Summer Veggie Penne

I just LOVE the flavors in this dish: farm fresh veggies, a little heat from the red pepper flakes, sweet summer basil, … YUM! It is a little more time consuming than my usual dinners, but definitely worth it. As usual, I have edited the original recipe to minimize the prep time without sacrificing the overall taste of the dish. Apparently, I am completely incapable of following a recipe exactly as its written. This is a source of much agitation in my house, however no one ever seems to complain about the results! LOL Check out the original recipe from Williams-Sonoma using the link below. As always, omit the cheese or use a a vegan substitute if you need to be dairy free. Happy Labor Day weekend US peeps!

8  ounces+ penne (I use about 3/4 of a pound)

6  tablespoons olive oil

Kernels from 2 ears of corn

2  large zucchini, cut into half moons

1/2  yellow onion, diced

4  tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced

1  tablespoon chopped  garlic (or about 1 1/2 teaspoons minced)

1/2  teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh if you have it)

1/4  teaspoon red pepper flakes

1  tablespoon tomato paste

1/4  cup white wine

1/4 to 1/2  cup thinly sliced fresh basil

6  ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

2  ounces grated Parmesan-Reggiano


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta to al dente per package directions, drain and put in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the corn, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the pasta. In the same pan, put remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil; add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender and golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. (If you are short on time, microwave the zucchini for a few minutes on high before adding it to the pan.) Add to the bowl with corn and pasta.

To the same skillet, on medium low, add the onion, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook until the tomatoes soften and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is reduced and the sauce thickens, a few minutes more.

Add the tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and half the parmesan to the bowl with the vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer back to the pan if it’s oven safe or a 9×13 dish sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and bake until golden brown on top, 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.


Adapted from here:



Eggplant Fries

Before all the eggplant is gone from the local markets, I wanted to share this unusual recipe with you all. I was inspired to first make it years ago when I was trying to get my then much younger children to eat more veggies. In the spirit of Jessica Seinfeld (and her Deceptively Delicious cookbook), I thought if the eggplant was in “french fry” form, maybe my kids wouldn’t notice that they were actually eating EGGPLANT (gasp!). And for years as long as I didn’t tell them, they ate this happily with a side of homemade tomato sauce for dipping. Fast forward to now and my daughter absolutely LOVES eggplant. She specifically requested this while she was home from college this summer. We made it together and literally had to stop each other from eating them all so that we would have some for dinner. I’m sure from a health standpoint the frying cancels out some of the benefits of the eggplant, but it still counts as a vegetable at my house. Let me know what you think and if any of your picky eaters will try these “crazy fries”!


1  medium eggplant or about one pound

2  teaspoons salt, divided

1  cup all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon baking powder

2  teaspoons Italian seasoning

1  teaspoon onion powder

1/8  teaspoon ground red pepper

1/8  teaspoon garlic powder

2/3  cup milk or whatever is safe for you to use (soy, almond, coconut, etc.)

1  tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil

2  large eggs, slightly beaten

Vegetable or olive oil

Tomato sauce for dipping


Peel the eggplant, if desired (I never do) and cut into finger sized strips.

(The original recipe says to sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on the eggplant strips, let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. I NEVER do this. I don’t find eggplant to be bitter, especially in season, and I’m always in way too much of a hurry to add an extra 30 minutes to my meal prep. I’ve never had a bad batch or felt that this step was needed, but I wanted to share this tidbit since it is part of the original recipe.)

Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, baking powder, and next 7 ingredients in a pie plate; stir until blended and smooth.

Pour enough oil into a dutch oven or deep frying pan to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium to medium high heat. Dip strips into the batter, coating well. Fry the eggplant 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain well on paper towels. Serve immediately with a side of spaghetti and tomato sauce for dipping.


Adapted from Southern Living, 30 Years of Our Best Recipes, 2000



Zucchini-Honey Bread

I absolutely love the resurgence of local farming and we are blessed to have a wonderful farmer’s market within minutes of our house. These days, I’m planning all my meals for the week around what’s available at the market, and there is simply nothing like the taste of truly fresh food. There has been an abundance of zucchini these past couple of weeks, so I knew it was time for this quick and easy family favorite. My boys love this so much that I had to divide the leftovers into plastic bags with everyone’s name on them so that there would be some left for breakfast the next day! They seriously LOVE it! So while the zucchini is plentiful and local, I plan to shred some extra and freeze it in 2 cup portions so that we can have a little taste of summer in the cool winter months. Hope you all are finding the farmer’s markets in your area and supporting your local farmers. I am very grateful for their time, effort, and passion for farming and real, unprocessed food. 

3  cups flour

1  teaspoon baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon salt

1  tablespoon ground cinnamon

1  cup chopped pecans (if desired and safe for your family)

2  cups shredded zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

1  cup sugar (The original recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, but that is way too much for my taste, so I reduce it to either 3/4 or 1 cup)

3/4  cup honey

1  cup vegetable oil

2  teaspoons vanilla extract


Combine the dry ingredients (first 6) in a large bowl, stirring well. In another bowl, combine the zucchini and remaining 5 ingredients, stirring well. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans (I use Baker’s Joy). Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes to clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely or serve warm. Also freezes well and is perfect for a snack or breakfast on the road.


Adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, 1999