Friday, June 15, 2012

Green Pea and Mint Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese

There are only a few veggies that I really don't care to eat...peas and carrots!!! I won't eat peas or carrots head on.  I have to sneak them into my meals like a little kid.  Yes, I know they are healthful but peas and carrots will forever remain in the Icky! column.  There are a few others veggies in the Icky! column such as Okra

I have found that if I just warm frozen peas rather than cooking them aka "boiling the bejeezus" out of them, they remain tender and sweet, not mushy and metallic tasting. 

Well, anyway I came up with this salad that combine peas with mint and feta with tomatoes, combinations that are both refreshing and aromatic.

Here's what I used to make this salad

1lb Baby Spinach chiffonade
1 Pint package Sweet Grape Tomatoes halved lengthwise
1 small red onion chopped
4T Mint minced chiffonade
16oz. bag frozen Sweet Green Peas
1/2 C Feta Crumbles
14.5oz box Barilla Plus Rotini cooked as directed on box

Vinaigrette Dressing:

1/3 C Fresh Lime Juice
2/3 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Chiffonade is a style of cutting most often used to prepare Basil or any other leafy green.  It  is a pretty fancy name for a simple process.  
Stack your leaves on top one another all stems heading in the same direction.

Roll the leaves like a cigar

Slice the roll into ribbon strips according to what your recipe calls for.  For this salad we'll be using thick ribbons.

Once you've prepared and chopped all your veggies (spinach, tomatoes, mint, onion) toss them into a large bowl and set aside.

Boil pasta according to the box directions, 30 second prior to pasta being done pour the bag of frozen peas into the boiling water with the pasta. Drain pasta and peas then place in the bowl with your veggies.  Toss to wilt the spinach.  

Drizzle with the viniagerette and toss the salad to coat.  Gently mix the feta cheese.  Enjoy!!!

 Is there a veggie that turns you off?  What is it?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fig, Pear and Blue Cheese Tart

Got Merlot? Yes. Then have I got the appetizing small plate tart for you! Fig, Pear and Blue Cheese pair up so well together to create a contrasting flavor explosion in your mouth.  I'm not sure why I am so hyped about Blue Cheese lately, but here is another deliciously easy treat.

What? No Merlot? That's perfectly fine this pairs well with any sparkling beverage, something that has an effervescence to help cleanse the pallet in between bites.

By the way, although the photo shows a fork, I didn't use it  to gobble this tart up.  The crispy puff pastry was sturdy enough to lift each piece without flopping the toppings into my lap. 

Okay let's get started.  Here's what you'll need:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1 frozen puff party sheet thawed, follow box instructions for thawing
1 small Pear cored and diced
1/2 C Figs chopped
1/4 C Blue Cheese, crumbled
3T Fig preserves

 Chop the Figs and Pear and crumble the Blue Cheese and set aside.

Carefully unfold your puff pastry  and place it on a baking sheet.  I lined mine with parchment paper, but if your pan is non-stick there really is no need to do that. Next take a butter knife and score the pasty about one inch in from the edge to create a frame.  Don't cut clean through the party though you don't want it to detach. 

Next, take a fork and pierce the entire surface inside the framed you just created.  Now bake in the oven on 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  You have to pre-bake the pasty otherwise you'll have a uncooked doughy bottom and that would be just plain gross.

 Staying inside the lines spread a generous layer of preserves onto the baked pastry

Now simply sprinkle your Fig, Pear and Blue Cheese on top.  Be sure every bite gets a little bit of all the ingredients. 

Time to toss it back into the oven, again on 400 degrees for 10-15 more minutes. 

When done remove from the oven.  Place your Fig, Pear and Blue Cheese tart on a serving tray and allow to cool slightly.  Then cut into slices.  I cut mine into nine equal squares using a pizza wheel. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Watermelon Blue Cheese Arugula Salad w/ Reduced Balsamic Dressing

This is the perfect warm weather salad.  The sweet watermelon mingles with the bitterness of the arugula and balsamic.  Add to that the pungent creaminess of the blue cheese.  Your taste buds just might slap you!!
I saw a watermelon just sitting there on the counter and my original plan for a (Fig & Blue Cheese Tart) went right out the window.  Quickly I grabbed a chef's knife and sliced it open and it was perfectly ripened, very sweet and oh so juicy. 

 Here's how to make it! You'll need:

1 C Watermelon cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 C Fresh Arugula leaves
2 T Blue Cheese
1/4 C balsamic Vinegar
1T honey or Agave syrup
Edible flowers (optional)

Place balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil then lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes, should reduce by half.  Stir in honey or agave and remove from the heat and set aside.

Arrange greens and melon on a plate and garnish with cheese and flowers.  Drizzle with the balsamic syrup.

 The balsamic reduces down into a thick sauce that is sweet and tart which is an excellent counterbalance to the sweetness of the watermelon.  

