Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chopped Caprese Salad Recipe

Summer is getting closer! That means lots of fresh garden tomatoes and amazing salads.  Tomatoes are the essence of summer and can accompany so many dishes.  Even though the weather up here is just starting to reach 60o, I couldn’t resist the grape tomatoes at the grocery store today.  I had some fresh mozzarella cheese left over from pizza night, so the only proper way I could think to use these ingredients was in a fresh caprese salad.  The simplicity of this salad makes it so beautiful to look at and eat. 

Chopped Caprese Salad

1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons basil
salt & pepper

Simply mix all of the ingredients listed above and season to taste with salt and pepper.  It is best if you can make this 10-20 minutes before serving to allow for the flavors to meld together.   

      1)  Fresh basil is best, but I used dried basil for this recipe b/c it is what I had on hand
      2)  The recipe measurements above can just be used as a guide.  The recipe above will serve 2 people, but if you want more or less adjust it to your taste.
     3.)  If you don't have grape tomatoes on hand, use any kind of tomato you have.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spaghetti with Ham, Asparagus & Mozzarella Recipe

Now that Easter has come and gone, what are we supposed to do with all of the ham leftovers?  This recipe is a great way to use up all of those ham leftovers in a completely transformed way.  This recipe combination with the salty ham, crispy asparagus and creamy mozzarella tossed with whole wheat spaghetti creates an amazing marriage of flavors and textures. 

Spaghetti with Ham, Asparagus & Mozzarella
Serves 6-8

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound cooked ham, cut 
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1 cup)

In a large pot, bring four quarts of salted water to a boil.  Once the water is to a boil, add the spaghetti to the water and cook until al dente.  

At the same time, in a large frying pan heat up olive oil and add the garlic and cut asparagus.  Keep on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, add your cut ham to the asparagus and stir.  At this time add some of the pasta cooking water (about 1/2 cup) to the asparagus and ham mixture to add some moisture. 

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve another 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Add the pasta to the asparagus and ham mixture in the frying pan.  Mix well so the pasta is well coated with the garlic olive oil and incorporated with the asparagus and ham.  If this looks a little dry, add some of the reserved cooking water.  Serve the pasta dish topped with the cubed mozzarella.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tortellini Soup Recipe

Quick, easy, and delicious! What more can you ask for in a one-pot-wonder dinner?   This hearty soup is full of vegetables and cheese filled tortellini working in harmony.  This recipe was inspired by my mothers tortellini soup, but I added a few new ingredients to enhance the soup.

This is a vegetarian soup, but you could add some chicken, turkey, or ham into this for another layer of flavor if you have some leftovers.  This soup is very versatile. 

Tortellini Soup Recipe
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 yellow onion, cut
4 carrots, peeled and cut
4 celery stocks, cut
3 cans of vegetable stock
1 13 ounce bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach

In a large soup pot, add the olive oil turn the burner onto medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add your garlic and stir for about 30 seconds until the garlic start to infuse into the oil.  Next, add your chopped onion, carrots and celery.  Cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender and starting to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes. 

Next, add the 3 cans of vegetable stock to the soup pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once the liquid is boiling, add the tortellini and cook for 7-8 minutes.  The last minute of the tortellini cooking time, add your block of frozen chopped spinach into the pot. This will quickly defrost and disperse through the soup.  Once the spinach block has broken up, check the tenderness of the tortellini.  Once the tortellini are to your pasta al dente liking, you are ready to serve your soup.

      1. We love to serve this with crusty bread.  It dips so well into the soup picking up all of those yummy small spinach pieces.
     2.  This soup freezes well.  I will make a whole batch of this soup for just my husband and I, then I will fill two tupperware containers for future dinners and place them in the freezer.
     3.  Feel free to add any other vegetables that you have in your house.  Also, any leftover meats you want to use up will work great in here.   

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spicy Oatmeal Banana Cookie Recipe

I promise this is the last banana recipe post for a while.  For some reason we had tons of very ripe bananas, and you all know how I don't like to waste food I purchased with my hard earned money.  These spicy oatmeal banana cookies are so good and the best part is you don't feel guilty eating them.  They have a soft chewy texture from the oatmeal and a nice subtle banana flavor mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg. 

I made my cookies on the smaller side with a 1 tablespoon scooper.  This made them a fun bit size cookie packed with a lot of flavor.  These cookie scoopers are so much fun to use and help save so much time while scooping out batches of cookies.  I got mine as a gift (thanks Mom and Dad) and use it all the time!  

Spicy Oatmeal Banana Cookie Recipe
Recipe modified from All Recipes
Preheat oven to 400o

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1 banana
1 3/4 cups rolled oats

In a large bowl, mix sugar and butter until creamy.  Add in the egg until well blended.  Next, add the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mash the banana and add to the cookie mixture.  Then stir in the oatmeal until well incorporated. Scoop out rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheet to cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

       1) Investing in a cookie scooper will save you lots of time in preparing your cookies.  I am all about saving my time and money while cooking and this is a time saver that will pay for itself quickly.  They come in all different sizes and are so easy to use and clean.
       2) Next time I make these cookies I might add some walnuts or mini chocolate chips
       3) These also freeze well.    

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Banana Nut Brownies Recipe


I am going bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S! 

After I made the Banana Maple Oat scones the other week I still had lots of ripe bananas to bake with.  I went straight to work researching some more new delicious recipes to share with you all.  When I found these banana nut brownies I was very intrigued.  I am a huge fan of brownies.  They are so fun because you can add anything to them (nuts, chocolate chips, candy bars, peanut better, etc.) and they always come out great! 

They were so easy to whip up.   They have a strong chocolate flavor complemented by the soft bananas and crunchy nuts.  I even added some chocolate chips to the recipe.  My husband took these brownies with him to his hockey game and they were a big hit with his team.  The team had a shut out, and I would like to think my brownies had something to do with it! They are magical. 

Banana Nut Brownies Recipe
Recipe from All Recipes
Preheat oven to 350o

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine butter, sugar and cocoa. Stir in eggs, milk and vanilla. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in bananas, nuts and chocolate chips

Pour into a greased 9x13baking pan. Bake at 350o for 40-45 minutes or until brownies test done. Cool on a wire rack.

      1)  Always make sure to test your brownies when they come out of the oven.  Mine weren't quite done to my liking when the timer went off. 
      2)  The nuts and chocolate chips are optional.
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