Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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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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Farm Fresh To You sent me three little 8-Ball squashes this week – and I had a boatload of leftover pasta and so – this dish was born.   I used the three eight ball squashes & a green & a yellow zucchini I had, too.  The kind of squash is not important but the eight ball squashes do make a cute presentation.   You can eat the flesh (and skin) of the eight ball squashes but I think this might be less pleasant if yours are very large.  Mine were pretty small & got very tender in the oven.

I did stuff the yellow zucchini but ran out of stuffing for the green one & could not be bothered to make more – so – I just filled it with sauce.  I used a teeny bit of real mozzarella on top & a really tiny bit of real Asiago in the filling but vegan cheeses would work just as well.

I used leftover pasta like this & the jarred sauce below.  You can use any type of pasta & sauce you prefer – even homemade ones.  You could add ground meat – like Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble to either the squash filling or your sauce – if you wanted to add protein to the dish.

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Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

12 oz cooked pasta

4 eight ball squashes (or 4 zucchini)

2 TBS olive oil

16 oz pasta sauce (or less but up to 16 oz – depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta)

1-6 garlic cloves

1 TBS fresh oregano – chopped (or 1 tsp dry)

1/4 cup mozzarella (or vegan mozzarella)

1/8 cup grated Asiago (or vegan Parmesan)

S&P

Garnish – chopped basil or parsley and maybe extra cheese (or vegan cheese)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the pasta & drain.

Cut the tops off the eight ball squash & carefully scoop out the flesh & set it aside.  A melon-baller or grapefruit spoon might make that easier.  If using zucchini – slice in half the long way & scoop out the seeds & flesh and set it aside.

Take about 1 cup of the cooked pasta & chop it a bit.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the squash flesh & saute a minute or so.  Add the garlic & oregano & stir.  Add the CHOPPED pasta, 1/2 cup or so of pasta sauce stir.  Add Asiago or vegan Parmesan & stir.  Season with S&P & set aside.

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Treat a cooking pan with cooking spray.  Carefully stuff your peppers in the pan.  Top each with a little more sauce, some grated mozzarella & then with the squash tops themselves.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash are tender & the cheese is warmed (and/or melted).  If using zucchini – do the same thing – but there will be no little squash hats for the zucchini boats.

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This next part is up to you.  You can either boil water & put the remaining pasta in it for about a minute, just before you are ready to serve – or warm as much pasta sauce as you think you need for 2 servings & stir the pasta directly into it to reheat it.   The advantage to heating the pasta & sauce separately is that you can better control how much sauce each serving gets – because some people like lots of sauce & others prefer less.  This is your call.

Whatever you decide – when the squash is ready – plate some pasta & sauce on two plates & place two baked squash on top of each.

Garnish with basil and/or parsley & grated cheese.

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Homemade Black Pepper Fettuccine Pasta with Summer Truffles, Parmesan and Butter

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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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I made this dish with THESE noodles & simply added a tablespoon of ground pepper to the eggs before kneading them into the dough.   Any dry pasta would work, too, but fresh noodles are just that much more delicate and the flavors here benefit from that.  If you cannot (or don’t care to) make homemade pasta – maybe buy the fresh pasta available at most supermarkets in the refrigerated section.

I found these truffles at my local Gelson’s for $14 and could not resist trying them – for that low price.

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Ultimately, they were very, very lightly flavored – so I added a drizzle of the truffle oil above.  Still, the flavors were almost imperceptible but that was OK because I discovered that noodles with butter & Parmesan (and maybe some fresh parsley) are pretty awesome, too, and had that as my second meal with the homemade fettuccine.

If you ever come across actual fresh truffles, come back to this recipe & try them this way.   Or – if you have a truffle oil you love, drizzle that on the pasta & skip the actual truffles, altogether.

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Homemade Black Pepper Fettuccine Pasta with Summer Truffles, Parmesan and Butter

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb fresh pasta (or dry pasta of your choice)

2 Summer Truffles (optional) – sliced at thin as you can muster

Truffle oil

2 -3 TBS of the highest quality butter you can find (preferably grass fed)

1/2 cup or more of Parmesan cheese (highest quality you can find) – grated or shaved

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Fresh parsley – chopped (if you are not using truffles)

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain the pasta – reserving about 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan (large enough to hold all the pasta).   I drizzled a bit of the liquid from the truffle jar in the butter & a few little bits of the truffles.

