Foodie Friday!

Wow, so, a lot went on and I failed utterly at blogging all summer….  Time to get back at this!

Pinterest GOT me yesterday morning, and I have had a butternut squash staring at me waiting to be used in the pantry, so right away in the morning I got started on dinner.  I was totally made of win, and got a load of laundry going, stuck the squash in the oven to roast, and did a great workout all at the same time!

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

Photo from Juliasalbum.com
Photo from Juliasalbum.com

Pretty obvious how Pinterest got me, right?  Doesn’t that look great????

Here’s my “Making of”…..  SOOOOOO GOOD.  I think some red pepper flakes to add a little heat might make it even better, but it’s delicious exactly as the recipe is written!

Butternut squash and spinach lasagna

Ingredients

Butternut Squash Filling:
    • 2 cups butternut squash puree (I used more like 2.5 cups, my whole squash, which was pretty small ~ and the squash puree link goes to www.juliasalbum.com, where I got this amazing recipe)
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 cup milk (or more, if needed)
    • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Spinach Filling:
    • 1 cup cooked spinach (8 oz uncooked)
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • pepper, to taste
Other Ingredients:
  • 10 oz lasagna noodles, cooked (for gluten free, use Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (or more)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (on top)
  • Italian seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Basil

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
Butternut Squash Filling:
    1. For this filling, you will need to have pre-cooked butternut squash puree. Using food processor, combine 2 cups of butternut squash puree with Ricotta cheese, milk, salt and nutmeg. Add more milk if needed (to make the butternut squash filling very creamy). Mix very well, taste and add more salt, if needed.
Spinach Filling:
    1. Combine spinach, Ricotta cheese, mozzarella, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix, taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Cooking lasagna noodles:
    1. Bring a very large pot of water to boil, and cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water, drain. Using knife, trim noodles to fit your baking dish (if necessary).
Lasagna assembly:
  1. Prepare a baking dish – I used a casserole dish 11 inches x 8.5 inches x 3 inches deep. Grease the lasagna dish lightly with olive oil spray. Spread 1/3 of butternut squash filling on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked lasagna noodles without overlapping (I used 3 noodles).
  2. Spread half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
  3. Spread another layer (1/3) of butternut squash mixture, then sprinkle lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
  4. Spread the remaining half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with the final layer of cooked noodles.
  5. Spread a generous amount of butternut squash filling (the remaining 1/3) over this final layer of noodles, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and remaining mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup of mozzarella). Generously sprinkle the cheese with Italian seasoning, paprika, basil.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes.

Balsamic Chicken and Eggplant

Foodie Friday!

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French Food ~ And we all know French women don’t get fat! Balsamic Chicken & Eggplant

I saw some absolutely BEAUTIFUL eggplants in the produce section, which inspired me to pull out an old recipe from the summer I was obsessed with French food.  It’s simple and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant cut lengthwise into 4 thick slices (fit chicken breasts) OR as I did, cut into enough rounds to match your chicken – I used boneless, skinless thighs And made 6….
  • (4) boneless, skinless chicken breasts – or see above
  • 1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, cut into quarters – save some of the juice!
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + some for greasing the pan
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • fresh ground black pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400, oil baking dish – large enough to fit eggplant slices in a single layer ~ place eggplant in the dish and top each slice with chicken breast (or whatever)

2. Combine tomatoes, capers, vinegar, oil, 1/2 cup tomato juice, and sugar/honey- mix well.  Spread tomato mixture over chicken

3.  Bake until chicken is cooked through (the thighs took about 40 minutes, thinner pieces would be less; the recipe said 20-25 minutes, but those must have been thin chicken breasts)

~to serve, sprinkle with basil and pepper and spoon some of the yummy balsamic-tomato vinaigrette over the top!

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Fresh from the oven ~ each chicken sits atop a round of eggplant

Turkey Chili: Simple and hearty!

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FOODIE FRIDAY

So for the last several weeks I’ve been following the portion fix meal plan that goes with The 21 Day Fix and Insanity Max 30 ~ this last week I’ve been combining BOTH Max 30 and 21 Day Fix Extreme in SUPER WORKOUTS.  It has been AWESOME and I feel like a super hero!  But it definitely needs HIGH PROTEIN SUPPORT!

