Friday, June 24, 2011

Zucchini Frittata

I can remember my mom making this dish (or a variation of it, because I changed a few things!) as a kid. She would make it for parties or family gathering and cut it up into small cubes for an appetizer. I am sure my siblings and I ate more than an "appetizer portion" it was yummy and always a treat. Now I make it for something to keep on hand for lunch or to serve with a salad for a light, summery dinner dish. I hope you enjoy it too!

3 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup expeller pressed coconut oil
1 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs *** (see note below regarding seasoning)
6 mushrooms, chopped OR
1/4 cup orange bell pepper, chopped
***NOTE ON BREAD CRUMBS: you can purchase already seasoned bread crumbs and use those, or if you prefer, purchase or make plain bread crumbs and add 1/8 tsp. garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. dried oregano, and 1/8 tsp. dried basil for extra flavoring to your crumbs).

*** Note on Mushrooms VS. Bell Peppers: You can make this recipe either way, the bell peppers leave a sweeter taste to it, the mushrooms a more veggie taste, either way is good. The original recipe called for mushrooms, but I subsitituted when I didn't have any on hand. Don't use more than 6 mushrooms because they release moisture and will leave your dish too runny. Sometimes I make it without either!
Preheat your oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 glass dish. Mix all wet ingredients together first, then add the dry and mix until well blended. Pour into your glass dish and bake for 40 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Cool and cut into cubes for an appetizer or squares for a dish. This can be served hot or cold and makes great left overs!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Simple Summer Squash-as-a-Side

Speaking of squash... I know my last post was on Squash & Fresh Basil Pasta, and my next post will be on Zucchini Frittata, so this post I wanted to share a simple side dish that's one of my favorite "go-to's" during the week, especially in the summer months when squash is SO plentiful! Here is an updated version of "Summer Squash as a Side".... then after that, I promise my next dish will not have any squash!!!

3-4 small summer squash
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea Salt
Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil

Added Options, per your preference if you want them:
1 TBSP butter
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
a handful of shredded Parmesan Cheese

Chop 1/4 of a red onion, and put it in a frying pan with a drizzle of oil (and your TBSP of butter if desired). Saute the onion for about 2-3 minutes until tender or browned. While that is going on, wash your squash, cut off the ends, slice the squash down the middle and then cut it into 1/2 pieces. Once your onion is tender, add your clove of garlic and put the squash in the pan and let brown for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so not to burn. In the last minute or two, throw a handful of shredded parmesan cheese on top and cover it with a lid to help it melt- or leave it plain- and serve as a side dish! It's delish!!!

Options to serve it with...
Serve this dish with chicken or beef, it's a quickie, so it comes in handy in a pinch! You can also grill strips of it on the BBQ if you already have that going and when you pull it off, you can throw some cheese on it to melt while it is still piping hot!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Squash & Fresh Basil Pasta

Sometimes I make concoctions and they are just that... concoctions that fill our belly for the evening and are never repeated again. But sometimes I make concoctions are so good that they get jotted down and find their way on here to become favorites, once-in-a-while treats, or weekly dishes. This was one of those lucky dishes that got jotted down because it was so tasty & fresh. It will definitely be making it's way back to our table this summer, especially if our garden produces us a good harvest of summer squash!

So, I was so tempted to keep adding to this recipe, I wanted to add white wine and I contemplated adding a "dressing", but it was so light and simple the way it was, I just left it alone. It's a simple, light, low-maintence pasta that could be whipped up with a few ingredients, ones that you could easily have on hand like I did tonight. I was too tired to go to the store, so I found a bag of pasta, defrosted a package of chicken, and joyfully took out the bunch of basil and yummy squash that we got in our CSA box this morning. And here's what we came up with:

1 lb. brown rice penne pasta
2 chicken breasts, cubed
3-4 large squash
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
*** optional: a large handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Grape Seed Oil
s & p
** If you have any cherry tomatoes on hand that need to be eaten, you could toss those in too- that was a yummy addition the following day!

Boil your water and cook your penne pasta per directions on the bag. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. Chop a sweet onion and add it to a hot pan that has a drizzle of grape seed oil in it and saute the onion for a few minutes, adding 2 cloves of garlic. After sauteing your onion for 2- 3 minutes, add your cubed chicken and cook it until it's brown (you may need to add another splash of oil once your chicken is in the pan). Season your chicken with s & p. When your chicken is nicely browned, add it to the large bowl with the cooked pasta. Next, add another drizzle of oil to the same pan and add your chopped squash (I used one large yellow crooked-neck squash, one huge green zucchini, and one big yellow patty pan squash). Add another clove of garlic and some s & p to your squash while it cooks. Cook that for 3 minutes or so then add the squash along with it's juices left in the pan to your bowl of pasta along with your parmesan cheese (mine was a heaping 1 cup) and your 1/2 cup fresh, chopped basil. Then squeeze your half of a lemon right over the top, toss, check the seasoning (s & p), and serve!

