Saturday, September 29, 2012

Black Bean Salsa Soup ( Slow Cooker)



In my house soup recipes just happen. The recipe for this (vegan gluten free) black bean soup is usually made from a combination of whatever I have on hand, my mood, or the season. Since butternut squash is in season , it was my orange vegetable of choice; other times I may use carrots or yams.

I find my crock pot is ideal for making soup. I just throw everything into the crock in the morning, go about my day, and come home to a health giving pot of soup. It really is that easy and there is something nourishing available when you otherwise might start to snack while making dinner. Black Beans and orange vegetables are perfect soup for the crock; the flavors blend beautifully.

You can freeze this soup, too. So, eat some freeze some. I love it when I find a meal in the freezer.

When I thought about this soup, I thought in advance. I soaked a bag of black beans before I went to bed and rinsed them in the morning. ( no big deal right?)  After rinsing, I then added the soaked and rinsed beans to the crock with 1/2 a butternut squash ( cubed) , some peeled and slice yams, chopped tomatoes, fresh garlic, sliced onion, and all kinds of herbs ( parsley, cilantro, basil)  and lots of celery. I think the celery is what really makes it. Keep reading to find out why I call it a black bean salsa soup.

I let it cook all day ( 4 hours on high, 4 hours on low) or just do 6 hours on high.. 9 hours on low until the beans and veggies are soft.

Crock Pot before Cooking contains uncooked ( but soaked) black beans, butternut squash
yams, celery, fresh garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, and Trader Joes' saltless seasoning
" 21 Salute" ( cover veggies with a little  more water or broth than this)

I know that it looks like a lot of butternut squash, but I promise you the soup is not sweet! The squash is covering everything else.

Soup is perfect in the fall. You can eat the soup with some brown rice and a salad and call it a day! Butternut squash is plentiful at farms in our area right now, so I like to find lots of ways to use this health giving vegetable that is full of antioxidants and vitamins.

This soup is delicious but very mild. If you want a little kick add 2 T of chipotle spice while cooking or add a Tablespoon of fire roasted salsa (mild) that I get at Trader Joe's (-which has no salt and is fabulous; see below )- to your bowl upon eating.. I always add the salsa and thus I call my soup.Black Bean Salsa Soup..

Finished Soup; good but mild before addition of salsa

I use a Tablespoon or so of  Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Salt Free Salsa ( mild) from the little bowl
 to add to my soup bowl for a  little kick
I have a thing for black beans; I think I could eat them everyday. They are filling, tasty, and nourishing. Read about the health benefits and versatility of black beans

Ingredients 

1 bag dry black beans , soaked overnight and drained
2 cups cubed butternut squash ( peeled)
1 medium yam, peeled and cubed
4 stalks celery, sliced  ( I like organic)
2 large tomatoes, blanched and skin removed and chopped ( or canned chopped tomatoes)
1 medium onion , chopped
4 cloves garlic sliced thick ( or more to taste)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped ( organic)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro , chopped ( organic)
1/2 cup fresh basil , chopped (optional)
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 Tablespoons Trader Joe's salt free seasoning called " 21 Salute"

Throw everything into your crock pot . Cover the contents with water ( about 10-14 cups) or broth or a combination of both. Turn the crock pot onto high and cook for 4 hours. Turn down to low and allow to cook an additional 4 hours. If you are not home, just put on low for 9 hours or put on high for 6 hours.

CROCK POT FALAFEL- crazy idea but it works

Tip of the Day:
Do you know how many nutrients your little ones ate today?
If they are eating (GF) crackers, bread, pasta- probably not enough vitamins and antioxidants..
Try making a muffin tin filled with a variety of fresh fruit, cut up veggies, and healthy dips!
Let them pick from the colorful fresh food tray. Found this idea and photo on  a blog called Bfit  Bfree

                                                                  Photo from Bfit  Bfree
Will be shared on the following blog carnivals


Friday, September 28, 2012

Lemony Greek Stuffed Tomatoes or Peppers ( Vegan)





Long before my trip to Greece , I had always loved and prepared Greek food- like these lemony Greek stuffed tomatoes (or peppers ) which I have been making for years! So many Greek foods are naturally gluten free.

I don't know why, but most Mediterranean countries notoriously like to stuff their vegetables. My mother in law ( from the Middle East)  stuffs onions, grape leaves, squashes, peppers, and artichokes.  Stuffed vegetables make a great presentation for entertaining and can be used as a side dish or entree. Surprisingly, they are relatively easy to make.

I usually make this vegan recipe towards the end of the summer when peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs are seasonably plentiful. I like the contrast of  yellow peppers against the red tomatoes.It looks so pretty and colorful!

