Friday, July 6, 2018

My Favorite Zucchini Recipes


I love zucchini (aka courgette and summer squash). It's possibly my favorite vegetable. (Technically, zucchini is a fruit, but for culinary purposes, it is a vegetable.) We are growing zucchini in our garden, and my mouth is watering just thinking about all of the delicious dishes I can make with it when it's ready to be picked.

I have collected here some of my favorite things that I have made with zucchini and blogged about here. If you love zucchini like I do, give these recipes a try!

MY TOP FIVE "ADVENTURES IN FOOD & WORD" ZUCCHINI RECIPES

This is a delicious and filling vegetarian casserole that is perfect for summer, when produce can be bought at peak freshness from the farmers market or picked from your own garden.

8 eggs, little bit of milk, shredded zucchini, shredded Parmesan cheese, and a little bit of salt all add up to one delicious zucchini and Parm quiche.

Garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini - yes, please!!

Perfect for both camping and when it's too hot to cook inside your house.

Great for breakfast or just because. This recipe comes from the I Quit Sugar diet. 

If you want to check out every blog post about zucchini that I have posted, click this link right here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mustard and Soy Sauce Baked Chicken


This is a super simple chicken dinner that I cannot seem to find from where I discovered it. All you need are...
  • 2 large chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup your favorite mustard
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Blend the mustard and soy sauce thoroughly together in a bowl. Place the chicken in a greased glass baking dish. Pour the mustard-soy sauce mixture over the chicken until the meat is thoroughly coated. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through.


If you really don't like salt, you may substitute low-sodium soy sauce for regular soy sauce. Adding a bit of honey would sweeten the taste, or garlic powder is, well, I just love garlic, so I don't think you can go wrong by adding garlic. 

Pair with rice, vegetables, pasta... Whatever you like. I made a frozen Green Giant rice and vegetable mixture, as the main goal of this meal was to be quick. There are said to be many health benefits of yellow mustard and health benefits of soy sauce, as well. And, most importantly, they are quite tasty when blended together!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Stir-fried Lettuce (Yes, Really)

I don't really like lettuce. I hated lettuce until I learned that there existed a variety other than iceberg (romaine or butter all the way). But my husband and I often find ourselves with bags or heads of lettuce from whatever cooking project or Game Night contribution. Often, we try to eat up the remainder of this lettuce, but no matter how much we consume, inevitably some of it goes bad, and I find myself gagging while sliding green and brown slime into the garbage disposal. 

Kitchen Genius to the rescue! After a quick internet search, that is. I wouldn't have thought of cooking lettuce in this manner, but I have done something similar with spinach and other greens in the past, so why not?

These are the only ingredients you need: lettuce, soy sauce, oil (I used olive only; recipe calls for sesame and salad), rice wine or dry sherry (I specifically used mirin), garlic, salt and pepper. 

Stir-fry the lettuce in a pan over medium-high heat until the lettuce is limp, then add the sauce and cook a little bit longer. That's it. It's quick! It's easy! And it's actually flavorful. According to the Spruce Eats, it's also pretty nutritious. 

Best of all... Never have lettuce die in your fridge again! Knowing this recipe really does alleviate many of my worries when buying lettuce. A little sweet and a little salty, it pairs well with almost anything, and I can make it while the entree is finishing cooking.

If you try this dish, too, or have some tips, let me know what you think in the comments!


Monday, May 14, 2018

Break Time


Wanted to post that since I am hoping to launch a book on June 1st, I am going to put my blogs on vacation until the first week of June. It's crunch time! Recipes are piling up, so I should have plenty of blog fodder when I return! 

Stay tuned for more information on the book launch...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I Quit Sugar Vegetable Lasagne (Modified)


A lot of recipe books are big on cooking everything from scratch, especially when much of what you are making is not technically difficult. Example: The 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook would like me to make my own tomato sauce for the Vegetable Lasagne (sic). 

While this involves only onion, garlic, tomatoes, and basil, I find it much easier to pick up a jar of Tomato Basil Marinara from Trader Joe's, though it has 6g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving, comprised of sugar naturally found in tomatoes (about 1-3g per whole tomato) and added by the producer of the sauce. 

For the record, adding a pinch or two of sugar to tomato sauces is something I learned from my family. Epicurious tells me this is a Southern Italian thing. As far as commercial sauces go, even no-added sugar sauces often have 5g of sugar per serving, so check your labels. If your favorite tomato sauce has more than 6g per serving, you may want to shop around for a new brand. 

As for the rest...

Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced length-wise 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 T of ghee or other cooking fat
  • salt and pepper 
  • a dozen (or so) sliced cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 T water
  • 1/2 lb (about 4 cups) baby spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.
  1. Grease (with ghee or another cooking fat) a rimmed baking sheet. Onto this, place the slices of eggplant, which you then brush with 2 T of the ghee (or whatever other cooking fat you have chosen) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, place the remaining 1 T of ghee (or whatever other cooking fat you have chosen). Cook the mushrooms until they are browned and softened (and delicious... so delicious...), about 8 minutes IQS surmises. Remove the mushrooms and set aside.
  3. Put the 2 T of water into the skillet followed by the spinach and garlic. Cover the pan and allow the spinach to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Remove spinach and set aside. 
  4. Now that everything is pre-cooked, time to assemble the lasagna (sic). First, grease a 9x13 baking dish (depending on the size of the eggplant, you may be able to get away with smaller). Then cover the bottom of your greased baking sheet with eggplant - but not all of the eggplant. Next, spread some sauce on top of the eggplant followed by a layer of spinach. After this, do another layer of eggplant, then more sauce, now a layer of mushrooms. Repeat until you run out of stuff to layer. Bake for 30 minutes.

