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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Another Tribute to Meatless Mondays

Vegetables are amazing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my meat, but sometimes a vegetarian meal can be so satisfying.  Here’s another tribute to meatless Mondays…

Zucchini Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Mushrooms

Serves 2

  • 2 medium sized zucchini, julienned into “pasta”
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz. sundried tomatoes
  • 6 oz. marinara sauce (I used Rao’s)
  • 4 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and saute half the garlic and half the onions.  Saute for 3-5 minutes until golden in color.
  2. Add mushrooms.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove garlic, onions, and mushrooms and set aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Using the same skillet, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and add remaining garlic and onion.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Turn to low heat.  Add zucchini pasta and saute for an additional 5 minutes.  Constantly stir the zucchini pasta to ensure it does not stick to the skillet.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. With the same skillet, over low heat, add roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, basil, and marinara sauce.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  6. To plate, place the zucchini pasta first, then layer with marinara sauce, and top with sauteed mushrooms.

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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 Few of my Favorite Things

Another post to declare my love for all things to do with ground beef, turkey, etc.  Huge meatballs filled with bacon, onion, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Bacon Meatballs

Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of ground turkey, 93/7
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 strips of uncured bacon, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Tomato sauce
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. In a large skillet over medium to high heat, add chopped bacon pieces.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, and sundried tomaotoes.  Saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add ground turkey and cooled ingredients from skillet.  Mix well.  Note that the mixture will be a little wet, since there are no breadcrumbs in this recipe to soak up the juices (traditional recipe calls for bread crumbs).  Once cooked, this will be okay, but the meatball rolling process will be a little messy!
  4. Using your hands, roll mixture into meatballs (whichever size you’d like).  For the purpose of this recipe, I made large meatballs, a little bit smaller than the palm of my hand.  Place meatballs onto a baking sheet.
  5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.  When there are about 2-3 minutes left, top each meatball with tomato sauce and a little bit of grated parmesan cheese.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy – this is fantastic on its own or atop some spaghetti squash.

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You Can Stuff a Turkey, so why not Stuff a Chicken Breast?

I love cooking with chicken breast.  I used to hate it because every time I made it, it was either raw on the inside or overcooked, dry, and tasteless.  I think cooking the perfect chicken breast just comes with experience and experimenting in the kitchen.  You have to rough it out through the bad times to get to the good times!

The thing I liked about tonight’s recipe was the juiciness of the chicken breast.  Searing it before placing it in the oven really helps to retain the delicious juices.  Also, look at how fancy this dish looks!  It was so simple to make; I’m adding this to the list for my next dinner party!

Sundried Tomato & Broccoli Stuffed Chicken Breast

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 organic skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 sundried tomatoes (preferably not in oil), julienned
  • 2 broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1 oz of shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1 oz of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of  your favorite dried herb
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).
  2. Mix all ingredients listed above in a bowl (except for the chicken breast); this will serve as the stuffing.
  3. With a paring knife, lay the chicken breast on the cutting board with the smooth side down.  Place your hand on top of the chicken breast (watch your hand!) and insert paring knife into the middle of the breast.  Move the knife around to create this “pocket” in the chicken breast.  Insert stuffing into chicken breast.
  4. In a medium skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle olive oil, and sear both sides of the chicken breast, approximately 4 minutes on each side.  You want the breast to achieve a nice golden color.
  5. Place stuffed chicken breasts onto a baking sheet, season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Serve with pasta, rice, or oven roasted broccoli.

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Deconstructed Omelet

Breakfast is my favorite meal.  During the week, breakfast is always on the go – grab a protein bar, have some cereal, make instant oatmeal in a paper cup with the hot water from the coffee machine at work … A full and complete breakfast, with eggs, bacon, toast, & coffee (or a mimosa ;)) signifies the weekend to me; a time to decompress and relax from a long week of work.

Today’s breakfast was inspired by the following:

  1. Watching too much Top Chef; which gave me the idea of a deconstructed omelet.  They seem to always be deconstructing traditional dishes on that show.  It never gets old.
  2. Too many clothes in my closet; which has made me start shopping for really fun (and perhaps useless) kitchen gadgets.

I was shopping at Marshall’s the other day and came across this awesome gadget that makes your egg a perfect round circle when cooking!  Haven’t we all experienced that issue before?   You crack the egg into pan and then the egg whites just fly everywhere.  You try to save it, get super frustrated because it won’t go back into the shape, and then realize it’s way too late and your fried egg is a hot mess.  This “roundy egg ring” by Joie will solve all of those problems!

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Since I now had the opportunity to make a perfect round fried egg, I had to make the perfect round components to go along with it!

