Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese

Harvest season is upon us and I WISH I had a time elapsed camera set up near my squash because for the life of me I cannot figure out how on Monday they are almost but just not the right size and come Tuesday and they are like DAMN what the heck!

1st harvest 2018

1 cup measuring cup for scale


IMG_2964This morning (Saturday) I was sitting at the island enjoying my tea planning my day, making my grocery shopping list and trying to figure out what we might we eating this week. I figured I would head out to the garden and see what needed to be pulled.  I have already gotten way more radishes that any one human could eat luckily they are my Dad’s favorite and my daughter went into work (my favorite restaurant in town) tonight and asked if they might be interested in some; thankfully they said yes.
IMG_2954Veggie season gets me thinking of inventive ways to serve them. Right now it is only the squash and radishes but I see a head of Broccoli forming an the tomatoes are a few sunny days away. I tried a new recipe today using my slow cooker, which actually is not just a winter tool in my world. It doesn’t heat up the house and we get a nice meal with not a lot of effort.
IMG_2956I am going to call it a mock bolognese only because it doesn’t have any meat in it. Though I fried up some sweet italian sausage to serve along side it for us. You could make this totally vegetarian if you so wish to.
IMG_2958Crockpot cauliflower bolognese

Head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 medium diced onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1-2 cup chicken broth – or veggie broth
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
IMG_2962Put everything in the crockpot, stir and place on high for 3 ½ hours.  Once everything is cooked down take a potato masher and break up the cauliflower taste for salt and pepper. Leave it a little chunky and ladle over zoodles or spaghetti.
IMG_2971I had planned on making zoodles since I have so many in the house not but I was running late and my husband worked on a roof all day so he needed the pasta, some bread and even a cocktail.

Enjoy!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps – give them a try

Why I love lettuce wraps – I believe my first taste was about 5 or 6 years ago and our waiter said it was his favorite app at PF Changs. If we are trying a new place we tend to ask our waiter/waitress what their favorite is and maybe not every time but majority of the time we will take their recommendation. We all really loved their chicken lettuce wraps so much so I actually made a recipe I found online that someone came up with that said they were the ones from PF Changs. They too were delicious but a little time consuming so I have only made them a couple of times.
IMG_2883.JPGThere is an added bonus to lettuce wraps; if you are watching your carb intake you can eat 2 or 3 lettuce wraps without any guilt. Not that I have anything against carbs I mean if you saw me you would be like “oh yeah she eats carbs” but it is nice to know there are other ways to have a tasty filling without having a bun of some sort to hold it together.
IMG_2866This comes together very quickly and would be a great weeknight meal on some hot summer night when you want something quick, light and delicious!
IMG_2873.JPGTurkey Lettuce Wraps

1 package of ground turkey
Olive oil for the pan
Package of white mushrooms – cleaned and chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Boston or Bibb lettuce, romaine and iceberg work too
Shredded carrots
Bean Sprouts
IMG_2878.JPGSauce
3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon sriracha sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup water

Thai chili sauce works awesome too
IMG_2867IMG_2868IMG_2870Brown the turkey in a large saute pan until cooked through. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts cook until the mushrooms are soften. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and then add to the turkey mixture. Cook for about a minute or so. Remove from the heat.
IMG_2879.JPGCreate the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together. Once you make your lettuce wrap drizzle a little over the top of the turkey and veggies. Add a little thai chili sauce if you like a little more love.
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Recipe adapted from Melissa d’Arabian Food Network

Pesto Turkey Pasta

I need to start by saying I try to keep my online media presence pretty low key, well actually I do the same in my day to day “real” life as well. I think I share just enough information about me and also about my family. I try to not “offend” or “overshare” too much and I don’t normally talk about the 3 hot topics; money, religion and politics. At least that was the top three while I was growing up.  Today it seems there is nothing off limits; more and more things are coming out of the shadows everyday.

I was very saddened to hear about the tragedy of Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. I initially wrote the word suicides but I took it out and replaced it with tragedy because it sounded too harsh to me. I was brought up to not talk about anything too personal and I really don’t. Thankfully my daughter does not follow the same rules as I do. She needs help she asks, maybe someday I’ll be more like her.
IMG_2852.JPGI am a firm believer and have said it many many times that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. My heart breaks for their families and I hope that something positive can come out of these tragic losses. I felt I needed to say this as I have been thinking about it constantly. Depression is real if you need help please ask
US National suicide prevention line: 1-800-273-8255.

