Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zucchini Carbonara

I wanted to thank everyone for their comments regarding Buddy. I can't tell you what it means to have your support.

Is it me or is this picture weird?

Saturday morning is my day to get up with the girls. Luckily, I have a couple of budding foodies on my hands; The Food Network is always our channel of choice.

This particular morning, I actually watched Jaime at Home all the way through. I have a hard time with this show. The camera work is MUCH better than it was when he had his other show (can't remember the name now), but I can't put my finger on why I can't watch it normally. He is rather spastic in the kitchen (not a bad name for a blog). It doesn't seem that organized, and while that is really how most of us cook, when I watch a TV show, I want to be able to write down the recipe as it's prepared. That's just how I roll.

Jaime also says, "right" about every other word. That's not unlike Tyler Florence, who says "guys"...can't stand that. But, that is another topic for another entry.

Despite these annoying habits, though, he does make good food.

I was instantly attracted to the first recipe. Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara...

First of all, it uses Zucchini...of which I still have.

Second, it uses bacon...

Just look at it, ah... delicious.

If you aren't a fan, I understand. But I weep for you.

Just checking to see if you are paying attention!

Zucchini Carbonara
adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 large green zucchini, cut in half, then in half again (so yeah quartered), then sliced in 1/4-1/2 inch slices
1/2 pound penne pasta
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
6 slices of bacon (so worth it), cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (we have lemon thyme)

Bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 7-9 minutes or until al dente.
In a large frying pan with higher sides, add the bacon and cook to desired degree of doneness. Add the zucchini and ground pepper (to taste). Sprinkle in the thyme. Cook, stirring often to coat the zucchini in the bacon-y goodness, until the zucchini is golden and softened slightly.

Meanwhile, add the eggs, parmesan, and cream to a medium bowl and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, reserve about a cup full of pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the zucchini and bacon.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add more cooking water if the mixture seems stiff. Add more parmesan's good like that.

Serve immediately with a salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Sad day

It is with great sadness that I announce that our little dog, Buddy was put to rest this morning.

For those that do not know, Buddy was found by my dad and step-mother in their neighbor's yard. They already had a dog and weren't looking to get another. But, then again neither were we! However, Buddy entered our lives and was a great dog right from the start.

He was lethargic and had been throwing up the past couple of days. I thought he may have a little bug, so lead sous chef and I took him to the vet. After some blood work, they diagnosed that he was suffering from severe kidney failure.

I feel horrible that I didn't take him sooner. I'll always keep wondering what it was that caused it.

He spent the night at the animal hospital getting fluids. This morning the vet told Jordan that we could keep going, but the prognosis would likely not improve.

Hopefully he is having fun out there in doggy heaven. Perhaps he has found Scamp (his uncle) and they are running around together, eating bubbles, picking up on ladies, and causing trouble.

Maybe he is reliving his wild time at the Puppy Ball.

But, I'll bet he is sleeping...he always did that well.

Goodbye, friend, we'll miss you.

**I'd like to give credit to Josh Solar Photo for the two pictures in this post that I borrowed from his blog. The Solars have been taking photos of my two kiddos since lead sous chef was 3 months old. We now have priceless pictures of our dear Buddy which Josh took when second sous chef was 3 months old. Thank you, Solars.**

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sausage and Zucchini Bake

Does anyone else out there always want to spell Zucchini with two "n's" instead of two "c's"? No? Just me?? Ah well.

I am typing this as I watch "Top Chef Masters" on Bravo. Oh my gawsh, I love this show. On the finale I can't decide who I want to win...Oh, I just love it....I think I want Michael Chiarello.

Okay, way off topic,

I wanted originally to create some zucchini boats filled with turkey sausage, but then I realized that the sous chefs would never eat zucchini that way. So, I thought I would prepare a pseudo lasagna thing.

When I didn't look so good.
But, when it came out of the oven...oh hello lover.

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Just look at that melty cheese. Who could deny that?

It tasted good too...

Sausage and Zucchini Bake

20 oz (approx) pasta sauce...whatever you like
1 large zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch circles
1 pound ground turkey sausage
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
mozzarella cheese (optional)

butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Add the zucchini and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Remove to a bowl, lined with paper towels and set aside.

In the same skillet, with the remaining fats, add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the sausage as it cooks.

Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, cream, eggs and parmesan.

