Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

Growing up, I hated mushy vegetables. Scratch that – I still hate mushy vegetables. Probably why I have never been a fan of lima beans. Sorry Mom!

But seriously, to this day I don’t like cooked carrots which (much to my dismay) are very popular in the South. You can call them cute names like “Copper Pennies” all you want, but I will still only put one or two on my plate (to be polite, of course), chew them as few times as possible, and chase them with something more appealing. Like wine.

Soups are the only reason for vegetables to be somewhat mushy. And obviously, I’ll grant a pardon to potatoes because, well, they’re potatoes and I enjoy them in all forms.

Now, asparagus to me always used to have that gross texture. You know, when you bit into it and it’s all slimy and stringy? Ick people.

However, I now love asparagus. Because I found a way to make it absolutely delectable and non-mushy – and from me to you dear friend, this might be the easiest recipe I ever share with you. So no excuses – it’s healthy and it’s delicious. Make it!
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus (serves 4 – 2 WW points per serving)

1 bunch asparagus

2 tsp. olive oil (I just use my Misto to spray it on)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

Snip off ends of asparagus (you can usually tell where to trim – it’s lighter in color).

Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray and arrange asparagus in a side-by-side line.

Brush/spray with olive oil to lightly coat. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan. Return to oven for an additional 2-3 minutes until cheese has melted.

This goes great with anything – it’s amazing with fish or some delicious steaks – so divide, serve and devour!

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On the Move!

I seriously apologize for the lack of posting – I know, some blog I have going.

It has been a whirlwind of activity! With last week being the 4th of July and us not going anywhere, we decided to have a little get together – which meant 1 solid evening of preparing food and the other putting the finishing touches on everything!

Then we had to run home on the 4th of July, do laundry and pack because on Thursday, we flew to Pittsburgh to stay with one of my best friends from college for a day. We had so much fun seeing her and her fiance, who are getting married in October – and enjoyed exploring the city for a day! The husband experienced his first Primanti’s sandwich (which is piled with your choice of meat, then cheese, coleslaw and french fries!) – and we got to take the incline to the top of Mt. Washington to get an amazing view of downtown Pittsburgh. And, of course, we went to a Pirates game that evening!

On Saturday, we drove to Ohio for another college friend’s wedding – which was absolutely beautiful! Probably a bit hotter than she had bargained for – but it was such a great time, as it always is when I get to hang out with my girls.

So, as y’all may have noticed – it’s been brutally hot lately! A few weeks ago, the husband and I decided to brave the elements and go to a drive-in movie. I had planned on chicken tenders – but he said he wanted something cold before we went. Like a pasta salad.

I was totally okay with that, because I had just the thing to whip up – a tortellini and veggie pasta salad! It is so delicious and I’m sure it would be easy to adapt for tailgating, picnics, etc. by throwing some olives or salami/pepperoni. Consider this delicious recipe my apology for falling off the face of the earth the past few weeks…

Tortellini and Vegetable Pasta Salad (serves 4)

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. minced shallot

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. olive oil

Salad:

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

9 oz. cheese tortellini

1/3 c. red onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c. fat-free feta, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Add dressing ingredients together in a small food processor and pulse a few times until blended well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Refill the pot with water and bring to boil. Add asparagus and cook 2-3 minutes. Have a bowl of cold water or ice nearby. Transfer asparagus to cold temperature – this will keep it from cooking any longer and allow it to keep the pretty green color!

Add chopped veggies to the tortellini and stir to combine.

Pour dressing over top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir until combined.

Add crumbled feta and stir again until combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Then, it’s time to dig in! I definitely want to double this next time to make some yummy lunches for the week…

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

So we may have gotten a little out of the habit the past few months, but I’ve started bringing back “Meatless Monday.” Just a little break to appreciate your fruits and veggies!

When we first started doing this, I relied heavily on black bean burgers. That’s not a bad thing – because they are delicious! A few months ago, I decided to make a vegetarian pizza – but I was allll out of pizza sauce. What’s a girl to do?

Um, use cheese. Duh.

I originally used Light Boursin cheese – which is oh so amazing. However, I had purchased  some of the Philadelphia cooking creme (used it in my pierogi recipe) so I decided to test it out. Verdict? You can’t lose. Honestly.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza (serves 2)

Wheat Crust

3/4 white wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. honey

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. yeast

1/4 cup warm water

Mix together flour and salt. In a small bowl, add yeast, honey and olive oil to warm water and mix, then let sit 5-7 minutes. Add liquid to flour and mix until well blended. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours.

Topping

4 oz. shaved asparagus

1/4 cup Philadelphia Italian Herb and Cheese Cooking Creme, reduced fat

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, fat-free

Olive oil spray

Black pepper

Garlic salt

Italian herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out your dough either into one large pizza, or two individual pizzas. (We like our own pizza for some reason!)

