Monday, September 30, 2013

Pan Seared Wild Pacific Halibut w/ Lemon, Capers and Garlic Herb Butter

This evening I made a quick and simple dinner. I picked up some wild Pacific halibut this weekend at Costco and decided to pan sear it and keep it super simple and fresh. I heated a medium skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil on medium-high and placed 2 halibut fillets (seasoned on both sides with freshly ground black pepper and pink Himalayan salt) in the pan and cooked on each side for 3 minutes and then transferred to a plate and covered immediately with foil to gently complete the cooking all the way to the center of the 1-inch fillets. After removing the halibut, I added about 3 tablespoons of Kerrygold's Garlic & Herb Butter to the skillet (keeping the heat on medium) and then added about 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest to the skillet and gently swirled it around until the butter was melted; then added 2-3 tablespoons of capers to the lemon garlic butter and cooked just until heated (about 1 minute). I plated the halibut and then spooned the lemon garlic herb butter with capers over the top and lightly grated a bit more lemon zest over the top. I served our meal with fresh steamed broccoli and Yellow Squash Casserole left from last night's dinner. Total prep and cook time for this evening's dinner was about 20 minutes (maybe less). I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Marinated Grilled Chicken & Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole

This evening youngest son came for dinner. I marinated boneless chicken breasts (that I pounded with my meat mallet to an even thickness) in a simple marinade using the juice of 2 lemons, the zest of 1 lemon, a little over 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons of Greek Seasoning (Penzey's), 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and about 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary. I marinated the chicken in a gallon-size Ziploc bag for about 4 hours. Hubby grilled them for 3 to 4 minutes per side. While the chicken marinated, I made my Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole and steamed fresh broccoli with butter. It was a simple and delicious dinner. I have plenty of squash casserole left to serve as a side dish for at least one or two more dinners which will make for an easy weeknight meal or two later this week. I love it when I can just reheat a dish to pair with something else and make another meal with. I snapped a few photos of our dinner below as well as the recipe for the squash casserole. Enjoy!

Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole before going into the oven 

Big Sunday Breakfast - Biscuits, Eggs, Bacon & Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake Yogurt Parfaits

Happy Sunday! This morning it was 55 degrees outside when we woke up as well as another beautiful bright, sunny fall morning. I decided to start with breakfast first this morning before taking a walk and running errands. I made my Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits, fried organic eggs, oven roasted uncured bacon (by Maverick Ranch) and Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake Yogurt Parfaits that I made last Sunday. When I made my biscuits this morning, I only made 1/2 a batch and made 8 smaller biscuits instead of the 10-12 larger ones I usually make using my full recipe. I had a cup of Hawaiian Blend coffee with my breakfast. I am not sure what in the world I was thinking making myself that much for breakfast...but obviously my eyes were bigger than my <former> wheat belly!  ;-)  I ate less than half of the parfait -- I was absolutely stuffed, so I put it away in the fridge to eat later. I wanted to finish up the rest of the canned pumpkin I opened last week, so I went ahead and made a bigger batch of the pumpkin cheesecake layer so I can easily whip it out and layer it with my yogurt and chopped pecans for either dessert or breakfast in a nanosecond (I increased the cream cheese a bit to make it "cheesecakier"). It is so good and a nice change from the usual yogurt and berries. I snapped a few pics of my breakfast below. Enjoy!

Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits (recipe below)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Roast Beef Taco Cups -- It's Mexican Night!

Today was such a beautiful day out and the sky this evening was absolutely gorgeous, too. We did a big shopping at Costco this afternoon and while there, I picked up some artisan romaine lettuce so I could make tacos tonight (they are really small heads of romaine). I had about half of the cooked tri-tip roast left from Thursday night's dinner that I diced up to make tacos with. After dicing the remaining pound or so of cooked beef, I prepared it exactly the same way I would when using browned ground beef. I used my taco seasoning blend and about 1/2 cup water and simmered it until all the liquid had evaporated and then filled the little romaine cups with the spicy beef mixture and topped it with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and diced tomatoes. It was absolutely delicious and a great way to use up leftover pot roast or roast beef. I will definitely make these again -- I liked these tacos so much better than using ground beef...there was much more texture and flavor -- I felt like I was eating in a gourmet Mexican restaurant! I snapped a couple photos of the tacos for you to see as well as a picture of tonight's absolutely gorgeous "painted" skyline. Enjoy!

