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I had a request for a super easy, minimal ingredient dinner. This is for you Pat!

Aside from salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar…these are staples most people have in their kitchen…this is super easy and yummy…AND only 5 ingredients to buy at the store.

1. Whole wheat penne pasta

2. Cherry tomatoes

3. Basil

4. Fresh mozzarella

5. Grated parmesan cheese

Cook whole wheat penne pasta in a pot of salted boiling water. Drain. When pasta is still warm toss with halved cherry tomatoes, torn basil, bite size pieces of fresh mozzarella, olive oil, salt, pepper and vinegar (red wine or balsamic), top with grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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I love soups of all kinds and they are so easy to make!  Sauté any veggies you have in your fridge, add some spices, boxed broth and simmer away for 15 minutes. Healthy. Delicious. And a great way to use up leftovers in your fridge.

This is my super easy minestrone. Sauté a cup each of chopped onions, zucchini, carrots, green beans and celery until crisp but tender. Add in a box of chicken broth, a cup of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, herbs de provence, oregano and fresh parsley. Stir in a can of drained white beans. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with a small shaped pasta and grated parmesan. Make a batch on Sunday and eat it for lunch all week long. Tons of veggies and protein from the beans…just yummy!

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A lot of people have been asking me what to do with leftover apples from their apple picking adventures.

Apples are diverse and can be used in sweet or savory dishes.

If you are looking for some yummy ways to eat apples — besides the obvious, slathered in peanut butter…Here are a few delicious suggestions on how to use them up!

  • Roast diced apples with onions and fennel (toss with olive oil, salt and pepper) in a 425 degree oven until tender. Serve with roasted chicken or pork chops as an easy side dish.
  • Prepare an apple pie in an aluminum pie tin and freeze uncooked — This is a great way to be prepared for “drop in guests”…especially around the holidays. Just bake it off and enjoy!
  • Slice apples in half, scoop out center and fill with brown sugar, raisins and honey. Bake and top with Greek Yogurt or ice cream.
  • Make an apple compote to top french toast, waffles, or to eat on it’s own! Link to an Emeril recipe I love.
  • Make my Caramel Apple Dessert (see post from last week)
  • Add slices to a turkey sandwich with brie and honey mustard
  • Toss with an arugula salad, goat cheese, dried cranberries and simple vinaigrette
  • Add apples to pumpkin or butternut squash soup for added sweetness.
  • Turn coleslaw up a notch by adding grated apples.

Visiting a Farmers Market is a great way to find local fresh produce at a fair cost. Buying items at a Farmers Market ensures their quality and freshness. They are going from the farm to your table in a matter of hours. Buy what looks good, and develop a meal around that!

Update: I went to the Farmers Market in my town and picked up some delicious heirloom tomatoes, eggplant and basil to make some panzanella salad tonight. Yum!

GingerTonight I made some killer pork egg rolls and chicken / veggie stir fry with sticky rice and it reminded me of this great trick I wanted to share. I love the flavor fresh ginger adds to asian food, but I never use the whole root…and hate to waste it. Here’s a great way to store ginger for months.

Peel the ginger and cut into 1 inch chunks. Put in a ziplock baggie and freeze. When you want to add some ginger to any dish, pull a chunk out the freezer and with a hand grater, grate the ginger right into the food while it’s cooking. Yummy!

lens2011252_1245045248Fresh_herbs_in_straw_basket_2You will notice I use a lot of fresh herbs in my recipes. I think it adds a great freshness and flavor that dried herbs can’t replicate. Thanks to a tip I learned from Rachael Ray, you can keep herbs fresh all week long!

When you bring your herbs home from the store, wash and dry them very well. Wrap the bunch in a dry paper towel and store in a ziplock baggie. Label the outside so you can easily locate it in the fridge.

You will be amazed how long herbs stay fresh and green this way!

Here are some great ways to use fresh herbs:

  • Add chopped basil and flat leaf parsley to a green salad for added flavor
  • Mix cilantro into chili or Mexican dishes for freshness
  • In a mini chopper mix tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, lime, salt and cilantro for a quick, healthy and delicious salsa
  • Mix fresh tarragon with shrimp salad (chopped shrimp, celery, mayo, salt and pepper)…yummm!
  • Fresh thyme tastes great with chicken
  • Rosemary works great with red meat
  • Make a quick side dish of sliced tomato, cucumber, red onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt / pepper and cilantro…bright and light!

