My favorite dessert.

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Sliced fresh banana and melted Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips.
Mmmmmmmmmm!

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Autumnal Bliss

As the leaves begin their transformation from shades of green to their brilliant display of reds, pinks and oranges, so to have my meals shifted towards fall flavors and ingredients.  My supply of fresh veggies from the garden has markedly slowed, and my desire for crockpot stews, hearty rice dishes, and …. chocolate increased.

At the beginning of the week, I sat down to make a week long dinner plan that would help use up the produce in the fridge, stay light and flavorful, and keep me from drifting over to the pizza place when I get home from work.

Monday was Indian food.  We went to a restaurant to bid farewell to a friend. (not on the dinner plan, but it was yummy!)

Tuesday was miso soup filled with veggies, chicken and brown rice.  This too became Wednesday’s lunch.

Wednesday we started ballroom II dance class, so dinner was made for us by a dear friend.  Mushroom Ravioli and baked cabbage and zucchini.

Thursday is my late work night, so dinner was our leftover Lasagna from Sunday’s Game Day meal, as was Tuesday’s lunch.

Last night’s dinner was the perfect combination of healthy veggies and stick to your ribs rice and protein.

Chicken Ravoltini with Avocado Basil Basmati Rice

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Lean chicken cutlets wrapped with a mixture of creamy ricotta cheese and spinach.  I cannot stand spending an extra dollar per pound of chicken to buy my cutlets pre-cut.  I purchased boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut them into cutlets myself.  Not very hard.  I place the cutlets between parchment paper and pounded them out a little too, so I had more surface area to spread the delicious (I never spell that word right the first time, thank god for spellcheck!) cheese mixture on.

Cheese Mixture: This yielded enough to fill around 8 cutlets

1 cup of Part Skim Ricotta Cheese

1/2 package of Frozen Chopped Spinach (thawed and drained)

1 clove of Garlic minced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

zest of1 lemon (1tbsp ish)

Dash of hot sauce (I used Tapatio)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Salt and pepper both sides of your cutlets.  Spread your cheese mixture on the 2/3rds of the cutlet, leaving about an inch at one end.  Start at the end that is all cheesy and roll your way to the not cheesy end. (These are very scientific directions)

No need to use a toothpick, just place the rolled chicken in a oiled baking pan.  Set it down on the not cheesy end, so the roll doesn’t unroll in the baking process.

Bake at 425 for 16 – 18 minutes.  Let it rest before serving so the carryover heat will finish the cooking, and the food is a temperature that wont scald your mouth. ( I have to do this for my husband, or else he burns himself.  Someone is bad at eating)

 

GREEN RICE!

1 cup of Basmati.  You can use brown, white, whatever you want.  Just remember, brown rice takes 3 times longer to cook.

Cook the rice… you know how to do that by now.  2 to 1 liquid to rice, bring it to a boil, turn it down to simmer and cover for 10 – 12 minutes.

What makes the rice green you ask?

In the food processor, toss 1/2 a large avocado or one whole small one, 1 clove of garlic, 1 cup of fresh basil, 1 tbsp. of red wine vinegar (I like a lot of vinegar, use less if you don’t), 1 tsp of lemon juice, salt and pepper,  and 1 tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil.  This is basically like a basil avocado vinaigrette.  Buzz it up until its all well combine, the basil is chopped up and the garlic is discernible only by taste (IE you cant see it). Taste it, adjust to your liking, then pour it in the rice and mix it up.  I added about tbsp. of grated parmesan for a little extra decadence.

Plate yourself and/or your guests a little bed of green rice for the chicken ravoltini to get cozy on, pour the wine and voila!

Game Day Comfort Food

Sundays. Noisy men on the couch, empty beer bottles, and whats that you say?  Lasagna?  Um…. yeah.

My week of whole foods has left me feeling clean, but I found that the complete lack of comfort food has made me… well kind of depressed.  I went to bed more than once this week, whimpering about wanting pizza or mac and cheese.  

Today, with the sounds of football tugging on my patience, I decided that enough was enough.  I needed something to do, and I wanted some truly yummy comfort food. 

The Menu:

Greek Style Baked Wonton Rolls with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce

Lasagna with Chicken Italian Sausage and Balsamic Roasted Tomato Sauce

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These crunchy babies are stuffed with Ground Lamb, Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese and Parsley.   

The lamb was sauteed with onion and garlic, and the olives, feta and parsley were mixed up in the food processor until they were a uniform crumble.  I put about a tablespoon of each filling in the wonton wrappers, wrapped them up like mini burritos, and stuck them in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, checking on the half way and turning them over so they could crisp up evenly.  I also sprayed them down with canola oil before going in.  It help get that nice brown color.  This plate full used 1/2 lb of ground lamb, 1/2 onion, 2/3 cup of kalamata olives, 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and about 3 oz of feta cheese.  Salt and pepper everything to taste.

 

The Lasagna …. dun dun duuunnnnn!

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The layers were composed of balsamic roasted tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil and chicken Italian sausage.

