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.

grilled zucchini

Most of my grilled vegetable posts have been recipes made with a variety of mixed vegetables.  And, when I usually grill zucchini, I have sliced the vegetable into circles to accompany the other vegetables in the dish–following the rule that equal sized ingredients cook evenly.

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Recently, I have been grilling strips of zucchini with great success.  I would have to say that the most difficult part of this recipe comes when slicing the zucchini into even portions.  Using a mandoline cutting tool is the best method, though ribbons of zucchini would burn on the grill.  It is important to have just the right strip size of the zucchini, about 1/4 inch thick.

This past week, I seasoned the zucchini with olive oil, dill weed, salt, pepper, parsley flakes and a mixed herb blend.  I prepare the zucchini in a bowl and then add to the grill already seasoned.

This is a perfect quick side dish to accompany any barbecue dinner.

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cherry street market –a wonderful fall experience

Last Friday, we took a relaxing Fall drive Up North to Traverse City Michigan.  I certainly do love Northern Michigan and will never give up an opportunity to experience wonderful food, shopping, and of course the Lake.  The weather was lovely and the air was filled with the crisp cooler weather that has rolled into our state.  I enjoyed every minute of the day, especially my stop at the Cherry Street Market in Kalkaska. ( http://www.cherrystreetmarket.com/)

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The vegetables and fruits were overflowing the shelves into bushels and pecks for sale.  The apples, squash, concord grapes and pie pumpkins were beautiful.  I love everything about a farm market.  I love that it is outdoors. I also love that the produce looks and tastes better than anything available at any local grocery store.  The romaine lettuce is deep green.  The corn is super sweet.  The apples are crisp and perfect without any blemishes. I love that I don’t have to “pick through” the pile, because every specimen of fruit or vegetable is picture perfect.  The freshness factor is overflowing.

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I purchased two large bags brimming with fruits and vegetables for $17.  This amazes me, as produce is so expensive at the grocery store. The abundance is breathtaking and the atmosphere is charming.  I love the harvest season and everything about farm produce.  I encourage everyone to have a small garden.  For those items that cannot be grown at your home due to hours of sun available in your yard, or even just space, I encourage supporting local growers in your area.  I have never been disappointed with the quality or the selection at the end of a growing season.

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fall squash casserole

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnother fall comfort food which adapts well to a casserole dish is squash.  I recently tried making this dish with a mixture of zucchini and yellow squash.  It was very tasty and could be adapted to include other herbs and seasonings as desired. Over the years, I have used several recipes to perfect this dish.

This past week, I used chives, basil, thyme, salt and pepper for this dish. I had these herbs growing in my home garden.  This side dish could be served with any fish, chicken or beef entrée.  It is smooth and creamy.  And, is especially tasty for children who may not typically like to eat squash.

to make this recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Precook the two cups of sliced squash on the stove top in a steamer.  When the squash is tender, add the following ingredients to combine:  1 egg, 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 1 1/2 cups of shredded white or yellow cheddar cheese, and herbs to taste.

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Place into a ceramic baking dish and top the casserole with 1/2 cup additional shredded cheese and a decoration of chives, thyme or parsley.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned. Serve while warm.  This dish will serve 6-8 guests.

 

baby zucchini

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on a quick trip to the Whole Foods Market, i happened to find baby zucchini.  what a cute product. usually zucchini are ripe when they are approximately eight inches in length. zucchini are nutritionally low in fat and calories, and a good source of Vitamin A, folate and potassium.  if you are interested in controlling your blood pressure, this is a good vegetable choice for you.

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these tiny zucchini are just the perfect size for a variety of dishes.  i chose to use them traditionally and sautéed them with onions for a simple vegetable side dish.  the zucchini were tender and tasty served with garlic and herbs, salt and pepper.  i used about one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on the cooktop, and in a matter of a few minutes, the vegetables were cooked.

served with grilled chicken, this vegetable was delicious.

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vegetable garden inspiration

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last month i took advantage of viewing many yards on traditional summer garden walks. i always seem to be inspired by viewing what others have in their own home gardens.  on this particular walk, i was totally impressed with this home and the postage-stamp sized vegetable garden.

this vegetable garden was not huge, as i have seen in other yards.  i felt like it was just perfect for a family.  i was inspired with the control of the size and the amount of any one vegetable that was planted.  so often, gardeners get over enthusiastic and plant way more than they could manage or eat.  and then, the garden cannot be maintained.

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in addition, i felt like these gardeners were very aware of the design and overall beauty of the growing vegetables.  there is something beautiful about nicely designed vegetable beds, not only for function–but for aesthetics.

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edible gardening is very popular now, and i am even more inspired to add to my vegetable garden design.

ina’s vegetable tian

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as a side dish, this tops the list.  i found this recipe to be amazing—tasty with a beautiful presentation.  i find Ina garten’s barefoot in Paris cookbook to have many of my favorites.  this one was made almost to the directions, though i substituted fontina cheese for her suggested Gruyère. i also used my Cuisinart mandoline for slicing the ingredients.

this is not a quick recipe.  the tian bakes for a total of 75 minutes, plus 1/2 hour of preparation time —so, plan ahead.  it will be worth every minute.

to make the tian:  preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  slice one to two medium onions and cook in a saute pan with minced garlic to taste.  cook the onions until translucent.  spread the mixture on the bottom of a large flat ceramic baking dish.

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next, slice two medium russet potatoes, one large zucchini, and three medium tomatoes. layer them alternately over the onions.  season with salt, pepper, thyme, fresh thyme sprigs, and then drizzle with olive oil.

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cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  remove the foil and the thyme sprigs and add about 2/3 cup of grated fontina cheese.

Imageserve warm and pretend you are dining in Provence France.  the leftovers are still delicious the next day.