DDD #111 – The Ivy Copycat Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

The Ivy Copycat Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

serves 2 as an entree

INGREDIENTS

for the dressing

Juice of 1-2 limes

match the lime juice with an equal part of olive oil so it is 50/50.

Add about 1 TBS each of balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar) and agave

Season to taste with S&P.

Combine & taste.  Tweak to suite your palate.

for the salad

Your choice of greens – or a mixture (arugula, romaine, butter lettuce, watercress, field greens – your call)

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

2 ears fresh corn – in the husks

1 bunch asparagus – tough bottoms trimmed

1 red bell pepper – seeded

1/2 cucumber – diced

1 handful cherry tomatoes – haved

3-4 radishes – chopped

1/4 small red onion – diced

1 avocado – chopped

OPTONAL  – chopped herbs (basil or cilantro), protein (chickpeas, black beans, vegan chicken or any other protein you desire)

DIRECTIONS

Make the dressing while the veggies are grilling.

Slice the zucchini & squash in 1/4 inch thick slices & grill until softened & there are grill marks – turning a few times.  Do the same with the red pepper & asparagus.  Set aside.  Grill the corn in the husks until blackened on the outside.  Cool & throw the husks away then cut the corn from the cobs.

Now – just assemble the salad the way you would any other.  If there are going to be leftover veggies – do not dress them.  They will stay fresher in the fridge undressed.

Serve & enjoy!!!

 

Vegan Cold Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Spinach

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Chicken Piccata is one of the things I missed most when I gave up eating meat in the 80’s.  Then – companies began making very convincing meatless chicken & that hole in my heart was cured.  Behold my warm, vegan Chicken Piccata – below.  REALLY convincing – trust me!

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So – I had a few Memorial Day BBQ’s to attend & I was all about vegan pasta salads.  They were a great idea because they assured that I would have something to eat at these parties & because vegan pasta salads – like the ones I made – were safe to leave out for hours without risk of spoiling.   The other two I made were my Spicy Vegan Southwestern Pasta Salad & Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto & Feta Cheese (Vegan or Vegetarian) – seen below, respectively.

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I brought this Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad to a party at Naomi & Jason Priestley’s home.  That is Naomi on the far left.  I am the dimwit in the back who – it seems – was the only one there that didn’t know where to look when being photographed.

Anyway – Naomi took one bite & looked at me in shock.  “McCarthy!  Did you put real chicken in this?”

Needless to say – I hadn’t. But Beyond Meat chicken is so convincing – warm or cold – that it can fool even unapologetic, degenerate meat-eaters.  This pasta salad disappeared quickly – and – besides Naomi – nobody ever questioned whether or not the chicken was real.  I think they all assumed it was.

It is light & clean & healthy & vegan.  If you are a Chicken Piccata lover – this salad is for you!

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Vegan Cold Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Spinach

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta

9+ oz vegan chicken – cubed

1 bunch asparagus

1 cup fresh spinach

1/8 cup olive oil (more or less)

2 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less)

3-6 TBS capers (Quantity determined by your taste for capers.  I love them!) – chopped or not – or just chop some – your call

1/2 cup parsley – chopped

S&P

GARNISH – extra parsley & lemon wedges

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DIRECTIONS

Trim the asparagus by holding each spear by each end & bend until it breaks.  This breaks the asparagus just above the woody & impossible to chew part.  Set aside.

Boil the pasta.  My asparagus was the very thick kind.  If you have the thick asparagus – add it to the boiling pasta 3 minutes before the pasta is done.  Do it for 2 minutes for average asparagus & 1 minute for the very thin asparagus.

Drain & run under cold water.

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Slice the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Chop the spinach.

Toss everything together.  Adjust the lemon & olive oil to your taste & season with S&P.  Garnish with extra parsley & lemon wedges.

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Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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See that mozzarella above?  It is vegan and I posted my attempt at The Artisan Vegan Life’s recipe for it HERE.  My only problem with the result was that the cheese had a bit of a sour tang to it because it was made with vegan yogurt.  While I found that unpleasant when eating the cheese naked (because it seemed like real cheese that had gone bad) – I still had high hopes for what it would be like on pizza. I felt that – if this cheese had other flavors competing with it – the mild sour flavor might disappear.  I was also curious about its melting abilities.

