Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FAST AND EASY SPAGHETTI SQUASH


Maybe it's the fact that my pantry is overflowing with this stuff from my garden, but I am loving spaghetti squash right now! I've been eating it for lunch or a snack several times a week. I even like it just plain, straight from the fridge. It's a great gluten-free, low calorie, low-carb option. Use it in any recipe that calls for a spaghetti-type noodle. I've used it for a cold "spaghetti" salad, with tomatoes, olives and Italian dressing with parmesan cheese. It's also tasty tossed with pesto and diced chicken, or just a little butter and salt and pepper. 
Here is a super fast and easy way to cook the squash to use any way you wish.

COOKED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
1. Rinse exterior of spaghetti squash
2. With a sharp knife, carefully pierce the squash a few times around the squash (about 9 times)
3. Place the squash in the microwave
4. Cook for about 15 minutes at 70% power -- it's VERY important to reduce the power. Otherwise, you risk your squash exploding! Cooking time will vary depending on the size of squash and wattage of your microwave.
5. The squash should give when pushed, but still a little firm on the exterior.
6. Let set in microwave, with door open for  about 5 minutes to cool slightly.
7. Remove squash from microwave and slice in half lengthwise. Careful, as steam will escape.
8. Scrape out seeds with a large spoon and discard.
9. Using a fork, pull strands of squash out by scraping sides WITH the "grain" of the squash strands.
10. Now you've got your "noodles". You want them to have the texture of a real noodle, cooked al dente. If you cook it too long, your "noodles" will become mushy and not give you nice strands.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FRITO SALAD


This is one of those good stand-by potluck recipes that almost everyone likes and it makes a lot. It's also a great way to use up fresh produce from your garden. Adding the Fritos chips on top at the last minute gives the salad a nice salty crunch. I am not a fan of celery, but I actually don't mind it in this recipe. It's not a dominant flavor, with everything else going on. It uses bottled Catalina dressing, which I didn't have, but I made my own and it turned out even better than store-bought!

FRITO SALAD
(Printable Recipe)

4 green onions, sliced thin
2-3 small green bell peppers, chopped 
4 tomatoes, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped

Place above ingredients in large bowl. 
Add:

3 cans red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
1 bottle Catalina Light salad dressing
1 small package Fritos chips

Mix all ingredients; chill. Add 1 package Fritos corn chips just before serving.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

LIGHTER CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CUPCAKES


I'm back in the saddle...well, at least I've got one leg up : )

With summer over and the first week of school under my belt, I think I'm ready to tackle blogging again! Posts might be sporadic, and I might not do a Frugal Friday as frequently as before, but I'm excited!

Of course the end of summer means - ZUCCHINI ABUNDANCE for many people! There are zucchini recipes galore this time of year, but this is one I hope you'll give a shot. It's from Cooking Light, so it's a little lighter than a typical chocolate cake, but you could easily fool me into thinking it's not!

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE / CUPCAKES
Recipe from Cooking Light, 2007                                                                 makes 1 bundt cake or 16 cupcakes
(Printable Recipe)

Cake:
3/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar, packed (I left it unpacked to decrease sugar content a bit)
1/2 C. (4 oz.) block-style fat-free cream cheese (This time around, I used plain, non-fat Greek yogurt)
1/3 C. vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour (I used 2 C. a/p flour & 1/2 C. soft white wheat flour)
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa 
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 C. fat-free buttermilk (make your own by using skim milk with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar & let set for a few minutes to curdle)
2 C. finely shredded zucchini
2/3 C. chocolate chips
1/4 C. walnuts, optional (I left these out)

Glaze:
3/4 C. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
8 tsp. skim milk
2 Tbsp. chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a bundt cake pan or cupcake pan with cooking spray.

Place sugars and cream cheese, and oil in large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 tsp. vanilla.

Lightly spoon 2 1/2 C. flour into dry measuring cups & level with a knife. Combine the flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in zucchini, 2/3 C. chocolate chips, and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. For bundt cake, bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake 18-21 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and cocoa in small bowl and whisk until combined. In 1 C. glass measure, combine milk, chocolate chips and vanilla. Microwave for 45 seconds, or until chocolate melts, stirring after 20 seconds. Combine powdered sugar mixture and chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over cooled cake.

16 servings: 1 slice = 281 calories, 9.5 g. fat