** This will make a lot of pasta, perfect for left overs or large groups! Add a little more oil or lemon juice when re-serving if it seems too dry.
FYI: here's a picture of "Patty Pan Squash" ... I didn't know it's official name.... I always refer to it as UFO Squash... but I guess it has a real name it would like to be known as!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Fruity Water"

So I live in a "dessert climate" and well, summer is officially here. It's hot. And we are feelin' it! So in effort to encourage myself AND remind myself to drink more water during the day, I set out a pitcher of water on the counter or in the fridge and add different "fruity flavors" to it daily to keep my water consumption fun, exciting, and well, consistant! My daughter then spottedthe pitcher and replied "Mom, I want some of that fruity water" hence fruity water was born and is now a staple in my house most days of the week... funny how everyone (including my husband) drinks more water when it's got a splash of flavor in it!

Different Ideas to slice up:
  • Strawberry, lemon mint (pictured above)
  • Orange, lemon, lime apple (pictured below)
  • Strawberry, blackberry, mint
  • Grapefruit, Orange, Pineapple
  • Orange, Strawberry, lime
Of course the possibilities are endless, but those are the ones I have tried so far. I also do this when hosting a party, I add my slices of fruit to my water bowl for good looks and good flavor :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Umm, this IS SOOOOOOOO good! For starters, let me say, I have a wonderful sister-in-law who is Persian.... she just so happens to be a great cook. So is her mom. And she has taken us to a few dynamite Persian restaurant's over the years, where without fail, they serve Tzatzkik. So, I have had scrumptious dish many times, thanks to her introducing it to me- and I finally got around to making a batch of it on my own when a big bunch of fresh dill showed up in my CSA box. This is a great recipe to make if you are going to a picnic or asked to bring an appetizer or finger food to a gathering... it will be LOVED by all, so make sure you make enough! I made it and snacked on it for lunch then served it as a side for dinner, and my whole family devoured it... it was that tasty--- and did I mention it's also fast, easy, error proof, minimal ingredients, so little prep---- I could keep going, really I could!

16 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 English cucumber, diced small
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP fresh dill, chopped finely
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
***pitas, flat bread, or pita chips to serve with it

Scoop your yogurt into a large bowl to mix everything in. Then mince your garlic, chop your dill, cucumber, and s & p. Then taste it, does it need more garlic for your taste buds?? add another clove. More cucumber, chop up another chunk. Serve it with pita bread, flat bread, crackers, pita chips, or over rice with kabobs (Persian style!). Cover and let chill until serving.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pita Chips...

Here's a great use for left over pitas... or a quick idea for some easy chips to go along with hummus and dips. Simply take your pitas, slice them in half, peel the pocket into 2 pieces, brush on some olive oil or grape seed oil, then sprinkle your sea salt & garlic powder on them and cut them into triangles. Heat your oven to 350 and lay them on a cookie sheet, then bake for 10- 15 minutes depending on how crispy you like them (and how thick you pitas are). You can add different spices like cumin or dried herbs or even cinnamon & sugar for a sweet treat!
Allergies: this is a great way to tailor your snacks to your specific needs. If you have allergies or are avoiding certain ingredients, you can find pitas or tortillas to your specifications and then make these to meet all your food needs!

Stay tuned for another hummus recipe, as well as a recipe for a Persian dip, Tzatziki, to serve along side your homemade pita chips!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apricot Chicken

I found this dish on a fun site, Simply Recipes, and I followed it almost to a tee, making just a few of my own tweaks. It was a little bit of an adventurous dish for me, I didn't know if I (or my family!) would be a fan of fruity chicken... but to my surprise it was a real treat- a really different dish, really unique and exotic flavors. I will definitely keep this recipe on hand for apricot season, a fun way to incorporate fresh, seasonal fruit into dinner time!