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My first attempt with a pizza is above.  I used Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce because I love it & because I felt it would have enough flavor to make the sour yogurt element of the cheese go away.  I also made the pizza with half REAL mozzarella – so I could properly compare the melting.

On the top right of that image above, you can see how the real cheese melted – completely melted & released some fat & looks ooey-gooey delicious – and it was.  The rest of the image shows the vegan mozzarella.  While it never lost its shape – it did soften – a lot.  And more importantly – the sour flavor was undetectable!   Big victory!  Still – this cheese would never fool a real cheese whore – but I bet it would make a lot of vegans VERY happy – and really is a solid replacement for real cheese – whatever your reasons for wanting to avoid real cheese might be – beyond being vegan.  Also – melted – it has a texture very much like ricotta so – I imagine – this would be amazing in a vegan lasagna.

Encouraged by the success of the first pizza – I decided to make another – but one with more subtle flavors so I could see if the sour flavor was still mitigated.

I decided to make this Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress – primarily because I had been baking sweet potatoes for my dogs & they smelled so fucking good – I had to use some.  I also, predictably, had some random produce that was on the verge of spoiling (asparagus & watercress, to be specific) – so this pizza was born.  If you can’t find watercress – arugula would be great, too.  It is a VERY mild pizza – so – in lieu of watercress and arugula – you could top this with some fried sage or fresh, chopped rosemary before baking it for an even more autumnal combination of flavors.

And – good news!  Despite the mild flavors – the cheese blended in beautifully & the sour flavor was imperceptible.  And – as you can see in the photos – it did actually melt & brown.  So – I recommend The Artisan Vegan Life’s vegan mozzarella very highly.

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Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress

As with most of my pizzas – I suggest ingredients but not the quantity to be used because that is up to each person’s personal preference.

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I used this no-rise Easy Thin Crust Pizza dough)

Vegan sour cream

Slices of boiled or baked sweet potato (cut thinner than 1/4 inch)

Asparagus (tough ends removed like THIS)

Watercress or arugula

Vegan mozzarella

S&P

Cooking spray (I used an olive oil type)

Semolina flour (optional) or regular flour – for rolling your dough

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 500 – or as close as your oven gets to that.

Prepare your veggies.

Put a little semolina (or regular) flour on a flat surface & roll your dough out.  Place it on a greased cooking sheet (or – better yet – use parchment paper).  Put a thin layer of sour cream on top & then arrange the sweet potato slices & asparagus.  Top with slices of mozzarella & a good dose of S&P.

Cook for 10-12 minutes (more or less – depending on your oven & the density of your pizza).   About half way through – I sprayed olive oil on the mozzarella & I think that helped it brown, a bit.  When your crust is done to your liking & the cheese has softened (maybe even melted & browned a bit) – take it out & top with watercress or arugula.  Yummy!

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Vegetarian Pasta “Carbonara” with Roasted Asparagus, Mushrooms and Tomatoes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am a HUGE fan of homemade pasta.  I love the process of making it.  I like looking at it on my counter drying and, more than anything, I love eating it.   Homemade pasta is more different from boxed pasta than you expect & easier to make than you might think.  It is especially easy if you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer & the pasta cutting attachment.  This blog today will not get into making pasta because I have covered that a great deal already over the years.  Click HERE to see a partial list of recipes I have blogged about that used homemade pasta.  They will all contain info or links to info on the wonder that is homemade pasta.

One of my most successful pasta dishes was so awesome – it didn’t even need the homemade spaghetti to push it over the top.  It was my smoked salmon carbonara.  Is it gorgeous or what?

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I really love salmon & smoked salmon in pasta is hard to fuck up but – alas – I gave up seafood this year.  Still – I found myself craving this simple & smokey dish so I dug through my fridge & came up with today’s version of carbonara.  Traditional carbonara uses eggs & some form of pork – ham or bacon.  It should not involve cream & it has nothing to do with the Americanized alfredo-like dish so many places serve up.  It should be clean & light & flavorful.  This vegetarian version lives up to those standards.

