A Taste of Provence-Tomatoes Provençal

ncTomatoProvencal1nm

DownloadedFileHave you ever been to Provence? I have never been to France but if I have the chance to go, Provence will be one of the areas I want to visit! This region of southern France stretches from the Mediterranean to the hills of Haute Provence, and from the Rhone River valley to the Italian Alps. It was the site of the first Roman colony beyond Italy and today it’s known for fragrant lavender fields, beautiful beaches like Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and Nice, quaint small villages, and fine wines and food. The cuisine of this area includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts–basically the core of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

I learned these things and more about Provence as I was looking through my review copy of Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, by François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska. This softcover book introduces you to the geography, history, traditions, wines, and recipes of the region. Here are some images of Provence you’ll find in the book:

Provence

Above images used with permission © François Milo.

Isn’t it beautiful? You’ll find more full color photography of picturesque Provence as well as many of the 47 recipes in the book, which are traditional favorites of the region…like Niçoise Salad, Fougasse with Tomatoes, Olives, and Peppers, Artichokes Barigoule, Tapenade, Swiss Chard Tart, Mediterranean Cod with Caramelized Onions, and Lemon Tart. The recipes are organized by the different areas of Provence that they’re popular in–Aix-en-Provence and Haute Provence, Marseille, La Cote Varoise, and Nice and the Riviera.

I decided to try the recipe for Tomatoes Provençal, because I love tomatoes and this is a simple yet delicious way to fix them–fresh tomatoes topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, and minced garlic. This makes a great side dish and would even work nicely for a spring or summer brunch. The book recommends serving “as a light meal with other Provençal delicacies and some crusty bread, or with meat.” For best results, use fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes!

 TOMATOES PROVENÇAL from Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living

Makes 4 servings

This traditional Provençial dish relies on the quality of the tomatoes used; they must be fresh and ripe. It’s best to prepare this dish in the summer, when tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness, sweet, and full of flavor….

  • 4 small to medium ripe tomatoes, halved and stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) chopped fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf parsley)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (I used the very fine breadcrumbs you purchase, but I think fresh breadcrumbs would be even better!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: I added some additional chopped parsley for garnish

Lightly dust the cut sides of the tomatoes with the sugar.

In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, cut sides down, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until they caramelize.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the parsley and garlic.

Flip the tomatoes and distribute the parsley and garlic mixture evenly onto them, pressing down so the mixture adheres to the tomato. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Distribute the breadcrumbs evenly among the tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and fully cooked through. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and serve warm. Note: I drizzled the remaining olive oil from the sauté pan over the tomatoes and garnished them with additional chopped parsley.

I thought the blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and touch of sea salt made a great flavor combination as a topping for the tomatoes.

Have you made or tasted this dish before? And are you ready to take a trip to Provence now? :)

About these ads

Down-Home Tomatoes with Okra

ncDnHmOkraTomatoes1nm

HealthySlowCookerCooking with a slow cooker is so convenient, and it’s even better when you can make healthy meals in it! I recently received a review copy of The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition, and found that it not only includes lots of healthy gluten-free recipes, but also has additional information about the health benefits of many of the ingredients. The book starts off with helpful tips on using your slow cooker, and then you’ll find recipes for Breakfast, Starters and Snacks, Soups, Poultry, Fish and Seafood, Beef and Veal, Pork and Lamb, Vegetarian Mains, Sides and Sauces, and Desserts.

Some of the recipes include Warm Black Bean Salsa, Gingery Carrot Soup with Orange and Parsley, French Basil Chicken, Texas-Style Chili con Carne, Mixed Vegetables in Spicy Peanut Sauce, Creamy Polenta with Corn and Chiles, and Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce. All recipes include information on Calories and Nutrients per serving, too.

I decided to try the Down-Home Tomatoes with Okra because I’ve never made an okra dish, and thought it was about time! I don’t eat okra that often, but learned from this book that it’s very good for you. Okra “…provides glutathione, an antioxidant that supports the immune system and assists your body with eliminating toxins (pg. 291)….”