I made Turkey Chili this week – a recipe straight out of the 21 Day Fix Extreme Recipe Book.  It was delicious!  It’s chili.  Chili is always delicious!

Ingredients:
-1.5 pounds ground turkey
-1 tsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 green pepper, diced
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1.5 tsp cumin
-2 tbsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 15oz can diced tomatoes with liquid (I used fire roasted!)

(I also added 1 pint of home made tomato paste and 1 pint of water, because following the recipe LOOKED like it was kind of dry to me!)

All you do is saute onion, green pepper, and garlic for a few minutes, then add the turkey and cook until it’s not pink, add the spices, beans, and tomato, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 more minutes.

I ate it over 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa with cottage cheese:  REALLY hearty and delicious!

Butternut Squash Stew

butternut squash soup
Butternut squash with kale & quinoa stew: Very FABULOUS!

Foodie Friday rolls round again!

This week I have been strictly sticking to the 21 Day Fix portion control meal plan – which mean EAT MORE VEGGIES and EAT MORE PROTEIN!  This delicious stew has been a lunch staple all week – so much veggie goodness!!!

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (or more) teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • splash of white wine vinegar (1-2 tablespoons)
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (or 1.5 cups cooked quinoa)
  • generous amounts of salt & pepper
  • a few big handfuls of chopped kale
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent. Add the butternut squash cubes, another few pinches of salt, and stir again.
  2. Let the butternut squash cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika and chile flakes. Stir, then add a splash of white wine vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, broth and quinoa. Cover and simmer until the butternut squash is tender and the quinoa is cooked through (about 40 minutes). Halfway through, I like to taste and adjust seasonings. Add additional spices if you like.
  3. When the soup is nearly done, add in a few handfuls of chopped kale. Stir and let it cook until wilted (about 5 minutes more). Taste, and adjust seasonings again.
  4. Store leftover soup in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze.
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This picture is from “Love and Lemons” ~ They have a beautiful blog full of delicious!

Foodie Friday

Winter Garden Win!  So this year I just didn’t pull out the kale plants in the garden.  They looked fine after the frost, and then we had a serious cold snap, yet the kale was set to prevail!  So it’s still out there in the middle of winter.  It might not be as pretty as it is earlier in the year, BUT, I read that the taste is less bitter and less “kale-y” in the cold – TRUE!  I was inspired to USE SOME OF THE MAGIC FROZEN KALE….

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photo by localkitchener.ca

So what I made…  Hearty, delicious, filled with colour – the dressing was DIVINE.

Barley Kale Tabbouleh

Prep time  15 mins;  Cook time  20 mins; Total time 35 mins 
From Michael Smith’s Family Meals Cookbook
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 4 large kale leaves, tough center stems trimmed away (I used more)
  • 1 cup (250mL) of any barley
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) of salt
  • A handful of finely chopped parsley
  • Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint (500mL) of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large dill pickle, minced

DRESSING…

  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) of honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) of your favorite mustard
  • ½ teaspoon (2mL) of salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2mL) of your favorite hot sauce
 
Instructions
  1. Stack the kale leaves, then roll them up tightly. Slice them as thinly as possible, forming fine threads. Cram into a small saucepan and add ¼ cup (60mL) of water. Cover and cook over high heat until the kale softens, just 2 or 3 minutes. Drain and spread out on a plate to cool.
  2. Measure the barley into the same saucepan and add 3 cups (750mL) of water and the salt. Bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Cover tightly and continue cooking until the grains swell, absorbing the water and tenderizing, about 30 minutes.  (I did mine separately right in my rice cooker)
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Throw in the tender barley, the kale, parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes and pickle. Toss the works together, evenly mixing the flavors, textures and colours.  Serve and share!
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So at the end I cut up some left over chicken satay skewers and put them on top with some feta cheese… FAN-FRIKKIN-TASTIC!!!

 

Chicken & Vegetables en Papillote

I made these delicious packets of goodness for dinner tonight and they were WONDERFUL!  Just the right amount of tanginess from the lemon and artichoke, and just the right cookedness for the asparagus   Prep: 35 minutes; Bake @ 30 minutes; Oven 400F; 4 servings

  • 1lb boneless Moldiv_1399946664099skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1tsp dry)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dry)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 10 oz asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 6 oz pea pods, trimmed (2 cups)
  • 1 cup (I used the whole can) canned artichoke hearts, quartered (I halved)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp (or more!) chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives or chopped green onions

1. cut chicken breasts into 1 inch slices (I cut the long way to make strips, but it says to go crossways).  In a medium bowl combine oil, oregano, thyme, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, pepper.  Add chicken and toss to coat, let stand while preparing veggies

2. on “large enough” pieces of foil, arrange asparagus, pea pods, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and parsley – I layered them all; top with servings of chicken; then with servings of the green onions (amount will depend on how many packets you want to make).