Saturday Brunch...

Happy Saturday! This morning we were able to sleep in a bit and awoke to an absolutely gorgeous fall morning. It was so beautiful that we ended up walking for 2 hours instead of the 1 hour we had planned to do (of course, since I took my camera along it delayed things just a bit). When we got back home, I was starving -- I had only had a couple glasses of water before heading out. I was so glad that I made my Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie for dinner last night...because that meant LEFTOVERS for brunch (it was too late to count as breakfast). All I had to do was reheat a piece in the microwave for a couple of minutes and breakfast was ready! I enjoyed my "slice of pie" with a big fat red strawberry and a cup of French roast coffee...and now I'm off to my next favorite part of the day...Costco!  ;-)  I really should invest in some stock in that company...hahaha! I snapped a couple photos of my brunch as well as a couple pictures from our walk this morning. Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie -- It's Greek Night!

This evening I was in the mood for my Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie. As many of you already know, it is one of my favorites. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner...I could eat it every day (and sometimes do with the leftovers). It's one of those things I never seem to tire of. I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as the recipe. Happy Friday! Enjoy!

Simple crust: almond flour, egg, butter and Greek seasoning cut in until crumbly and moist

Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie



2 cups blanched almond flour
3 tablespoons cold butter, diced into small cubes
1 egg
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning (or Italian Seasoning), optional 


10 oz. fresh spinach (up to 16 oz), cooked, squeezed dry and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 to 2 teaspoons, if using fresh)
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 eggs (or 1-1/4 cups Egg Beaters)
1/2 cup half-n-half, cream or milk


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Place all crust ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cut butter and egg into flour with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles small pebbles and the flour is thoroughly moistened (the same way you prepare a pie crust).  Press crust mixture into pie dish or tart pan (I used a 10" pie dish).  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from oven and set aside.

Increase oven temp to 350 degrees F.  In a non-stick skillet, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent; remove and set aside.  In the same skillet, saute spinach, just until wilted.  Drain and press as much liquid out of the spinach as possible (I use a mesh strainer and press it with the back of a large spoon).  Place well drained spinach in a medium bowl (coarsely chop first, if desired); add cooked onions and garlic, feta, dill, lemon zest, pepper, eggs and half-n-half.  Mix until well combined.  Pour mixture into the lightly baked crust and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes; lower oven temp to 325 F (so edge of crust doesn't over brown); bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until filling and eggs are set and cooked .  If the center still seems a little jiggly, cook an additional few minutes.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Slow Cooker Spice Rubbed Tri-Tip Roast w/ Rich and Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash

This evening we had a delicious "comfort food" dinner. I pulled out my crock pot to make Slow Cooker Beef Loin Tri-Tip Roast. It turned out delicious. Every time I go to Costco (which is almost every week), I look at these "beef loin tri-tip" roasts they carry that I don't find in my grocery store. I had read an article about them not too long ago in Fine Cooking Magazine and decided that if I could ever find a package with just 1 roast in it instead of 2, that I wanted to try it. Costco always packages them in packs of 2 roasts. They are a triangular shaped roast and not like anything I've seen before (I've added a link below if you are interested in reading about them). This past weekend Costco actually had a couple packages with only 1 roast, so I snatched one up immediately (it was calling my name). It wasn't a large roast -- it was 2.12 pounds (and not too expensive at $5.99/lb). I got a head start on preparing tonight's dinner by beginning it late last night. I originally planned to prep the roast and put it in the crock pot so I could just take it out of the fridge and turn it on before heading to work. Instead, I decided to go ahead and actually cook it for 8 hours overnight while we slept. I turned the crock pot off when I got up at 6:00 this morning and transferred the roast to a platter to cool while I showered. When I got back downstairs the roast was cool so I went ahead and thinly sliced it and placed it back in the "au jus" in the crock pot, covered it and placed it in the fridge until this evening. When I got home, I reheated the sliced roast in the crock pot while I prepared my Rich & Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash and cooked my yellow squash by lightly sauteing it in a bit of butter and olive oil with sea salt and black pepper...NO water added -- it makes squash squeak in your teeth when you chew it if you cook it in water (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). To season my 2+ pound roast before placing in the crock pot, I made a super simple rub -- nothing magical, just flavorful. I mixed approximately 1/2 teaspoon of each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, ground ancho chile pepper, and then about 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder (you can use your own favorite combination in place of any or all of these). I placed the roast on a cutting board and just rubbed the mixture all over the roast. I placed a very thinly sliced small-medium sized onion in the bottom of the crock pot so the roast would sit on top of the onion and not directly on the bottom of the pot. After I had a thin layer of onion in the bottom of the pot, I placed my spice rubbed roast on top, covered the crock pot and turned it on high for the first 1-1/2 hours and then down to low for the remaining 6-1/2 hours of slow cooking. I bet you are wondering if I forgot to mention that I added some type of liquid...nope, I didn't forget to mention it because I did not add any liquid. The "au jus" that was created as the roast cooked was a very concentrated flavorful juice made up entirely of beef juices and the little bit of liquid in the onion mixed with the spices and seasonings and was not diluted with anything other liquid. It produced approximately 2 cups of juice. Now...if you were going to leave the house all day long for 8+ hours or so, I would probably add about 1/4 cup of liquid to the pot to make sure it stayed moist. I added a touch more salt and pepper to the au jus and spooned it over the cauliflower mash and beef. It was delicious. If you wanted to thicken it into a gravy, you could do that, too if you preferred...but this juice was very flavorful and didn't require any interference whatsoever, it was good as is. I snapped a few photos below and included the recipe for my Rich & Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash. P.S--I would definitely buy this kind of roast again. To read more about what a tri-tip roast is, here is a link: Tri-Tip Roast. Enjoy!

See how I have cooked all the chicken broth down out of the cauliflower?

Freshly pureed with my immersion blender along with the cream, cream cheese, Parmesan. salt and pepper.

Rich and Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash

1 medium head of fresh cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets
1 cup (8 oz) of chicken broth or stock
2 ounces brick style cream cheese (1/4 of an 8-oz brick)
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
3 to 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, place cauliflower and chicken broth; bring to a boil and then cover pan; turn heat down to low and simmer until cauliflower is very soft and tender and chicken broth has completely cooked into the cauliflower (about 20 to 30 minutes). Make sure there is no liquid left at all in the bottom of the pan (remove the cover if necessary and cook until any remaining liquid is gone and the cauliflower is no longer wet looking).  Remove pan from heat and add cream cheese and heavy cream.  Using an immersion blender stick, blend or puree the cauliflower until the cheese and cream are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Add grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper, to taste.  Blend another minute.  Adjust seasoning and add additional cream, if necessary, to thin out a little bit.  The cauliflower mash should be thick and not runny at all. 

*Note:  To reduce the cooking time for the cauliflower, just cut it up into smaller pieces. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a handheld potato masher, it just won't be quite as smooth. I prefer using an immersion blender rather than transferring it to free-standing blender because it is much easier and less messy since you blend it directly in the pot. It allows you to cover it and keep it warm until ready to serve.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuna-cchini Cakes

This evening I was in the mood for tuna cakes. I also had a small zucchini in the fridge that wasn't really big enough to do anything with -- so I grated it and added it to my patty mixture. I didn't really make a "recipe", in that I didn't actually measure anything out -- I just sort of added a little of this and that as I went along. I used 2 cans of drained tuna (Wild Planet), a grated small zucchini, a little mayonnaise, diced celery, a couple sliced green spring onions, sea salt, a couple squeezes of sriracha sauce (for spice), and an egg. I mixed it all together and then added a couple tablespoons of ground golden flax, just enough until I could form the mixture into soft patties that stayed together. I sauteed the cakes in a skillet coated with some light olive oil until golden brown (about 5 minutes on each side) and then moved them to a cookie sheet and placed in a 250 degree F oven to keep warm while I finished making all the cakes. I made 7 tuna-cchini cakes from my concoction. I find that by making smaller patties it makes them much easier to flip without breaking. The only thing I would do a bit differently is to add a tad more sea instead I just sprinkled a little on top. You can easily add whatever you like to these cakes to season them the way you like them. While these tuna-cchini cakes were nothing to write home about or anything and very simple...I liked them (hubby chose to eat something else -- too many crunchy things in them for him...LOL). I look forward to having some of the leftover tuna-cchini cakes cold for lunch tomorrow. I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. Enjoy!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Lasagna w/ Yellow Summer Squash Noodles

