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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

I’m trying out a new routine for three reasons.
One: yesterday was our first 100 degree day of the summer, and we have many summer days to go,
Two: I hate spending the evening cleaning up after making a big meal,
Three: hubby and I are lucky enough to both work at home every day.

The new routine? I am making lunch our big meal of the day (dinner, as my grandparents called it). I can use the oven or stove top as needed before the temps outside rise to the unbearable heat of the afternoon, and the cleanup after the big meal is done early in the day. We’ll have our lighter meal in the evening (what my grandparents called supper), consisting of big leafy salads filled with chopped veggies, hummus with pita bread and veggies, sandwiches, and anything else easy, fresh, and not requiring any heat preparation.
Corn Casserole
Corn casserole, Lemon Pepper Chicken, Tomatoes with Olive Oil

Today’s big noon-time meal was baked lemon pepper chicken (pre-seasoned and put in the oven straight from the freezer), fresh cherub tomatoes cut in half, seasoned with a tad of salt and drizzled with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil, and freshly baked corn casserole. I don’t know why I’ve never made corn casserole before. It was so creamy, gooey, and pure sweet deliciousness. I am giddy to have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, and that’s saying something since I haven’t been able to stomach leftover anything since being pregnant. All-in-all, today’s meal was a complete winner. Dessert was a nice helping of fresh cantaloupe and strawberries to finish the meal.

CORN CASSEROLE
Adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe on foodnetwork.com
Downloadable PDF of Corn Casserole recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the following:
    • One 15 1/4-ounce can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
    • One 14 3/4-can cream corn
    • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
    • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup margarine, melted (I used Smart Balance Light with Flax Oil)
    • 1 8-ounce package Jiffy brand corn muffin mix
  • Mixture should be a creamy consistency
  • Pour evenly into a greased 9×13 baking dish
  • Place in oven and bake 45 minutes or until edges turn a golden brown
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle top with 3/4 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, just enough to lightly cover the top
  • Return to oven and bake an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted
  • Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before cutting to serve

I tried to lighten the recipe just a tad while maintaining the flavor, which is why I used nonfat Greek yogurt for half of the sour cream in the original recipe, as well as using half the butter, subbing in Smart Balance butter for the rest. I also didn’t put a ton of cheese on top – just enough to lightly cover the casserole. Trust me, there was no sacrifice in the flavor! It was so bright and fresh, gooey and delicious. The cheese didn’t overpower the rest of the dish in any way (because I hate it when cheese smothers the rest of the flavors). It was a perfect balance of flavors in an easy side dish to go along with the rest of the meal.

Corn Casserole

Downloadable PDF of Corn Casserole

And, in other news…we found out we’re having a boy! I’m so excited! With two stepdaughters, having a boy makes this experience a first for hubby, which is awesome. His name is Liam Edgar. I can’t wait to see his little face and hands and feet in about 18 weeks.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Baked Salmon over Pasta with Vegetables

I finally own matching dishware for a service for 12! I was ecstatic the day I brought them home. Hubby, however, just wanted dinner because it was late by the time I brought the new dishes home. I threw dinner together while I washed a couple of my new salad plates to serve it on.

The dinner was incredibly tasty for something so quick and easy. So much so, that I’ll definitely be making it again sometime when we have the kids. They’ll love the pasta and veggies, and they’re always asking when we’ll be having salmon again because it’s one of their favorite foods. Besides, when “my stepmom’s good food” makes one of your kids’ required “things I like” lists for school, how can you not make them what they like?

BAKED SALMON OVER PASTA WITH VEGETABLES
Serves 2; can be doubled easily to serve more

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop
  • Line a baking sheet with foil
  • Place 2 6-ounce salmon steaks on foil, skin side down
  • Drizzle olive oillightly over the salmon, brushing it to coat all of the meat
    • I have rosemary and pink peppercorn infused olive oil my cousin made for Christmas that I love to use on salmon. I think it adds the perfect hint of spiciness and flavor.
  • Season the salmon generously with salt and black pepper
  • Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness; I baked mine for 20 minutes
  • While salmon bakes, add 1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni to the boiling water and cook according to package directions
  • A few minutes before the pasta is done, add 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables to the pasta and continue to boil
  • Once pasta and vegetables are done, drain and toss with 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Divide the pasta with vegetables evenly between two plates
  • Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan and cracked black pepper to taste over each serving of pasta and vegetables
  • When salmon is done baking and easily flakes with a fork, take a metal spatula and carefully remove the steak from the skin and place on top of the pasta with vegetables. I don’t grease the foil specifically so the skin sticks to the foil and the salmon steak slides right off the skin.

