Most people love zucchini bread,… because its like eating a slice of cake. So. much. sugar. Challenge accepted!
I started with this recipe from Food & Wine magazine, a Yogurt Zucchini Bread. But there were still some things that needed a changing. I swapped half of the white flour for whole wheat, reduced the sugar and swapped out half of what was left for brown sugar (brown sugar has fewer carbs! Who knew?), half the oil for yogurt and used heart healthy olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Then I double the zucchini…. okay, I changed a bunch of things.
The result was a soft and super duper moist zucchini bread. The walnuts were chopped extra small so they sort of melted into the bread instead of leaving big ol’ walnuty chunks to which I am not a fan. Its a texture thing. So now its just a nice nutty loaf of love and zucchini. Next time I’ll probably play around with some orange zest in there but I wanted a first go around of straight up zucchini. Truth me told the walnuts are kinda overwhelming but in a kind of lovely way.
A slice is perfect for breakfast all on its on or perhaps schmeared with a little cream cheese.
Little man ate it up with a side of sliced strawberries. When he was through we set him on the floor. He signed “more” and pointed at the loaf in the middle of the table. Baby approved.
1 cup walnuts, ground finely
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 c Greek yogurt
2 cup zucchini, grated
Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9-by-4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the flours with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in ground walnuts. In a medium bowl, mix the sugars with the eggs, oil and yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini and stir until the batter is evenly moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the loaf is risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool on a rack for 30 minutes before unmolding and serving.
This salad is perfect for picnics or as a side to a great BBQ. The freshness of the zucchini is really brought out by the lemon. Make sure to allow 30 minutes or so for the salad to marinate, this time allows the zucchini to soften and infuse with flavor. And since nothing is actually cooked you aren’t going to heat up your kitchen with this dish.
To get the ribbons of zucchini I use a vegetable peeler, mostly because my mandoline never gives me an even slice… I think its being obstinate on purpose. Regardless, its easy enough to do with a vegetable peeler and I am going to guess that you already have one of those at home.
Raw Zucchini Salad
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 shallot, finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- Slice the end off the zucchini. Holding it by the stem end use a vegetable peeler to peel long thin strips from the body of the zucchini. Repeat with second zucchini.
- In a bowl toss together zucchini slices, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- When ready to serve crumble goat cheese on top. Done!
This entire meal comes together in just about 20 minutes, and 15 of those are hands off. As such I recommend banging pots and pans in the kitchen, spritzing yourself with flour and smearing your apron with a tomato so it looks like you’ve been cooking for hours.
I really like cherry tomatoes with this rather than a chopped regular tomato because they have a much better, firmer texture that you really need to balance out the soft avocado and salmon. Its a great choice for a nice little alfresco dinner on one of these hot summer nights!
Roasted Salmon with Avocado Salsa
- 1 lb Salmon, cut into 4 oz portions
- salt and pepper
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 avocado, skin and pit removed, diced
- 1 c cherry tomatoes, cut lenthwise
- 1/4 c red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 t cumin
- pinch of cayenne
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season salmon with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Roast for 15 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily with a fork. (If you are roasting zucchini or mushrooms or asparagus as a side put these in at the same time, they’ll all take 15 minutes).
- In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Toss a few times while you are waiting for the salmon to cook to really get everything coated in the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve salmon with scoops of the salsa on top, making sure not to neglect the lime juice in the bottom!
There are few things that feel more comfy and cozy than a big ol’ bowl of mac and cheese. But the idea of mac n cheese has come a long way since the boxed variety was popular. Mac n Cheese Food Trucks can now be spotted, high end varieties such as Lobster Mac N Cheese adorn some classy restaurants and with the ease and accessibility of gourmet cheeses there is really no limit to the combinations that are created. And really, when its this easy why on earth would you ever eat something powdered out of a box?
The base for this dish is a classic bechamel sauce, one of the mother five mother sauces in French cuisine. Sounds fancy but its super easy. Just takes some attention and a whole lot of stirring. With this sauce the thickening happens when you combine a small amount of flour and butter and slowly combine in milk. The flour thickens the milk and creates a beautifully thick and luscious sauce. And since we’re using 1% milk it can also be done rather healthily. From there you’ll end up mixing in your cheese and get that great cheesy consistency you long for.
