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Many of my friends are gluten-free and/or vegetarian. We have even decided to go vegetarian twice a week so we are always looking for awesome new recipes to keep mealtime exciting. Raw zucchini noodles is something I have wanted to try for a while. I recently got a spiral slicer (see picture below) just for this and I was so impressed with how it came out! Many of you may be skeptical but if I can get my 8 year old to love it, it is certainly something worth trying.

8 zucchini (peeled or unpeeled, either is fine)
2 TBSP salted butter
1-2 clove(s) fresh garlic
8 chopped vine ripe tomatoes
3 TBSP rinsed nonpareil capers
6-12 chopped fresh basil
kosher salt
Garlic and herb feta crumbles (optional)

Use a spiral slicer* for the zucchini to make it the shape of spaghetti noodles. Add zucchini to a colander set over a bowl and sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of salt on the noodles. Toss gently to make sure all zucchini is salted. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes. The salt will leech much of the water from the zucchini. Rinse the zucchini in the colander to remove the salt. Shake as much water off as possible. Use a tea towel to dry the zucchini. Divide the raw zucchini between 4 plates or bowls.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Remove pan from heat momentarily and add garlic to the melted butter by using a garlic press. Stir and return to heat. Do not brown the garlic. After about 10-15 seconds, add the tomatoes, capers and basil. Salt to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over zucchini and top with feta if desired.

*Note: You can cut the zucchini with a mandolin slicer or by hand. I prefer the spiral slicer because the “noodles” are longer and mimic pasta so much better.

Raw Zucchini Pasta

Recipe: Apple Chips

September 18, 2012 · 30 comments

in Recipes

We make these amazing little snacks for the kids’ lunchboxes. SOMEtimes, they actually make it there! Try sprinkling cloves or cinnamon on before baking. Plain is just fine, too!

2 large Braeburn apples
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
cinnamon (optional)
cloves (optional)

Add sugar and water to a medium pot over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from burner and set pot aside. Without peeling or coring, slice apples from top to bottom about 1/16 of an inch thick using a mandoline. After slicing, remove stems, seeds and fuzzy apple bottoms with a paring knife. Add the sliced apples to the warm simple syrup for about 10 minutes. Stir 5 minutes into soaking.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Lay the apples on the parchment being careful not to overlap. Season at this point if desired. Bake at 250°F for 75-90 minutes until lightly browned. Let apples cool completely. Note: apples will harden more once cooled.

You can store simple syrup in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Use it to sweeten drinks or to make more apple chips!

Apple Chips

We make these for our littlest chefs but they are a HUGE hit with the adults, too!

2 cups oats (do not use quick cooking or instant)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey wheat germ
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla

1/2 to 1 cup of optional ingredients such as:
dried fruit (blueberries, coconut, apple, raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc)
chocolate chips (or butterscotch, white chocolate, peanut butter, etc)
nuts (slivered almonds, chopped pecans, chopped macadamias, etc)

Combine oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, salt, and optional ingredients in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Spray a 9×13 pan liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Press dough evenly into pan. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30-35 minutes. After removing pan from the oven, flip contents of pan onto cutting board While still hot. Use a bread knife to cut into bars. Cut into 16 bars (approx. 4.5″ by 1.5″ each).

Pictured with dried blueberries.

Chewy Granola Bars

Our littlest chef calls this “pork butt sandwiches” and she LOVES it (as we all do)! It is so easy to toss everything in the crock pot before school and have a perfect meal ready for dinner with very little effort!

1-2 large Vidalia (sweet onion), sliced
3 pounds pork butt, rinsed and patted dry (alternatively use a rib roast for a leaner meat)
Salt and pepper
1 cup barbeque sauce (we use Bullseye which is gluten-free)
1/2 cup yellow mustard
3 TBSP tomato paste (Contadina is gluten-free except for the one with italian herbs)
1 cup chicken broth (Swanson is gluten-free)
1 fresh lime, juiced
2 heaping TBSP brown sugar
White hamburger buns
(gluten-free friends, use a gluten-free bread of your choice or see options below)

Place onions in the bottom of your slow cooker. Season pork butt with salt and pepper. Place on top of onions, fat side up. Stir together barbeque sauce, mustard, tomato paste, chicken broth and lime juice. Pour over pork. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 8 hours. After 6 hours, add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Then, shred the pork with 2 forks in the crock pot. WEAR AN APRON FOR THIS. The meat may be tough, but break it into pieces the best you can. Every 30 minutes after that, shred the meat more with your 2 forks until the meat is all completely shredded. If the sauce is too thin for you, add liquid from the crock pot to a pot and reduce it by half on your stove top on medium high heat. Use 2 forks to shred the meat right in the crock pot. If you removed the liquid to thicken, pour thickened sauce into crock pot over the pork and stir. Serve in a bun with your favorite sides!

Also great over rice or in a lettuce wrap!

pulled pork

Recipe: Latkes

July 31, 2012 · 0 comments

in Recipes

We make these delicious treats several times a year. They are quite hearty and usually are the main part of our meal! Be warned, your home will smell like oil for a few days after.