Today we enjoyed another fall-like day here in the Atlanta area. It's funny how the sky looks so different all of a sudden -- beautiful clear blue skies filled with lots of big fluffy white clouds -- it actually looks like a fall sky. With our evening temps dipping into the upper 50s, it's just a matter of time before the leaves begin to turn colors and fall. Yesterday we celebrated my oldest son's birthday and had the whole family over. It's been a while since I've had all of them under the same roof at the same time! I made lasagna for dinner -- the regular kind for all of the wheat-eaters and a smaller separate one for me. It's so easy to do because everything else is exactly the same, except for the noodles.

I decided to try yellow summer squash for the noodles this time. Yellow summer squash tends to have a slightly sweeter flavor to me with a different flavor than zucchini -- nothing drastic, but more subtle. I made a batch of very meaty meat sauce -- I used 3 pounds of ground sirloin. I used a good jarred sauce (DelGrosso's Fireworks Sauce, which is spicy). I wanted a thick spicy meat sauce. You can use your favorite lasagna recipe to make this -- just make or buy a good sauce that doesn't contain sugar or any corn syrup as sweetener. I used 2 26-ounce jars for 3 pounds of meat that I added to the meat after I browned it along with a small diced onion (I seasoned the meat well with sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, 6 chopped fresh sage leaves and a few generous pinches of fennel seed to give the beef a "sausage-like flavor"). I added the sauce to the browned, seasoned beef and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.

The trick to making a good lasagna when you substitute zucchini or yellow squash for noodles is to make sure you don't use too much sauce, and the thicker the better. The meat sauce I made was enough to make one large deep regular lasagna for the family as well as a 9.5" x 9.5" square 3-layer wheat-free lasagna for me. The funny thing is that my younger son wanted to eat MY lasagna instead of the regular kind -- he tried the regular kind but preferred mine -- so that just proves that it really is good regardless of whether or not you are a wheat-eater! While I do believe that they all would have eaten and enjoyed it if I had just made my wheat-free version -- since this was a birthday dinner, I always cater to the birthday person (it's called mother's prerogative). Believe it or not, it's actually really easy to make a separate and smaller modified version of the same thing for yourself, if you are the only wheat-free person in your house with minimal time and effort. I just placed the casserole dishes side by side and layered them at the same time.  The amount of lasagna that I prepared last night made 12 generous portions (4 wheat-free servings in my little casserole and 8 servings in the larger regular-version casserole). I photographed my lasagna yesterday but waited until this evening to write it up and post it so I could spend the evening uninterrupted with my family. Hubby and I enjoyed having the leftovers again this evening and I sent lasagna home with the kids, too. I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as my simple recipe for the 4-serving casserole which can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on how many you are serving. I served the lasagna with a fresh green salad on the side. Enjoy!

Lasagna w/ Yellow Summer Squash Noodles

Basic instructions: To make the 4-serving 9.5" x 9.5" casserole, I made "yellow squash noodles" by thinly slicing 3 medium yellow summer squash (about 1/4" thick), lightly sprayed them with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper and roasted in a 400 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes until fork-tender. In addition to the thick meaty sauce, I used fresh mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, shredded regular mozzarella cheese and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano to top the lasagna with. To make the smaller 4-serving casserole you would need the following ingredients (double the recipe to serve 8 or triple to serve 12):


3 to 4 medium yellow summer squash (or zucchini), sliced lengthwise in 1/4" slices

Meat sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil (for browning beef and onion)
1 pound ground sirloin
1/4 cup diced onion
Seasonings to taste, optional: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sage and fennel seed (if you want to give a sausage-like flavor to your browned beef)
2/3 of a 26-oz jar of pasta sauce

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
8 ounces shredded regular mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (or about 1/3 of a 16-oz container)
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (or regular Parmesan cheese)


