Happy (Meatless) Monday!

Another wonderful meal made out of just vegetables.  I love the layering technique since you are able to jam so many flavors into one little bite.  I also included a lot of ingredients because I was skeptical about the kale.  I’ve been trying to get into it and am not a fan of raw kale.  Cooked, however, tastes divine!  Saute it with some olive oil, garlic, and onions, and this is easily one of my new favorite vegetables!

I’ve also been working on my plating skills.  I’m not professional, but I try to have fun with it!

Vegetable Tower

  • 4 slices of eggplant
  • 2 oz. kale, chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 2 oz. sundried tomatoes
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled (can forego this to make it Paleo or Vegan friendly)
  • 1 basil leaf, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. In a medium sized pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil. Place eggplant on pan and cook each side for 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, drizzle olive oil, add garlic and onions. Add in kale.  Saute for 5 minutes or until kale is cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Place one slice of eggplant on the plate, then a layer of kale, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese.  Repeat until all ingredients are used up.  Top with chopped basil.

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Weekends are always awesome, right?

It’s always interesting when you go into work on Monday and everyone asks “How was your weekend?”  Isn’t the answer always “IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!”?!?  No need to wake up early, drive 20 minutes to the train station, park, walk 5 minutes to get the train platform, spend another 5 minutes (sometimes more if it’s running late, which it always is) on the platform to wait for the train, try to find a seat and be somewhat comfortable on a ~27 minute train ride, fight the other commuters to get downstairs to catch the work shuttle, pile into a crammed vehicle with your other commuter colleagues to get from the train station to the office, and finally arrive at work 1+ hours later.  So yeah, since I don’t have to get up and do that on Saturday and Sunday, then yes, my weekends end up being pretty awesome.

We’re starting to experience Spring-like weather, so I was out and about this weekend.  I went to cardio boxing on Saturday, hot yoga on Sunday, and did some shopping and cooking in between.  We picked up some fresh cod fillets which paired really well with the vegetables we had on hand.  Light and flavorful – the perfect meal to end a great weekend.

Pan Fried Cod with Roasted Red Peppers and Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cod fillets
  • 4 asparagus spears
  • Olive oil
  • For the breading:
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup, almond meal
    • 1 teaspoon, Old Bay seasoning
    • Sea salt
    • Black Pepper
  • For the topping:
    • 1 roasted red pepper (jarred), chopped
    • 2 tablespoons, sundried tomatoes (jarred, in olive oil), chopped
    • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg.
  2. In another small bowl, mix the almond meal and seasonings.
  3. In a medium skillet over low to medium heat, drizzle olive oil.  Meanwhile, pat cod dry with paper towels.  Dip in egg, dredge in almond meal mixture on both sides.
  4. Add cod to the skillet, cooking for 7 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat.
  5. Lightly coat the asparagus spears with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in skillet for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Plate by placing the cod first, then two asparagus spears.  Top with 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of roasted red pepper, sundried tomato, and basil mixture.

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A love for basil, sundried tomatoes, and stoneware

As the days of summer were coming to an end, I made sure to pick a bunch of fresh basil from my mom’s garden.  I love the combination of basil and sundried tomatoes, so decided to make this delicious Italian inspired stuffed pork chop.  Since I had to bake these pork chops, I decided to throw some sliced squash in the pan to roast to complete the dish.

I also used my beloved Pampered Chef stoneware baking pan.  I LOVE STONEWARE!!! Every chef should own this fabulous piece of cookware.  You only wash stoneware with water – no soap!  You want the pan to get really seasoned from all of its use.  Mine is getting there…. slowly, but surely.  I can’t wait till it’s nice and brown and dirty 😉

Stuffed Pork Chops
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops (boneless)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 squash, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. In a skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle olive oil and saute onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, basil leaves, mushrooms and tomato paste.  Saute until the onions are translucent and the other ingredients are tender; approximately 6 minutes or so.  Set aside the “stuffing” to cool. (Note that you don’t have to use the exact amounts I’ve listed above – a chef should always feel free to play around with the ingredients based on personal preference)
  2. Drizzle olive oil on the pork chops and season both sides with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (F).
  4. Once the stuffing ingredients have cooled, whisk in the egg.  It’s important that the stuffing has cooled because otherwise, the egg will cook as you whisk into the mixture (we don’t want this to happen).
  5. Scoop the stuffing onto half of the pork chop.  Fold the pork chop in half and use toothpicks so that the stuffing stays in.
  6. Place stuffed pork chops into the pan.  Surround with sliced squash.  You do not need to add any olive oil or seasoning to the squash; the juices from the pork chops will drip into the pan and will provide an awesome flavor.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pork chops are fully cooked.

Dips, dips, and more dips! (Just no chips)

Labor day marks the end of summer and gives us all an opportunity to have one last cookout before the weather gets chilly.  I’m so excited for the fall, it’s my favorite season.  Can’t wait to break out the leather boots, wool blazers, and fun tights!

My sister made a delicious potato salad for our Labor day BBQ and it was soooo scrumptious.  Again, this is why I cannot commit to the Paleo diet 100%, there are just some things that are too good to pass up.  However, being on the diet has made me more aware of my food choices and has also taught me the importance of portion control.  So I had a spoonful of the potato salad and called it a day.

I made some really simple dips for our guests and served them with cut up veggies.  I think these dips/spreads would also be great in a meal, served on top of a grilled chicken breast.  Mmm…

Bjorn didn’t try these, but the dips got a stamp of approval from the guests!

Avocado Tomato Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Sea salt and black pepper

1.  Toss all ingredients into a bowl, chill, and serve.

Bacon Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 strips of crispy bacon

1.  In a skillet over high heat, cook the bacon until well done and crispy

2.  Mix remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until nice and creamy.

3.  Add in chopped pieces of the bacon, chill, and serve.

Sundried Tomato and Basil Paste

See previous post for recipe:

https://emilyskitchencreations.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/sundried-tomato-obsession-this-will-be-the-first-of-many-sundried-tomato-posts/

Sundried tomato obsession (this will be the first of many sundried tomato posts)

I’ve always loved sundried tomatoes.  I’m not really a huge fan of grape tomatoes or raw tomatoes, but boy do I love sundried tomatoes.  It’s something about the texture and the tang-iness that I love.  I also love basil.  Mmm.  When I found this recipe for sundried tomato and basil paste, I immediately knew that I had to make it.  After making this dish, I’m also a huge fan of layering the components on the dish.  This way, you get a little bit of the goodness in each bite.

Bjorn gives this: 2 thumbs up (and very satisfied afterwards!)

Baked Chicken Breast

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Olive oil
  • Dried herbs
  • Sea salt and black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degreees.

2.  Lay chicken breasts in baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add a few pinches of dried herbs (e.g. Italian seasoning) and some sea salt and pepper.

3.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Sundried Tomato and Basil Paste

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup oil from the sundried tomatoes

1.  Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

2.  Serve on top of the chicken breast (or use as a dip!)

Mixed Veggie Saute

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 handfuls of spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper

1.  In a large pan over medium-high heat, add in olive oil, onions, and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes.

2.  Add in chopped zucchini, green pepper, and mushrooms.  Throw in a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.  Cook for another 7 minutes until tender.

3.  Throw in spinach.  Remove from heat once the spinach is wilted.

4.  Serve as a component of your dish.