On a super hot day, the last thing I want to do is have the oven on and multiple burners going. Ick! Here are some simple sandwich combos I love for dinner. And if none of my ideas sound delicious to you…visit Grey Dog Cafe’s website. They are located in NYC and have sandwiches to die for! I love it there…I actually went there yesterday! If you happen to be in the area stop in for a beer, sandwich and an oatmeal raisin cookie! Yumm!

If you have a panini press like this one from Cuisinart it’s a great tool to create a great pressed sandwich. If not, you can always have a cold sandwich or warm it in a pan or toaster oven. Oh and don’t forget, great bread can turn an average sandwich into a DELICIOUS sandwich!

Tasty Combos

  • Turkey, brie, sliced pear and honey mustard on multigrain bread
  • Grilled chicken on Ciabatta with melted mozzarella, roasted peppers, arugula, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt / pepper
  • Black Forest ham, melted Gruyere, sliced apple, spicy mustard on Pumpernickel
  • Turkey, sliced avocado, sliced tomato and chipolte mayo (blend chipolte in adobo with some mayo – spicy and yummy) in a wrap or on a crusty roll
  • Cheddar, swiss, watercress, applewood smoked bacon and sliced tomato on hearty wheat bread – Best grilled cheese!

Here are my top 15 must haves in your pantry or refridge. With these on hand, it’s easy to pull together a quick meal every night. You would only need to purchase minimal ingredients from the grocery store like fish, chicken, fresh produce etc. I always have these items on hand.

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Salt and Pepper

3. Pasta

4. Canned Tomatoes (preferably whole San Marzano)

5. Fresh Herbs (like basil, cilantro or parsley)

6. Chicken Stock

7. Canned beans

8. Panko breadcrumbs

9, Potatoes

10. Vinegar (balsamic or red wine)

11. Shallots (or red / white onion)

12. Alcohol (beer or wine)

13. Dijon Mustard

14. Honey

15. Cheese (feta, fresh mozzarella, pecorino romano etc)

So tonight I went to Fairway to pick up something to make for dinner. I wasn’t in the mood for anything in particular, so I decided to shop what was on sale. Mangos were 3 for $4 and Basa (similar to Tilapia only sweeter) was $5.99 / pound. Here’s what I developed based on those two items…it was just delicious and only $15 for 2 people. Two people can’t eat at Wendy’s for that!

 

Basa with Mango and Black Bean Salsa


For the Salsa:

1 large mango diced

1/2 red bell pepper diced

1 can of  black beans (rinsed)

1 small Jalapeno diced small (remove seed and ribs for less heat)

3/4 cup of defrosted frozen corn kernels

handful of chopped cilantro

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. In the mean time dry off 2 Basa filets. Mix 3 tbsp of flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish in the flour (pat off excess) and cook in a little bit of olive oil until the filets are golden brown and opaque on the inside. 

Serve the salsa on top of the fish. Yummy!

 

Bonus: This is a great recipe to entertain with!

Tip: If you have extra salsa left over, it makes a great snack with blue corn tortilla chips!

 

Here’s a great tip for saving some money when cooking at home…buy what’s in season! This is a simple way to guarantee the freshness of your ingredients and keep a few extra dollars in your pocket.

georgia-peaches

Peaches this week at Fairway (my favorite market) are 99 cents / pound! Not only do they make a delicious snack, but you can do so many things with them. Eat them up before they are no longer in season. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Slice in half, brush with olive oil and cook on grill pan (cut side down until tender). Serve them sliced on top of a salad – Check out last night’s recipe, and substitute these for the apples. Or you can drizzle with honey and top with greek yogurt for a tasty and healthy dessert.
  • Cube and mix with orange juice, olive oil, jalapeno and cilantro. Use as a topping for simply grilled fish or chicken.
  • Make a Peach BBQ sauce to brush over chicken. Saute 1 chopped peach and 1/4 white onion diced in 2 tbsp of melted butter. Once tender add 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, dash of salt and pepper, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp dijon mustard. Simmer for 20 minutes. 

About Me

My name is Ashley and I'm a self taught cook. Getting home from work, popping open a bottle of wine and cooking up dinner with my boyfriend is my favorite part of the day. I want to show you that making dinner can be fun and easy. I have some great tricks for the young professional...like me, that I know you will love! Follow me and I'll make you the talk of all of your friends! You won't believe the things you can whip up in the kitchen that are...Just Delicious!

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