Going green. And red and white.

Day 2 of my increase-fruits-and-vegetable-intake experiment. I’ve learned that eating fresh means more prep time, but I am blessed with the two greatest kids in the world, so while I chopped green beans and peeled potatoes, they got everything ready for trash day and did their homework.

Then, while I was at a Girl Scouts meeting with Em, B took it upon himself to do the laundry.

Seriously. Best kids ever. They totally get a pass for trying only one bite of this meal. They both voted to top their pasta with spaghetti sauce instead.

Very good meal. Easy to make and great for lunch leftovers the next day!

BASIL VEGETABLE LINGUINE??????????

  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces red-skinned new potatoes, peels and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces dried linguine
  • 1 cup pesto (or less to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup slivered fresh basil leaves

Bring saucepan of lightly salter water to boil. Add the green beans and quick until just tender, about 1 minute. Using a skimmer, remove them from the pot to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta well and place in a serving bowl. Add the pesto and toss well. Season with pepper.

Sprinkle the green beans, potatoes and tomatoes over the linguine and top with the slivered basil. Serve immediately, tossing the pasta at the table.

Recipe courtesy of Celebrate! By Sheila Lukins

Think spring

I have cabin fever.

Big time.

I love the first few weeks of winter. I love using the weather as an excuse to curl up on the couch and read all weekend. It’s a great excuse for being lazy. But now that’s I’ve soaked up a whole bunch of nothing, I’m ready to do something.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.

When nothing else to do last Saturday, I decided to clean out the freezer. I found a bag of frozen asparagus and decided to incorporate it in my dinner. Thank goodness the Groundhog didn’t see his shadow on Saturday. I’m ready for an early spring. Until that happens, though, I’ll make do with cooking meals that look like spring.

ASPARAGUS AND CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTSstuffed chicken

  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 asparagus spears, trimmed – divided
  • 2 slices cheese (I used cheddar)
  • Your choice of seasonings (I used Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy)

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish.

Place each chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.

Place 2 spears of asparagus down the center of a chicken breast. Break a slice of cheese in half and place it over asparagus. Repeat with the other chicken breast, and roll the chicken around the asparagus and cheese to make a tidy, compact roll. Place the rolls seam sides down in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle each with spices of your choosing.

Bake in the preheated oven until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork, about 25 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

One potato, two potato

My husband did the grocery shopping the other day. I had put potatoes on the list.

I should have specified I only wanted a few baking potatoes. He came home with a 5-pound bag.

If it were cooler outside, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but we are in day 6 of a heat wave — average temps of 95 degrees with a heat index of hell. It’s not the weather for potato soup, baked potatoes or all those other potato dishes that are great from October through March. I could make potato salad, but my husband is watching his carb intake, so …

I used a few of the potatoes Tuesday night, cubing steak and cooking it with onions in a brown butter sauce. I served the whole thing on top of mashed potatoes. It was good.

But I still have more than two pounds of potatoes left.

My sister and her husband came over for dinner last night. We grilled burgers and I made sweet corn. Mashed potatoes aren’t really a hamburger side dish, so I quartered about a pound of potatoes and tossed them with various seasoning. We placed them in a foil bag and grilled them for almost 40 minutes.

Very yummy.

I’m at a loss for the last pound, though.

SEASONED POTATO FRIES

  •  1 pound potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add olive oil and stir. Add all spices and stir until mixed.

Spray a sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray. Pour potatoes onto foil. Use more foil to create a pocket. Seal.

Place on grill for about 30 minutes — time varies by heat of grill. You can sprinkle with cheese before serving.

An ode to mushrooms

A long time ago, I did not like you.

I thought you were slimy; you made me think ‘Ew.’

But then I grew up, and my taste buds matured.

When waiters ask “Do you want mushrooms with that?” — I answer “Sure!”

I put you in salads, chop you up for spaghetti.

When my husband grills steak, only with mushrooms on top do I think it is ready.

In omelets and burger toppings, meatloaf and soup —

Rarely do I put you in something, taste it and think “Oops.”

So thank you, dear mushrooms, for not giving up on me —

And now, to celebrate, I think I shall eat thee.

(Robert Frost has nothing on me!)

(And yes, I used to hate mushrooms. Not anymore! I sautéed some for pork chops tonight with a little whiskey and butter. Yum!)

(I shall compose a poem to green — and red and yellow and orange — peppers someday. Sadly, though, I will never write one for tomatoes.)