Using your Noodle-Veggie Style

As I mentioned before, the food world is changing. We are looking for ways to maximize what we are eating, how we eat it, and why we are eating the things we do. Lots of us are really having to look at the kind of relationship we have with food.  I know this because we are going through a bit of a food revolution in our house. Why you ask? Well, it has to do with how our bodies handle and process certain foods. Simply put, like the allergies that cause you to sneeze during the summer, you can be affected by the foods you eat as well.

If you have read any of my blog, you know that one of the most popular dishes in my house is pasta. However, traditional pasta contains gluten and not everyone can tolerate gluten. So, the question becomes how can we make pasta delicious, fast, and easy without giving up on any flavor? I have a perfect solution.

The first option is more obvious, which is gluten free pasta. You can find it in most grocery stores these day and it is very tasty. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic solution and one that I would go to more often than not. In fact, I am still recipe testing homemade gluten free pasta which I hope to share with you. However, I am working through a few snags at the moment. That should do it, right? No, not exactly. I think we should shake noodles up a little bit.

What if I told you that some of the vegetables in your house right now could be turned into healthy, super easy noodles? No, I am not kidding. Do you have carrots, zucchini or sweet potatoes in your fridge or pantry right now? Check, I can wait………….got them? Guess what? You have an amazing substitute for regular pasta that you can use for any application. It is truly that simple.

So, what are we making? We are making zucchini fettuccine with my ground turkey bolognese. Don’t remember how to make bolognese? No problem, just click here for a refresher.

That leaves us with how to make the noodles. Okay, you have a couple of options. If you have a vegetable peeler or a wire cheese slicer then you are good to go. These will come out looking more like ribbons, but the effect will be the same.

Zuchinni Pasta style

The noodles on the left are various sizes that I made from a vegetable peeler. I was able to create a spaghetti, fettuccine, and a wide noodle with the peeler. On the right are the noodles I made with my “Zoodle” maker. Yes, it is an actual thing. It is too much fun to say to not have it be true. If you want these fancy zoodles then head to your favorite online kitchen store and look for a “zoodler.” Again, the gadget name is too good to make up. Having done my own research, I know you can find a basic one on Amazon for about 10 dollars, but there are plenty of options if you want to up your zoodle game. You can’t go wrong either way, in my opinion.

Okay, time to fire it up! Follow the directions to make my bolognese. While  the bolognese is cooking down, you will have plenty of time to prep your noodles.To get the zucchini ready, trim off the ends and follow the directions of your zoodle maker. If you are using your vegetable peeler, remove the the zucchini skin and form a large pile of the strips. If you notice your noodles are too long just cut them down to a desirable size or cut it in half before you make your noodles. Once you have reached your desired thickness of the sauce, pile some noodles into a bowl, and top thusly with bolognese. Make sure to cover the noodles fairly well. The heat of the bolognese will soften the noodles and provide that cooked sensation.

Zucchini Bolognese
Even I have to remind myself that these are zoodles because this bolognese sells it! If you want to take this dish to the next level, sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on the finished dish. Honestly, I didn’t miss the cheese and I ate the whole bowl full!

If you want to take this dish totally vegetarian or vegan, you can omit both the ground turkey and the cheese. Of course, if you have any other restrictions feel free to make any changes that are necessary. You could also throw in some mushrooms or a number of other vegetables to bulk this dish up a little bit.

A couple of things to keep in mind here. You may find that you need to season the bolognese a little more than normal. The regular pasta releases starch and holds some salt from the boiling water, so there is a little less salt in the dish. That is totally okay if you feel like that is needed. However, you can certainly add other seasonings or herbs such as basil, oregano, pepper, thyme, and wine as well. If you add more wine, make sure you allow time for the alcohol to cook out of the sauce. Again, make sure you use you wine you would drink, because as wine cooks down those flavors are concentrated. Feel free to add vegetable or chicken stock to help reinforce those flavors as well. Oh, yes, I just used the word cooking, so let me talk about that before I forget. Zucchini has a high water content, so we don’t want to cook it in the classic sense. So leave the noodles raw if you can so you can retain some texture and don’t end up with mushy noodles.

This is only the beginning of the possibilities with veggies noodles. So, be creative!

Congratulations we have taken this dish to a whole new level! We did it! Let me know what you think by commenting on the recipe or sending me an email. I know this dish will surprise you as it did for me.


Shaking Things Up-Recipe Style

Greetings!! It has been a while and I apologize for not having more content for you. However, I’m super excited because I’m testing a recipe that I can’t wait to share! We are in a real movement in the food and people want to know how to maximize what is going in their body.  In honor of that, I’m going to take a staple dish and make it mostly vegetarian. I say mostly because you can add traditional protein, but this dish won’t suffer if you don’t have it. I was inspired to do this because I saw a fellow blogger who had a similar idea, but I wanted to make the dish with my own twist.

Stay tuned! This new dish will be on the blog very soon!

Ain’t It Sweet Cooking On The Heat

I admit that the best part of summer meals are typically the desserts. Who doesn’t love a cool, sweet, satisfying dessert in the swell of the summer heat? Certainly I do, and yet it is easy to fall into the usual routines of summer desserts. However, I am here with a different way to slice up your summer dessert.

I will confess that I have been trying to make this dessert and get it on the blog for weeks. By the way, this isn’t a complicated time consuming or expert level dish. This is a dessert that takes 10 minutes and will please any palate in my estimation. Oh, did I mention you make this one the grill? I know, I’m talking about grilling. Shocking, isn’t it?

