add some bulk.  But in this recipe adapted from Budget Bytes, the vegetables are really the star of the show.  I used broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, and carrots but the possibilities are endless.  I wanted the broccoli, squash, and zucchini to be just slightly cooked, but you can leave them raw if you prefer a little more crunch.

The pasta, vegetables, and beans are tossed in a creamy Ranch-style dressing.  The original recipe suggests buying buttermilk, rather than making it using a splash of vinegar.  I agree that store bought buttermilk has a much thicker consistency which would make the dressing richer, but I didn’t have any on hand so I made my own with non-fat milk.  The original recipe also included fresh parsley, and I think any freshly chopped herbs would brighten up this salad, so next time I’ll try that as well.  Still, this recipe made a large bowl which I enjoyed for several meals.



Vegetable Pasta Salad

3 c. dry whole wheat rotini
3-4 c. broccoli florets
1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
2 c. shredded carrots
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. light mayonnaise
2 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t celery salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Add whole wheat pasta to boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli, and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add yellow squash and zucchini to the pot, and cook for 1 minute more.  Drain the pasta and vegetables and rinse in cool water.  Allow to drain for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, mix pasta, vegetables, shredded carrots, and beans.  In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, mayonnaise, mustard and spices.  Toss dressing with salad.  Allow to chill before serving.

-Adapted from Budget Bytes

Kayem Lean Franks

I am not going to lie, one of the best parts about being a food blogger is getting free samples of new products.  The generous folks at Kayem sent me two packages of the their new ‘Lean Franks’.  My family planned a BBQ, complete with the hot dogs, homemade baked beans, and salad.  All I had to do was bring the hot dogs, and they did the rest!

The hot dogs are made from skinless chicken and compared to most other hot dogs on the shelf, they are low in both calories (80 per dog) and saturated fat (1.5g).  But they still grilled up quite nicely, and had the distinctive smoked flavor you expect in a hot dog.  We all enjoyed them, and would have them again.  Of course, there are lots of great things you can grill, but if you’re craving a hot dog I would give these a try.


Mexican Grilled Salad

I hope everyone had a great long weekend!  Did you try any of the recipes I suggested for an End of Summer BBQ?  My classes start today, and I am actually really excited about the new semester.  There’s a lot left to learn, and I want to keep moving towards the goal of being a Registered Dietitian.  But if you’re not ready for fall, don’t worry.  There’s at least a week of summer left on Recipes that Fit, and it will be full of tomatoes, eggplant, and corn.

This salad was at least partially made with ingredients from a Rhode Island farmer’s market, and  is a variation of the Mediterranean Chopped Salad from earlier this summer.  The corn, tomatoes, and onion can all be grilled in advance.


I got the idea for grilled croutons from Emeril, and added a Mexican flair by dipping the bread in a mixture of olive oil and chili powder.


Of course, any of the salad ingredients can be optional, and you could add sliced jalapenos if you’d like your salad to have more kick.  I used queso fresco, which is a soft and mild cheese, but shredded cheddar would also be good.  This might be the last time I eat fresh corn this season, and this salad was the perfect way to enjoy it!


Mexican Grilled Salad

Ears of Corn, husks removed
Onion, sliced thickly
Tomatoes, cut in half and seeds removed
Baguette slices
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, and Cumin
Romaine lettuce, cleaned and torn
Black Beans, rinsed and drained
Avocado, diced
Queso Fresco, crumbled
Olives sliced

1. Place corn and onion slices directly on a hot grill.  Cook until nicely browned.  Cool slightly, and remove corn niblets with a knife.  Chop grilled onion.
2. Drizzle tomato halves with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until browned and softened, using a grill basket if available.  Cool slightly, remove tomato skins, and chop.
3. Dip baguette slices in a mixture of olive oil and chili powder.  Place directly on a hot grill, and cook until browned.  Cool slightly, and chop into croutons.
4. Mix 3 T olive oil, 2-3 T lime juice, 1/2 t cumin, 1/2 t chili powder, 1/8 t salt, and 1/8 t cayenne pepper in a small bowl. (Makes enough dressing for 3-4 salads.)
5. Assemble salads using all ingredients, drizzle with dressing, and serve.


Recipes for a Great End of Summer BBQ

It’s the last weekend of summer, and the perfect time to have one more BBQ.  These  recipes will ensure that all of your guests have fun and leave your party well fed.

Let’s start with beverages.  How about this Watermelon Cocktail or some White Wine Sangria?



Get the grill fired up early, and make some homemade Roasted Red Peppers to add to your standard burgers.  If you’re looking for something a little different, try these Bacon Cheese Inside Out Turkey Burgers!

If you’d rather not serve burgers at all, try these pizzas on the grill.  Everyone can customize their own personal pizza!


Looking for a something a little fancier?  Maybe you’d like to serve a Mediterranean Chopped Salad buffet, or these Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Manchego cheese.



And of course, you can’t forget dessert.  Your guests will love this Mocha Ice Cake.  But if you’re short on time, just go for old fashioned smores.  There’s nothing like toasted marshmallow and melted chocolate to make you forget that summer is ending at all.



Italian Baked Potatoes

When I went to the farmer’s market last week, I was stunned to see apples and squashes already.  Those are most definitely fall foods and I haven’t yet accepted the fact that my leisurely summer is coming to an end.  I filled my bag with eggplant and zucchini and peaches and almost ran away so I would not be faced with reality.

And then I spied local potatoes for just $1/lb., and threw some of those in my bag as well.  While you might not think of baked potatoes at the end of August, this recipe from Real Simple needs to be made now while tomatoes are still seasonal.  I managed to make this recipe decidedly less ‘simple’ and yet I think much better than the original.



Italian Baked Potatoes

2 large potatoes, scrubbed and poked with a knife
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 t olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried basil

Place potatoes in a 400F degree oven.  Meanwhile, toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on a baking sheet.  After potatoes have cooked 30 minutes, place pan with tomatoes in the oven.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are soft, and tomatoes are roasted and split open.

In a small bowl, mix ricotta, Paremsan, garlic powder, and basil.  Place each potato on a plate and cut in a criss-cross fashion.  Top with ricotta mixture and roasted tomatoes and serve.

-Adapted from Real Simple