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Fresh Corn Galette with Goat Cheese, Zucchini, and Thyme

I actually made this last year, right at the tail-end of summer.  You know that time when there are like 7,000 pounds of zucchini, and the corn is just perfect but it’s like the last week of corn season??

Summer corn galette with goat cheese, zucchini, & thyme...summer recipe perfection, looks fancy but is easy to make

And then I accidentally sat on it too long, and then it just seemed mean to post it in the late fall when you couldn’t get yummy fresh zucchini and corn to make it.  So I’ve been patiently sitting on this recipe for several months, waiting for summer to roll around once again.

Summer corn galette with goat cheese, zucchini, & thyme...summer recipe perfection, looks fancy but is easy to make

Nom nom nom.  It looks fancy, but it really isn’t a difficult recipe.  The only thing that’s a bit of a pain is making pie crust, but you can just buy it pre-made if you don’t want to deal with it.  Add a glass of cold white wine and you have a summer masterpiece.

Summer corn galette with goat cheese, zucchini, & thyme...summer recipe perfection, looks fancy but is easy to make

The combination of the tangy goat cheese, the fragrant herbs, sweet corn, and then mellow crunch of zucchini is sublime.  This is summer perfection. [Read more…]

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Risotto Primavera

This recipe is the perfect blend of hearty winter fare and bright spring veggies…

Risotto Primavera

It’s kind of weird that I’ve never made a risotto primavera, given my love of risotto. But when I was home for Passover this year, we were trying to come up with a delicious side dish and my mom mentioned risotto. We thought about all the veggies we had, and all the fresh herbs, and I decided that it was the perfect idea.

kansas lilacs

I’ve said this a million times, but people always think risotto is so difficult. But it’s not! It just needs a little TLC…you can’t rush it, but 90% of risotto is in gently stirring. You get too rough with it, try to turn the heat way up to rush it, and that’s when things go south.

Plan for an hour. But it’s an hour of stirring, drinking wine, talking to guests—it’s the perfect dinner party dish. [Read more…]

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

Any time I’m home to visit my family, we’re always feeding a big crowd. Generally we stick with what we know—grilled burgers or chicken, taco salad or nachos, soup and chili, or something similar. But every so often my sisters and mom and I put our heads together and come up with something different.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

When I was home in July, we had one night where we were only going to have like 15 people—a considerably smaller crowd than our usual 25 or more. My sister and I decided we were really craving Thai food, so quickly had Mom poke through her cabinets to see if we had the makings for a Thai peanut sauce pasta. Since my mom’s cabinets are better stocked than most small grocery stores, we had almost everything we needed.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies

Beyond the basics of the sauce recipe, we totally winged it (wung it??), adding all the delicious flash stir fried veggies we could find, chicken, and whole wheat noodles. This dish was meat, carbs, and veggies in one, so we knew we had to make enough to get the whole hungry horde through dinner.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies done

And it was definitely a hit! There wasn’t even a spoonful left after supper, the pan was scraped clean. Combined with the moist strawberry shortcake I made for the big group, I think everyone was stuffed. [Read more…]

Roasted Vegetable Mac & Cheese

I used to be really scared of making mac & cheese. I mean the legit baked kind where the sauce starts with a roux and there’s whisking involved. Whisking is one of those things that kind of intimidates me. I have no idea why, but it seems very serious.

Roasted Veggie Mac & Cheese

Luckily, I’ve tried a few recipes over the past year that have helped me get over my fear of making bechamel sauce, including some different mac & cheese recipes (it all started with the beer mac & cheese last Thanksgiving). But every time I make it, I still get this anxiety right before I start whisking like my life depends on it…

roasted veggie mac & cheese veggies chopped

For some reason I was really just craving some comfort food last weekend, but needed it to be healthy comfort food—I’ll be on a beach in a swimsuit in a couple weeks (vacay, finally!) and do have a little bit of vanity left in me. So this recipe, with its hearty roasted vegetables, whole wheat pasta, and olive oil-based cheese sauce, called to me.

Roasted Vegetable Mac & Cheese

One of the things that really intrigued me about this recipe is that the roux—basis for the bechamel cheese sauce—is made with olive oil instead of butter. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve seen a roux recipe without butter, so I was definitely interested to see how that went. And I quite liked it. It gives things a little bit of an olive oil-y flavor that, when combined with the flour and whole wheat pasta, was a different twist on a regular mac & cheese.  [Read more…]

Easy Crockpot Beer Chicken

I rarely go in for crockpot cooking. Everyone waxes poetic about how easy it is, how much it saves your life, and how it’s basically the best thing since sliced bread. But I guess I just don’t get it.

Crockpot Beer Chicken

I mean, I don’t hate crockpots. But I just haven’t had amazing luck with them. I mean, everything’s so…soggy. But every so often I run across a recipe that makes me want to give it another shot. I’d had this recipe bookmarked for a while, and overall I really like it. I do think it would be a little better with a darker beer (I tend toward stouts and darker beers like Negra Modelo), but I used something sitting in my fridge that I wasn’t going to be as likely to drink.

crockpot beer chicken stella

The recipe didn’t call for any veggies, but I added them anyway. If you have the time, it would probably be better to add the zucchini and squash to the slow cooker more like a half-hour before you’re ready to serve, since then they’ll still retain some crunch—as it is, they were practically transparent and fairly mushy. I didn’t mind but I’d probably change that next time. You can add whatever veggies you have around, it’s a super versatile recipe. I also cooked up some farro to use as a base for the recipe. It didn’t call for it, but it seemed a shame to waste all that tasty sauce. You can use anything you have on-hand—rice, quinoa, pasta, whatever. [Read more…]

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt

Last weekend my friend decided to come over for dinner kind of last-minute, to help me put my (so pretty!) new bed together later that night. I typically just order Thai food on Saturday nights, but wanted to cook dinner as a thank you. Sometimes my dinners get a little overambitious and exhausting, so he requested (and I concurred) that we should keep it simple. So I got a few salmon fillets and marinated them, and then decided to stick to a grilled theme with these beauties.