Spray each with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and Italian herb seasoning.

Spread about 2 Tbsp. cooking creme on each pizza, just a light layer. This serves as your “sauce” – yes, that is as amazing as it sounds.

Next, add your shaved asparagus. To shave asparagus, you just need a basic veggie peeler. Peel the asparagus until it is in pretty little slivers and curls! You can add a lot more if you want because it cooks down!

Top asparagus with some cracked pepper, and then add mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese has melted.

Slice and serve. This is such an easy dish to throw together – and I’m sure it would be great cut into multiple slivers and served as an appetizer!


Now try to tell me you even miss meat in this dish…

What the Heck is a Pierog?

Back in May, one of my dear friends and I were in desperate need of a girls night. She had just gotten married and learned she was putting her house on the market (sad face) to move to Atlanta and asked if I would mind come over to her place for dinner and drinks because a workman was coming out to check on a few things. No problem. If there’s food and wine, you know I’m there.

So I get there, we have a glass of wine and she said “Um, I was just planning on throwing together kielbasa and pierogi if that’s okay? I know it’s not fancy, but we really love it.”

I was a little ashamed to admit it – but I think I’d only had pierogi once in my life. It was shortly after attending a Pittsburgh Pirates game with one of my college friends (aka “Punk”) when I so eloquently asked her “What the huh?” and pointed to the odd crescent-shaped costumes racing around the bases as some sort of entertainment – the “Pierogi Race.” She was shocked I asked such a question! “It’s food. It’s amazing food. It’s a Polish dish.”

Well now I felt really silly – and yet, I was 18 years old and grew up in Memphis, TN. Not my fault I’d never seen “Pierogi” listed as a side dish to go with your slab of ribs!

I learned that pierogi are basically pasta pockets that are filled with a mashed potato type filling that can also include cheese and/or onion. Oh, and they are delicious.

So back to my friends dinner – kielbasa and pierogi. Of course it sounded delicious.  A – I knew all of those ingredients and liked all of them. B – I was intrigued to see how this would play out. mainly because I forgot pierogi existed in the aisles of my neighborhood grocery store.

The verdict? Oh my goodness it was so good. Easy and absolutely delicious. I am fairly certain I went to the store a day later and bought everything to make it and very excitedly told the husband we were having pierogi. He looked very confused…”Gesundheit?”

Now he requests it, which I’m totally fine with because it’s super simple! I even figured out how to “lighten it up” for the good ol’ diet! It’s really handy for the nights when we have a function or meeting to attend and get home a little later – because it’s so easy to throw together!

Well, I (of course) decided to make it difficult. I mean, more difficult than boiling water and adding the frozen pierogi.

Yes, I decided to make homemade Pierogi! This definitely not something that you can throw together with an hour or two before company arrives – but it was a lot of fun and totally worth it when I dove into that first bite. I plan on experimenting with the filling quite a bit in the future!

Asparagus, Cheese and Herb Pierogi (serves 2-4)

For the Dough

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream

1 egg

1/4 cup warm water

Add all ingredients to a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until dough forms into a ball, scraping up any stray bits of flour to incorporate into the mixture. Cover and let rest 30 minutes. (P.S. I finally got to break out my beautiful red Kitchen Aid mixer!! The little things in life I tell ya…)

For the Filling

4 oz. trimmed asparagus

Olive oil spray

1 medium potato

1/3 cup Philadelphia Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Cream (Reduced Fat)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

First, you need to roast your asparagus. Heat oven to 400, spray trimmed asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 15-18 minutes and remove to cool. Chop roughly and set aside.

In the meantime, you’ll need to boil your potato. Peel and cube the potato and add to boiling water. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Add chopped asparagus, potato and cooking creme to a food processor. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Pulse food processor until ingredients are well blended and relatively smooth.

Remove dough and roll out to about 1/8 inch thick. I used a glass that was about 3” diameter to cut my pierogi…you can do the same!

Spoon about 1/2 or 1 Tbsp. of the filling in to the center of each circle. Bring edges together to form a crescent shape and pinch together, ensuring you have a good seal.

Repeat until all pierogi are formed.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Add pierogi to the boiling water about 5-6 at a time. Boil 4-5 minutes, or until they float to the top, and remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat until all are done.

Plate your pierogi and garnish with whatever you want! We usually do a little salt, pepper, butter spray and some shredded cheese (mozzarella here).

Oh, I am proud to inform you that while writing this post I learned something new – as I used to refer to the dish as “Pierogies”. “Pierogi” is actually the plural and “Pierog” is the singular form. Like you could just have one of these?

Hope everybody had a great weekend!