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Masters of Disguise

Vegetables are good for you.

Duh

Obviously, one of the best ways to get a nice big helping of veggies is to nice, big salad.  But not everyone loves salad- we get that.  So what are all the non-salad lovers to do?

Disguise their salad in the form of something else…

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Something like pasta!

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Zucchini-noodle pasta, to be precise.  With diced tomatoes and pesto sauce.  And delicious turkey meatballs, of course!

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This is basically summer on a plate, people!  Because if you’re like us, you have a garden bursting with zucchini and tomatoes.  If not, you probably have a neighbour who would be happy to give you some.  At the very least, you most likely have a farmer’s market or grocery store near by that would be practically paying you to take them if they sold them for any cheaper!

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It really is amazing how noodle-like zucchini becomes when you slice it extra-thinly.  Whoever came up with the idea originally (because we are definitely not reinventing the wheel, here!) is a genius, and our hat goes off to him (or her!).

This is also a great dish for people who are trying to cut back on their carb consumption.  Of course, it also tastes really great with a crusty, multigrain loaf of bread on the side, too- which is obviously what we did.  (What can we say?  We are girls who love our carbs!)

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It is also a snap to prepare.  You can make the pesto up to a day or two beforehand if you wish, and you can cook the meatballs while you slice the zucchini.  Once each element is ready, its just a matter of throwing everything together!  Simple as that.

So is it pasta, or is it salad?  You could call it whatever you want- we’re going to call it delicious 😉

Zucchini Pesto Noodles with Turkey Meatballs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For the Pesto:

1 c. basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. olive oil
1 tbsp parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)

For the Meatballs:

2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp onion flakes
black pepper

For the Pasta:

3 large zucchini
3 tomatoes

Directions:

For the Pesto:

Lightly toast the walnuts and set aside to cool.  Mince the garlic and add it to a blender or food processor along with the basil, lemon juice, salt and cheese (if using).  Add the walnuts and begin blending.  When the walnuts have been ground up, start slowly adding the oil, with the motor running, until you have a smooth consistency that is neither too thick nor overly runny.  You may have to stop the motor to scrape down the sides once or twice.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

For the Meatballs:

Using your hands, mash up the turkey so that you can form it into clumps that stick together.  Roughly chop the basil leaves and add them to the turkey mixture along with the other ingredients.  Taking about 1.5-2 tbsp of the mixture at a time, form the turkey into small balls.  Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the meatballs and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them so that they brown on all sides.  Place a lid over the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until they are cooked all the way through.

For the Pasta:

Using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, slice or peel the zucchini length-wise into wide, very thin strips, stopping when you get to the center where all the seeds are.  Dice the tomatoes into small pieces.  Pour the pesto into the zucchini noodles and toss to coat all the strips evenly.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

When everything is ready, divide the zucchini evenly among 6 plates.  Top with diced tomatoes and meatballs, and serve.

(You can have the meatballs heated up or served cold, it is up to your own personal preference)

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever tried zucchini noodles?  What creative ways do you like to make sure you’re eating enough vegetables?

Curve Balls and Ice Cream

Sometimes life can throw some serious curve balls at you.

One minute, you think you’ve got it all together.  You’re certain of yourself- you’re confident, happy.  You’ve got plenty of friends and family and everything is smooth sailing.

Then one small change can throw you right off.  All of a sudden you’re left questioning whether what you thought all along was real.  Something you thought was one thing seems to be something else entirely.  You start wondering if this entire time you were in the middle of some big joke that no one let you in on.

Yeah, sometimes life gives you not-so-pleasant and unexpected surprises.

And then sometimes it gives you ice cream.

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But here’s what we’re not going to do: We’re not going to tell you that this “ice cream” is as rich and decadent as a bowlful of Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s.  Sorry everyone, but that kind of sinful deliciousness cannot be achieved without the addition of cream and sugar, which doesn’t really work with the whole healthy food blog thing…

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However, we will tell you what it does have:  Banana, chocolate and peanut butter.  Some of you may think we’ve over-done that flavour combo over here, but we can’t disagree more!  You can never have too much peanut butter-chocolate-banana.  You just can’t.

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So although this may not be as indulgent as regular ice cream, this stuff makes for a pretty delicious, simple and healthy summer snack or dessert.  And that’s the honest truth.

