Monday Night Dinner: Thai Glazed Zucchini Noodles

The summer solstice has passed, summer is officially here and it is hot in the Pacific Northwest.  This is not the time to be spending hours working the stove and oven.  And after a long day at work, who wants that anyway?  Not me.  Miss Mioux and I want quick, delicious, nutritious food that does not require a lot of cook time.  Enter the spiralizer and ever popular zucchini noodle.


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I got my spiralizer for Christmas from my mom, and Miss Mioux bought Continue reading “Monday Night Dinner: Thai Glazed Zucchini Noodles”

Monday Night Dinner: Cauliflower Grilled Cheese and Bell Pepper Soup

When Miss Mioux and I first started cooking together, there were not a lot of vegetables she liked because there were not a lot of vegetables she had tried.  She knew she liked cauliflower, so we made cauliflower everything:

Tots
Alfredo
Pizza Crust
Fried “Rice”
Hummus

Each dish continued to surprise and be delicious.  We talked about revisiting them until we saw a recipe for Cauliflower Grilled Cheese.  Oh. My. Damn.  Low carb and cheesy?  Heck yeah!  And if you are having grilled cheese, you need soup to dip.

I found cauliflower grilled cheese on Kirbie’s Cravings.  My favorite part is the methodology.  Anyone who has tried to make cauliflower pizza crust has had to wring the water out of crumb sized pieces of steamed cauliflower, and personally I think it is a giant messy pain.  This recipe dries the cauliflower out in the microwave.  I am telling you this is a game changer!  The soup recipe is from Cookin Canuck and is a nod to Miss Mioux’s Canadian heritage.  It turned me on to the book Eating Clean by Amie Valpone.  The ginger cashew pesto in it sounds amazing.

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CAULIFLOWER GRILLED CHEESE

  • 1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and cut into small florets
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
  • 4 deli slices of muenster
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place cauliflower into food processor and pulse until it is in rice-sized pieces.
  2. Place cauliflower into a large microwave safe bowl and microwave for two minutes.  Stir the cauliflower and place it back in the microwave for three minutes.  (At this point if you want to wring the water out of the cauliflower be my guest, from this day forward I will choose to use the microwave to dry out my cauliflower.)  Remove and stir again so all the cauliflower cooks evenly.  Place back into the microwave and cook for 5 minutes.  At this point, you will start to see the cauliflower dry out.  Mix and place back for a final five minutes.  Pro Tip: With the moisture released from the cauliflower, this is a good time to wipe down the inside of your microwave with a paper towel to clean it, after you have removed the cauliflower.
  3. Allow the cauliflower to cool for a few minutes.  If you have ever used the wringing method, by now it should look the same, but SO much less fuss.  Can you tell I am excited by this?  Innovative I tell you!
  4. Add in egg, parmesan, and seasoning.  Stir to combine until smooth.  Divide the dough into four equal parts.  Place onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.  Having neither at that moment, we just sprayed a glass baking pan.  Using your hands, shape the dough into square “bread slices.”  Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes.
  5. The cauliflower crust is too delicate to flip on the stove, so put two slices of muenster cheese on two slices of cauliflower “bread.”  Using a spatula, place the other slice of “bread” on top, sliding it back into the oven until cheese begins to melt, just a few minutes.  If you were working with a harder cheese, like a thick hunk of cheddar, I would set it to broil for 5 to 10 minutes to get the cheese melty.  For a softer cheese like muenster, just placing it back in the oven works fine.

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GOLDEN RED & ORANGE BELL PEPPER SOUP

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 8 yellow, red, and/or orange bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large sleet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 6 tsp dried marjoram
  • Fage greek yogurt, for garnish
  • croutons, for garnish
  • sliced avocado, for garnish
  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the bell peppers and cook until soft, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and broth.  Season with salt and black pepper, cover the pot.
  4. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and add the marjoram.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool slightly, and then in batches, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  If needed, thin the soup with water.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary.  Return the soup to the pot to keep warm until serving.  Serve garnished with a sprinkling croutons, a dollop of the Fage, and avocado slices.

