Meal Prep w/ Printable Recipes and Grocery List!

I used to be really good at meal prep! Lately I haven’t really made it a priority though. We were doing those meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, so I got lazy! I always plan our meals for the week and do one grocery shopping for the week (saves time and money), but I also like to plan weeks with similar ingredients so I can prep over the weekends. It takes some more planning, but it really makes our week nights so much easier! By the time Stew gets home from work, it’s 5.5:30 and Gracie starts melting down around 6:30. So we need to eat pretty much when he walks in the door! That means I need to get dinner made with two kids and a ringing phone (job hazard). Since I know I’m not the only one in this situation, I like to share my prep plans when I can! So this was our menu last week:

MENU:

**I’ve linked to recipes that can be downloaded and printed, as well as the grocery list for the week. I also wrote some notes below each day if there wasn’t a specific recipe to go along with it!

Saturday: Cook the pork in the slow cooker according to the recipe below so it’s ready to be used throughout the week.

Sunday: Braised Pork w/ roasted veggies (Recipe at bottom of post)

**Serve pork with roasted veggie of your choice. We used carrots tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast at 400*F for 15-20 minutes or until softened.

Monday: Cuban Pork Panini

**Danielle Walker’s Recipe can be found in her cookbook, but I linked to one similar above.

Tuesday: Vegetable Stir Fry

Wednesday: Roasted spaghetti squash with meat sauce

Thursday: Pork Ragu Spaghetti

**Heat 2 cups shredded pork in saucepan with jar of your favorite tomato sauce (this is my favorite pasta sauce EVER). Serve over cooked spaghetti.

Friday: Pepperoni Pizza Pasta w/ Vegetable Noodles

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Can you guess what my main ingredient was?? PORK! Now, I don’t usually make pork. But I am bored with chicken, so I wanted to use something else that was delicious and could be used in several different meals. As long as the meat is good quality, I am ok with it!

My inspiration for this menu was my new cookbook Against All Grain. I discovered this cookbook through a friend. They have some major food allergies in their family. And, because we get together on a regular basis and share a meal, it made sense that I should research some new ideas! As soon as I opened this cookbook, I was sold. There were so many things to love. The photos are gorgeous, the recipes are simple, and they can easily be modified for people without food allergies! So, I ordered it on Amazon and now read it on a daily basis! Plus, Danielle Walker’s story is so amazing. What a humble and beautiful woman she is! I digress….

So my order of steps for meal prep is to:

1. make a meal list

2. make a grocery list AS you plan the meals (I use Shopping List FREE app. It’s incredible)

**(THIS WEEK’S PRINTABLE GROCERY LIST HERE)

3. map out the things I’ll prep in advance (i.e. slow cooker pork).

 

Slow Cooker Braised Pork
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 Tbsp butter or oil
  2. 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  5. 1 large yellow onion, large dice
  6. 5 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1.5 cups chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season pork with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Brown pork on all sides in batches and place in slow cooker.
  4. In the same pan you browned the pork, saute the pancetta, onions, and garlic over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add in chicken stock to deglaze the pan, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture on top of pork.
  6. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  7. Skim any fat off the top.
  8. Shred and serve, or store in airtight container for later use.
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

 

So now what? Write out the menu in your kitchen so you know what meal comes which day. Print out your grocery list and recipes. And breathe a sigh of relief that you have one week of delicious meals planned!

 

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Citrus Supper Club

Every month, our group of 8 friends get together for supper club. We rotate the host. Each host is in charge of picking the theme and entree. The other couples are in charge of a drink, side dish or appetizer, and dessert that go with the theme. This month we were the hosts. I chose a Citrus theme because it’s starting to get warm, and I love citrus!


My main course was lemon braised chicken. Here is the original recipe. My update recipe is below. This was for 8 people, so you could definitely cut it in half for a family sized meal.

Along with the chicken, I made lemon poppy seed biscuits (basic buttermilk biscuits but omitted cheese and added zest of 1 lemon and 1 tsp of poppy seeds) and an arugula salad with orange slices, slivered almonds, craisins, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Annie made Smokey Sausage cups with puffed pastry filled with orange marmalade and kielbasa topped with gouda cheese and more orange marmalade (they’re in the back corner of the plated meal).


