Zucchini Fries

It’s that time of year when the grills are heating up with yumminess.  I promised I would be sharing my favorites and some new summery side dishes.  This past week when Chris was grilling hamburgers we thought it was no better time to create a french fry substitute.  In about 25 minutes, I created zucchini fries that were devoured without any guilt.  This recipe is versatile and can compliment any meal.  It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure in the kitchen.  You pick the veggies and seasonings.  Could it be any easier?  Eat your veggies! -Amanda

Zucchini Fries

Choose your Veggies– Zucchini, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Squash (you get the idea)
Choose your Seasonings– Always start with pepper and sea salt.  Just stick with one extra seasoning to make sure your veggies don’t come out crazy! Need some ideas: paprika, cumin, cayenne, crushed red peppers, thyme, rosemary, sage.  You can also use premixed spice blends like Spike, Italian, Mexican, Old Bay.

Cut your veggies into 3-inch sticks.  Try to keep the same thickness to help even out cooking.
Now it’s time to play with your seasonings.  Start with pepper and easy on the sea salt.  Then get creative with a seasoning that excites your palate or compliments the main dish you have planned.  This time I used freshly ground pepper, sea salt and Spike (a favorite premixed spice blend).
Lightly toss your veggie with olive oil (not too much) and the herbs and spices.
Spread your seasoned veggies over a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper and a light layer of olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes (flipping halfway through) or until golden and slightly browned at the edges.

Shredded BBQ Chicken

Memorial Day weekend marks the official beginning of summer!  My mind begins to think about all the yummy summer foods our family enjoys.  Throughout the coming weeks I will be sharing favorites from our table.  These recipes allow you soak up the sun and spend little time in the kitchen.  You will begin to learn that Chris has a little “Bobby Flay” attitude around the grill.  While he is the master of the grill, I play with fun side items to make our meals come alive.  There are times that we can’t make it to the grill and still want some yummy barbecue.  This Shredded BBQ Chicken will change your life.  There is no thinking involved and the outcome is delicious.  Serve as mouthwatering small sandwiches or individually with your favorite BBQ sides.  You will enjoy your leftovers the next day.  Here’s to summer!- Amanda

Shredded BBQ Chicken

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 T onion powder
1 T smoked paprika
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
8 oz of beer* (I used Stella Artois)
32 oz barbecue sauce (I used Mark’s “Red” Sauce- Louisville, KY local- Our new favorite)

Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss chicken to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. This chicken is delicious on your favorite rolls.  We used sweet Hawaiian rolls.  I tossed up some coleslaw and dill pickle spears.  Great leftovers the next day!
*You can substitute beer with water.  I have found beer to tenderize the meat.  And we all know that alcohol cooks out, just in case you were worried.

Meatless Monday: Skillet Chard, White Beans, & Gnocchi

On this Meatless Monday, we cooked up a delicious one skillet dinner.  Gnocchi is one of my favorites.  The combination of chard, tomatoes, and white beans gives this whole wheat gnocchi just the right shock. Then top it all with gooey mozzarella.  YUM!  Serve with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette. If you are worried about chard exchange it for spinach.  Enjoy Meatless Monday!- Amanda

Skillet Chard, White Beans, & Gnocchi

1 T plus 1 t extra-virgin olive oil, divided

16-ounce package whole wheat gnocchi

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

6 cups chopped chard leaves, about 1 small bunch

15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings

15-ounce can white beans, rinsed

1/4 t freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and slightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 t olive oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft for 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.


Look at that Beautiful Rainbow Chard 

Buffalo Salmon

Buffalo Salmon

In the attempt to eat more salmon, we discovered a twist that certainly makes this salmon irresistible.  We all know that Frank’s Redhot Sauce packs a punch to our favorite chicken wings.  Well, move over chicken, salmon gets a chance to swim in Frank’s goodness.  I served our Buffalo Salmon with salad and celery sticks.  It was a hit! Enjoy your kick!- Amanda

1 (2-lb) salmon fillet

5 T  unsalted butter

1/4 cup Frank’s Redhot Sauce

1/3 cup Panko

1 T  vegetable oil

1/2 t pepper (divided)

1/2 t salt (divided)

Lightly oil a shallow baking pan.  Melt butter with hot sauce and add 1/4 pepper and salt.  Set aside 1/4 cup sauce.  Toss Panko with oil in a bowl. Put salmon, skin side down, in baking pan and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper, then brush with remaining sauce. Sprinkle Panko evenly over top of fish.  Bake salmon at 425 degrees.  Cook until Panko is golden and fish is just cooked through about 16 to 22 minutes. Serve reserved sauce on the side.

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes

We all want a quick weeknight meal.  A meal that does not need a lot of brainwork and is delicious.  This meal has all our favorites: pasta, tomatoes, and chicken.  Serve it with a salad and garlic bread.  Here’s to keeping it easy on a weeknight!- Amanda

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes 

2 skinless chicken breast halves, diced in 1 inch cubes

cooking spray

1/2 t dried basil

kosher salt and fresh pepper

8 oz angel hair pasta

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T chopped fresh basil

Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, coat with cooking spray and add chicken. Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, and basil. Cook about 3-4 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.  While pasta cooks, add olive oil to skillet on high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté about 4-5 minutes. Add drained pasta to garlic and tomato mixture and toss well. If pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.  Then add fresh basil and chicken and toss well. Serve and top with grated cheese.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

We are continuing on our Meatless Monday adventure.  I hope you have taken a little time to investigate the advantages of Meatless Monday.  (Check out my Tomato Pie recipe for more information about Meatless Monday).  This week we created Spinach Lasagna Rolls.  This is a perfect meal for family dinners or sharing with others.  Use your favorite spaghetti sauce to give this meal the perfect kick. Our Meatless Monday was completed with steamed broccoli and a mixed salad.  Go Meatless once a week!- Amanda

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

9 lasagna noodles, cooked

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained

15 oz fat free ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

salt and fresh pepper

28 oz spaghetti sauce (use your favorite)

1 cup shredded skim mozzarella cheese

Combine spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Dry the lasagna noodles.  Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.  Makes nine rolls.

Pour remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top evenly with mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Sauce should be bubbly and cheese melted.

Salmon and Rosemary

We all know how nutritious salmon is for your body.  It is full of brain food and a healthy option.  Don’t be nervous about cooking fish at home.  As I have confessed before, I was intimidated by fish.  The secret is finding a great fish market and using fresh ingredients.  This particular dish, Salmon and Rosemary, is a favorite in our house.  William loves this meal and has no trouble cleaning his plate.  I have adapted this recipe from The South Beach Diet.  We all know that only means good things!  Serve it up with sautéed zucchini and a green salad.  Enjoy some tasty brain food!- Amanda

Salmon and Rosemary

1 pound salmon (I use Wild Alaskan)

1 T olive oil

2 t fresh lemon juice

1/4 t kosher salt

1/8 black pepper, freshly ground

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 t fresh rosemary, chopped (cut from my herb garden)

Cut the salmon into 4 equal-size portions.  Coat oven dish with olive oil.  Place salmon pieces in oven dish.  Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary in a bowl.  Brush the mixture onto the fish.

Bake salmon at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.  If your salmon pieces are thick, make sure they are fully cooked.