July 30, 2014

Green Bean, Brussels Sprout and Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese


This salad is one of my absolute favorite summer side dishes. I know the combination might sound a bit odd but these elements together are really fabulous. It's so flavorful and fresh. I could seriously eat it every day and not get tired of it. I make this as a side dish for everything from BBQ to roasted chicken and sometimes as a stand alone lunch with some crusty bread. It's a salad that can really go with almost anything. I've also used zucchini instead of or in addition to the green beans here and there when I have had it on hand. I use it raw and diced into small cubes. I am a big fan of raw or very slightly cooked fresh vegetables in salads such as this.

I like to make this salad at least a couple hours ahead of the time I want to serve it to allow the vinaigrette to really permeate the vegetables and to soften up the Brussels sprout leaves just a little bit. I also really love to drizzle just a tiny bit of balsamic over the salad right before I serve it. But if you aren't a fan of balsamic, you could totally leave it off and it's still delicious.

What kinds of vegetables to you like to mix up in a salad such as this? Any unusual combinations that you've found that work together in an amazing way?

Green Bean, Brussels Sprout and Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound fresh green beans, lightly blanched and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 pound raw Brussels sprouts, leaves separated and tough ends removed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 recipe Basic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Good quality aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

1: Put a large pot of salted (1 teaspoon) water on to boil over high heat.
2: While the water is heating, trim and cut green beans into bite sized pieces, about 1 inch long.
3: When the water is to a strong boil, blanch the green beans for about 1 minute. Until they are just slightly cooked but still firm and have a bite.
4: Drain green beans and shock in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
5: Cut the tough ends off the Brussels sprouts and separate into leaves. Cutting the sprouts in half before separating helps this go a bit faster, or if you like you can shred the sprouts on a mandolin. Set aside.
6: Seed the tomatoes so that you have nothing left but the meat. Discard the seeds and liquid. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
7: Combine the beans, Brussels sprouts and tomato in a large bowl and toss with the prepared vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate for a couple hours before serving for best results.
8: Just before serving, top individual portions with a handful of crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic, if you like.

Makes 4 large servings.

Basic Vinaigrette
3/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1: Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallot in a screw top jar.  (You could also whisk in a bowl)
2: Shake jar well.
3: Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Makes about 1 cup.

July 24, 2014

Veggie Noodles and Veggetti Giveaway

I have had one of these Veggetti® spiral vegetable cutters for almost a year now. I cannot tell you how much I love it and how much healthier it's helped my eating become. I love it so much that not long ago I did a giveaway of one on my Facebook fan page just because I am so excited about it. I have given them as gifts to some of my best friends. I use it several times a week to make vegetable noodles for anything you would normally use pasta or rice for. I seriously could be the Veggetti® poster child! 

At the end of this post, I also have a great giveaway that includes a Veggetti® with gourmet recipe guide as well as a $25 Visa gift card so you can shop for the ingredients to create your own delicious dish using the Veggetti!!!

Allow me to share a little more info about the Veggetti® with you:
  • The Veggetti® turns vegetables into delicious, healthy spaghetti, instantly.
  • By using zucchini, squash, carrots, cucumbers and potatoes, the Veggetti® creates thick or thin pasta with significantly less calories and carbs than traditional noodles.
  • Ordinary pasta has 800 calories and 160 grams of carbs compared to 60 calories and 8 grams of carbs using Veggetti®!
  • Great for those who are trying to make healthier food choices, diabetics, or on gluten-free diets
  • The Veggetti® is quick & easy to use, has stainless steel blades, and is dishwasher safe
  •  Veggetti® is available at Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walgreens, CVS and other fine retailers nationwide
  • If you would like to get your own Veggetti® , you can go here to learn more www.getveggetti.com

I recently made a couple of recipes with my Veggetti® including this "Skinny Vegan Alfredo with Sausage Crumbles" and it was delicious. 

Skinny Vegan Alfredo with Sausage Crumbles
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup almond milk
3 Tablespoons "Earth Balance" coconut spread
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons tamari
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt, to taste (if needed, tamari is salty on its own)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup vegan Italian sausage crumbles, thawed (grocer's freezer section, I use Gardein brand)
2 small zucchini

1: Combine everything but zucchini and sausage crumbles in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
2: Spiral cut the zucchini and plate (raw) onto 2 serving plates
3: Pour contents from blender into a sauce pan, add sausage crumbles and heat over low flame, stirring constantly, until thoroughly warmed.
4: Pour Alfredo sauce over zucchini noodles.
5: Serve immediately
Makes 2 large portions.

I also made this simple and easy cool summery salad. Only 3 ingredients and was on the table in less than 10 minutes. And everyone loved it! Great little side dish for a BBQ.

Summer Salsa Salad
1 small zucchini
1 small seedless cucumber
3/4 cup of your favorite prepared salsa

1: Spiral slice the zucchini and cucumber and toss to distribute.
2: Add salsa.
3: Toss to coat the vegetable noodles
4: Serve immediately.