When the butter is melted, add the pasta & the Parmesan.  I used about 1/2 cup but the amount of cheese is really up to you.

Stir to blend & warm through.

Plate the pasta & garnish with sliced truffles, truffle oil, salt & lots of freshly cracked pepper.  Add more cheese, if you like.

If you are not using truffles, freshly chopped parsley is nice.

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Cool Vegan Cashew & Cranberry Chicken Salad Tacos with Avocado

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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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OK – I am not sure what the weather is like where you are but here in LA – it is hot as a muthafuckah!   It is pushing 100 degrees!  Just brutal.  I don’t have AC & cooking is just impossible in this weather.  So – I whipped up these cool & vegan bad boys!  They are kind of like a taco-wrap hybrid.  I used these little flour tortillas – right from their home in the cool of my fridge.  I am not positive they are vegan – so if you are vegan – use a tortilla you know suits your diet.

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And I used that Beyond Meat vegan chicken.  The coupon above is good until the end of May 2014 – so print a few out & go get some of this awesome stuff!  If you let it sit on the counter a few minutes – it will defrost enough so that you can cube it up & by the time this all comes together – the chicken is thawed completely but still CHILLED!  Perfect!

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Cool Vegan Cashew & Cranberry Chicken Salad Tacos with Avocado

Feeds two very well

INGREDIENTS

1 9 oz package of faux chicken – thawed

1 avocado – peeled & seeded & cubed

Fresh lime juice

1/3 cup vegan mayo

1/4 cup (or more) cashews

2 celery stalks – diced

1/2 small cucumber – diced

2 mini sweet peppers (or half a bell pepper) – seeded & diced

1/4 cup purple cabbage – chopped

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit)

1/2 tsp cumin

Pinch of salt

Pepper to taste

Flour tortillas or other wrap (even lettuce)

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DIRECTIONS

Prep the avocado & squeeze lime juice all over it.

Now – just mix everything up in a big bowl.  Season to taste.  Eat with lettuce cups or as wraps or as little flour tortilla tacos.

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Summer Garden Vegetable Pizza

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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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Sometimes pizza is really just a bread plate.  That is the case here.  This pizza is really just a few warmed vegetables on a plate of bread with a little cheese.  I have never been one for extra cheesy pizza.  I prefer other flavors & this pizza offers a lot of them!  It was inspired by a box of locally grown vegetables that got mistakenly delivered to my door.  Relax!  I called the company that delivered them & was informed that food safety laws prohibited them from redelivering the box.  So I got to keep it!

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Say – have you heard?  I wrote a fucking NOVEL!!!  It is hilarious!  Read the reviews on Amazon – HERE.  They are VERY positive!  Why not buy a copy & check it out?

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OK – so – at the risk of sounding like a broken record – pizza toppings are very much a matter of personal preference.  Not just as to which ones to use but also how much of each.  I don’t like heavy or thick pizzas.  Others do.  So – I will just list the ingredients I used for this beauty & let you make your own choices.

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So – again – here is the pizza dough I use – and all I do is throw everything in my bread machine & let it run on the dough cycle.  SO EASY!  Then I let it sit & rise or a hour & either use it immediately – or use a bit & store the rest in plastic wrap in the fridge.

PIZZA DOUGH

MAKES FOUR 12-OZ. BALLS

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. sugar (⅞ oz.)
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more (½ oz.)
½ tsp. active dry yeast
5½ cups flour
2 tbsp. kosher salt (¾ oz.)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine sugar, oil, yeast, and 2 cups cold water in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, 8-10 minutes. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. With motor running, slowly add flour mixture; mix until a smooth dough forms, 8-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Divide dough into 4 balls; transfer to a greased 9″ x 13″ dish; brush tops with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 48 hours (or get impatient like me & use it immediately).