This is the order I layered everything:
  • Thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish;
  • Layer 1/3 of "noodles" (I used yellow summer squash)
  • Layer the ricotta cheese
  • 2nd thin layer of meat sauce
  • 2nd layer of  1/3 of "noodles"
  • Layer the fresh mozzarella (break up with fingers and scatter evenly)
  • Layer 1/2 of the shredded regular mozzarella
  • 3rd thin layer of meat sauce
  • 3rd and final 1/3 layer of "noodles"
  • 4th and final thin layer of meat sauce on top
  • Layer remaining half of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Topped with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Bake uncovered in a 375 degree F oven for about about 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes for the cheeses to cool down a bit so it isn't too hot and the cheeses can set so the lasagna doesn't slide all over the place when cut.  Serves 4.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Fall Breakfast...Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake Yogurt Parfaits

Happy Sunday and Happy Fall! This morning we awoke AT a beautiful bright sunny fall morning. It was 57 degrees when we got up and absolutely gorgeous outside. We decided to "seize the cool morning" and begin it with a long walk. We walked over 1-1/2 hours just soaking in the bright sunshine on this first fall morning. I had originally planned to make some type of eggs for breakfast this morning, but decided something more fall-like was more appropriate to celebrate the beginning of fall. I had all kinds of wild ideas as we walked back...but I decided to keep it simple since we are celebrating my oldest son's birthday later today.

I mixed 1 cup of Greek Gods creamy full fat yogurt with cinnamon, a couple drops of vanilla extract and a few drops of stevia...but I wanted my breakfast to say, I wanted it to SCREAM I made a pumpkin-cheesecake swirl to add to it and convert it from a ho-hum (but delicious) cinnamon-vanilla Greek yogurt into a full fledged Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake Yogurt Parfait loaded with all the flavors of fall!

It was so simple, in a small bowl, I added 1 ounce of softened brick-style cream cheese to it, about 3 tablespoons of 100% pure canned pumpkin (not the pie filling), 1 tablespoon of confectioners style Swerve, a few drops of pure Maple extract (by OliveNation) a few heavy dashes of cinnamon and mixed it all together until smooth and creamy with a rubber spatula. It became a maple-cinnamon-pumpkin-cheesecake-ish layer to make my little parfaits with. I layered the cinnamon-vanilla Greek yogurt alternately in mini-trifle bowls with my pumpkin layer, sprinkling with finely chopped pecans between each layer. I was in pumpkin heaven this morning and it was a great, simple wheat-free way to usher in fall (these would also make a great dessert as well). I enjoyed it with a cup of Nantucket coffee with cream. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pizza at the Beach...Our "Farewell to Vacation" Dinner

Well, vacation time has essentially come to a close now...we leave in the morning. This has been a long awaited and much needed break from the "real world". For the record, my vacation has been awesome...even without consuming any wheat or grains and I didn't feel like I missed out on anything. We have eaten well and enjoyed all the other activities one does when on a beach vacation...many long walks on the beach, swimming in the ocean and pool and long walks in the evenings under the palm trees. As a matter of fact, we just returned from our last one hour walk this evening after dinner. We even had dinner out one night. To celebrate the fact that it's Friday and the wrap up of the culmination of our vacation...I decided that pizza was the best way to end our week here (topped with sauce, fresh mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, Italian chicken sausage, red bell pepper, mushrooms, onions and spinach...phew - I snapped the layers as I built the mega-pizza)! I snapped a few photos of our "pizza al fresco" from one of the rooftop decks in the beautiful house we stayed at. Enjoy!

It's a Wonderful Life...

Almond-Flax-Parmesan Herb Pizza Crust
Makes 1 10-inch round pizza (approximately 2 servings)

Dry Ingredients:
1/4 cup  almond flour
1/4 cup  golden flax seed meal (organic golden flax is milder in taste than brown)
2/3 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
Dash cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste (decrease salt if using saltier cheeses and toppings)
Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
4 - 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Wet Ingredients:
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute such as Egg Beaters)
1 tablespoon olive oil (a little more, if desired)
1 to 2 tablespoons water (start with 1 tablespoon of water and add the second, if necessary)

Toppings (Optional):  
Pizza sauce, pesto sauce, etc.
Cheese: shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced or diced fresh mozzarella, etc.
**Pre-cooked vegetables of choice: onions, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc. 
**Pre-cooked meat of choice: sausage, ground beef topping, etc.
Other: artichokes, olives, pepperoni, etc.

**Tip: Fresh vegetable and meat toppings should be pre-cooked and drained to prevent crust from becoming soggy

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients together; add wet ingredients and mix well. Let the dough sit for approximately 5 minutes to thicken. 