Yup, this recipe calls for ghee, the second favorite pop cooking fat of the moment (after coconut oil). I finally broke down and gave it a try, and I have to say that I like it. The buttery flavor it adds to my food is yummy, and things don't seem to burn as quickly or as often. If you choose to not use ghee, that's totally cool. It is a dairy product, though contains little milk protein, which is good news for me. (Read about ghee, also called clarified butter, and its protein content at Livestrong.)

So how does the lasagna taste? Great! Mushrooms, eggplant, and tomato is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I chose to sprinkle on grated Parmesan cheese, upping the yumminess factor (in my opinion; obviously leave this and the ghee out if going dairy free). I would 100% make this, or a variation of this, again. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gluten Free Pecan-crusted Chicken


After making the Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate-covered Pecan Pie Cookies, we had a ponderous amount of leftover raw pecans. Cashews I'll eat, but pecans not so much - especially this much! Thus, this recipe was cobbled together from other nut-crusted chicken recipes. A food processor, or something to crush everything, is required.

Ingredients
  • two chicken breasts cut in half
  • 1/3 cup raw pecan pieces
  • 2 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 Udi's GF bread slices toasted (or 2 slices conventionally-sized bread)
  • 1 egg for dipping chicken in
Instructions
  • Toast the bread, then break it into pieces so that it will fit in the food processor. 
  • Put the following into the food processor: pecan pieces, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and toasted bread. Process until the bread has become breadcrumbs. Then pour mixture into a dish large enough to dip the chicken.
  • In another dish large enough to dip the chicken, beat the egg.
  • Coat the chicken in the egg, then coat it in the breadcrumb-pecan mixture before transferring it to a greased skillet.
  • Cook until bottom side is browned, then flip so other side is also browned. Keep flipping if need be until cooked through to avoid burning.
If you would rather bake, this can be put into a baking dish and baked at 425F for between 20 and 30 minutes. If you brown both sides in the skillet first before transferring to the oven, lower the cook time to 10 minutes give or take a couple minutes.

I have a meat thermometer that I use to make sure the chicken is cooked to the right temperature whether baked or cooked on the stovetop. Since these chicken pieces weren't the same thickness, cooking took longer for some pieces than others. (They also didn't all fit in the pan at the same time, so I did it in shifts.)

The flavor was good, the pecans definitely adding nutritionally and flavorfully to what would otherwise just be breaded chicken (which I also enjoy). I imagine I'll make this again. There are still a bunch of pecans left...

Thursday, March 29, 2018

I Quit Sugar Apple Pie Smoothie


Since we got a new fancy blender for Christmas, I've been looking for reasons to use it. I have also been working a lot of morning shifts, and I am not a morning person, so I like to spend every last second in bed before getting up and heading into work, which leaves almost no time for breakfast - and I am not usually hungry that early, anyway. An hour or two into my shifts, though, I do get hungry, and I can't always stop and eat. However, I can stop to drink, which is where the blender comes in: smoothies. 

After checking out the 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook out of the library, I decided to try out some of their low sugar smoothie options. First up: Apple Pie Smoothie. The flavor was really tasty! The texture... Hm... 

Here's what I did.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk canned (or homemade, for which the book offers a separate recipe)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter (I used powdered peanut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 dashes nutmeg (book says for garnish, but I blended it)
  • handful of ice
  • 1 to 2 scoops whey protein powder (I used vanilla flavored)
Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Very simple. But I noticed something with my can of coconut milk. When the milk got cold, like when it touched the ice, it got sort of... chunky. When it came out of the can originally, there was a crust of hardened coconut milk, as well, so I already had an inkling that solid milk was going to be a problem. 

So, even though I did not peel the apple like the book told me to (I generally appreciate the nutritive properties of a food's peel), the resulting smoothie had a strange chunkiness to it. I was able to split it up into two portions, one for that day and one for breakfast the next day, and as the ice melted completely, the chunkiness improved, but I don't think it ever really went away since the smoothie was chilled. I'm not talking big chunks - these were very little bits, but noticeable and it took time for the coconut milk to fully integrate itself into the smoothie.

Maybe the texture would have improved if I'd peeled the apple, maybe with no ice, or maybe with coconut milk that didn't start off partially solid to begin with. Anyway, I may or may not make it again because the flavor really was pretty nice. My go-to flavor used to be peanut butter and chocolate, so this was quite a departure. 

Next, I want to make IQS' Pumpkin Spice Smoothie. It occurs to me that apple and pumpkin are fall flavors, but eh bien. As a product of fall myself, I like fall flavors. I will have to check in with the local farmers markets to see what more seasonally appropriate food items I can find for further flavor explorations.