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lentil & white bean stuffed delicata squash 

oh my goodness… I don’t think I could fully express just how much I love fall!  

Everything is just so beautiful.  We started our day at our local farmers’ market yesterday 

Just look at that color! 


I scored a great deal on tomatoes

So that means it’s canning time!

I love the process of canning.. because it is a process. It also brings back nostalgic memories of my amazing Grandparents. Gosh, I miss them😓. 

I spent yesterday prepping the tomatoes, and started canning this am. 
My first jar broke when I put it in my canning pot 😂. I sputtered many not-so nice words. ( who meee?)

I tend to be very careful about following the proper procedures when I’m canning so I was really very upset when this happened. After doing a little research I actually think that I might put a little bit too much liquid in the jar before I sealed it either that or I filled it to tightly so I am currently waiting for my water to boil again so that I can try this again.
In the meantime while I’m waiting for the water to boil I figure this is a great time for me to share a recipe. Wayback in the beginning when this blog was brand-new one of the reasons that I started it was because we had joined CSA and there I had been introduced to a most amazing squash call Delicata.

I actually love all winter squash however the thing I love about Delicata is that the skins are edible making prep work next to nothing. 

This, my friends, is a delicata squash.  It is in season right now. You can find it at your local farmers’ market as well as most grocery stores. 

Lentil & White bean stuffed delicata Squash 

1 delicata squash

1/4 cup dried brown lentils

2 garlic cloves, peeled 

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup low sodium canned white beans, rinsed and drained 

1 tomato, chopped

About 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsbp olive oil

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese




Preheat oven to 325 degeees

Wash the squash, half the squash and remove seeds. ( I’m finding that a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges makes easy work of this) 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast upside down on a baking sheet in the oven for 20-25 min depending on size. ( mine took about 22 minutes) 

It is done when a knife can be easily inserted into outer skin.


Using tongs, carefully flip squash over 

While squash is cooking, prepare filling.

Cook lentils according to package directions, adding the whole garlic cloves so that they soften.( I’m enjoying sprouted lentils, because they are easily digestible and cook quickly.. if you can’t find them dried brown lentils work just fine)

Once lentils are cooked, remove garlic clove and mash together with the white beans. Add back to pan and stir in tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from the lemon into mixture. 

Divide mixture between both halves and fill 


Sprinkle the cheese on top,drizzle with the olive oil and return to oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts

This makes a perfect make-ahead dish, take-away lunch or side dish for dinner! Enjoy!

Click here for another delicata recipe from a few years back
Keeeping Florida and all in the path of hurricane matthew in my thoughts.  Including my son and Daughter-in-law and 2 of my grandpups, and many friends in the area.  Please be safe! 

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one-pot creamy pasta

Happy Friday, friends. 
The recipe I’m sharing today is not my own.  It was in Martha Stewart’s magazine a few years back.  It was one of those pull-out recipe cards. 

I must admit, I didn’t think much of it when I saw the recipe, but a snowy afternoon with limited ingredients in the house led me to try it.
Holy cow batman!  Is at as good as fettuccini alfredo?  Nope.  Pasta, cream, cheese butter garlic..  not much can compare with that. 

Was it amazing? YES!

Was it easy?  YES!  Easier than making a box of kraft mac and cheese ( which, btw.. it also kind of amazing it it’s fake orange cheese nostalgic way ☺️) 
Here’s the original recipe for One pot orecchiette, chickpeas and olives

Admittedly, I’ve followed her recipe to a tee… but I’ve also used it as a guideline to play a little. 
Here’s her original recipe, just subbing the kind of pasta I used 

12 ounce dry pasta ( I had bow ties, so I used bow ties) 

* note..  many companies make ‘no bake’ pasta these days.  For this recipe, just use your regular pasta.  I haven’t tried it with GF pasta, but I’d imagine it would work, just keep an eye on it and add more water if  needed) 

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted ( you can buy them pitted.. don’t fret )

3 cloves garlic, smashed ( or 1 tsp garlic powder ( make sure not garlic salt) 

Sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 

2 TBSP tomato paste ( buy the tomato paste in the tube.  It’s in the canned tomato isle.  Believe it or not. Whole Foods has one of the least expensive tomato paste tubes.  I believe Trader Joe’s also has one) don’t pay more than 3 bucks for it

( optional.. but I always use in any soup or stew.. small piece of Parmesan rind) 

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Sea salt

Ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I also added a bit on cheddar ends that I had in the fridge )

2 cups baby greens 
Place everything up to cheese in a stockpot. 

Add 5 cups of water 
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, stirring occcasionally. Check pasta in 12-15 minutes ( thicker pasta will require longer.  Check at 15 min to see). It should be mostly cooked, with just a slight bite to it. 