I used tomatoes because I had a few that were on their last legs & I did not want them to go to waste.  They add a nice color to the photos but I think they might be too sharp in taste to really serve the others flavors in this dish so – in the future – I will omit them.    Use PASTURED eggs.  Only pastured eggs are genuinely cruelty-free   They cost about a buck apiece but they are so worth it.  This dish is very easy to pull together once you have roasted the veggies so do not be intimidated.

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Vegetarian Pasta “Carbonara” with Roasted Asparagus, Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound dry pasta (or homemade) – spaghetti is traditional

1 bunch asparagus – tough ends trimmed (see and easy way HERE) and sliced into 1-2 inch pieces

4 Roma tomatoes – diced (optional & I actually suggest skipping them)

6-10 mushrooms – sliced

4 garlic cloves – chopped

Olive oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Smoked mozzarella for grating

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the mushrooms, asparagus & tomatoes (if you are using tomatoes) and garlic in about 1-2 TBS olive oil.  Toss in some S&P.  Roast for 30-45 minutes – stirring every 15 minutes until the vegetables look about like this & have released most of their moisture.

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You could do this in a saute pan, too, but the oven is effortless & dries the veggies out well so – yeah.

Whisk the eggs & Parmesan & most of the parsley & some salt & pepper in a bowl.

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When you think the vegetables are almost ready, cook the pasta.  Drain it & toss it immediately with the hot vegetables & the raw egg mixture.  The heat from the pasta & veggies will cook the eggs – I promise.

Serve the pasta with the extra parsley & grate some smoked mozzarella over the top.  The smokey cheese will replicate the missing ham just a bit.

Add more Parmesan, if you like, and lots of freshly ground pepper.  Mmmmm!

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Saffron Risotto with Asparagus & Fava Beans, Ziplock Omelettes, Pasta with Watercress & Lemon Cream and Disturbing Pedicures

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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YUP!  I wrote a very funny novel!  I hope you will read it!  www.BathingBook.com

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OK.  First of all, let me say that I like risotto.  A lot.  But I am finding that, when I make it, it tastes pretty much the same no matter what I use as the highlight ingredients.  That can be disappointing.  Also – there is an art to cooking it just right & to not presenting some waterlogged, mushy rice mess.  The risotto I made last night disappointed me primarily because the saffron color & flavor both somehow got lost.  That was certainly not the case with my Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower.

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That pasta dish was exactly as delicious as it is stunning to see.  But my risotto – not so much.  I’m not saying it didn’t taste good.  It did.  But it has no big wow factor.  So – I am going to use this blog to post a few different items I’ve made that, while I recommend them, I didn’t feel they merited their own post.

But first – let me tell you about a recent experience I had at the nail salon.  This week, my friend Laura is in town from Boston.  She suggested that she & I (and her 12 year old daughter) all go for pedicures & maybe some lunch.  Sounded good to me so I picked them up & brought them to my local, strip mall nail salon.  When I go on my own, I just sit in the regular chairs & eschew the massage chairs because 1) they add $4 to the tab & 2) I think massage chairs are pretty lame.  But, Laura & her daughter were already planted in them & Laura insisted that I join them for the experience.  As I crawled into my chair, Laura said, “Hey!  This chair is pinching my butt!”  I made some lame joke about being desperate & lonely enough to welcome a little grab ass from an electronic chair & plopped myself down.  Now, I don’t know if there is a default setting on the chairs or if the staff sets them a certain way or if you just get it the way the last resident left it but my chair was on full assault mode.  The remote control for it was more complicated than trying to set a VCR to record a TV show & so, as I fumbled, I was victim to the existing settings.  The settings included words like “flap” & “knock” & “knead.”  Flap?  What the fuck is flapping?  I knew what knocking was because it was actively happening to me.  I felt like I was at Super King in the sorry position of standing in front of an especially impatient (and rude) woman with a mustache, black socks & Jesus boots prodding me from behind, angling to cut me in line at the cheese case.  I was in the middle of trying to express something or other to Laura when the chair commenced its “lower body” massage.  I froze mid-word, clamped my mouth shut & my eyes widened in surprise & horror.  Laura looked back at me & knew exactly what had just begun with my chair.  “Right?” she asked rhetorically, her eyes as wide as mine.  And she laughed.  The butt pinching she had mentioned was no butt pinching at all.  It was more like there was a little person under the chair wearing a boxing glove – who was using that boxing glove to massage our taints.  The glove rolled around, providing pressure from front to back & back to front again.  It was very disconcerting and, quite frankly, a shocking violation.  Who thinks they are going to get a vulva massage at a low end nail salon?  Not me.  Was this some sort of “happy ending” house of prostitution?  Did this require a bigger tip?  Ugh!  And if you think sleeping in a cheap motel on a bed with sheets of questionable sanitation is gross – just think of the places that boxing glove has been!

