Creamy Avocado Pasta

Creamy Avocado Pasta.

One day this week, I was in the mood for a creamy pasta with grilled chicken and broccoli.

At first I grabbed a jar of Alfredo sauce from the pantry – thinking hubby would enjoy that – and then I thought…. “Wait!  Isn’t there a healthier way to make a creamy pasta sauce?”

I had a few avocados on hand and wondered how they might work to make a creamy sauce.  After doing a little research on the web, I found this is kind of a “thing,” and I couldn’t wait to try.

I created this recipe by researching and combining ideas from several versions of recipes I found, and I have to admit- it was seriously flippin’ amazing!

Pasta covered in a creamy, dreamy, full flavored but HEALTHY sauce!!  What could be better?!

Goodbye Alfredo sauce.

Goodbye Mac’n Cheese.

Hello amazingly divine Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce!

I steamed some fresh broccoli, and we grilled some marinated chicken breasts.  Putting these on top of a cup of Creamy Avocado Pasta made for a full and satisfying dinner.

You’ve got to try this!  Here’s my recipe.

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pasta of your choice
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large or 2 small limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or light sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water to al dente.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain and set pasta aside.

Cut avocados in half, remove the pit, and scoop out out the green flesh from the skin with a spoon.  Discard skin.  Put avocado in blender or food processor.  Add minced garlic, chopped fresh basil and cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, Greek yogurt or light sour cream, olive oil, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup pasta water.  Blend/puree into a creamy sauce.  Add more pasta water as needed for desired consistency.

Toss with warm pasta, and serve immediately.

You can top with vegetables of your choice like cherry tomatoes and sweet corn, peas, asparagus, broccoli, green onions, pine nuts, or whatever you like.  You can also add a protein if you like – chicken, shrimp, crab meat, lobster, pork.  Sprinkle with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan for a bit of salty, nutty zip.  Or – you can just enjoy as is.  

Can’t wait to hear from those who try and what you think of it!  I’m a total fan!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Oreo Millionaire Shortbread

Oreo Millionaire Shortbread.

WARNING – WARNING – WARNING!

This recipe is ONLY for the most serious chocolate and salted caramel lovers.

Others – please disregard!

One of our friends who we meet up with every Thursday on our John’s Bar date night had a birthday last week.

Friends’ birthdays are always a great excuse for me to bake and try something new.

So for our sweet friend, Donna, I made these amazingly decadent Oreo Millionaire Shortbread cookie bars.

O… M… G!

What could be more indulgent than an Oreo cookie crust layered with homemade salted caramel and then topped with rich, creamy chocolate and sprinkled with additional Oreo crumbs?!?!

I found a recipe at Baking a Mess, but the recipe was in British weights and measures and contained ingredients I was not familiar with (caster sugar and golden syrup).  I did a little research into converting grams to cups and substitutes for the ingredients I didn’t have, and came up with this recipe below.

There wasn’t one left Thursday night for Donna to take home.  She had generously shared, and they were all devoured.

This is a real treat, but be warned, it is absolutely decadent, so only make when you are absolutely sure you need a luxurious indulgence!

Oreo Millionaire Shortbread

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 1 1/2 packages (14.3 oz) Oreo cookies
  • 1/2/ cup butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour

Caramel:

  • 1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup (sticks) butter
  • 2 Tbsp Karo Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt

Topping:

  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup reserved Oreo crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×9 square baking stone or pan with parchment paper.  Finely crush Oreo cookies into crumbs.    Reserve 1 cup.  Combine remaining crumbs with melted butter and flour in bowl.  Pour into parchment lined baking pan and pat firmly.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.

On medium-low heat, put the all of the caramel ingredients (except the sea salt flakes) in a heavy saucepan.  Allow to boil, reduce and thicken into a golden caramel sauce, stirring occasionally.  This takes about 30 minutes.  Stir in the sea salt flakes and pour on top of the Oreo base.  Refrigerate approximately 2 hours.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave for 1 minute.  Stir.  Melt an additional 30 seconds.  Stir.  Pour over caramel layer and spread to cover entire surface.  Sprinkle with reserved Oreo crumbs.  Refrigerate a few hours before removing from pan by lifting parchment paper.

Cut into 36 squares.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Easy Skinny Zucchini Pasta Caprese

Easy Skinny Zucchini Pasta Caprese.

I bought a few zucchini recently itching to use my Spiralizer again, and I created this super easy, wicked fast, uber healthy, gloriously delicious lunch that came together in 10 minutes.   Seriously!

I spiralized two small/medium zucchini to create the “pasta” and tossed them in a skilled with some minced garlic and a dash of red pepper flakes sizzling in olive oil.  After just a few minutes. I tossed in some chopped fresh basil, chopped campari tomatoes, and some grated Parmesan cheese.