In an 11" by 7" casserole dish, put a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of pasta sauce. Top with with 1/2 of the cooked zucchini. Add another layer of pasta sauce (about 1/2 -3/4 cup), top with 1/2 of the sausage, then 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Top with 1/4 cup of pasta sauce, and as much mozzarella cheese as you wish.

Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Serve with a salad, some garlic bread, and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pineapple Zucchini Cupcakes

Forgive the sprinkles, they were for my daughter's preschool.

Have you visited Tasty Kitchen yet? It is genius I tell you, genius. Only the Pioneer Woman would have created such a fabulous site. Go there now...I'll wait.

Awesome, right? I have an account (calminthekitchen...add me and I'll be your BFF), but I haven't had time to add any recipes yet. Right now I am just having fun looking around.

This recipe caught my eye for a couple of reasons, used zuchinni and was cake. I wanted to make something for sous chef #1's camp class and I wanted to use up zucchini...a total win-win.

I also wanted to make some treats for the hubs to take to work. So, I did 1 1/2 times the recipe. It yielded 24 mini cupcakes and 24 regular cupcakes. The zucchini gods were smiling on me. I omitted the sugar in the recipe, mainly because I thought that the pineapple would do the trick. I bumped it up to the extra 1/2 by adding applesauce. The cake was good, I didn't try it with the cream cheese frosting (that my friends does have sugar), but I am positive it would be equally as delicious. I also omitted the coconut, it just isn't my bag, baby.

Try it for yourself, or make the original cake version. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

Pineapple Zucchini Cupcakes
adapted from lindainmo via tasty kitchen

makes enough for 24 mini and 24 regular cupcakes

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons canola oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated (unpeeled) zucchini
1 (20 Oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained

1 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare your baking pans with liners and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a seperate bowl, combine oil, eggs, and vanilla; stir well. Stir egg mixture, grated zucchini, and applesauce and pineapple into flour mixture.

Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 of the way full. I baked the mini's seperately for about 20 minutes. The regulars baked for about 25. However, I could be totally wrong. I got a little distracted by the sous chefs and forgot to write down the exact baking times. I know....yell at me later, k?

Basically bake them until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Everyone's oven is different and if I am giving full disclosure, I always cook using the convection setting so really I have no idea how long it takes otherwise. There, I said it. I have no idea what I am doing.

Just checking to see if you were still reading.

Cool completely on a wire rack, frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

NOTES : I did drain my zucchini a little bit, but I don't know if it made a difference. The original poster noted that the batter can be dry, but I didn't have that at all. It could be because I added more oil than 1 1/2 times the recipe. Or, maybe I didn't drain my pineapple all the way. Not sure. But, you may want to keep the pineapple juice on hand, just in case.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Pizza

I'm getting back on the horse.

Figuratively, of course.

Hey, that rhymed.

My dear sister recently purchased her first home (way to go Lisa!). Among a mortgage, and a lawn to mow, she also inherited a very well endowed zucchini plant. Or, maybe I should say fertile? Well, whatever you want to call it, she's got zukes coming out of her eyeballs. I myself have never been a huge fan of the veggie, but that may just be because I haven't cooked with it often.

That will all change this week. Are you sitting down?

As an attempt to get back in the blogging mood, I thought I would try out some new recipes using this versatile veggie. I also thought I would strike while the iron is hot and post every day with a recipe using zucchinis.

I am not well versed in the zucchini. However, my fellow foodies This recipe came as I was reading through one of my most favorite blogs: Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't ventured over there yet...go now. You'll thank me later.

I used my most favorite pizza dough recipe and about 1/2 of a large (like the size of my forearm) zucchini. I sliced it thin, but you can use a mandoline or food processor, whatever floats your boat. I forgot to use lemon, but that would be a great addition. I also put the basil on top and added some mozzarella. You can find the original recipe HERE.

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Pizza
adapted from smitten kitchen

pizza dough (I used my favorite recipe halved)
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
Few leaves of fresh basil, cut into thin slivers
1/2 medium green zucchini, sliced thin
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Roll your pizza dough into a thin 12-inch circle and lay it on a tray or stone that has been dusted lightly with cornmeal.

Spread the goat cheese over your pizza dough. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Arrange your zucchini coins in concentric circles over the goat cheese spread, overlapping them slightly. Add the amount of mozzarella that you wish and top with the basil.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (your baking time will vary, so please watch carefully), or until the edges of your pizza are golden brown and the zucchini looks roasted and a little curled up at the edges.

