Butternut Squash & Zucchini Spirals with Sweet Italian Sausage-Gluten-Free Twiins Style
We strive to prepare healthy meals that are big on flavor, have fresh ingredients, are quick to prepare and very satisfying. Barbara & I love vegetables but our hubbies are extreme carnivores! This makes it challenging for us to balance our meals so we all can enjoy them. I had the squash spirals & sausage on hand and we created this meal which ticks off all of the boxes. The addition of a small amount of Gluten-free spaghetti added to the mix of spiralized squash certainly made it satisfying for all. So, if you also have a carnivore you want to help eat healthier give this recipe a try...Our carnivores loved it and so did Barbara and I. Enjoy!😋❤️
10 Sweet Italian Sausage links, cut into bite-size pieces (1/4 inch slices)
12 oz zucchini spirals, (pre-spiralized save time & are sold in the supermarket produce section)
12 oz butternut squash spirals, (pre-spiralized save time & are sold in the supermarket produce section)
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
6-8 large garlic cloves
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
salt & pepper to taste
6 oz Barilla Gluten-free thin spaghetti
2 Tablespoons EVOO
Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on top
Fresh basil, chopped for garnish
Bring a pot of water to a boil then add salt. While the butternut squash & zucchini are cooking, add 6oz of thin spaghetti to boiling, salted water, and cook according to package directions. Drain.
Slice each sausage link into bite-size pieces or 1/4-inch slices.
Heat a very large skillet to medium heat & drizzle with EVOO. When hot enough, add the sliced sausage and brown on both sides. Remove and set aside in a bowl.
Add additional EVOO and saute onions, tomatoes & bell peppers.
Add salt & pepper to taste.
Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute until fragrant.
Add the spiralized butternut squash & zucchini. Mix well to combine. Cook covered until softened (about 8-10 minutes)
Take the cooked pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss gently.
Place in a serving platter and garnish with fresh basil and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Thai Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-Fry Twiins Style Gluten-Free
We love Thai food so when we came across this recipe we knew we had to try it. It's delicious and full of authentic Thai flavor. We added our homegrown sweet Thai basil to give it more of an authentic taste and we hit a home run. The sauce has a lot of ingredients but is well worth the effort. We used all gluten-free ingredients and it's delicious. It has just the right amount of sweet & heat... Enjoy!😋❤️
1/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, gluten-free (can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, gluten-free
2 Tablespoons Dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce (can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 fresh squeezed lime, divided into 1 tablespoon & reserve remainder of juice to add later
1 Tablespoon peanut oil, divided
2 tsp Samal Oelek (ground fresh chili paste – can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
1½ tsp garlic paste
1½ tsp Tamarind Concentrate (or paste – can be found in the grocery store Asian section)
1 tsp peanut oil
2 lbs. uncooked Shrimp, deveined (defrost if frozen – tails can be left or removed, your preference)
2 large onions, sliced thin
4 large Red Bell Peppers, sliced thin
4 medium uncooked scallions (spring onions – we used our homegrown scallions grown from bulb end with roots, see Notes: below)
28-32 ounces shredded cabbage & carrots (2 packages coleslaw mix can be used)
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, minced
6 Thai Sweet Basil leaves, minced (more or less to taste)
2-4 Tablespoons Peanuts, salted, chopped
Sauce: In a medium bowl combine chili sauce, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, tomato paste, 1 Tablespoon lime juice, 2 tsp oil, sambal oelek, garlic paste, and tamarind concentrate; whisk to combine. (Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator)
Heat remaining tsp oil in a large wok or very large nonstick skillet over high heat.
Cook the shrimp, tossing frequently, until they turn pink & opaque, about 5-8 minutes. Remove to plate.
Add the sliced onions and peppers to wok; cook while frequently stirring until onions soften and peppers are crisp-tender, about 5-10 minutes.
Add the cabbage & carrot slaw and the cooked shrimp to the wok. Pour the sauce & remaining lime juice over top and toss well to combine; heat through, tossing gently.
Remove from heat and stir in the scallions and cilantro; sprinkle with peanuts & minced Thai Sweet Basil.
Garnish with a sprig of Thai Sweet Basil & Enjoy!
Make the sauce
Cook the shrimp
Set aside the cooked shrimp
Add the onions & peppers
Add cooked shrimp then pour the sauce over & toss well
Slicing the scallions
Sprinkle the chopped peanuts & scallions then combine
Garnish with fresh Thai Sweet Bail & enjoy!
Notes: Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers.
