So I must confess, originally I was trying to do a copy-cat Olive Garden dressing because I was really craving Olive Garden. It’s one of my (many) favorite restaurants, yet we’re trying very hard to not eat out so we have more to spend on our home that’s being built. It would be much easier if I had a decent sized kitchen so I can actually COOK whatever we wanted. Oh well, it’ll be worth it, right? Right! Anywho….so I was trying to do that recipe, when I realized some of the things I definitely needed, I didn’t have on hand. After deciding I was much too lazy to get out of my pj pants (at about 5pm, by the way) to run to the store, I decided to see what I did have on hand that would make a delicious salad dressing. When I pulled out the balsamic vinegar, I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment and immediately set to making a Tangy Balsamic Salad Dressing. It turned out great, and helped me avoid my urge to eat out – bonus!!!
Tangy Balsamic Salad Dressing
1/2 cup Mayo or Miracle Whip
1 tsp. Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp. Corn Syrup
3 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. Romano Cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Parsley, flakes
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Add all ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth and creamy.
Toss in a salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, croutons and other toppings as desired. Sprinkle a little Parmesan or Romano cheese on top.
I have a confession: I struggle with side dishes. Not that they’re hard or require much more effort….I just often forget about them until I’m dishing up everyone’s plates. So, sadly, canned veggies or fruits are often the accompaniment of our meal. Horrible, I know, right?
That said, I do sometimes plan ahead and get everything, including side dishes, done at the same time so we can include it all as a complete meal. Then I feel like Super Mom!!! I love those moments, don’t you?
These potatoes are delicious, versatile so they can go with a large variety of main dishes, and EASY to make. Winner!
Garlic Red Potatoes
2 lbs. Red potatoes, cut into fourths
1/4 cup Butter, melted
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter, garlic, lemon juice and salt.
Add the potatoes and stir to coat. Dump onto a sprayed (or aluminum foil lined) baking sheet.
Sprinkle the potatoes with the Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden brown.
Broccoli Cheese Potatoes
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bake the potatoes as normal (425 degree oven for an hour, or microwave using the potato setting), making sure to pierce them.
In a medium saucepan, bring the water, with a little salt added, to a boil. Add the cauliflower and broccoli, and cook about 3 minutes, or until broccoli begins to soften.
Remove the broccoli, setting aside. Continue cooking the cauliflower for about 5 more minutes, or until fully soft. Drain, then set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees (if haven’t been using the oven for the potatoes already).
Cut each potato in half hot-dog style, then scoop out the insides, placing in a bowl with the cauliflower. Place the empty potato skins on a sprayed baking sheet.
Add the milk and salt/pepper (to taste) to the potato/cauliflower bowl, and mash well. Mix in half of the cheese. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells.
Scoop 1/8 of the broccoli and remaining cheese onto each potato half. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted on top.
Note: Makes 8 servings of half-a-potato each.
As you’ve probably come to know, my family is terrible with getting in our veggies. To be honest, I’m probably the worst one! However, I absolutely LOVE squash and zucchini. Whether sauteed or breaded, it’s just a great treat for me that I’d even eat as a snack. This seasoned mix is one of those that I often make, especially when squash is on sale, and can serve it with a whole bundle of main dishes. It’s so flavorful, but not overpowering of other foods you put with it. Tasty plus flexible (oh, and super easy)? Yes, please!
1 medium Yellow squash, sliced
1 medium Zucchini squash, sliced
4 tsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 cups Sugar snap peas
1 1/2 cups Cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp. Parsley, minced
3 tbsp. Lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground Coriander
1/4 tsp. Salt
Dash of pepper, to taste
Saute the squash and zucchini with olive oil in a large non-stick skillet until beginning to turn tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the peas and tomatoes and cook until the squash is desired tenderness (I usually do in between crisp-tender, which is about 2-3 minutes once these are added).
Sprinkle the parsley, lemon juice, coriander, salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.
Notes: I also tried this with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, and it was delightful!
You know those days when you’re just so exhausted, it’s a struggle to think straight, much less be very productive? Ya, that’s me today. Well, more like me this week, but we can sugar coat it a little, can’t we? So in my tired-non-functioning-hazy mood tonight, I did more than one absolutely ridiculous things that I feel I must share with you so that you can smile and laugh with me (or at me, whichever you’d like).
1. I took out one contact, but didn’t remember about the hour for about half an hour.
2. I took off my clothes, put them back on, and put my pjs in the laundry before realizing what I was doing.
3. I washed my face for the night, then started to apply my make-up for the day. Thus, having to wash my face again.
You are more than welcome to laugh – I am!!! Ah, the joys of being an exhausted mom! Moving on…we love chips and salsa at our house. Even the kids, it’s crazy! I decided to make a Salsa Verde for us, not having made any type of salsa before. It turned out phenomenal! I kid you not, it was so darn delicious, we went through it in a flash. Just writing this post, I’m almost drooling wishing I had the stuff to make another batch right now.