After I poured it from the skillet to my bowl, I sprinkled it with some fresh black pepper and flaked sea salt.    That’s it!

And it was absolutely amazing!  You will seriously question if you are eating fresh pasta!   I can’t wait to make it again and again this summer when I am able to pick the fresh produce right from my yard.

Here’s the simple recipe I came up with:

Easy Skinny Zucchini Pasta Caprese

  • Servings: 1 as main course, 2 as side dish
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 small/medium zucchini, spriral sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 Campari tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Spiralize zucchini.

Heat olive oil in stir fry skillet.  Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  After about a minute when oil begins to sizzle around garlic, add zucchini.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing every minute or so.  Add chopped tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan.  Cook and toss for about 2 more minutes.

Pour into bowl or on plate.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Lemon Butter Scallops

Sizzling Lemon Butter Scallops in Skillet

Sizzling Lemon Butter Scallops in Skillet

Lemon Butter Scallops.

If you are looking for a super quick and easy and even more super delicious scallop recipe, I’ve got a winner for you!

I picked up a 12oz bag of “Specially Selected Premium Jumbo Scallops” at Aldi the other day to make something a little different for dinner for hubby and me.

As a quick side note – I am such a super fan of Aldi.  I am a bit late to the game and was really not sure about it at first, but now…. every time I go, I love it more!  I swear it costs half of what I pay at our other local supermarkets. I am always astonished when I walk out with a cart full of food for $100 or so.  And not only is it so greatly priced, but the quality is amazing.  The produce is fresh, the selection is nice, and I feel like I am being environmentally conscientious when I pack my own bags instead of coming home with 20 more plastic bags.

These scallops were absolutely delicious, and if I recall correctly, they were less than $10.  I didn’t realize what a great source of protein they are.  A 4-ounce serving has 19 grams of protein, 100 calories and 1 gram of fat (0 saturated fat).

So here is the way I made them.  (Enough rambling – right??!!) Simple yet delectable.  We had them with some butternut squash risotto (which I also picked up at Aldi) and a fresh green salad.  (And no I am not being paid by Aldi – though I should inquire! wink!)

Lemon Butter Scallops

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. Jumbo Scallops
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly minced rosemary

Directions:

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a 12-inch skillet, add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add scallops in a single layer to hot oil in skillet.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Brown 1-2 minutes and then turn.  Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.  Add butter and allow to melt.  Add lemon juice, and flip scallops again to coat with lemon, butter, and garlic.  Sprinkle with freshly minced rosemary, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Double Chocolate Cookies

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Double Chocolate Cookies.

I’ll bet some of you are surprised to see me baking cookies again after the past month of wedding cookie baking.

But those cookies are gone.  And we were invited to a friend’s house last weekend for a little get together, and guess what I was asked to bring???

I had a couple of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges in the pantry that I’ve been waiting to make something yummy and chocolatey with, and so I found a recipe that I modified to include them.

They were yummy!  A double chocolate chewy, fudgy cookie with a hint of orange.

I had to laugh when a friend said he didn’t really like chocolate cookies – while he was eating his fourth one!

Hope you will give these delightful treats a try!

Terry's Chocolate Orange Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Dark Chocolate Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Mix in baking soda and salt.  Slowly mix in cocoa powder and flour until combined.

Gently stir in chopped Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.  Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Drop by tablespoonful onto baking stone or cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes just until set and beginning to crackle.

Leave on baking stone for 5 minutes after removing from oven to begin cooling.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Honey Sriracha Lime Salmon

Honey Sriracha Lime Salmon

Honey Sriracha Lime Salmon.

My sweet friend, Janet, visited this past week after coming to town for the wedding, and she made this amazing salmon recipe for us one night.

Hubby is not a salmon fan, but I ADORE it!  Add Sriracha, honey, lime, soy sauce, garlic, and cilantro, and I am in heaven!  So one evening when he had a late meeting, Janet and I feasted on this with some roasted veggies and brown rice.  It was awesome!

You can adjust the amount of heat or sweet to your liking.  We did from the original recipe at Creme de la Crumb.

Here is how we made it!  Let me know if you try and enjoy as much as we did.

Honey Sriracha Lime Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 large salmon or 4-6 individual (4-6 oz.) fillets
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup Sriracha Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp low sodium Soy Sauce (I always use low sodium soy sauce – and I am a salt lover!)
  • 2 limes (one juiced and zested, the other sliced thinly)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Grease lightly, and lay salmon on top.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place sliced limes under the edges of the salmon.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, stir in honey, Sriracha, soy sauce, lime juice, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Pour 2/3 of the sauce over the salmon – covering completely to avoid dry spots.  Fold the edges of the foil up around the salmon so the sauce doesn’t spill out.

Bake for 15 minutes, then switch to broil and cook another 4-5 minutes.  Do not overcook.

Top salmon with reserved sauce, lime zest and chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!