Once you’ve got the basics of how to make a bechamel you can begin experimenting with your own gourmet mac n cheese varieties. Just stick to the same proportions and you’ll be golden. Starting with this lightened up bechamel is also a really simple way to make a healthy version of an Alfredo Sauce (… which I plan on posting in the next few weeks).
Grown Up Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Mushrooms, Bacon and Spinach
- 2 c whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 2 slices bacon (uncooked), diced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 8 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 4 c Spinach, coarsely chopped
- 2 T light butter
- 2 T flour
- 2 c 1% milk
- 2 oz Smoked Gouda, shredded
- 2 oz Smoked Mozzarella, shredded
- Cook macaroni according to package directions, omitting any added oil of fat. Drain.
- In a nonstick skillet cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crispy and fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon remove bacon to a few paper towels. Drain off all but 1 T of the bacon grease and return to the stove. Cook the shallots for 3 minutes, until softened.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic, tossing to coat in the remaining grease. Cook for 5-8minutes or until softened and browned. Add the spinach and toss until the spinach is thoroughly wilted. Taste for salt and season if necessary. Set aside.
- To make the sauce, in a small pot (I usually use the one I cooked the macaroni in) add the butter and flour together over medium heat. As the butter melts mash it into the flour making a paste. Cook for 1 minute. Add 1/4 c of the milk and mash it all together with with flour/butter. Once combined add another 1/4 c of milk and repeat. It should be smooth. Add the remaining milk and whisk until smooth again. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the cheeses and stir until melted.
- Toss in the macaroni, bacon and veggies. Once thoroughly combined you are ready to eat!
Now that I’ve fallen in love with avocado I’ve begun experimenting like a mad woman. It struck me that the natural creaminess of an avocado would lend itself perfectly for a soup, no cream required. But the idea of eating hot soup in the middle of June made me want to die. Plus avocado, as we all know, is delicious cold, so why not!? So after a bit of tweaking and experimenting I landed on this delicious concoction that is basically guacamole inspired soup. Everything you love about guac plus a few extra surprises and who doesn’t love surprises?
Originally I was planning on using crab meat as my centerpiece, but the grocery store failed me. It worked out in the end, but I have my sneaking suspicions that it might be even more ridiculous with crab in those shrimps place. But that experiment is for another day!
I made this for a dinner party, and since all the ingredients are prepared ahead of time, I was able to just pull it out of the fridge and assemble in just a few minutes. Nothing simpler!
Chilled Avocado Soup with Cumin Roasted Shrimp
- 2 avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out
- 1 lime, juiced
- pinch cumin
- pinch cayenne
- 2 1/2 c vegetable broth
- 1/3 lb shrimp
- 1 ear of corn
- 1/4 c red onion, finely diced
- pinch cumin
- 1/4 c tomato, seeded
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper
Using an immersion blender or regular ol’ blender combine all the soup ingredients until perfectly smooth and combined. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the soup so no air can get in. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Soup portion– DONE!
Preheat oven 400. Shell and devein the shrimp and toss with a pinch of cumin, salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake 8 minutes or until just pink. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Place the corn on the cob still in the husk directly on the oven rack. Bake for 30 minutes. When the corn is cool enough to handle remove the husk and silk. Remove about 1/4 c of the kernels by holding the cob vertically and slicing vertically with your knife. Combine corn and remaining ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate.
To serve ladle soup into six bowls. Top with corn mixture and then shrimp. Serve!
Easiest. Salad. Ever. There is only really one real trick to it. Asparagus, if you are going to eat it raw has to be of the pencil thin persuasion. And this is the perfect time of year to find it. Check out your local farmer’s market for the best bet. If you get a thicker stalk it is going to taste bitter and gross, and don’t come crying to me.
Also (okay, maybe two tricks) you need to discard about an inch more of asparagus than you normally would. So figure out where the woody ends stop and chop off an extra inch for good measure. This goes back to the whole bitter issue.