3. fold up foil packets, place on baking sheets, and bake for 20+ minutes at 400F.  Check and see if chicken is pink.  (I ended up cooking for 35 minutes, but my chicken strips were THICK)

If you make this into 4 servings:  250 calories each, 8g fat (1g saturated), 498mg sodium, 13g carbs, 6g fiber, 31g protein

The Sonoma Diet

So I found The Sonoma Diet, by Dr. Connie Guttersen, at Goodwill yesterday.  I went through a phase a while ago where I did a LOT of French cooking and totally wished I lived in Provence, so of COURSE the cover of this book appealed to me.  The Sonoma Diet is an “eating lifestyle” inspired by sun-drenched vineyards, embracing simple flavorful meals of vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains ~ a Mediterranean diet.  Really, we already pretty much eat this way, but the book has a meal plan and is about 50% recipes, so it’ll be fun to just follow it.  The tagline on the cover says “trimmer waist, better health in just 10 days!” ~ that’s after the phase one stage of the actual diet, I suppose…  The diet (if you were dieting….  we’re just EATING) is divided into 3 phases.  In the first phase the focus is removing sugar, processed or not, so you aren’t supposed to have fruit and certain vegetables are on the do not fly list…  But it’s pretty straight forward, there’s a list of phase 1 veggies, lean meats, acceptable fats ~ especially olive oil, and whole grains.  But even better, there’s a complete meal plan, followed by all the recipes.  They haven’t gone so far as to prepare the shopping list, but that was pretty easy to compile – no weird ingredients, everything is easy to find, though I’m guessing at how many red peppers I could possibly eat in a one-week period – according to the recipes, A LOT…. The first phase is just for 10 days – sugar detox and rapid weight loss if that’s what you’re after. Phase 2 allows the addition of fruits and power food berries, some of the no-fly veggies, and this is where one would just stay until goal weight was reached.  Then in Phase 3  (keeping in mind I haven’t read the whole book yet, just the beginning) you add some of the fats that were restricted, butter, bacon…. Maybe there’s never any bacon…  But that’s pretty unrealistic…  ANYWAY, by phase 3, you’ve attained your goal weight, you’ve eliminated sugar cravings and only have occasional sugary treats, have replaced refined flour products with whole grains, and have eliminated hydrogenated and, for the most part, saturated fats.   Part of the point of this style of eating is to savor amazing, healthy food.  Too often the way we’re living our lives at high stress, high speed, and yet high LAZINESS, results in quick, shoddy food choices, scarfed in a hurry because we’re starving.  I think taking the time to buy nice whole, unprocessed foods, and then taking the time to actually cook with them ~ finally leading to savoring them, is so much better!

SO I think I love this book, and I think I love the recipes.  We’re actually going to follow the 10 day phase 1 plan starting tomorrow (though I’m going to keep having Shakeology for breakfast), I’ll keep posting about it and about the recipes.  Tonight we had lemon-garlic pork chops and a salad topped with lemony vinaigrette dressing and feta cheese. It was like ambrosia! I’m not sure why we ever BUY salad dressing, because making it at home is SO MUCH YUMMIER….

Lemony Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots (I used chives from the garden)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 clove garlic (squished through the press)
  • 3 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and thyme from the garden)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

I put all the ingredients into a jar, capped it, and shook.  This is a tangy, wonderful, magical dressing.  I tossed it with a mixed salad with spinach, romaine lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, radishes, green pepper, and feta – it was fantastic!

The pork chops were cooked on the barbeque, but here’s the recipe for the marinade:

Lemon-garlic pork chops

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon (didn’t have it, used basil and dill instead)
  • 4 cloves garlic (squished through the press)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

I mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl and turned the chops every 10 minutes or so for about an hour, then drizzled the remaining mainade over the meat as it cooked on the grill.

The whole meal was delicious and totally simple!