IMG_2848I don’t really know how to lead into the recipe I want to share with you so here it goes. My daughter made some delicious Basil Pistachio Pesto last weekend and what we didn’t eat with crackers I thought about using the rest for dinner. I also had some turkey cutlets that I needed to cook up and so it screamed pasta night. This would also be great if you had any leftover turkey though most people I know only eat turkey around Thanksgiving which is kind of a shame.  Who knows maybe you’ll want to try this and make a turkey leg or breast.
IMG_2849Pesto Turkey Pasta

2 large eggs
½ cup pesto – make fresh or buy your favorite brand (my “norm” recipe below) 
Box of pasta – farfalle, egg noodles, gemelli or similar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon zested
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (cutlets or leftovers)
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil water for the pasta and cook according to the package, drain reserving some of the liquid.
IMG_2851.JPGIn a medium bowl add the pesto along with the eggs and the lemon zest.

Saute the onions along with the garlic, add the chopped turkey cook through, or add the already cooked turkey.  
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Add the pasta to the onions and turkey. Pour the egg pesto mixture over the pasta turkey. The heat will cook the egg – similar to carbonara.  


Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If needed add some of the reserved pasta water to lighten up if needed.

Basil Pesto
6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nut
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the Parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything.

 

Zucchini Ravioli

I am not sure if it is the weather or my schedule of late but I havent really spent my usual amount of time planning the garden for this year. I was letting the dog out the side door just yesterday (Monday – i’m writing this one early as I am away this weekend) and noticed my asparagus was already 3 feet tall UGH! I hadn’t even cleaned out the debris from last year. I immediately went out and dealt with the situation and had some of the “normal” sized stalks for dinner – they were delicious as I knew they would be .
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Last year my zucchini was such a disappointment i am hoping for better this season. I realize people tend to use the oops I didn’t get to the garden in time sized squash that went from perfect to damn how did I miss that one; it’s the size of a Softball bat. For when they want to make zucchini lasagna; even though most times they are very seedy. But if you are looking for something to make with the cute little ones, this will fit the bill. Plus they are super cute and really easy to make.
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I actually have been trying for a month or so to make these. It started when I saw the crop of squash at the store, they were so cute so I grabbed a bag full. I forgot to go back to the other end of the store for the ricotta – fail. Then the next trip I grabbed some ricotta and thought I had some squash at home – fail. Finally I was going to make it happen – nope another fail timing is everything and it got away from me. Now I was determined and finally pulled it off. They don’t take long at all but I definitely could have used a few more to fill the pan I chose to make it in. I know just use a smaller dish – I know I know I have issues! Regardless I was very happy I finally made it happen, they are tasty, easy to assemble, quick and worth the wait.
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4-6 small Zucchini – for a 9×13 pan
1 large container Ricotta
2 eggs
1-2 tablespoon dried Parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesean Reggiano
1 cup mozzarella
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 jar marinara sauce
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Either make your marinara or use your favorite jarred sauce and doctor it up as you normally would, or not.
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In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesan, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Mix till combined.
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Using your vegetable peeler, slice lengthwise till you can’t anymore. I didn’t do this but think it would be easier to leave the stem on to use as a handle.
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Depending how large you want your ravioli layer 2 slices side by side then top with two more slices going the opposite direction.
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Put a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center and fold into a little package.
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Layer as you would a lasagna. Sauce, ravioli, cheese and repeat.
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Bake for about 30 minutes until the top cheese layer is brown and bubbly
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Marinated skirt or flank steak

I am going to start this by asking you to make this!!! Demanding is a little harsh but damn this is amazing even cold the next day! Just saying as a Mom that if my kids wanted to make this for me next weekend for Mothers day it would be a good day!!!!
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A couple of weekends ago  it was finally gorgeous out – a little chilly and windy but at least the sun was shining and it wasn’t snowing! Though I still have some snow on the ground in certain areas around the house; It was definitely time to start bringing out the patio furniture and starting up the grill. That was after we removed a mouse nest that was in the grill; disgusting;  so I vacuumed, washed and burned off any mice remnants YUCK! 700’F for 10 minutes ought to do the trick.
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Let’s just say that I was happy no one was taping me, I lifted the cover, my dog freaked out and chased, I screamed and my daughter laughed it was quite the ordeal. One of the stupid little rodents wanted back in while I was out there cooking. I told him to get out of here or I was letting the dog back out. My dog has a little cat in him in that he has caught mice before but no thank you!
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While my daughter and I brought all the furniture out on Sunday my guys went to Killington, VT skiing. Apparently they are not done with winter but we certainly are. Earlier in the day I cooked up some eggs and decided to make some potato salad. I had a skirt steak I needed to cook up so dinner was already planned while enjoying my morning tea. I got my skirt steak out onto the counter and went to my computer; before I opened it I actually thought that was ridiculous; why do I need to look up a marinade recipe, I know what I have on hand and what flavors we like. As long as I had the 3 components (acid, oil, spices) needed to marinate my steak I can add whatever other flavors we like.
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My marinade consisted of lemon (acid), olive oil (oil), soy sauce, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper (spices).  I marinated it around 4-5 hours and WOW was it awesome. I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures to share so I made it again during the following week – you’re welcome 🙂
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Flank or Skirt Steak
soy sauce
olive oil
shallots – sliced thin
garlic – miced
lemon – sliced
Kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
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flatten out the steak and score; make a few this slices; against the grain. In a ziploc bag add the rest of the ingredients.  Really no need to measure but for my friends who “need” measurements I will guesstimate.  1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 large or 2-3 small shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, 3-4 slices of lemon, tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.  Marinate 4-8 hours.
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Best if cooked on a grill – I used my propane grill and cooked on each side for about 5-6 minutes for medium rare – please do not over cook – you won’t enjoy it! Let it rest for 10 minutes or longer if you can wait.  Slice against the grain and enjoy!

