Simple Beet Salad
Summer is most certainly here – hitting over 100 degrees earlier this week before the heat index! I’m trying to stay as cool as possible in the house, so avoiding the oven as much as possible. Thankfully the local farmers’ markets are BOOMING with fresh and delicious produce making it super easy to make healthy dinners that don’t require much cook time. With this simple salad the trick is to slice the beets on the thin side so that they can be cooked in under 7 minutes, nice and crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth delicious in the middle.
To make it even quicker to get dinner on the table, I prepped them the night before so that they could soak in the oils. We enjoyed these with a cold pasta salad, which had also been prepped the night before! I find it so much easier to cook right before bed (and after dessert) and since it’s cooler outside the kitchen doesn’t become a mini-furnace.
Spinach and Shells
Trying something new with my site, in theory things should now be MUCH faster and hopefully posts/updates will stop disappearing. Today’s post is a healthier twist on my standard lazy night dinner, a recipe that started back in college as it is easily double and can be made on little to no sleep. Just requires some pasta, a leafy vegetable, and shredded cheese of some form! In college this normally meant thin spaghetti, frozen spinach with onions, and whatever fake stuff was on sale. Now that I have a bit more money, and still no time, I’ve been able to upgrade this recipe while reducing the sodium that goes along with fake cheese and fake (or canned) vegetables. It still comes together in under 30 minutes, so perfect for late nights after work or for a late lunch when the day is slipping away. As a bonus – it’s a green dish perfect for St. Patrick’s day!!!
I’m also sending this over to /r/52weeksofcooking for their hangover challenge as I’m fairly certain the first time I made this in college that was the case. This recipe is also a great way to clean out the fridge or freezer, and no need to stick to just one vegetable!
Apple Basil Cake
Welcome to my Secret Recipe Club post for October! This month I was sent over to LeAndra’s Love and Flour – a blogger with a taste for the sweeter things in life. For a hot moment I debated trying one of her many savory treats, but then realized that would be cheating and so I happily went off to explore all the potential treats. I was immediately drawn to her Apple Basil Cake, featuring seasonal apples and fresh basil it was an easy pick. Though her cheescake muffins with homemade vanilla wafers deserves an honorable mention as they look insanely delicious and easy – after all she calls them a “cheatcake” which is one of the best nicknames ever. The only change I made to the recipe was switching the Granny Smiths for Crispins as that’s what my farmer’s market had, which is a taste preference as either apple (or my usual favorite Pink Lady) would be perfect for this cake.
I brought this cake over to a family lunch gathering where it was a MASSIVE hit with only one slice making it back to our house. I skipped the glaze for fear of it not traveling well and simply topped it with some powdered sugar as an easy cheat. The apples were crisp and the basil provided the perfect contrast to the sweetness resulting in perfection. We served the cake as dessert, but would also make a great treat for a brunch or tea as the sweetness is (thankfully) not the dominant feature of the cake. All of the apples came from Pong’s Orchard which is owned and operated by one of the sweetest families ever – I’m going to be beyond sad when our market ends in a few weeks.
I’m also sending this over to /52weeksofcooking for their apple challenge as a replacement for the mulligatawny soup that I made and never photographed. This is a cake that deserves to be shared and loved by as many people as possible – but what do you expect when it comes from a blog named LOVE and Flour!
Summer Tomato Sauce
Working a Farmer’s Market is fantastic, especially when there are leftover tomatoes at the end of the day! Second tomatoes aren’t always the easiest to use, but if you are willing to put the work in when it comes time to cutting they are a fantastic (cheaper) option. It also means getting a variety of types, so I indulged in some research to figure out what I had and what it would work as. A quick google led me to realize that the Green Zebra would be a fantastic addition for a stew or a quinoa dish – and I was really craving some pasta. This left me with some Cherokee purple, yellow pear, and Virginia sweet all of which were perfect for the sauce I was hoping to create. All I needed was to go to my herb garden and grab a handful of basil, and figure out where the missing vidalia onion was hiding.
By allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce it was able to suck up every last drop of tomato goodness, and also gave the pasta a fantastic pink shade (this trick also works with gluten free pasta!). Joe topped his with some cheese while I kept mine on the naked side, though as with any pasta dish there is no right or wrong. The only important thing is to make sure all the sauce is fully enjoyed otherwise it’s a total sauce foul!
I’m also sending this over to Franglais Kitchen – where this month’s Simple and in Season is being hosted. Also sending a HUGE thanks to Chocolates and Tomato Farm for growing and harvesting such tasty treats!
Summer Squash Sauce
For one of my Secret Recipe Club entries this month I did a delicious baked polenta, however I needed a topping for it. Since I’m trying to avoid grocery shopping right now I was stuck using whatever was in my fridge: onion, garlic, squash, tomatoes, a variety of beans, a bit of yogurt, and a lot of herbs. I decided to start throwing things together to make a thick and very colorful topping for my delicious polenta. The resulting dish was healthy and gorgeous, and delicious enough that the next day I got a lunch time text from my hubby saying he “loved the polenta squash stuff”.
I enjoyed this dish as is while Joe topped his with some Parmesan cheese, either way it was incredible! I used yellow squash for this but zucchini would work just as well, and this time of year both vegetables are certainly in abundance. As I mentioned, I served this over polenta but would also work great over brown rice or orzo.
Greetings! Hope everyone had an excellent 4th of July – and is now having a great weekend. Summer is finally starting to arrive, and the sun is finally shining. My garden isn’t as far along as it was last year but thankfully the local farmer’s markets aren’t having those issues. This layered treat is essentially a lasagna without the lasagna, just squash and other delicious vegetables. I kept things nice and simple and focused on vegetables that are currently in season, also making this the perfect Simple and in Season recipe!
I’m looking forward to doing this again in a few weeks with vegetables from my own garden but until then I’m lucky to have so many great farms just down the road. Hopefully the sun will continue to shine and the temperatures will stay up as I can’t wait to start enjoying tomatoes and eggplant that are as local as local gets!
Stuffed Shells Casserole
I’ll admit it, sometimes I don’t want to cook or at least don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. For example I’m a huge fan of stuffed shells but they take much longer than I’m willing to spend on the average work night. So I decided to cut a few corners and make a stuffed shell casserole with all of the flavor and half the prep time. To further speed up the process I used some frozen pomodoro sauce, leftover form a large batch I made in my slowcooker. I swear one of the best things about my slow cooker is the ability to prepare huge batches of sauce (and other yummies!) and saving them for the future. I simply placed the frozen sauce in the fridge before I left for work and then zapped it a bit to finish the process, adding a few more leaves of basil to make sure it had the right taste.
The photo might not be the best, but it’s delicious and quick and easy – which is all that matters after a long day at work. I served this up with some oregano bread but would be just fine on it’s own.