Makes 4 side dish servings.

If you want a non vegan option I have a delicious recipe for Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles you can find here: http://kitchengirljo.blogspot.com/2014/06/cilantro-lime-shrimp-with-zucchini.html

OK.... now here's the giveaway you've been waiting for! Go enter on the Rafflecopter below and GOOD LUCK! (U.S. only, no PO Boxes)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclamer: “The Veggetti®, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Ontel.” 
Disclosure Policy 

Urbini Blog Blast #MC #UrbiniBaby

“I participated in a Blog Blast on behalf of Mom Central for Urbini. I received information from Urbini to facilitate my post as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

My kids are all bigger now but I wish this product would have been on the market when they were small. I have so many friends with small children that I know would love the features of the Urbini products I will be showcasing here. Life is so busy and when you have young children anything that makes getting out the door and going easier is huge!

July 20, 2014

Blog Tour

My children are the reason I started this blog back in 2008. One day I wanted to make my Grandmother's recipe for potato doughnuts and realized it had never been recorded, since she had always made them by memory. That day I decided to make sure the family favorites that my children are growing up with are documented, so that they can continue on with our traditions, if they chose to. Since then it's grown into a way for me to connect with others who share my passion for food and feeding their loved ones. I love hearing about folks using my family's recipes and enjoying them with their own families. It's so fulfilling to know that what I share here inspires people to become creative and daring in their own kitchen.

My views on food and cooking are such that I aim for homemade as much as possible but I am not against using ready made, boxed, canned, frozen or pre-packaged items now and then. There is a time and place for fast and easy meals when you have a family to take care of. Sure, scratch cooking is always best but I'm not going to fret about using a can of cream of mushroom soup or a boxed cake mix in a pinch. I love vegan and vegetarian cooking, though we are most definitely an family of omnivores. We love ethnic and exotic cuisines as well as good old fashioned American comfort food.  Our family motto is "try it, you might like it" when it comes to most things in life.

July 18, 2014

You've Got Options with Walmart and P&G *Giveaway*

Shopping for household items is one of my least favorite tasks. It always seems like I run out of everything at the same time and because I like to buy household items in bulk... a shopping trip for those items always becomes quite a big event with more than one shopping cart and multiple trips back and forth from the car to get it all into the house. Toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper towels, cleaning products... before you know it I've spent a couple hours shopping, checking out and getting my purchases home. Truly not my idea of a good time but a necessity.

July 15, 2014

Hawaiian Loco Moco

A couple weeks ago my 2 youngest children were watching the The Food Network... ever since they've been begging me to make this local Hawaiian dish called "Loco Moco." I'd never even heard of such a thing and didn't see the show they were watching so I actually had to research it online. The first link I found was this one from Wikipedia. Apparently, Loco Moco is a local diner specialty that can vary in its ingredients depending on which island you're on. I have to admit after reading about what it was, I sort of put it off for a while because it's not exactly what I'd call a good for you dish. I think part of me was wishing they would forget about it... because I was pretty darn sure it would be tasty. Too tasty. Tasty like wanting it anytime you might need some serious comfort food. Of course, they didn't forget, so I caved and made it for dinner one night. Oh man. This is a very dangerously simple and addicting meal. Not great for you and surely not something I would suggest indulging in frequently... but definitely a nice spurge meal once in a while.

July 9, 2014

Greek Village Salad and "It's All Greek to Me" Cookbook Giveaway

Recently, I was given a wonderful opportunity to review an amazing new cookbook by Debbie Matenopoulos called "It's All Greek to Me." I was all over it, since I love Greek foods and I didn't currently have a good Greek cookbook. For my first recipe from the book, I chose to make this delightful Greek Village Salad. It was delicious! Only problem was, I made this salad last night as a starter to dinner and we had a wicked storm come through and knock out our power for about 6 hours. Sadly, this meant I got no photos of my salad and instead am using Debbie's photo here. I styled my salad a little differently, making it into something more like a chopped salad because I knew the kids would like it better. I will definitely be making it (and everything else in this cookbook!) again very soon. It was light, refreshing and absolutely the perfect start to any meal. I'll list the recipe below, in case you'd like to make this one for yourself.

July 8, 2014

Simple Salmon Cakes

By now I think most of you know I absolutely hate throwing away leftovers. I am that woman who will save a 1/2 serving of anything leftover from a meal because there always has to be a way to use it. Throwing away food is, to me, like throwing away money... even if the amount is only worth a few coins. I wouldn't toss away the pennies in my pocket... so why toss the leftovers? I freeze the bones from our chicken dinners until I have enough saved up to make a batch of stock from the bones. I save the tough ends of fresh asparagus in the freezer to add to soup or stew. Heels from loaves of bread become breadcrumbs or croutons. You get the idea. And yes, sometimes it takes a little more effort, but in the end I think it's totally worth it. Homemade stocks and croutons taste better than anything store bought and it cost me NOTHING (or very little) to make... just a little time and forethought!