I had stopped in Wegmans the other day to pickup some blue cheese and being unsure which one to choose I stood at the counter and had a private tasting.  I tried them all including the English Stilton which was very yummy and equally expensive.  I finally settled on the Buttermilk Blue because it crumbles perfectly and has that sharp blue flavor.
I used edible flowers to add even more vibrant color to the Water Melon & Arugula Salad.  They don't have a competing flavor so they blended well with the arugula.  Give them a try!  You can procure them from a grocery store or other trusted grower.  Please don't eat the ones that the landscapers planted as they are covered with fertilizer and pesticides. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

30 Healthy Sandwiches

It's Mother's Day tomorrow, so a break is definitely in order. 

I came across this really yummy looking post on one of Martha Stewart's websites called Whole-Living.  The post offers great ideas on how to make a better sandwich.  There are recipes for 30 Healthy Sandwiches, not that one needs a recipe to make a sandwich.  But, the article has laid some good ground work to inspire more ideas.  Check it out here

I've got my eye on that #7 Crispy Prosciutto Lettuce & Tomato, mmm!

Happy Mother's Day!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Black Bean Sliders with Baked Squash Chips

Beans Beans they're good for your heart, and if you cook them right they won't make you f....t! :D  Well that's not true they will make you toot and well that's just a fact of life.....TMI?

Black Bean Sliders wonderfully flavorful and so cute! Plus they are of course nutritional and cheap!!!  I'll provide the recipe for the burgers, but you'll have to get creative with whatever you have in your pantry for the toppings.

Here's what I used:

For my toppings as you can see I made some guacamole and a mixed one Chipotle Adobo pepper (remove the seeds) and a tablespoon of the sauce into about a quarter cup of mayo.  I also chopped up a sweet orange bell pepper and mixed it into some of the Spicy Mango Ginger Habanero sauce.  I had plenty of that sauce left from the Mango Ginger Habanero Drummettes I made a few weeks ago.  Lastly I sauteed up some onions and mushrooms then piled them on a burger with Swiss cheese.  So get creative and come up with your own fancy toppings. Please let me know what you created.

Along side these protein packed sliders I served Crunchy Baked Squash Chips.  Spray a oven safe baking rack into a cookie sheet and coat wtth non-stick spray.  Wash and dry two medium sized squash.  I used zucchini and yellow squash.  Slice your squash into 1/4 inch thick coins.  Whisk two egg whites until frothy.  Dip the squash in the egg then dredge it in a combination of 1 C Panko Breadcrumbs, 1/2 C flour and 1/2 C Parmesan cheese.  Place squash onto the rack coated and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Keep an eye on these, my first batch came out a bit darker than I would have wanted, but they were delicious just the same.

You could also serve your Black Bean Burgers with Crispy Baked Parmesan Asparagus too. These are soooo goood!

Here's how you make the Black Bean Burger:

Drain and rinse both cans of black beans, but keep them separated.  Dump one can of beans into the blender with 1 small onion chopped, a small bunch of cilantro (about 2 T). 1 egg, 2 cloves of garlic minced and S&P to taste.  Blend until very well mixed.  Scrape into a mixing bowl.

Add 1/2 C of Panko Bread Crumbs and remaining can of whole black beans.

Mix well to incorporate the bread crumbs and allow them to absorb some of the moisture.  No it's not pretty but either is ground beef really.

Heat a counter top griddle to 350 degrees or heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Be sure to coat whichever surface you are using with non-stick spray.

With a medium size ice cream scoop drop your burgers onto the hot griddle and lightly press them to flatten with the side of the scoop. 

 Cook until brown then Carefully flip and brown the other side.  Roughly 5 minutes on each side. 

Remove burgers and toast your buns.  Stop steering at your burgers they may look funny but believe me they are tasty, lite and good for you.  Add your favorite condiments and serve them up.  The men folk in this house didn't know they weren't meat by looking at them, until I said something.  They devoured them!

 Black Bean Sliders with Crunchy Squash Chips! 

 Get after it!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Greek Inspired Fiddlehead Fern Salad

I grew up in rural Connecticut where the floor of the lush woods is covered with healthful vegetation untouched by chemicals or pesticides.  My parents planted garden both floral and vegetable in the very fertile soil; if you plant it-it will grow.  My father would go hunting and fishing with the neighborhood fellow and would bring back interesting and new things for us to try.  One time he actually brought back a squirrel, for some reason that's not nearly as odd as, my mother actually cooked it up for dinner. 

No worries this post is not about wild woodland creatures big or small.  It's about Fiddlehead ferns my dad would bring home every now and again.  They must have been good if I'm making them all these decades later. 