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it out! I was a little surprised to see that it had bacon in it, but the book points out which type of bacon is healthiest to use (see recipe below). I used turkey bacon because I already had some on hand.

DOWN-HOME TOMATOES WITH OKRA from The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (15 mL)
  • 4 ounces chunk bacon, diced (125 g) I used turkey bacon–the book recommends using bacon without additives and synthetic nitrates and made from pigs that have been pastured, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2 mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns (2 mL)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes including juice (796 mL)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups sliced (1/2 inch or 1 cm) okra, about 12 ounces (375 g)-I used a 12-ounce bag of sliced frozen okra, thawed

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly. Add bell pepper and okra. Cover and cook on High for about 30 minutes, until okra is tender.

Nutrients Per Serving: Calories 101; Protein 4.4 g; Carbohydrates 12.2 g; Fat (Total) 4.5 g (Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g); Dietary Fiber 3.0 g; Sodium 339 mg; Cholesterol 6 mg. Excellent source of vitamins C and K; Good source of potassium; Source of Vitamins A and B-6, folate, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc; Contains a moderate amount of dietary fiber.

Courtesy The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2014 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

ncDnHmOkraTomatoes2nm

You may want to add some additional seasoning to taste before serving. Do you have a favorite way you like to prepare okra?

Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower

ncChCrmyRstCaulif1nm

I really didn’t know what to expect when I was making this Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower. I had never tried roasting cauliflower before, so this was something new for me. I’m not a particularly big fan of cauliflower either, but I do love roasted veggies–so I thought it would be worth a try!

When I had my first taste of this, I thought, “Wow, this is good!” I really did. It surpassed my expectations. Who would have thought cauliflower could have tasted so good? The cauliflower is roasted, along with some sliced red onion, in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Sour cream and shredded Cheddar cheese, added after the roasting, give this side dish a rich, creamy flavor. And the crumbled bacon on top is a nice touch, although this is great without the bacon, too, if you want to keep it meatless.

I’m sure this is something everyone in your family will love. It’s definitely worth making!

CHEESY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Foods

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 8 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Juice from 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup regular or lite sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces) , regular or low-fat
  • Optional: 1 slice of cooked and crumbled bacon or 1 Tablespoon real bacon bits

Preheat oven to 450˚F.

In large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; spread onto foil-covered rimmed 10 x 15″ baking sheet. Bake at 450˚ for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes for even baking (you may get a few burnt edges on your sliced onions and cauliflower, but that’s okay!).

After cauliflower is roasted, spoon back into large bowl and stir in the sour cream. Then mix in the shredded Cheddar cheese. Spoon mixture into an oven-safe baking dish and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is all melted. Top with crumbled bacon or bacon bits, if using, and serve.

ncChCrmyRstCaulf2nm

This is a great dinner side dish. And something to keep in mind for special holiday meals. It’s not the healthiest way to prepare cauliflower, but it sure is good! Do you have a favorite cauliflower side dish?

Honey Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese and Thyme

ncHnyRstedCrrtsGtChThym1nm

I like lots of different veggies, but I’ve never been very crazy about carrots. I wish I liked them better because they’re so good for you! The only way I really like them is if they are cooked with some kind of glaze on them. I became inspired to try some kind of carrot side dish after I saw this recipe that included carrots, goat cheese, and thyme. I thought I’d add some honey, too, for a little sweetness, and I used more olive oil so I’d have a little extra glaze to spoon over the carrots. I love the lightly sweet flavor of the honey-olive oil glaze on these! The savory fresh thyme really compliments that flavor and the tangy crumbles of goat cheese add a nice punch. This side dish is a great combination of lightly sweet and savory flavors–hopefully with recipes like this I’ll be eating more carrots from now on! :)

HONEY ROASTED CARROTS WITH GOAT CHEESE AND THYME by NancyCreative, adapted from Food52

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 pounds whole carrots
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (about 5 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme, depending on how big your sprigs are)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (chevre)
  • A few extra fresh thyme leaves from another sprig or two, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a 10×15″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Peel carrots and cut diagonally into thirds–if carrots are large, halve or quarter the pieces (doing this makes all the carrot pieces a more uniform size so they’ll cook evenly).