Turn off heat, but leave pan on burner 

Add the cheese, replace cover for 5 min so the cheese can melt. After 5 min, stir and if cheese still needs longer to melt, cover for additional 5 min.  Discard rosemary sprig, if used. If sauce seems a bit thick, stir in a bit more water until you get a creamy consistency 


Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes 


Please try this!  I have a lot of friends who are just learning to cook.. a lot of girls just on their own, either senior year in college or just out on their own.  This is a great recipe to start to learn to cook 

You can assemble in the morning and add water and cook when you get home from work
You can play with the ingredients…sub out broccoli crowns and cooked chicken for the chickpeas and olives

Or chopped red pepper and cooked sausage for the chickpeas and olives

Or ground beef and onion,  and pepper jack cheese for a Tex-mex flair

Or you can eliminate the cheese to make this vegan. 
Full credit of this recipe goes to Martha Stewart.  I just wanted to share it because it is insanely easy and tastes like it took a lot longer than it did to make. Try it! 
Enjoy!
Ps…. happy birthday to my long-time friend, Laurie! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🍷🍰😘

mock~tails, home made fruit vinegars annnd..

Spaghetti squash casserole.

yes.

again.

After help from my friends and family on facebook, I think that I’ve fixed the issue. Now I’m sure some of you are downright sick of hearing about it ( I’m kinda getting sick of typing it) but I still feel the need to share that post in its’ entirety, so we will start with that.

 

( feel free to skip if you just can’t bear to have your eyes view it again~ it’s ok, I’ll still love you. Like lots. )

 

friends. If you are connected with me on my  facebook page , then you’ve had a sneak peak at what’s cooking in my kitchen

Get yerself a sketti squash, because trust me, you will want to make this!

I mentioned in my massaged kale salad post how I am obsessed with True food kitchen

I’ve eaten here many times and have tried many things on the menu. ALL fabulous.

Twice now, I’ve had friends order the spaghetti squash casserole, and both have raved about how good it was.

( truth be told, both friends offered me a bite, of which I accepted  and wow! I just knew I had to make it at home)

I did a little research * puffy heart google* and voila! found the recipe!

click the link for complete recipe

Dr Andrew Weil, Spaghetti Squash casserole

 

Ingredients
1 spaghetti squash
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground allspice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 pound part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheesenow since I’m home with a healing pup, I had to improvise the recipe just a littleI did not have the peppers, but I did find a sad little jalapeno in my crisper drawer, and we like it hot 😉 so I used that in place of the red and yellow peppers.

spaghetti squash casserole ingredients

Start by cooking the squash. The recipe says to add entire squash into a big pot of water, bring to a boil for 50 minutes.

 

check on pup 

Now, I usually cook squash in the oven but I was intrigued to try this method. So I did.

My only comment would be that cooking it in the oven it was easier to separate the seeds from the flesh, but over, I would cook the squash either way.

while the squash is cooking ( whichever way your little heart desired) Chop up your veggies

Add a small amount of olive oil to a pan ( I’m a die hard believer in cast iron.. I’ll explain why if ya wants to know 😉  )

 

add the onions and carrots to hot oil, season with a bit of salt and cook for 5 min

 

check on pup 

next, I  added the the pepper and celery with a dash of red pepper flakes

squash filling

allow to saute for about 10 minutes, until veggies were soft. Taste for salt, if it needs a little more, go ahead and knock your self out 😉

* I kept adding little bits of water throughout so that the veggies didn’t dry out and stick while softening.. maybe 2 tablespoons at a time each time I stirred it ? )

 

check on pup 

The recipe called to squeeze the garlic in, but I rid myself of my garlic press years ago, as it only had that one purpose, and its easy enough to smash garlic with the side of a chef’s knife. garlic smash

f you have a press, by all means use it

add the crushed tomatoes m sprinkle of allspice (the secret ingredient, we discovered) , the garlic.

now you may have noticed the dish of roasted tomatoes.  I had some maters that were to ripe to eat raw, so I roasted them like I did when I made my

roasted garlic and tomato soup

 

 

squash filling

I  added these sweet babies  in addition to the crushed tomatoes

I also added a sprig of rosemary.

I hate to follow directions 😉

spaghetti squash

 

and btw~ this smelled heavenly 

Next I used a pair of tongs to remove squash from boiling water ( CAREFULLY) and place on a cutting board until cool enough to cut

 

scoop out seeds ( if you cooked it in the oven, you’ve already done this. great job, you overachiever, you  😉 )

 

spaghetti squash filling

 

 

add to tomato mixture and stir

 

check on pup 

Now full disclosure… since I was cooking this for just Scott and myself, I spooned out half of the tomato mixture and reserved for another recipe ( veggie chili, perhaps? ) and only used half of the spaghetti squash itself.   Had I known I could have halved the recipe, but being my first time making it, I wasn’t thinking.