A Fiddle-head is the little curlicue sprout before it blossoms into a fancy fern frond.  Fiddleheads taste like asparagus and have a crisp crunch to them and are a vibrant green.  They are full of antioxidants too. Check out Nutrition Facts for Fiddleheads.

Through the use of Twitter I contacted @wegmans the moderator for Wegman's Food Markets.  I requested that fiddleheads be delivered to the produce department of the store in my town.  Spring is the peak season for these so time was of the essence.  In a  matter of a couple of weeks they were able to get a good amount in stock for me. Thanks @wegmans and Mark, the Produce Manager!

First we have to clean and blanch these fiddleheads.  Cleaning and precooking fiddleheads is a crucial step because they could contain microbes.  Oh stop it! There's no need to feel squeamish! This is food the way it was meant to be fresh from mother earth.

With a paring knife remove the stem end of each fiddlehead then rinse them in a colander under cold water.

Okay let's get cookin'.  Here's what I used:

1 lb Fiddleheads
2-3T Salt
1C Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 small Red Onion, sliced
1/2 C Kalamata Olives, pitted and halved
1/4 C Feta Cheese

1/4 C Olive Oil
2 T Fresh Lemon Juice
1T Dijon Mustard
1 cloves garlic. minced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t dried oregano
ground black pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil then add 2-3 T of salt.  Cook the fiddleheads in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, them remove with strainer and immediately place in a bowl of ice water. Drain once cooled. 

See don't they look better now?!? I told you not to worry.....

Meanwhile combine Olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt, oregano and pepper in a large screw top container or shaker with tight lid.  Shake to mix.

In a mixing bowl place tomatoes, olives, onions, half of the feta cheese, Greek dressing and fiddleheads.  Mix to combine.  Place mixed salad into serving dish and top garnish with remaining feta cheese. Enjoy!

I hope you try this. Fiddleheads are very tasty and healthful!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Orange Mango Carrot Popsicles

Orange Mango Carrot Popsicles

Break out the juice machine and make delicious, refreshing, and all natural Popsicle.  Even those picky eaters that shun veggies won't know the carrots are what make these icy pops so sweet and healthy.  One of that many things I love about these treats is their vibrant orange color and the fact they are 100% All Natural!! No coloring, preservatives or additive :D

The trick to a good popsicle is to not add water.  So don't try to take a short cut by using store bought orange juice of any kind.

Here's what I used:
2/3 C Carrot juice (1lb bag)
1- 4lb Bag of Navel Oranges juiced
2 Mangoes
1/2 C Light Agave Nectar (optional)

Listen, these measurements are really by preference.  You add as much or as little of each as you feel you'd like.  The first batch of these I made the family wasn't too keen on the carrot flavor.  Well that's not completely accurate, my niece Audrey who can't stand veggies loved these Popsicle and she knew there was carrot in them.  My sister wanted them to be even sweeter even though the carrots and mangoes are very sweet hence the addition of the agave nectar.  So, it really does depend on your own personal pallet.

I love these Groovy Popsicle molds from Tovolo.  They're big and the grooves make them fun! Plus the handle has a little cup that catches the drips.  Wash and dry your molds and secure them in their stand. 

 Wash carrots and run them through the juicer.  I love my Jack LaLanne Power Juicer because it runs so quietly and the motor doesn't get bogged down when I add the fruit/vegetables.  Plus clean up truly is a breeze and it is not all that expensive. 



 Juice some more!

Juice the oranges.  I'm thinking about ordering an electric orange juicer from  What do you think?  Do you have one? How often do you use it?  I think I would drink more fresh orange juice if I had one. 

This recipe was originally going to be just orange and carrot, but I found these gorgeously ripened mangoes in the fruit bowl so I may as well throw them in! Select the ripest mangoes you can find they should have an even dark pinkish color on both sides and be soft to the touch but not mushy.  Wash them and dry them with a clean towel.

Using a sharp knife very carefully cut around the large stone inside by cutting straight down both sides of the mango. 
Score the mango slices in a crisscross pattern then flip the slices inside out.  Simply cut the square sections off and place in the blender.

Once you have the mango cubes in the blender add Orange juice, Carrot Juice and agave nectar.  Blend until smooth.  This should be enough liquid to fill at least a dozen standard size Popsicle molds, if not add a bit more orange juice.

 If you are using agave now would be the time to add it.  Start with 1/2 C then add more if desired.

Fill your molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. Be sure to leave a 1/4-1/2 inch of head space room at the top of each mold.  This is going to be one Yummy Summer!!!

Orange Mango and Carrot Popsicles
Makem', Tastem' and Let me know what you think! :D

I used these products for this recipe and encourage you to do the same.  (P.S. The Juiceman is on my wishlist. ;) )
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What are some of your favorite fruit/veggie sweet treat combinations?  Let me know in the comments!

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Subscribe to my RSS feed. Oh and I'm on Pinterest too.

Deborah :D
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