Spread dough on a lightly oiled large pizza pan or cookie sheet lined with greased parchment paper (you can also use Reynolds non-stick foil, lightly brushed with olive oil).  Using a lightly oiled rubber spatula, press the dough out to desired shape and thickness (I usually make it about 1/4" thick -- *see note below).  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through (check crust after 15 minutes and remove from oven when it looks and feels done).  Spread with a thin layer of sauce, cheese and desired toppings (fresh vegetable and meat toppings should be pre-cooked to prevent soggy crust); place back into the oven to bake an additional 5-10 minutes to melt cheese.  If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the toppings and make the cheese bubbly (be careful not to burn it).

*Note:  For a crust that is flat, smooth and even in thickness, lightly spray a 2nd sheet of parchment paper with olive oil spray and place it on top (oiled side down) of the ball of pizza dough that is centered in the middle of your prepared pizza pan or baking sheet.  Using either your hands or the flat edge of an object (I use a big container of black pepper) press the dough smooth by swiping it the direction you want the pizza crust to go.  When it is the desired thickness and shape, carefully peel off the top layer of parchment paper...and "Voila"...perfectly flat, smooth, thin pizza crust! If you don't have parchment paper, pressing the dough out with a lightly oiled rubber spatula works just fine, too.


Last Lunch at the Beach...

This morning we got up early and did some exploring and walking around at adjacent beaches. It is a bright, sunny and hot day here today. The rain is supposed to roll in we roll out. Our beach vacation has almost come to an end. I snapped a quick photo below of my "tuna salad boats" that I made for lunch. I served them with a piece of string cheese and almonds as my "sides"...LOL. I also made a big glass of fresh lemonade...and we are ready to go hit the beach for the last time! We have been very lucky with the weather considering the awfully rainy summer we had back home. Tonight will be pizza night to celebrate it being Friday...and our last day here. It truly is a wonderful life...Enjoy!

Do we really have to leave tomorrow, Mom? Can't we just stay here forever???

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Papparadelle w/ Italian Sausage in Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce

For dinner this evening, I made what I had originally planned to make for dinner last night. I picked up some fresh Italian chicken sausage links and browned them well, added a bit of water, covered and simmered until done, about 10-15 minutes. Once they were cooked through, I sliced them diagonally and browned them a bit more, then removed and set them aside. I added a diced red bell pepper and sauteed it until tender, tossed in some fresh sliced mushrooms and cooked them for a few minutes until done and then combined the sausage, cooked red bell pepper and mushrooms and poured a jar of Mezzetta's Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce over them and simmered about 20 minutes to let the flavors mingle a bit.  While the sauce simmered, I made my "papparedelle" out of yellow summer squash by using a regular vegetable peeler to make thin ribbons of pasta. I sauteed them lightly in a bit of olive oil just until al dente and then seasoned it with a few grinds of sea salt. I served the papparadelle topped with the pasta sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. It was a quick, simple and delicious meal...and unbelievable how much the ribbons of yellow squash really looked like papparadelle pasta. If you are interested in checking out the link to see what regular papparadelle pasta (made with wheat) looks here: Pappardelle. I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. Enjoy!


Lunch...Deli "Sandwich-Cups"...

After a long walk on the beach this morning, we came back up to have lunch. Since I didn't make a big breakfast, I was hungry for something simple, but good. I had some Boars Head turkey pastrami in the fridge as well as little heads of artisan romaine lettuce that I brought with us from home (I get them from Costco). I decided to make "deli sandwich-cups". To make them easy to pick up and eat, I laid out 3 thin slices of turkey pastrami per lettuce cup and placed a little dab of mayonnaise in the center of each slice and then rolled them up and placed 3 pastrami-rolls inside of each lettuce cup. I took a piece of Monterey pepper-jack cheese and sliced it into 6 strips and placed 3 strips of cheese on top of the pastrami-rolls in each lettuce cup and then topped them with sliced avocado and diced cherry tomatoes. They turned out absolutely delicious! I had a few roasted almonds and half of a stalk of celery filled with natural peanut butter that I lightly sprinkled with coarsely ground sea salt. It was a quick and simple wheat free lunch that took very little time to put together...but somehow seemed special. Check out the photos below. Enjoy!