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Because you know what?  Sometimes things happen that you wish hadn’t, and sometimes people disappoint you- but chocolate, peanut butter and banana will not.  So enjoy, friends!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Ice Cream”

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Prep: 10 minutes
Chill: 2-3 hours (optional)
Serves: 3-4 people

Ingredients:

4 ripe bananas
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp milk
pinch of salt

Directions:

Peel the bananas and place on a tray lined with wax paper.  Place in the freezer and chill for 2-3 hours, or until the bananas are frozen or almost frozen. (We recommend doing this with a whole bunch of bananas and then just keeping the frozen bananas in your freezer all the time to use whenever you’d like)

Slice the bananas and place them in a food processor along with all other ingredients.  Blend on high speed until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.

You can eat it right away as soft serve, or you can pour the mixture into an air-tight container and freeze for 2-3 hours for a more “hard-scoop” kind of ice cream.

~twosaucysisters

No-Bake No-Problem

So, we’re about to open another post talking about the weather.  We hate to be repetitive or predictable, but really, the weather has so much of an effect on what we eat that it really must be mentioned!  At least in this post, anyways.

Because today we’re talking about these:

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No-bake peanut butter banana granola bars!

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You see, we try to always have quick snacks in the house that we can toss into our lunch bags when we go to work.  Lately, though, we’ve been on a huge muffin-kick.  Remember these?  So what do muffins have to do with the weather?  Nothing.  Except that they require an oven…

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And you might recall us mentioning a couple times the heat-wave we experienced a few weeks ago.  Definitely not muffin-baking weather.  Which is where these granola bars come in.

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Our first attempt at these granola bars was made during said heat-wave.  Unfortunately, while they tasted really good, they fell apart very easily and so we knew we needed to give them another try before we gave the recipe to you guys.

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But then the heat wave came to a very abrupt end (as in the temperature literally dropped by about 20 degrees Celsius overnight), and suddenly not using the oven wasn’t such a priority.  But we had already made one attempt, and we knew we couldn’t back down from the challenge!

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On the second attempt, the stars aligned and they turned out just the way we wanted!  Don’t you love it when that happens?

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Confession:  The first time we made these they had chocolate chips in them.  The second time around we went to put chocolate in them again and realized we were all out- yes, it was a shock to us too- so these ones are chocolate-free.  But adding chocolate chips is highly recommended.

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So we’ve put muffin-mania on hold for a few days, because right now we’re all about the no-bake granola bars!  Our oven could use a little vacation, anyways 😉

No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Granola Bars

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Makes: 12 bars

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats, divided
2 tbsp chia seeds (or ground flax seed*)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. chopped peanuts
1 ripe banana, mashed
1.2 c. peanut butter (we used all-natural)
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 c. chocolate chips, optional

Directions:

Grind one cup of the oats in a blender or food processor until it is a fine flour.  In a large bowl, combine the ground oats with the remaining 2 cups of whole oats, chia seeds, salt and chopped peanuts.

In a separate bowl combine the mashed banana, peanut butter, honey and vanilla and stir until it is smooth and fully mixed.  Pour the peanut butter banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until no dry spots remain.  You may add the chocolate chips at this point if you are using them.

Line a 9×9 inch square glass dish with wax paper.  Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the dish and set in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to firm up.  When they are ready, use the edge of the wax paper to gently lift the un-cut bars out of the dish.  Cut into 12 bars and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

*You can use ground flax seed in place of chia seeds, however we have not personally tried this and cannot guarantee the bars will stay together as well.  If you decide to give this a try, please let us know how they turn out!

~twosaucysisters

What are your favourite no-bake treats?  Have you ever tried making no-bake granola bars?

Simple Sunday: Another Summer Salad

This morning we were reminded just how much we love the Summer.  We went for a run and it was just so beautiful outside we felt like we could have run forever.  And we have to say that so far this has been one of the best running summers we have had in a long time.  Yes, the heat wave we had a couple weeks ago was a bit much (although we refuse to complain!), but that has gone away and left us with beautiful days like today.

But Summer isn’t just awesome because of its blue skies and warm temperatures.  The abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be found at local stands on just about every corner cannot be discounted!  We know we’ve mentioned this many times before and we don’t mean to be repetitive, but every time we eat a fresh tomato from our own garden, or snack on juicy cherries from just down the road, we can’t help but be reminded of how delicious the summer is!

Which is why we made this salad- to showcase the season’s best!

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This salad brings together what in our minds are sort of like the three “stages” of summer produce.  First comes the asparagus in the spring (which is basically like early summer in our opinions!), then you start to get into more of the actual summer months and get strawberries, and then of course the summer is capped off with delicious, sweet corn.