Baked Salmon over Pasta with Vegetables

The measurements for the pasta and veggies are an estimate. I had leftovers of already cooked macaroni in my refrigerator that I simply warmed up with some frozen vegetables in the microwave. This meal is incredibly easy and fast to put together. The Parmesan is a must with the pasta and veggies, really adding a punch of flavor. Be sure not to under-season the salmon before baking. You need that seasoning to enhance the flavor of the fish.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Bacon Wrapped Halibut and Roasted Veggies

Bacon-wrapped halibut is my favorite meal to serve for date night at home. It’s usually what I’ll make for Valentine’s Day if we don’t go out to dinner (which we usually don’t – neither hubby or I like the big crowds for such holidays).

The version above is not my favorite I’ve made, but it’s still good. In the recipe below, I’ll note what to change to make it the version I prefer.

Halibut is an expensive fish at our local grocery store, but buying just for the two of us is still way cheaper than going out to eat for date night. Don’t get me wrong – we still go out. As a lover of food, I enjoy being treated to a dinner I didn’t make. But sometimes, it’s really fun to have date night food at home. And this meal couldn’t be easier.

BACON-WRAPPED HALIBUT WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES
Downloadable PDF of Bacon Wrapped Halibut with Roasted Vegetables

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • In a small roasting dish, place:
    • 14 baby Dutch potatoes, rinsed well
    • 10 radishes, rinsed well with stems and long root ends removed
  • Coat vegetables lightly with olive oil (I keep a spray bottle of olive oil that ensures I coat them with just enough that’s needed and no more)
  • Sprinkle vegetables with salt, black pepper, and dried thyme to taste
  • Toss vegetables to distribute the seasonings
  • Set vegetables aside while you prep the fish
  • Season 2 4-ounce fillets halibut with salt and black pepper
  • Variation pictured:
    • Sprinkle with dried basil and dried oregano
    • Place a layer of crumbled feta cheese on top of the fish
    • Wrap fish with 3-4 slices bacon (I used the fully cooked variety since that’s what I had on hand)
    • Place on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet
    • Place fish and veggies in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork and veggies are browned
  • My preferred variation:
    • Spread a layer of garlic & herb flavored soft goat cheese on the fillets
    • Wrap each fillet in 3-4 slices of bacon
    • Place on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet
    • Place fish and veggies in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork and veggies are browned

Veggies prepped for roastingPrepped halibut
Bacon Wrapped Halibut and Roasted Veggies

Use whatever vegetables you prefer. I happen to love roasted radishes. Roasting sweetens them a bit, but they keep a slight peppery edge. Baby Dutch potatoes are super yummy roasted. The fully cooked variety of bacon gets quite crispy, so I’d suggest either covering the fish loosely with foil while baking, or using uncooked bacon slices. I keep the fully cooked variety on hand because it’s so easy for the kids to warm up for their breakfast without any grease splattering on them.

Using soft cheese, such as a spreadable goat cheese, is preferable to crumbled feta, just because it stays on the fish. I only had feta on hand this time around. It was okay, but I preferred the robust flavor and texture of garlic and herb goat cheese.

If steak is more your thing, whip up some bacon wrapped filet mignon, place a dollop of herbed butter on top, and serve with these roasted vegetables for a variation of this dinner that’s just as easy and yummy.

This is also an easy meal to double or triple when in need of a fancy dinner for guests. Keep the cost down by using a different white fish, or using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Downloadable PDF of Bacon Wrapped Halibut with Roasted Vegetables

What’s your favorite date night at home meal?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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BBQ Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

Last week, I posted about these delicious BBQ chicken enchiladas that had my kids eating helping after helping. But it wasn’t just the enchiladas they loved. They oohed and aahed over the rice as well, gobbling up seconds of it on top of all the enchiladas they were eating.

I’ve made numerous variations of Mexican Rice in the past, but this one was the most popular with my family. That came as bit of a surprise to me since in my opinion, this is the most unorthodox version I’ve made. But I have to say, it was delicious. And the nutritional punch is enough to make any parent happy.

MEXICAN RICE WITH SPINACH
Downloadable PDF of Mexican Rice with Spinach

  • In a medium saucepan, combine:
    • 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Bring water to a rapid boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • After 20 minutes, add:
    • 1 10-ounce package extra fine cut frozen spinach, thawed
    • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • Cover, return to a simmer, and continue cooking another 20 minutes, or until all moisture is absorbed

This is a great way to add more greens to dinner. Just change the chili powder and ground cumin to other spices to really change up the flavor. Use thyme, or oregano, or basil, or parsley and some lemon zest. Sprinkle some toasted slivered almonds on top for a delicious and easy rice pilaf.