The “bread” firms up well, considering each slice is basically just a quarter head of cauliflower.

 

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Snuggling with Miss Mioux’s kitty, Olive.  She likes my hair.

 

Monday Night Dinner: Three Cheese Spaghetti Squash

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Miss Mioux and I have been challenging each other to be healthier.  We started a daily plank challenge March 1st.  For all our belly slimming efforts, I have been craving something cheesy in a big way.  Miss Mioux is right there with me.  I am going on a trip to Jamaica and in an effort to get swimsuit-ready, I have cut out pizza, fast food, and most takeout.  My body needs cheese.  I balance this need by pairing it with veggies – lots of veggies.  And it is delicious!  Serve with a crisp green salad and crusty bread.

THREE CHEESE SPAGHETTI SQUASH

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby jack
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Microwave the spaghetti squash whole for 3-4 minutes to help it slice in half more easily.  Cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Rub the inside of the squash with a little olive oil and place skin side up, squash side down in a baking dish.  Bake for 40 minutes.  While the squash is baking, prepare the sauce.
  3. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add the spinach and stir until wilted.  Add cream cheese, milk, and cheese (set aside a few pinches of each type of cheese to mix with the panko bread crumbs).  Stir until the cheese is melted.  Whisk in cornstarch. Add salt and pepper to taste.  When the sauce has thickened, remove it from heat.
  4. Once the squash is done roasting, allow it to cool to touch or use an oven mitt.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350.  Using a fork, scrape the spaghetti strings of squash out, creating a squash boat.  Mix the spaghetti squash with the sauce and fill the squash boats back up.
  5. Mix the reserved cheese with the panko and sprinkle the crust evenly on top.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Dig in guilt free!

If you are pressed for time, you can roast the squash ahead of time, bake for only 30-35 minutes and refrigerate.  When you are ready to eat, scoop the squash out while the sauce comes together, mix, add back to the bowls and finish cooking.

Feel free to substitute your favorite green, such as mustard, kale, or chard.  Diced cooked chicken, sautéed shrimp, bacon or sausage crumbles would add protein.  Any number of additional veggies would be delicious add-ins, such as mushrooms, bell pepper, or broccoli.  Follow your heart.

Miss Mioux and I were full with a quarter the squash, salad, and a couple pieces of bread.  Plus we both wanted leftovers.  I packed my leftovers in my Hunny’s lunch bag the next day.  Having never had spaghetti squash before, he thought it was great.  He described it as satisfying and rich without making him feel overly full.  He had the idea of cooking the spaghetti squash with cheese in place of hashbrowns*.  A stuffed hashbrown version with spaghetti squash in place of potatoes will be a thing we will have to try out…

*In a nod to Miss Mioux’s Canadian heritage, we spell hashbrown as one word.

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BAKE AND SCRAPE

 

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SAUCE, SQUASH, BOWLS

 

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MIX SAUCE AND SQUASH

 

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FILL BOWLS. MIX A LITTLE CHEESE WITH THE PANKO.

 

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TOP WITH PANKO CHEESE AND BAKE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking from the Pantry: Crustless Quiche Popovers

crustlessquichepopover_inovenI am always the first to rise in my home.  I embrace the quiet serenity as the perfect opportunity to enjoy my coffee, read, and if the mood strikes, throw together simple meal.

Crustless Quiche Popovers

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 cups (8oz) Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Broccoli, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. Pancake Mix
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray muffin tin lightly with cooking spray, or lightly grease and flour.
  3. Beat eggs and milk together in a large mixing bowl.  Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  4. Spoon into muffin tins, filling to just below the top.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool just enough to pick them up and eat!  Feel free to test the first one while still standing over the stove.  It is responsible quality control.

