The other day we hit our local farmers market to load up on all the amazing goodness that’s been growing. Spring has sprung and we’re seeing our first green veggies of the season. From asparagus to green beans, I had a hard time holding back while loading my bags. This recipe makes a great light lunch or a dinner side with grilled chicken or pork chops. And using quinoa instead of rice creates a really hearty and healthy pilaf that’s seriously delicious.
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1/3 cup raw slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 cups rough-chopped spring vegetables
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped
Select your favorite spring veggies for creating the pilaf. I had farm fresh asparagus, green beans, and zucchini, which pair perfectly together for this pilaf. If you’ve never cooked with quinoa before, have no fear — it’s easier than you think.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F and place the almonds on a sheet pan. Drizzle with a bit of vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give the nuts a bit of a stir to evenly coat and then pop in the oven. They’ll be nice and toasty in no time, so set the timer for 5-minutes, which ensures you won’t forget about them.
Make the dressing for the pilaf by adding the chopped garlic to a sauté pan along with the butter. Once the garlic is sizzling, and slightly browned, turn off the heat and whisk in the mustard and lemon juice.
Take out the almonds, they’re done!
Now rough chop your spring veggies and steam until cooked al dente.
By this time the quinoa is ready, so give a quick fluff and turn off the heat.
Toss everything together and gently stir to incorporate the dressing. Season to taste and the dig in!
Not a fan of asparagus, green beans, or zucchini? What about fresh spring fava beans, artichokes, or baby spinach? For an extra kick of flavor, top with chopped scallion and a sprinkling of torn basil leaves. I couldn’t resist drizzling our finished pilaf with a bit more lemon and freshly cracked black pepper.
While hanging out on Pinterest the other day, I got a bit of inspiration. Everyone seems to be using their crock pots to make these amazing things – even lasagna.
So I had to try it. I love lasagna and make it often. I like to mix up the ingredients to keep it fun, like using cubed and roasted chicken with a cream sauce or ground turkey with thin strips of butternut squash. I figured for my crock pot lasagna experiment I’d keep things pretty basic – you know, the good stuff. Italian sausage, a big jar of sauce, and lots and lots of cheese.
This is really easy, and you can’t mess it up.
All you need is a box of no-need-to-boil lasagna noodles, a large jar of your favorite pasta sauce, about 1/2 lbs of italian sausage browned, and 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Go ahead and gather whatever else you like in your lasagna. I always toss in some fresh spinach – and I happened to have some of my fresh homemade ricotta in the fridge.
Now get your crock pot cranking on high heat and coat the bottom with a good layer of sauce. I added about 1/4 cup of water to the crock pot, too. This way the bottom of your lasagna won’t get burnt. Cover that sauce with a few of your lasagna noodles. You can break them up to fit in the crock pot.
Sprinkle on a bit of the sausage, and any other ingredients you like, such as chopped mushrooms, olives, spinach, along with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella. Pour on a bit more sauce and then repeat. Yup, that’s right. Repeat and then repeat, and repeat again. Leave about 1/2 cup of that shredded mozzarella for later.
It’s that simple.
I kept layering until my sauce and sausage were gone and then called it quits. I gave the top a final coating of sauce, along with 1/2 cup of water, and then put the lid on the crock pot and left it to do its thing for about 4 hours.
About a half hour before eating, I dotted the top of the lasagna with 1/2 cup of my fresh ricotta and that leftover 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella. I put the lid on tight and within minutes, my crock pot lasagna was ready to serve.
And it was good.
Summer entertaining shouldn’t be about spending hours in the kitchen tossing together elaborate meals when guests come over to play. Nope. Dinner should be effortless, preferably served on paper plates, and cooked on the grill creating hardly any cleanup. When kids are involved, finding a dish that keeps both adults and tots happy can be challenging, but not with this seriously easy dish.
Sure, you can cornmeal your crust and slide your tasty pie directly on the grill, but I erased the worry that yours won’t with my cheap pizza-grilling secret – pizza pie tins from the grocery store, making this my no-fail way to make summer entertaining fun and easy. And you know how much I love pizza (here, here, and here…).
Make things even easier by using a store purchased pizza crust and you are good to go. This is so fun for the kiddies as well as the adults. Each child can create their own pie, and the adults can create gourmet pizzas to kick things up a notch.
So crank the grill and get cooking!
Heat your grill to medium high heat. You want things to be hot, but not too hot. I’ve got a gas grill, but you can also make your pizza over coals.
Lightly grease one of the aluminum pie pans. I picked up a set of three for about $2 at the grocery store and can usually gets two uses from each before it starts falling apart.
Press the pizza dough into a round on the greased pan into an even crust. You can make your own pizza dough or use store bought, either works just fine. You want the dough nice and thin, otherwise it won’t grill evenly.
Top your pie with whatever you like and then pop directly on the grill – aluminum pan and all!
Cover and let sizzle for 10 to 15-minutes, or until you see the edges just starting to brown and the top to bubble.
Serve with a big salad and you’ve got dinner!
Dying to toss that dough directly onto the grill? Try this suggestion from my friend.