This is a great choice for some al fresco dining. If you want to take it on a picnic just store the dressing separately and toss with the asparagus when you are ready to eat!
To shave the asparagus trim off the woody ends then lay one stalk of asparagus flat on your cutting board. Pin down the uncut end and using a vegetable peeler gently shave the length of it. Repeat way too many times.
Raw Asparagus Salad
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- 3 T white balsamic vineger
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 4 c shaved asparagus
Combine garlic through black pepper and whisk to combine. Toss with asparagus.
I personally, could eat steamed broccoli with nothing on it, just broccoli loveliness with no butter or cheese to cloud its tasty tastiness. I have been informed that not everyone shares this passion for broccoli… ridiculous I say! I also acquiesce. This recipe combines a marinade for the salmon with a sauce for the broccoli. Easy Peasy. Plus you can make it even easier by doing what I do and just buying those frozen steam in the bag broccoli packs. They cook quickly and perfectly every time.
There are some great textures in this dish, the crunch of the panko and the softness of the salmon below. Its great for a weeknight since the longest part of this dish is letting the salmon marinate a bit.
Panko Crusted Teriyaki Salmon with Broccoli
2- 4 oz Salmon fillets
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T ginger, grated
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 t crushed red pepper
2 t sesame oil
3 T panko bread crumbs
3 c broccoli florets, steamed
Combine the garlic, ginger, soy, red pepper and sesame oil in a shallow bowl. Marinade salmon for 20 minutes at room temperature, flipping a few times to coat.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove salmon from marinade, reserving liquid. Place salmon on baking sheet, sprinkle with panko bread crumbs. Press panko to help them adhere. Bake 15 minutes.
Pour the marinate into a small skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until nicely thickened. Toss with steamed broccoli, serve alongside the salmon.
When we do a game night with friends and I say there will be pizza no one expects Domino’s. Its just too easy to make pizza that actually tastes good to pass it up. What I like to do is prep all my sauces and items that need to be cooked ahead of time and store them in my fridge. Then when everyone arrives hungry for some pizza deliciousness its easy to stretch out the dough and top with all my ready-to-go ingredients.
If you are making a million pizzas or just don’t have time on a weeknight for proofing dough you can often buy fresh homemade dough from places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. It comes completely proofed, ready to stretch and bake. I prefer Whole Foods personally, as you know they are putting out fresh dough every day from their pizza station and its only a few dollars per dough ball. Cheaper in fact then buying one of those cardboard disks all grocery stores sell and call a pre-baked pizza crust.
I really like the air-bake line of pizza pans, the pans are two layers of metal with air between, and each layer has holes in them. So air can flow through to the underside of your pizza. (Did that make any sense?) Makes for a crispy crust that won’t get soggy if it sits on the pan for a bit.
This pizza is really nice and light, the sauce is has just a tablespoon of olive oil, the rest of the thinning is done with water. There is just so much flavor in the roasted asparagus and garlic you really don’t need the fat you usually get in a pesto.
If you don’t have a goat gouda cheese, feel free to use either a crumbled goat or a gouda, either will taste just as delicious.
Roasted Asparagus Pesto Pizza with Mushrooms and Garlic
for the dough:
- 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 t rapid rise yeast
- 2/3 c warm water
- 1 T olive oil
- 3/4 lb asparagus, ends trimmed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 10 basil leaves
- pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 T water
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 oz goat gouda, grated
- Prepare dough- sift together flour and salt, stir in yeast. Make a well and add warm water and oil, mixing to make a soft dough. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise for 1- 1/2 hours.
- Punch down and knead for 3 minutes. Stretch the dough to a 10″ diameter. I do this my holding one edge of the dough in the air and rotating it around and around in a circle until fully stretched. Place on a pizza pan lightly coated with cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 425. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, add the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes until softened and slightly charred.
- In a food processor combine the asparagus, 2 cloves garlic, basil, crushed red pepper, salt, olive oil and water. Pulse until smoothed.
- In a saute pan coated with cooking spray saute mushrooms until softened and browned. Add garlic clove and cook one minute.
