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.

Chicken Cacciatore

Easy one pot meals or rustic stews are perfect for cold winter nights.  I look for hearty soup recipes and other meals with shrimp or chicken to help warm us in the early months of the year. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart and is another hit in our home.  Very easy to prepare and in under one hour, your family will enjoy a delicious and healthy dinner.

Here is how I prepared this meal.  First, gather these ingredients:  2 boneless chicken breasts, ground pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 large box white mushrooms, 1 can stewed tomatoes/14.5 ounces, dried oregano

Using the olive oil in my Staub pot, I heated it first and then added the two chicken breasts.  Season with pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, turning over to brown both sides.  Remove from the pot and cook the mushrooms.  Cover during the cooking process, stirring half way after 3 minutes.  Cook until soft and moist.  Add tomatoes and season with oregano.  Reduce the heat and cook on medium until tomatoes are in small pieces, and flavors have blended.  I keep the cover on the pot for about 10 minutes during this phase of cooking.

Then, return the chicken to the pot and cook until the chicken is fully cooked and heated. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or other starch. Or, for a lower carbohydrate meal, omit the starches. This dish has great flavor and is very satisfying.

Chicken and Tomatoes

Another great way to prepare chicken is with tomatoes.  Over the years, I have found many chicken recipes that include tomatoes from soups and stews to slow cooker dishes.  This recipe is similar to a Chicken Parmesan but is baked in the oven. I found it online at the Taste of Home website.  We enjoyed this meal for dinner, and it can be adapted to prepare for a large group or for a “just for two” meal.

Here is how I prepared the dish.  Gather these ingredients:  1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup egg beaters, 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts), 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon margarine, 1 can diced tomatoes, dried basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg.  Place in a greased baking dish.  Mix the cheese, bread crumbs, and melted margarine.  Sprinkle over the chicken.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover, and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until almost done.  Drain and then toss the tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper.  Spoon over the chicken and bake another 10 minutes or until hot.

The tomatoes could also be heated on the stovetop and simply served with the chicken or added already heated to the dish and returned to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time, or just combined for serving.

I prefer the taste of chicken breasts over thighs, but both work equally well in this dish. This is a great tasting dish that can become a family favorite.

 

cherry tomato tortellini soup

Homemade soup is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  Soup is easy to make and can be easily frozen for other meals in the future.  I made this soup in early November when the colder weather was just beginning to come to Michigan.  Today, the snow is on the ground and it is so easy to be able to just bring out a meal from the freezer to warm up and enjoy by the fireplace.

Serve this soup with either a side salad or some crusty bread for a delicious meal.  Enjoy!

Gather and prepare these ingredients for assembling the soup:  2 tablespoons olive oil, one large container of cherry tomatoes, minced garlic to taste, salt and pepper to taste, 4-6 cups chicken stock, frozen cheese tortellini, dried basil and parsley, 3 green onions, shredded white cheese.

In a large deep pot, heat the olive oil and add the tomatoes.  Add the garlic and salt and pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and continue to cook to heat until it boils. Add the tortellini and cook to directions on the bag.  I did not use the whole bag, but adjusted to the amount of stock.

Serve in large cups or bowls, topped with shredded white cheese.  So tasty and delicious!

more green tomatoes

When the tomato growing season ended, I had more than my share this year of green tomatoes.  I happen to love them and rarely see them in the marketplace.  In fact, I made two trips to two different farmer’s markets just to look for large-sized green tomatoes.  No luck there either.

So, I decided to just use my harvest of them and bake them for a green tomato sort of jam to eat with toast.  I simply sliced and baked the tomatoes on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning them half way through the process.

Next, I just added a tablespoon or two of sugar and some lemon peel shavings.  I mixed these ingredients and have been sampling them over a period of days on crackers and toast.  I actually warm up a few tablespoons of the mixture in the microwave for about 30 seconds each serving.

I love them, and really feel that the baking preserves their texture so much more than cooking them in a sauce pot.  Harvest season is so much fun for experimentation.

 

appetizer presentation

An easy appetizer menu is one that is handy for summer entertaining.  Here is a quick appetizer that looks perfect and takes five minutes to prepare 20-30 bites.

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I use grape tomatoes and Monterey Jack cheese cubes.  I usually purchase in the block, and cut my own to size.  It is nice if the cube size is similar to the tomatoes.  Alternatives would be to use feta or swiss, or even pitted olives.

Super quick and easy and fun for summer!