“OMG!  How do I turn it off?!”  I was panicking.

Laura was laughing and, sotto voce, asked, “What do you think…” and she subtly gestured over her shoulder where her 12-year-old daughter sat placidly in her chair.  Oh jeez!  Was that chair molesting her daughter, too?  These chairs had succeeded in freaking out a jaded 48-year-old & a mother of two.  What damage was that third one doing to the psyche of Laura’s innocent middle-schooler?  Methinks – in retrospect – that her chair must have been set differently because, if she was getting the full “lower body” treatment (vagina massage!  Let’s call a spade a spade here) – she gave no indication & I have a really hard time believing anybody could field the initial goosing & not have THIS reaction:

So – after much fumbling, I managed to get the pelvic exam part of the massage to stop.  But in my panic, I apparently upped the “knocking” part & couldn’t turn that off.  I tried to ask Laura but I was getting punched so hard, my speaking voice got all choppy – like I was Katherine Hepburn in the final grip of Parkinson’s.  “La-a-aur-a?  H-how do-o-oo you-ou t-t-u-uh-urn th-is-is o-o-offf?”  While I was speaking, I looked down at myself & noticed that my boobs & every other loose bit on my frame (and there are lots of bits looser than I would like) were being jostled around like a bowl of Jello.  I looked at Laura, a woman gifted in the breast department, and saw her body also looked like it was being wrestled by one of those old-fashioned fat loss jiggle machines.

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By the way – I am old enough to have belonged to a gym in Boston (Gloria Stevens) that actually HAD those things AND the stupid roller machines.

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Jesus.  Had I known what this chair would get up to – I might have worn a corset or some other support device.   A full body Spanx.  Something.  A wet suit.

As Laura and I jiggled & giggled & poked randomly at the remotes to no avail – ah, yes!  Cue the creepy male proprietor.  Here he comes to position himself before the display of waggling female appendages.  He not only stood there taking it all in – he also engaged us in conversation & passed his phone between us – sharing his remarkable weight loss photos.  This effectively kept us from being able to focus on our remotes & end the shaking that would eventually take a harder toll on our boobs than gravity.  “Oh, yes!  I see!” we said, politely enthusiastic.

“Exercise & eating!  I eat a lot of cheese!” he declared.

Good for you, buddy.  Now take your “before & after” photos & your prominent moles with three-inch whiskers dangling from them & get outta here!  I need to adjust my bra straps!

Eventually, we were able to get the chairs to settle down & we got down to the business of the pedicures.  Here is a photo of Laura & me – exhibiting the post-rough-sex glow we had – courtesy of those perverted chairs with anger issues.

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Notice the Bat phone in the background?  Look at this thing.

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Maybe Fu Manchu there was more than just a thinned down, lusty boob man.  Maybe he was a superhero & this was his special superhero phone?  They also had this throwback-looking thing.

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Maybe that was his teleporter.  I have no way of knowing.  What I do know is that I got glittery, red toenails meant to draw your eye from my increasingly problematic bunions.

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Are feet copacetic in a food blog?  Likely not – and for that – I apologize.

I also know that when we went to lunch – I opted not to take any chances on this place –

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– because I still felt violated by the massage chair & was in no shape to roll the dice on the “anal beer” these guys seem so proud of.  Even if it is served ice cold.

