Shrimp Stuffed Tomato

The summertime heat often begs for meals that require little cooking or are lighter fare. With that in mind I wanted to try a stuffed tomato this week.  For the filling I chose to use a mix of asparagus, red onion, and shrimp for a delicious and colorful dish.  The dressing was a mix of tomato, sriracha powder and mayonnaise, which gave a nice kick to the filling.  The result was a simple yet satisfying dinner.  What summertime meals do you enjoy?

stuffed tomato

stuffed tomato

Stuffed Tomatoes

½ lb asparagus, cut into ½ inch pieces

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon sriracha powder

4 large beefsteak tomatoes (~3 lbs)

½ lb small cooked and peeled shrimp, thawed and drained

½ cup diced red onion

 

 

Bring 2 cup of water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes, then remove and place in ice water.  Remove the centers from the tomatoes, reserving about ½ lb of the scooped out tomato for the sauce.  Add the reserved tomato to a food processor, along with the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and sriracha powder. Drain the asparagus and add to a large bowl along with the shrimp and onion.  Pour the sauce over the shrimp and stir to coat.  Stuff the tomatoes with the shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

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Short Rib Ragu

Boneless Short Rib Ragu

Short ribs are one of those ingredients that have been on my list to cook with for a long time.  I have recipes such as short rib lasagna saved in my must-try recipe stack since they sounds so decadent, so it was about time I started cooking with short ribs.

 Many recipes call for the bone-in short ribs, but I could only find boneless short ribs this week.  I also don’t own a dutch oven (I know – gasp – a horror for a foodie) so I opted to create a slow cooker recipe, resulting in this Beef Short Rib Ragu.

 Short Rib Ragu

The shortribs get browned in a skillet and then transferred to the slow cooker.  To create a thick, and flavorful sauce I borrowed a technique from the America’s Test Kitchen slow cooker pork roast.  Onions and tomato paste build flavor with a few minutes of cooking in a skillet, as does flour which gains a nutty taste and serves to thicken the sauce made of beef stock and wine. The beef turns tender after a few hours of cooking.

 Now the hard part is determining what to serve the ragu over.  Mashed Potatoes? Pasta?  This week I served it over a bed of spaghetti squash, which the whole family enjoyed.

Short Rib Ragu

Boneless Beef Short Rib Ragu
 
1 pound boneless beef short ribs
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups diced yellow onions
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, removed from the stem
tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
½ cup beef broth
1 cup pinot noir wine
One 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, Italian style

Season the short ribs with the salt and pepper.  Add the oil to a 12-inch skillet and heat over high heat.  Once hot, add the short ribs and brown, 2 minutes per side.  Transfer the short ribs to the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Return the skillet to the stove and reduce heat to medium. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, and tomato paste to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for one minute longer, stirring continually.  Slowly whisk in the broth and wine, until a smooth and thick sauce is formed and fond is removed from the bottom of the pan. Pour the sauce over the short ribs in the slow cooker.  Add the can of stewed tomatoes to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours. Shred the short ribs in the slow cooker and stir into the sauce; serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, or spaghetti squash.

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three bean salad

Three Bean Salad (a.k.a. Super Salad)

Today’s Three Bean Salad is a husband-inspired dish.  In fact, it is what he calls “super salad” a mix of good-for-you greens, beans, and other super foods.  It is his favorite way to boost his veggie and protein intake at lunchtime, often adding this salad over a bed of mixed greens and topping with a packet of tuna.  I can’t deny that it is a great lunch and I LOVE that he gets the kids to eat it for lunch as well.

three bean salad

three bean salad

If you are looking for a great way to jumpstart an eating healthier resolution, let’s review just some of the super powers of this Three Bean Salad:

  • Edamame, garbanzo beans, and black beans: Good sources of fiber, protein, calcium, and iron
  • Tomatoes: Good source of lycopene, and vitamins A & C
  • Red onions, Dill, Parley, and Lemon Juice: great sources of flavonoids
  • Garlic: considered “anti-cancer”, and “anti-inflammatory” among a long list of other benefits