Greek stuffed vegetables are definitely crowd pleasers. The stuffing is almost always made with a significant amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice that cooks down in the tomato base to create a  sweet and tangy flavor that everyone seems to love. I added raisins to reduce the tartness. These stuffed vegetables are light, tasty, gluten free, and vegan!  So enjoy!


Parthenon  ( Our trip to Greece 2009)

Ancient Greek Ruins ( Parthenon area) 
Greek windmill in a small village near Santorini, Greece

Typical Greek buildings, architecture and colors ( on the beach front)

Slice off the tops and hollow out the vegetables saving the inside of the tomato for the stuffing
Cook the rice stuffing
This picture shows the vegetables, stuffed but uncooked ( you can eat them this way or cook them)

Stuff the hollowed out vegetables


Cook in a Dutch oven pot in tomato juice, lemon and broth to soften veggies if desired.
Otherwise, you can eat the tomatoes or peppers raw- it's still good. 

Ingredients: 

Slice off top of 5 tomatoes and 4 peppers and hollow out ( save inside of tomato, chop and add to stuffing mixture)

Stuffing Ingredients
1 and half cups raw brown rice, washed and drained very well 
2 1/2 cups onions, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic ( or more to taste) , chopped
1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
2 -3 Tbsp olive oil
5 additional tomatoes, chopped and use any juice that accumulates when cutting them 
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 Tbsp dried thyme ( don't omit)
chop any fresh herb you have ( oregano, thyme, basil, ) a Tablespoon of each
2 cups tasty vegetable broth.
1/4 -1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts,  ( optional, but delicious)
salt and pepper to taste


On low heat, slowly saute onions, garlic, brown rice and chopped yellow pepper  in olive oil for  5-7  minutes in a large skillet, stirring frequently until onions are soft but not browned.  Add chopped tomatoes, raisins, dried thyme and lemon juice and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, salt and cracked pepper if desired and any additional fresh herbs. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and continue to cook on low until rice is soft . When you turn off the heat, leave the lid on to steam for about 15 more minutes . Uncover and  toss in toasted pine nuts ( optional)  Then stuff the peppers and tomatoes.  ( you may have stuffing left over . Stuff more vegetables or just eat  the leftover rice as a delicious side dish.

Cook the peppers and tomatoes if desired , but the peppers and tomatoes can be served raw just the way they are!  - (I usually cook them.)

To cook the stuffed peppers and tomatoes: Spray  a Dutch oven with cooking spray. Place stuffed tomatoes and pepper  in the plan. Turn on med heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice,1 cup tomato juice, and 1/2 cup broth. Cook uncovered in the juice for 5 minutes on medium basting peppers with tomato and lemon sauce.   Cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until peppers and tomatoes are soft. Remove tomatoes earlier if they start to get too soft.
** note: If you use a large pepper, cut in in half to serve 


Sometimes I stuff small mini peppers too


What type of stuffed vegetables do you make? What is your favorite Greek Food?


This Recipe will be linked to 

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sauteed Spinach and Garlic With Gluten Free Pasta




Fresh spinach greens wilted in sauteed garlic and olive oil is always a winner in my house! Mixed some tasty gluten free pasta ( I use the organic brown rice noodles from Trader Joe's @ $1.99 / bag) you have a delicious, but easy vegan and gluten free main dish. ( For additional protein , you could add some toasted pine nuts). Recipe and details follow.


I had a very large container of fresh spinach in the refrigerator that I didn't know what to do with it. My cousin Harriet who was visiting me for a week from the Ft. Myers, Florida area said, " I'll saute your spinach in garlic and olive oil for you" . I thought we would eat it as a side dish, but once I saw the finished product , I knew it would be a hit over some brown rice gluten free pasta. Voila! this dish was born.



Since the spinach will cook down significantly, you need to buy a super sized quantity, which you can get at a store like BJ's or Costco. I bought organic baby spinach at BJ's. The package of spinach looks huge, but will cook down to about 2 cups of spinach.

Organic brown rice pasta Trader Joe's brand  ( $1.99/bag) and really good
                              
Option: In addition, after cooking and draining the pasta,  if you add a few pats of real butter to a frying pan and heat up a portion of cooked pasta and spinach mixture , it is amazing!! ( but fattening) .
If you don't eat pasta, spaghetti squash can be substituted!

No matter which way you prepare it, this is a simple but delicious recipe.

