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Summer Showers? Don’t Worry, We’ve Got You Covered!

Summer Showers? Don’t Worry, We’ve Got You Covered!

The MyGreatRecipes meteorologists forecast a summer filled with showers! But don’t worry, you can stay under our umbrella made of recipes, tips, and ideas that will surely shelter you from the storm of stress and mess. Regardless of whether you are throwing a baby shower or a bridal one, we offer you an array of delicious food, great decoration suggestions and much more so you can plan and throw the best party in town!

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How to Through the Best Baby-Q (and Bridal BBQ)

Baby showers can be fun, but more often than not guests go to these parties with full bellies, because let’s face it, cupcakes and candy are tasty and cute, but it takes a bit more to feed an adult. Same goes for bridal showers. If you want your guests to be fed then go ahead and prepare the tastiest barbecue and side dishes ever (Of course, bearing the following things in mind).

  • Plan your menu in advance

Even though summer is synonymous with laid-back mood and atmosphere, you will still have to plan your menu in advance. Once you decide what cuts of meat to buy, how to prepare them (the rubs and marinades) and what to combine them with (sides and appetizers) half of your job is done. This way you will have everything ready by the time the actual celebration starts, and this, in turn, means you will be totally relaxed and ready to entertain your guests with a big smile.

  • Prepare any rubs in advance

If you want to enhance the flavor of a meat cut, preparing a dry rub is the easiest way to go about. And what’s even more convenient is the fact that you can prepare the rub as early as 2 weeks before you actually serve the meat, and at room temperature.

  • Prepare a BBQ sauce that will go well with any meat cut (and of course, prepare it in advance)

A recipe for e great barbecue sauce that can easily be slathered on grilled ribs, chicken, seafood, and vegetables, is definitely a must!  And here’s one surprisingly refreshing sauce that will surely make everyone beg for the recipe!

Ingredients:

2 (12-ounce) containers frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 (12-ounce) jars plum preserves

½ cup honey

½ cup tomato paste

¼ cup dry sherry or 2 tablespoons grape juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine orange juice concentrate, plum preserves, honey, tomato paste, sherry, fresh gingerroot and soy sauce in a large saucepan and mix until well blended. Add garlic, salt, and black pepper and stir until well blended. Heat mixture over medium-high heat until sauce begins to simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce for about 10minutes. Cover the sauce and remove from heat. Let sauce stand for about 30 minutes to cool.

Spoon the sauce into 4 labeled 12 -ounce containers with tightening lids. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

  • Choose the best BBQ recipes

barbecue

If you don’t have a clue as to what recipes to prepare for your baby or bridal shower here are some suggestions that will surely be a success!

  1. Barbecued Spareribs Recipe
  2. Maple Barbecue Ribs Recipe
  3. Down-Home Barbecue Chicken Recipe
  4. Asian Barbecue Chicken Recipe
  5. Easy Barbecue Tarts Recipe
  6. Barbecue Potatoes Recipe

Don’t Forget the Décor

The food is really important when it comes to showers, but let us not forget the décor. There are so many different DIY projects you can make that paying someone to decorate your yard is really unnecessary.

Sitting

Give your chairs a whimsical look by simply dressing them up with ribbons and flowers. If you are to host a bridal shower pick a pastel color, whereas if you are to host a baby shower opt for more vibrant colors.

Alternatively, buy colorful blankets and pillows and make your baby or bridal shower picnic style. If you decide to do this, though, be sure to have enough disposable plates and plastic utensils. (You can make these cuter if you tie them together with ribbon or twine).

And how is this for an idea? If you happen to have a large yard with trees in it, then go ahead and tie hammocks onto them. Everyone will love this idea, especially the little ones.

Tables

bridal shower table

When it comes to the decoration of your tables, we would recommend not going overboard with too many things cluttered in one place. So, it is for the best if you have a separate buffet for the food, one “dessert table” and a table where you would actually eat.

That one element that brings everything together must be the centerpiece. It is called “center” for a reason, right? This means that choosing the right centerpiece will make or break your décor and the whole party theme. The internet is filled with many different ideas with instructions intact, but we at MyGreatRecipes believe that less is more. So, we would recommend going for simple table centerpieces. A jar filled with colorful candy or a vase with flowers and a few candles will do.

Baby and Bridal Shower Desserts

Yes, people will love it if you have prepared delicious meals to greet them, but it is a shower, so desserts are definitely going to rule the stage! So, prepare cupcakes, parfaits, tarts and what not. The more colorful and the more versatile the dessert table the better!

Baby Shower Desserts and Ideas

Parfaits

Go ahead and prepare one of these delicious parfaits, only step up the game and serve them in Baby Bottle Mason Jars. These cute bottles will leave everyone in awe and they are a great way to reveal the baby’s gender if you haven’t already. Decorate them with pink ribbons if it’s a girl, or blue ribbons if it’s a boy :).

parfait

http://catchmyparty.com

Honey Fudge Parfaits

Berry Berry Parfaits

Triple Berry Parfaits

Cupcakes

Cupcakes are a must when it comes to large parties. And why wouldn’t they be? A soft and delicious cake base decorated with an inviting icing was made to steal the show! Again, use a drop or two of food coloring to prepare an icing that will be indicative of the baby’s gender. 🙂

Go ahead and give one of these delicious cupcake recipes a try.