Easiest Pork Shoulder – slow cooker

I have heard a lot lately from people really interested in quick easy meals. I too really like it when you can throw together something quick and easy but doesn’t taste like you just threw some things on a plate. While we do like an occasional hotdog, beans and fries dinner; we for the most part want a little more love for dinner.

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I browned mine in my cast iron under the broiler in my oven

Even though most people think of their slow cooker more for warm, comfort winter meals, you really can use it all year long. Just yesterday the weather was supposed to be the nicest on the weekend so i knew i was going to be working in the yard for most of it and while I don’t mind raking a bit, I knew it was going to be more than that and that I would probably be too tired to pull dinner together. Yup I was right! I was out there for four hours raking ugh! But the yard is starting to look so good; as predicted I was spent!

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Adobo spices are one of my favorite – I put it on everything!

Luckily I had most of what I needed for a quick chicken chili, quick, easy and delicious! My slow cooker did all the work, all i needed to do was shred the chicken add top each bowl with some shredded cheese, sour cream and some scallions.
IMG_2688I have another recipe that is too good to be true. All you need is 5 ingredients plus your slow cooker. And you have the start of several dishes though we all really liked it as is.
IMG_26913 – 5 pound Pork butt or shoulder
¼ cup soy sauce
1 large onion sliced
Salt and pepper
½ cup water
also add any other spices you like onto your pork

Salt and pepper the roast liberally all over, either brown on top of the stove all over or place it in the pan and broil till browned.  In the oven is less immediate clean up which is nice too.

Place a few slices of onion in the bottom, lay the roast on top, cover with the remaining onions. Cover with the soy and water. Cook on low for the day and enjoy!
IMG_2689To make a complete dinner, I also cheated and bought a bowl of mashed potatoes and opened a can of corn.  I boiled down some of the leftover juice and used it it as a little au ju – it was so good I’ve already made it again and might be doing it again soon!

Leftover meat can be used in sandwiches, quesadilla, nachos.  That is if you have any leftover!

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

This week my kitchen was pretty quiet; which is my way of saying that I didn’t make anything exciting that I felt I HAD to share with you. That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat it’s more how I would say “no brainer” meals were had this week. What I mean by that is whatever was simple, quick and not a lot of ingredients. Any shortcut you know works here!

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I am sitting here trying to think why I didn’t make something fun and exciting. I don’t think we were super busy, though we did spend a wonderful night out on the town. I mentioned in last weeks blog about gathering 9 of my foodie friends and family to a food bank fundraising event featuring Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. What an awesome night! She is a true rock star. She was funny, engaging, personable, approachable and everything I had hoped she would be and more.
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Three of us paid a little extra, it was for charity, it’s all good. For a meet and greet with Alex. I met her, shook her hand and took pictures with her, we are on first name basis now, well at least I think so and it’s my blog so that’s what I am going with.
MaryAnn Esposito
While in the VIP room; yeah that’s what they called it. I was kind of geeking out. There was a TV chef from my younger days that I recognized Mary Ann Esposito she has a show on Public Television called Ciao Italia which I just looked up is the longest-running television cooking program in America. I watched this all the time when I was younger; mostly because it was one of the 5 channels we had. But I loved her and her show so it was an honor to meet her. Plus she thought my daughter was my sister so I love her even more.
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We had a great time laughing and talking with local Chef Luca Paris who is Chef/Owner of Luca’s Mediterranean a few towns over. I’ve eaten at his place numerous times but this is the first time we chatted more than just the cordial meet and greet; here’s your table and how is everything. He was one of the competitors; this was an chef challenge event; he didn’t win – but we were routing for him all night.
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If you are looking for something simple, hands off and delicious this is going to help you out a lot. I know it’s not really a recipe but we had such a great night I wanted to share it with you but this is a food blog so I wanted to leave you with something.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs – couldn’t be simpler!

Bone in skin on Chicken thighs – however many fit in a single layer in your size crockpot
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

Salt and Pepper both sides of your chicken thighs and lay them in a single layer in your slow cooker, nothing else just put the cover on them and leave on low for the day. about 6-8 hours. They come out perfectly cooked with the skin still crispy. it’s that simple and they taste great. Add a couple of your quick sides and dinner is served.

I’m sure you could add another spice to the mix; maybe Cajun, Garlic, Italian seasoning whatever you like.