1.5 lbs. of fresh apricots (6-8 apricots depending on the size)
2 lbs. of chicken tenders or breasts
1 TBSP honey
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP expeller pressed coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp curry
s & p

First chop your apricots and set them in a bowl adding the honey and vinegar, stir well and let them sit while you brown your chicken.
Next, warm 2 TBSP oil in your skillet and add your chicken, seasoning it with s & p and cooking it until it's browned on both sides. Then remove your chicken to a separate dish and set aside.
Next, chop your onion and add another TBSP of oil to your pan, sauteing your onion until it's browned. Once your onion is browned, turn down your heat to medium and add your chicken broth, cinnamon, rosemary, and curry. Take 2/3 of your apricots and put them in the blender or food processor and blend them to a thick, chunky consistancy and add them to the simmering sauce and let them simmer for 10 minutes. Lastly, add your chicken and remaining apricots back and let simmer for another 5 minutes until it thickens up.

Serve over a bed of brown rice or Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley.

Note: I used apriums because I had them from my CSA box and they worked wonderfully, had a little bit more of a tangy flavor (because an aprium is a cross between an apricot and plum) so either would work well!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Harvest Grain Blend + Veggies

The other night I when I was getting dinner going I pulled out the leftover, unused veggies from the week and noticed I had an extra zuccini and 2 carrots, so I diced them up really small and tossed them into my Harvest Grains Blend (from Trader Joe's) to add a little more color, flavor and variation. It was a great way to incorporate veggies into our grains.

It's simple- Bring your broth to a boil and while that's boiling, chop your veggies, then add your grains, chopped veggies, and butter at the same time and cook for the 15 minutes on low. Both your grains and your veggies will be done at the same time- perfect combination! This is such a nice thing to keep on hand in your pantry and perfect for the last minute dinner addition because it takes such little prep and cooks so quickly! Enjoy!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Peaches & Berries Oatmeal

Hello Breakfast. I am in love.
I eat oatmeal, not because I love it, but because it's simple and because I tend to overdose on eggs. But, I should re-phrase that to "I ate"- because that is a thing of the past. NOW I eat oatmeal, because I think it's simply divine when it's topped with fresh, ripe, juicy, sweet peaches and blueberries with a hint of cinnamon! It's like having fresh, warm cobbler for breakfast... what could be better??

Make your oatmeal per directions on the box, but add cinnamon while it cooks, give a generous sprinkle and stir. When done, dump on 1 cup fresh, seasonal ripe fruit and enjoy! No maple syrup or brown sugar is needed- the fruit adds all the sweetness! SOOOOOOO good! I can't wait 'til morning!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Peachy Keen" Smoothie

There are 2 kinds of smoothie makers out there. Ones that follow a recipe, and ones that dump anything in and end up with a different smoothie each time. I am the later. But, I wanted to post some recipes (or ideas if you are a "dumper" too) to help you change up your flavors and make you feel a little more like "Jamba" in your kitchen!

This DELICIOUS smoothie will leave you feeling "Peachy Keen", it is so sweet, creamy and flavorful you will gobble it up in minutes.... as will your kids! There are only a few ingredients, and as always, it tastes the best when the fruit is fresh and ripe.... which is even more reason to be making them---- STONE FRUIT SEASON IS FINALLY HERE!!! YAHOO!

2 ripe peaches or 3 ripe nectarines
1/2 cup fresh mango, peeled
1 cup ice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut water (add another 1/4 cup if you like it runnier)
2 large handfuls of spinach
2 TBSP flax seed

** If you don't have coconut water you can substitute if for regular water and/or a splash of orange juice!

From "Peachy Keen"
to "Peachy Green!"
Dump in your Vitamix or blender and blend until smooth!

NOTE: This is not only a good way to get your kiddos "greens" but you can also add supplements to them without them even noticing! I add Osteo-Sun to them which is a calcium and Vitamin D supplement- I highly recommend it for you and them!

P.S. I know my picture is of a kids up, but trust me, this was one of MY favorite smoothies of all times.... it's not just for KIDS!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Turkey Cutlets = Quick Dinner Fix!

How often do you pick up something at the grocery store not knowing when you are going to use, what to do with it, or maybe even with the intentions of popping it in the freezer for a last minute dinner?? Well, if so, POP these in your cart next time you are out.... Turkey Cutlets. They make a great last minute, simple, and error-proof meal!

This is more of an idea to spur on your brain and help you in your last minute quandary.... Soooooo- wash your cutlets, season them with s & p and garlic powder. Add a expeller pressed coconut oil to a skillet and brown them on both sides for a few minutes (maybe 5ish) until they are fully cooked and golden brown. They are thin so they cook quickly and they are tasty so they are loved by adults and kids alike. Perfect right??? Serve them with a quick veggie like asparagus or squash and some harvest grain (from Trader Joe's). That's a 20 minute meal tops--- healthy, quick AND delicious!