In a large bowl, mix olive oil and honey together, blending well. Add carrots and toss in olive oil/honey mixture. Season with a few dashes of salt and pepper. Add the fresh thyme leaves and toss all ingredients again until salt, pepper, and thyme are evenly distributed among the carrots.

Spread carrots on lined baking sheet and roast at 400˚F for 20 minutes, until tender–stir carrots halfway through the baking time so they are evenly heated.

Spoon carrots into a serving dish and crumble goat cheese over the warm carrots; garnish with additional fresh thyme leaves and serve immediately.

ncHnyRstedCrrtsGtChThym2nm

Do you like carrots? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

ncLemThmRsmryPotatoes2nm

Roasted vegetables are so good, especially roasted potatoes! I had the opportunity to try a new kind of potato recently, compliments of Albert Bartlett–the Rooster Potato, grown by farmers in the U.S. The rooster potato has RoosterPotatoesa nutty, buttery taste, and I discovered when making these Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes that it also roasts really nicely. The outer skin is pink, but when baked turns golden brown, and the inside is light yellow with a nice fluffy texture. It somehow keeps its fluffy texture inside even when it’s roasted! The Rooster Potato is a great-tasting potato and works wonderfully in recipes like this one.

These Lemon-Thyme-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes have a great lemony taste that really makes them different from your typical roasted potatoes. I love the tanginess of the lemon and the savory flavor of the herbs in this recipe. I found it at Southern Living and made a few changes…I added extra lemon juice, along with some rosemary, onion powder, and garlic powder for a little extra savory flavor. I never would have thought of flavoring potatoes with lemon, but I thought they were really good. And it’s easy to make, which is always a plus!

LEMON-THYME-ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOES by NancyCreative, adapted from Southern Living

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds Rooster Potatoes peeled or unpeeled, and cut into chunks (or substitute red potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons each of finely chopped fresh thyme and rosemary (or 1 teaspoon of each, dried; or you can use 4 teaspoons of just fresh thyme or 4 teaspoons of just fresh rosemary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a 15 x 10″ baking pan with aluminum foil; set aside.

Cook olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 to 4 minutes, until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove butter mixture from heat and add in the chunks of potatoes, tossing gently until potatoes are all coated (the olive oil/butter mixture may splatter a little when you add the potatoes to it, so add them carefully!).

Spread the coated potato chunks in a single layer in a 15 x 10″ baking pan. (I lined my pan with aluminum foil so the pan would be easy to clean up).

Bake at 400˚F  for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring twice during the baking time so the potatoes bake evenly (I baked my potatoes for 45 minutes). When done, transfer the potatoes to a large serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice, thyme and/or rosemary, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, until well coated. Serve immediately.

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe, because it’s soooo good! It’s a great side dish for a special meal any time of year!

What’s your favorite way of making potatoes?

Sourdough-Sage Dressing

ncSrdoughSgdress2nm

I’ve just recently discovered how much I like making recipes with fresh sage! After making some White Cheddar and Sage Biscuits, I was wanting to try something else with fresh sage. While I was looking through recipes, I also found out, conveniently, that my friend Denise had a big patch of sage growing in her garden and she was willing to share it! She said her plant is very hearty and stays alive through the winter. So, here’s what I came up with…Sourdough-Sage Dressing…because I thought sourdough bread would be a great combination with  sage, onion, and celery.  There’s also fresh parsley in this–I have parsley growing in a pot and it’s great to always have it on hand! This dressing is very buttery and savory…so if you like that type of thing, you really must try this!

I also learned something new when I was deciding what to name this recipe. I wasn’t sure if I should call it dressing or stuffing, because I didn’t know what the difference was. Well, I found the answer at eHow.com–dressing and stuffing differ in these ways:

Preparation: The key difference between dressing and stuffing is the method of preparation. Dressing can be prepared separately from the bird on the stove top, either from scratch or a store-bought mix. Stuffing, however, is made by stuffing the mixture into the cavity of the bird and cooking them in the oven together. 

