Easy Garden Fresh Bruschetta

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Easy Garden Fresh Bruschetta

This  recipe is loosely based on one my sister-in-law makes!  It is so good that it makes me want to slice the bread even thinner so I can eat a gazillion of these without getting full.  The olive oil makes you feel like you’re eating something indulgent, but it’s a wonderfully fresh and healthy treat.  It’ll also make great use of that abundant summer garden harvest.

 

 

Easy Garden Fresh Bruschetta (Nut-Free)

Ingredients

    TOPPING
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped - seed if you like
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6-8 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground sea salt
  • SPREAD
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 loaf french bread (bake using your own recipe or use Pillsbury French Bread)

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine tomatoes, celery, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard and salt. Refrigerate.
  2. Slice bread into 1/2 inch slices and grill on low for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Turn and slather with spread. Grill an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Cover with refrigerated tomato mixture and serve.
  5. Makes 6ish depending on how much topping you use.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2016/07/55629/

Easy Cucumber Salsa

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

 

 

Easy-Cucumber-Salsa

 

The recipe is a new spin on an old favorite – salsa.  Plus, it takes advantage of that huge crop of cucumbers we’ll be seeing in late July.  I love Cucumber Salsa – maybe more than regular salsa.  It’s the hint of lime, I think.  It gives it a little taste of something different.  It’s cool, refreshing, and (of course) nut-free, too.

 

Garden Fresh Cucumber Salsa (Nut-Free)

Ingredients

  • 2 cucumbers, chopped, seeded, and peeled
  • 1 tomato, chopped (seed if you like)
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Lime Flavored Tortilla Chips

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except chips  in a medium size bowl.  Refrigerate one hour.  Serve with chips.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2016/06/cucumber-salsa/

 

Easy Cauliflower Rice

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Easy Cauliflower Rice Recipe

 

It wasn’t until I was pregnant and diagnosed with borderline gestational diabetes that I really started to pay attention to how many carbs I was eating in a day.  At first, I thought they were crazy.  I eat healthy, for heaven’s sake!  Oh my gosh, I was so surprised.  I mean, I eat a lot of what my kids eat now – Cinnamon Toast cereal, chicken nuggets and mac & cheese, etc., but I do eat healthy, too.  Just not as frequently as I thought!  Pile on my cravings for lemon and ice…in the form of Frozen Lemon Juice Bars (read: sugar) at 2-3 a day.  Yes, 2-3 a day on top of so many other carb and sugar laden foods, it’s no wonder my body was struggling.  Just looking at that list is enough to make my blood sugar spike.  It just simply isn’t healthy.  And at 41, I can’t get away with eating like that anymore – pregnant or not.

Since then, I started walking – a lot – and for 20 minutes after every meal.  Lots of low fat cheese, lean meat, greek yogurt, Sunbutter, peanut butter, and eggs are staples around my house.  Bread or crackers, when I eat them, are always whole grain or at least whole wheat.   Vegetables are a huge part of my diet and I eat a fair amount of berries, too.  If I want something sweet, I eat high cocoa chocolate or sugar free mini Reese’s PB cups – although not more than 1-2.   Splenda and Truvia are my go-to sweeteners along with Agave Syrup (less so).  My spiral slicer gets even more of a workout as it makes all of my zucchini noodles now.  My lemon cravings are satisfied with slices upon slices in ice cold water.  Just smelling my water makes my poor kids’ mouths pucker.  It doesn’t even phase me.  Haha…I could go on and on, though, really..

If you’re on a low carb or carb controlled diet, for whatever reason, I don’t need to tell you any of this.  You already know it!  I can, however, commiserate with you about some of the not-so-fun changes.  Rice, specifically, white rice.  You probably miss it.  Well, at least a little.  I mean, who doesn’t want to eat a big pile of rice now and then?  I know I do, but it just isn’t healthy.  There are tasty alternatives, though, that work just as well.  My favorite is Cauliflower Rice.  Each CUP contains 5 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of those are fiber, making your net carb count 2.5 grams.  Awesome!  Know how many grams of carbs are in 1 CUP of white rice?  45.  Yeah, I like rice…just not THAT much.  So, let’s get right to it!  This is the way I make my cauliflower rice and I can eat a cup at a time.  Yep, it’s a pregnant thing.  I can also eat 3 cucumbers a day and not die.  And if I haven’t told you, as of around 24 weeks, my stomach problems that have been plaguing me for 3 years went away.  I almost can’t wait to not be pregnant anymore to find out if maybe it wasn’t fiber but sugar that has been causing me trouble all this time.   If it isn’t, I’ll be sad to have to go back to living with chronic nausea.  Being normal feels really good.