- Assemble pizza by spreading asparagus sauce within 1″ of edges, covering with mushrooms and then sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake until cheese and sauce are bubbly and crust is lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Slice into 8 wedges. Serves 4.
Easy lunch is so hard to come by. It is the one meal of the day that I have the hardest time staying away from processed food. And yea, there are a variety of really low calorie options of frozen food out there these days, but there are also unnecessary additives and preservatives. In my opinion its always better to know exactly what’s going into your food.
This lunch is part of my campaign to make me like avocados,… and I must say they are certainly wearing me down. For my pita I wanted something creamy that would be a healthy alternative to mayo or the like. Plus when you make a guacamole it has a great citrus note to from all the lime you have to add to preserve the color. Win, win really.
All the components of this meal can be made at the beginning of the week and stashed in the fridge separately and assembled throughout the week.
If you’d like something to have with, I usually do either extra sliced red bell peppers or Pop Chips. Pop Chips are a great alternative to regular potato chips, most larger grocery stores will have them though you might have to check in the health food aisle.
Guacamole, Roasted Chicken Stuffed Pita
- 2 Chicken Thighs
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 t cumin
- 1/4 t garlic powder
- 1 avocado
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 T red onion, minced
- 2 red bell peppers, sliced
- 5 small pitas
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper and half of the cumin and garlic powder. Roast for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. While still warm shred the meat with two forks.
- Slice open the avocado and remove the pit. Dice the flesh and combine with the remaining cumin and garlic powder, lime juice and red onion.
- Split the pitas open and spread out the guacamole inside each. Distribute the chicken and bell pepper. Tada!
So I’ve given this egg cloud a couple of goes now. The first time I blended some shredded Fontina in with the egg whites (photo below). It was good, but after a while, the egg whites got a little repetitive, you really need something to cut through them here and there. So, in my next attempt instead of folding the cheese in I made a cheese sauce with chopped spinach, low fat milk and a little blue cheese (photo above). Um, yum. The sauce was the perfect touch to add a creaminess you really need.
The other important lesson I learned from my first attempts is that the yolk needs insulation. By this I mean you need to create a layer of egg whites on the bottom of the portobello and sort of create a cup out of them for the yolks to sit in. Then you stack the rest of the whites on top. Without a layer of egg whites on the bottom the yolk cooks through too quickly. That insulation create a beautiful runny yolk as you can see in the photo above.
You can sort of adjust each egg cloud to your particular yolky tastes. I prefer less yolk, so for mine I use only one but my husband prefers two. Either way, for the height use two egg whites per mushroom.
If you’ve never whipped egg whites to stiff peaks before you need to know a couple of things… make sure your bowl and beaters are immaculately clean and dry. Eggs will whip better when they aren’t overly fresh, and at room temperature. If while separating the eggs you get even a drop of the yolk in with the whites give up and start over again. There is no chance for them.
Unless you are feeling like a serious workout use a stand mixer or handheld mixer to whip up your egg whites. How do you know you’ve reached stiff peaks? When you hold up the beaters of your mixer the egg whites will stand straight up without dropping over.
Egg Clouds with a Gorgonzola Sauce
2 Large Portobello Mushrooms
1 1/2 c Fresh Spinach, chopped and divided
4 Egg Whites
2 Egg Yolks, seperated
1/4 c Milk
1 t Flour
2 T Low Fat Blue Cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the insides of the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Spread half the chopped spinach between the insides of the two mushrooms. Place them on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. When they come out pack down the spinach into the mushrooms. Season the top with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Take a few scoops of egg whites and spread them over the bottom of each mushroom and shape them into sides, making a little cup out of them. Deposit an egg yolk into each of the mushrooms. Mound the remaining egg whites on top. Smooth out the sides to seal in the yolk. Bake for 9 minutes.
- In a small pot whisk together the flour and milk and bring to a simmer. Allow to thicken slightly before adding the cheese and remaining spinach. Continue to simmer until a nice thick sauce that will coat the back of your spoon.
- Top each mushroom with the sauce and serve immediately.
Nutrition Info based on 1 egg yolk and 2 egg white version.