Time: Another difference between stuffing and dressing is in the time needed to prepare it. Stuffing inside the bird must be cooked as long as the bird needs to cook, and also increases the cooking time of the bird. Dressing can be made quickly on the stove top or in the oven; either way it will take less time than stuffing.

Flavor: Stuffing made inside the bird can pick up flavors from the bird and impart flavors to the bird. This may be desirable or undesirable depending on the method of preparing the bird. The flavor of dressing depends solely on its ingredients.

So this recipe is definitely dressing. Consider yourself informed on the dressing/stuffing question! :)

SOURDOUGH-SAGE DRESSING by NancyCreative

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread (my loaf was 1 lb. 4 oz. and I did not use the end slices), with slices cut into 1″ pieces (or you can cut them smaller if you want)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (or use 4 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth (this dressing can be a little on the dry side in some places, so if you like your dressing more moist, add an extra 1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken broth).

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread out pieces of bread onto a large baking sheet and let dry out at least 6 hours or overnight.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add olive oil and stir to blend well. Saute onion and celery in this mixture until tender.

In large bowl, mix together bread pieces, onion-celery mixture, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper (and garlic powder, if using), tossing to coat all the bread pieces. Spoon this mixture into a 9 x 13″ pan and pour chicken broth evenly over entire mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, uncovering the last 10 minutes of baking time. Serve immediately.

ncSrdoughSgDress1nm

This would be a great Thanksgiving side dish, if you’re still looking for ideas! Are you making dressing or stuffing for your Thanksgiving meal?

Edamame Snap Pea Salad from The Lemonade Cookbook and a Giveaway!

ncEdamSnpPeaSal2nm

the-lemonade-cookbook-southern-california-comfort-foodIn 2007, Chef Alan Jackson opened what is now L.A.’s favorite modern cafeteria–Lemonade, serving up healthy comfort food Southern California-style. This popular eatery has 10 locations and is still growing. Like me, if you didn’t live in Southern California, you were missing out…until now. Chef Jackson and coauthor JoAnn Cianciulli have come out with The Lemonade Cookbook (hardcover, St. Martin’s Press), filled with 120 unique, easy-to-make, tasty recipes and lots of great full-color photos of many of these dishes.

I received a review copy from the publisher, plus a copy to give away to one of you! See the end of this post for details on how to win this book! I’ll share a little more about it here, along with a recipe I made.

In The Lemonade Cookbook, there are recipes for salads, veggie sides, unique sandwiches, soups and stews, and desserts. Some of the recipes include:

  • Fingerling Potatoes with Dill and Lemon-Saffron Vinaigrette
  • Heirloom Tomato, Crushed Basil, Fleur de Sel Salad
  • Greek-Marinated Chicken with Tzatsiki
  • Buttermilk-Baked Chicken
  • Citrus-Poached Salmon with Mustard Sauce
  • BBQ Brisket
  • Turkey with Dried Cranberry and Sage Gravy
  • Caesar Club (with Turkey, Ham, and Tomato)
  • Egg Salad Sandwich with Bacon and Heirloom Tomato
  • Creamed Cauliflower Soup
  • Mac ‘N Cheese
  • Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Lemon Drop Cupcakes
  • Caramel-Butterscotch Pudding

So you see, there’s quite a variety of recipes to try! And there’s even a chapter of recipes featuring their popular lemonade concoctions including Peach Ginger, Pear Basil, Cantaloupe Sage, and Blueberry Mint!

I decided to make one of the veggie salads, Edamame Snap Pea Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette, which was wonderful! I don’t know of many ways to serve edamame, but this is a great one! It’s easy to make and very healthy! It’s a slightly crunchy, tangy salad mix of edamame and sugar snap peas, and has a great Sesame Vinaigrette mixed in. If you aren’t familiar with edamame, it’s another word for green soybeans-it’s best to use non-GMO edamame. Here’s the recipe so you can try it out!