That really is an unfortunate breakdown of a perfectly decent word, no?

Alright – now that I’ve gotten that off my chest – I can share a few underwhelming recipes!  YAY!

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I grilled shrimp for this but you can lose them if you want to.

Saffron Risotto with Grilled Shrimp, Asparagus & Fava Beans

INGREDIENTS

Shrimp (optional)

2 cups Arborio (risotto) rice

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

4 cups stock (I make 5 just in case the risotto needs overcooking)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 large shallot (or small onion)

Asparagus

Saffron (3 TBS of the liquid or a generous pinch of saffron threads steeped in 3 TBS hot water)

1 (16 oz) can fava beans (or white beans of any kind)

4 cloves garlic – minced (or to taste)

olive oil

S&P

1/2 lemon

Basil or parsley as garnish (I happened to have red basil)

DIRECTIONS

Put the shrimp (if using) in a Ziplock bag or a bowl & squeeze the 1/2 lemon over them.  Add a glug or two of olive oil & some S&P and maybe a minced garlic clove or two.  Blend well.  Set aside.

Drain the fava beans & puree in a food processor.  Set aside.

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Hold each asparagus spear by the far ends & bend until they snap.  They will naturally break at the point that the spear is too tough to eat.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a stock pot.  Add the asparagus & some garlic & saute about 3 minutes over medium heat or until the asparagus is vibrant & softens a bit.  Set aside but keep the pan for re-use.

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Grill or pan-fry the shrimp until just pink.  Set aside.

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In a clean pan – heat the stock to just simmering & keep it there.  Add the saffron to this stock.

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in the asparagus pan.  Add the shallot (or onion) and saute until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add garlic & the rice & saute for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat – stirring constantly – until the rice is translucent at the edges.

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Add the wine (if using) & cook for a minute or so.  Then, add the stock in 1/2 to 1 cup increments, stirring almost constantly and allowing the liquid to be mostly absorbed before adding more.  You might need more or less stock – depending on the softness you like – but do not add so much that the rice is mushy.   Be sure to add enough broth, though, so that the risotto is creamy.

Add the asparagus & the cheese & the pureed beans.  Serve with grilled shrimp on top & with some chopped herbs.

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OK!   Onto another recipe that I could not post because I hate all the photos I took of it.  That is really the only reason – as it is quite tasty.

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That is my Watercress & Lemon Cream Stacenate (stracnar) Pasta.  It is the same pasta I made for this dish:

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That is Stracnar (Stracenate) Pasta with a Pan-Fried Cauliflower, Tomato & Clam Ragu using the labor-intensive but really pretty cavarola-boarded pasta.

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I don’t expect anyone to hunt down a cavarola board & make this stuff – so – just use bowtie pasta or something.

Watercress & Lemon Cream Pasta

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb bow-tie pasta (or pappardelle or something)

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (plus extra for garnish)

1 bunch watercress

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves – minced

juice & zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS pepper

1 tomato – diced (optional – but it would add nice color)

Parsley or basil or reserved watercress as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Wash the watercress & remove any large stems.  Chop it up.

Heat the olive oil in a pan & add the minced garlic.  Saute 1 minute & then add the cream cheese, ricotta, Parmesan, juice & zest of the lemon and the S&P.  Blend & heat through.

Cook the pasta.  Drain & toss with the lemon cream sauce, add the watercress & serve topped with chopped herbs & tomatoes (if using) and lots of ground pepper.

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And lastly – this dish – Ziplock Baggy Boiled Omelettes.

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I saw this posted on my friend Cheryl Patrick Van Allen’s Facebook page & tried it out immediately.   Basically – you take eggs & whatever else you want in your omelette & put it all in a resealable baggy.  Squeeze out the air, seal the bag & smoosh everything around until well-blended.

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Whether camping or just serving several folks that require different ingredients in their omelettes – this is an easy way to make a bunch of varied omelettes all at one go & in one pan of boiling water.  Just be sure to write everyone’s name on their bag.