Kirsten made the cocktail which was grapefruit vodka and seltzer. She garnished with fresh grapefruit slices and gummi rings. For us pregos, we had seltzer with grapefruit juice. It was equally delicious!

And last, but definitely not least, Missy made lemon bars topped with a lemon slice. They were so delicious and a perfect way to end our citrus supper!

Lemon Braised Chicken
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  2. olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. zest of 2 lemons
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 cups chicken stock
  7. juice of 2 lemons
  8. 2 Tbsp corn starch
  9. 2 Tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towel
  3. Heat dutch oven to medium-high heat
  4. Drizzle chicken thighs with olive oil
  5. Season skin side with salt, pepper, and lemon zest
  6. Add chicken to pan in batches, skin side down, and sear on both sides until golden brown (2-3 min per side) Drain excess fat in pan as needed.
  7. Place seared chicken on a plate to brown remaining chicken.
  8. Remove all chicken from pan. Lower heat if needed.
  9. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Pour in chicken stock and lemon juice, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan as your pour.
  11. Bring stock to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  12. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour into chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Let simmer and thicken for about 5 minutes.
  13. Place chicken back into the pan and cover with lid.
  14. Cook in the oven for an hour.
  15. Remove pan from the oven. Serve warm with gravy and fresh chopped parsley.
Notes
  1. This can be prepared ahead. You can brown the chicken and set aside. While the pan is still hot, stir in garlic and deglaze with the chicken broth and lemon juice. Add in corn starch mixture and simmer to thicken. Set that aside until ready to braise. An hour before dinner, bring broth to a simmer, place the chicken in the pot and cover with lid. Place in oven for an hour and serve warm.
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Fruity Grilled Chicken Salad

I am a salad lover! I feel like salads get a bad rap because they can be boring! But, salads can be a mixture of anything. It doesn’t have to just be lettuce and vegetables! I love salads because I can just throw everything in a bowl, without measuring, and have a flavorful meal ready to go!

This salad is basically a grilled chicken salad, but with a TON of fun additions. This is the chicken recipe I use. I had some leftover quinoa, so I tossed that in. I also had a million strawberries from strawberry picking and some corn from the Farmer’s Market last weekend. I decided to saute the corn for a nice warm bite. I folded in the cooked quinoa and seasoned with salt and pepper.  

Here is the assembly: I line the bowls with some arugula, then layer on a scoop of the corn mixture, strawberries, diced turkey bacon, grilled chicken, and then top it with some sunflower seeds for texture! Here is a link to the vinaigrette I use. 

WOW, delicious.  I even scooped out some of the corn mixture to serve Turner. He can’t exactly do salads yet, but this is a bit of our dinner deconstructed so I don’t have to make him a whole separate meal! I will definitely be making this again! It was a big hit!

Fruity Grilled Chicken Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 2 marinated chicken cutlets, grilled and sliced
  2. 2 cups arugula
  3. 3 ears of corn, cut from cob (or frozen)
  4. 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  5. 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
  6. 3 slices turkey bacon, cooked and diced
  7. sunflower seeds
Instructions
  1. Grill the chicken breasts and slice (chicken recipe linked in the blog). Set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. Cut the corn away from the cob (or use frozen) and saute over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in quinoa and set aside.
  4. Line two bowls with arugula. Layer the corn and quinoa mixture over the arugula.
  5. Layer strawberries, bacon, and grilled chicken on top. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Top with your favorite dressing (vinaigrette linked in the blog). Enjoy!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Supper Club – Standing Rib Roast

We have our supper club once a month. Stew and I always look forward to it. Four couples together to eat and just hang out! We all love to decorate and entertain, so it’s always a great time! This month, Stew and I hosted. The theme was Silver and Gold. I wanted it to be cozy, yet have all the sparkle of the season! I found a sheer gold sequins fabric at JoAnn Fabrics, which was perfect (and cheap) to lay on top of my white table cloth. For my place mats, I used silver & gold glitter scrapbook paper!! It was nice and thick, so it worked perfectly. I used silver glitter painted pinecones and tied everyone’s names to them with silver string. I used a silver metallic sharpie to write their names. And, of course, white candles and baby’s breath to brighten it up. Here is my table-scape.


And, of course, we can’t forget the chalkboards! Winter Wonderland and Silver and Gold are now available on Etsy as digital prints!