4 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 small sweet onion, pureed
2 eggs, beaten
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
2 tsp Kosher salt
Canola oil, for frying
Applesauce, for serving (optional)
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Use a food processor, shred potatoes using shredding attachment. Transfer shredded potatoes to a large bowl of ice water. Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes from bowl and dry well with kitchen towels (we usually spread them out on our counter and pat the potatoes dry). Place bowl with water to the side for about 10 minutes. When you have thoroughly dried the shredded potatoes, slowly pour the water from the potato bowl. There will be a bit of potato starch in the bottom of the bowl. Add the shredded potatoes back into the bowl with the starch. Mix in onions, eggs, flour, and salt.

In a non-stick frying pan, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, fry latke mixture in 1/2 cup circles making sure to flatten once in the pan. Fry about 4-6 minutes per side. Repeat until all mixture is fried. Serve warm with applesauce and/or sour cream!

This recipe is a weekend staple in the Dining Downloads kitchen. The littlest chefs experiment with add-ins like fresh blueberries, chopped pecans, and chocolate chips!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP plus 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 tsp butter for the pan
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
2 over-ripe bananas, mashed (optional)

Add all dry ingredients to a bowl. Stir to combine. Add wet ingredients. Whisk until there are no more lumps. Stir in mashed bananas if using. In a griddle or nonstick pan over medium high heat, add 1/2 tsp of butter ONLY for the first pancake. When butter is melted, pour 1/2 cup of batter to the center of a well heated, non-stick pan then reduce to medium heat. Brown on both sides and do not flatten. Carefully flip when you begin to see bubbles forming around the edge.

*TIP* When flipping pancakes, use a spatula that is as big as the pancake (or close). You’ll find it is MUCH easier to flip and a lot less messy.

Green smoothies are a current craze and for GREAT reason! It is the perfect way to get an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals into your diet without having to eat mounds of salad. The recipe below is our personal version of a green smoothie that is so delicious, it will have people wondering, WHAT is in this???

1/4 fresh pineapple (minus skin and core)
1/4 apple with skin (minus core) – we used pink lady or cripps pink
6oz frozen or 1 fresh mango – a little over 1 cup
2 HUGE handfuls fresh spinach (Don’t worry. You can’t taste it at all)
1/2 TBSP freshly ground flax seed (optional – can’t taste it)
1/2 cup water

Put everything in a blender and blend together until smooth. I turned on the blender for the entire time I was cleaning up (about 5 minutes). Yes it is green… but it is amazingly delicious and gives incredible energy! Even the littlest chefs love it!

Note: This recipe is designed to replace 1 meal a day.

Summer for us means a rainstorm a day. When plans are tossed aside due to a mini-monsoon, we bake. It almost makes us wish it would rain more often!

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
4 oz white baking chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. With an electric mixer, beat both sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla for about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and soda to remove any lumps. Stir dry ingredients to distribute. Add wet ingredients, cherries, and white chocolate to the dry ingredients. Stir until no dry ingredients are visible but do not overwork dough. Drop 1/4 cup of dough 4 inches apart on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cool.

A local restaurant has a martini that we always say is “the best martini in town.” Well, that was true until now! After visiting said establishment two nights ago and indulging in said martini, we decided to try and deconstruct it. Luckily, the version below was created in a single attempt or we may not have been able to type this up for you! The lime gives this recipe a bit of a sweet tart flavor. If you prefer your martinis plain sweet, leave out the lime. Feel free to leave a comment if you try this recipe. We always love to hear feedback from the Dining Downloads community.

1/4 fresh, ripe mango
juice from 1/2 an orange
juice from 1/2 a Persian lime (optional)
1 ounce Triple Sec
2 ounces of your favorite, plain vodka (we use Absolut)
*orange peel garnish

Add the mango, orange juice, and lime juice (if using) to a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Pour contents of blender, Triple Sec, and vodka into a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake well until liquid is very cold. Place garnish into the bottom of a martini glass. Strain contents of shaker into glass over garnish.

*Orange Peel Garnish:
Before you juice the orange, use a potato peeler and get a nice, wide slice (about one inch by three inches) of peel being careful not to get the pith (that white part of the orange peel). Twist it into a very tight corkscrew. Hold it for about 20 seconds and drop it into the bottom of the glass until you’re ready to pour. It should keep it’s shape!

One of our favorite combinations is berries and balsamic. If you have never had it, it may sound crazy but it is quite amazing. The acidic tartness of the vinegar is cut tremendously when sugar is added and it is reduced. It still has a little bit of bite and is a perfect when paired with the sweetness of the berry sorbet.

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 pints strawberries, well rinsed and hulled
1 pint of raspberries, well rinsed
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice (do not substitute this for the squeezie bottle)
15-20 mint leaves, well rinsed and cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
*Balsamic reduction, chilled (optional)
Mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Heat sugar and water in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside for about 15 minutes to cool completely.

Purée the strawberries, raspberries, syrup, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Do this in batches if necessary. Pour purée through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds or larger pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Use an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add the mint chiffonade 2 to 3 minutes before churning ends. Or store, tightly covered, in the freezer for about 2 hours or until hardened. Serve with a balsamic reduction drizzle (optional) and a mint leaf.

*Balsamic Reduction:
Add 1 cup of good quality, aged balsamic vinegar (we use Whole Foods brand, 365) and 1 heaping teaspoon of white sugar to a small pot over medium heat. Simmer while stirring frequently until sugar is melted and mixture is reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn. set aside to cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.