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt

I’ve experimented with a number of grilled veggies, including zucchini a few times. However, this recipe has a unique element—lemon salt.

grilled zucchini with lemon salt lemon zest2

The bright, salty citrus combined with the smoky char marks on the zucchini really elevated this from average grilled zucchini to something that just felt special, while also being super easy.

Easy + fancy? I’m on board.

[Read more…]

Cavatappi with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, Kale, & Grilled Zucchini

I’ve got another “kitchen sink” pasta coming your way, and BOY is this one a goodie!

cavatappi goat cheese zucchini finished2

It was borne of necessity, and in the weirdest way imaginable. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I had surgery towards the end of July, and it actually happened quite fast. Typically it takes about 6-8 weeks to get a spot on the surgery list, but they had a cancellation two weeks out that I was able to grab. But that meant I had to get a million things done in a really short amount of time—calling insurance companies, booking hotels (the surgery was out of state), figuring out what equipment I’d need for recovery, etc.

cavatappi goat cheese zucchini grilled closeup

I also had to get into my regular doctor for a pre-surgery check-up. I got in, they did some bloodwork and such, and then the next day got a call that my blood clotting was the teensiest, tiniest bit below normal. Not a surprise to me, I bleed like a stuck pig, but she wanted to re-do the bloodwork after the weekend and if it wasn’t normal possibly have me see a hematologist. So naturally, I’m freaking out, because I don’t have time for complications, and I really needed the surgery to go on as scheduled.

cavatappi goat cheese zucchini & tomatoes

What does that have to do with pasta, you ask? Well, as I said, I was freaking out a little (okay, a fair amount), so I did a bunch of research on foods that help your blood clot, and foods that prevent blood clots. Unfortunately, I learned that ALL THE GOOD FOODS keep your blood from clotting—wine, coffee, balsamic vinegar, soy, strawberries, tomatoes, basically every spice. And only a few thicken the blood. I avoided coffee and wine (yes, it was a sad weekend) and wracked my brain for what I could make for dinner Sunday night before the bloodwork Monday morning. Veggies high in vitamin K were the first place to start, like kale, brussels sprouts, and okra, so I totally loaded up on those.  I put kale and zucchini in the pasta, roasted some okra, and also had steak, goat cheese, and anything else I could find that was higher in saturated fat. I did go ahead and throw some tomatoes into the pasta, but largely avoided them when I ate it that night, just in case.

cavatappi goat cheese zucchini finished

The good news is that it worked—my blood clotting came out in the normal range and the surgery went on as scheduled. It was a weekend full of worrying, but at least I was able to find a solution. And I got a delicious, super easy pasta recipe out of the bargain. So without further ado… [Read more…]

Lemon Zucchini Bread

Yeah, I know, it’s weird.

We have regular zucchini bread. We have chocolate zucchini bread (seriously, it’s awesome!). But lemon? Color me intrigued…

lemon zucchini bread finished

My love affair with lemon is legendary and long-standing. But something about this recipe kind of weirded me out, so I kept passing over it and trying other things. Then I told myself to put my big girl panties on and give it a try.

lemon zucchini bread zucchini shredded

First, I had to shred zucchini, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I absolutely HATE shredding things—mostly because I usually end up shredding my fingers too. But I survived.

lemon zucchini bread lemon zest

And lemon zest is the best! It’s basically an excuse to make any recipe. I also decided to make this recipe a little healthier so it would be a good breakfast food (vs. a dessert), so I used way less glaze than the recipe called for. [Read more…]

*Sigh* Being a grown-up… (Vegetable, Black Bean, & Brown Rice Skillet)

That’s right, I’m on a super-healthy kick…

I pinned  this a long time ago but have just kind of ignored it since. On the surface it sounds great and healthy and easy. But I’ve never really understood the appeal of “beans and rice” as an entree. I like beans, I like rice, but somehow as a stand-alone meal it just kind of sounds…meh.

As really healthy meals go, this one’s okay—chock full of vegetables with all their fiber and antioxidants, protein and fiber from the rice and beans, with a dash of cheese. Wasn’t too hard to put together either.

[Read more…]

Falling in love with baked pasta (Baked Ziti with Summer Veggies & Chicken Sausage)

I have a secret. I’ve never made a non-lasagna baked pasta dish (with the exception of the kale mac & cheese I made a few weeks ago). It’s weird, actually, given how much my diet has relied on pasta over the past decade. I think it’s because that just seems like too much work—I mean, the reason I love pasta is because I can cook it quickly, toss it with any kind of sauce or veggies, and have a meal on the table in 15 minutes. Baking just seems unnecessary. I also haven’t loved much baked pasta  at restaurants…they always seem so dry.

Needless to say, I approached this recipe with some trepidation. But I was shocked by how GOOD it was! Delicious, great, bold flavors, a whole host of textures, and hearty enough to keep me feeling full for hours.

The original recipe was vegetarian, and didn’t call for the chicken sausage. But I had some on-hand and I’ve been crazily craving protein so I decided it couldn’t hurt. And it actually added an awesome flavor to everything.

It’s important to note, I doubled the recipe (or thereabouts) to make a 9×13 pan, because only cooking half the package of pasta didn’t make a lot of sense to me. That way I had lots of leftovers to feed me through the work week. It made possibly a bit too much pasta, but otherwise worked out just fine.

[Read more…]

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