This is an easy recipe to substitute and add to based on your taste preferences and what you have on hand.  Diced ham or cooked crumbled sausage would be lovely.  Diced red bell pepper or green chilies would be delicious.  Shredded Gouda or Mozzarella would be heavenly.  Dried thyme or ground paprika would be delightful.  Follow your heart.

They are even delicious the next day, simply warm in the toaster oven or microwave.  Light and perfect.

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Cooking from the Pantry: Oatmeal Jam Bars

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Summertime with all its delicious bounty is my time to store up for winter.  There have been years I have been selective with what I preserve and there have been years in which I put whatever produce I could get my hands on into a jar to save it for later.  But what if I don’t eat it?  What I have learned over time is that I rarely eat relish, so as innovative as zucchini relish seems, I rarely crack it open.  I don’t need 12 pints.

I also rarely eat jam.  I prefer peanut butter and honey over peanut butter and jelly, always have.  But I still make lots of jam…every year.  I imagine some day I will wake early, refreshed and rejuvenated, and whip up a batch of scones or sweet biscuits to smother fresh jam on.  I dream of capturing that sweet sunshine in a jar to delight myself with on a cold winter day.  And while I have lost interest in copious amounts of relish from unconventional sources.  I still enjoy making fruit preserves.

Sowhat to do with it?  Sweets Girl likes it and eats it, but she is such a finicky thing that a half pint could last months.  I’ve yet to wake early and eagerly turn out a coffeehouse worthy pastry.  So instead I googled, “what to do with lots of jam.”  In fact, “what to do with lots of ____” is my go-to anytime when I find a deal, or realize I have overstocked on any particular item.  It’s amazing the information that others have already compiled for you.

Multiple baked goods popped up and I narrowed down to a treat that the whole family would enjoy, that also was relatively low in fats and sugars compared to a lot of recipes I perused.  I found a recipe I felt good about, meeting my criteria of accessibility, simplicity, and presumed tastiness.  I adapted it slightly to suit what was in my cupboard and snuck in a bit of added nutrition.  I didn’t have to buy a thing and it provided delicious smells for the house to wake up to.
I won’t feel guilty if Sweets Girl decides to eat multiple servings.
It should last us a couple days.
Hopefully.
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OATMEAL JAM BARS
⦁ 1 1/2 cups All Purpose white flour
⦁ 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
⦁ 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
⦁ 1/2 tsp salt
⦁ 1/2 tsp baking soda
⦁ 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
⦁ 1/4 cup honey
⦁ 1/4 cup maple syrup
⦁ 1 cup jam or preserve of choice.  I used a mix quince jam and raspberry preserves to clear out two open jars in the fridge.
⦁ 1 tbsp. chia seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. Line a cast iron skillet with parchment paper.  If baking in an 8″ square or cake pan, skip the parchment paper and butter the sides.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, flaxseed, salt, and baking soda together.
4. Add the coconut oil (having this melted will help it mix), honey and maple syrup and mix well.
5. Transfer about 2/3 of the dough mixture to the prepared skillet or baking pan. Pack the mixture down firmly.
6. In a small bowl, mix the chia seeds with your preserves.  Spread this over the dough.
7. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 mixture over the preserves.
8. Add a sprinkle of oats over any bare spots.
9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
10. Allow to cool completely before cutting.
Bars can be kept in an airtight container for a week.  lasted three days.  Sweets Girl enjoyed them so much she took several portions to her mom’s for them to share.
The whole point of cooking from the pantry is to use what you already have.  Feel free to substitute ingredients based on what you have.  Substitute wheat or oat flour, whatever you have that will make a nice crust.  Substitute melted butter for coconut oil.  Use all maple syrup or all honey, agave would work too.  You don’t have to add the flax or chia seeds if you don’t have them already.
Follow your heart.
Use what you got.
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The original recipe can be found at My Humble Kitchen.