Creamy Salsa Verde
1 Avocado, ripe
3 Tomatillos (remove the husks and rinse the sticky off)
2 Garlic cloves
1/4 Onion, white
2 tbsp. Lime juice
3 tbsp. Cilantro
2 tbsp. Honey or Agave
Pinch of salt
1/2 Jalapeno (for a mild-medium heat, use 3/4 to a whole for more)
Chop the tomatillos, garlic, onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Add to blender.
Remove pit from avocado, then scoop into blender. Add remaining ingredients to blender.
Blend until desired consistency. Enjoy!
I know mushrooms are one of those love or hate relationship type foods, but I’m one of the lovers. Whether it’s in casseroles, salads, pasta, with steak or even by themselves and a few ingredients, they’re fantastic! I got a bunch on sale at the store last week, and decided to make a nice little snack for us. It turned out really good, and possibly more healthy than other options!
14 oz. Fresh mushrooms (I used basic white ones)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
3 cups Spinach
4 slices Bacon, chopped
1 tsp. Olive oil
1/4 cup Bread crumbs
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Mince.
In a medium skillet, cook the spinach over medium heat until it begins to wilt. Remove and chop.
Cook the bacon (same skillet is fine) over low heat until done. Remove and chop.
Add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet. Saute about 2 minutes, or until turning gold. Add mushroom stems and cook another 2 minutes.
Remove mushrooms and garlic from skillet and mix with the spinach, bacon, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese.
Fill each mushroom top with the cheese mixture, filling slightly above the top edge. Set mushrooms on sprayed baking sheet, then lightly spray the mushrooms with cooking spray.
Bake about 20 minutes, or until tops are starting to turn gold.
As I’ve mentioned before, my family isn’t great about eating our veggies, so I like to find ways to ‘play them up’. This recipe made the zucchini so flavorful and delicious, we ate it all in one sitting (even though I had planned to have enough to include in my hubby’s lunch the next two days)! The sweet onion dip could be used for so many things, also!
3 medium Zucchini, skins on, cut into 3″ long sticks
Sprinkling of salt
1 cup Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 large Eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees.
Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Put the eggs in a separate bowl.
Dip the sticks in the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture, covering completely. Place on a sprayed or lined baking sheet.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, turn over, and continue another 5-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the coating is nicely browned.
Sweet Onion Dip
1 tbsp. Butter
1 medium Sweet Onion, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. Cider vinegar
2 tbsp. Honey
1 tbsp. Mustard
1 cup Mayo (or Miracle Whip)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally. Cook about 10-15 minutes, or until the onion has softened and caramelized. Remove from the heat and add the cider vinegar.
Place the onions with vinegar, honey and mustard into a blender. Blend until smooth. Stir in the mayo, salt and pepper until combined. Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
Notes: This makes about 3 dozen zucchini sticks and 1 1/2 cups of the sweet onion dip.
2 Zucchini, cut into fourths lengthwise
1 Red bell pepper, cut into fourths
1 Green bell pepper, cut into fourths
1 Yellow bell pepper, cut into fourths
Olive oil for brushing
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ lb. Penne pasta
4 tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. Mixed herbs: basil, oregano, marjoram
½ cup Olives, chopped
¼ cup Walnut, chopped
½ cup Feta Cheese, chopped
Brush vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on charcoal or gas grill on high heat, cover and cook until tender and slightly brown. While vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot ¾ way full of salted water to a boil. Add a tiny bit of oil, to keep pasta from sticking together. Add the pasta and cook until preferred tenderness.
When vegetables are done, remove from the grill and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Drain pasta and put in mixing bowl. Add the vegetables, olive oil, herbs, olives and walnuts. Mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and toss lightly to combine.
Notes: Some people prefer more seasonings, some less, so pour the herbs in slowly to get what meets your family’s preferences. We added a Roasted Garlic Balsamic Dipping Oil over our dish, and it was absolutely wonderful, if you like balsamic.
Easy Corn Souffle is perfect as a side dish for any meal.
Now, I have to tell you that I don’t like this recipe. There’s something about having corn in it that drives me nuts. Maybe I just grew up with smooth, simple cornbread, so that’s what I prefer. I don’t know. With that said, the reason I’m still posting this is because I seem to be the ONLY one who didn’t enjoy it; everyone else couldn’t get enough!
2 tbsp. Butter
8 oz. Cream cheese, cubed
1 can Whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Cream-style corn
8.5 oz. Corn muffin mix
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Microwave butter until melted. Stir in cream cheese, and microwave another 15 seconds, or until cream cheese is softened. Stir until completely melted and well blended.
Mix in all remaining ingredients, except shredded cheese.
Pour into sprayed 13×9 pan. Top with cheddar cheese.
Cook 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.