Meatless Monday: Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

I get into salad ruts so when I saw this recipe I jumped for joy!  I’ve made it several times and let me tell you, the citrus possibilities are endless!  The recipe calls for red grapefruit, which I cannot eat because it interferes with my birth control pill.  Check your labels friends!  Did you know that grapefruit and pomegranate can interfere with certain drugs?  So, I used blood oranges and naval oranges and upped the amount to 6 total.  You could also use Valencia or Cara Cara oranges.

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.  You know how I feel about Cook’s.  It’s pretty darn wonderful.

Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

2 red grapefruit
3 navel oranges
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarse
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard

4ounces (4 cups) arugula
½ cup golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Cut away peel and pith from grapefruits and oranges. Cut each fruit in half from pole to pole, then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Transfer fruit to bowl and toss with sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2.  Melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer walnuts to paper towel–lined plate.
  3. Drain fruit in colander, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Transfer fruit to platter, arrange in even layer, and drizzle with oil. Whisk reserved juice, shallot, and mustard in medium bowl. Add arugula, ¼ cup raisins, and ¼ cup reserved walnuts and toss to coat. Arrange arugula mixture over fruit, leaving 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup raisins and remaining 1/4 cup reserved walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Gratin

I had a beautiful butternut squash sitting on my counter…all alone.  Every time I passed by it, I couldimg_0225 feel it say to me: “What’s wrong?”

And then Culture Club popped into my head…”Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?”  No.  I don’t want to hurt you beautiful butternut squash!  I want to do right by you and use the right recipe to make you shine!  I’m not sure where that one came from but it could have to do with the fact that Boy George has made an appearance this season on the Housewives of Beverly Hills.

We had dinner at my in-laws’ house and short ribs were on the menu courtesy of my father in law img_0226(FIL).  He is the meat master.  Our meal could have been a vegetarian meal though as far as I was concerned.  We had corn, green beans, the gratin and salad.  I ate all of that first so that I could attempt to suck the marrow out of the bones.  Enjoy!  I was looking for just the right recipe and the rest of the website looks promising too.  Cook’s note: I didn’t have any fresh thyme so I used dried thyme, just halve the amount.  There were a few things that I did differently from the original recipe.  I have made those changes below.  However, if you want to see the original recipe, click here.

Butternut Squash Gratin

INGREDIENTS:

3-4 pound (1 large) butternut squash, peeled
½ cup 2% reduced fat milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (1/2 Tbsp dried thyme)
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup whole wheat or gluten-free panko

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Slice butternut squash into 1/4-inch thick slices. You can do this with a knife, or a mandolin slicer.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, garlic, shallot, thyme, ½ of the parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the squash and toss to coat. Spray a medium oven-safe casserole dish with cooking spray. Place squash mixture overlapping layers in a 9×13 dish and set aside.
  3. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Add breadcrumbs, remaining parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Evenly spread breadcrumb mixture over squash, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover for 5 minutes to brown the top.

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No Sugar…

I’m on a quest to reset.  So, I will not ingest added sugar, alcohol, or guzzle soda while standing in front Unknownof the refrigerator.  Wait, I don’t do that anyway.  Starting January 2nd, I am forsaking all forms of sugar through the evening of January 28th when we arrive in Sun Valley, Idaho to ski.  It helps that I’m also doing Barre 3 All In, which is a 4 week reset that started on Monday, January 9th.  Check it out!  There is still time!

And, there is a new cycling studio that opened here in Tucson.  The studio is called (r)evolve.  The classes are being described as a nightclub on a bike.  It is loud, dark, and sweaty.  I’m sure there are similar studios around the country so, do a little research if you want to get your sweat on.

One week in, I’m clearheaded, the bloat is gone and I’m sleeping better than ever.  I hate to admit that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day, I had been drinking almost every night.  Yikes!  It had become a habit, a ritual.  With social engagements and the general revelry that comes with the season, I was taking full advantage of the excuse to imbibe.  Now that the kiddos are back in school, I have a good block of time to focus on working out, going to the grocery store, meal prep, and of course read!   More on that in another post.

I know that when the day comes, I’ll be all in about having a cocktail, but there is plenty of evidence that suggests that a month off from alcohol can do wonders for your liver and your general well being.  Check out this article from Outside Magazine.