Then – boil them for 13 minutes.  Be careful the plastic doesn’t melt on your pan – a problem that actually bothers me & is a main reason I didn’t post this as a stand-alone recipe.   Folks say the omelette slips out of the bag onto your plate – and it does – but mine slipped out & looked more like an eggy heart than an omelette.

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That isn’t very appetizing.  But – it is nothing a fork & herbs & some peppers cannot fix.

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The other reason I didn’t post this before is because of the controversy about boiling in the bags that are not meant for that task.  It seems that the plastic can leak chemicals etc into your food.  Eh – but that is true of every dish you ever zapped in the microwave in or on something plastic.  I hate microwaving anything because I believe it alters the food in such a way that your body cannot even identify it as food – but I have been known to succumb to the convenience occasionally.  Still – I try to put things (even things meant to be zapped in their packaging) onto paper or glass before the nuking.

So – there you have it – boiled baggy eggy weggies!  Try at your own risk!

You know what isn’t risky?  A bottle of smiley face wine!

Bon appetit!

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Asparagus & Basil Pesto and Parsley Cashew Pesto on either Pizza or Pasta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

~

All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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As you can see HERE – I have posted about a zillion different pesto recipes.  Cilantrocollard greens, Swiss chardbroccoli & goat cheesebroccoli rabe & pistachiodill & almondspinach & pecanspinachspinach & kalepea pesto and simple kale to name some.  Here is what those recipes looked like – not necessarily in the same order.

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The reasons for this are that pesto is wicked easy to make, full of flavor & an excellent way to put wilted or less than picturesque produce to use.  Pesto can be frozen by putting it into ice cube trays & then, once solid, transferring the cubes to freezer bags with the pesto flavor written on the outside.   You could freeze larger portions in mini or regular muffin pans, too.

OK – so – I had a bunch of asparagus that sat in my fridge a tad longer than I had intended.  Sometimes my fridge has odd drops in temperature & asparagus is very sensitive to extreme cold.  Hence – my spears got a bit soggy looking & several were unsalvageable.

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See?  It wasn’t happy at all.  I had to throw a lot away.  But, though it was well past its sell-by date – about half of it was usable for a pesto.  So that is what I did.

Also – at my favorite place on Earth – Super King – I got 7 huge bunches of parsley for .99 cents.  So – I made a parsley pesto, too.  The two recipes will follow.  They both go very well on pastas or on pizzas and even work as a condiment on sandwiches so – go nuts.  Speaking of nuts, you might notice than none of my pesto recipes use the traditional pine nuts.  That is because they go rancid easily & also because they are often from China – a country about 300 years behind us in their food safety regulations.  Rancid pine nuts might taste OK but they can give you pine mouth.  Here is a bit from the FDA.

“Pine Mouth” and Consumption of Pine Nuts

March 14, 2011 
 

In the past year FDA has received a number of consumer complaints regarding a bitter metallic taste associated with pine nuts. This taste, known as “pine mouth,” typically begins 12 to 48 hours after consuming pine nuts, and lasts on average between a few days and two weeks. It is exacerbated by consumption of any other food during this period and significantly decreases appetite and enjoyment of food. The symptoms decrease over time with no apparent adverse clinical side effects.

In response to increased consumer complaints, FDA developed a detailed questionnaire, and collected and analyzed samples from some consumers submitting complaints. The Agency found that the majority of pine nuts associated with “pine mouth” were eaten in the raw state (either as snacks or as a component of salad or pesto sauce). It also found that consumers did not detect a rancid or off-taste when eating the pine nuts. Finally, FDA was able to confirm that “pine mouth” is an adverse food reaction to pine nuts that is clearly distinct from a typical food allergy.

FDA continues to analyze consumer complaints to identify the potential causes of “pine mouth” and to determine whether the severity of symptoms and likelihood of developing them is related to the amount of pine nuts consumed. FDA will continue to monitor this problem and keep the public posted regarding any new findings.

Consumers experiencing “pine mouth” may contact the FDA District Office in their area. For a list, go to the Consumer Complaint Coordinators page athttp://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/default.htm.

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So – that said – I just avoid them altogether.  I find them oily & too rich, anyway.

