Zoodles with a spiral slicer

I finally purchased a Paderno spiralizer slicer and it has been a wonderful addition to my kitchen tool collection.  My three blade slicer is able to cut vegetables very quickly into angel hair noodles, shoestrings and even spiral cut strands.  My first attempt at using the tool was extremely successful, as I made zucchini noodles in place of pasta one evening for dinner.

I sautéed the zoodles with some sliced mushrooms, seasoned with black pepper and parsley flakes in one tablespoon olive oil. I cooked the zucchini noodles until soft and served with pasta sauce.  The noodles were extremely tasty, and confirm the recent enthusiasm from many chefs for using this spiral slicer.

I will be experimenting with apples, potatoes, carrots and cucumbers in the coming months. The slicer is an interesting way to prepare and cut these foods for appealing presentation and to increase food excitement.

For more information on this slicer, it can be purchased online at Williams Sonoma cookware.

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini

After doing an Internet search, I was not able to find a recipe which comes close to how I have prepared this dish several times.  It is quite tasty and has gone through some variations in the past years. I have finally settled on this method which produces a very delicious quick and easy dinner.

I use microwave bacon to start, which immediately speeds up the cooking process. In a large 10 inch deep saucepan, I heat 5 strips of bacon with just a teaspoon of olive oil.  Remove the bacon and set aside to cut into pieces.  In the pan, brown one white chopped onion.

   

Next, add 1/2 of one frozen box of spinach, which has been thawed and drained.  And, also 1/2 bag of frozen tortellini, which have been thawed, but not yet cooked. Stir to combine and heat slightly.  Then add, one canned of drained diced tomatoes.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add bacon pieces and cook and additional five minutes.

Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes. Serve and enjoy.

Lasagna in a slow cooker

This was my first experience of preparing a lasagna in a multi-cooker.  It turned out perfectly. The recipe is super simple and easy to make, but allow at least 6 hours for cooking the meal.

Assemble these ingredients:  1 pound ground beef, 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning, 28 ounces pasta sauce, 1/3 cup water (optional) 8-10 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1 carton ricotta cheese, and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (or more if desired), dried parsley for the top

Brown the beef in the slow cooker and add Italian seasoning.  Drain the beef.  Combine the spaghetti sauce and the water in a small bowl.  Drizzle a bit of sauce at the bottom of the cooker first, then place noodles as the first layer.  Add some beef, and sprinkle with both types of cheese, cover with sauce.  Repeat each layer until all of the ingredients have been added to the dish. Sprinkle the top with cheese.  Cover and cook on High for 1 hour, then reduce to low cook for at least 5 hours. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Serve with a side salad and garlic toast if desired.  Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.
This dish freezes very well and can be used for easy weeknight meals. Divide into freezer containers and allow to cool before sealing.

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Meatless stroganoff

Here is a recipe for your next meatless Monday dinner schedule.  If you like mushrooms, this tasty stroganoff is full of flavor and is also very easy to prepare. This recipe could also be a hit for your next buffet or casserole night with friends.  Simple to make and very creamy and a favorite of the men in the crowd.

Gather these ingredients:  8 ounces of egg noodles, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons margarine, 2 packages of white button mushrooms or other favorite mushrooms, minced garlic, dried thyme, sweet paprika, sea salt, ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup sour cream, and dried parsley flakes.

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Begin by cooking the noodles according to the directions on the bag.  Drain and reserve for the next steps.  Heat olive oil and only 1 tablespoon margarine in a large open skillet.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook for about 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and the next four ingredients. Next, add the flour and another tablespoon margarine and cook for about 1 more minute.  Add chicken broth and mix well, bringing the entire mixture to a boil. Cook for 5-7 minutes and remove from the heat.  Add sour cream and stir.  Mix in the noodles or serve over the noodles garnished with dried parsley flakes.  If taking to a casserole party or serving on a buffet, place into a warm casserole dish or a chafing dish to keep the stroganoff heated.

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Shrimp Scampi

We love shrimp dishes at our home, and I often try to incorporate different flavors so that the very neutral tasting shrimp come alive. Shrimp cook very quickly and are an excellent protein. Cooking with wine also adds a delicious flavor to shrimp, so choose a dry white wine and mix away. An added hint for cooking with wine, if you do not like the taste of a certain wine, do not use it in your dish.  Always select a delicious tasting wine that you or your guests love to drink straight from the glass.

This scampi recipe is super simple and takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare.  Begin by choosing a large deep skillet.  Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter or margarine in the pan along with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic and heat slowly to infuse the butter with the flavor.  As this is cooking, begin a pot of water to boil for the pasta.  I used very thin spaghetti for the scampi and cooked according to the directions on the pasta box, about six minutes.