Easy Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients

  • Head of Cauliflower

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Set aside.
  3. Cut off all the green stem from the cauliflower head.
  4. Cut cauliflower in half and cut off more of the stem.
  5. Cut into smaller pieces and place them into a food processor.
  6. Pulse until the cauliflower resembles rice.
  7. *Don’t over-pulse otherwise it will turn into crumbs.
  8. *Spread cauliflower onto foiled cookie sheet. Spread in all over the sheet so that it gets evenly cooked.
  9. Cook for 10 min. Stir around cauliflower and then spread it out again like it was before.
  10. Cook for 10 more minutes.
  11. Once cooked, you can sprinkle some salt over it and serve it with any traditional Chinese food, etc.
  12. *When using cauliflower as a ‘rice’ substitute, you don’t use as much as you would with regular rice. For each serving, I would recommend ½ C of the cauliflower rice.
  13. *Tips
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2015/06/easy-cauliflower-rice/

 

Easy Cauliflower Rice

Side Effect: Avocado & Tomato Salad! (Nut-Free Recipe)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Avocado Tomato Salad

 

I know I said that I was going to get this recipe posted for you yesterday.  Well, you know how I get sidetracked doing other things.  Last night was one of those nights.  My husband said, “I’m going to clean the outside of the windows.” and that was pretty much it for me.  He got a lot of yard work done yesterday , but my main goal was to finish washing the windows.  I needed help with it and I wasn’t even sure that was going to happen because it was getting quite late in the day.  Combine that with the fact that yesterday was our anniversary and no posting got done last night.  We cleaned, marathoned a few episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos with the kids that we’ve missed the last few weeks because we’ve been busy, and that was our night.  Well, that and pound cake with chocolate glaze and strawberries.  It was a wonderful day.

OK, so like I said, I told you I was making Avocado & Tomato Salad yesterday.  It is one of our favorite side dishes after all.   I bet you’re expecting me to say that I didn’t get around to it.  Wrong!  Can you believe it?  Yes, I got it done (thanks to ALDI) and took some pictures with my phone.  My phone.  Meh, I was in a hurry…and then I started feeling bad about my pictures.  You know what I thought, though?  “How many pretty pictures have you seen on Pinterest with recipes that turn out to be blah….or worse, disgusting.”  It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit.  Actually, I’ve always considered myself someone who can look at a recipe and determine, at least to some extent, its quality.  Not with Pinterest, apparently.  I’ve wasted good money on some nasty fails with stunning pictures over there.   So, all of this to say – the picture might not be great, but the recipe IS great.  I make this all the time, whether for just us or company, and it’s always well received.   Plus, it’s impossible to mess up.  No Pinterest fails here!  You’ll have to give it a try.  And if it matters to you like it does to me, this salad is completely nut-free.

 

Avocado & Tomato Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Avocados, diced
  • 1 pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or less depending on preference)
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the avocado, tomatoes, and cucumber in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk onions, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper together.
  3. Pour dressing over avocado mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Refrigerate one hour to allow flavors to blend, tossing periodically.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2015/03/side-effect-avocado-tomato-salad-nut-free-recipe/

Note: For me, this is one recipe where I like to have ripe avocados.  It creates a creamier dressing with the olive oil vs. chunkier salad.  Either way, it’s very good, but there is some variability in the way it comes out depending on the avocado ripeness.

 

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad in Breadstick Bowls! (Nut-Free)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

grilled chicken caesar salad in breadstick bowls

 

I have always been a huge fan of Caesar Salad.   Obviously, I’m not alone in this.  It’s on nearly every restaurant menu across the country.  Oh yes, it is wonderful.

And since summer is coming…and salad ingredients will be plentiful…and our weekend BBQ parties will be returning…I had a wonderful idea:   Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad in Breadstick Bowls!  These are so easy to make, too.  It only took me about 30 minutes to pull them together with a few ready-to-go ingredients!