If gluten isn’t an issue no need to use gluten-free ingredients.
This dish may be served by itself or over Jasmin rice or rice noodles.
To grow your own scallions (spring onions), cut the white bulb about 1½ inches from the roots. With the roots attached, take your index finger and push down into a container filled with potting soil deep enough to leave about 1/2 inch above the dirt. Water daily but don’t overwater. In a couple of weeks, you will see new green shoots coming out of the bulb. When they are about the height of pencils, you can cut off what you need. Do not pull the bulbs out of the dirt. They will continue to grow additional green stalks. If the tips start to brown, cut to the base of dirt.
This year, 2020, we finally have an abundance of figs from one of Gary's fig trees. He has been growing 2 fig trees for 4 years here in North Carolina. The one we transplanted from our NY home is not as big as the one we purchased here in NC so the figs I used in this recipe are from the NC fig tree. The first couple of years the figs were so sparse that we were lucky to get a few to pop in our mouths for the whole season. In contrast, today we picked so many figs that now we can be creative with different ways to prepare and enjoy them. This fig sauce is so simple to make, does not require any tedious canning, and is delicious with Feta cheese or goat cheese on a cracker, meat & cheese board, or topping chicken or pork. It's naturally sweet without the addition of any sugar, and it's naturally gluten-free. We love it and so do the hubbies! 😋 😋
2 cups ripe figs, stems removed and cut-in-half
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (ready-made is fine)
6 Tablespoons quality Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients together. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at least 20-30 minutes until figs are soft enough to mash & liquid is 3/4 evaporated. (It may take longer)
Using a potato masher, mash the mixture. It should look like a loose jam but not watery.
Remove from the heat. Spoon onto your favorite protein or use as an appetizer with goat cheese & crackers.
Note: This recipe can be served at room temperature as an appetizer or hot over your protein. It can be made ahead of time & stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Will keep for several days refrigerated.
While relaxing on my front porch after repotting some plants today, Teresa pulled up with some cod for tonights dinner. Cod is one of those fish that takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with making a Mediterranean style dinner absolutely delicious. We were wondering what we had on hand to make with it and I found a half-full jar of pearl couscous! We had some grape tomatoes, plenty of garlic, onions, & feta cheese, along with a garden full of fresh herbs. We set about making dinner. We've said this before and it's very true...some of the best dinners we make are thrown together with what we have on hand. This dinner turned out fabulous...we were counting on leftovers but NONE were to be had!😋❤️
1¾ cups pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous)
2¾ cup chicken broth
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
6-8 large cloves garlic peeled & minced
fresh baby spinach (a few handfuls)
salt & pepper to taste
6 ounces Feta cheese (we use President’s Chunk)
In a large skillet add the Israeli/pearl couscous to a dry, hot skillet. Gently stir to prevent burning. After a few minutes, the couscous will start to brown. Do not burn. Not all the couscous will brown & that’s ok.
Add the chicken stock, cover, and cook about 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and set aside.
In a small skillet, saute the onions until they start to caramelize then add garlic & cook another minute. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Add the cooked onions & garlic to the couscous. Stir well. Cover and set aside until fish is done.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Turn oven to broil. Once hot, reduce the oven temperature to 425º.
Coat the grape tomatoes & whole cloves of garlic with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO. Sprinkle with salt. Combine well. Place on a lined baking sheet.
Place baking sheet on the top oven rack and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft.
Remove from the oven when done. Using a fork or a wooden spoon, smash the garlic. Take half the tomatoes plus the juice and garlic then add to couscous, mixing well.
Just before serving, crumble & add the Feta cheese to the couscous and combine.
Using the same rimmed baking sheet, drizzle EVOO and arrange the pieces of cod on sheet. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt & pepper, chopped fresh greek oregano. Drizzle lightly with EVOO and place on center rack of 425º oven.
Cook 10-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of cod until it’s opaque & flakes.
To serve, place cooked couscous mixture on a serving platter and top with fish fillets. Sprinkle with remaining blistered tomatoes & garlic. Garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano & thyme.
Cutting the fresh Greek oregano
Cooking the couscous
Blistered tomatoes & whole garlic caramelized
Cod placed in oven after seasonings added
Couscous with spinach on top
Feta cheese & tomatoes added to couscous
Platter of Cod over Couscous Mediterranean Style
Notes: To make this Gluten-free for Jack, we served him brown rice with quinoa as a substitute for couscous. He loved it.