How do you sneak greens and other healthy foods into your family’s meals? I’m lucky that I don’t have to “hide” ingredients from my kids; they’ll eat sushi, broccoli, tofu, brussel sprouts, and nearly anything else I put in front of them. In fact, I’m probably the pickiest out of all of us!

Downloadable PDF of Mexican Rice with Spinach

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Skewered Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Basmati Rice Tabbouleh

This meal was one of my favorites I’ve made recently. I subscribe to Opera Girl Cooks, a blog that always has delicious, healthy recipes. While I admittedly don’t often make many of the recipes posted, I fell in love with her Basmati Rice Tabbouleh the second I saw it in my email (check out her Mango and Lime Lassi, as well. So good!)

Back to the Tabbouleh: I typed the ingredients into my grocery list (using the NOTES on my iPhone – the standard feature I can’t live without), and brainstormed about what else to serve. It didn’t take long for me to decide on jumbo scallops. I was craving seafood, but couldn’t interest myself in shrimp or salmon. But rich, buttery scallops seemed a perfect complement to the tabbouleh and my craving. This decadent meal was so flavorful, and even with the bacon, within the 500-calories I’m allowing for dinner.

SKEWERED BACON-WRAPPED SCALLOPS
Makes 5 skewers

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil
  • Place a roasting rack on top of the foil to elevate the skewers
  • Rinse desired vegetables. I used:
    • 10 grape tomatoes
    • 4 pearl onions (for two of the skewers)
    • 6 mushrooms (for three of the skewers) – wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel instead of rinsing under running water
  • Place whole vegetables in a bowl
  • Toss with:
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • Pinch of salt
    • Dash of ground pepper
  • Pat dry:
    • 10 jumbo scallops
  • If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them thoroughly before using
  • On a paper towel, spread out:
    • 10 slices of Hormel brand fully cooked bacon
    • I like using fully cooked, because it crisps just enough when baking with seafood with no need to worry about overcooked fish with undercooked bacon. It also has less fat, and I just prefer using it over raw bacon since I only use bacon as an accompaniment and don’t want it’s flavor to overpower the featured dish
  • Wrap a jumbo scallop in one slice of bacon, skewer to hold bacon in place, then skewer two of your chosen vegetables, and repeat with a second bacon-wrapped scallop and two more vegetables
  • Place skewer on baking wrack, and continue until skewers are complete
  • Brush each scallop lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Bake for about 12 minutes
  • Turn skewers, brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Bake another 12-15 minutes or until scallops are just cooked through – do not overcook
    • You can press gently on the scallop to feel how firm the cooked scallop is – this is how I judge when mine are cooked, much like when cooking a steak
  • I baked mine for a total of 25 minutes
  • Serve with the Basmati Rice Tabbouleh for a healthy, flavorful meal

Skewered bacon-wrapped scallops with vegetables

Skewered Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Basmati Rice Tabbouleh

I had a total of two skewers, but that’s a big serving. Jumbo scallops are very filling since they are loaded with protein. Next time I make these, I’ll probably put three scallops per skewer and make that one full serving.

The scallops were so rich and buttery, and the tabbouleh so fresh. It was a very filling and satisfying meal, but not one you’ll feel guilty after eating.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

I am always buying meats in bulk and separating them into smaller freezer bags to use later. One item I almost always have in my freezer are smoked beef sausages. They are a super easy meal when I don’t have a lot of time to feed the hubby and kids. I can place them frozen in a pot with 1/2 inch of water, and steam them until heated through. There are many times when I have no time to cook that these smoked sausages end up on a lettuce-packed tortilla, drizzled with mustard, and served with cut up veggies on the side, or my favorite, Pacific Organic brand Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup.

Smoked Sausage Wrap

To turn them into a pasta salad, I steam them, cut them into slices, then mix them with steamed veggies and cooked pasta, and toss it all in my all-purpose red wine vinaigrette.

If you have leftover steamed veggies or leftover pasta with no sauce, then it’s even easier to put this dish together. It’s hearty, filling, super healthy, and a huge bowl won’t break your calorie budget. I like using double the veggies to the pasta in pasta salads. It’s a good way to get my pasta fix, but not overdo it, while still getting a hefty serving of veggies in my day.