Also, if you are not a salmon lover, this sauce and method would work great with chicken or pork also!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Miss you already Jan!  xo

The Wedding Cookie Table: A Pittsburgh Tradition

The Wedding Cookie Table - It's a Burgh Thing

The Wedding Cookie Table – It’s a Burgh Thing

The Wedding Cookie Table:  A Pittsburgh Tradition.

As some of my faithful friends here at The Creative Life in Between know, I’ve been baking a few cookies for the past month for my son and new daughter-in-law’s wedding.

The wedding was this weekend, so I thought I would share a couple of quick shots we captured of the finished Wedding Cookie Table since many of you asked to see as you saw the various recipes being shared.

I have to thank my other sweet daughter-in-law for helping bake several kinds of cookies (snickerdoodles, peanut butter blossoms, s’mores cookies, and chocolate dipped oreos!) as well as my friend, Tracy, for her generosity in baking the lady locks.  A special thank you to Liz’s mom and her cousin Kathy for baking an amazing variety of sweet breads with flavored butters that added just that special touch to our brunch wedding menu.  My favorite was the earl grey tea lavender bread!  Absolutely amazing!

If you would like to see the recipes for the variety of cookies I made, here is a list with links to the recipes:

  1. Jodi’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
  2. Hershey Kiss Brownie Bites
  3. Pecan Tassies
  4. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
  5. Pecan Sandies
  6. Carrot Cake Thumbprints
  7. Raspberry Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
  8. Apricot Kolaches
  9. Buckeye Balls
  10. Lemon Crinkle Cookies
  11. Red Velvet White Chocolate Cookies
  12. Oreo Cookies & Cream Cookies

A Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table

A Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table

It seems that the Wedding Cookie Table is a bit of a regional tradition to our area.  In Pittsburgh, it’s a “burgh thing” to do.  No wedding is complete without a massive buffet of favorite cookies for the guests to enjoy before, during, and after the reception.  Our wedding “favor” for the guests was an empty box to fill with their favorites from our cookie table.

We could not be happier to welcome our sweet new daughter-in-law to our family.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Oreo Cookies ‘n Cream Cookies

I may have saved the best for last….

For my last cookie recipe for the Wedding cookie table, who is in the mood for a Cookies ‘n Cream cookie created with coarsely crushed Oreo cookies and creamy white chocolate chips?

Oh…. My…. Yumminess!

These are SERIOUSLY divine!  The photos may not do justice to the ecstasy your taste buds are going to experience.

Here’s the recipe I found at The Recipe Critic.  Hope you will give them a try!

Oreo Cookies 'n Cream Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 5 doz.
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups flour
  • 28 Oreo Cookies, coarsely crushed
  • 3 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugars about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Slowly beat in baking soda, baking powder, salt, and finally flour just until incorporated.  Gently fold in coarsely-crushed Oreo cookies and white chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for 7-9 minutes or until just lightly browned.  Let cool on baking stone/cookie sheet 5 minutes, then completely cool cooling racks.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cookies

For my penultimate wedding cookie table cookie recipe, I present….

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cookies.

I was so excited to find this simple recipe that uses Bisquick baking mix and creates such beautiful and delicious cookies.

Won’t they look pretty next to the Lemon Crinkles?!

Red velvet lovers rejoice!

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 3 doz.
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp. red food coloring
  • 3 1/2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Directions:

In large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla, eggs, and food coloring.  Add Bisquick and cocoa just until combined.  Gently stir in white chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Cool on stone/sheet for 5 minutes.  Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies.

Amidst all the chocolate and peanut butter and pecans and raspberry and apricot, we needed a fresh, bright, citrusy, spring cookie for the wedding cookie table.

This light, delicate Lemon Crinkle Cookie is just the ticket!

A tangy zip of lemon juice and zest in a small little puff rolled in powdered sugar and “crinkled” will make a lovely  contrast in flavor and color.

It’s wedding week, and we are so excited!

Hope you will give this lovely cookie a try.

And while we are talking about cookies…. my friend Sherrie told me a joke this week that I thought would be fun to share given all the cookie recipes I’ve been sharing lately….

Why did the cookie go to the hospital?

……………………………………………………………………………….Because it was feeling crummy! 😝😝😝🍪

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (2 large lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from same 2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • A couple drops of yellow food coloring
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 ups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (to roll cookies in before baking)

Directions:

In the mixing bowl of electric stand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth.  Beat in sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and lemon extract, food coloring and salt.  Mix until well combined, light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk and beat for 1-2 minutes on medium until creamy and light.

Gradually add in baking powder and flour on low speed until just incorporated.  Dough will be quite sticky.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Roll dough into 1 inch round balls and then roll in powdered sugar.  Place balls about 2 inches apart on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies puff and crinkle.  Do not overbake.  Cookies should not brown.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Cookies are wonderful when frozen or refrigerated for a “cool” taste. 

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi