Tag Archives: balsamic

Asparagus with Tomato and Feta

Here we go again with Thanksgiving. Where does the time go? Well, hopefully you’ve got some fun and happy plans. Me? I’ll be keeping it small but my day is planned: coffee, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, eat a little food, watch football, eat a little more food. Oh and drink bourbon or wine somewhere in between, depending on how I feel. Well, I struggle with vegetables sometimes and rather than steamed broccoli or boring green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts, how about something untraditional like this Asparagus with Tomato and Feta instead?

Grape tomatoes and asparagus are roasted in the oven and topped with white balsamic vinegar and feta cheese, adding tons of flavor and color to these healthy spears. Sure, this dish may look a little more like Christmas than Thanksgiving but so what? ‘Tis the season, right? Whatever veggie you dish up with your turkey tomorrow, I certainly home you enjoy it, eat a bunch, pop a button on your pants, and appreciate every second of it. Be thankful, because I’m thankful for each one of you.

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Preheat oven to 425°F. Place tomatoes and olive oil on a jelly-roll pan; toss. Bake at 425°F for 4 minutes.

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Add asparagus; bake 9 minutes.

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Top with vinegar, salt, pepper, and crumbled feta cheese.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Orzo Salad with Peas and Feta

My 4th of July plans are pretty low key this year and I plan on curling up with a good book, a turkey burger and a cocktail. But so many people will be heading to the beach, the lake, the park, the pool or a friend’s house for fireworks and that means needing food. Maybe you’ll be having a burger like me or something else grilled. Maybe you’ll take this holiday weekend to consume as much ice cream as you can. Or maybe it’s the time to eat salads and I don’t mean the leafy green kind. I mean the potato-y, mayonnaise-y, pasta-y kind. This Orzo Salad has been a long time staple of mine which is my go-to dish whenever there is a potluck at work, a picnic or any impromptu get-together.

Quick-cooking orzo, frozen peas, and feta cheese are mixed together with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. That’s it. This pasta salad is so fast to make and easy to throw together at the last minute. This salad doesn’t have a lot of ingredients so the vinegar comes through nicely without being too overpowering and the peas add a subtle sweetness which pairs so well with the pasta. I used basil instead of parsley because I had it on hand but any herb would work here. The herbs provide a bold freshness which only complements this pasta. Orzo cooks in about nine minutes so if you have a box on hand, this is something that you can pull together quickly. Give this a try anytime you need a quick side whether it’s a holiday weekend or not. I bet it’ll become your go-to recipe too.

If you like this, also check out Orzo Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil.

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Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well to coat.

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Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat feta cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Spring Strawberry Pie

Sorry for the long silence but I was in Chicago enjoying the awesome weather and stunning Lake Michigan up through this past long weekend and I’ve been in total vacation mode. Can you believe Memorial Day was yesterday? It seemed like the winter was never going to be over and I still worry, despite the fact that it is almost June, that there is still a lingering snowstorm somewhere. Because yesterday was Memorial Day, we like to think that the summer has started but it’s really still Spring for about another three weeks. Maybe you went to a picnic yesterday and ate a lot or maybe you just laid low and celebrated the life of a veteran but no matter what you did, enjoy life this week with something Springy and sweet like this Spring Strawberry Pie.

Strawberries are sliced and cooked with a little balsamic vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch creating a chunky, thickened strawberry mixture similar to preserves. This mixture is poured over fresh strawberries and a freshly baked graham cracker crust and topped with a quick crumble of additional graham cracker crumbs, almonds and sugar. Once refrigerated, this pie is ready to be served, especially with a giant dollop of whipped cream, low-fat or regular. Balsamic vinegar and strawberries pair so well together and the vinegar melts away leaving only a complementary flavor and not overly bold taste. This pie is light and scrumptious. My strawberries were still pretty huge so if you can find small ones, all the better (just cut bigger berries in half or quarters). If you don’t feel like making your own crust, you can easily buy a pre-made graham cracker crust to save time.  The strawberries are the real star here (even though I’m a complete sucker for any kind of crust) so if you need to take a short cut, go ahead. This pie is a perfect little treat that takes advantage of strawberries which seem to be so abundant right now. Got too many from the farmer’s market? Meet this pie.

DSC05087Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar in a bowl, tossing with a fork until moist. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

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To prepare the filling, combine strawberry slices and vinegar in a medium nonstick skillet. Place the berry mixture over medium-high heat; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar. Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in juice. Cool completely.

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Arrange whole strawberries, stem sides down, in crust. Pour cooled strawberry mixture over whole strawberries. Cover loosely, and chill 4 hours.

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To prepare the topping, combine 3 tablespoons cracker crumbs, nuts, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter in a small bowl. Place crumb mixture in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes or until golden brown; cool.

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Sprinkle crumb mixture over pie. Top each serving with whipped topping.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

I noticed a funny thing that happens after I’ve been eating healthy: when I eat something bad, I feel like crap. I have been pretty into eating vegetables lately (which has never happened in my life) and have been craving them.  So after eating multiple veggies for days, I then ate something full of sugar and who-knows what else which resulted in me feeling the worst I’d felt all week.  I felt tired and I got an irritating headache. Hmm…wake up call? The truth is, I’ve come to this realization before but the bad stuff just tastes so darn good!  I’m hoping one of these days it actually settles in and prevents me from eating the bad stuff in the first place. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying some springtime veggies, including this Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes.

Bright grape tomatoes and garlic are cooked in olive oil until soft and tender before being tossed with a little balsamic vinegar.  The mixture then tops fresh asparagus that has been boiled until bright green and crisp. Goat cheese (if you prefer) can be added for another layer of flavor but I left it out. With asparagus now in season, this a great recipe to have on hand when you get tired of eating it steamed and plain but still want something healthy. Double this batch and it would make for a great seasonal side dish at Easter this Sunday.

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Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

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Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt.

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Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper (if desired).

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Goat cheese

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

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