Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garlic and Olive Oil Zoodles!!!! (Zucchini Noodles)

Zoodles???? What the heck are zoodles you ask? I know, sounds like a weird kids' toy, right? Well no, Zoodles are zucchini cut into strands that look spaghetti noodles; the "Z" stands for zucchini and the "oodles" stand for noodles, hence why they are called Zoodles!

I went out to dinner with my dear friend Kate at a restaurant called Coco Bar and Bistro (food was awesome by the way) which is located in downtown Buffalo. I ordered off of the pre-fix menu and one of the appetizer choices was Zucchini Noodles with Marinara Sauce. It tasted out of this world and I couldn't stop talking about how delicious it was. I asked the waitress about it and she told me it's something new the chef was trying. I knew I had to google these strands of deliciousness to see just how they were made. I saw that there were a few cooking gadgets that would spiral the zucchini into spaghetti strands. Some were pretty elaborate and some some very basic, so it was hard to decide which one was best to buy. I saw that Bed Bath and Beyond sold a variety of these gadgets so that was my store of choice.

The funny thing is that my cousin Keri who lives in San Diego, California posted a picture on Instagram of Zoodles. I immediately replied to her and told her that I tried them for the first time a few nights prior and that I was buying a zoodle maker. Her homemade zoodles looked amazing. She simply added olive oil and salt n pepper. Keri also mentioned that she bought the Paderno Spiralizer and loved it. I opted for the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter. It was only $14.99 plus I had a 20% off coupon so I figured if it was a bust I wasn't breaking the bank to buy it.

So tonight, I finally got a chance to use my Veggetti to make Zoodles! It's awesome and soooo easy to use. Honestly, I thought my gadget worked great…bonus for being so cheap. You literally just cut the ends off of the zucchini attached a safety holder and twist the zucchini into a cylinder type cutter. They have two sizes of strands thick or thin; I used the thick cutter. The strands are continuous so they are super long. You have to cut them so they are easier to eat. The boys were floored when they saw I was making noodle strands from zucchini. You could add yellow squash, carrots, cucumber or any other vegetable that would fit in the cylinder and hold up to the spiral type cutting. The only draw backs were that you can't use a large sized zucchini, it has to be thin enough to fit through the cylinder. The other draw back is that this gadget spirals most of the zucchini but there is a small piece that's left over….it's edible just not spiral-able. I'm not sure if the other models have this issue.

I made my zoodles with fresh garlic and olive oil and served it with broiled lemon butter tilapia. I sautéed the zoodles on the stove top and it took 5 minutes to cook. You can do a quick boil, cook it in the microwave or even eat it raw. Which ever way you decide it's super simple and super delicious. What I love most about Zoodles is that it's a healthy low-carb alternative to pasta. I love my pasta, but every once in a while I want to go guilt free eat'n! This is quilt free for sure. Plus, its a nice quick dish for the hot summer months. The boys liked it but I could tell they much prefer their carb ridden pasta. You should error on the side of one zucchini per adult because it does wilt while cooking…kind of like sautéed spinach.

Zoodles will be a staple in our house. The next time I make zoodles I will make them with my 5-Minute Marinara SauceIf you've never heard of zoodles or have debated whether or not to get this gadget…go buy it and begin spiralizing your veggies! You will not be disappointed. Salute to Zoodles and my new beloved gadget to add to my collection!

My Zoodle maker
Here are the noodle type strands it makes, so simple to use
This is the piece of the zucchini that's left over, still edible just not spiral-able
You could eat it raw, it's so fresh
Yep, this is how long the strands are!!!
Sauteeing with olive oil, butter and garlic
Look at how beautiful these zoodles are!
I served the zoodles with a broiled lemon butter tilapia, perfect compliment!
Garlic & Olive Oil Zoodles (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 4 medium sized zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tb butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic mined
  • 2 tb fresh chopped parsley
  • pinch of grated red pepper flakes
  • a squeeze of half lemon
  • salt n pepper to taste
Using your zoodle maker, cut your zucchini according to your device. In a skillet, sauté olive oil, butter and garlic over medium to high heat. Add zucchini strands to pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add parsley, red pepper flakes, a squeeze of lemon and salt n pepper to taste.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Wow, those are so cool…what are they?" Zucchini Spaghetti Nate. I hope they taste as good as they look!" Once he tasted them he response - "Eh, they are ok just not as good as spaghetti though."