What is the mystery dessert? Grilled stone fruit. In other words, peaches, pears, apricots, and of course, nectarines all finished on the grill. How does it work? It is very simple actually. As we know, all of these fruits contain a lot of natural sugar and we are just coaxing that sugar to the surface with a little heat. The goal is to caramelize the outside of the fruit and and let it soften up a little bit. Congratulations! You have done it! I don’t really have to say much more……but I am going to because I can’t just leave it at that.

There is only one rule when it comes to selecting your fruit. You want the fruit to be pretty firm, with a little bit of give. We want our fruit to be able to stand up after it comes off the grill. We have all had that one piece of stone fruit that is overripe, hard to handle, and can be messy. That isn’t what we want here. Okay, got that? Good.

First, preheat your grill to medium heat and make sure to clean your grates so you don’t get pork flavored stone fruit. If you you want that profile, then go crazy. I will make sure we find an application for that later in our blogging adventure. It might be good to wipe the grates down with a freshly oiled towel to help remove any remaining meat oils or bits from the grates. Next, split the fruit into halves, remove the pit, and then just splash a little bit of neutral oil on the cut side of the flesh. Place cut side down on your grill and check every few minutes until the flesh picks up some grill marks and the natural sugars caramelize. This should take about 6-8 minutes on the grill until you have something that looks like this.

This picture says it all and you would be correct. I could probably stop here, but if you know me, I like to go the extra mile for all of my readers. Ready? Here we go!

You can serve this fruit a number of different ways and there are really no limits. Here is one of my favorite applications.

Here is a grilled nectarine with some reduced balsamic vinegar. Okay, before I go on, let me just say that I’m not talking about the stuff you buy from the shelf of your local big box store. I’m talking about balsamic vinegar that has the consistency of syrup, some real sweetness, and a little bit of that vinegar finish. Trust me, you would ever mistake the one for the other. You might be able to find a specialty store that sells olive oils and they will likely carry good quality reduced balsamic vinegar. If you can’t find it anywhere, no problem, because you can make your own. Here is a recipe for an simple, easy balsamic reduction that would work very well if you want to try your hand at making your own.

If balsamic isn’t your flavor, how about some yogurt sweetened with a little honey instead? You could also make some whipped cream and spoon some on top. If you want to make adult style whipped cream, add a few splashes of your favorite bourbon or whiskey to really make your fruit happy. Still not enough? Okay, how about a scoop of good vanilla ice cream to go on top of this beautiful fruit? As you can see, the options are endless!

What could you do with left over grilled fruits? You could chop them up and throw them into some pancake batter or top your pancakes with them. You could also add the fruit to your favorite smoothie for a little extra complexity and sweetness. Hey, why not add to your barbecue sauce collection? I know I would! If you want to really add a nice counterpoint, sprinkle the a little salt on top of the fruit and serve. I promise, you can’t go wrong!


Putting the Cherry On Top of Barbecue Sauce

I think most people would agree that summer is the time for sauces for all occasions. I would argue that part of that is related to the bountiful assortment of berries that are popping up everywhere.

As of late, cherries have been exploding up here in the Pacific Northwest and they are beautiful! Problem is, with this crazy weather, the cherry season is all screwed up. As you know, I have been making jam like there is no tomorrow! I know, why am I talking about jam? Just give me a minute and I think it will all make sense.

Okay, where was I? Right, making truck loads of jam. Delicious jam varieties such as strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and marionberry jam. However, I’ve had one type of jam that I have yet to conquer…….cherry.

So, I set out to make cherry jam. It was as simple as all the rest, but the only problem was pitting all those little buggers. Luckily, it went pretty quick. Want to see the finished product? Okay, here is my beautiful cherry jam.

The jam was sweet, tart, rich, and thick. Everything you would want in homemade jam. If you can’t remember how to make jam, just click here to review.
The jam was made and was ready to chill in the fridge. The next morning, it was time to see how our jam fared on a piece of toast. The jam tasted really good, but there was a glaring issue. While the jam cooked, the cherry skins had separated from the flesh and hadn’t broken down at all. Instead there were just cherry skins floating in the jam (it really felt like something out of horror film… or maybe off the set of “The Walking Dead” lol). I considered digging through the jam and trying to remove the skins but that would have taken a long time and I didn’t have the energy for that. It was decision time: What on earth could I do to salvage this beautiful jam? Then it hit me!
I have been exploring different versions of barbecue sauce since I started making my own sauces a year ago, or so. Recently I shared a blueberry barbecue sauce recipe, which you can find here.
I thought, maybe I can turn this dilapidated cherry bomb that resembled jam, into a cherry barbecue sauce! I got online just to make sure I wasn’t going to do something totally crazy, and there it was, cherry barbecue sauce. Bingo, I thought.
One day, in between running errands, I took my own homemade barbecue sauce that I already had prepared in the fridge, the cherry jam, and combined them together. How is this for a science experiment?
I started with a half cup of each to get this recipe going. After that, just add the mix to your favorite blender or food processor and process until smooth. You should have something that looks like this.
The barbecue sauce tasted amazing and was smooth as silk, but it lacked some flavor. I added the remaining quarter cup of cherry jam and blended again. The flavor was much better! Even though the cherry jam was subtle you could pick up some of the cherry notes. That’s it.
You have an amazing barbecue sauce that is unique and different. Since we are on the topic, you can use just about any fruit in barbecue sauces. Some of the more common types are blueberry, peach, blackberry, and many others.
How should you use this sauce? Well, honestly, the sky is the limit. It would work on fish, chicken, pork or beef just as well. You could use it as a marinade, glaze or to help develop an amazing crust on your choice of protein. Heck, you could even use it as a condiment for sandwiches, wraps, and a number of other applications.
This post on barbecue sauce proves that even a simple mistake for one recipe can open the door for something new and unexpected.