The tomatoes were from my garden.  You need enough so that you have enough sauce.  There really isn’t any exact quantity I can give you, since it depends on the kind of tomatoes you are using.  I used a mix of sunburst cherries, heirloom black prince and romas.  Toss them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper them, and roast them at 400 for around 20 minutes.  I also threw in 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2 an onion thinly sliced.

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Aren’t they pretty?!

After they finished roasting, I used a slotted spoon to scoop them into a small sauce pan, and added one can of tomato sauce and a splash more balsamic, and let everything meld together just a bit.

The ricotta was mixed with 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt, pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

The mozzarella was shredded… duh.

I also used instant lasagna noodles, no boiling necessary.

I put a bit of sauce down on the bottom of the pan so that the noodles wouldn’t stick, then started layering up!  I think I ended up with 3 layers of noodles, and then topped the last layer with extra cheese and slices of fresh tomatoes because they are pretty.  🙂

I covered it with foil and baked it at 320 degrees for 20 minutes, then took the foil off, and broiled it till the cheese was bubbly and starting to brown.

YUM.  Now its time to cool the apartment down from having the oven and stove on for hours.  It was SWELTERING!

Whole Foods Dinner (note, not purchased at Whole Foods)

I used my surprise day off to prep a boat load of fruit and veggies.  It wasn’t really, but it certainly seemed like it was.

I cut up a bunch of bananas, peaches and strawberries so I could freeze them for smoothies.

I chopped up one head of Bok Choy (is that what you call it?  A head?), and 3 leeks, 2 lbs of collards from the garden.

I made my veggie stock, and I roasted a bunch of sunburst tomatoes in balsamic and olive oil.

I felt like I was cooking all day.  Considering it was reaching 100 degrees outside, I was more than happy to remain in my hobbit hole of a basement apartment yesterday.

Dinner last night was White Miso Soup with Bok Choy, Shitake Mushrooms, and a little bit of boneless skinless chicken breast (for my husband, who wont eat a meal unless there is meat in it).

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This was pretty easy.  I bought a tub of white miso paste.  I took about 2 tbsps of past and mixed it into 2 cups of my homemade veggie stock.  I turned the heat on medium, brought it up to a simmer, then turned it down to low and added the veggies.  I let the bok choy wilt a little before adding the thinly sliced chicken bits.  It took less than 15 minutes.

My side dish too much longer.  

Brown Rice with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

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Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook.   Its the same as regular rice in every other aspect.

Equal parts liquid to rice.  I used my veggie stock.

1/2 cup of Brown rice

1 Cup of veggie stock

Bring mixture to a boil, turn it down to low and put a lid on it.  Then leave it alone for 45 minutes.

 

The Tomatoes were placed in a glass baking dish, tossed in balsamic vinegar, a bit of olive oil, and some salt and pepper, and was tossed into a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes.  The tomatoes were juicy and created a sauce of their own when tossed with the rice and fresh basil.

 

Tah-dah!  Fresh foods, whole foods, yummy dinner.

 

My meal plan for tomorrow?

Breakfast:

Over easy egg on an extra thin yellow corn tortilla with a sprinkling of Trade Joes Mexican Lite shredded cheese mix.

Snack:

Green Fruit Smoothie – strawberries, peaches, banana, cucumber, grapes, and a bit of collard greens.

Lunch: Dinner left overs.  Brown Rice with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil, and Miso Soup with Bok Choy, Shitakes and chicken

Snack: 1/4 Avocado and 3 Rye Krisp crackers

Dinner: Thin Sliced Pork Tenderloin, Crock Pot Spicy Braise Cabbage (Ill post the recipe next time) and Quinoa

 

WOOHOO!  I still want pizza….. hopefully that goes away.

Veg out.

While writing my grocery list for today, I decided to go through my refrigerator and take inventory, and hopefully find what was producing that rather off-putting smell.  After I obsessively cleaned every drawer and shelf, I realized I have a whole lot of produce that is on its way out.  I have been really upset with myself for the quantity of food and left overs that have found themselves in the garbage can lately.  I needed to do something with all of these vegetables, and I knew that if I just steamed them or made a sauce, it wouldn’t get used before they went bad. I noticed that stocks were on my grocery list and then the light bulb hit.  Duh.  I’ll made a big pot of vegetable stock!  After my day and a half of juicing, I still am not ready to add much animal product back into my diet, and I was going to need a lot of vegetable stock for the brown rice and quinoa dishes that I have planned for the rest of the week.

As the pot simmers slowly on the stove, and the smells are perfuming the air, and I’m becoming more and more thankful for my surprise day off today.

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Remember, dont boil the veggies.  You want a low simmer, or you kill all the nutrients in the vegetables!

I BROKE!

Today very quickly went from  “this is hard, I don’t know if I can do it” to, “maybe I can compromise and add a little protein in with my drinks, like a slice of turkey or something”, to ” IM DONE I WANT FOOD.”

And I had a rye krisp cracker with some sliced turkey and hummus on it, and surprising no one, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.

So that’s it.  Im 1.5 days cleansed and looking forward to my vegetable soup for dinner.

Who’s dumb idea was that anyway.

Just in time for Wednesday dinner!