Friday, August 7, 2020

Zucchini Gratin Casserole

I look forward to the abundant supply of fresh produce that summer brings.  I also plant a small vegetable garden to ensure I will have plenty of my favorites like peas, beets, string beans, tomatoes, and zucchini.

The trouble with zucchini is that there can be too much of a good thing.  What do you make when you have too much zucchini? That's when recipes like this Zucchini Gratin Casserole come in very handy.  You can use up a lot of zucchini with this recipe. 

A Summer Squash Casserole 


A quick and easy summer squash casserole.

This is a versatile vegetable casserole that is oh, so easy to make.  I love the leftovers for lunch the following day.  I think you will, too.

Use medium-sized squash for consistent results.  You can make it with all zucchini squash, all yellow squash, or a mixture of the two.   Don't be afraid to use the squash that has gotten too big in the garden.  Just cut the pieces smaller and remove the seeds if they are large.
A quick and easy summer side dish casserole using zucchini squash

I use heavy cream to make the sauce for this dish.  When you cook the cream for a few minutes it thickens nicely and adds richness to the casserole.  It's just plain yummy!

As for flavor, be generous with the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  The squash is bland to start so you are in charge of kicking up the flavor.  Start with my recipe and adapt it to your taste.

Zucchini Gratin

Serves Four-Six



  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 medium zucchini, sliced into quarter-inch rounds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, optional
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
Preheat your over to 350 degrees F.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and the onion, spread in a layer across the pan.  Season with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Let the vegetables cook a few minutes until you start to see a little browning.  Then stir the mixture to get even color.  Cook until a little browned and crisp-tender.

Add the minced garlic to the pan and stir to combine.  Cook for about one minute.  Add the cream to the mixture, stirring to combine.  Let the cream bubble and thicken a bit. 

Combine the panko bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over the vegetables and stir to combine.  Spoon the mixture into a baking dish.  Top with the remaining cheese mixture.

Bake the mixture until the topping is browned and crisp, approximately 10-15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!




Saturday, July 25, 2020

Cinnamon Quick Bread

This recipe for cinnamon quick bread is a keeper.  You are going to love it for the easy preparation, simple ingredients, and tasty flavor.  

It makes a perfect pairing with your morning coffee or a tasty snack cake.  I'm confident once you make it you'll bake it over and over again.

Cinnamon Quick Bread

A simple, easy, and delicious quick bread for anytime you need a little sweet in your life.


When I tell you this is simple and easy, I mean it.  I made this bread with my three-year-old granddaughter with success.  She loved eating it, too!

Easy preparation, simple ingredients, and tasty flavor.

It will take you about ten minutes to mix the ingredients by hand and fifty minutes to bake in the oven.  If you want to make it as a fresh breakfast treat, assemble the ingredients the night before, have the pan greased and ready to go, and you'll be able to serve the warm bread in about 90 minutes.

I like to let this bread cool completely before cutting because it holds together best when cool.  The cinnamon bread is also delicious the next day so don't be afraid to bake it in advance.  Just wrap it well in plastic wrap to keep it moist and tasty.

Cinnamon Quick Bread Recipe




  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9x5x2 inch loaf pan, set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar.  Combine well.

In a separate bowl (I like to use a 2 cup glass measuring cup), mix together the milk, oil, and egg.  Beat this mixture with a fork to break up and combine the egg.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Spread half of the batter in the loaf pan.  Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon mixture.  Repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon mixture.

Draw a knife through the mixture both lengthwise and across to marble the cinnamon mixture throughout.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out cleanly. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then completely on a wire wrack.  Wrap well in plastic wrap or foil.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Tasty Summer Pasta Salad

The heat of summer and the increased opportunity for casual outdoor eating begs for a pasta salad. Most people I know have their go-to favorite. Mine is this Italian Pasta Salad made with tri-color pasta. I love how colorful this pasta salad is to start. It is a feast for the eyes. Taste it and you'll realize your eyes did not deceive you. The flavors in this salad are a feast for your taste buds.  No boring salads are allowed on my table!

My Italian Pasta Salad with Tri-Color Rotini

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Italian Pasta Salad
A Summer Pasta Salad Packed with Flavor


I always make this Italian Pasta Salad with tri-color pasta because it adds to the visual appeal. You don't have to choose tri-color, but choose a pasta with some substance. I like rotini or bowtie pasta. You want a pasta with a surface that will absorb the flavor of the dressing.

Choose colorful vegetables.  For today's pasta, I used red bell pepper, English cucumber, grape tomatoes, red onion, and black olives.  Some blanched asparagus would be nice.  Some yellow and orange bell peppers would be nice.  Choose a combination of colors that appeal to you.
An Italian Pasta Salad Packed with Flavor

I like to add a little spiciness with either pepperoni or Genoa salami. Today I chose pepperoni. I also like to add some cheese.  For this salad, I chose mozzarella cheese, but chunks of provolone would also be nice.

Your dressing is important. You want to choose an Italian dressing that is packed with flavor. You can make your own, but I always choose a preferred brand of bottled Italian dressing. This is an easy summer salad and there really is no need to add an extra step.

Add some fresh herbs if you have them.  This time of year I have parsley and basil growing in pots on my deck.  I also have some chives in my garden.  Chop up a little of whatever you have for some fresh from the garden flavor.

Finally, make this salad a day ahead of serving.  You want to give it time for the flavors to distribute throughout the salad.




Donna's Italian Pasta Salad


Printer Friendly Recipe

1-lb tri-color pasta, rotini or bowtie
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1 cup oil-based Italian dressing, your favorite
1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 can black olives, halved or sliced
4 ounces sliced pepperoni, quartered
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
a generous handful of fresh, chopped herbs like basil, parsley, and chives


Directions

A day before you plan to serve the salad, cook your pasta as directed on the package in boiling, salted water.  While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vegetables.