Deconstructed Omelet

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 slice of uncured bacon, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 slices of wheat toast (optional for those Paleo folks)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. In a small skillet over medium to high heat, cook your bacon until it becomes nice and crispy.
  2. Using the bacon fat as your cooking oil, toss in onions, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes. Saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. On low heat, fry your 2 eggs, using the awesome “roundy egg ring” tool.
  4. As the eggs are almost done, toast 2 slices of wheat bread.  Use the rim of a drinking glass to cut out the round shape on the toast.  (There’s a kitchen gadget for this, but I don’t own one yet…)
  5. Remove eggs from skillet.
  6. Layer your deconstructed omelet – Lay 1 piece of toast, then top of bacon hash, then with a fried egg, and repeat process until ingredients are used up.
  7. ENJOY with a nice cup of coffee to start your day off right!

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Now you see it… Now you don’t!

My 5 day juice cleanse ended on Friday.  I sure was doing my happy dance at the end of it!!! Man, it was tough, but I’m glad I did it.  I’m always open to new experiences, good and bad, but especially ones that can help to improve my health.  I’ll post about my overall experience shortly…. But until then, I wanted to share one of the first meals that I had to break the cleanse.  A huge spinach salad, topped with beets (YUM, and my new favorite vegetable), sundried tomatoes, hard boiled (cage-free) egg, and a 4 oz. piece of organic chicken breast (grilled to perfection with some olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper).  And last but not least, drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Bjorn: You’re going to eat a salad (out of all things)?  You don’t want pizza? Ice cream? A nice juicy piece of steak?

Me: Those all sound pretty tempting, but I’m beyond excited to dive into this right now. (In all honesty though, my body was craving this salad.  They other junk food sounded all fine and dandy, but my body didn’t want that.  I guess one of the things that the cleanse has taught me is to make healthier and better decisions when it comes to food…)

Bjorn: It does look really good.  Let me try (grabs a fork and dives in with me).

Me: Well?

Bjorn: If all salads were like this, I’d eat this all the time!

Me: mrgreen

**Several minutes later**

Me: (scraping up the last pieces of the crumbled egg yolk off the plate)

Bjorn: Wow, you must’ve been really hungry….

Now you see it…

Now you don’t! 😛

 

Over easy, medium, or hard?

How do you like your eggs cooked? Over easy for me, please!  My husband likes them over hard.  What’s wrong with him?  As a matter of fact, what’s wrong with all of you people that enjoy your eggs over hard?  Add that to the list of things in life that I’ll never understand.
Sausage scramble topped with a fried egg

Ingredients

  • 12 oz package of Applegate chicken sausage (or any sausage of your choice), chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 sundried tomatoes in olive oil and herbs (adds a really nice flavor), chopped
  • 6 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 4 large handfuls of spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. In a skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle olive oil and add onions and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes until the onions become translucent.
  2. Add sausage, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms to the skillet.  Mix well and saute for 5-7 until cooked through.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Throw in spinach, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, while mixing the spinach in with the other ingredients.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. In the same skillet, over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and fry your egg to order (optional).

 

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.

Dinner for one

Bjorn wasn’t home tonight for dinner…. so dinner alone.  Even better though because then that means I can eat whatever I want!  The old me would’ve had a fluffer-nutter sandwich or a banana and Nutella sandwich or one of  Trader Joe’s infamous frozen entrees.  But guess what — you can put together a quick and easy dinner with fresh and simple ingredients.

Based on what I had in my fridge, I decided on a salad.  I’m not really sure if this post calls for a recipe… Many people know how to put together a salad right?  Hehe.  The flavors of this salad were fantastic – didn’t even need any dressing on top.

A note to those who dine alone – always eat at the dining room table.  Don’t plop yourself on a couch in front of the T.V.  This is how over-eating happens!! You’re so fixated on the T.V. show and you’re just shoving food into your mouth.   Meals should be savored and enjoyed till the very last bite.  Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to catch up on your T.V. shows after you eat dinner… but just make sure you don’t bring the tub of ice cream with you. 🙂

PS – I’ve made this salad before… Bjorn says: “If all salads were like this, I’d eat it all the time!!”

PSS – I used the big plate for this one 😉

Baby Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 6 oz. chicken breast, grilled
  • 4 sundried tomatoes (not marinated in oil), sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Lay baby spinach on a plate; top with eggs, sundried tomatoes, and avocado
  2. Season chicken breast with sea salt and black pepper.  Drizzle olive into skillet and grill over medium to high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
  3. Slice up chicken breast, place on top of salad and enjoy!