Tyler: "I like zoodles a lot" He didn't even finish the small portion I gave him!

Zachary: "I love Zoodles, they are super tasty." He had two helpings! He loved them the most of his brothers.

Dave: "I really like these, they are flavorful and a good a nice change from pasta." Dave was eating them raw and liked them just as much.

Andrea: Loved them! I can't wait to use my veggetti again but with other types of veggies. The book says it will also make spirals out of potatoes but I'm not sure how they will fit. I'd like to that next. I also can't wait to try it with marinara sauce. I can't wait for zucchini season to begin now! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Crab Boil Summer Solstice Party

This past weekend our friends Michael and Heather hosted a summer solstice party at their beach house. The party involved a pretty deluxe crab boil, wait, let me rephrase, a pretty mack-daddy crab boil. I've made plenty of seafood boils and have been to many as well, but never one quite this involved  or of this magnitude. When they sent the invitation they also attached a copy of the recipe. From the recipe description, I could tell this crab boil wasn't for a small crowd, in fact it was quite the opposite.

On our way out to the cottage I told Dave based on the size of the crowd I was curious as to how they were going to boil all of this food; we took a few guesses but were totally wrong. When we showed up to the cottage Michael took us to the spot where the magic boil was to take place…and it started with - a turkey fryer! Yep, a turkey fryer. I never considered a turkey fryer to be used for anything other than, well, frying a turkey! Brilliant idea, right??

Every step of the crab boil was such an enjoyable process to watch and participate in. From adding all of the ingredients into the humungous pot, to smelling the spicy aroma of the seafood boiling, to draining the seasoned liquid from the pot, to seeing all of the delicious ingredients dumped onto the butcher paper covered table, to digging in and eating all of the scrumptious seafood, sausage, potatoes and corn, to dipping every piece in a cup of warm clarified butter, to making a mess of yourself and loving every minute of it because you are sharing the experience with good friends! This was truly a quintessential summer beach feast.

The boys thought it was the best because making a mess was allowed, eating with your hands and not utensils was a must and eating a soft shell crab for the first time was ridiculously cool and crunchy to boot! What I love most about seafood boils is that everyone is involved with the process…it's truly a communal experience. Plus, Michael and Heather used ingredients that were of the upmost quality and were locally sourced. For example the chorizo and andouille sausage were from Spars, and the shrimp, clams, mussels and soft shell crabs were from Schneider's Fish and Seafood Company. So not only was the process fun and engaging, the food was superb!

Talk about lasting food impressions….this is a summer solstice party we will always remember. Salute to Michael and Heather for hosting a memorable crab boil!

The best way to describe the process of this amazing crab boil is to share it with the photos I took of the day. The recipe is below.
Michael boiling the Old Bay seasoning broth in the turkey fryer
Heather adding the Genny Creme Ale, after taking a sip
Adding the onions and garlic
Adding the chorizo and andouille sausage
Now adding the corn
Now the shrimp
And for the highlight, time to add the fresh crab but all of the kids just had to touch them first!
All of the ingredients are finally in the pot
A two person job to strain the broth, smells so good!
And the moment of truth…the ingredients being dumped onto a huge butcher paper covered table! WOW!
Almost ready for 30 of us to dig in and eat
Quintessential summer beach fare!
Nate and Zachary waiting for everyone to sit down 
Now this is a mack-daddy crab boil summer solstice party
The kids kayaking in Lake Erie after a very filling meal!
Crab Boil (Click to print recipe)

Cook time is approximately 30-40 minutes total

Serves 25


  • 6 quarts of water
  • 12 oz Old Bay seasoning
  • 16 oz Genny Creme Ale
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves whole
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 7 pounds of new potatoes (small and halved)
  • 2 pounds of andouille sausage (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 2 pounds chorizo sausage (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 dozen ears of corn cut in half
  • 2 pounds mussels
  • 3 dozen little neck clams
  • 5 pounds of shrimp, tail on
  • 24 soft shell crabs
Add 6 quarts of water to a turkey fryer or very large pot. Add the Old Bay seasoning and beer and bring to a boil. Add the next four ingredients and boil for 10 minutes. Add sausage and corn then continue to boil for an additional 10 minutes. Add mussels and clams and boil for 5 minutes. Finally add shrimp and crabs until crabs are done, approximately 7-10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chicken and Spinach with Pasta

Tonight was a special celebratory dinner in our household. It's the night before the last day of school for the boys….We call it The Eve of the Last day of School! They are so excited and so am I. Oh who am I kidding I'm even more excited than they are! For 2 months no more packing lunches, no more homework, no more laying out clothes and no more rigid structure! Yippee!

