A Pasta Alternative

Here are some of my thoughts on the train ride home one evening from work…

“What should I make for dinner?”

“We don’t really have anything fresh at home, should I go to the grocery store?”

“Which grocery store is the most convenient and on the way?”

“Nah, I don’t really want to make an extra stop.”

“I think I have some sweet potatoes and a couple of pork chops in the fridge… Maybe I can make pasta out of the sweet potato, similar to zucchini?  Would that work??”

As I got off the train, I sped walked to my car, rushed home (don’t worry, I stayed within the speed limit), walked into the house and started on dinner right away.  I had a mission and I was excited to try it!

Well, needless to say, sweet potato gets two thumbs up as a pasta alternative in my book!  It’s great to just eat on its own since it’s already so flavorful.  No need to add tomato sauce or any other sauce, but that’s my personal preference.

Sweet Potato “Pasta”

Serves 2

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut butter
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Using a mandoline, select the appropriate julienne blade insert.  You want the strips to be thin, but not too thin and flimsy.  Julienne both sweet potatoes, set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add coconut butter.
  3. Add julienned sweet potatoes and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Serve with a protein of your choice.  I did grilled pork chops topped with a runny egg.

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Ziggy also wants to say hello!!! 🙂

 

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Another Wonderful Pasta Substitute

I’m such a sucker for Trader Joe’s marketing.  I was grocery shopping over the weekend and picked up a bag of their seafood blend in the frozen section.  Right above the price tag, in a bright neon yellow sign says, “Try it with our Arrabiata Sauce!”  Without hesitation, I grab the sauce that is so brilliantly placed right above the seafood blend and go on my merry way.  A few aisles later, I’ve tossed a bunch of other things into my cart (not on my shopping list) and end up spending way more than expected.

So, what else do I need to purchase to serve with this seafood blend and Arrabiata sauce?  Pasta, of course!!  But, how can I make this a more nutritious meal?  Zucchini pasta!  I bought this amazing julienne peeler from Home Goods for only $2.99.  It’s the perfect tool (small and easy to use) to make zucchini pasta instead of spending money on another clunky tool to add to the mix of kitchen appliances.

Tonight’s dinner features 3 main ingredients, with a few additional spices to enhance the flavors.  It does take some time to prepare, so I wouldn’t call it an easy and quick weeknight dinner, but something to try if you have ~45 mins in the kitchen!

Zucchini Pasta with Seafood & Arrabiata Sauce

Serves 2

For the zucchini pasta:

  1. Using the julienne peeler, strip the zucchini down to the seeds.  Place julienned zucchini into a large bowl.  Season with some sea salt and mix well.
  2. Prior to cooking, squeeze the zucchini pasta to get rid of the excess water.
  3. In a medium sized pot, add butter and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add zucchini pasta and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from pot and set aside.

 

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For the sauce:

  1. Using the same pot, add butter and garlic.  Saute until the garlic becomes tender.
  2. Add seafood blend and saute for an additional 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Add half a jar of arrabiata sauce.  Add red pepper flakes (optional).
  4. Simmer on low for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over zucchini pasta.

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And here’s a picture of Ziggy, chillin’!!!

 

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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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4 Degree Weather Comfort Food

We had another snowstorm last night.  The office was closed today and I haven’t left the house at all, except to let Ziggy out.  Since he loves the snow so much, I tried to take him for a walk, but it was way too cold!

With the cold weather comes awesome comfort food.  We had turkey chili tonight with homemade cornbread.  Really perfect for 4 degree (F) weather.

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Turkey Chili

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons, tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon, chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon, red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon, paprika
  • 1 teaspoon, cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon, cumin
  • 1 can (28 oz), peeled plum tomatoes in tomato juice, cut tomatoes into chunks
  • 1 can (15.5 oz), black beans
  • 1 can (15.25 oz), corn
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Toppings (Optional): Plain greek yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado
  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, drizzle olive oil.  Add onions and garlic and saute until golden.
  2. Add ground turkey, cook and stir until brown and crumbly.
  3. Add seasonings (chili powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, sea salt, black pepper) and mix well.
  4. Add green pepper, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, corn, and black pepper.
  5. Mix well and let simmer for 2 hours.  Stir occasionally and add in additional seasonings to your liking (e.g. more red pepper flakes for more spiciness).
  6. Serve with cornbread and optional toppings.

Cornbread (No cornmeal necessary!)

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15.25 oz), corn
  • 1/2 cup, skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup, flour
  • 1/2 cup, sugar
  • 1/4 cup, melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon, baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. In a mixing bowl, add corn, milk, eggs, butter, and sugar.  Mix well.
  3. Add in baking powder and flour, mix until combined.
  4. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray and fill with batter.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through (toothpick test).

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Baked Chicken with a Touch of Honey

I guess another reason why I love the snow is because I’m forced to stay in the house, which is sometimes a good thing.  I finally cleaned off the dining room table (scattered papers and mail everywhere), organized, and spent lots of time in the kitchen.

Soup for lunch and baked chicken for dinner.  No empty bellies here!

Honey Roasted Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Mix all ingredients (except for the chicken) in a bowl.
  3. Place chicken thighs on baking tray.  Brush with marinade.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes.  Brush the remaining marinade and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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PSL to Officially Kick-Off the Season

We woke up at 6:45 am today.  It was 51 degrees.  Autumn has officially arrived. 🙂

Chilly early in the morning and late at night, but beautiful and comfortable throughout the day.  Our favorite time of year.

As I prepare the meals for the week, I think this short rib slow cooker dish will be perfect and comforting on a chilly night.  Plus, it’s nice and easy, cooks during the day (without supervision), which means dinner is ready right when we walk through the door.  More family and cuddle time with the puppy!