Then, the most important part of the night, THE FOOD! For the main course, I chose a standing rib roast (recipe below). I came across this delicious recipe in Southern Living Magazine. Here is the original recipe. I made a few changes and it came out absolutely delicious!


In addition to the roast, I made buttermilk biscuits and roasted brussels sprouts. Annie brought a cheese platter as an appetizer, Kirsten brought a spiked hot cider (vanilla vodka to spike it) and Missy brought homemade chocolate truffles. It was a feast fit for a king! The perfect holiday meal spent with great friends.

Standing Rib Roast with Red Wine Gravy
Serves 8-10

Roast
1 (7-lb.) 4-bone prime rib roast, chine bone removed
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Digital Thermometer

Red Wine Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 red onion, minced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cup beef broth
pinch of salt

Preparation
1. Prepare Roast: Let roast stand at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 450°. Whisk together mustard and next 3 ingredients; reserve 1 Tbsp. mixture. Rub remaining mixture over roast; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place roast on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan.

3. Bake at 450° on lower oven rack 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°; bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 120° to 130° (medium-rare) or 130° to 135° (medium). Don’t trust a timer. ALWAYS use a meat thermometer. Let stand 30 minutes; transfer roast to a serving platter.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the gravy: Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and moving pan as necessary to prevent hot spots. Add onion; sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Whisk in flour. Cook, constantly whisking, for about 1 minute. Whisk in wine; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in broth; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Stir in reserved 1 Tbsp. mustard mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice roast, and serve with gravy.

Note from Southern Living:
Ask your butcher: Have the chine bone removed. A thin bone that runs perpendicular to the rib bones, it will get in the way of slicing once the meat is roasted and has rested.

Roast like a pro: Start roasting at 450° for 45 minutes to form the caramelized crust. Then reduce the temperature and finish cooking to keep the inside pink and juicy.

The right temp: 125° for prime rib lovers. Remember: The internal temp on large roasts like this will continue to rise as the roast rests.

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Melt In Your Mouth Turkey

I have a foolproof recipe for the BEST turkey you will EVER taste! I promise! Follow this step-by-step recipe and your guests will be talking about your turkey for years to come! It will go down in history! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good “Cooked and plated shot” because it was such a mad rush for food, and the sun had already gone down, so I had to use the dreaded FLASH. But here’s a picture of the spread.

Melt In Your Mouth Turkey

15 lb. fresh Turkey
1 1/2 sticks room temp salted butter
2 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic paste
Brine recipe here
3 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 carots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
Foil breastplate (funny sounding, I know)
Digital Thermometer
canola oil
salt & pepper
Big roasting pan

Gravy:
Turkey drippings
2 envelopes Knorr Gravy mix
2 boxes your favorite chicken broth

Monday:
1. Place butter, herbs, and garlic in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix until well combined. Put in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tuesday Morning:
2. Make the brine. Cool in fridge COMPLETELY. Once cool, remove turkey neck, giblets, etc. and put turkey into the brine, breast side first. Cover with foil and put in the fridge.
3. Cut celery, carrots, onion, lemon and put into a gallon sized ziplock bag in the fridge.

Wednesday Night:
4. Take herb butter out of the fridge and leave on the counter overnight to come to room temperature.

Turkey Day!
5. Preheat oven to 500F. Remove turkey from the brine. Discard brine. Rinse turkey with cold water and dry COMPLETELY with paper towels. Place on roasting pan.
6. Stuff cavity with the lemon and half the bag of carrots, celery, and onions. Place the rest of the veggies in the bottom of the roasting pan.
7. Carefully separate skin from the breasts and rub the butter under the skin on each breast. Use the skin to move the butter around to get it into all the nooks and crannies. Then, rub butter on top of the legs.

