Quickest Best Antipasto EVER! and Easy

Antipasto, Antipasti (plural), translated as “before the meal”.  In Italian cooking it means an appetizer typically consisting of olives, anchovies, cheeses, sliced sausage, peppers, artichoke hearts and various meats.  Many Americans also believed it was the course served before pasta.The most hearty and daring of guests may enjoy Peprocini, anchovies and roasted garlic cloves in their antipasto. For Allergies or dietary preference*****omit meats for vegetarian. *****check all ingredients for wheat/gluten free. A low calorie option, omit meats and add ingredients that are oil free, and fat free. Most items can be purchased water packed.antipasto2

Holidays tend to be complex.  Delicious Appetizers are a treat to give and to serve. Quick appetizers that relieve the load might even taste better. I have received more compliments on this easy recipe than any other.

Quick, Easy, One dish Antipasto, Great for traveling, 5-10 minutes prep time.

Ingredients to mix together in nonmetallic dish. You can assemble in minutes for a quick pull together take along or marinate a day ahead for melding of all the flavors. Preserve cheese if making ahead do not add until just before serving.

  • 1 large jar, 28 ounces of roasted peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 can or container of olives; Black, Kalamata, green or mixed, pitted  may be prefered
  • 1 Jar marinated mushrooms
  • 1 can of Artichoke hearts cut to bite-size or two jars of marinated
  • Have the supermarket deli cut  a half pound each of provolone and Genoa salami,  into 1/2 inch slices , cube at home into 1/2″
  • 1 dozen cherry tomatoes halved, or 6 shredded and minced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp  dried oregano or basil, or both.
  • dress with premium olive oil. Omit to cut calories

There is no wrong ingredient, add these optional favorites to your audience’s taste, or serve as sides.

  • pepperocini
  • pepperoni
  • mortadella cubes
  • Italian Capicola, shredded or cubed.Various cheeses, Blue, Feta, shredded or flaked Parmesan
  • 1 Cup of your favorite pasta cooked and chilled before adding, penne, rottini, farfalle bows or Orecchietti, **** gluten free options are available
  • anchovies
  • red raw onion
  • roasted garlic
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • shredded prosciutto di parma, sliced and shredded thin
  • hot pepper flakes
  • roasted Asparagus, Zucchini or Eggplant
  • Capers for a salty bite

Serve with Crusty breads, or varried  lettuces to make quick salads

  • a crusty loaf of bread

 

 

Grilled Watermelon with Feta & Balsamic Drizzle

This seems like it would be unappetizing, But it is incredible delicious and light. For lower calories, skip the olive oil and go for fat free feta.

Watermelon  cut 1″ thick

  • Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil or Pam spray
  • A pinch of Salt optional
  •  fresh  greens
  • Feta or goat cheese crumbled,Fatfree Feta for low calorie option
  • Pepper to taste

Pam Spray or lightly oil watermelon before Grilling. Grill on hot grill pan or BBQ for 1-2 minutes until grill marks appear. Place on bed of greens, sprinkle with  cheese, and drizzle your favorite aged balsamic, salt and pepper to taste.

 

Mcdonald’s Under 400 Calorie Menu

This is the new menu that will appear at Drive ups and Counters at McDonald’s

restaurants. The long and the short, they say that 80% of their selections are UNDER 400.

I know its hard to believe! The one thing missing is the FAT,  If something is 200 calories and mostly from fat,  that will not impact your body the same way as 200 fatfree calories will. Many thanks to Hungry Girl for posting on her website.

Buyer beware. For more Cook Me This, Follow us on facebook.

 

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pesto

Heirloom tomatoes are my obsession!

There is nothing better on a hot  summer day than a lunch or dinner with a great tomato salad. This particular picture was an entry for a fundraiser cooking contest. The salad was an honorable mention, and is featured in the Rockville Bank 150th anniversary charity cookbook.

White, striped, pink, & green tomatoes are all represented on this plate. Markets  such as Trader Joe’s and Wholefoods carry heirlooms year round. If you are unable to find in your local market, try summer time farmers markets. Not only will you find colorful tomatoes, but purple potatoes, fresh herbs, local melons, unusual squashes and delicious native corn. The flavors of local summer veggies is outstanding compared to super market fare. A red perfect tomato from the supermarket is grown for beauty and durability for transport, The taste and nutrition had been bred out! Scientific American had a recent report on how taste has become diminished.