grilled chicken caesar salad breadstick bowls

 

fe

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad in Breadstick Bowls (Nut-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 package refrigerated French Bread dough
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 4-5 tablespoons Caesar Parmesan yogurt dressing (I use Bolthouse Farms Creamy Caesar Parmigiano)
  • 2 Grilled Chicken Breasts, diced (you can buy a ready-made brand or use rotisserie)
  • 1 head Romaine Hearts, chopped
  • 1 piece cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Asiago cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray Bake-a-Bowl pan with cooking spray inside the well and also the underside rounded impression of the top pan that will fit into the well of your baking pan.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, pour dressing over chicken and stir to coat. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, heat butter in the microwave until melted - about 15 seconds. Add garlic powder and parsley. Stir to combine.
  5. Using kitchen scissors, cut bread dough into 3/4 inch pieces/rounds.
  6. Dip each round into the butter mixture and press into the Bake-a-Bowl pan up to the line height recommendation. They will shrink back down and you may have to reshape them. They'll stay eventually.
  7. Cover bread wells with the top portion of the Bake-a-Bowl pan.
  8. Bake 20 minute or until lightly browned in the center of the bread bowl.
  9. Allow to cool.
  10. Place 1-2 tablespoons of Romaine lettuce in each breadstick bowl.
  11. Place a spoonful of chicken on top of the lettuce.
  12. Garnish with crumbled bacon and Asiago cheese.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2014/04/good-cooking-grilled-chicken-caesar-salad-breadstick-bowls/

Sweet Creations Bake-a-Bowl Pan

Wondering about the pan?  It’s the Sweet Creations Bake-A-Bowl 2 piece pan set.  Initially, I was pretty intimidated by it because I worried about ‘schlooping’ – with brownies, shortcake, etc.  It’s very easy to use, though. I’ve used it several times with no issues.  I included this picture above because you can clearly see the fill line inside the bottom pan.  This feature is most useful if you’re baking something that rises (cake or brownies), so you don’t overfill the wells.  In my case, I used those lines to gauge how high to stretch my bread.  Meh, I stretched it out a little bit more than that, but that was ok.  Nothing was going to schloop over the sides.  🙂  The top pan has indentations that fit right down into that well creating the bowl.  This is necessary to maintain the shape of the bread bowl I made as well.

And if you don’t have this pan, don’t worry.  You can stack 2 muffin tins.  Make sure to spray the bottom of the top pan, so it doesn’t stick to the bread.


Easy Irish Soda Bread! (Nut-Free)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Easy Irish Soda Bread

I’ve mentioned this before.  OK, I’ve mentioned it many times.  My grandmother’s maiden name was Mitchell.  Oh yes, I’m Irish and extremely proud of my heritage.  Well, except that the DNA tests have shown that our family isn’t originally Irish after all.  It’s probably Norse since there really isn’t such a thing as “Irish.”  Oh, whatever.    I’m Irish enough that I was taught how to make Soda Bread!  That surely counts for something, doesn’t it?

Now, I will start by saying that if you’ve never had Soda Bread, you need to lower your expectations.  This isn’t meant to be an insult in any way.  It’s simply that we tend to have lofty expectations of many traditional foods that are quite different from what we’re typically used to eating here in the US.   Soda Bread benefits greatly from buttermilk, but suffers in that it consists of ingredients available under less wealthy circumstances.    Nevertheless, I like it a lot.  It reminds me of Bisquick shortcakes, but it is much better in that it is more moist and tasty thanks to the buttermilk addition.  If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can easily make your own with these substitutions, too!

DIY Buttermilk Substitutes

Lemon Juice 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup milk

Vinegar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup milk

Yogurt
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk

If you like, you can also add a cup of raisins or currants to the mix.  I don’t typically add them, but that’s me.  I also eat mine with salted butter and my husband prefers honey.  It’s up to you, really.  Either way, you’ll find that  what seems to detract from this recipe is the same thing that makes this recipe wonderful – you likely have the ingredients on hand.  With that in mind, you can pull it together quickly anytime! It’s also an easy and lovely addition to your St. Patrick’s Day table.

Easy Irish Soda Bread (Nut-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 cups all purpose flour (or wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup currants or raisins, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. Stir in flour. Mixture will be powdery/crumbly.
  4. Pour in buttermilk and blend well. It should still be slightly crumbly and dryish, but come together when pressed.
  5. Lightly flour your work surface.
  6. Turn the bread out onto your floured surface. Lightly knead it only to help it take shape and form it into a round loaf.
  7. Pat it down in the middle to flatten it some. It should be around a 9" loaf.
  8. Using a long knife, score an X into the loaf cutting nearly all the way through.
  9. Bake 35-45 minutes until lightly browned on lightly greased baking sheet. Rotate halfway through baking.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2014/03/easy-irish-soda-bread/

Easy Irish Soda Bread

In the Kitchen: Kale Chips!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

 kale chips

 

You’ve probably heard by now how kale is being referred to as one of the latest ‘superfoods’ and it’s easy to understand why.  Not only is this leafy green packed with vitamins A, C, and K; it’s also a great source of iron and fiber.  And with just a few simple ingredients this recipe transforms kale into a light, crispy snack that you don’t need to feel guilty about.

