Simple, refreshing - Tomato, Cucumber & Avocado Salad

Refreshing salad that gives a nutritional boost to any meal!  

Tomato, Cucumber & Avocado Salad      About 4 servings as a side salad
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 English cucumber
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
About 2 tablespoons (1/4 bunch) cilantro, chopped*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Place chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, sliced onion, diced avocado, and chopped cilantro into a large salad bowl. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine.

Super Easy. Super Citrusy. Super Good: Grapefruit-Avocado Salad

Slices of citrusy grapefruit alternated with slices of creamy, buttery avocado is one of our favorite taste combinations – indescribably good! We’ve made this simple salad for years, but recently we added toasted almonds and loved the crunch.                         
Lots of recipes call for finishing the salad with a honey blend or even a viniagrette. We think this simple salad is perfect without any other additions!
Grapefruit-Avocado Salad
1 grapefruit, supremed*  (Rudy red are great in this recipe but I had a yellow one on hand)
1 avocado, cut into slices
Handful of sliced toasted almonds**, optional
  1. Arrange the avocado sliced and grapefruit sections on a platter – we like to alternate avocado slices and grapefruit. Eat as is or add almonds.
  2. Sprinkle with toasted almonds if desired.
*Supreming Citrus: Click on Martha Stewart video to see a vidoe.  

**Toasting Almonds: spread sliced almonds on a baking pan, spreading out in order to toast evenly. Add almonds to a preheat 350° oven and bake/toast for about 5 minutes, watching carefully. They should begin to brown and smelly nutty. Watch cafefully.

Let’s hear it for SPICY & SAVORY THAI NOODLES!

Spicy & Savory Thai Noodles were on the menu tonight . . . and we will certainly make this recipe again! However, to be on the safe side, I cut the recipe in half! That was a mistake . . . as this dish was so good that it would have been nice to have leftovers.  Pinterest was where I found this recipe (pinned it to my "low cholesterol" board); it originated @ the Domestic Superhero blog. I made just a few adjustments:  used whole grain linguine, crimini vs. regular button mushrooms, cut way down on the Sriracha (Barry doesn’t like too much heat) and added extra peanuts. We also passed the soy sauce at the table. 
Let’s hear it for Spicy and Savory Thai Noodles!
Hint -- Do ALL of the prep work before starting on the preparation. This includes chopping all vegetables, herbs & peanuts + assembling the sauce (step #2) and beating the egg with red pepper flakes (step #4). It will definitely make your life easier!

Spicy & Savory Thai Noodles    About 4 main dish servings
1 lb. whole grain linguine
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, cut in half vertically, then sliced in half circles
8 ozs. crimini mushroom, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce + extra for use at the table
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce – it is hot so adjust to your own taste starting with less!
2” fresh ginger, grated
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup+ peanuts, chopped
  1. In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain, saving some of the pasta water, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, Sriracha, and ginger; whisk well to combine; set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Add beaten eggs and red pepper flakes and stir to scramble the eggs. Once cooked, remove to a dish and set aside.
  5. In the skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms. Sauté over medium high heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until veggies are cooked through; add garlic about halfway through cooking time.

  6. Turn heat down to low, add pasta and eggs back to pot, then pour the sauce mixture over the top. Stir well to coat pasta and vegetables with sauce.

  7. Add Thai noodles to individual serving bowls and add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen pasta if needed. Top each portion with peanuts, green onions, and cilantro. Serve warm or cold and pass extra soy sauce.
Recipe without photos . . .
Spicy & Savory Thai Noodles    About 4 main dish servings
1 lb. whole grain linguine
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, cut in half vertically, then sliced in half circles
8 ozs. crimini mushroom, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce + extra for use at the table
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce – it is hot so adjust to your own taste starting with less!
2” fresh ginger, grated
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup+ peanuts, chopped
  1. In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain, saving some of the pasta water, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, Sriracha, and ginger; whisk well to combine; set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Add beaten eggs and red pepper flakes and stir to scramble the eggs. Once cooked, remove to a dish and set aside.
  5. In the skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms. Sauté over medium high heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until veggies are cooked through; add garlic about halfway through cooking time.
  6. Turn heat down to low, add pasta and eggs back to pot, then pour the sauce mixture over the top. Stir well to coat pasta and vegetables with sauce.
  7. Add Thai noodles to individual serving bowls and add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen pasta if needed. Top each portion with peanuts, green onions, and cilantro. Serve warm or cold and pass extra soy sauce..

Black-eyed Pea Stew over Polenta - bring on the good luck!

We are trying to extend our New Year's good luck by eating black-eyed peas more than once this month. Here's our latest recipe that is healthy, hearty and hopefully brings good luck for the coming year!

Black-eyed Pea Stew over Polenta   4 to 6 servings
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced (I used an orange pepper but any color works
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5-15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (15.5 oz.) can black-eyed peas
3 cups broth
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small russet potato, peeled & grated -- this will thicken the soup creating more of a stew-like consistency
Shredded Parmesan cheese if desired
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot.
  2. Add the onions and carrots; cook, stirring, until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, broth, and seasonings (everything else but the polenta and Parmesan). Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes or until all veggies are tender and flavors have melded. After about 10 minutes of cooking time, add grated potato to thicken the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Serve with prepared polenta and top with shredded Parmesan if desired.

Recipe without photos . . .
Black-eyed Pea Stew over Polenta   4 to 6 servings 
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced 
1 large bell pepper, diced (I used an orange pepper but any color works
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5-15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (15.5 oz.) can black-eyed peas 
3 cups broth
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small russet potato, peeled & grated -- this will thicken the soup creating more of a stew-like consistency
Shredded Parmesan cheese if desired
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot.
  2. Add the onions and carrots; cook, stirring, until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, broth, and seasonings (everything else but the polenta and Parmesan). Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes or until all veggies are tender and flavors have melded. After about 10 minutes of cooking time, add grated potato to thicken the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Serve with prepared polenta and top with shredded Parmesan if desired.

Tortellini and Spinach Meal in a Bowl, cooked in the Crockpot!

Noticed this recipe on Facebook and thought it looked interesting! Not exactly a soup yet we served it in a bowl . . . so perhaps we should call it Tortellini & Spinach Meal in a Bowl. Actually, just call it SCRUMPTIOUS! And, it is super easy, too.
And, yes, I did make some changes . . . the original recipe call for frozen tortellini but I had a package of the dried kind on hand. I also used chicken versus veggie broth and used reduced fat (1/3 less) cream cheese. And, finally, it was done in just about 3 hours . . . any longer and the tortellini would have split open. Here's my version:


Tortellini and Spinach Meal in a Bowl, cooked in the Crockpot
1 (8 oz.) box dried tortellini
1 (6 oz.) bag fresh baby spinach
2 (15 oz.) can Italian-style diced tomatoes (if you don't have Italian-style on hand use regular diced and add about 2 to 3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning)
1 qt. (4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (I used reduced fat -- 1/3 less), cut into chunks.

1   Put all ingredients in crockpot.
2   Cook on low for 2 to 3 hours. 
3   Stir and turn to high just long enough to allow the ingredients to become nice and creamy.

If you want to change from low to high, here's a slow cooker conversion guide. .
Slow Cooker times -- converting from low to high or vice versa 
Low: 4 to 6 hours or High for 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Low: 6 to 8 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours
Low: 8 to 10 hours or High 4 to 6 hours