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Of course, there are a million other fruits and veggies that make an appearance during those times, too, like fiddle heads and leafy greens in the spring, cherries, blueberries, raspberries and apricots mid-summer, and peaches are starting to hit the stands now too! 🙂

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Add some chicken and a little tahini drizzle and you’ve got yourself and easy, delicious and fresh-tasting summer meal!  And feel free to change it up a bit, too- local strawberries might be a little tougher to find now, but cherries are out full-force and would work wonderfully in this salad.  The idea is to use whatever summer produce you can find.

We hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are, and be sure to hit up your local farmer’s market to take advantage of all this awesome food nature has to offer!

Strawberry Asparagus and Corn Salad

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Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20-30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 c. strawberries, sliced
1 c. corn (fresh or frozen)
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

For the tahini drizzle:

3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp water

Directions:

Sprinkle the chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper and bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes, or until done.  Alternatively you can barbecue the chicken over medium heat for 20-30 minutes if you prefer.

Meanwhile, toss the asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until they can be easily pierced with a fork, or grill over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  Set aside.

In a frying pan over medium heat, add a small amount of olive oil.  Add the garlic and corn and saute until the corn begins to blacken a bit.  Turn off the heat and add the strawberries so they cook down just a little bit and release some of their juices into the corn.

Cut the asparagus into bit-sized pieces and add to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and stir until everything is combined.  Slice the chicken and divide the salad onto separate plates.  Place the chicken on top and finish with the tahini drizzle.

For the Tahini Drizzle:

Combine all ingredients except the water and stir until fully combined.  Slowly add the water until the mixture is drippy but still slightly thick.  Drizzle over top of salad.

~twosaucysisters

What is your favourite part about Summer?  What is the weather like where you live?  How do you like to take advantage of these beautiful days?

If You Can’t Take the Heat… Turn off the Oven

We’re not sure what the weather’s doing over in your neck of the woods, but here in Ontario we just came out of a 2-week long heat wave.  We’re talking 107F.  And this is not a dry heat, this is a hair-frizzing pore-clogging kind of heat that basically renders sweating useless.  (Not that our bodies got that memo- every time we came in from a run we looked like we had just gone swimming fully clothed- how’s that for a pretty picture for ya?)

Anyways, we think it goes without saying that in that kind of heat turning on the oven is completely out of the question.  Even barbecuing seemed like a bad idea, so we were really at a loss as to what to make for dinner for our family.

We’d also like to take this moment to blame the heat wave for our decided lack of posts lately.  We’ve hardly been doing any cooking so we really haven’t had much to share with you guys.  Because you can only post so many salad recipes.

Anyways, we’ll stop making excuses for ourselves and continue on to the good part!

As we said in Tuesday’s post , we had a delicious recipe that uses our pesto coming your way, so here it is…

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Quinoa Salad!

Ok, so right after saying that we didn’t want to start throwing a whole bunch of salad recipes at you what’s the first thing we do?  Give you a salad recipe.  But this is a quinoa salad, so it’s a little different and doesn’t really count.

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We discovered quinoa for the first time a few years ago and basically become obsessed with it.  We started putting it in almost everything we made so it found its way onto the dinner table several times a week.  It became a running joke in our family that if you didn’t know what was in something, it was most likely quinoa.  It got to the point where every time we made anything everyone would ask if there was quinoa in it.

We suppose it was a tad excessive…

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So while the quinoa-craze of 3 summers ago has passed, we still do like to break it out every once in a while.  And it was the perfect thing in this heat wave because it’s a great source of protein that can be cooked in 10 minutes on the stove-top.  Minimal prep and minimal heat required.  Which means more time in the pool- the only suitable place to be during weather like that!

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We had a wicked storm last night that took some of the heat away, so we will most likely be turning on the barbecue again, but you can be sure that if another heat wave like that hits we will be making this salad again!  In fact, even if it doesn’t get so hot, we will probably make this tasty dish again anyways 🙂

Quinoa Pesto Tabouleh Salad

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Prep: 20 minutes
Rest Time: at least 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 c. quinoa (any colour)
2 c. water

1 recipe of Sage-Basil-Arugula-Walnut Pesto
1c. bell peppers (any colour), diced
1/2 large seedless cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Place the quinoa and water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil, uncovered.  Once the water has started to boil, place the lid on top and turn the heat to low.  Allow the quinoa to simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn of the heat and allow to sit on the burner for another 6 minutes.  Remove from the burner, take off the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Combine the veggies and chickpeas in a large bowl.  Add the quinoa and stir to make sure the vegetables are evenly distributed.  Add the pesto and stir well.  Place in the fridge and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, so the quinoa has a chance to cool and the flavours have the chance to mingle.