 

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

 

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the kale leaves and pat dry.  Remove any stems, and tear into 2 or 3 inch chip-size pieces. Lay the leaves on a large baking sheet and drizzle lightly with the olive oil.  If necessary, toss the leaves to ensure they have all been coated with the oil.  *Be careful not to oversaturate with oil, as this will result in soggy chips.  Spread the kale flat on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle evenly with sea salt.  Bake the kale for 25 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet and allow to cool.

Summer Avocado Salad with Balsamic Grilled Peaches!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

 summer avocado salad

 

I’m having a “field day” concocting all sorts of wonderful recipes using our garden bounty.  Get it?  Field day?  Ba-da-bum.  Well, at least you know I’m better at cooking than I am at making jokes. Hah!

This week, I’m putting together a tasty salad with heartier features like balsamic grilled peaches, creamy avocado, and crispy bacon that will not only satisfy our desire to eat the rainbow, but also soothe the Savage Bacon Beast and his diet sabotaging minion, Sweet Tooth.  So, let’s get started!  I know you’re eager to see how this all comes together.

 

avocado salad supplies

I assembled my ingredients including peaches from the local orchard, Ashton Orchards, in Ortonville, Michigan, and Pure Michigan Wildflower Honey from The Barber Family in Davisburg, Michigan.  Yum, yum.  The whole recipe would not be the same without them.  And did you notice? There are garden goodies here, too, like cilantro, tomatoes, scallions (green onions), corn and peppers.   This is a very easy salad to assemble, too.  It’s just a lot of zesting and chopping.

 

summer avocado salad with honey balsamic peaches

This is such a beautifully colorful and flavorful salad.  I can’t possibly recommend it more for a family gathering.  A scoop of salad and a peach half is just a perfect meal all by itself.  It’s stunning to look at, too!

In the Kitchen: Summer Avocado Salad with Balsamic Grilled Peaches!

Ingredients

    Salad
  • 1 1/2 cup Cannellini Beans, rinsed.
  • 1 1/2 cup Fresh Corn
  • 1 Avocado - pitted, sliced, then diced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Feta Cheese
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Peaches
  • 4 Peaches, halved and pitted
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Dressing
  • Zest and Juice of one Lemon
  • Zest and Juice of one Lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 scallion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill and reduce to low.
  2. While the grill preheats, whisk balsamic vinegar and honey in small bowl.
  3. Grill peaches face down for 4 minutes.
  4. Turn 1/4 turn and grill an additional 4 minutes.
  5. Remove from grill and drizzle with balsamic/honey mixture. Set aside.
  6. Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.
  7. Combine salad ingredients in large bowl. Pour onto serving platter.
  8. Drizzle with dressing.
  9. Arrange peaches around the edge of the plate.
  10. Serve a peach half along with a scoop or two of salad.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2013/08/summer-avocado-salad-with-balsamic-grilled-peaches/

Side Effect: Loaded Po-Tater Casserole!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

SONY DSC

 

Somewhere between a baked potato and potato skins resides this gem.  Start with a kid friendly favorite, the tater tot, and turn it up a notch to make it adult friendly with just a few tasty ingredients.  This is a huge win as a side dish for any meal, and a potluck hit as well.  I know you’ll enjoy it!

 

Loaded Po-Tater Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 32oz bag tater tots
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 16 oz. bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 10 ¾ oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pound of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. 1.) Preheat oven to 375°
  2. 2.) Cook bacon.
  3. *If you have not tried cooking bacon in the oven yet, I suggest you give it a try. It is so easy to do and saves you the grease spatters. Simply line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, lay strips of bacon in a single layer in the pan, pop into 400° oven (do not preheat) for about 20 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven, lay on plate lined with paper towels to drain, and allow to cool.
  4. 3.) Combine tater tots, sour cream, shredded cheese, cream of chicken, seasonings, and crumbled bacon – withholding several pieces for garnish.
  5. 4.) Spray an 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  6. 5.) Pour mixture into pan and spread evenly.
  7. 6.) Bake at 375° for 30-45 minutes until browned and crispy around the edges.
  8. 7.) Remove from oven, and sprinkle remaining piece of bacon on top of mixture.
http://dontmakemenuts.com/2013/07/side-effect-loaded-po-tater-casserole/