Two years ago Barbara bought a small chocolate mint potted plant because she loved the smell of it. She left it in the original 3-inch pot so it never grew much. There were enough leaves for maybe a few cups of tea every now and then. This year she decided to transplant it in the early spring into a much larger pot. She now has so much chocolate mint that we decided to try a new cocktail. Our Chocolate Mint Mojito was born! If your a fan of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, this delicious cocktail is for you and it can be enjoyed all summer long. ❤️ ❤️
16 fresh chocolate mint leaves (regular mint may be substituted)
2 ounces Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice
2 ounces Torani Dark Chocolate syrup
4 ounces Bacardi Coconut Rum (substitute with plain light rum if you’re not a fan of coconut)
6-12 ice cubes
4 ounces club soda
sprig of mint for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice.
Stir in the chocolate syrup and rum. Add the ice.
Shake at least 30 seconds. Stir in the club soda (don’t shake once you add the club soda).
Pour into a highball glass or your favorite martini glass.
Garnish with a lime slice and a sprig of mint. Enjoy!
Lately all my friends and neighbors are wondering what to cook since we are all observing the Stay at Home restrictions going on across the country. They are bored and tired of cooking 3 times a day. While checking my text messages I saw one from 'Nextdoor' with the title 'What's for Dinner'. This recipe caught my eye so I decided to give it a try. Wow! I'm so happy I did. Not only is it full of flavor but it's so easy to make. Both Gary & I loved it. I hope Teresa makes this for my niece while she's helping her recuperate. I know they will love it too! 😋❤️
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (freshly grated) (please don’t use the fake stuff in the green container…)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
In a large skillet add 2-4 Tablespoons EVOO. When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side. Don’t crowd the skillet or you’ll get steam instead of browning. Cook until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Whisk over medium-high heat until it starts to thicken.
Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes. Let simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.
Add the chicken back to the skillet and serve over your favorite pasta.
1. Use genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that you freshly grate. The pre-grated cheese has additives and makes it ball up instead of melting into the sauce. You may also substitute with Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese, also freshly grated.
2. Large chicken bone-in chicken thighs can also be used in place of chicken breasts. Just make sure you cook a little longer so they are fully cooked.
Recipe adapted from Alyssa Rivers (The Recipe Critic).
Brown the chicken thighs or chicken breasts on medium-high 3-5 minutes on both sides then set aside on a plate
Add the heavy cream, chicken broth and the dry spices with the grated cheese
This isn’t just another meatloaf recipe! I have made many meatloaf variations throughout the years, but none have ever come close to this super easy, flavorful, moist, and absolutely delicious meatloaf that my daughter Tracy makes. I’ve been staying with my daughter while she is recovering from surgery and wanted to cook meals for her and, as she refers to him, her roommate John🤣. The only change I had to make was adapting it to be gluten-free for Jack so he could enjoy it too. I have to say it was the biggest hit. The glaze was just the right amount of sweet and tangy that made this meatloaf extra special. Enjoy !!😋 😋
In a large bowl, add the ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, milk, beaten eggs, 4 tablespoons ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, garlic powder, dried onion flakes, celery seed, paprika, bouillon granules, and pepper. Using disposable gloves on your hands mix these ingredients together until well combined. Do not under-mix.
Add the meat mixture to a 9×13 inch roasting pan. Pat and form the meat into a loaf shape approximately 3-4 inches high.
In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup ketchup, the brown sugar, and vinegar. Stir well to combine. Pour the glaze on top of the meatloaf and place it on the center rack in the preheated oven.
Bake uncovered for 55 -65 minutes.
Let the meatloaf rest for 8-10 minutes before serving.
1. Homemade Gluten-free onion soup mix. Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. This will yield the equivalent of 2 envelopes of gluten-free dry onion soup mix.
2. If gluten isn’t an issue you may use any Lipton Onion Soup mix in place of the homemade version and regular plain breadcrumbs.
2. For a tasty meal, serve with creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed fresh spinach with garlic and EVOO
What I love about stuffed peppers, beside the terrific vitamin C health benefit, is the amazing possibilities of stuffing combinations. Our mother always made them with a mixture of ground beef, Minute Rice, and Locatelli cheese then cooked them in marinara sauce for a simple, no-fuss, one-pot meal. Barbara made them sweet & sour. We used to make them for our families, but our children weren’t fans. I tried serving them over linguini, which is absolutely delicious; however, their battle cry became “not again”. It’s funny how their recollection is so different from mine! Putting all that aside I like to mix things up by combining new flavors and using pantry items already on hand. Some of our best recipes come from whatever we find in the pantry and throw them together! 😋 😋
2 (8.8 oz) pouches ‘TastyBite Organic Brown Rice with Quinoa & Lentils Seasoned with Herbs & Spices’
1lb ground beef
4 oz Uncured Pancetta, diced
1 x-large sweet onion (or 2 medium), diced
2 Tablespoons EVOO
6 Bell peppers, assorted colors, cut in half lengthwise, seeded & ribs removed
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1½ -2 Tablespoons Za’atar spice (may substitute with Oregano)
12 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
salt & pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup chicken broth (enough to fill the bottom of the pan by 1 inch)
In a large skillet saute onions until soft, then add pancetta and saute for 2 minutes.
