Cold Asparagus Salad

Hopefully, you are still able to get fresh asparagus where you are! This makes a wonderful summer salad side dish and is fairly easy to prepare. We enjoy edit with a great hamburger and potato salad. There’s very little prep involved too. Follow the asparagus directions as shown and do not overcook it.

Asparagus Salad COLD

Ingredients

  • 1 large hard-boiled egg (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 2/3 cups chopped asparagus
  • 2 slices cooked and crumbled center cut bacon (check labels for Whole30)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (check label for Whole30)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • pinch salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender yet firm. Drain and run under cold water to stop it from cooking further. Setaside OR place asparagus stocks, trimmed, in a microwave dish and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, Drain!

2. In a small bowl mix the Dijon, oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Arrange the asparagus on a plate, top with egg and bacon and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Asparagus Casserole with Ritz Crackers

Another Costco use up – LOL. Two people can hardly use up a whole package of their asparagus in less than a week? This was very tasty along with some Costco roasted chicken.

Asparagus Casserole with Ritz Crackers – Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10.5 ounces cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Ritz crackers crushed
  • 1/2 cup bacon cooked, reserve 2 tablespoons bacon grease

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cut asparagus in bite sized pieces and separate the tips from the stalks.

3. Add the stalks to salted, boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the tips and cook for a minute or so more – or until the stalks are crisp-tender.

5. Drain.

6. Cook the bacon until crisp. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

7. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

8. Crumble the crackers and set aside.

9. Grease a 2-quart (9×9) casserole dish and add half the cooked asparagus.

10. Top with half the cream of mushroom soup.

11. Add half the cheese and repeat the layers.

12. Mix the reserved bacon grease with the cracker crumbs. You may substitute 2 tablespoons of melted butter if you like.

13. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

14. Top with the crumbled bacon.

15. Bake, uncovered, until heated through and bubbly, 25 – 30 minutes

Expert Tip: Separate the tips of the asparagus and the stems after you cut the stalks up. Add the stalks to boiling water first and let them cook about 2 minutes before adding the tips. That way the stalks will be cooked through but the tips won’t be mushy.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausage

Recently, we started to buy Aidell’s Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausage at our local Costco. It is so very useful in many recipes and the fact that it is neither pork or beef makes it even better. Our local grocery store now carries acorn squash. These two items are a match made in heaven!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausage

Ingredients

  • 2 Acorn Squash
  • 1 package of Aidell’s chicken with feta and spinach squash cubed
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of spinach, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese (or sub your favorite cheese)
  • 2 T of pecorino Romano
  • sea or Himalayan salt

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but keeps the mess away).

Cut each acorn squash in half, top to bottom OR across the middle, and remove the seeds. Use the first 2 teaspoons of olive oil to brush each squash, then sprinkle with salt. Place squash halves in oven for 40 minutes, or until fork tender, but still retaining their shape.

2 While the squash is roasting, brown the cubed sausage in a skillet until cooked through. Next, add in remaining olive oil, onion and garlic to the pan and cook until veggies are soft. Mix in spinach and sprinkle mixture with a little salt. Cook until spinach wilts.

3 Once squash is finished cooking, use a fork to gently mash the inside. Then divide sausage and veggie mixture evenly among the squash halves. Top each with 2 T of feta cheese and a 1/2 T of pecorino Romano. Place squash back in the oven for a few minutes to melt and brown the cheese.

Mushroom Chowder

The only problem in buying those Costco mushrooms is what do you do with all of those? This recipe will give you reason to use at least a half pound or more!

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but the flavour is incredible as a result of all of the spices. I did not make this VEGAN! I did use cream cheese in place of the cashew cream. That choice is yours to make…

There is a fair amount of prepping, but mainly due to the spices,cleaning the mushrooms, etc.

Mushroom Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil or vegan butter
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 8 ounces baby Bella mushrooms quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme or 1 spring fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 cups broth or water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt depending on the saltiness of your broth
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes, small cubed (FYI I skipped the potatoes as I wanted to use croutons as a garnish as shown in the photo)
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup cashew cream, 1/2 cup raw cashews blended with 3/4 cup water or use any other thick non-dairy cream or you can also use 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese
  • green onion for garnish
  • OPTIONAL Old Bay Seasoning for a seafood taste

1. Heat the oil or vegan butter over high-medium heat in a large sauce pan. Once hot, add the garlic, onion, and celery, and a good pinch of salt and cook until the onion is starting to turn golden. 6-9 mins

2. Then add in the mushrooms and another good pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms are starting to sear on some edges. 4-8 mins

3. Then add in the bay leaves, thyme, sage, onion powder, black pepper, and the flour and mix in for a few seconds

4. Then add in the broth. Add 1 cup broth and mix so the flour doesn’t get lumpy, then slowly add the rest. Add potatoes, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and salt and mix in. Cook partially covered for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked well.

