When I was a kid, our extended family used to love meeting up for big dinners regularly at our neighborhood Italian restaurant, DeFazio’s. Everyone would order these huge steaming plates of delicious pastas, salads, sides and more. And Yours Truly would order…”plain spaghetti”. Oh yes. I was the token picky eater in the family. And no thank you, I did not want to “just try it”. ;)
Luckily, though, everyone at DeFazio’s always received a steaming bowl of minestrone soup as an appetizer. And over the years, I began to grow more and more fond of this yummy pasta soup, even though I would have had a small heart attack at age 10 if anyone had told me that there was zucchini snuck in there!
This past week while standing around on a photo shoot, my coworkers and I noticed that our conversations somehow kept circling back to food (as often seems to happen!). I was getting ready to go grocery shopping that night, so asked if anyone had any blog-worthy chicken recipes to recommend. My friend, Jen, immediately lit up and told us about this hummus-crusted chicken recipe she had recently tried and loved.
I cannot believe that summer is nearly over! I’m seriously pinching myself that we’re already into September and that sweater-football-and-nights-by-the-fireplace season is just around the corner.
However, as always seems to be the case with our crazy midwest weather, today was nearly 100 degrees again. So to celebrate some of the few crazy-hot days remaining, I decided to grill up these peach and chicken kabobs tonight for a dinner with friends. They were super simple and easy to make on the grill pan (in my little loft), although I’m sure they would be even better cooked up outside on a grill. I loaded mine up with some farmers market veggies and some ripe local peaches, and then chose to go with a very light marinade to let the flavors shine through.
Some weeks I do well with eating healthy. And then some weeks I seem to utterly and miserably fail…especially when I’m working long hours away from my kitchen, it’s too rainy to exercise outside, and there is a rum cake in the house. :) Excuses, excuses….
But tomorrow is the kickoff for one of our latest “health and wellness” challenges at work. (Yes, it’s true — every few months we have a new creatively-themed contest across our 200+ employees focused on various aspects of health.) And I am determined to get back on the ball and win this one!
I recently saw a recipe for potato and zucchini hash and loved the idea! (But wasn’t all that crazy about cooking up two russett potatoes.) So I tried mixing it up by adding some sweet potatoes (way healthier, plus I love the sweet/salty combo!), a little bit of onion, and zucchini and yellow squash (yay, color!)….and voila! This is definitely one of my new favorite breakfasts!
The ingredient combo ended up being completely delicious! And totally simple – the “hardest” part was just cutting up the veggies. Which, I should point out that I somehow defaulted to habit and only halved instead of quartered the veggies — oops! So my “hash” looked more like half-medallions. :) But of course, they tasted the same. And even just being seasoned with salt, pepper, and cooked in some olive oil — this was completely yummy and flavorful! All the better when paired with an egg, cooked however you’d like.
As much as I enjoy the process of planning meals, and the anticipation that comes from researching a great recipe, shopping for the ingredients, and on and on….I absolutely LOVE spontaneity in the kitchen!! It always seems like such an accomplishment to dig throughout the cupboards and find the ingredients needed to quickly whip up something on the fly. (Especially when the result is successful!)
So when I was craving carbs this week, and randomly stumbled across this recipe in a Google search after arriving home from work, I was stoked to realize that — thanks to my overflowing garden — I had everything I needed to give it a go! So I put on some fun Italian opera music in the background (harkening back to my undergrad days!), and followed the trustworthy lead of Michael Chiarello. The best part is that I quickly learned that in addition looking classy and creative (love the julienned zuch!), the pasta tasted fantastic. And I should point out that the basil oil undoubtedly makes the recipe. I’d never made it before, but it was well worth the small extra effort. Would definitely recommend this one for entertaining (or sneaking healthy veggies into your kids’ pasta!).
Somehow I’ve returned home from the farmers’ market every week this summer with a truckload of zucchini. And after weeks of stir-frying, grilling, sauteeing, and roasting them up into all sorts of yummy creations, realized I hadn’t yet made any zuch bread this summer! So I decided to try adding in some blueberries for something different, and holy cow – this recipe is a winner. Wonderfully moist, fresh, and sweet. Reminds me why I love summer produce!!