EDAMAME SNAP PEA SALAD WITH SESAME VINAIGRETTE from The Lemonade Cookbook

Makes 4 cups

This lean green edamame and snap pea dish adds just the right crunch, while sesame, shallot, and chive add another level of texture by coating the vegetables. The best part about this dish is it’s so simple to whip up.

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas (2 cups), ends trimmed
  • 2 cups shelled edamame (green soybeans), frozen, thawed, and cooked
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup Sesame Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds (I just used regular sesame seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with water and adding a tray of ice cubes.

Blanch the snap peas for only about 2 minutes; they become tender very quickly. Using a slotted spoon, remove the snap peas from the water and plunge into the ice bath to “shock” them, i.e., to stop the cooking process and cool them down right away. This procedure also sets the vibrant green color of the peas. Drain the snap peas in a colander.

Put the blanched snap peas in a mixing bowl. Add the edamame, shallot, chives, and vinaigrette, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, salt, and pepper, tossing well. Serve chilled.

SESAME VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small mixing bowl or mason jar, combine the vinegar, sesame seeds, garlic, mustard, soy sauce, canola and sesame oils; season with pepper. Whisk or shake to blend. Keep any left-over vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup.

the-lemonade-cookbook-southern-california-comfort-foodThe Giveaway Is Now Closed!

Now for the Giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of The Lemonade Cookbook, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Saturday, November 23, at 11 p.m. (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Sunday, November 24. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing). Giveaway limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post–it would be great to hear what your favorite kind of side dish is!

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

This is a great book for anyone who loves trying unique recipes and using fresh, healthy ingredients! It would also make a wonderful gift! :)

Juanita’s Crunchy Coleslaw

ncCrunchyCslw2nm

You may have had this coleslaw or something like it at a potluck or picnic. I’ve had this side dish several times recently, and every time I have it, I think, “I need to get that recipe!” The most recent time I had Crunchy Coleslaw was when Juanita made it for a department lunch at work, and it was so good I thought I could have eaten the whole bowl of it! Juanita gave me the recipe, and so I finally had the chance to make it myself–I love, love, love this coleslaw! The crunchiness comes from the toasted sliced almonds and sunflower seeds, along with the crumbled, uncooked ramen noodles. It seems a little strange to call coleslaw yummy, but this really IS yummy…so I hope you get a chance to try it out! This tastes best the same day you make it, while everything is freshly mixed and crunchy, and since it’s so good, you probably won’t have any leftovers anyway! :)

JUANITA’S CRUNCHY COLESLAW

Makes a large bowl, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 small package sliced almonds (I used 1/2 cup from a larger package)
  • 1 small package sunflower seed kernels (I used 1/2 cup from a larger package)
  • 2 packages Ramen Noodle Soup, Beef Flavor, uncooked and crumbled (save the Beef flavor packets to mix with the vinegar, oil, and other ingredients)
  • 3/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (Juanita likes to add a few extra shakes, so I did, too!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag of coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
  • finely chopped green onion to taste, optional (I didn’t add this to mine, but I’d recommend using about 1/3 cup)

ncCrunchyCslw1Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Toast almonds, sunflower seeds, and plain noodles (uncooked and crumbled into small pieces-save the Beef flavor packets for later) on a cookie sheet at 350˚F for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside. The mixture will look like what you see in the small photo here. NOTE: An easy way to crumble up those Ramen noodles is to hit them lightly with a hammer while they’re still in the bag–they break up really easily that way! I also lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper, but it’s not necessary to do that.

In a small bowl, mix the Beef seasoning packets from the Ramen noodles with the oil, vinegar, and sugar, blending everything together well. Set aside.

Just before serving, empty the entire bag of coleslaw mix into a large bowl. Add in the chopped green onion, if using. Then add in the toasted almond/sunflower seed/ramen noodle mixture and toss well with the coleslaw, until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.  Finally, pour the oil-vinegar mixture over the coleslaw and blend everything together well. Serve immediately while everything is still “crunchy.”

Thanks to Juanita for sharing her recipe! It’s one of my all-time favorites! Have you made a crunchy coleslaw recipe before?