5. Mash some of the potatoes. Add in the cashew cream and bring to a good boil. Taste and adjust salt and flavor.

6. If the chowder has thickened too much, add in more water or broth if needed and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust salt and flavor. Take off heat, remove the bay leaves and serve garnished with black pepper and green onion.

Meatless Lasagna

One of our close friends has decided that he would stay away from meat for awhile. It just so happened that he was coming for dinner one Sunday! For anyone else that might have someone like this in their lives, this recipe fit the bill and it tasted great! Who needs meat? It comes together fairly quickly and I was able to prepare it the day before and just refrigerate it until just before he arrived on Sunday. Bring the casserole out of the refrigerator 30 minutes of so before placing in the oven!

Meatless Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. package lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 large zucchini (cut in half (lengthwise) and sliced)
  • ¾ cup green bell pepper (chopped)
  • ¾ cup onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 oz. jars pasta sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 15 oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Prepare the Lasagna according to package directions!

2. Add olive oil to a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir in mushrooms, green peppers, zucchini, onion and garlic and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce and dried basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

3. Mix together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and eggs.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 inch dish. Spread 1 cup pasta sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Layer lasagna noodles, ricotta mix, and sauce (in that order). Repeat layering, and top with remaining cups mozzarella cheese.

10. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Lighter Beef and Broccoli

I looked back and saw that I had included other beef and broccoli recipes, but not this one for some reason. It just happened that a friend gave us a small picanha (tri-tip sirloin) which she had mistakenly thawed and wasn’t sure what to do with it. After slicing it up and marinating it, the result was very good.

It may seem complicated,but it really wasn’t!

Lighter Broccoli Beef

Ingredients

serves 4

  • 1-1/4lb flank or sirloin steak, cut very thin against the grain
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium gluten-free Tamari, divided
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour, divided (potato starch)
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (or more or less)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water, divided
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 Tablespoon peanut oil, divided
  • cooked rice, for serving

Directions

1. Add sliced steak, 2 Tablespoons gluten-free Tamari, and 1 Tablespoon gluten-free flour to a large Ziplock bag then seal and squish to evenly coat. Place the bag into the refrigerator to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.

2. Add remaining 1/2 cup gluten-free Tamari, remaining 1-1/2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour, chicken broth, brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons water, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ground ginger, and red chili pepper flakes to a bowl then whisk to combine and set aside.

FYI, I doubled the amount of this part to have more sauce for the rice!

3. Heat a large wok or non-stick skillet over high heat then add remaining 1/4 cup water. Once simmering, add broccoli then stir fry until crisp tender, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate then set aside.

4. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in wok then, once hot, add 1/2 the marinated beef in one layer. Let sit undisturbed until seared, 30 seconds, then stir fry until just barely cooked through (some pink still showing is ok.) Remove to plate with broccoli. Heat remaining Tablespoon oil then stir fry remaining beef and add to plate.

5. Add sauce to wok then simmer until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add cooked broccoli and beef back into the wok then simmer until everything is heated through, 1 minute. Serve over cooked rice.

Hungarian Goulash

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” LOL. Where did the week go? In actuality, we are still catching up after returning from a month’s vacation. Some of you know how that is after almost two years of no travelling. While in Europe years back, we had the opportunity of trying both Czech and Hungarian goulash. Our preference was the Hungarian, which we had in Budapest. This recipe is fairly straight forward once everything is prepped.

Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ pound stewing beef trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cups beef broth or water
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes canned
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cup carrot diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, diced or less

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add onion. Cook till translucent. Stir in caraway seeds and paprika and mix well.

2. In a bowl, dredge the stew beef with flour. Add beef to the onion mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Slowly add about ¼ cup of the beef broth to lift the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Then add remaining broth, diced tomatoes (potatoes and carrots if using), salt and pepper.