I’m also very well aware that I could benefit from forsaking sugar on a regular basis.  I am not normally a sugar fiend, although I enjoy desserts immensely.  I am going to limit my desserts for the most part so that I can truly enjoy them.

What are you giving up for January?  Or, more importantly, what are you doing to make yourself better in this new year?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Meatless Monday: Classic Minestrone

For the ultimate reset, make this soup and feel healthy and satisfied.  My meat loving boys loved this soup!  I made it one afternoon prior to a date night and it was a hit.  I forgot to take a picture of it but trust me, it is delish!  It is a Cook’s Illustrated classic recipe.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 small leeks or one large, white and light green parts sliced thin crosswise (about 3/4 cup) and washed thoroughly

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into a small dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 small onions, peeled and cut into a small dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 medium celery ribs, tried and cut into a small dice (about 3/4 cup)

1 medium russet potato, washed and cut into a medium dice (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into a medium dice (about 1 1/4 cups)

3 cups stemmed spinach leaf, cut into thin strips

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, packed in juice (open the can and use your kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes into small pieces

8 cups water

1 parmesan cheese rind, about 5×2

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

1 15 oz can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup basil pesto or 1/4 cup mixture of EVOO three garlic cloves and herb mixture (fresh or dried) of rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil.

Directions:

  1. Bring vegetables, (except for spinach) tomatoes, water, cheese rind and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in a soup kettle or pot.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender but still hold their shape, about 1 hour. (soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.  Defrost if necessary and reheat before proceeding with recipe).
  2. Add beans and spinach and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Remove pot from heat.  Remove and discard cheese rind.  Stir in pesto (or herb mixture).  Adjust seasonings, adding pepper and more salt if necessary.  Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately.

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Water? OR Pee?

In case you walk into a bathroom used by boys and come upon a puddle, a splash, or drop of liquid, ALWAYS ASSUME IT IS PEE.

I walked into the boys’ bathroom and found what Andrew described as water from his water bottle.  He imageswasn’t fooling me, the boy has no control over that thing he was given.  I immediately assumed it was pee and began cleaning up accordingly.  I didn’t see a water bottle anywhere near his room.

There is nothing more disgusting than a bathroom used by little boys.  The Lambda Chi house at The University of New Mexico would have given the boys’ bathroom a run for its money, but these boys have no control over their bodily excretions. I clean their bathroom from top to bottom EVERY OTHER DAY!  It is amazing how much urine can collect on the walls, floor, cabinets and toilet in that short time.

The mirrors constantly look like someone has smeared mayonnaise all over them.

The sink has clumps of toothpaste hardened to the sides.

I am doing my best to keep up with all of it but I do not have enough time in the day to keep watch ba-supplies1over that bathroom.  Maybe I should set up an attendant station in there and charge them a fee like certain bars did I went to in college.  There was always this smartly dressed over made up woman sitting on a stool in the bathrooms with a collection of toiletries available for a nominal fee.  It was always a very uncomfortable situation for me to encounter, and I never used anything that I recall but I always handed that gal a buck because…who wants to sit in a bathroom at a bar working on tips from drunk chicks?

In the process of raising these boys, I truly hope that I can teach them to appreciate a somewhat clean bathroom.  I don’t think they’ll truly understand the merits of a clean bathroom until they have to impress a future partner.  Most of the guys I came across in my single days did not.  I don’t expect it to be perfect just not disgusting.

Do you have any tips, thoughts or stories about teaching your boys the finer details of bathroom cleanliness?  Post in the comments section below!

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Cold Weather Food! Easy Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce

Now that the weather is a bit cooler in Southern Arizona, there are a few things I like to do: wear more clothing than just a tank top and shorts, drink red wine, and make casseroles!  The highs have only been in the upper 50’s so, this is perfect weather for lasagna!  The recipe below is from Cook’s Illustrated, one of my trusted sources for recipes.  This one will NOT disappoint.  I served this with sautéed broccolini and my All Kale Caesar!

Easy Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce

Ingredients:

Meat Sauce

1 Tbsp EVOO

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)

6 medium cloves garlic, minced, (about 2 Tbsp)

1lb mix of the following meats: ground beef, veal, and pork sausage

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ up heavy cream

1 28oz can tomato puree

1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained

 

Ricotta, Mozzarella, Pasta Layer

15 oz ricotta cheese or cottage cheese (1 ¾ cups)

2 ½ oz grated Parmesan cheese (1 ¼ cups)

½ cup chopped fresh basil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

12 no boil lasagna noodles (from and 8 or 9 oz package)

16 oz whole milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)

 

Instructions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt and pepper; cook breaking meat into small pieces with a wooden sppon until meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes.  Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes.  Add pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside.  (Sauce can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.
  3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup parmesan, basil, egg, salt and pepper in medium bowl with fork until well-combined and creamy; set aside.
  4. In a 9×13 baking dish, smear ¼ cup meat sauce over the bottom of the dish. Place 3 noodles on top of sauce.  Drop 3 Tbsp ricotta mixture down the center of each noodle.  Level by pressing flat with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.  Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce evenly over cheese.  REPEAT layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and sauce two more times.  Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup mozzarella, then with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.  Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover lasagna.  Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil.  Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes  Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

 

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Kid Friendly Meal: Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

Do you want an easy, kid friendly meal?  Good.  Here it is.  I found the original recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, which painstakingly tests recipes to improve them.  The first time I made it I only had ground turkey, so I skipped a couple of the steps and augmented one of them to fit my tastes.  They are outstanding.  I served the lettuce wraps with coconut rice, black beans and steamed green beans.

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (about 1lb) trimmed of silver skin and fat, cut into 1″ chunks

2 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp white rice

1/4 cup low-sodium broth

2 medium shallots peeled and sliced into rings to use raw or minced to cook

3 Tbsp juice from two limes

2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp red peper flakes (optional for kiddos)

3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole

Directions:

  1. Place pork chunks on a large plate in single layer.  Freeze meat until firming starting to harden around the edges but still pliable, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Place half of the meat in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, 5 to 6 1-second pulses. Transfer ground meat to a medium bowl and repeat with remaining chunks.  (Alternately, place 1 lb ground turkey into the bowl)  Stir in 1 Tbsp fish sauce into ground meat and marinate, refrigerated, 15 minutes.
  3. Heat rice in small skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Grind rice with spice grinder or mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal.  You’ll have about 1 Tbsp rice powder
  4. Bring broth to simmer in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pork and cook, stirring frequently until about half of pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 tsp rice powder over pork; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until remaining pork is no longer pink, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer.  Transfer pork to large bowl, let cool.  10 minutes.
  5. Add remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce, remaining 2 tsp rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to pork; toss to combine. Serve with lettuce leaves.

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Meatless Monday: Beetroot and Goat Cheese Tart

After a gluttonous Thanksgiving I took a couple of days off to reset myself.  I made a simple turkey soup using the carcass.  It rendered about two gallons of stock so I used one and a froze one.  My MIL and I have been hitting the gym hard these last couple of days.  Barre3, Rhythm Cycling, TRX and the treadmills have been in heavy rotation.  During the holidays my only goal is to maintain my weight.  Bottoms up!

I needed to come up with a new beet recipe.  My MIL requested a beet dish while she was visiting.  So img_1756 img_1757 img_1758after a quick search, I found this delicious recipe on Delicious Everyday It includes crust and goat cheese, which are two of my MIL’s favorite things in the whole world.  I did serve this with sautéed beet greens, mashed potatoes with crispy onions and lamb chops.  But this could easily be served at a brunch or even as a dessert.  The filling has quite a bit of tang!

Beetroot & Goats Cheese Tart
Slightly adapted from delicious Simply The Best by Valli Little
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 – 6
Author Jennifer Schmidt
Ingredients
BEETROOT MARMALADE:
2 medium sized beets
2 green apples coarsely grated
1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp of ground cloves
2 star anise
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup cane sugar
JALOUSIE
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry thawed
8 oz  goat cheese
1 Tbsp of freshly picked thyme leaves
1 egg lightly beaten

  • Instructions
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and wrap the beets in foil and place in a roasting try. Roast for 1 hour, or until tender. Set aside to cool before peeling and coarsely grating.
  • Combine the grated beet and apple in a saucepan along with the nutmeg, cloves and star anise. Add the red wine vinegar and sugar and place over a high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium, cover and cook for 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced. Remove the lid and cook for a further 8 to 10 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool completely.  Then remove the star anise pods.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the pastry. Cut the sheets of pastry in half and one sheet spread the beet marmalade over the middle of each half, leaving a 2cm border. Top with crumbled goats cheese and the thyme leaves.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut slits in each half of the pastry, starting about 4 cm in from the edge, spacing each cut 1cm apart. Carefully place each half on top of the base and press to seal around the filling. Trim the edges and then brush lightly with beaten egg.
    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and puffed.
  • Recipe Notes
    When sealing the pastry be careful not to press too hard on the cut edges as this will prevent the edges of the pastry rising. Also, when brushing the pastry with the beaten egg don’t brush the edges as this will prevent the edges from puffing up.

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Meatless Monday: Vegan-Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

There are a few times in cooking when I have experienced a curious thing: A vegan, gluten-free recipe is as good if not better than a conventional recipe.  This is one of them.  I was flabbergasted when I tasted this recipe from the Minimalist Baker.  Check out this website and this recipe and you will not be disappointed.  I used pumpkin puree that I had made and frozen a few weeks prior and I had great luck with using coconut oil (vegan butter scares me), and homemade cashew milk that I had on hand.

Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
Serves: 10
Ingredients

CRUST
6 Tbsp cold vegan butter (or chilled coconut oil with varied results)
1 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour
1/4 tsp salt
4-6 Tbsp ice cold water

FILLING
2 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (~1 1/2 15-ounce cans)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1 Tbsp olive oil, or melted coconut oil
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or sub mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)
1/4 tsp sea salt

  • Instructions
    To prepare crust, add gluten free flour and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Slice or dollop the cold butter in and work gently with a fork or pastry cutter to cut it in. Don’t overwork, just get it incorporated.
  • Next add ice cold water a little at a time and use a wooden spoon to stir. Only add as much water as you need to help it come together.
  • Once a loose dough is formed, transfer to a piece of plastic wrap and work gently with your hands to form a 1/2 inch thick disc. Wrap firmly and refrigerate for a minimum 30 minutes, up to 2 days. Just let it warm back up a little before using. You don’t want it too warm or it can get too soft to handle.
  • Once your dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare pie filling.
    Add all pie ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
  • To roll out the crust, unwrap the disc and place it between two sizable layers of wax paper (plastic wrap will work OK, but is a little more difficult to work with). Use a rolling pin to gently roll it into the shape of your pie pan. If it cracks, don’t stress – you can reform it with your hands once you get it in the pan. But try and be gentle.
  • To transfer the crust, remove the top layer of wax paper and gently lay the pie dish face down on top of the crust and use the support of the wax paper to quickly but carefully invert it. Don’t overthink it – just do it.
  • Once you get the crust inverted, gently use your hands to form it into the pan, working the crust up along the sides. It can be a little tricky but it bakes beautifully, so it’s worth the effort! Just try not to overwork the dough in the process – it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to perfect the shape. Any holes or cracks can be mended with a little excess dough and the heat of your hand.
  • TIP: I would advise against trying to be fancy and do any elaborate design with the crust, so just get the crust in, get a flat edge and go.
    Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350 for 58-65 minutes. The crust should be light golden brown and the filling will still be just a bit jiggly and have some cracks on the top. Remove from oven and let cool completely before loosely covering and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight.
    Slice and serve with coconut whipped cream and an additional sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or pumpkin pie spice (optional). This would also be amazing with my Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream and Brown Sugar Pecans!

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Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Tacos

Taco Tuesday is tomorrow, so try this one on for size!

 

Butternut squash tacos (vegan)
Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into cubes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
16 oz fresh spinach
10 corn tortillas
chopped cilantro for garnish
Maple tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
3 Tbsp hot water to thin
Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Layer butternut squash cubes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush cubes with olive oil and maple syrup. Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until tender and just starting to brown at the edges. Turn once during cooking to brown all sides. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the squash is baking, prepare the beans, spinach, and onion mixture.
Over low heat, add the beans to a small pan with the garlic powder,chopped onions, 1 tsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Stir for 2-4 minutes to heat through. Add in about three large handfuls of fresh spinach and let it wilt for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
Prepare the maple tahini sauce by adding tahini, maple syrup, and lemon juice to a mixing bowl and whisking to combine. Add hot water until a pourable sauce is formed. Set aside.
Prepare the tacos by topping the corn tortillas with a spoonful of the bean and spinach mixture, then a spoonful of the butternut squash.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and maple tahini sauce.

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