Ice-Cream Cone Cupcakes

Who wouldn’t love to eat their cake in a cone? Needless to say, kids will love these sweet treats. Use colorful candy sprinkles or get a color to match your whole shower theme. Either way, your guests (especially the kids) are in for a treat!

ice-cream cone cupcakes

Polka Dot Cupcakes

These cupcakes scream PARTY. They will make the best dessert for a baby shower because they are truly like confetti in a cupcake.  Serve them and watch them being grabbed faster than light.

polka dot cupcakes

Ladybug Cupcakes

Ladybugs are a sign of spring, but they will surely be welcomed at a summer backyard party. And with big smiles and cheer. Go ahead and prepare these for reactions of joy.ladybug cupcakes

Party Gumdrop Cupcakes

Preparing these cupcakes can be so much fun. Decorate only a few to serve as an example and leave a few cupcakes topped with just the icing.  Place the gumdrops in several small bowls and let the kids decorate them themselves 🙂

party gumdrop cupcakes

Bridal Shower Dessert Recipes and Ideas

As we have already said, there is something about cupcakes that makes them perfect for any party, bridal showers included. So, you can make the bride happy with one of these cupcake recipes that will not only look cute but will taste divine!

Cupcakes

Oatmeal Cookie Cupcakes

Special treats for the special lady. These elegant cupcakes will make the bright happy both with their appearance and their taste :).

oatmeal cookie cupcakes

Love Heart Cupcakes

Hearts are not only reserved for Valentine’s Day. Go ahead and prepare these to let a bit of red color to the pastel notes that are so indicative of bridal shower parties. Have we mentioned they are delicious?

love heart cupcakes

Scented Cupcake Trio

Make a batch of cupcake batter and flavor it three ways for a delightfully fragranced and very delicate treat.Pink and lilac icing, rose petals and lavender sprigs, can it get classier than this?

scented cupcake trio

Cookies

Cookies are always a great idea. They are easy to prepare and easier to devour. No need for utensils or plates. This, in turn, makes them a great treat to be given as a shower favor. Go ahead and prepare one of these cookie recipes and feel free to decorate and wrap them as cute bridal shower favors.

cookies

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

Make cute little cookie cheesecake sandwiches and wrap them in a transparent wrap. Finish everything off with a ribbon.

Chocolate & Berry Cookies

A drop of food coloring will make these cookies even more inviting.

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

These extra special cookies make a nice gift in a decorative tin or wrapped tray. Surprise your guests by including the recipe inside!

Tarts and Cakes

Alternatively, you can prepare cakes and tarts with seasonal fruit that will scream summer. Sweet, yet refreshing is what a summer dessert should be. So, without any further ado: here are our top 3 choices!

Raspberry Cream Tart

Raspberry Cream Cake

Raspberry Cream Cake

Oatmeal Apple Cake

Freshen Your Shower Up

Go ahead and make your bridal or baby shower the best one anyone’s been to by surprising your guests with one of these refreshing beverages. Every sip is more refreshing than the previous one. We promise! 🙂

Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberries and lemons offer the perfect combination of sweet and tart that will keep you coming back for more!

Strawberry Lemonade

Tropical Island Smoothies

A sip of these perfect fresh fruit smoothies made with mango, banana, and pineapple and you will be transferred to a relaxing beach side. (palm trees and all).

Tropical Island Smoothies

Margarita-Style Coolers

A mock cocktail made with strawberries and lime is all a baby BBQ shower needs. If you are preparing this one for a bridal shower though, feel free to add a bit of tequila.

One final piece of advice, grab an ice cube tray and prepare some cute flavored ice cubes by adding fresh herbs or fruits. Fresh mint, blueberries, diced strawberries, oranges, or peaches can all make their way into the ice cube tray. Cover with water, freeze and enjoy!

 

 

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
The Best Recipes for a Low Carb Diet (Nutritional Info Included)

The Best Recipes for a Low Carb Diet (Nutritional Info Included)

If you have a soft spot for food, but still want to eat healthily then maybe you should consider implementing a low carb diet. The simplest way to explain what a low carb diet is all about is to actually understand the word itself – “carb” is the abbreviation for “carbohydrates” and “low” means well, “low” – your diet should include foods that are low in carbohydrates.

 

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

In layman’s words, you will have to say bye-bye to bread, pasta and sugary foods. But don’t get your tissues out just yet, there is a wide variety of foods you can enjoy and low carb recipes you can prepare that are equally as delicious as these high carb ones.

Low Carb Diet Dos and Don’ts

Although there are many variables (How much weight do you want to lose? Do you exercise? Do you have any health issues?) to consider when it comes to what foods you should eat, here’s а general list of dos and don’ts.

Dos

Eat These Foods

First off, let us take a look at the food you are to eat, because it is the most important part of the whole story. You should be on the look for foods that are high in protein and natural fat. Such foods include fish, meat, veggies growing above ground, eggs, fruit, seeds, nuts, high-fat dairy, natural fats, and healthy oils.

Stay Committed

Do know that entertaining the idea of implementing a certain diet is not the same as actually doing it. So, yes, you will crave cake, and yes, you will be tempted to give up and devour a whole pack of candies, but once you start with this diet, you will have to stay committed.

Exercise

Don’t expect to lose weight by couch potatoing. Exercising is critical for your physical and mental health. Regular exercise will result in an increase of your muscle mass and an improvement of your hormonal environment. As for your mental health, if you have ever gone to the gym, then you know the rewarding feeling after an intensive workout, and if not, then trust me when I say: your overall mood will be improved!