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Summer Garden Vegetable Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Dough

Fresh mozzarella (or other pizza cheese)

Parmesan – grated

Tomatoes – sliced

A few mixed baby squashes – sliced

Basil

Jalapeno – seeded & sliced

Onion – sliced thin

Avocado

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450-500.

Treat a pizza pan with cooking spray or use parchment paper.

Roll the dough out & put it on the pan.  Score it a bit with a knife or fork tines.

Divide the avocado portion you are using in half – and reserve half the avocado & all of the basil for AFTER the pizza is cooked.

Layer toppings starting with the cheese & layering veggies on top of the cheese.  This make the pizza bright & vibrant with the colors of the vegetables – rather than the white cheese.

Bake that fucker for 10-15 minutes or until the crust & toppings look done to you.  Top with more avocado & the basil.

Kid yourself that this is just a warm salad & that there is no harm in eating the entire thing yourself!  And then DO IT!

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Summer Red Potato Salad with Egg & Simple Cole Slaw

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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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I made these two dishes to accompany my Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey Marinated BBQ Pork Loin on Easter Sunday.  I set out a simple buffet of reasonably inexpensive foods that could be made ahead & set out on a buffet so that I could enjoy the party along with my guests, rather than be stuck slaving in the kitchen all stressed out, cranky & sweaty.   It was genius.  My boyfriend, Miles, made a potato au gratin that we served on the buffet out of a slow cooker, my friend Alyse served her turkey meatballs the same way and with the addition of two slabs of grilled salmon, a cheese selection, my zucchini, mint & goat cheese terrine and some bread, crackers & condiments for the pork – the spread was complete.  I made everyone (about 18 people) use paper plates & plastic cutlery.  The cleanup pretty much all happened before my first guest arrived.  It was the least stressful & easiest to clean-up-after party I have ever thrown.    Still – I was a tad hectic getting it all prepared & out on Easter Sunday so my photographs are a bit underwhelming.  Please try to forgive!  🙂

At any rate – these two cold sides were easy to make & don’t really have anything controversial in them.  If your folks hate onion or something – just leave it out.  Also – I didn’t do it here because of the BBQ pork (and not wanting to overkill the whole BBQ thing) – but a few tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce is amazing in potato salad.  Finally, I did not peel my potatoes but you certainly can if the skins bother you (especially with russets or some other dirtier potato).

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Summer Red Potato Salad with Egg

INGREDIENTS

5 lbs red potatoes (or other potato) – cubed into bite size chunks

3 celery stalks – diced

1 small onion – minced

5 scallions – diced (some green slices reserved for garnish)

5 eggs – hard boiled & chopped

1 lg zucchini – diced (VERY optional)

2 cups mayonnaise

1/3 cup plus 2 TBS Dijon mustard

S&P to taste

Sweet or hot paprika as garnish

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: BBQ sauce, sriracha, Tabasco, minced chipotle or adobo sauce, horseradish sauce, wasabi.

DIRECTIONS

Boil the cubed potatoes until just tender.  You can boil the eggs in the same pan with the potatoes.  Test by spiking one with a fork & lifting it out of the water.  When done – the potato will slowly drop from the fork.  Try not to overcook them.  When done – drain & plunge into cold water & set aside.

Cool, peel & chop the eggs.

Drain the potatoes & then simply mix all the ingredients.  Garnish with the remaining chopped scallions & paprika.

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Simple Cole Slaw (this makes a LOT)

INGREDIENTS

1 small head cabbage – shredded

1/2 head red cabbage – shredded

1 lb carrots – grated

4 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 TBS apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups milk

1 TBS sugar

2 TBS black sesame seeds (as garnish)

2 TBS pepper

salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the ingredients (except the sesame seeds) in a large bowl.  Garnish with sesame seeds.  Done!

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DECADENT Vegan NO CARB Summer Pasta with Zucchini Noodles, Avocado, Asparagus & Peas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Hey!  Have you heard?  I wrote a really funny & dirty novel!  www.BathingBook.com.   Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Why not buy a copy?