Drain the pasta and pour it into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing, while the pasta is still hot, tossing to distribute well. Set aside to cool.

Mixing the Italian Pasta Salad
Combine the Ingredients Well

When the pasta has cooled to room temperature, add the rest of the ingredients and 1/4 cup of Italian dressing. Reserve the rest of the dressing for just before you serve the pasta salad. Toss well, making sure everything is well coated with the dressing and all the ingredients are well distributed throughout the salad. Cover and chill.

Before serving, stir the salad and taste.  Does it need more dressing?  If yes, add the remaining 1/4 cup of Italian dressing and stir to combine.  I like to serve this salad in a glass bowl because it is so colorful.  Garnish with some fresh herbs.

Essential Tools


Get more salad ideas from my Salads Pinterest Board.


Thanks for sharing this yummy salad on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yummly!


Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

How to Turn Store-Bought Potato Salad from Blah to Amazing

When you need a quick potato salad, that ordinary store-bought potato salad you have in your refrigerator can go from blah to amazing in just a few minutes with just a few ingredients.

There's no judgment here.

We don't always have the time to make a potato salad from scratch. Sometimes it is just easier to stop by your local grocery store to pick up a container of the store-made potato salad.

It's good.

It's predictable.  It will do.  All it needs is a little doctoring.

How to Make Store-Bought Potato Salad Better

Amazing Semi-Homemade Potato Salad
Take Your Potato Salad from Blah to AH-Mazing!
Jazz Up Your Store-Bought Potato Salad

What should you do if you want that store-bought potato salad to have a little more flavor?
You're going to a potluck picnic or you are having people over for an impromptu barbecue and you'd like your potato salad to be a little special.

There is no need to fret.  A quick trip to the grocery store will get you started. Just buy a few additional ingredients that will kick up the potato salad's flavor.


Jazz Up Store-Bought Potato Salad
The first step in your journey from blah to amazing is to taste the store potato salad. You need to know what flavors you are starting with.  The best store-bought potato salad is the one you like best.
  


When buying from the deli counter ask for a taste before you buy.  How does it taste?  Does it need a little more salt and fresh ground pepper? 

Consider a little celery seed or some fresh dill. Both add wonderful flavor to a potato salad.


Next, you'll want some add-in ingredients.  
You'll want to add a little color, some crunch, and little seasoning.  Here is my standard recipe for doctoring up a store-bought potato salad.

Donna's Quick Potato Salad

Add celery, chives and red onion to potato salad
The Potato Salad Ingredients
  • 1-quart store-bought potato salad
  • 1 stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-handful chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


Directions

Taste the potato salad to know your starting point.

Add the celery, onion, and chives.  Stir to combine.

Taste and add salt and pepper.  Cover and chill for at least an hour to allow the flavors to combine.

Isn't that easy?  Remember it is important to taste the potato salad again before you serve it to make sure the flavors are what you want them to be.

You can add a little more of whatever the potato salad needs before you serve it.  Serve this kicked up store-bought potato salad proudly.

You've made it your own in a semi-homemade kind of way.  Your family and friends will love it.


Thank you for sharing this post on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Yummly.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Swordfish Puttanesca Pasta Bowl

Pasta Puttanesca is one of those dishes that you either like or don't like. That's because the flavors are robust and in your face. I'm hoping you're a fan of big flavors. 

For today's recipe, I'm making a pasta bowl with swordfish and green beans. This is a combination that is healthy and satisfying. If you make it, please post a picture on my Just One Donna Facebook page.

Swordfish Puttanesca Pasta Bowl


A robust swordfish Puttanesca pasta bowl that will tickle your taste buds.
A Robust Swordfish Puttanesca Pasta Bowl

Do you love olives?  This recipe is for you. You'll want to use a mix of flavorful olives like you can get from the deli at your grocery store.  I love a mixture of robust green and kalamata olives
This swordfish Puttanesca Bowl is full of BIG flavors!

Do you love capers? This recipe is for you.

Do you love a little heat in your food?  It's in here.  If you don't like heat leave the crushed red pepper out, or add a little more if you want more heat.

Do you love swordfish?  Yep, it's in here, but if not, add shrimp or chicken.

Finally, I've added fresh, French green beans.  They are the skinny ones.  Just toss them into the pasta pot to cook with the pasta.  They'll be bright green and crisp.  It's a lovely addition to this bowl.

This is a quick meal to make.  From putting the pasta on to boil to serving your pasta bowl is 20 minutes.  It's a great meal for a quick weeknight dinner.

Are you ready to make a swordfish Puttanesca bowl?

Swordfish Puttanesca Pasta Bowl

Serves 4
Swordfish Puttanesca cooking in the pan.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 -1 1/2 lbs swordfish steak
1 lb pasta of choice, linguini preferred
4 handfuls of French green beans, trimmed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped flavorful olives
1-2 Tablespoons capers, drained
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups prepared, Italian tomato sauce, jarred or homemade
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Fill a large pot with water. Add about 2 Tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and green beans and bring to a boil.  Cook until the pasta is al dente and the beans are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes.

While the pasta and beans are cooking, add the olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat.  Salt and pepper the swordfish.  Add the swordfish to the hot pan, cooking for two minutes on each side.  Set aside.

Add the onion and cook for two minutes.  Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Stir to combine.  Add the olives and capers.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cut the swordfish into one-inch chunks and add to the sauce. Drain the pasta and beans and add to the sauce.  Toss so everything is well coated. Cook for a minute or two to let the flavors combine.  

Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!