What you need

  • 1 lb or more various tomatoes, cherry to beefsteak, caution do not refridgerate
  • Fresh log of mozzarella cheese like BelGioioso cut into 1/8″ slices
  • A Bunch of fresh basil about 4 cups of leaves, washed and all stems removed, you can combine Sweet Italian, purple or Thai depending on taste preference. Save  some leaves for garnish.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil or other neutral preferred oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional squeeze of lemon to preserve Basil’s color
  • Garlic  cloves optional
  • Pine (pignoli) nuts optional or Walnuts if pine nuts are unavailable
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Combine fresh basil and optional garlic and nuts with 1/2 of the olive oil and pulse in a food processor. Add oil as needed to create a paste. If leaves do not grind it is an indication you may need more oil, you may need to use a spatula to move all leaves into the blade. If paste is runny add more basil. The paste should be green and smooth. I do not add salt until after adding cheese. When pesto is smooth add Parmesan and pulse gently.  over processing can COOK the cheese. The ratio should be 8:1, Basil to oil.

Slice  Beefsteaks, slice or quarter all your medium tomatoes, leave cherry tomatoes whole or halve. Remember do not refrigerate fresh tomatoes if it can be avoided.

Just before serving, assemble your platter with larger tomato slices at the base, separate slices with mozzarella. I tiered my salad with 3 layers of  beefsteaks and decorated the platter with  alternating colors and sizes. Garnish with basil leaves.

Drizzle pesto on salad or serve on the size. Serve Balsamic as a side as well.

This salad does not need to be dressed, the olive oil in the basil  combined with balsamic to taste, is the perfect dressing.

This is my Favorite summer time meal!

 

What to do with Squash Blossoms?

All those huge beautiful male squash blossoms go to waste on the plant. Only the female blossoms that already have a squash started on the base will develop into a squash.  Summer or Winter,  both are tasty treats if you think outside of the box.

Pick them either at night before they open or first thing in the morning. Picking them at night prevents  surprise guests from your snack, like bees, spiders and other crawlies.

You can store unopened blossoms for several days if stored gently,  I wrap in paper towel in a sandwich bag or plastic container.

My favorite recipes includes

  • Goat cheese, sundried tomatoes & basil
  • Feta, mint & pine nuts or olives
  • Low fat spreadable herb cheese
  • Ricotta, Parmesan, basil and sundried tomato

Pre-mix the cheese with minced additives

Closed Squash blossoms can be gently blown open to fill, check for critters, some prefer to snip the stamen before filling

Fill each blossom with a tablespoon of cheese, and close by running fingers up from the base of flower. you may fix ahead and cook  later in the day

Preheat oven to 325, make a wash of egg or egg substitute , gently coat with  your favorite breadcrumbs, we use gluten free. Spray a baking dish with Pam, bake 15-20 minutes.

Serve on a bed of field greens as an appetizer, or  as the main ingredient of a salad

You can pan fry or deep fry. When calorie counting baking is best.

 

 

 

Tabouli Style Quinoa Cold Salad

Love love love. Quinoa replaces couscous from the traditional recipe. Wheat allergies  can restrict  many from enjoying this delicious cold salad which is usually  made with wheat berries and/or couscous. Those requiring  a Gluten-free lifestyle can enjoy and be satisfied. Quinoa is easy to cook and versatile, it adapts to flavors readily. Quinoa  is great served hot or cold and packs a protein punch. Quinoa is an ancient grain, that is being rediscovered by chefs and home-cooks looking for healthier options.

Like any good salad there is no wrong way to make this dish, its all about your favorite flavors. Experimentation is allowed in cooking. Steffie makes it a little different every time. We often add  tuna to leftover quinoa salad, for a quick heartier lunch.

What you need

  • 1 Cup of uncooked Quinoa, available with rice, ethnic food sections, and specialty food aisles
  • 1 Cup of your favorite stock or bullion cube, chicken or vegetable work best
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or Real lemon concentrate
  • 1/4 cup of minced mint
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, use enough to desired consistency
  • 1 cup of peeled, seeded, 1/4″ diced cucumber
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional add ins: Olives, capers, minced sun-dried tomatoes, Feta cheese, shallots,  or garlic.
  • Substitutions  or additional herbs to add to the mint are parsley for a milder flavor, or oregano for a Mediterranean flair. Basil in combo with sun-dried tomatoes and grated parm can make it Italian!

Prepare Quinoa as directed on package with broth, lemon and water

Fluff with fork when done, thoroughly chill.

Add remaining ingredients to chilled quinoa. Using olive oil serves two purposes, it dresses the salad in combo with the acid of the lemon, and also keeps the salad from caking.

