pesto green pea pasta

Pesto & Green Pea Pasta {recipe}

I’m constantly finding myself stuck when it comes to weeknight meals…I always have trouble thinking of something quick, healthy and different to make.  Pasta is usually my go-to dish, I like to load it up with veggies and add a basic sauce like tomato, but that tends to get old after a while.  In an effort to mix things up, I experimented with a healthier pesto pasta dish the other night.  I mixed up a simple, fresh pesto then added some green peas for an extra pop of flavor!  I enjoyed this pasta as a main dish, but it would make a great side dish along too!  Here’s my simple Pesto & Green Pea Pasta recipe…

Pesto & Green Pea Pasta [serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side]

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound wheat linguine

1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed

3/4 cup packed torn basil leaves

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

Cook pasta according to directions.  In a food processor or chopper, combine basil, olive oil and Parmesan cheese, blend until chopped and well mixed. In warm sauce pan, combine pasta and pesto sauce, then add thawed peas. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alone or as a side =)

Enjoy!

baked zucchini chips

The HEALTHY Chip! [recipe]

I’m a huge snacker.  I love to graze and pick on things all day long… in fact, most days I’d be perfectly content eating just snacks and no meals!  This means one thing, I have to be really selective about the things I choose to snack on.  If I had it my way, I’d eat nothing but Kit Kat’s, cheese puffs (man I love those things), and Goldfish crackers, but I’d rather not expand three sizes in a month!  Instead, I try to mix in lots of healthy snacks, I’d say a ratio of 80% healthy to 20% not so much (this way I can still get my junk food fix!). 

Some of the healthy snacks I incorporate often are carrots with hummus, raw almonds, trail mix bars, and animal crackers (for my sweet tooth!).  These are great, but sometimes I need to switch it up.  I recently found a recipe for baked zucchini chips that looked delish.  Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies, it truly tastes great almost any way you prepare it.  The zucchini chip recipe inspired me to experiment with some varieties of my own, so here’s what I ended up with:

Baked Zucchini Chips [recipe]

INGREDIENTS

2 large, or 3 small zucchini (sliced into extra-thin rounds)

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp season salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

METHOD

Preheat oven to 200 degreesIn a medium bowl, toss zucchini slices, olive oil, season salt, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.  Once coated, spread zucchini onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 2-3 hours until slices are completely crisp.

Once baked, let cool and enjoy your healthy snack!

veggie quasadila2

Garden Veggie Quesadilla’s with Black Bean & Corn Salsa {skinny recipe}

I’m always on the lookout for new quick & healthy weeknight meals. By now, you probably know that I have a major soft spot for Mexican food (like my yummy Mexican lasagna!)…which unfortunately isn’t always the healthiest option. So one simple meal I like to make a lot is quesadillas. Of course I (usually) try to include healthy ingredients and very light cheese, this makes me feel like I’m splurging without the guilt ;)

Today’s recipe is a great example of exactly that. I love a good veggie quesadilla, but this recipe is truly a favorite. It combines simple and fresh ingredients with the authentic Mexican flavors that we’ve all come to love. Here’s the recipe, Garden Veggie Quesadilla’s with Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Garden Vegetable Quesadilla’s with Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Recipe serves 2-3 as a meal (4-6 as an appetizer)

INGREDIENTS (for the quesadilla)

4 large flour tortillas (I used plain but any flavor will work)

one medium onions, cut into strips

one green bell pepper, cut into strips

one red pepper, cut into strips

one large zucchini, diced

one summer squash, diced

two ears of corn, cooked then kernels removed

one tbsp. olive oil

two cloves of minced garlic

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. paprika

salt & pepper to taste

3/4 cup of shredded Mexican blend cheese

METHOD

Add olive oil to medium skillet then bring to medium heat, add olive oil, then add onion, pepper, zucchini and squash.  Saute for 4-5 minutes, then corn kernels and spices.  Sautee together for 2 minutes.  Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside.

Bring a medium skillet (large enough to fit your tortillas) to medium heat, add a bit of olive oil.  Lay your first tortilla on the skillet, then top the tortilla with half your vegetable mixture, then sprinkle half of the shredded cheese.  Lay the second tortilla on top of the cheese.   Cook on one side for 1-2 minutes (until golden brown), then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cut into slices and serve warm.  Repeat these steps to make the second quesadilla using your remaining ingredients.

INGREDIENTS (for the Black Bean & Corn Salsa)

1 cup of black beans (I used canned)

one ear of corn, cooked then kernels removed

two medium-large tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup of minced green bell pepper

one clove of garlic, minced

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced

salt & pepper to taste

METHOD

Blend all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Chill before serving.

Enjoy!

 

pasta salad2

Confetti Veggie Pasta Salad {recipe}

Remember when I said I had a few more great summer dishes to share before the start of Fall? Well here’s one of them today! You might recall the buffalo chicken pasta salad I shared a few weeks back; a fabulous twist on a classic dish!  After sharing that recipe, I knew I had to follow it up with the delicious classic pasta salad recipe that’s been in my family for years.  Fresh vegetables have always been big in my family, mostly because my mother was always making something yummy with the veggies from her garden.  One of her most popular summer dishes was always her garden veggie pasta salad, a classic dish with a blend of pasta, fresh vegetables, basil, and Italian spices….