Extremely Cheesy Veggie Pasta

ncExChsyVegPstanm

This pasta dish was kind of an experiment. I had some extra rotini pasta and wanted to make a casserole with it…something cheesy, but with some veggies in it, too. I also like crumbly toppings. So I tried combining all of that into this Extremely Cheesy Veggie Pasta! This works great as a main dish or side dish for lunch or dinner. And your kids may actually eat this, since all that cheese somewhat disguises the veggies!

I used thawed frozen veggies in this but you could also used canned. And I’m sure fresh veggies would work great, too–just blanch or steam them so they’re a little tender before mixing them in with the other ingredients. The Bread Crumb Topping makes a lot of topping, so if you just want a light sprinkle of it to top of your casserole, you can halve the topping recipe.

EXTREMELY CHEESY VEGGIE PASTA by NancyCreative

Makes a 9 x 9″ pan; about 5 to 6 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 8 ounces dry rotini pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups of your favorite frozen vegetables, thawed and drained well (I used a broccoli, cauliflower, green been, carrot blend)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese (you’ll also need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup to top the pasta)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (you’ll also need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup to top the pasta)

EXTRA CHEESE TOPPING

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

BREAD CRUMB TOPPING (halve the amount if you don’t want a lot of topping)

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 9″ baking dish.

In large bowl, combine melted butter, onion and garlic powders, and Italian Seasoning; blend well. Add in the cooked and drained pasta and thawed vegetables, and toss them in the melted butter/seasoning mixture until pasta and veggies are coated.

In a medium bowl, mix together milk and condensed soup (undiluted), blending well.  Add in the Cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese, blending well. Blend this soup/cheese mixture into the pasta and veggie mixture, and blend everything together well. Then spread into the prepared 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses evenly over top of pasta.

In small bowl, combine the ingredients for the bread crumb topping–melted butter, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta and cheeses.

Bake at 400˚F for 20 minutes (crumbs will be browned). Remove from oven and serve.

ncExChsyVegPasta2nm

Some of the crumbs brown quite a bit, but that’s OK-if you want to keep them from browning that much, cover with foil the last 5 minutes of baking.

Are you a fan of cheese and pasta? What’s your favorite summer pasta dish?

Cheesy Spinach Bake

ncChsySpinBk1nm

This cheesy casserole is a great way to enjoy spinach! I like it because it’s made with fresh baby spinach, not frozen, and two kinds of cheese–Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I found this recipe at Myrecipes and changed it a little by using spicy mustard instead of Dijon mustard, and adding extra cheese, like I usually do! :) I also used real eggs instead of egg substitute, so my version is not quite as healthy as the original.

I really liked this! When it comes out of the oven, it’s puffy, and the puffiness settles down after a few minutes… and then you have this tender spinach filling with a cheesy crust-like layer on top. Very yummy. Great for brunch or as a side dish for lunch or dinner. If you like spinach and cheese, you’ll want to try this recipe!

CHEESY SPINACH BAKE by NancyCreative, adapted from Myrecipes.com

Makes 12 servings in a 9 x 13 pan or baking dish

  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (regular or reduced-fat)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (whole, low-fat, or fat-free)
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 cup egg substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons spicy mustard (or Dijon mustard)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Pour melted butter into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or pan coated with cooking spray; tilt dish or pan to coat. Place spinach evenly in bottom of dish or pan and sprinkle evenly with the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.

ncChSpinBk2In a medium size bowl, combine flour and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended. Pour this mixture over spinach and cheese in pan. (Note: As you are making this, it may seem like there’s too much spinach and cheese, because it definitely fills up the pan–but put all of it in there! Because when you mix the egg-milk mixture and pour it over the spinach and cheese, that will weigh it down. Before you put this Cheesy Spinach bake in the oven, it will look like what is shown in the small picture.)

Bake at 350˚F for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Let set for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve.

Here’s what it looks like after it’s been out of the oven and settled for a few minutes…

ncChsySpinBk3nm

It’s always nice to find great-tasting recipes with veggies–do you have a favorite veggie side dish recipe that’s really yummy?