Pasta with Charred Broccoli, Feta, and Lemon

Two recipes back to back with charred broccoli! This pasta was awesome! Actually, my kids didn’t like the broccoli, but I thought it was really, really good. The sauce for this dish was so tasty, but so simple! I took the liberty of adding toasted pine nuts at the end for a little crunch. I had planned on having the leftovers for lunch the next day, but husband ate it ALL.

rating: 9.8

Pasta with Charred Broccoli, Feta, and Lemon
(Cooking Light, July 2017)

serves 4


4 cups small broccoli florets
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I omitted)
8 ounces uncooked strozzapreti or mezze penne pasta (I used a different pasta)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt (such as Maldon) (I omitted)


Preheat oven to 425°F.
Combine broccoli, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and crushed red pepper on a baking sheet; spread in a single layer. Bake at 425°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until broccoli is charred and browned in spots, stirring after 15 minutes.
Bring a large saucepan filled with water and remaining 2 teaspoons kosher salt to a boil. Add pasta, and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid.
Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-low. Cook 2 minutes or until garlic is golden, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle flour over pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add reserved 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid and milk to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in feta; cook 3 minutes or until feta begins to melt and sauce is slightly thickened. Add broccoli, pasta, and lemon rind; toss. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls; sprinkle evenly with black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon flaked salt.


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Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Charred Broccolini Salad

These sandwiches were good! My family didn’t love the broccolini, though. 😦 I thought it was okay. I am trying to get my kids to eat more green stuff, but this way did not work.

rating: 7

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Charred Broccolini Salad
(Everyday with Rachael Ray, June 2017)

serves 4
time needed: 30 min.


1 lb. broccolini
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 ⁄4 cup mayonnaise
8 thick slices rustic bread
6 oz. aged cheddar, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest plus 2 tbsp. juice (from 1 lemon)



1. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. In a large bowl, toss the broccolini with 1 tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Spread the mayonnaise on one side of the bread slices. Divide the cheese, herbs and beefsteak tomato among 4 slices of bread; season. Top with the remaining bread, mayonnaise side down. Brush the outside of the sandwiches with 2 tbsp. oil. Grill until the cheese melts and the bread is grill-marked, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. Chop the broccolini into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss the broccolini with the cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining 1 tbsp. oil; season. Serve alongside the grilled cheese.


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5 Minute Million Dollar Dip

This is the second dip that I made to take to a party recently, and I think I liked this one even more! I had several people tell me that the dip was really good, and my husband gave me the greatest compliment of all. He said that “we need to keep some of this dip in the fridge AT ALL TIMES”. Now that says a lot!

rating: 10

5 Minute Million Dollar Dip



5 green onions,chopped
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1½ cups mayonnaise
½ cup real bacon bits (I used McCormick Bac’n Pieces, which are made of soy)
½ cup slivered almonds



Add green onions, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, bacon bits, and slivered almonds to a small bowl. Mix until combined and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with your favorite crackers.

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Cannoli Dip

I attended a party this past weekend, and I did something that I hate to do: I brought two appetizers that I have never made before. I hate doing that! What if they are horrible? Lucky for me (and them), both were awesome! I made one sweet dip and one savory dip. This dip was super easy to make and everyone who tried it liked it. In fact, near the end of the party, there was a small group of us standing around this dip, dipping and talking, dipping and talking. If you like a good cannoli, try this dip!

rating: 9.7

Cannoli Dip


1 cup ricotta
8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
waffle cones broken


Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whisk together ricotta, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add in vanilla extract and whip for another 30 seconds.
Taste test the dip – if you’d like it sweeter, add more powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. You can safely add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar (8 tablespoons) without negatively impacting consistency.
Fold in mini chocolate chips, reserving some to sprinkle on top for decoration if desired.
Serve dip immediately with broken waffle cones for dipping.


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Milk Gravy

My grandma used to make milk gravy all the time when I was younger, and I loved it! She told me that there was really nothing to it, but that I definitely had to have bacon drippings as a major ingredient. 😦 What is a vegetarian to do? Well, I used Vegan Magic, and ta da, milk gravy! It was really good, and my 10 year old loved it! I haven’t had milk gravy in over 25 years, but now I can. 🙂

rating: 9.5

Milk Gravy

makes 3 cups


1 -2 tablespoon vegetable oil or 1 -2 tablespoon vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt


~NOTE~ This recipe will have more flavor if you use 1-2 tablespoons of oil from the oil you fried chicken fried steak in, or maybe even bacon grease. If you don’t have that, no need to worry, you can use vegetable oil or vegetable shortening.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Whisk in flour, whisking constantly for about 1 minute.
Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.
Stir in pepper and salt and continue cooking.
Whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, or until thickened.

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Product Review: Vegan Magic

We ate at one of our favorite vegan restaurants last weekend, and after we ate, we did some shopping at the attached vegan grocery store. This little jar caught my eye. This stuff is supposed to be used like you would use bacon grease! Wha?? I have actually never cooked with bacon grease! According to the website, you can use this in place or oil or shortening, and it adds a little smoky “bacon” flavor. I used this in last night’s dinner recipe, and will be posting that tomorrow! Have any of you tried this yet?


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Smoky Carrot Dogs with Nacho Sauce

I have heard of carrot dogs before, and was a little curious about them, but when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and saw it was marked as a “staff fave”, I knew I had to try them. I thought the actual “dog” was really good! I wouldn’t eat it plain (I mean, I would, because I like carrots), but with toppings, it was really good! I thought the texture was great! My problem was with the nacho sauce. I used my food processor instead of a blender, and my sauce never got creamy. It was really chunky, but it tasted okay. I just couldn’t drizzle the sauce over the dog. Everyone thought they were pretty good! I had some carrots left over, so I ate them in a salad the next day, and they were excellent.

rating: 8.5

Smoky Carrot Dogs with Nacho Sauce
(Cooking Light, June 2017)

serves 8


3/4 cup raw cashews
8 large carrots, rinsed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup jarred salsa
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon water
8 whole-wheat hot dog buns, lightly toasted
2 small jalapeños, thinly sliced
1/4 cup diced red onion




Place cashews in a bowl with water to cover by 1 inch. Let stand 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Trim ends from carrots to fit hot dog buns. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots, and round edges to create a hot dog shape.
Place oil, tamari, liquid smoke (if desired), paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk. Place carrots in a single layer in prepared baking dish. Pour oil mixture over carrots; rub to coat on all sides. Bake at 450°F for 35 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.
Drain cashews. Place cashews, jarred salsa, almond milk, yeast, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, and salt in a high-powered blender. Process until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in up to 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
Place 1 roasted carrot in each bun. Top each with 2 tablespoons nacho sauce; top evenly with jalapeño slices and diced red onion.

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