Salt to taste, occasionally sun-dried tomatoes may be salty when not packed in oil. Capers and Kalamata olives also are naturally salty. If sun-dried tomatoes are oil packed, reduce the amount of olive oil

Chill and enjoy, the taste improves daily. Makes 4 or more servings

Nutrition Data, 1 cup cooked quinoa: 155 cal, 30g carb, 3g fat, 5.5g protein, 3g fiber, estimated glycemic load 18

 

 

Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets-adapted-lower calories

Betty Crocker has started developing a line of Gluten Free products,  The GF Chocolate chip cookies are one of the best.  but it’s still second best to my Steffie’s Version of  Bob’s Redmill Recipe made with their pancake mix, delicious, closest thing to Entenman’s.

This is a terrific recipe made with Corn Chex.Their recipe says 25 servings , they mean 25 nuggets@ 25 calories each. This is also great for a salad meal topper! This recipe should serve 4 or more. Rule of thumb 3-4 ounces of raw chicken is an adult serving. This recipe omits 300 calories of butter and 120 calories  from 1 cup of Chex® cereal . The addition of the yogurt is under 70 calories, but they are nonfat dairy,  protein loaded calories. Any WeightWatcher would love!

Steffie has adapted to reduce the calories and spice it up!

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, breasts or tenders, cut into 1×1-inch chunks
  • 2 Cups of Rice or Chex Corn Cereal® cereal
  • 1/2 single size container of Chobani Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese, optional,
  • 2 tsp of chili, cumin or paprika powders and other savory/spicy herbs of preference divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder optional
  • pinch of salt and pepper each

In a nonmetallic bowl combine Chobani or other plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of spice, salt and pepper.  Add cubes of chicken to marinate, coat well. Refrigerate at least one hour. You may marinate up to 24 hours, to enhance flavor and tenderize.  The active ingredients in the yogurt will tenderize the chicken.

Pulse or crush  the Chex® cereal, add grated cheese (optional) and the other teaspoon of spice or herbs. Mix well, store until Chicken has finished marinating.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pre-spray a shallow baking pan or cooking sheet with Nonstick Gluten free spray.

Place Chex® cereal crumb mixture on a plate, Dredge each marinated chunk in mixture, place on cooking tray.

Bake for approx  25 minutes, turn half way thru cooking time. I felt the 400 degree temp  for 17 minutes was a little too high & short in the Betty Crocker Recipe. Chicken should not be pink when cut. Ovens vary in correct readings, I would test at least one for doneness.

If you don’t like yogurt, you can sub two well fork beaten eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute and go right to the cooking process. Chicken Breasts  halves or thighs can be done the same way for a heartier meal, increase the time to 35 minutes. The herb combinations are endless, add oregano for Italian, mint for Mediterranean, Rosemary for savory……

You can also create a dipping/ranch like sauce from another Chobani, with the same herbs and add dehydrated onion or vegetable flakes combined the day before. Even the  Hungry Girl‘ would approve!

Gluten Free book Giveaway

Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s Contest for her VIP GiveAway, this article is pasted from Cheap.com

Facebook entry for getting a chance for her VIP Giveaway
If you don’t win it you can buy it, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. The Cheap household is nearly 100% gluten free, this will be a great addition to avoid the Monotony of  limited commercial options. Free recipes with Gluten free options are available @ Cookmethis.com

This is the last week to enter to win an autographed copy of Elisabeth’s new gluten-free cookbook “Deliciously G-Free”. Visit the “Deliciously G-Free Giveaway” tab on our Facebook page to enter . Be sure to share this with your friends on Facebook and be entered to win a free box of NoGii No Gluten High Protein Bars!

Free is cheap!

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing or Croutons

Make recipe for Gluten Free Cornbread,

Two methods, Use Cornbread cubed evenly  in 1/2 cubes or less

  • Air dry on a cookie sheet, until desired dryness.Toss to dry all sides, this may take  a day or more.
  • Set oven on lowest setting in oven, most are 150-170 degrees, slow toast to dry thoroughly. Toss cubes frequently for even toasting or drying. Cubes are ready based on personal preference.
  • Croutons can be sprinkled with you favorite herbs before drying, for salads
  • For stuffing, Sprinkle with Sage or Poultry seasoning before drying.

Store in Sealed container or freeze for future use.

Basic Stuffing,

  • 6 cups cornbread cubes
  • 1/4 cup  butter optional
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 1/2-2 cups broth
  • sage or poultry seasoning to taste

Place croutons in large mixing bowl

Saute  celery and onions in butter until softened, do not caramelize. If omitting butter, use nonstick spray and add several tablespoons of broth to cook.Remove from heat.

Add 1 cup of broth to saute pan, stir, add to mixing bowl, and mix gently with a soft spatula, do not over work or compress. Cover and let stuffing absorb liquid. After 10 minutes test for  moistness, if stuffing is to dry additional stock.

Use as a pan stuffing, bake for 25 minutes @325, or stuff inside fish, poultry or pork.