Optional: add some chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, or feta cheese to the salad.

~twosaucysisters

What kinds of things do you make when you’re in the middle of a heat wave?

Pesto to the Rescue

Every summer, we grow our own vegetable garden, and along side the garden we grow herbs in pots.  And every year we have grand ideas of how we are going to use these herbs in all of the dishes that we make.

And every year we end up with several pots of herbs that we barely touch.

This summer we are on a mission to change that!

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What requires a whole bunch of herbs, but is still easy to make and doesn’t require cooking (It’s hot. Who wants to turn on an oven, or even a stove-top!)?

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Pesto, that’s what!

And since we’re really indecisive and couldn’t decide which herb we wanted to include, we threw a few different ones in and hoped for the best.

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Lemon Basil, African Blue Basil, Sage and Arugula.  You want flavour?  You got it!  Paired with some toasted walnuts, garlic and a little lemon juice to finish it off- you will want to spread this stuff on everything.  But be sure to make a double-batch, because we’ve got a delicious summer meal coming your way that features this magnificent spread, and you’re going to want to use every last drop! 😉

Don’t have lemon basil or African Blue basil?  No problem!  Regular basil works just fine.  Don’t have an herb garden?  We’re betting you have a neighbour or two who would be happy to share their bounty with you 🙂

So go ahead and use 10 minutes to make this- then go and enjoy that summer sun!

Basil-Sage-Arugula-Walnut Pesto

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Time: 10 minutes
Makes: ~1/2 c.

Ingredients:

1/2 c walnuts, toasted
1/3 c. basil leaves
1/4 c. sage leaves
1/3 c. arugula
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water

Directions:

Put the walnuts, basil, sage, arugula, salt, garlic and lemon juice into a blender or food processor.  Blend on high until the mixture becomes mealy and starts to form a paste.  With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil.  If your pesto is still too thick after adding all of the olive oil, add the tablespoon of water.  Blend until the mixture is somewhat smooth. (it will still have some texture).  Store in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

~twosaucysisters

Do you have an herb garden?  How do you use up all of your herbs?

Rockin’ and Rollin’

We’re pretty sure it has been ages since we’ve talked about pancakes over here- did you think we had given up eating them?

Of course, that would crazy talk!  Who in their right mind would ever give up eating pancakes?

Not us, that’s for sure!  Rest assured, there has been no shortage of pancakes over here, but our pancakes have been looking a little different lately…

You see, we’ve discovered a new way to make pancakes, and quite frankly we may never eat them any other way ever again!

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the pancake parfait roll-up!

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Seriously people, this is a genius idea!  It’s a fruit-and-yogurt parfait all wrapped up in a thick, fluffy pancake- does it get any better than that?

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This recipe is inspired by an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives seen while doing hamstring curls at the gym.  That’s right, we watch foodie shows while lifting weights…

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Unfortunately there was no sound to accompany the show (yes, we watch silent foodie shows while lifting weights…) so we have no idea what restaurant was being featured and cannot properly give credit to whoever came up with this fantastic idea.

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But we can share it with the world!

So what is so great about a pancake roll-up?  It takes about half  the time of regular pancakes!  Think about it- one giant pancake vs. making a whole bunch of small ones?  Some of you cool kids might have one of those awesome pancake griddles that have enough space to cook a million pancakes all at once, but for those of us who don’t, this is a huge time-saver!

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And the faster you can cook pancakes, the sooner you can eat them.  And of course, fluffy pancake + creamy yogurt + sweet fruit + crunchy granola = breakfast heaven. 🙂

So go make use of all the delicious fruit that is hitting its prime right now, and make yourself this to-die-for breakfast- you may never eat pancakes the same way again!

Pancake Parfait Roll-Up

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 egg, beaten
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 tbsp maple syrup

1 c. yogurt
1 c. fruit of choice
3/4 c. granola

Directions:

Preheat a large frying pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.  Divide the batter in half and pour onto the frying pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bubbles begin to form on the surface and the edges begin to firm.  Flip and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove to a plate.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Spread the pancake with yogurt then sprinkle with fruit and granola.  Roll up and top with the rest of the yogurt, fruit and granola.  Drizzle with a little maple syrup if desired.

~twosaucysisters

Do you ever watch the T.V. at the gym?  Have you ever seen a recipe from a T.V. show that you’ve tried recreating?  How did it turn out?