8. Fit foil “breastplate”. This foil will protect the breast from burning. Once the foil is fitted, set aside.

9. Use a paper towel to rub a thin layer of canola oil on the outside of the whole turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
10. Bake turkey for exactly 30 minutes at 500F to brown the skin.
11. Lower temperature to 350F.
12. Take turkey out, insert digital thermometer into the thickest part of the BREAST (smack in the middle between wish bone and outside of breast) and set thermometer to 155F (about another 2 hours). Place foil breastplate on and put back in the oven. NO BASTING! You want a crispy skin.
13. When thermometer beeps, take turkey out and cover with a foil tent. Let rest for AT LEAST an hour before cutting. Keep thermometer in. The temp should come to 160F while resting. That is your goal temperature for a DONE bird!
14. Cut both breasts off and set aside under foil tent.
15. Stick thermometer into thickest part of the thigh and put carcass and thighs back into the oven at 350F until thermometer beeps. This ensures that the dark meat cooks without overcooking the white meat.
16. To make the gravy, place the roasting pan, full of the delicious drippings, on the stove over medium-low heat. Whisk in 2 cartons of chicken broth and two envelopes of Knorr Gravy mix. Simmer and whisk until it thickens. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Run through a strainer. Keep warm in a pot on the stove or pour into serving dish if eating immediately.

**Keep turkey under foil until the last second to keep warm. To reheat when guests arrive, place in a shallow baking dish and moisten with HOT chicken broth. Carve and plate with beautiful garnishes like pomegranates, citrus fruit, kale, or grapes. ENJOY!

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Cauliflower Pizza

In an effort to do this whole “Paleo” thing, I came up with a cauliflower pizza recipe. We love our pizza, so I didn’t want to deprive us of that! This is definitely the best cauliflower pizza crust we’ve had yet. I tried a few variations, and this is the winner! The thing with this pizza is that it’s delicious, but it’s not the white-flour-pizza-dough pizza. So, we just accepted it for a different type of pizza, and it was perfect! Hey, it’s worth a shot!

I started out by blending the cauliflower until it was course, but not pureed (like couscous). Then, I microwaved the cauliflower for 5 minutes so it softened a bit. Once the cauliflower was ready, I mixed it with the other ingredients and formed the pizzas on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
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I baked the crusts for 30 minutes. I like them as crisp as possible. That seemed to work!
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I chose basic pizza toppings, but you could honestly top with whatever you’d like! I baked the pizzas for another 10 minutes to melt the toppings. Then I broiled the pizzas for 1 minute just to make the cheese crispy. I topped with some fresh basil for a pop of color. I must say, these were delicious! Let me know what you think!
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Cauliflower pizza
Makes 2 pizzas

1/2 large head cauliflower (about 2.5 cups ground)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1 egg
1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Pizza Toppings
1 Tbsp sauce per pizza
1/2 Roma tomato per pizza, sliced
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella per pizza
Sliced red onion
Sliced basil

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut cauliflower into chunks and place in food processor. Pulse until course (like couscous). Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, add the rest of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix together until well combined. Add the cauliflower and mix well. Divide dough in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each half of dough onto the baking sheet and press into rounds, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake crusts for 30 minutes or until browned and firm. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Broil for 1 minute to crisp up the cheese. Top with fresh basil and enjoy!

 

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Paleo “Spaghetti” with Sausage and Peppers

I know I’ve been posting a lot of food lately, but that’s about the most exciting thing we’ve got going on in our house. Turner is teething AGAIN. This time, it’s his top teeth. He is NOT a happy camper. He’s been waking up the past 3 nights, every half hour, moaning/crying. Luckily, I haven’t had to get out of bed. He just sort of drifts back to sleep. Poor baby. So, cooking makes me happy and calms my nerves! Therefore, that’s what you get!

A few days ago, Stew decided he wanted to try the paleo diet (after we just bought 3 loaves of bread). This all stemmed from this program my mom and stepdad were watching when they babysat last week. It was about the “perfect” diet. I’ve been seeing a ton of yummy looking paleo recipes on Pinterest, so I figured, why not!? I love any excuse to use funky ingredients to make a meal. Hell, I did the raw food thing for months! So you’ll be a part of my experimenting!

I saw a recipe for crock pot sausage and peppers over spaghetti squash. So, I made my spin on that. I didn’t use the crock pot at all. I feel like it would have turned to mush if I did. So I made a sort of spaghetti with meat-sauce meets sausage and peppers dish. Again, I was experimenting. But it came out DELICIOUS! Spaghetti squash is such an underrated vegetable (fruit?). It was light and delicious but had that sort of comfort food feel.

I started by cutting the squash in half lengthwise. Ok, to be honest, Stew cut it. That sucker isn’t easy to cut through! I filled a casserole dish with about 1/2 inch of water and placed the squash cut-side down in the dish. I used the tip of a knife (a fork would be safer) to poke some holes in the skin. I covered with foil and baked at 400°F for 45 minutes.
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In the meantime, I made the sauce. I chopped the peppers, onion, and garlic, and sauteed them in a dutch oven for about 5 minutes. While the veggies cooked, I removed the sausage from its casings and had them ready to go!
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I took the pepper mixture out to rest and popped the sausage in that same dutch oven. I used a hard spatula to break up the sausage into tiny pieces and cooked them until they were no longer pink. Then, I added the jar of sauce and pepper mixture back in. I let it cook on low for another 5 minutes.

Once the squash was finished, I used a fork to scrape all of the flesh into a bowl. I dished out the squash and topped with the sausage and peppers sauce. It was so good! I’m glad we have leftovers 😮 You’ll have to let me know what you think when you try it!
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Paleo “Spaghetti” with Sausage and Peppers
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
3 links hot Italian Turkey Sausage, casings removed
24 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce
basil for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Fill a casserole dish with about 1/2 inch of water, and place the squash cut-side down in the dish. Use a fork to poke some holes in the skin. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the skin is easily pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, heat Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil. Slice 1/2 an onion and peppers into long strips, and sautée for 5 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper over the pepper mixture. Mince a clove of garlic and add to peppers and onions. Cook one more minute.

While the peppers and onion are cooking, remove sausage from its casing. Take onion and pepper mixture out of the Dutch Oven and put on a plate. Add sausage to the same pot and break up with spatula into small pieces. Cook 5 minutes or until no longer pink.

Add the jar of sauce and pepper mixture to the Dutch Oven. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 5 minutes.

Once squash is finished, remove from oven. Let cool so it’s easier to handle. Use a fork to scrape the flesh into a bowl. Divide quash among 4 bowls and top with sausage and pepper sauce. Garnish with fresh basil if desired.

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Pesto Tortilla Pizza

Being from New Jersey, I am a lover of pizza. I remember when I first moved to Charleston, there was NO good pizza anywhere to be found. Of course, that was almost ten years ago. Since then, Stew and I have found our favorite pizza spots in town. Monza is our absolute favorite. That’s more of a brick oven style pizzeria. Then, there’s La Pizzeria, which is a great pizza-by-the-slice place. And, finally, there’s Whole Foods. Don’t knock it till you rock it people! They actually make a really delicious pie!

Now, pizza isn’t the healthiest food on the block, so I created a way to have my pizza and eat it to! I make my own, and I use tortillas! This is one of Stew and my favorite ways to eat pizza. It has a nice thin and crispy crust, and it’s so much healthier! We make all different kinds of pizzas like this. I usually make the basic margarita, but this time, I decided to switch it up. I made a homemade pesto sauce (which is so easy!) and topped it with fresh mozzarella, green peppers, tomatoes, and basil YUM!

I start by making the pesto while I preheat the oven. I combine the basil, walnuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in the food processor. Blend until combined. I use a spatula to scrape down the sides and pulse again. Then, I turn the processor on, and stream in the olive oil. Once it comes together, I add in the cheese, and give it another pulse. DONE!
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It really comes together so quickly. I dress the pizza and bake it on a cookie sheet. The whole process only takes about 20 minutes. That’s faster than it takes to go to the store and pick up take out! This pizza is quick, cheap, easy, and delicious! What more do you need?
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Pesto
(Makes enough for 2 tortilla pizzas)

1 cup fresh basil
2 Tbsp walnuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Combine the basil, walnuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in the food processor. Blend until combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and pulse a few more times. Turn the processor on, and stream in the olive oil. Once it comes together, add in the cheese, and give it another pulse. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Pesto Pizza
(Makes 2 tortilla pizzas)

1 serving pesto recipe above
2 tortillas (I used whole wheat)
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
2 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
basil, for garnish
parmesan, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 415ºF. Place the tortillas on an un greased cookie sheet. Spread the pesto on each tortilla. Place the sliced tomatoes, peppers, and mozzarella on each pizza. Bake for 12 minutes. Broil for about 1 minute to crisp the crust even more.  Top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

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Pasta with Lentils & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Every weekend, Stew and I plan our meals. We like to have a mixture of everything–Italian, American, Mexican, Thai, etc. This was our Italian dish for the week. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t like meat in my pastas. So, I decided to throw some lentils in to add that protein kick! These little legumes are often overlooked. But they are SO good for you! They are packed with protein (more than most nuts and beans), and they are so inexpensive! They are super easy to make too! They’re perfect to throw in pastas or salads to add some vegetable protein to your diet!

I know I have professed my love of brown rice pasta! But I am truly addicted. It’s true that a gluten free diet is for people with Celiac disease. But, I say, if something’s not agreeing with you, DON’T EAT IT! Semolina pasta is one of those things that doesn’t sit well with me. So, I’ve been eating this brown rice pasta for years, and I truly don’t taste a difference! More importantly, I don’t feel uncomfortable after eating it!

Now that I’m done with my health rant, I’ll get back to the dish! This meal is so packed with flavor that you won’t miss the meat and the white pasta! The combination of the salty sun-dried tomatoes, sweet basil, and crunchy almonds is enough to sell anyone on this dish. PLUS it’s super easy and inexpensive to make. While you’re boiling the pasta, throw the sauce together in another pot, and then toss it all together! How easy is that (as The Barefoot Contessa would say)?? I wrote in the recipe to reserve pasta water. That’s an important step, because it creates the sauce. Basically, the tomato paste and the pasta water come together and coat the pasta. You can always add more pasta water if it’s too thick! I hope you enjoy!
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Pasta with Lentils & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Serves 2

6 oz. brown rice pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup lentils
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade*
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup reserved pasta water

Rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes by soaking in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat dutch oven to medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook one more minute. Add spinach, lentils, sun dried tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook about one minute until spinach wilts. Using tongs, transfer pasta to the dutch oven and toss to combine. Ladle 1/4 cup of pasta water into dutch oven. Add parmesan cheese and basil. Toss with tongs to combine. Place the pasta in two large bowls. Top with slivered almonds and more parmesan if desired. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

*Chiffonade is just a fancy word for rolling the basil up like a cigar and making thin slices so you end up with strips of basil.

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Linguine with Avocado “Alfredo” Sauce

I am a huge fan of pasta. There’s nothing like a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs after a busy day! The only problem is that a meal like that leaves me feeling very heavy and uncomfortable. This recipe is the perfect comfort food without all the cheese and guilt!

I love rice pasta. I honestly can’t tell the difference. That’s pretty much the only kind of pasta we eat at our house! My husband loves it too. At least he likes it better than the whole wheat I would try to give him! I even made rice pasta for my father in law when he was here once and didn’t tell him until AFTER! He said he couldn’t tell a difference. Ok, are you sold yet?? Plus, eating a lighter dinner saves room for ice cream!

My husband loves pasta with alfredo sauce. I’ve never been a fan of creamy sauces on anything. So this is the perfect compromise! It’s so rich and creamy, yet it’s full of healthy fat and doesn’t weigh us down. Plus, I add a little crispy prosciutto on top which makes everything better!

I start by baking the prosciutto and tomatoes in the oven.IMG_0293 IMG_0298

While those bake, I cook the pasta and make the sauce.IMG_0299

I mix the sauce and the pasta together, adding some pasta water to thin it out. Then, I plate it in big white bowls and top it with the crispy prosciutto, tomatoes, parmesan and parsley. IMG_0309This is a flavor explosion! It’s definitely one of our favorite pasta dishes. I hope you enjoy it!

Linguine with Avocado “Alfredo” Sauce- Serves 4

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 slices prosciutto
1 10 oz pack of grape tomatoes
4 servings brown rice linguine
2 avocados
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
salt
pepper
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
chopped parsley for garnish
shredded parmesan for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place 4 slices of prosciutto on a cooling rack. Place the rack onto a sheet pan to catch any fat that drips off. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until crisp. In the meantime, place grape tomatoes on another sheet pan and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and begin to pop.

Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine avocados, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Pulse until smooth, about 1 minute.

Pour the avocado sauce into a large bowl. Using tongs, add the pasta and the reserved pasta water to the avocado sauce. Use the tongs to mix well. Use more pasta water to thin out the sauce if you’d like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate the pasta in large bowls and top with crumbled prosciutto, tomatoes, some parmesan cheese, and parsley.

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