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Next, into the skillet, add one chopped white onion and about 6 chopped green onions including the stems.  Heat and stir, adding the following seasonings:  salt, ground black pepper, dried parsley flakes, crushed red pepper to taste, and if desired, lemon pepper blend and dried green pepper flakes.

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Add cleaned and de-veined shrimp (26-30 count size) to the pan.  The shrimp will cook in about 4-6 minutes.  Just as the shrimp finish cooking, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or to taste, and about 1/2 cup of white wine.  Allow these last ingredients to boil just to heat and then reduce the heat.  Drain the pasta and mix well.  Serve immediately.

This dish can be controlled by the cook.  If you like a lot of garlic, add more chopped garlic. If you like herbs, add more herbs.  This is another recipe that is easy to prepare, looks and tastes great and is very quick from cook-top to table.

The wine in this dish gives the pasta a delicious flavor, so be certain to choose a favorite.

 

 

vegetable lasagna (mushroom and spinach)

Summer pasta dishes are often lighter when served during the summer months.  We prefer to eat less pasta during the summer overall, but sometimes the selection of summer vegetables encourages me to add them to even more main dishes than in the winter.  This recipe is one of my favorites when summer vegetables are ready for being the main attraction.

Here is how I made this dish:

In a large skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add these ingredients:  one medium chopped white onion, about 3-4 large carrots cleaned and chopped into smaller size pieces, and 3-4 stalks of celery diced.  After cooking down for a few minutes, add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 2 tablespoon tomato paste.  Cook together.

Next add about 15 chopped white mushrooms, which have been cleaned well.  Add salt and pepper to the mixture, while cooking at least 5 more minutes until the mushrooms cook down.  Next, add one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  Heat until all ingredients are well blended and warm.

While these ingredients are cooking, make the cheese layer for the lasagna.  I used 5 ounces of shredded Parmesan cheese, mixed with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese, 8 ounces of ricotta cheese, one egg, and one drained and squeezed box of frozen spinach.  All of these ingredients will mix well into a bowl and be ready for the layering process.

In a large 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish, use some of the tomato mixture to line the bottom of the pan. Next add 3-4 no-cook dry lasagna noodles.  For the next layer, add tablespoons of the cheese mixture over the noodles and spread to form a layer.  Next add another layer of tomato sauce, and noodles, and cheese.  Layer until the ingredients are used fully. Make sure the top layer of the lasagna is the tomato sauce. For the final topping to the lasagna, I added more shredded mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan cheese.

Baking directions:   For the first half of the baking time, cover the dish with tin foil completely.  For the second half of the baking time, remove the foil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes.

Summer variations:  Use fresh chopped tomatoes, Use fresh spinach which has been sautéed down in a skillet prior to adding to this dish, Use fresh onions of all types, Use fresh chopped zucchini.  Many fresh herbs can be used. Some of my favorites are fresh oregano, parsley, thyme, chives and sage. A variety of mushrooms can also be used.

Cheese variations:  Fontina cheese is delicious in this recipe.  Fresh mozzarella can also be used.

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Roasted peppers with pasta stuffing

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s spaghetti stuffing for peppers, I adapted her recipe and prepared an unusual filling for the traditional stuffed peppers of the past.  The key to this recipe is the brightly colored peppers which add to the look and upscale feel of the dish.  Martha peels her peppers after roasting in an open gas flame, and I chose to roast my peppers under the broiler and not peel them.  I like the look of the peppers and the stability they offer by not peeling, when baking with the stuffing.

The dish is delicious and very unexpected for your summer guests.  Since the pasta portion is small, it is not overwhelming for a summertime meal.  This dish does not revolve on the pasta, but the delicious taste of the roasted or baked peppers.

I chose 4 peppers to make the dish, but any number of peppers could be used and ingredients increased to match the need of the party. I cut the tops off of the peppers and cleaned the inside of them.  I chopped the tops of each pepper and placed in a skillet with olive oil.

I roasted the main portion peppers in my oven broiler for 20 minutes, rotating them often on a small sheet pan.  While they were cooking, I boiled a pot of water for the pasta.  In another skillet on the stove top, I added to the chopped pepper tops, 4-5 chopped green onions, one 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes,  chopped fresh parsley, one small chopped red onion, sea salt, ground black pepper to taste and dried oregano.

While this mixture was cooking, I measured my spaghetti pasta and boiled for 8 minutes as directed on the package.  When the pasta was done, it was drained and added to the pepper mixture.

After the roasting was done in the broiler, I removed the peppers and added the pasta mixture to the pepper insides.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Served with a side salad, this is a fun meal to enjoy with guests.