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Do not be fooled by how closely this pasta resembles my recent spinach & pea pesto linguini.  It is a completely different animal.  This is a vegan dish but only by chance – rather than design.  It can be made carb-free or carb-heavy.  That is your call.  I went carb-heavy – because, quite frankly, I am a carb whore.  Thick & doughy midsections take dedication to preserve & I am committed to mine.  You might be devoted to your hard won abs – in which case – go carb-free.

But how can I make a carb-free pasta – you might ask.  Well – it is easier than you think.  Just use fresh zucchini instead of spaghetti!  I discovered this concept recently & I can foresee it becoming a regular thing in this house.  I thought I’d need a kitchen tool called a spiralizer and so I did a lot of research on which to buy before I headed out to get one.  Spiralizers can turn potatoes into curly fries or zucchini into pasta – among other things.  I was too impatient to buy one online so I headed to Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday just to get it.  Alas – they had none.  The guy there said a mandolin might do the trick and I have one of those – so I returned home to experiment.  I saw online that some folks said a food processor could create fettuccini-like noodles & others said a vegetable peeler could work, too.   I decided to experiment.

The mandolin was sort of effective but mine is so sharp & unstable – I was kinda freaked out.  Then I remembered!  Didn’t I have some odd sorta toothy, clawlike vegetable peeler deep in the chaotic disasters that are my kitchen tool drawers??  I dug around a bit & voila!!!  There it was!  With a sturdy, rubber Tonka handle & a plastic blade guard.

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I tried this on a sample zuke & it worked like a charm!  I held the peeled zucchini on one end with a fork & shaved away at the zucchini & got a wonderful spaghetti-like result.

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Look at this link & see how cool spiralized zucchini is – HERE.

This dish can be made pretty close to entirely raw – if that’s your thing.  Simply blanching the zucchini noodles for 2 minutes or sauteing the zucchini noodles in olive oil for 2-3 minutes will make them deliciously edible & the sauce is raw, too.  I’m not concerned with raw so much.   If you hate peas or asparagus – just leave them out.  This recipe can be made with or without actual pasta.  This version has pasta.  I am going to give you a recipe here that uses an entire box of spaghetti – and the zucchini noodles – so it would likely feed 4-6 as a main course.  You can adjust this easy recipe to use pasta or not – and change the quantities if you only want to make a serving or two.  If you make a lot – as I did – but do not want to eat it all up immediately – just keep the ingredients (zucchini noodles, pasta with peas & asparagus and the sauce) separate from each other & only blend them in the serving size you need when you are ready to eat it.  I would boil water & just reheat the actual pasta & veggies (a minute or two) before draining & then mixing with the zucchini & sauce.  Don’t heat the zucchini.  It will get soggy.

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DECADENT Vegan NO CARB Summer Pasta with Zucchini Noodles, Avocado, Asparagus & Peas

INGREDIENTS

1 lb spaghetti (if using)

6 large (peeled or not – your call) zucchini – spiralized or shaved into noodles (do not use the seeded center of the zukes)

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

10 spears asparagus – sliced into bite size pieces (optional)

SAUCE

2 large avocados

1/3 cup water

6 TBS fresh oregano

juice of 1/2 lemon

zest of entire lemon

chopped basil as garnish

s&p to taste

DIRECTIONS

Peel (or not) then shave, spiralize or grate your zucchini into noodles.  Do not use the seeded center part.  I saved my centers & peels & made a zucchini hummus out of them afterward.  You can use them any way you want or toss them.  Whatever.

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Once you have your noodles – put them in a colander in the sink & sprinkle a tsp salt over them.  Toss them to distribute the salt & let them drain while you make your sauce.

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In a food processor, blend your avocados, lemon juice & zest, oregano, water (use more or less – to get the right consistency) and S&P to taste.  This is – essentially – a guacamole.  Make it very creamy.

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Boil the water & cook your pasta according to directions.  In the last two minutes of the pasta cooking – add the peas & asparagus.  If not using pasta – just boil water & blanch the peas & asparagus for two minutes.  Drain.

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Now simply assemble the ingredients.  I made a single serving by using equal parts pasta & zucchini noodles & then tossed them with the sauce.  A little chopped basil and S&P and I was ready to eat.  The remaining part – I am bringing to a party tonight & will assemble THAT there!

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Cheers!

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