To celebrate this amazing occasion for me, I mean the boys, I made a full of flavor, healthy, easy to prepare chicken and spinach pasta dish. There were only 7 ingredients total but it was truly just bursting with flavor. Only 7 ingredients you say? Yep, chicken breasts, baby spinach, spaghetti, garlic, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes and olive oil. That's it! The other great thing about this dish is that it's a 30 minute meal…fantastic for serving on a weeknight. The boys couldn't get enough they thought it was that good. Luckily Dave was out of town tonight because there wouldn't have been any left for him…that's how much the boys ate. I had to stop them at three servings! My litmus test of the quality of a meal I cook is by what's left on one's plate…this was a keeper recipe because I didn't see a speck left on their plates! Salute to a must try pasta dish to celebrate the night before the last day of school…woo hoo!

Delicious, easy to prepare, healthy
You wont stop at one plate!
Perfect meal for any occasion, even the night before the last day of school!
Yay! One more day of school! 
School's out for summer! 
No more homework, tests, projects or reading logs to fill out!
Great meal after a good swim! Nate adding extra parm cheese to everyone's plate.
Obviously Nate didn't add enough to Zachary's plate…he is our cheese lover don't forget!
Chicken and Spinach with Pasta (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6 (or 3 very hungry boys!)

  • 1 pound of spaghetti cooked according to package
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 10 oz bag of baby spinach
  • 2 pinches of crushed pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • reserved juice from chicken breast (from resting on plate)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shaved parmesan cheese as garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and bake in oven on a baking sheet for 20 minutes until browned or no longer pink in the middle. Set aside when done being cooked. After 5 minutes, slice chicken breasts into strips and set juice aside. Meanwhile cook spaghetti according to package. When spaghetti is done strain the water and place pasta back in pot. Add olive oil, 1/2 cup chicken stock, grated parmesan cheese, baby spinach, crushed pepper flakes, garlic and add reserved juice from chicken. Stir until well blended. Add salt n pepper to taste. Place spaghetti in a serving bowl and add sliced chicken to top and add shaved parmesan cheese to top. Serve with a side salad and artisan bread.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "One word mom…YUM!"

Tyler: "After just one bite my food impression is this is awesome."

Zachary: "This is so good I promise I will lick my plate clean." And he did!

Andrea: I can't wait to make this again because it was so good, easy to make and flavorful. When I talked with Dave on the phone I told him he missed out on a great meal. I will make this again when we have friends or family over for dinner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp

So I was on the internet and looking through my cookbooks for a good rhubarb recipe. I love rhubarb in desserts but honestly I have never cooked with it before. I know it's in season so I figured why not give it a try. I swear I wasn't even 20 minutes into my search and my friend Christa texted me a picture of her her son cutting rhubarb from her garden and her daughter chopping rhubarb for the muffins they were making. I immediately texted her back and said "Oh my gosh, I was literally just searching for rhubarb recipes minutes ago." She said "I have a bunch at the house, I'm leaving for Peru for 10 days and if you don't take it it may go to waste." So the good friend that I am, went to her house the next day  to pick up a bunch of rhubarb, so it didn't go to waste. Nothing made me more excited! I love getting fresh produce from farmers markets but getting produce from a friends' garden is even better. Plus, she said she would save me a few of her rhubarb muffins…total bonus!

Since I never cooked with rhubarb before Christa educated me a bit on the best way to prepare it. 1) cut the ends off at the base and at the leaves. Make sure to wash it well. 2) Cut it into small pieces 3) Use lots and lots of sugar to offset the tart taste. She also said that rhubarb was easy to grow so I know next season I'll be planting some rhubarb in my garden.