Add garlic, salt & pepper and saute for 1 minute.
Add ground beef and cook over medium heat stirring often to break up meat until thoroughly cooked (no pink). Remove from heat & set Bake 25-35 minutes, d aside.
Tear pouches of brown rice, quinoa & lentils 2 inches to vent. Place each pouch separately in the microwave on high for 90 seconds each.
Empty contents of the cooked pouches into the skillet filled with the meat mixture & let cool.
Once the meat mixture is cooled add half the shredded cheese. Combine well.
In a large 9 x 13 x 2-inch roasting pan drizzle a small amount of EVOO.
Pour chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan to about 1-inch depth.
Place each pepper half in the pan, then spoon meat mixture into each pepper making a nice mound. Do not pack down.
Top each pepper with the remaining shredded cheese and place in a pre-heated 375º oven.
Bake 25-35 minutes until cheese is melted. ( Every oven is different so timing may vary)
Serve hot with a side salad and enjoy!
Notes: Any soft, melting cheese can be used in place of Gruyere. For strictly vegetarian stuffed peppers use drained black beans in place of ground meat.
After having a bumper crop of wild fennel, my friend Jane & I turned that crop into the most delicious homemade fennel liqueur. As Teresa and I have been experimenting with martini flavors, I turned to my gallons of homemade fennel liqueur and hence the birth of the Wild Fenneltini! It's delicious with either vodka (me) or gin (Teresa). Originally we made it like our Limoncello Drop Martini but it was a tad too strong so we took out the Triple Sec reducing the alcohol content. By all means, add it back in if you're brave!! If you like the taste of anise or black licorice you will love this martini. Enjoy!❤️ 🍸 🤣
1 ½ oz vodka or gin
1/2 oz Fennel Liqueur (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 oz Triple Sec (only if you’re brave)
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/8 cup lemon/lime seltzer
1/2 tsp caster sugar (granulated sugar is fine to use also)
5-7 ice cubes
lemon or lime twist
slice of lemon or lime for garnish (optional)
a sprig of fennel (optional)
Rub lemon or lime slice around the rim of a martini glass.
Place caster sugar on a flat plate. Take lemon or lime rimmed martini glass and dip into sugar. Store in refrigerator or freezer until ready to pour into glasses.
Place ice in a shaker & add the vodka or gin, fennel liqueur, triple sec, lime seltzer, and sugar.
Shake at least 30 seconds then pour into a martini glass.
Garnish with lemon or lime slice, lemon or lime twist, or a sprig of fennel then enjoy!
As every Italian American cook knows, the basis of a great Sunday dinner in Italian homes is the tomato sauce or gravy as it is lovingly referred to. Our grandmothers from Naples & Sicily both called it gravy. When we were teenagers we questioned why was tomato sauce called gravy as we thought it should be called sauce. I guess it depended on where you grew up and what the custom was for each family. We chose to call it “sauce”. Whether you are making lasagna or spaghetti, a good sauce makes all the difference in the world.
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes (break up with your hands or an immersion blender)
1 lb Italian sweet or hot sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1/4 tsp dried oregano
fresh basil leaves (cook in sauce plus some for garnish)
Pour 2 tablespoons EVOO in heavy-duty 8-quart pot
When the oil is hot, add sausage links and brown both sides
Remove browned sausage links and set aside.
Add onion and cook until lightly browned and translucent
Add garlic and stir well for 1 minute
Add tomatoes, butter, oregano, and a few basil leaves, and the browned sausages.
Stir well and often to prevent burning on the bottom while simmering for at least 3 hours in order for the sausages to be nice & tender (the longer it cooks the better).
When done, remove the sausage links that can be saved for a different meal or serve with your favorite pasta dish.
Note: Whenever we have leftover pieces of pork we add them to the pot. If you are making meatballs, add them to the pot during the last 20 minutes of cook time.