Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Zucchini Pasta

I grew up in the era when pasta was good for you.  “YAYYY CARBS!!!” we would scream in Health Class. (This is a lie. I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually know what a carb was until I was halfway through college.)  But anyway, pasta was totally acceptable and not at all the evil monster it’s portrayed as today.  My dad would drive us 45 minutes to the nearest “big city” (Missourites: I’m talking about Jeff City.  Feel free to snicker now.) once a year for Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl Feast.  Hamburger Helper was a staple in our house.  Spaghetti was one of the first things I ever learned to cook from scratch (though my earliest memories of helping my mom “cook” always involved Jiffy cake & cornbread boxes). 

When you grow up with that sort of mindset, it’s REALLY hard to break away and start thinking of pasta as something that should be moderated…heaven forbid be left out of one’s diet altogether.  But alas, I am an adult, and I am old enough to understand that MAYBEEE we should be dining on dishes that are a bit more veggie-and-protein-dense than my beloved trough of fettuccini alfredo from the O.G.

So when a friend who had recently decided to do the low-carb thing told me about the Veggie Spiralizer, I figured it was worth $15 to try it out.  Especially since we were growing zucchini in our container garden this year, and I am typically very boring with zucchini—either sautéing it with garlic & parm, or baking it into bread.

We threw this recipe together after a long day, and I’m a LITTLE proud that so many of the ingredients came from our garden—the zucchini, the tomatoes, the basil, rosemary…


This recipe can be Paleo (if you use the right sauce) and even Whole-30 approved (if you use a pasta sauce with no sugar and nitrate/sugar free bacon, and leave off the cheese).


 INGREDIENTS: (makes 2 servings)

1 zucchini, spiral sliced into noodles

olive oil

1 sprig rosemary

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/2 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (we used Bertolli’s Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic sauce)

small handful of fresh basil

2-3 slices bacon, cooked & chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 green onion

1/4 cup shredded parmesan (I get Priano from Aldis—great quality & CHEAP)



Spiral-slice your zucchini.


Then add your noodles to a large skillet w/olive oil, rosemary & garlic over medium heat, tossing/stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.


Then add the pasta sauce and tomatoes to the pan, lower heat to medium-low to heat the sauce.

Add the basil (julienned) near the end so it doesn’t get bitter.  Then transfer into two bowls, top with the bacon, cheese, & green onions (and the rosemary sprig for garnish). 



 Calories 269.2

  Total Fat 15.2 g

  Saturated Fat 4.9 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.1 g

  Cholesterol 18.6 mg

  Sodium 909.0 mg

  Potassium 627.3 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 20.7 g

  Dietary Fiber 6.1 g

  Sugars 13.6 g

  Protein 11.1 g

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fresh Salsa

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before, I do NOT have a green thumb.  At best, it’s like…mayyyybeee a sickly yellow.  I can’t keep a “real” garden because I don’t go out in our backyard that often, so it’s sorta “out of sight, out of mind”—I just completely forget to tend or water anything that isn’t regularly in my line of sight. 

So this summer, I did a fairly extensive (for me) container garden on our porch—we have a . I planted mint, basil, rosemary, some radishes, squash, turnips, lavender, and three kinds of tomatoes (cherry, yellow pear, & Federle).  The turnips & lavender were no-shows. I got about 4 squash before the vine borers got to my plants and demolished them.  My radishes made tons of greens but never grew bulbs—possibly because it was too hot.  However, my tomato plants ROCKED it, and are actually still producing!


My MIL was also bringing us gems from her garden, so we had plenty produce on hand all summer!

Which means…I actually grew more tomatoes than I could handle.  I love to snack on ‘maters and throw them in salads & on fresh pasta…but even that wasn’t keeping up with the supply.  So…of course…we made fresh salsa!



  • 3-4 lbs. tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion, peeled (red or sweet yellow is best)
  • 2  jalapeno peppers (seeds removed if you prefer a more mild salsa)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • large handful of cilantro (to taste—for us, that’s about half a bunch)
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 t. red wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin



Roughly chop onions, and peppers (tomatoes too if you’re using larger ones—we had a lot of cherry-sized).


Add all ingredients to food processor, and then pulse until the texture is to your liking.  Season to taste. It will keep in the fridge for about a week or two—but I doubt it will last that long!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad

A friend recommended this dish on Pinterest. I’m a big fan of her Chinese noodle salad, so I figured if she liked this, then it had to be good!  It’s so fresh and crunchy—and I LOOOOOOVE all those colors! I tweaked the recipe a bit to add a little more heat to balance out the sweetness of the dressing.



¾ cup uncooked quinoa
1 heaping cup shredded purple cabbage
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup edamame, shelled
½ cup cashew halves
½-1 cup chopped cilantro (we like a lot of cilantro)
¼ cup diced green onions

For the dressing:
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp ginger
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sriracha
Water to thin, if necessary



Cook the quinoa according to package instructions—it should make about 2 cups when cooked. Set aside in the pot.

Add the peanut butter and honey to a small microwave safe bowl and nuke for about 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil and sriracha and whisk until smooth and creamy. If necessary, thin the dressing by adding a little more olive oil or some water.

Drizzle half of the dressing over the cooked quinoa & mix to coat.  Then in a large bowl, combine the red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, edamame, cashews, and cilantro. Fold in the quinoa.  Add as much of the remaining dressing as you’d like (to taste). Garnish with green onions. Chill until ready to eat.

We served it with some grilled chicken, and topped the chicken with a little bit of the leftover dressing.


NUTRIFACTS: (salad only)

Calories 234.3

  Total Fat 9.5 g

  Saturated Fat 1.4 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g

  Cholesterol 0.0 mg

  Sodium 485.6 mg

  Potassium 160.5 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 29.1 g

  Dietary Fiber 3.4 g

  Sugars 6.4 g

  Protein 10.0 g

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: Stormy Bayou

During my last trip down South, I picked up a bottle of Bayou Distillery’s Spiced Rum. Bayou started up out in Lacassine (between Lake Charles & Lafayette, my old digs) last year.  And I mean, you know how much I love all things local—even if “local” means “someplace near where I USED to live”.  Rum, made from sugarcane, has always been closely associated with Louisiana; Kansas has their amber waves of grain, Louisiana has emerald tidal surges of sugarcane, which contribute $2 billion annually to the State’s economy. The Jesuits began making rum in Louisiana back in 1751 and it’s been a strong tradition since that time.

I love spiced rum for fall drinks, but on this particular day I was craving something a little lighter, since it hasn’t really cooled off here much.  Our leaves have only just started to change, and it’s 70 degrees right now.


Our neighborhood market was running a sale on Jamaican style ginger beer, so this of course made me think of one of my favorites: the Dark ‘n Stormy.  Of course, a true Dark & Stormy has to be made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum & ginger beer…but this is our Bayou version…with a bit of a minty twist (because I planted mint this summer, and I have a RIDONKULOUS amount of it to use up.


2 oz Bayou spiced rum

4 oz ginger beer

juice of 1 lime

4-5 mint leaves


Muddle mint with the ice at the bottom of a glass.  Add rum & ginger beer.  Garnish with a lime wedge.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eggplant Caponata & Sausage Sandwiches

Aaaaand I’m back.  The Scoop is closed—for good, rather than just the season.  We decided it was all just too much—juggling our full time jobs plus trying to make sure our business ran well & didn’t fall into disrepair.  There are so many things I wish we could have done with it—more recipes, more branding, more promotions, more fundraisers… but there was just never enough time.  And given that we’d like to start a family soon, that would be WAYYYYYY too much to juggle. 

Closing up shop for the last time.

It’s a little bittersweet… I mean, yes, it definitely ran us ragged and most people just went all “O_o” when we told them we had full time jobs in addition to running the Scoop, but at the same time…it was our baby.  We have a lot of pride in our ability to have even attempted owning a business while still holding on to our “day jobs”, and the fact that it was also SUCCESSFUL (in a town with 899 other restaurants, and the home of Andy’s frozen custard) feels good too.  And we had some truly awesome employees who we won’t get to see every day anymore, and I’ll miss chatting with our regular customers…not to mention the look on every kids’ face when you hand them a giant ice cream cone, so they can cram their face-hole full of sugar & sprinkles… that little twinkle that says, “no nap for me today!  MUahahahahAHAHAHahahah!!!!”


This load of cuteness brought to you by my sis-in-law’s womb. Yes…we stuff them full of ice cream, AND buy them 100-piece toys for Christmas.  She’ll get us back one day.

So, now that I theoretically have some “free time” again, it’s time to get caught up on some posts!  Because I haven’t stopped cooking!

First up, this tasty sandwich.  Our local farmers market had these gorgeous white eggplants on sale & I couldn’t resist.


I’m usually not too versatile with eggplant, typically making baba ganoush or eggplant parm, but I wanted to mix it up a bit.  These sandwiches on Pinterest looked awfully inviting, so I ran with it & was very pleased with the results!


This also makes a really delicious dip to have with crostini; or you can toss it with a bit of pasta!  It makes a good sized batch, so you can be versatile with it—make a few sandwiches one night, have the dip the next night, etc.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 8-10 sandwiches)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes, about 4 cups total
4 chicken sausages (I think these were sundried tomato & mozzarella)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
(NOTE: if you have a hubby like mine who doesn’t care for olives, you can alternately just add about 1/4 cup of the brine from the jar to get the saltiness & a hint of the flavor, without it tasting too much like olives for them)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
French Bread
Provolone, Swiss or mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat,  then add the eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper (lightly—you can always add more later, but it’s going to cook down quite a bit so you don’t want it to get too salty). Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Add the olives (or olive brine), tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and oregano, and stir well so that the tomato paste coats everything. Season again with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking, and add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture is too thick and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While that’s going, cook your sausages according to their package directions.  Once they’re done, allow to cool for a bit & then slice at an angle to make about 1/2 inch slices.

Allow caponata to cool slightly, but serve warm.  Spoon onto your bread, add the basil, sausage, & cheese.  I didn’t let my cheese get melty enough before taking pics, but if you like, you can place the sandwich open-face beneath the broiler before serving to make sure it’s good & melty.  If you have some fresh mozzarella, that would also go nicely with this sandwich.