Ingredients:
Extra large family sized container of spinach from BJ's
6 bulbs of garlic ( or more), peeled and sliced
1 package of gluten free pasta, cooked and drained
olive oil spray and 1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste ( we don't use salt)

Directions:
Wash and pat dry spinach so water is present, set aside
Peel and slice garlic and saute slowly over low to medium heat in a large skillet.
Saute for about 3 minutes and then top with the spinach and allow spinach to wilt. ( cover) about 2-3 minutes. Stir down and mix and set aside.
Toss it over cooked pasta ( or spaghetti squash) and serve.



                                 Click here to learn how to   Peel the whole head of garlic very quickly

 You also may want to chop up your spinach  with a knife
if it is stringy.( especially for kids) 
May be shared on a few of the following blog carnivals
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Walnut Mock Chopped Liver


This is an absolutely delicious spread that looks like chopped liver ( and tastes like chopped liver)  but is made from walnuts and is entirely vegan. If you are looking for a special appetizer for a party, this is it. It's great with tomatoes or spread on (gluten free) crackers or (gluten free) bread/challah. I serve it mostly to company, and it's always a big hit.

This vegetarian/vegan version is a substitute for the real thing ( chopped liver) that is traditionally served on the Jewish Holidays. This mock recipe is very authentic tasting ( maybe better) . In addition, it's easy to make and probably healthier. 

It's Made With Just 3 Ingredients:

It's basically three ingredients: sautéed onions, walnuts, and a can of peas. It's hard to believe how good the trio taste when processed in the food processor. The flavors mingle and make a great spread.

Being a gluten free vegetarian/vegan, I miss some of the traditional foods that I grew up eating at Jewish holidays. Two of my best vegetarian versions of traditional holiday foods are my gluten free matzo balls and this vegan chopped liver recipe. 

Author: Judee Algazi of Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Cook Time: 20 minutes to sautee the onions
Prep Time: 5 minutes in the food processor to blend 
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients: 
2 cups cooked baby peas, well drained ( or 1 can of baby peas) 
1 cup of walnut halves or pieces
2 very large onions, slice in half moons
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil 

salt and pepper to taste  ( I don't use any salt)
Optional: 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped and blended in the processor with the other ingredients if desired 

(It's  no longer vegan if you use it) 


Directions 
Spray a dutch oven with olive oil spray and add 3 T olive oil. Add onion slices and saute very slowly until on a low heat until caramelized and reddish to bring out the sweetness of the onion. Set aside.

Set up your food processor with the sharp blade.  Add the walnuts and pulse quickly 2-3 times( on./off  on/off until coarsely ground ( not entirely smooth.) 
Then add drained peas and cooked onions, sea salt and pepper to taste

(If you are going to add the hard boiled egg, do it now)
Pulse  on /off on /off until mixture is smooth but not overly processed and mushy.
Its done! 
Put into a small domed bowl and let it sit for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator 
To serve: Turn the bowl upside down onto a flat serving plate and decorate with tomato wedges and cucumber slices on the side. 
Enjoy with gluten free crackers, crudités, or gluten free bread. 

Visual Step by Step


chop nuts in food processor ( this is not the correct amount of nuts) 

Assemble Ingredients

Saute onions very slowly until caramelized
                                       Process all of the ingredients in a food processor til smooth
Spray a medium sized domed bowl , fill with mixture and allow to sit for about 5 -10 minutes  Invert and it will mold
                                                                       This post will  be shared on 
My blog carnival list

                           







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Gluten Free Matzo Balls for Rosh Hashana


These Matzo Balls are so fabulous, I had to publish them again for the Jewish Holiday just in case you missed them when I published them last Rosh Hashanah.

Matzo balls were always one of my favorite foods before I became gluten free, so I really missed them.
I am a soup lover, and I had liked to eat matzo balls in my soup. Until now, I couldn't find a gluten free matzo ball recipe that really tasted authentic.

If you have never tasted matzo balls, you are really missing out. They are very popular on the east coast in a bowl of chicken soup. Kids of all ages love them, and they are surprisingly easy to make.

For years, my friend Paula , who cooks for two gluten free family members ( her husband and son) , has been telling me about her gluten free matzo balls. I never thought much about them until I was invited to her house for dinner and actually tasted them: totally authentic and delicious. I'm hooked.

This is Paula's recipe, and I'm sharing it just in time for Rosh Hashana ( The Jewish New Year ).

For those celebrating the holiday- I say: "L'shana Tova" ( which means to a good year) and for those who are not I still wish everyone everyone the blessings of health, peace, and happiness in the coming year.

Enjoy these matzo balls in your favorite soup. They are fabulous!!

Ingredients.
2 T oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Glutino gluten free breadcrumbs (don't use Panko)
1 tsp salt
2 T seltzer ( optional)
**  I used Glutino gluten free breadcrumbs as shown in the picture. It worked great. I tried it another time with gluten free panko breadcrumbs and it was a mess..
 ** If you do not have to make them gluten free, substitute regular ground matzo meal
Directions
Put up an 8qt pot of water and bring it to a boil with a little salt if you like

In the meantime
In a small bowl beat eggs and oil and set aside
In a separate bowl mix bread crumbs and salt.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and blend well with fork.
Add seltzer
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes ( this step is important)

Remove batter from refrigerator. Divide batter into just slightly smaller than golf ball size balls ( should make about 8-10 .
When water comes to a boil, drop in balls one at a time into the boiling water
Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes.
Add to warm soup and serve.

Step by Step

Assemble Ingredients
Beat eggs and oil

Mix in bread crumbs and salt . When mixed add seltzer.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes ( don't skip this)
Wet your hands and form into golf size balls ( makes about 12-13)
Drop  in boiling water
Boil for about 35 minutes until center is soft

Use a slotted spoon to remove from water. Add to soup and serve.



Matzo balls also freeze well, so you can make them in advance.
 To Freeze: Lay them out on a cookie sheet and allow the matzo balls to become very firm, then remove from the tray and add to a baggie and freeze


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Great Quote About Forgiveness






I saw this quote one day and decided to pin it on Pinterest... I was amazed that over 3, 000 people repinned it within 2 weeks! To date it is still my most popular pin...

Pinterest  is such a great place to store all the things you want to remember! I have a complete bulletin board full of all the great quotes I love. In addition, I have a bulletin board with all kinds of things I see on the Internet like recipes I want to try, organisational ideas, tips for moms, etc. but have no where to store them, so I make a bulletin board for them on Pinterest and always have them . 

You can see all of my pins on Pinterest,  where I have a bulletin board with lots of ideas that I find all over the Internet for 

  • gluten free recipes 
  • decorating, 
  • organization, 
  • quotes,
  • ideas for kids,
  • blogging tips, 
  • photography tips,
  • ideas for natural remedies,
  • gardening tips 

You can visit me at  Pinterest  and see all of my great finds..
I would love it if you started to follow me too.


Thursday
I Gotta Create Home and Garden Thursday  Raw Food Thursday

Friday
 Simply Sweet Home Friday’s Favorites ;Food on Fridays ;Foodie Friday  Diane's Foodie Friday  Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap ;Creation Corner, Friday’s Link Party ;Feature Yourself Friday ;Sweets This Week Friday ;Simply Delish ; ;It’s a Hodgepodge Friday   Frugal Friday  Fight Back Fridays Thankful for Food   Shabby Nest  Speckled Dog   Fantabulous Friday  Friday FoodAllergy-Friendly FridaNatural Mother's NetworkButter BelieverA Well Seasoned LifeSix Sister's StuffThe Sweet Details) Katherine Martinelli, Fitness Friday Sugar Bananas  My Romantic Home  Iron Violet Designs    Home Is Where My Story Begins  Food Friday   Real Food Freaks,  Wellness WeekendHealthy Vegan Fridays  Gluten Free Friday




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Monday, September 10, 2012

Eggplant Ratatouille SRC







Eggplant ratatouille is the perfect end of summer recipe!

Why?

Because ratatouille is made all of the vegetables that are abundant in the farmer's markets right now:  eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, onions and red peppers:  This seasonal recipe, which originates from the Provence region of France, captures the flavors of summer and is economical, easy, and delicious.

I found this ratatouille recipe on a blog called The Tasty Cheapskate  which was my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month of September. I was absolutely intrigued by the theme of her blog and this recipe, which was part of a challenge to feed a family of six on less than $10/day!! 

My family especially loved this recipe mixed into pasta ( Gluten free brown rice pasta from Trader Joe's). I cooked the ratatouille a little longer so the eggplant became soft and sticky and mingled with the red pepper, onions, and zucchini for an exceptionally tasty pasta dish.

It can also be eaten over rice or quinoa or eaten as a spread on gluten free bread or crackers! ( The Tasty Cheapskate featured a gluten free cracker for her September assignment)  no matter how you serve it , ratatouille is a welcome addition to any meal!

Of course this recipe meets gluten free and vegan standards! Enjoy

Eggplant Ratatouille
Serves 4-8
Prep time: 30 minutes

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into chunks ( about 1 inch) 
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped in medium chunks
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt (I left it out)
2 Tbsps fresh basil, chopped 

The recipe called for a Tablespoon of sugar which I eliminated!
In large skillet, heat olive oil. Add eggplant, onion, pepper, and zucchini and saute for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic and cook a minute or two more. Add tomatoes and salt. Cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. 
vegetables cut up to make ratatouille
Cut up zucchini, eggplant, red pepper, tomatoes , garlic and onions
Saute vegetables in a skillet
Ratatouille
       Variation: Add some dry red wine to the mixture while cooking down.. for extra flavor
       Variation: Toss the Ratatouille over gluten free pasta.. In French " touiller" means to toss!!

Gluten Free Tip of the Week: 


If you want to make Gluten Free Matzo Balls, the following recipe is amazing and tastes every bit as good as a regular matzo balls - very easy and just a few ingredients- Gluten Free Matzo Balls

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Arugula and Garlic Saute Over Spaghetti Squash

.                              
Arugula is a peppery green that is packed with healthy antioxidants and toxin cleansing chlorophyll. If you think of your body as a machine, you realize that you need to clean it out sometimes or it will become clogged  and then toxins get trapped inside your body. The bad news is that toxins are stored in fat and without cleansing, you store more fat.

Greens  ( kale, collard, arugula, romaine lettuce, spinach, etc) are powerful detoxifiers that encourage the body to eliminate extra fat. As long as you have toxins, you will probably have excess fat, especially around the belly. For more information on how greens reduce belly fat read " Reduce Belly Fat with Greens"

I love the peppery taste of raw arugula in salads, which is probably the most beneficial way to eat arugula.

 It is  a great source of vitamins A, C,  iron, potassium and fiber as well as other minerals and nutrients that are essential for proper body health. It also contains vitamins K and P which help maintain a healthy liver, which is the filter of the body and needs to be kept clean. 

So, don't forget to add a handful of arugula to your salads. The health giving benefits are worth it!

This is the first time I ever tried to cook arugula..
Lightly sauteed in garlic and oil, arugula has a wonderful flavor.
 I tossed the sauteed garlic and arugula with baked spaghetti squash, but you could use any grain or gluten free pasta..

Arugula is available in most supermarkets. I purchased a super size container at BJ's, and that is why I needed to find some innovative ways to use it up.

I liked it cooked. It made a nice and healthy side dish.

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash ( pierced with a fork and baked at 350 for about 1 hour till soft)
3 cups arugula, washed well
4 cloves of garlic , sliced
2 TBSP olive oil or olive oil spray for sauteing

 Saute olive oil and garlic in a skillet for about 3 minutes. Add fresh arugula and sautee for about 3 more minutes until wilted. Toss with spaghetti squash .

Variations: Add feta cheese spread to mixture ( my favorite) or add spaghetti sauce
How to cook spaghetti squash

Assemble Baked spaghetti squash, arugula, and garlic


I will be sharing this recipe on the following daily blog hops: 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Spinach Quiche



I made these  colorful quiches for a family brunch. They were fast and easy to make, filling, and used lots of delicious veggies, like zucchini, red pepper and fresh spinach. It doesn't really matter which veggies you use, you can select vegetables of your choice. However, I really like the look of the red pepper rings. And if you are making these at the end of the summer, it's a great way to use up some of the ever abundant zucchini.

My brunch menu with the quiches:
Just for the record, I also made my usual mozzarella tomato and basil platter, an egg salad mold, and roasted vegetables to go with the quiches.. My daughter in law filled in with an incredible banana strawberry trifle for dessert, and my sister in law brought a well seasoned chopped avocado and tomato salad!
Pin It

I found the inspiration for the recipe on Pinterest , but it called for a spring form pan.

Since my spring form pan was unlocatable (word?), I decided to split the recipe in two and make 2 smaller quiches using two Pyrex pans. Although I liked the looks and height of the quiche in the spring form pan, having 2 smaller quiches worked out well this time. Next time I'll try it as one recipe in my spring form pan and cut the eggs back to 6.

The quiches were really quick and easy to throw together, looked great, and were perfect for brunch!

Makes 2 quiches
Ingredients:
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup half and half ( or 1/4  coconut milk or almond milk)
1 container of  plain Greek yogurt or plain coconut yogurt
3 TSP cream cheese ( optional but good)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, cup in strips
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 shredded cheese
1/4 chopped fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute vegetables and garlic in olive oil in a skillet until slightly soft for about 5- 10 minutes.
Using a fork, beat eggs, half and half, creams cheese, and Greek yogurt in a bowl.
Add sauteed veggies to the bowl and mix well.
Pour mixture into two 9 inch greased Pyrex containers. Bake at 350 for about 35 -40  minutes.( check on the quiches after 30 minutes , they may cook faster in your oven)

Step by Step instructions:

Pour mixture into two pyrex bowls


After it cooked for 30-35 minutes
Fresh mozzarella , tomato, and basil platter


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