Confetti Veggie Pasta Salad

Serves 8-10 as a side

INGREDIENTS

one pound of pasta ( I use a mix of wheat ziti and rotini)

two cups of colorful fresh vegetables  (I use corn, red peppers, green peppers, grape tomatoes and red onion)

one cup of fresh basil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp celery salt

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt & pepper to taste

METHOD

Cook the pasta according to instructions.  Strain pasta, then run under cold water to keep cool, dry.  Set pasta aside.

Prepare fresh basil by pulling the leaves off the stem, set leaves aside.  Chop the vegetables into bite sized strips, set aside.

In a shaker, combine olive oil, garlic powder, garlic salt, celery salt, onion powder, parsley, oregano, thyme, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.  Shake up the mix for 10 seconds. 

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, fresh basil and vegetable, toss with dressing until pasta is nicely covered.  Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving to allow the dressing to marinate.  Add salt and pepper as needed before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

succotash

Walnut Pesto Summer Succotash {recipe}

Now that we’re nearing the end of summer and getting ready for my favorite season (I like summer too, I’m just a lover of everything Fall ;) ), I’m going to squeeze in a few more refreshing & light summer dishes!  In my opinion, there’s nothing better than fresh picked summer vegetables, so it stands to reason that one of my favorite dishes is a summer succotash.  Succotash is usually prepared with a corn base and various mixed vegetables, and it’s usually sauteed in a butter sauce.  I decided to mix it up a bit and prepare a summer succotash in a walnut pesto sauce rather than the usual butter.

[Walnut Pesto] Summer Succotash

Serves 4 as side dish

INGREDIENTS (for the succotash)

two medium zucchini squash

two ears of cooked corn on the cob

3/4 cup grape tomatoes

INGREDIENTS (for the walnut pesto)

1 cup of fresh picked basil

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

salt & pepper

METHOD

Using a grater, shred the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strands.

Next, remove the kernels from the two ears of corn.  I always stand them up and saw downward over a bowl.  Last, dice the tomatoes in half, then set the vegetables aside.

To prepare the pesto, add the basil, walnuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt & pepper to a food processor.  Process until basil and walnuts are completely broken down.

Bring a large skillet to medium heat, add a tbsp. of olive oil, then add zucchini and corn.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Finally, add tomatoes and pesto sauce, then saute for another 2 minutes.  Do not over-cook!  Serve warm as a side dish.

Enjoy!

 

buffalo chicken pasta salad

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad {recipe}

Pasta salad.  The one simple dish that makes an appearance at just about every summer cookout, gathering etc.  I know for me it’s always a great go-to dish that I can make ton of and everyone’s sure to enjoy.  I’ve been making my usual pasta salad all summer, which is delicious, but I decided it was time to switch it up a bit and try something different.  I searched online and came across an interesting recipe for buffalo chicken pasta salad.  I went ahead and decided to give it a whirl and it turned out to be a big hit, especially served along with the refreshing Skinny Watermelon Smash summer cocktail!  This pasta salad had the perfect kick of spice without being too spicy, and it looked impressive too!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 8-10 as a side dish

(Slightly adapted from Snappy Gourmet)

INGREDIENTS:

16 ounces cooked whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)

1/3 cup Frank’s hot sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

2 cups precooked chicken breast, shredded (I boiled one large chicken breast)

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

METHOD:

Set aside cooked (cooled) pasta and shredded chicken breast.

Whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt in small bowl until well combined.

Place pasta in large mixing bowl. Stir in chicken, blue cheese, carrots, and celery. Slowly mix in dressing until desired amount.

Refrigerate until served.

Oven Roasted Beans & Mushrooms

Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms, Balsamic, and Parmesan

Roasting truly is one of the best ways to capture and seal all of the delightfully sweet flavors our favorite veggie friends have to offer.  Not to mention, roasted dishes are excellent for dinner parties, set and forget (well, sort of forget!)

Roasting should not be limited to just potatoes and other root vegetables-oh no, check out this great recipe for roasted green beans with mushrooms.

Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms, Balsamic, and Parmesan- Serves 4-6

Gather up:

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced in 1/2 inch slices

1 lb. fresh green beans

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 T balsamic vinegar

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450F/230C. Wash mushrooms and let drain (or spin dry in salad spinner, which is what I did.) While mushrooms are drying, trim ends of beans and cut beans in half so you have bite-sized pieces.
Cut mushrooms into slices 1/2 inch thick.Put cut beans and mushrooms into a Ziploc bag or plastic bowl. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over, then squeeze bag or stir so all the beans and mushrooms are lightly coated with the mixture.
Arrange on large cookie sheet, spreading them out well so beans and mushrooms are not crowded. Roast 20-30 minutes, starting to check for doneness after 20 minutes. Cook until beans are tender-crisp, mushrooms are cooked, and all liquid on the pan from mushrooms has evaporated. Season beans to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper, then sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan. Serve hot.