We often swap in and out other good for you veggies and herbs, while keeping the beans as a base.  For example, we have been known to stir in avocado, green onions, or apples at times.  I hope this recipe inspires you to create your own super salad.

three bean salad

Three Bean Salad (a.k.a Super Salad)

1 1/2 cups frozen, shelled edamame
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups baby tomatoes, chopped
1 cup diced red onion1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon freshly minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
 

Cook the edamame according to the package directions, then drain and add to a large bowl along with the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, black beans, onion, dill, and parsley.  In a small container, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, salt and pepper until well blended.  Pour the dressing over the beans and stir to coat.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Squash Spaghetti

Eat your vegetables! I’m sure we can all name one (or two) people whom frequently need this reminder. Sometimes I am looking for a way to make encourage my kids to each more vegetables, and other times I am just looking for a way to create a tasty & light side dish that delights mature eaters.

I have been intrigued by the idea of squash spaghetti and decided to give it a whirl. I cut zucchini and yellow squash into spaghetti-like ribbons (you can use a julienne peeler, as pictured below, or another specialty too like this which produces more fettuccine like ribbons).

squashSpagetti3

Surprisingly, raw squash spaghetti is the best tasting. I have tried a quick saute, but it seemed to enhance the squash/almost pumpkin-like flavors that didn’t go over well with my family.  That’s fine with me since the raw noodles are (1) quicker, (2) creates less clean-up, and (3) healthier.

squashSpagetti5

 I simply tossed my “noodles” with some sun-dried tomatoes, a bit of Caesar salad dressing, and a bit of pecorino-Romano cheese.

Zpasta_2

Zpasta_3


Squash Spaghetti

1 lb zucchini and yellow squash (about 4 medium-sized squash, 2 of each kind)

½ cup Caesar salad dressing

½ cup sundried tomatoes, drained

½ cup shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese

Using a julienne peeler or vegetable spiral slicer, create raw noodles from both the zucchini and yellow squash (you should have ~8 cups of noodles). Place in a large bowl and stir in the salad dressing and sundried tomatoes. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then divide between 4 plates and evenly sprinkle the cheese over the pasta.

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Orrechiette with Sundried Tomatoes and Porcini

This pasta looks scrumptious, doesn’t it? You might be surprised to find it is a macaroni & cheese food hack.

I’m not going to lie – some weeks are really busy. At the end of an extra long work week (or day) I’d rather spend my evening playing with my kids than whipping up something elaborate in the kitchen. You might even get a deer-in-the-headlights stare when you ask what is on my menu for the weekend. Sometimes I stall my answer, since a truthful response might include either (1) macaroni & cheese or (2) an easy staple, which in this house means tacos, rotisserie chicken, or a loaded salad.

The first option is a sure kid pleaser, and there is no denying the ooey goodness of boxed varieties. Plain macaroni & cheese, however, doesn’t quite feel adult. That is why this recipe is a good compromise between a creamy packaged treat and grownup flavors of porcini and sun dried tomatoes.

pastaBefore

I started by preparing a box or my favorite creamy white cheddar macaroni & cheese, which happens to be Annie’s, per the package instructions.

pastaAddIns

Once it was done, I stirred in some rehydrated porcini, as well as some sundried tomatoes and thyme, creating a dressed-up dish that can be prepared in the same amount of time as the plain version.

I grudgingly shared the dish with my husband, since I’m pretty sure I could have eaten it all by myself in one sitting.

PastaHack1

I guess admitting that you are serving macaroni & cheese for dinner can be a good thing!


Orrechiette with Sundried Tomatoes and Porcini

6oz package of Creamy White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
butter and/or milk per package instructions
½ cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), drained
½ oz dried porcini, rehydrated per package instructions and drained
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Prepare the macaroni & cheese per the package instructions, then stir in the remaining ingredients and enjoy!

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