Don’ts

Don’t Eat These Foods

Now, on to the foods you should avoid: sugar, seed oils, trans fats, wheat, and all those “diet” products. As we have already mentioned, the low carb diet means you should implement more fat, so low-fat products are a no.

Don’t overeat

Yes, the food you are going to eat when you are on a low carb diet is much healthier, but this doesn’t mean you should eat all day long. So eating only when you are hungry and just until you are satiated is crucial.

Don’t Back Down

This is along the same lines as the staying committed part. Persistence and self-affirmation are vital! Don’t say you can’t do it. Don’t say it’s too difficult. Just, don’t give up. 🙂

The Easiest Low Carb Diet Recipes

Low Carb Not No Carb Diet

Before revealing to you these delicious and easy to prepare recipes, it is of vital importance to remember this: if you are looking for a way to lose weight but still eat healthily, every meal you consume has to be balanced. This means that a meal is nutritious only if it contains protein, fat, and CARBS. Remember: it is a Low Carb Diet NOT No Carb Diet. And now you are probably wondering what is considered a “moderate” carbohydrate intake. Well, 100-150 grams per day is ok. As for the best sources to get your carbs from, feel free to eat vegetables, several pieces of fruit per day and a moderate amount of healthy starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oats).

# Appetizers, Starters, and Sides

  • Garlic Mushrooms

Cook time: 12 minutes

Can you think of a tastier starter or side dish than mushrooms tossed with garlic and sautéed in lemon juice? Finish everything off with a balsamic dressing made of olive oil, parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 155,

fat 13.7g (sat fat 1.8g),

carbs 7.7g

Serving ideas: if you are not a big parsley fan, then go ahead and replace it with chopped fresh sage. These mushrooms will be a great companion to a marinated chicken or steak, or if you want to serve them as appetizers, go ahead and serve them along with soft breadsticks to soak up the delicious juices.

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

  • Stuffed Mushrooms

Cook time: 35 minutes

mushrooms

In case you haven’t noticed, we LOVE mushrooms. This time, they are stuffed with savory goodness: seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley all make their way into this incredibly easy to prepare recipe. An appetizer everyone will go crazy about!

Nutritional information Per mushroom:

calories 89,

fat 8.3g (sat fat 5.1g),

carbs 1.7g

Serving ideas: these will be great with cheese, and crackers, bruschetta and colorful fresh veggies. If you are to host a crowd, you can easily triple the recipe to make plenty of these stuffed beauties.

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

  • Italian Summer Squash

Cook time: 34 minutes

This summer squash will become your go-to side dish this summer, and it can even become a vegetarian main dish. A vegetable medley that has summer written all over: yellow squash, tomatoes, and zucchini combined with garlic and onions, and a true Mediterranean touch of olive oil and basil- Perfect!

Serving ideas: substitute the re-roasted diced tomatoes with green pepper, or plain diced tomatoes. As for the main dishes, these can go with, fish and chicken are your best bet.

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 64,

fat 1.9g (sat fat 0.3g),

carbs 11g

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

# Main Dishes

To have a nice and balanced meal, combine one of the side dishes above with one of these incredibly delicious main meals. Regardless of whether you are camp beef or camp chicken, you will adore these recipes.

  • Garlic Clove Beef

Cook time: 25 minutes

Are you ready for an all garlic main dish? A beef steak cooked in garlic oil, topped with sautéed garlic and served with garlic butter! It is one of those main dishes that go well with everything, but we’d recommend mashed red-skinned potatoes with sour cream or steamed green beans.

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 809,

fat 64.1g (sat fat 34.2g),

carbs 3.3g

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

  • Zesty Drumsticks

Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes

Perfect for a summer picnic, these tangy drumsticks grilled to perfection are all you ever wanted. Orange rind and orange marmalade come together to make these the freshest, most unique chicken drumsticks ever!

Serve these with a potato salad made with cooked baby new potatoes, cooked peas and chopped green onions with just a bit of mayonnaise. Yum!

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 269,

fat 12.9g (sat fat 3.5g),

carbs 4.8g

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

  • Southwest Calico Chicken

Cook time 36 minutes

chicken

Bring chicken drumsticks and tights to a whole new level of awesome with this taco-seasoned chicken recipe.  Serve your chicken on a bed of corn, black beans, pinto beans and green chilies.

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 774,

fat 39.1g (sat fat 10.2g),

carbs 40.5g

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

# Dessert

  • Avocado, Pear and Grape Salad

Cook time 15 minutes

tasty salad

 

A fruit salad is the best way to satiate your sweet tooth without fearing you’ll get too many carbs. And this colorful salad is not only delicious but it looks so inviting it might even steal the show! Mind you, the recipe below is actually a savory salad, but to make it dessert worthy, swap the crushed red pepper flakes with cinnamon and the white vinegar with maple syrup. As for the onion and the minced pepper, skip them altogether.

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 134,

fat 9.6g (sat fat 1g),

carbs 13.1g

Serving ideas: for an even more stunning presentation, serve the salad in scooped-out cantaloupe halves. Leave about 1 /2-inch of the melon flesh intact. (Dice the scooped-out melon flesh, and serve over vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey for dessert.)

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

  • Low Carb Patriotic Dessert Pizza (Grain Free)

Cook time 27 minutes

Surprise your friends and family with this incredibly scrumptious cake and make the 4th of July even more memorable.

Serving ideas: you can easily substitute the blueberries with blackberries. You can even cut this giant cookie into small rectangles and prepare a dozen patriotic cakes.

Nutritional information Per serving:

calories 95,

fat 8.3g (sat fat 5.2g),

carbs 6g

see full instructions for this low carb recipe here

There you go guys, easy and delicious low carb recipes that will help you venture into the healthy-eating world more easily than ever!

 

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
15 Effortless Zucchini Recipes

15 Effortless Zucchini Recipes

With summer already knocking on our doors, the markets and stores are going to be filled with zucchinis. This low-calorie, nutrient-packed plant must find its place on your tables this summer, be it as a light dinner, an appetizer, or incorporated in a dessert. The fact that they are inexpensive is all the more reason to stack up on zucchinis and give one of our delicious zucchini recipes a try. But first…

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Three Fun Facts About Zucchinis That Will Make You Love Them Even More

  1. Zucchinis are fruits

No matter how strange it might sound, botanically, zucchinis are actually fruits. Zucchini belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo along with squashes and pumpkins. A botanical berry called a “pepo” is the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower, which means zucchini is a fruit. Uh-oh, it’s going to be confusing next time someone suggests eating more veggies than fruits 🙂 .

  1. The longest zucchini measures 8 ft. 3.3 in

Believe it or not, the longest zucchini was astonishing 2.52 m (8 ft 3.3 in) long. It was grown by Giovanni Batista Scozzafava in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada on 28 August 2014, and has remained the longest zucchini to this very day.

  1. The word zucchini comes from Italian

The plant’s name comes from Italian: zucchina, the diminutive of zucca, which translates as “gourd, marrow, pumpkin, squash”. In fact, the zucchini varieties we know and cook with today were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century.

The Best Recipe for Zucchini Casseroles

Stuffed Zucchini

As you probably already know a casserole is not one specific recipe, rather it refers to literally anything that can be made in a casserole pan. This means that much like the lasagna and the moussaka, a recipe which calls for zucchinis to be baked in a casserole pan will naturally be called a zucchini casserole.

We’ve decided, however, to include gratins in this category as well. Although they are not to be confused with casseroles, these two do have several unifying features. Au gratin literally means “with cheese” and it is a technique which includes topping an ingredient with a browned crust. The crust can be made using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, eggs or butter. Sounds familiar? One last thing that makes dishes prepared with these two culinary techniques very similar, is they are traditionally served in the baking / casserole dish. So, to sum up, all gratins are casseroles, but only casseroles that contain cheese can be called gratins.

1# Italian Zucchini Casserole

Since zucchinis as we know them come from Italy, and the very word for them is Italian, why not try and prepare this Italian Zucchini Casserole? If you love Italian sausage, then these zucchini boats topped with mozzarella will be just up your alley. Eat them as they are or use them to top your favorite pasta. Either way, you are in for a treat!

[Get this zucchini casserole recipe here]

2# Chicken Zucchini Gratin

Zucchini gratin

If you are looking for a summer lunch recipe, this is it! The yellow squash and zucchini complement the chicken’s taste and everything comes together in the most colorful, eclectic dish ever!

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

3# Veggie Gratin

If you are looking for a vegetarian version of this delicious dish, then prepare the veggie gratin. It can easily be a main course, since asparagus, broccoli, and zucchini all come together to form the most satiating bite ever. And the best part? This recipe is the chameleon of zucchini recipes, so you can easily serve it for lunch, brunch, or as a side dish for chicken or fish.

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

Recipes for Zucchini Bread with and Without Yeast

If you thought that the delicious banana bread and the amazing apple bread were the only shortbreads out there, you were very wrong. Zucchini bread is equally as tasty as its apple and banana cousins :). And here are 4 recipes to prove it! As a general rule when it comes to preparing zucchini bread recipes, make sure you choose the smaller zucchinis. Their skins are tenderer and they contain fewer seeds.

4# Chocolate Zucchini Bread (no yeast)

Once you try this luscious zucchini bread, it will become your go-to recipe whenever you need a snack or a dessert that combines good nutrition and wonderful flavors. But because the fact that it contains chocolate might discourage you from giving this zucchini recipe a try, we have decided to share the nutritional information per slice: calories 239, fat 14.6g (sat fat 2.6g), carbs 27g. Not that bad for a delicious dessert, right :)?

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

5# Lemon Zucchini Bread (no yeast)

zucchini bread

Prepare this lemon zucchini bread and bring it to neighborhood potlucks and picnics. Wrap the loaves in brown paper and raffia and be prepared for sighs of amazement followed by requests for the recipe.

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

Since you will need 2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest, (do note that the white pith is not considered the zest, only the colored portion of the peel is) the best way to get it is using a citrus zester, or vegetable peeler to scrape all across the surface of the lemon.

6# Zucchini Yogurt Bread

Now, on to the easier and less time-consuming zucchini bread recipes. You will only need an hour to prepare this delicious bread that contains zucchini and oregano. To make it even more traditional, using a sharp knife score the top of each loaf at an angle several times. The important thing is to let the loaves rise uncovered for around half an hour, bake it and enjoy!

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

Extra! You can prepare a scrumptious spread to accompany this zucchini bread. Go ahead and mash a cup of feta cheese, ⅔ cup of sour cream, half an onion (finely chopped), 2 tablespoons of fresh chives (snipped) and finally, a ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.

7# Pesto & Zucchini Bread

Once you try this focaccia-like bread kneaded with Italian pesto and topped with grilled zucchini slices you will be transferred somewhere on the streets of Italy. And that’s not even the best part, you will only need an hour to prepare it, start to finish, and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy a tasty slice of heaven.

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

Extra! You can make the bread crunchier and way more delicious by adding some pine nuts (2 ounces to be more precise). To stop them from over-browning, soak them in a small bowl of water for around 20 minutes.

Recipes for Zucchini Appetizers

Whether you are having a casual get-together for friends and family or a party for colleagues, everyone will appreciate a healthier twist on their favorite appetizers. Check out our choices and see if you can find something you like.

8# Zucchini & Ricotta Crostini

The popular bruschetta appetizers can come in a healthier, and way more delicious package: the zucchini & ricotta crostini. The best part is there are three cheese types in this zucchini recipe. Chop 2 large zucchinis and 3 tomatoes and place them over the ricotta cheese, only then add the grated Parmesan and the provolone slices. Yummy!

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

9# Crispy Zucchini Sticks

If you need a healthier take on French fries, then try these zucchini sticks. Seasoned bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and garlic salt, make these the tastiest, most flavorful fries you’ve ever tried.

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

10# Zucchini Parmesan Stacks

Zucchini Parmesan Stacks

The perfect summer appetizer! Made with zucchinis, tomatoes, and eggs, these sandwich-like stacks scream summer and the Parmesan makes them all the more palatable. Prepare them and watch them disappear next time you are throwing a party in your backyard.

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

Recipes for Zucchini Side Dishes

We can all agree that in order for the main dish to shine, the side dish that accompanies it must be great as well. For that reason, here are zucchini recipes for the best and most versatile side dishes ever!

11# Potato-Zucchini Bake

Need a unique side dish filled with flavor to complement your baked ham, grilled steaks, or roast chicken? This potato-zucchini bake enriched with lemon juice, onion, chives, and Cheddar is the perfect way to go about. The best part is this side dish could easily become a main dish by simply adding 3 cooked and sliced chicken breasts to the zucchini mixture.

Nutritional info per serving: calories 354, fat 17.5g (sat fat 7.8g), carbs 34.9g

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

12# Zucchini Pasta Bake

This vegetarian side dish made with the cutest bow-tie pasta, tomato, zucchini, and fresh basil is the prettiest, most colorful and flavorful side dish you could serve. Make sure the zucchini is slightly firm before you add it to the pasta, in order for the zucchini not to overcook in the oven. No one wants a mushy dish, right? 🙂

Nutritional info per serving: calories 448, fat 16.7g (sat fat 6g), carbs 56.6g

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

Recipes for Zucchini Ratatouille

Even if you haven’t heard of this dish before, the name itself sounds very French, and that’s because it is French. In fact, if you love animated movies, you probably remember the American computer-animated comedy film Ratatouille released in 2007. Well, at the end of the film they serve ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and veggies (zucchini being the star of the recipe) prepared in olive oil and cooked over low heat.

13# Grandma’s Ratatouille

The beauty of this dish lies in the fact that you can literally use whatever it is you find in your veggie drawer. If you want a meaty consistency, go ahead and add mushrooms, and if you want this side dish to become a main dish, layer slices of bacon on top.

[Get this zucchini recipe here]

14# Chicken Ratatouille

chicken zucchini casserole

This chicken ratatouille can easily become your new favorite summer dinner. The chicken combined with all the flavors of the Mediterranean have SUMMER written all over.

[Get this recipe here]

15# Garden Ratatouille

Less is more is definitely not the axiom you want to go by when preparing this recipe. Feel free to add as many different veggies as you can possibly think of. Anything from red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant and of course, zucchini can make their way into this rainbow-y dish.

Serve this ratatouille with sourdough rolls and grilled chicken, or to turn it into a main dish add or slices of cooked kielbasa sausage or cubes of ham during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

[Get this recipe here]

 

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
Become a Pizza Pro with These Easy Pizza Dough Recipes

Become a Pizza Pro with These Easy Pizza Dough Recipes

What happens when you combine a crispy/soft crust with a layer of tomato sauce and a gooey topping? We bet everyone knows the solution to this equation, but let us spell it out, and in caps:

P – I – Z – Z – A!

And while we all love to order out, takeaways have nothing on homemade pizza! First of all, you will be given the chance to prepare your very own pizza dough, add as many different toppings as you want, and finally, you can rest assured all the ingredients are fresh and top notch!

Different Pizza Dough Varieties

Baked Pizza

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

If you are a true pizza aficionado, then you know that the best pizza starts with the best pizza dough (or the crust after baking if you will). In fact, you can look at the pizza dough as the canvas to which then you will paint the pizza-perfect painting. And let’s face it, you can assemble the pizza with the best of toppings, but if the pizza dough isn’t tasty, it all amounts to nothing! This is why we have decided to tell you everything there is to know about the different types of pizza crusts and how to prepare them :).

Thin Crust

The world is divided into two types of people- those who love thick crusts, and those who say that if they wanted a bread they would prepare a bread. For the latter, here are the best thin crust varieties.

Neapolitan Pizza Dough

For a pizza dough to be worthy of being called Neapolitan, it has to be hand-kneaded. We all know that Italians take pride in their pizza history, so following the specific set of requirements when preparing this pizza variety is crucial for the final outcome to be perfect.

If you thought we would skip the history lesson today, you were very wrong :). To delve into the history of the Neapolitan pizza, we have to go back in 18th-century Naples, Italy, where poorer citizens were on the look for a satiating meal that could be eaten on the go, and industrious vendors gave them just that- the thin pizza dough layered with tomatoes, cheese, oil, and garlic. Not a very exciting story, but one that we can all relate to for sure. Now off to the pizza dough.

Although at first glance this might seem like a simple pizza dough recipe, with only four ingredients (flour, water, salt, and yeast), there are some particularities that you should bear in mind when preparing it. For example, the pizza dough should be no more than 13.5 inches in diameter, and no more than 0.8 inches thick at the center. Since you are looking for a lean pizza dough, a long fermentation period is a must. You should leave the dough be for around an hour so that the starches have enough time to break down into simpler sugars, the yeast to create flavorful by-products, and for gluten to get formed. This, in turn, will allow you to stretch the dough out easily and it will lead to that leopard-spotted crust in the end. While at the process of baking, an authentic Neapolitan pizza should be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven.

New York Style Pizza Dough

There is an old saying in the Northeast U.S.: No pizza can beat New York pizza! Ok, this is not an old saying, but it is something we firmly believe. 🙂 Yes, Italians invented the pizza, but the super simple pizza dough for the New York style pizza has something the others don’t: The New York City water. The minerals in this water combined with the high-gluten bread flour result in a stiff crust that can easily be eaten without utensils. So yes, the Neapolitan and the New York style pizza dough recipes are very similar, with the difference that the latter has to be a bit thicker. Otherwise, how are you going to fold a wide wedge in half lengthwise? Believe it or not, this pizza has been around since the 1900s, which only goes to show that New York was always a concrete jungle :).

St. Louis Pizza Dough

This is not your regular pizza! While it consists of an easy pizza dough, this Midwest specialty is different than other pizza varieties because of the form it comes in. Forget about wedges, St. Louis pizza is cut into rectangles or squares, and the pizza dough should be unleavened, cracker-like, and of course, to fit this category- thin!

Thick Crust

Sicilian Pizza Dough

Another rectangle-shaped crust, but much, much thicker than the St. Louis variety. In fact, the simple pizza dough for the Sicilian pizza should be over an inch thick if you want it to be true to the recipes that Sicilian immigrants brought over to the States. You will find the best Sicilian Pizza in Italian-American communities in Boston, Detroit, Long Island, and of course, New Jersey.

Deep Dish Pizza Dough

Any talk about simple pizza dough that is thick cannot go without another American classic- the Chicago-style deep dish. If you are one of those people who love thick crusts, this 2-inch-thick pizza will be just up your alley. It is called deep-dish pizza for a reason, baked in a deep-dish pan, the simple dough can be topped with as many toppings and cheese of your liking. The easy pizza dough calls for all the regular pizza dough ingredients, but also corn meal, semolina, or food coloring to ensure a distinctly yellow tone.

The Best Flours for Easy Pizza Dough Recipe

the best pizza

When it comes to the perfect pizza dough there is one ingredient that will make it or break it: the flour. So, depending on whether you want the simple pizza dough to be thinner, thicker, rubbery or chewy there are many different flours you can opt for.

The thing you should pay closer attention to is the flour’s gluten content, since it is this protein that will determine the texture of your pizza dough. Once it gets mixed with water, the gluten from the flour will create an elastic system throughout the dough, and as you are kneading it, the gluten traps the bubbles of CO2 released by the fermenting yeast, which in turn, leads to the dough rising.

So, don’t do the mistake of thinking that any flour can work in any recipe. It is not that straightforward. This is why the flours are divided into two generic types soft and strong (or sometimes hard) flours. The first are soft, almost silk-like and they are best left for cakes and pastries. Whereas the latter are great for breads and easy pizza doughs (the gluten content in them being somewhere between 12 and 14 %).

All-purpose flour

As the name suggests, this flour can be used way more often than other varieties, and with 10–12% gluten content, it is a flour which lies somewhere between the “soft” and “hard” flours. If you are to use this flour for your pizza dough recipe, be ready to roll a bit more since it will be a bit harder to stretch out. Although you can easily incorporate this flour in the thin pizza dough recipes, there is a possibility for it to tear more easily, so it’s for the best if you use it for your Sicilian and deep-dish pizza dough recipes.

Bread flour

Many people swear by the bread flour when it comes to homemade pizza dough. For one, it is affordable, and what’s more important, you probably already have it in your pantry. When preparing your pizza dough, as we have already said above, there is a chance the dough might tear as you stretch it out, well you won’t have that problem if you use bread flour. You might face some difficulties to stretch it into shape though, since it will continually spring back because of the high gluten content. This flour is ideal for the New York style pizza dough recipe because it will ensure a crisp crust.

Caputo Tipo 00 flour

This is an Italian type of flour and it is on the higher end of the price spectrum. It is, however, worth it, if you are to prepare the authentic Italian pizza dough recipe. As we have already mentioned the Neapolitan-style pizza has a thin crust which puffs up in the center and around the rim. The two zeroes in its name refer to the texture. Type 1 is the roughest, type 0 is the middle, and 00 is the finest grind. Being a fine grind flour with a 12.5 % gluten content, this flour will give your simple pizza dough the right amount of elasticity, i.e. it won’t be too tough, nor too soft, it will be chewy, but not rubbery. You can find this flour online, or in one of the specialty grocery shops.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe

pizza dough

Now that we’ve covered all of the different types of pizza crusts and the flours to help you prepare them, it is high time we give one simple pizza dough recipe that you can prepare in the convenience of your homes. This pizza dough recipe calls for bread flour, which means it is great for New York style pizza. However you can easily replace it with all-purpose flour for the Sicilian or Chicago style, and if you want to prepare the Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipe, then add 4 and a half cups of the Caputo Tipo 00 flour.

Ingredients:

3 and a half to 4 cups of bread flour (plus more for rolling)

1 and a half cups of water, 110 degrees F

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 envelope instant of dry yeast

2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus 2 teaspoons)

Preparation:

Place the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the warm water and beat until the dough forms into a ball. A rule of thumb is whenever the dough is sticky, to add additional flour, a little bit at a time until it becomes solid enough. If the opposite thing happens, i.e. if the dough is too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time.

Lightly flour your kitchen counter and scrape the dough onto the surface. Knead the pizza dough into a smooth, firm ball and proceed to place it in a large bowl (previously coated with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand for at least an hour so that the gluten from the flour can react and help the dough double in size.

Once doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and proceed to divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each one with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Uncover the dough and spread and stretch it into a circle (or a square if you are to prepare the Sicilian or St. Louis Pizza) and make sure it is about the same dimensions as your prepared pan. Carefully transfer the dough to a large ungreased pizza pan. Crimp up the edges all the way around and brush them with olive oil (this is not necessary but it is a good way to use any leftover olive oil).

Once this easy pizza dough recipe is prepared, it is time to layer it with a topping of your own choosing.

Go ahead and check out what are the toppings each of the above mentioned pizza varieties call for, or experiment with the ingredients you already have. (Pizzas are a great way of re-using leftovers) We are begging you, though, don’t put too much of everything, less is more when it comes to topping the perfect pizza. The toppings should be simple enough so that they don’t overwhelm your taste buds and there is room for the easy pizza dough to cook through.

Since there is no pizza recipe that doesn’t call for cheese, choosing the best type of cheese is extremely important as well. Go ahead and check out the melting points of different cheese types and choose the best one to top your perfect easy pizza dough with.

Three Tips for the Tastiest Easy Pizza Dough

While this was a pretty exhaustive recipe, both in terms of ingredients and preparation, we still have three more tips for the best simple pizza dough.

1# Spice things up

Sure, the best thing about easy pizza dough recipes is the fact that they don’t call for fancy ingredients, but brushing the crust with a garlic herb butter as the final touch will make your pizza crust flavorful in itself. The best part is: the herb butter is pretty easy to prepare. Just melt 2 tablespoons of butter with garlic salt and Italian seasoning and that’s it.

2# Refrigerate

Remember all the gluten talk? Well, it is even better if you place the dough in a large re-sealable bag and let it refrigerate overnight. Make sure to get the dough to room temperature an hour before preparation.

3# Pour Some Sugar on IT

We have already included sugar in the recipe above. However, since sugar allows the yeast to feed off of it and thus ensures a perfect dough, stressing this out was crucial.

Now that you know all there is to know about homemade pizza dough recipes, go ahead and give one of these simple pizza recipes a try:

Margherita Pizza

Awesome Pepperoni Pizza

Deep-Dish Pepperoni Pizza

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I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
Salted Caramel Butter Bars: The Tasty Offspring of Shortbread and Caramel

Salted Caramel Butter Bars: The Tasty Offspring of Shortbread and Caramel

If you love a combination of contrasts, then this gooey, decadent, sweet treat enriched with a deep flavor from the salt incorporated in it is going to be just your cup of tea. That is, you can drink a large cup of tea along with your salted caramel bar(s), but coffee and cold milk will go perfectly well with it as well. Since salted caramel butter bars have a butter-packed shortbread crust as the base for a delicious salted caramel filling, we will start the story from the very beginning. Although we couldn’t find an exact source for the very first salted caramel butter bars recipe, we have here a theory of the possible way they might have come to be. Enjoy!

Shortbread & Salted Caramel Butter Bars

caramel bars

First of all, it is important to distinguish between shortbread and shortcake. Although they are not worlds apart, there are still some differences between the two. While shortbread is made with butter, its cake cousin can also be made with vegetable fat, and unlike the latter, shortbread doesn’t call for chemical leavening agents such as baking powder. This, in turn, makes them different in texture, and as we all know texture is everything, so that’s settled. 🙂

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Now, prior to going into any detail on the recipes themselves, here’s a graphic presentation of the possible way these incredibly delicious bars came to be:

Shortbread

Although we cannot pin down the very first recipe for salted caramel butter bars, we can do that for the first shortbread recipe. It was printed in Scotland in 1736, from a Scotswoman named Mrs. McLintock. And further down the lane, in the 16th-century there were recipes that bettered the original 12th-century recipe for sweet rusk biscuit by swapping yeast with butter.

Caramel Shortbread

Now, what happens when you get creative and decide to bring a recipe up a notch? The Caramel Shortbread comes to be! Known as caramel shortcake, caramel squares, or our favorite, millionaires’ shortbread, and millionaires’ slice, this variation of shortbread was first mentioned in Australian journals and cookbooks from the 1970s, and it was basically a shortbread biscuit in a rectangular shape topped with a gooey caramel filling and a milk chocolate topping.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

We can only be thankful to whoever it was that thought of adding salt into this sweet equation. The salt paired with the caramel makes for the best, most marvelous dessert ever!

Before you scroll down to the recipe, here’s an interesting fact:

Today we look at shortbread and caramel bars as something very common and relatively inexpensive, however, there was a time when they were eaten only on special occasions and holidays like Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve). A tradition that has remained to this very day in Shetland is breaking a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride. Guess the perfect balance of salty and sweet has always been recognized as a great hit!

And here’s an interesting question:

Have you ever wondered why caramel is called caramel? Well, there are two possible stories behind the name of this sticky pleasure. The first one dates back to Late Latin (from calamellus itself a diminutive of calamus) which translates into “sugar cane”. And the other, traces its roots in Medieval Latin, the word “cannamella”, “canna” again standing for “cane” and “mella” for “honey”. So, which word do you believe is more likely to be the root? When you taste caramel, do you think of a sugar cane or a honey cane? We here at MyGreatRecipes believe that it is the first one, but we honestly don’t think it is a big deal, as long as we have our caramel candy ready for the recipe that follows 🙂

Salted Caramel Butter Bars Recipe

caramel

All the talk would be in vain if we didn’t provide you with a tasty recipe, right? A few paragraphs later, here you have it, the simplest salted caramel butter bars recipe. While shortbread is traditionally made from white sugar, butter, and flour in this ratio 1: 2: 3 the most typical salted caramel butter bars recipe will call for a cup of white sugar (and one and a half cups of powdered sugar), 2 cups of softened butter, 4 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract for the dough. The ingredients for the filling include а bag of caramel candies (a 14-ounce bag), ⅓ cup of heavy whipping cream, half a teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of coarse sea salt.

  • Make the Shortbread-like bottom

Line a 9×13” baking dish with parchment paper (or spray it with cooking spray) and preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and both the regular and the powdered sugar. Using a mixer on medium speed beat everything together until creamy. Proceed to add the vanilla and beat until combined. Slowly sift the flour into the butter mixture while beating on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.

Now it is time to divide the dough into three even parts. Although they don’t have to be symmetrical. At the end of the day, the last part will get crumbled so who cares :).

Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust, and put the other two-thirds in the fridge. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the crust is formed and firm and the edges are pale golden brown. Once the bottom is baked, transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

  • Make the filling

First of all, unwrap the caramels (refrain yourselves from eating them :)) and place them in a microwave safe bowl together with the vanilla and the whipped cream. Microwave on high for around a minute and then take the bowl out and stir until smooth. If the caramels are not completely melted, feel free to bring them back in and microwave on high for 30-seconds, or until completely melted. Alternatively, you can melt the caramel the old-school way – in a saucepan on the stove top.

  • Layer

Once the caramel filling is ready, pour it over the crust and sprinkle the salt (go for flaked sea salt) over the caramel layer. Get the remaining dough from the fridge and evenly crumble it over the caramel.

  • Bake

Now it is time for the final baking part. Bake for around half an hour (or less). The salted caramel butter biscuit is ready once the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm. Let the whole pan cool and then cut into squares to get the “bars” ready.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars Fillings

Yes, these are called “salted” and “caramel” for a reason, and while we cannot say that the original recipe isn’t lick your fingers delicious, there are some ways to make it even better! In our defense, it was by bettering a shortbread recipe that these bars even came to be, so this is in a way our chance to give the world a recipe that might someday be as famous as its predecessors. Here they are, the fillings that you must try!

Nutella

You can always make things more fun and way more delicious by adding Nutella. Seriously, there is nothing Nutella can’t improve! Make the recipe as instructed above, only before spreading the caramel filling, firstly spread half a cup of Nutella. Make sure you don’t spread all over to the very edge of the crust because it might get easily burnt. You can also make the bars with Nutella only, but then you should double the amount to one whole cup of it. Don’t forget to finish everything off with flaked sea salt. Again cool and cut, serve and watch them disappear.

Chocolate

Yup, you can also use chocolate to make things more interesting. Again the recipe is the same with the sole difference that you should sprinkle a cup of chocolate chips on top of the partially baked crust. Proceed to pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips, and only then can you add sea salt flakes.

Almonds

These crunchy companions of many desserts make their way in salted caramel butter bars as well, and boy, do they make things awesome! Both in terms of taste and texture. And the best thing is: they will pair perfectly well with recipes from the regular one, to these Nutella and chocolate chip variations. Add slivered almonds in the filling or as a topping and be ready for a mouthful of crunchy happiness!

More Caramel

Caramel on top of caramel? Yes, you can always double the pleasure. Melt a cupful worth of caramel candies and use them to drizzle on top of the bars. You can do the same with chocolate sauce, or if you love a hint of whiskey, butterscotch sauce. The last one is made with butter, dark brown sugar, and a splash of whiskey and is the perfect finish to a perfect dessert!

Salted caramel butter bars are definitely worth giving a shot. And while you are at it, prepare one of the tasty fillings we suggest. We assure you, your friends and family will love the outcome and you will have us to thank!

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!