SMOKED SAUSAGE PASTA SALAD
Serves 2 large helpings
Downloadable PDF of Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

  • Cook 2 cups shaped whole wheat pasta according to package directions
  • Drain pasta and let cool to room temperature
  • While the pasta cooks, chop:
    • 2 cups carrots (about 3-4 large)
    • 2 cups zucchini (about 2 medium)
    • 1 cup red bell pepper (1 medium)
    • These were the veggies I used because they’ve been on sale at my grocer’s – use whatever you’d like
  • Place all the chopped veggies into a large, deep skillet
  • Add 2 thawed, whole smoked beef sausages to the veggies
  • Add 1/4 inch of water and steam veggies and sausages for 5 minutes
  • Remove veggies and sausages from heat and drain excess water, if there is any
  • Remove sausages and slice on a slight diagonal
  • Toss veggies with:
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • To combine, mix pasta, veggies, and sliced sausages together
  • Drizzle 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinaigrette and toss to coat
  • Divide pasta salad between two bowls, and enjoy!

Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is loaded with more veggies than pasta or meat, keeping it lower on the calorie count. Using only 1 Tablespoon of vinaigrette per serving also keeps the calorie count lower.

That way, for dessert you can enjoy a serving of this awesome chocolate chip shortbread posted by one of my blogger friends. I made these this week and they are heaven. I split the flour, using half all-purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour, and used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. So few ingredients, such little effort to put together, yet so unbelievably amazing. The hard part is sticking to just one serving!

Downloadable PDF of Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Farmer's Market Kids' Feast

Sometimes my kids just want chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese. It’s a kid classic comfort food dinner that my kids occasionally crave after some of the more adventurous dinners they love.

They gave me the request for this meal when they came for their weekend visit on Friday. With that in mind, I headed to my local farmer’s market early Saturday morning to buy the week’s necessities. While I was still in recovery from Thursday’s trip to urgent care, I managed to get everything I needed for the week, including a pound of chicken from Smith & Smith Farms, 1/2 pound of aged cheddar from Full Quiver Farms, and zucchini and onion from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

Chicken

Cheddar

Zucchini

It makes me happy to show my stepdaughters that we can make homemade chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese from items found at our local farmers market. It lets them know there are a variety of places their food can come from, and how much fresher it tastes than the stuff out of a box in the frozen section of the grocery store, with a much smaller ingredients list (not to mention they can pronounce the ingredients). I’m not militant about everything that goes in their mouths, but I do like to ensure the majority of what I feed them is prepared at home with fresh, quality ingredients.

FARMERS MARKET CHICKEN NUGGETS
Downloadable PDF of Farmers Market Chicken Nuggets

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut 1 pound chicken breast into bite-sized pieces (about 2-inches)
  • In a medium bowl, mix together:
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
    • 1/2 Tablespoon Original Mrs. Dash Seasoning, or to taste (or use your own mix of seasonings)
  • Toss chicken nuggets in bread crumb mixture until well-coated
  • Place on lightly greased baking sheet
  • Spray lightly with olive oil
  • Bake for 12 minutes
  • Turn nuggets and bake another 10 minutes or until cooked through
  • Serve with favorite dipping sauce

~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~         ~ ~ ~

FARMERS MARKET CHEESE SAUCE FOR PASTA
Adapted from this recipe at Every Day Health

  • In a medium saucepan, heat until simmering:
    • 1 1/2 cups milk (I use unsweetened plain soy milk)
  • In a medium liquid measuring cup, whisk together:
    • 1/4 cup milk (again, I use unsweetened plain soy milk)
    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic (or 1 large clove fresh minced garlic)
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • When milk is simmering, add flour mixture and whisk until smooth and milk has thickened
  • Add:
    • 1/4 pound shredded aged cheddar
  • Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth
  • Pour over 1 pound whole wheat pasta (I prefer corkscrew pasta so the ridges get filled with the sauce), and toss to coat

~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~          ~ ~ ~         ~ ~ ~

FARMERS MARKET ZUCCHINI WITH ONION SAUTE

  • Thinly slice 4-5 small zucchini
  • Place zucchini in a colander, salt with kosher salt, and let sit over a bowl until it releases some liquid
  • Once some liquid has been released, rinse zucchini and pat dry
  • Chop 1/2 yellow onion
  • In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Cook chopped onion until soft, a few minutes
  • Add zucchini slices and cook until heated through
  • Add:
    • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage
    • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram
  • Cook a couple minutes longer, stirring to mix the seasonings well with the zucchini

Farmer's Market Kids' Feast

Younger B exclaimed happily when she tasted the zucchini, immediately asking what was in it that made it so good. She was thrilled to hear it was the sage and marjoram (thank you GG for the starter plant!) from our front porch – my only two potted herbs thriving in the intense heat. Everyone in the family loves this comfort-food meal. It’s delicious and filling without all the junk food fillers.

What’s your family’s favorite comfort food dinner?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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