Now, off to get my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season….!

Short Ribs with Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 lb short ribs
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Season short ribs with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, over high heat, drizzle olive oil and cook each side of the short rib for about 3-4 minutes.  You want the edges to have  a nice golden color before placing in the slow cooker.  This helps seal in the flavors.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and sliced onions to the bottom of the slow cooker.  Top with short ribs.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Serve with rice, pasta, or a vegetable.  Or enjoy alone.  The meat just falls right off of the bone.  Effortless cooking and effortless eating.

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Meatless Mondays (and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays…)

I go through a lot of phases with my eating/cooking.  Right now, I’m in my veggie phase.  I’ve been eating vegetarian meals for dinner every night… not necessarily because I want to explore being a vegetarian, but more so because I’m loving the flavors and endless possibilities.  My office is near Fairway market – the perfect way to spend a lunch break.  I could just spend endless hours in that store, admiring all of the different types of fruits, vegetables, olive oils, etc.  It’s nice to be able to pick up some fresh (and local) vegetables to cook for dinner or tomorrow’s lunch.

The only issue with cooking vegetarian meals is that Bjorn is not very thrilled.  But honestly, how can you say no to this delicious veggie burger…. topped with chopped beets (leftover from a previous meal), shredded cheddar cheese, and avocado on a freshly baked multigrain roll (from Fairway bakery)??

Veggie Burgers

Makes 6 patties

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 oz frozen butternut squash, chopped
  • 6 oz frozen pearl onions, chopped
  • 6 oz frozen kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans with a fork.
  2. Place butternut squash, pearl onions, and kale in a food processor and finely chop.  Add to mashed black beans and mix well.  (Note that you can substitute this recipe with any type of vegetable!)
  3. Add breadcrumbs, egg, and seasonings.  Mix well.
  4. Form into patties and place onto wax paper.  Freeze for at least 2 hours before cooking.  (Keep frozen until ready to be cooked).
  5. In a skillet over medium high heat, drizzle olive oil, and cook each side for the patty for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, add desired toppings (my choices were chopped beats, cheddar cheese, and avocado), and serve atop a multigrain bun.

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Feeling Lazy

We’ve been eating so poorly lately.  I’ll usually get home around 6 or 7 during the week and am often too tired to cook.  I have tons of recipe ideas buzzing in my head, but am having some trouble finding the energy to work my magic in the kitchen.  I must find a new routine.  We cannot continue eating like this.  One night, I came home and Bjorn had already eaten dinner.  What was his dinner? “Pizza bagels and pigs in a blanket”, hah!

I always love a good salad.  Good salads always require a little bit of extra effort, but it sure is worth it in the end.  The mango and avocado were getting super ripe, so I knew I had to include that in my meal tonight.  Since I didn’t plan ahead, I could only include seafood as my protein (easy to defrost).  Turned out pretty good for a last minute dish!  Took about 15 minutes from start to finish to prepare and cook.

Baked tilapia over chopped Romaine

  • 1/2 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 tilapia filet
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. Season tilapia filet with sea salt and black pepper.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Place mango, avocado, grape tomatoes, and lime juice in a bowl.  Mix well.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Place the chopped Romaine on a plate, top with tilapia and mango mixture.  Serve immediately.

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Whoa… has it really been two months?

I can’t believe my last post was in May.  A lot has happened in the past two months, I guess!  I got a new job and we introduced a new member to our family!!!!  We adopted our little Ziggy about a month ago.  He has been an amazing puppy and we are absolutely in love with him.  Our schedule has changed a bit with the puppy schedule (wake up calls at 5:30 every morning, though lately, he has been letting us sleep in until 6 am).  On top of that, my schedule for work has changed because my new job is a bit of a further commute.  Out the door around 7:20 am and often not home until 7:00 pm.  I haven’t really been cooking as much, but I miss it.  We don’t have many plans for tomorrow (Sunday), so maybe I’ll spend some time at my favorite grocery stores and spend the day cooking meals for the week!

Here’s a quick recipe for something that I did make a few weeks ago…

Mussels with Garlic and White Wine Sauce

  • 2 lbs Mussels
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 sprigs of parsley, coarsely chopped
  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the garlic cloves.  Saute garlic until nice and golden.
  2. Add mussels and mix well with the butter/garlic mixture.  Saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn to low heat.  Add white wine and simmer for 3 minutes.  Cover for 5-7 minutes, or until mussels open up.
  4. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy!
  5. Optional – Serve with french bread to soak up the wonderful white wine sauce.

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And…… here’s a picture of our little pup!

 

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Bibimbap – Emily Style

According to Wikipedia, Bibimbap literally translated means “mixed rice”.  I had a lot of ingredients leftover from my Chirashi meal, so thought it would translate well into today’s recipe.  I just want to note that this is nothing like the traditional Bibimbap dish, it’s my own personal twist on the classic dish.  Just thought that it was really similar as I was putting it together!

Asian Beef

Ingredients

  • 1 lb, shaved steak
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons, oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon, Mama Sita’s BBQ Marinade
  • 2 scallion stalks, chopped
  1. In a large skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle olive oil.  Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, until the edges become golden brown.
  2. Add shaved steak, drizzle oyster sauce and Mama Sita’s BBQ Marinade atop.  Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Saute for an additional 2 minutes.  Top with scallions.  Remove from heat.

Not So Traditional Bibimbap

  • Steamed white rice
  • Seaweed salad
  • Pickled daikon radish
  • 1 fried egg
  • Sauteed onions and steak (recipe above)
  • Sriracha sauce
  1. In a large bowl, add rice, top with seaweed salad, pickled daikon radish, fried egg, and sauteed onions and steak.  Drizzle with Sriracha sauce.
  2. Mix well. Eat.

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