I make an awesome apple crisp so I figured why not make a crisp using the rhubarb and strawberries that I already had. It was so easy to make…in fact easier than an apple crisp because there was no peeling. It took me 15 minutes to prep if that. And the funny thing is that while I was prepping the rhubarb the boys walked by a few times and thought it was celery. When the dessert was ready to come out of the oven I asked Nate to take a peak and smell the deliciousness. He was like YUM! When he asked what it was I told him and he said "Oh no, don't tell me you put that celery looking stuff in there?" I said "don't knock it until you try it." Luckily he did try it because he thought it was amazing! Especially with a huge dollop of whipped cream on top. Salute to Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp and getting the rhubarb from Christa's garden!
Rhubarb fresh from the garden 
Red juicy strawberries
Crisp topping
Just out of the oven 
Add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, then indulge yourself!
Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 70 minutes

Serves: 8-10


  • 1 pound rhubarb cut into small pieces, 5-6 stalks
  • 1 pound strawberries cut in quarters
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tb cornstarch
  • 2 t. lemon juice
For Crisp:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cold and sliced
For topping:
  • whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a bowl. In a 9 x 13 glass dish, coat with cooking spray or butter. Place mixture in glass dish and evenly spread. For crisp, in a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, oats and butter. Using your hands mix until butter is evenly distributed into the flour sugar and oats. Top fruit mixture with crisp. Bake for 1 hour or until crisp is browned and fruit is bubbling. Serve warm and top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "I do not want to eat that dessert if it has that celery looking stuff in it." Nate just try it!!! "Oh wow, this is super good. It's sweet and I love the crisp topping."

Tyler: "I really like this dessert."

Zachary: "The crispy stuff on the top is awesome. What kind of fruit is this? Can I have more?"

Dave: Dave is not a dessert guy but I made him try it. "I'm impressed, this is really good without being too sweet."

Andrea: Loved this! Rhubarb was actually easy to use in this recipe and it turned out great. You could really use any fruit in this crisp recipe. I can't wait to add some rhubarb to my garden!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Grilled Tequila-Lime Shrimp Skewers over Quinoa

I've referenced in several of my posts that I love recipes that require wine. It's the perfect excuse to have a glass of wine while cooking and then a glass with dinner. Oh, who am I kidding, even if the recipe doesn't call for wine, I find an excuse to have a glass of wine while cooking. Well, this recipe goes beyond cooking with wine. The recipe I am sharing with you today requires T-E-Q-U-I-L-A!!! Yes, tequila! I felt a bit adventurous and even a little on the wild side when I cracked open the bottle of tequila. I couldn't help myself but take a swig of tequila right from the bottle. Whoa, it cleared up my sinuses all right, and only wished I remembered to finish it off with a bite of sugared lime….the way Dave and I did it in Playa Del Carmen last year. Had it been a weekend night I would have certainly grabbed my Ninja and started making margaritas to go along with these divine shrimp skewers, but the shot of tequila while cooking stopped that.

The recipe I made was Grilled Tequila-Lime Shrimp Skewers over Quinoa. It reminded me of eating a light and refreshing meal in the tropics. It had some heat, although not too much and there was a nice lime flavor. This is the perfect recipe to grill up on a warm day. They are so easy to make and cook in minutes. The longest part of the recipe is letting the shrimp marinate…and the longer you have it marinate the better the flavors. The boys devoured the shrimp…they love shrimp though, so I knew it would be a hit. I served it over quinoa and a caprese salad on the side. The whole meal was delicious. I am so happy that the warm weather has finally arrived so we can grill outside. I am also so happy that the warm weather has arrived so I can add a splash of tequila to future meals. Salute to cooking with tequila!
Tequila and Lime
Marinating for at least 30 minutes
Ready to be grilled, 3 minutes per side
Just off the grill
Perfect over quinoa!
Grilled Tequila-Lime Shrimp Skewers (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 40 minutes

Serves 6


  • 2 pounds peeled, deveined and cleaned raw large shrimp, tails left on
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • 1 tb chili powder
  • 1 tb cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 6 skewer sticks
In a large baggie, add all ingredients and mix until well blended and shrimp are coated. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator. Add 5-6 shrimp per skewer. Grill for 3 minutes per side or until no longer pink. Serve over quinoa.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Mom, why don't you ask for our food impressions anymore?" Because Nate, I try to capture your food impressions unprompted. "Oh okay, well this shrimp is deeeelicious!"

Tyler: "I agree with Nate, it's delicious and it's a little spicy."

Zachary: "I hope there is more of this because it's that good and if there isn't I'll have a lot more of the tomato mozzarella salad."

Dave: "Great summer dish and the flavors are spot on."

Andrea: Quick, simple, light, refreshing meal that's great to make on a weeknight and special enough to make for guests. The quinoa is a perfect compliment.