So – without further adieu – I present the two latest pesto recipes.

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Asparagus & Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch of asparagus (or as much as you can salvage from a bunch on its last legs)

1 cup basil

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup Parmesan

4 garlic coves (or to taste)

S&P

DIRECTIONS

Hold each asparagus spear by the far ends & bend until they snap.  They will naturally break at the point that the spear is too tough to eat.  You can then blanch them by dunking them in boiling water for about three minutes & then immersing them in ice water or wrap them in a wet paper towel & microwave them for a minute or two.  Chop into 1 inch chunks & set aside.

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan for two or three minutes or until they are fragrant & begin to brown.  Stir the entire time & be careful not to burn them. You can see from this photo below – I burned mine.

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Then – simply blend everything up in a food processor.  You can use more or less olive oil – depending on how thick or thin you prefer your pesto.  Then serve it mixed in with some cooked pasta or smear it on a sandwich or pizza!

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Parsley Cashew Pesto

INGREDIENTS

I bunch of Italian parsley (flat leaf)

2/3 cup chopped cashews (or almonds or walnuts or pecans – or other nuts)

2/3 cup Parmesan

2/3 cup olive oil

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Toast the cashews (or other nuts) in a dry pan for two or three minutes or until they are fragrant & begin to brown.  Stir the entire time & be careful not to burn them.  Then simply puree everything in a food processor.  Again – serve it mixed in with some cooked pasta or smear it on a sandwich or pizza!

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Decadent No Carb Shirataki Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Lemon

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These friggin’ shirataki noodles are the greatest.  These ones here have 80 calories – and that is for a huge bowl of pasta (two packages being one serving) – then the calories of whatever you add to them.

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As I stated before in other posts about these noodles, there actually is a measurable amount of carbohydrates in these but it is so negligible as to not be worth mentioning.  With noodles this light & guilt-free, you can add anything on top of them & still have a much lighter meal than you would with real pasta.  These noodles do not mimic the texture of pasta as well as they do the visual but the texture isn’t off-putting & you get used to it quickly.  In case this is your first time trying them, do not get freaked out by the fishy smell they have when you open the package.  Just boil them or zap them in some fresh water in the microwave & the smell goes away completely.  There is nothing funky about their taste.  They are a very neutral base for whatever you use to top them.

My boyfriend likes fettuccine alfredo a lot.  I have always found it too rich and, until yesterday, never made it myself.   Yesterday, I decided to spoil him & make him a decadent, cheesy sauce.  This recipe makes enough sauce to feed six easily.  I made one serving with the shirataki & 6 servings with a homemade pepper penne.   I did not photograph the penne version but I added some fresh, diced tomato to it & it broke up the monochrome of the dish nicely.  I recommend you try that, too.

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PRINT THIS RECIPE

Decadent No Carb Shirataki Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Lemon

INGREDIENTS

Pasta of your choice (shirataki or homemade or boxed)

1 bunch asparagus

2 tomatoes – diced

8 TBS butter

4 cloves garlic – sliced thin

3 cups heavy cream

2 cups grated Parmesan

1 cup Pecorino Romano

3 oz cream cheese

zest of one lemon

Parsley – chopped for garnish

S&P to taste

Extra Parmesan or Pecorino Romano or grating

DIRECTIONS

Trim the ends of the asparagus as outlined HERE.  Basically, you grasp the spear on each end & bend it until it breaks.  The bottom part will be the tough, inedible part.  Then, cut into 1 inch pieces.  Wrap in a wet paper town & zap in a microwave for a minute or two.  (Alternatively – you could add the raw asparagus to your boiling pasta for the final four minutes.)

Melt the butter in a large pan.  Saute the garlic being careful not to brown it.  Add the heavy cream, 3 cheeses & the lemon zest & heat through until all the cheeses melt & the sauce is creamy.  Add salt & pepper.

Cook your pasta & drain it.  Add the asparagus to the sauce & warm it through.  Add the pasta to the sauce or mix them in a large serving bowl.  Garnish with diced tomatoes, parsley & lemon wedges & extra cheese for grating.

PRINT THIS RECIPE

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