I love to cook. To me, there is nothing better than blasting some music, opening up a bottle of wine, and creating something delicious using fresh produce and local ingredients. Every late afternoon I love indulging in a little “me time” that ends up in a delicious meal that my family will gobble up (most of the time, at least). But I must admit that sometimes I am pretty worn out after chasing my boys around and running my business and just don’t feel like cooking anything elaborate. I mean, do you have the energy to prepare short ribs and risotto on a random Tuesday night?
What I have found is that I can create mouthwatering and healthy dishes using simple, high quality ingredients and cut myself some slack (and you should too—all of that “Pinterest Perfect” pressure is going to drive us all crazy!). My secret weapon? Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil. It is hands down one of the absolute best olive oils I have ever used and makes simple and fresh cooking absolutely effortless. Why? It has a light taste with subtle hints of fruit and brings a brightness to dishes that a generic olive oil just create. This oil truly is “tree to table.” Don’t believe me? Then try out these fresh and easy family friendly recipes for yourself.
Spiralized Veggie Pasta
Have you jumped onto the zoodles bandwagon yet? If not, you totally should. Why? Because it is a delicious and fun way to get your entire family to happily devour veggies. One of the reasons I was so hesitant to try out zoodles is because I really didn’t want to invest in another new kitchen gadget or spend my precious time shredding veggies on my mandolin. But then one day I came across a huge section of spiralized veggies at my local grocery store (zucchini, butternut squash, you name, it, they had it!) and I indulged. Boy am I glad I did. So pick up a package of spiralized veggies and try out this recipe:
*Package of spiralized veggies (we prefer butternut squash)
*3 tablespoons Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1 small onion, diced
*1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper, diced
*1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, diced or whole cherry tomatoes
*I cup spinach
*1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
*salt and pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil and garlic over a low flame in a frying pan for about three minutes, ensuring that the garlic does not brown or burn. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Next, slowly add the spiralized veggies and cook through, which will take between 10 and 13 minutes. Add seasonings to the spirals. Continuously sauté the veggies until softened, then add the peppers and spinach. Cook for about five minutes and finally add the spinach and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper depending on your preference. Serve warm, preferably with some crusty bread.
I don’t know what it is, but I just LOVE bruschetta. Maybe it’s the fresh toppings, maybe it’s the crunch of the bread…whatever it is, I love it. And thankfully, my family does to. Can you believe that my boys will actually devour mushrooms as long as they are cooked with tons of olive oil and garlic and served on a piece of toast? It’s true. And you can get your kids to love them, too. The best party? It’s so darn easy.
*Loaf of crusty bread (either whole grain or traditional French is fine)
*1/2 cup Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil
*4 cloves garlic, minced
*1 pint mushrooms, diced
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
Sauté garlic in olive oil for a few minutes, ensuring that it doesn’t get browned. Add the mushrooms and cook thoroughly, until they are almost black (around 10-15 minutes). Be sure to add pepper and a small bit of salt while cooking. Slowly add lemon juice to the mushrooms. While the mushrooms are cooking, slice up the bread, top each slice with olive oil and pepper. Pop under the broiler for between 3-5 minutes (watch closely so they don’t burn!). Top the toasts with the mushroom mixture, and give each piece a sprinkle of oregano and a drizzle of olive oil to finish. I like to serve the mushroom bruschetta with a salad to create a simple and easy weeknight meal.
Olive Oil Vinaigrette
Most days our dinners aren’t complete without a salad (it is the absolute easiest way to ensure that my kids and I get our full servings of veggies), but sometimes I’m too lazy to chop up veggies. When that happens, I simply head to the produce section of my local grocery store, pick up some pre chopped veggies (carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, etc.) to make a very simple veggie tray. But the magic of the veggie tray lies in the dipping sauce—my top secret, family favorite vinaigrette. I swear, my kids would dip their dirty socks into this dressing if I let them it’s so good. And even better? I use this vinaigrette as a marinade for meat and fish, as a quick sauce on pasta, or on anything that needs a little bit of extra flavor. Mix together all of the following ingredients in a jar…and I highly recommend either doubling or tripling the recipe because it will go FAST!
5 tablespoons Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Olive Oil Cake
I have a sweet tooth, and my boys definitely inherited it from me. We love pie, brownies, cookies, ice cream…you name it. And lately we have gotten into baking cakes together. My boys love to measure, pour and mix, and our olive oil cake is our family favorite. There is something about the fresh flavor of the olive oil and fruit zest that makes it melt in your mouth. And we love to top it with fresh fruit, too. I highly recommend working together with your little ones to create this family favorite:
2 tablespoons butter for greasing the pan
2 tablespoons flour for dusting the pan
1 ¼ cup flour for cake
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil
4 tablespoons orange/lemon/grapefruit juice (choose whichever fruit you prefer)
1 ½ tablespoons zest of orange/lemon/grapefruit (choose whichever fruit your prefer)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar and accent fruit for dusting and decorating
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a cake pan (9 inches seems to be the best size). Mix together sugar and eggs in a mixer (you want to mix some air into it so it becomes light and fluffy). Slowly drizzle in the other wet ingredients (olive oil, vanilla, fruit juice and zest). In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Bake between 25 to 30 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar when cake is cooled.
I have no doubt that your family will enjoy these fresh meals, and you will love the fact that they are so simple to make. Don’t forget that the key to great food is fresh and high quality ingredients, so be sure to pick up a bottle of Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil to make your dishes the best they can be.
This post is sponsored by Ancient Olive Trees Olive Oil. All opinions are my own.