Some nights we feed the tot and then I make second dinner for us. We cozy up after she’s snoozing for a light dinner and maybe a glass of wine (or two) and chat about our days. And who doesn’t love a bowl of noodles? It’s wonderfully comforting and seriously quick and easy.
Garlic anchovy pasta.
Don’t be afraid, the anchovy adds a really rich and salty flavor, and isn’t fishy at all. Browning the garlic in butter creates a beautiful flavor that pairs well with the kale and cherry tomatoes. Or add some browned Italian sausage, slivers of fresh prosciutto, fresh spinach, black olives…. You get the idea. And this pasta dish for two is ready to eat in less than 15-minutes.
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 cup hot pasta water
1/2 cup chopped kale
1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
8 ounces cooked spaghetti
Dash of pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Let simmer away while making the quick sauce
Place the butter in a small sauté pan and warm over medium heat. Chop the garlic and add to the butter. Keep an eye on that garlic while you devein the kale and give it a chop.
Once the garlic starts to brown, add the anchovy paste and flour, giving the ingredients a stir. Once the flour has incorporated, add the hot pasta water and the kale. Let the sauce simmer until the kale has cooked through, which takes just a few minutes. Add more pasta water as needed
Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the sauce. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with pepper, and dinner is served.
There’s nothing like a go-to chicken dinner recipe and this is totally my favorite. Along with being delicious, this chicken recipe takes hardly any time to make — and is also healthy.
Cut the fuss and muss, along with an oil-spattered kitchen, by baking these chicken tenders in a hot oven. Easily tossed together in less than 30-minutes of cooking time, these tenders are perfect for a family friendly weeknight dinner. I serve with a crisp, green salad for the adults, along with some tasty yogurt Alfredo noodles for the tot (and, yeah, for us adults too). And just a quick tip — using a really good plain yogurt (Mountain High) ensures you get seriously tender crispy chicken along with great tangy flavor. Go with a Greek-style or thick plain yogurt for best results.
1 lb chicken tenders
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mustard
Dash salt and pepper
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup Panko crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or vegetable or coconut…)
What you do
Toss the chicken tenders in a plastic bag along with the yogurt and mustard. Give things a dash of salt and pepper and toss in the fridge for at least 20-minutes or up to an hour. If you like things spicy, add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce.
Mix together the corn starch and panko crumbs in another big zip-top baggie. Sprinkle in the Italian seasoning and you are ready to shake. Corn starch has less calories than white flower and crisps up wonderfully. You could also use whole-wheat or almond flour instead.
Preheat your oven to 425˚F and drizzle the oil around a sheet pan. Take the happily marinated chicken from the fridge, toss a few at a time in the corn starch/flour and panko mixture, and then place on the sheet pan. Keep going until all are coated and ready to go.
Once coated, place on the sheet pan. Try not to cluster, which causes the tenders to steam and kind of turn out like mush. For extra crispiness, place the oil-coated sheet pan in the oven for a couple of minutes before adding the tenders. They’ll hit the pan with a sizzle, which is awesome.
Pop the chicken tenders in the oven and toast for 7 to 10-minutes and then flip. If your pan seems a bit dry, drizzle a bit more oil to help your chicken crisp. Cook for another 7 to 10-minutes, or until the other side is nicely browned.
This recipe makes enough to serve a happy family of four.
*And I just made them again (1/20/14) and these tenders are still so good. A couple tips — use a non-stick baking pan, go ahead and crank the oven to 450˚F for a really crispy crust, and trust your oven! Don’t fuss and muss. Let them bake for seven to 10-minutes before flipping to ensure the crust doesn’t fall off and the coating is super crispy.
*Oh, and I wasn’t compensated by Mountain High in any way. I just absolutely love their product.
Well, if you haven’t heard, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have melded together into Thanksgivikkah. And there’s no better way to celebrate than with a gingerbread menorah. I discovered this wonderful melding of deliciousness through Sweet Thrills Bakeshop, a collaboration of two Bay Area moms who believe the kitchen is the heart of the home and that sweet treats make everyone smile.
These smart ladies are packaging chocolate gingerbread menorah kits that are perfect for families to build and decorate together. The unique idea sparked from spinning the dreidel with a traditional gingerbread house in the background. The result? A sweet twist on celebrating Hanukkah — and a great way to create special memories with your kids.
I was so excited to get my hands on a box and make one with my tot. Yes, probably even more than she was. Included in the kit was everything needed to assemble the menorah, including a wonderfully detailed set of directions, helpful tips, and educational information about Hannukkah, making this kit fitting for any family.
My daughter jumped right in and loved assembling the menorah. In fact, she was pretty much able to follow the drawn directions on her own (while I snuck a few candies that were included in the kit). What’s great about the kit is that along with being creative, your child is learning about construction and design.
As it states in the directions, it’s important to let the the frosting set between steps, but we found ways to entertain ourselves while waiting. We enjoyed reading the included information about Hanukkah, counted the candy candles, and, of course, had to sample the frosting.
My daughter really took her time working on her special menorah and we have it proudly displayed on our mantel. She loves telling us how she made it all by herself.
Which she really did.
Sweet Thrills Bakeshop has two different sized unassembled menorahs as well as a mini pre-assembled menorah available this season. Order now to ensure your kit arrives on time. We’re looking forward to enjoying our menorah during our Thanksgivikkah celebration!
And, did I mention? They’re delicious.
*Just so you know, I am actually friends with one of the co-owners of Sweet Thrills Bakeshop and volunteered to do this review simply because I think this chocolate gingerbread menorah kit is seriously awesome. And delicious. And a fantastic idea.
There’s nothing like the soft sweet crunch of cornbread muffins. One of my favorite things while growing up where muffins from that little box of mix that only required an egg, a bit of oil, and a splash of milk to make. The other day I had an abundance of fresh spring zucchini and knew they would taste divine paired with cornmeal. I baked a batch of muffins and totally admit to winging the recipe. But after they were eaten within hours, I decided it was a good idea to whip up another batch — making sure to write the ingredients down. And with the Shine Supper Club all about revisiting our favorite childhood eats, this recipe mixes classic cornbread with healthy and fresh zucchini.
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound shredded zucchini
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
Preheat your oven to 350˚F and get out a big mixing bowl. Measure and add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl and give a stir to break up any lump. You can also add the ingredients to a blender and pulse on low to create a really smooth and delicate cornbread muffin.
Now add the baking powder, baking soda, and shredded zucchini. Crack in the eggs, add the milk and oil, and stir to incorporate. That’s it — really.
Line your muffin tin with liners or slightly grease and then ladle in the batter. Pop in the hot oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.
Remove the muffins and let cool for 10 minutes before eating. They’re wonderful topped with a bit of butter, drizzled with honey, or slathered with cream cheese.
It’s been a busy week, so there hasn’t been time for doing anything fun and crafty. A freelance job that I’ve really enjoyed for the last several months has turned into an actual position (YAY!), so instead of hanging out in my house being anti-social I enjoyed a bit of actual interaction with creative and smart ladies that I’ll hopefully be working with for a very long time. So if things seem a bit quiet over here, head over to POPSUGAR Pets and POPSUGAR Smart Living to see what I’ve been up to.
After the busy week, cookies were in order. I love cookies and am always trying to put a fun spin on things. I was craving carrot cake, but was feeling a bit too lazy for baking and had a demanding daughter that wanted something sweet that didn’t require any waiting. After gathering the ingredients, we were ready for making sweet and tasty cookies.
And you can put a healthy spin on these cookies by using whole wheat flour, which would also give them a bit more crunch.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat your oven to 350˚F then measure and add the butter, sugars, maple syrup (which is really delicious in these cookies, but if you don’t have any, they’ll still be yum-o), salt, and vanilla. Use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
Now add the egg and give the ingredients another mixing. Now measure and add the shredded carrot, flour, and oats. Sprinkle in the baking soda and powder and then stir until incorporated.
Line your baking tray with parchment paper and scoop large spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the tray leaving an inch or so between cookies to allow for spreading while baking. Gently press with your fingers to create rounds.
Pop the cookies into the hot oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and enjoy!
*Makes around 24 cookies, depending on how big you make them….
Thank you Country Crock for sponsoring this post.
There’s nothing like fresh veggies this time of year, which makes tossing together a quick, easy, and healthy casserole just about the best thing at the end of a long day. With my daughter really excited about helping to make dinner, and doing the grocery shopping, I ended up with a few more than the three fresh zucchinis that I had selected in my shopping basket the other day. Instead of putting them back, we happily brought them home for making this delicious and low-fat casserole, which is the perfect thing for celebrating spring. Instead of being heavy and covered with loads of cheese, you can enjoy this casserole as a side or on its own. Swapping butter for Country Crock cuts down on extra calories and you’ll never taste the difference when using low-fat cheeses and milk.
This recipe is seriously easy, so invite your little one into the kitchen to help make this light casserole. And if you love creating tasty concoctions as much as I do, head over to Country Crock Stars, enter a picture of your latest casserole, and share in 100 words how you demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness in the kitchen for a chance to win $5,000.
So it was Easter over the weekend and I don’t know about you, but we’ve got leftover eggs. We also had leftover (gasp) bacon — how it wasn’t all gobbled up, I have no idea. There’s nothing better than bacon and eggs, and with a healthy sauce, this leftover egg sandwich is just about the tastiest lunch around. And it’s as easy as shelling a couple of eggs and layering on the goodness.
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 slices of bacon cut in half
1 tablespoon plain Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 leaf romaine or lettuce
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
Gather the ingredients for making the sandwich. We had a great time naturally dying our Easter eggs this year, with really pretty results. You can use any type of mustard, but I love a strong grainy mustard for this sandwich.
Mix together the spread, which is wonderfully low-fat and seriously delicious.
Toss two slices of whole wheat bread in the toaster and thinly slice the eggs while they are toasting. Once they pop, spread each with equal amounts of the sauce and then begin layering on the ingredients. Give each side a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
Press the sandwich together and cut in half. You’re ready for lunch!