Serve with a small salad and enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tooting my own horn

Do you menu plan? It is a constant work in progress around here. I usually go shopping once every two weeks and menu plan accordingly. Lately, though, I am struggling with new things to make. Strike that, I am struggling with just coming up with meals that aren't a repeat of the previous two weeks.

We do have our days, which make planning easier. Meatless Monday, Tex Mex Tuesday, etc and so forth. But, it is still hard to come up with meals sometime.

How about you?

I have also been considering and working on doing more freezer meals. That way there is an arsenal of food just waiting for me. One of these days, I'll get organized and actually cook it!

What a treat it was to find Once a Month Mom. I forget how it happened, but I am so glad I found it! Once a Month Mom organizes your shopping and meals so that you have an entire month in your organized is that? They also give you recipes for homemade baby food, shopping and couponing tips. It is just a great site all around.

And what was even more exciting was that one of my meals was chosen for the May menu! I had meant to write about my excitement then...and of course time got away from me.

Now Tricia has given me another honor. I am one of her Blogs You Should Visit! I know it is totally shameless.

It is nice when we can recognize one another, don't you think? Please check out Once A Month Mom. Even if you aren't a mom...really it would be awesome for someone who works a lot. Maybe you want to make some food to give to someone else (awesome wedding present, or new baby me). You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

BB: Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

I am behind on posting this, but hey what else is new this summer? I'll also apologize for my lack of photos. I really want to get to eating!

This month's first recipe was chosen by the wonderful Cat of Delta Whiskey. I was immediately excited when I found out that she was choosing the she is one of my foodie friends. Her food is yummy and her writing is delightful. Cat lives near me, in one of my favorite cities, and one of these days we are going to get that culinary play date. Until then, please visit her blog, as I do every day!

Oh, and it was her birthday the other day, how awesome is that?

Cat chose Ina's Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad. Go try this recipe...hurry! If you don't have dinner figure out for tonight, do this. If you are already set and need to figure out something for that pot luck this. Oh heck just make it and take it for lunch for the rest of the week, if it even lasts that long! It is so good.

The food network site comments about this recipe remarked a lot on the salt content. The only thing I can think of is that regular table salt instead of kosher salt was used. That said, I didn't really measure my salt; I kind of always eyeball that stuff. The recipe online also omits 1/2 pound of pasta. Oops!

Instead of cutting up mozzarella, I bought the little balls (help me Donna what should I say now?). I also used my cherry tomatoes cut into quarters. Both steps eliminated tons of time for me. I used regular penne because that is what I had.

I'm including the recipe with my changes below. Seriously make this. You won't be disappointed.

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 pound penne pasta (or any other short pasta)
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1 pound fresh Bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon capers, drained
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil for 7-8 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Click here and find out what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"it changes every time" orzo salad

Alright,'s been a while.

I trust that everyone is having a great summer. Me? I am just plain exhausted. I realize that I am not a summer person. I can't stand being hot. I also am just a sweat machine. Couple that with hot weather and the game is over before it begins. I have also been thinking a lot lately about changing up my blog, adding more features, etc and so forth. And when I say thinking about my blog I literally mean sitting on my rear, surfing the web, and real action has taken place. Seriously, what is wrong with me??

Dinner has been made, and some of it has been really tasty.

I've even made some really cute cupcakes and cookies.

I just have no energy to write. I love reading other blogs, dreaming about how I could be craftier, more exciting, and definitely how I could be more witty.

Ah so it never ends.

I realized tonight that I needed to and haven't yet shared my favorite orzo salad.

What I say in the title is totally true. This changes every single time, depending on what I have in the fridge. The only thing that stays the same is the dressing. And it is probably one of the few things that I don't mind using raw garlic. Once the hot orzo is tossed with it, the garlic cooks ever so slightly and I am one happy camper.

Orzo Salad
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 2-3 tablespoons)
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper

1 cup orzo
1/4 cup black olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled **I usually make this with feta, but I was out.

In large bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. When ready, add about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Add the orzo, stir, and let cook for about 6 minutes or until just cooked.

Once the orzo is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients and stir lightly to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!

I served this with a grilled chicken with a marinade now that I can't remember. It was a lot of lemon juice, fresh basil, lemon thyme, parsley, and olive oil...I think.