4. Stir and bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer for about 1 ½ -2 hours or until tender.

Shopska Salad

A day late this week, as we just returned from vacation in Ontario, Canada. While there we had this wonderful salad in a Serbian restaurant. In researching, I came to see the same recipe listed as Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, etc. Nevertheless, it was great. It is important to dice the vegetables as indicated. If not, you may think you are making a Greek salad as the ingredients are very similar without the black olives!

Shopska Salad

Servings 6

  • 1 large beefsteak tomato about or the same amount of regular tomatoes
  • 3 mini cucumbers each about 15 cm/ 6 inches long or a regular long cucumber
  • 3 bell peppers red, yellow and green
  • 1 medium onion red or white
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar to taste
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Chop the tomatoes into cubes. Halve and chop the mini cucumbers. If using a large cucumber, remove the seeds with a tablespoon. Chop the bell peppers. Finely chop the onion and the parsley.

2. Mix all the vegetables in a large bowl.

3. Dressing: whisk together the sunflower oil, red wine vinegar, fine sea salt, and pepper. Add to the salad and stir.

4. Crumble the creamy feta on top of the salad. Sprinkle cheese on the salad or mash it with a fork and smear on top of the salad. You can also crumble it and stir it into the salad.

5. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and more vinegar, if you like it.

Carbonara with Shrimp and Scallops

Dinner with friends again, so I opted to make this old recipe again, which it seems I never posted before? I added some shrimp to the original.

Carbonara with Pan Seared Scallops

Ingredients for Scallops

  • 12-16 large scallops 3-4 per person + deveined shrimp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and Pepper

Ingredients for Carbonara

  • 8 slices thick cut bacon diced
  • 1 shallot finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic leave whole
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup parmigiana Reggiano grated
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 14 oz (400g) pasta of your choice -I used Linguine

Pasta Carbonara

1. Start cooking pasta in large stainless-steel pot.

2. In small bowl mix together cream, egg yolks and 3/4 of cheese.

3. In large skillet cook bacon until crisp, add shallots and ½ green onions.

4. Smash down garlic clove a bit, add to bacon. (remove prior to adding pasta)

5. When pasta is finished cooking, drain well, then add to skillet of bacon.

6.. Toss well, then transfer to large bowl.

7. Add cream mixture to pasta and combined well. Make sure pasta is still hot in order to cook the eggs and melt the cheese.

Perfect Pan Seared Scallops (+ shrimp)

1. Blot scallops with paper towel to remove any water. Salt and pepper.

2. Heat large non-stick frying pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.

3. Make sure frying pan is hot before adding scallops but not smoking.

4. Add scallops leaving plenty of space between. Overcrowding the pan will drop the pan temperature and cause scallops to steam rather than sear. (may have to do in batches)

6.  Sear for about 2-4 minutes or when bottom is a nice golden brown. Don’t move them around in the pan or you will prevent them from forming that nice brown crust. After a couple of minutes have peek under to see if golden brown.

7.Turn to sear other side. (about 1-3 more minutes)

8. Spoon the melted butter over the scallops as the other side finishes cooking.

10. Transfer to paper towel covered plate.

11. Keep warm in oven, if making in batches.

12. Add butter to another frying pan. Cook shrimp until pink flipping once!

13. Add shrimp and scallops to pasta and mix well

14. Serve with more Parmesan cheese.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

We enjoyed this recipe at our daughter-in-laws as an appetizer, so much so that I served it as a side with the previous blog – Baked Salmon. It is definitely a keeper! Once the asparagus is blanched, the recipe is K.I.S.S. So simple that even a child could prepare it up to the point of baking! Great for BBQ season, too. Unfortunately, I ran out of the prosciutto so I just put the extra on the pan and drizzled it with more extra virgin olive oil.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

  • 8-ounce asparagus fresh
  • 10 slices dry-cured ham prosciutto
  • 6 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • olive oil

1. Cut each prosciutto slice in half crosswise.

2. Spread cream cheese and garlic onto each half slice of prosciutto.

3. Wrap cream cheese topped prosciutto around each asparagus spear.

4. Place wrapped asparagus onto a parchment paper lined baking pan.

5. Bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes or until meat has browned

NOTES

If you want to use multiple slices of prosciutto, go ahead. Since they are cured, using more than one won’t affect the cooking time.

Sprinkle pepper on the cream cheese. This will give the roasted recipe a bolder flavor.

Brush the prosciutto with olive oil. This is optional, but it will make the prosciutto crispier.

Soften the cream cheese. It is so much easier to spread when you let it sit at room temperature for a bit first.