 

spaghetti squash filling

 

 

I mean just look at this! Incredible.

 

next, layer 1/2  the squash mixture in baking dishes , add 1/2 the cheese, the rest of the squash mixture, and top with remaining cheese

 

 

baked spaghetti squash

 

guess which one was mine 😉

 

As far as the cheese goes, I used shredded because I had it and on Sunday when I played around with

smoked tofu crumbles, I smoked a few mozzarella balls as well ( just curious how it would come out) so I cut those up and topped  our dishes with a bit of that crazy cheese flavor.

I baked it in a 350 over for about 20 minutes, topped with shredded basil and a tiny drizzle of olive oil

 

Baked Spaghetti Squash

 

do I have your attention yet?

 

baked Spaghetti squash

 

yeeeeeaaah…  this was pretty awesome.  and healthy? CRAZY healthy!

If you would like to make this vegan, substitute Daiya cheese. simple!

My friend, Cindy stopped by yesterday to visit with me and brought me lunch. From where? True food of course!

I had the edamame dumplings and they were incredible. Together we disected the taste and came up with what we think would be a good recipe.

 

I have my next challenge!

 

true food edamame dumplings

 

Thank you, Cindy, for lunch and the company 😉

My next immediate project is making puppy ice cream or peanut butter biscuits  With all of the treats I’ve been given Fen, I’m starting to run low and need to last until the weekend when Scott is home

 

healing Fenway

 

 

my sweet girl ❤

 

 

al’ight….  since I’ve spent 46,000 hours writing,losing,finding,re~losing, re~ finding,fixing and re~ posting this…. you just might wanna make this… and let me know 🙂

 

ok. next. While I was hanging out with my sweet pup this week, I watched a lot of Food Network I came across a show that was focusing on Mocktails… you know, cocktails sans alcohol.

 

Kelsey Nixon made blackberry sipping vinegar to use as a base for a mocktail recipe.

I was curious, so I used the base/ idea of her recipe to make Strawberry~basil vinegar.

( because that is what I had in~ house ..

 

strawberry~basil vinegar

start by using equal parts fruit-sugar. I used a cup of each and added shredded basil

 

mash fruit and sugar up well and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate ( I love re- using rubber bands from veggies all over the kitchen 😉 ) for 2 days , stirring occasionally

On day 3, add equal amount ( 1 cup )  of apple cider vinegar ( I swear by Bragg’s.. highly worth the extra buck or two ) and stir.

The next day, using a fine~ mesh strainer, strain all solids out, using a flexible spatula  to press out every last bit of liquid ( you do NOT want to waste any )

 

strawberry- basil vinegar

to make your life easier ( because let’s face it, it’s all about you 😉 ) strain it into a dish or measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring.

Pour into a jar and store in fridge!

 

( I have a batch with Meyer lemons in the fridge now. I’ll let you know how it comes out )

 

strawberry-basil vinegar

I made a mocktail by pouring about an ounce of the vinegar over some ice, topping with sparkling water and a wedge of lime.

 

strawberry-basil mocktail

 

There is something about the vinegar that really elevates this drink., It feels like a special drink

In the show, Kelsey used an infused tea as well ( click the link up there for complete recipe) but I’m a simple girl and this drink suited me just fine.

So for my friends out there who don’t drink alcohol, for one reason or another, here’s a new option for you!

 

It is also a Crazy- delicious base for a salad dressing..  more on that tomorrow.

 

On another note, my PT is going well. Really well. my PT recommended that I get a theraputtic massage to break up some of the scar tissue in my hamstring from the tears. ( not my torn ACL leg that i just had surgically fixed, the OTHER leg that went into crazy hyper horrificness thanks to being on crutches post- surgery

The massage therapist ( This was NOT a relaxing massage AT ALL, btw) worked on my hips, glutes, ( where one of the tears are) and then she moved to my back.

She discovered that I have a muscle along my spine ( not the spine itself) that is all twisted up and is sending pain signals down my leg.

After 60 minutes with her, I noticed a difference ( the next day)

I was shocked to realize halfway through the day that I wasn’t struggling while doing simple things like just walking 

So my PT is also working on this and is having me start some strength training , lots of squats, single-leg squats and lunges of all angles.

and I’m feeling good for the first time in a LONG time.

I asked Matt ( PT) about possibly training for a 5k. He said he’ll let me start jogging ( under his supervision) on the treadmill in 2 weeks.

He humbling shared with me that he came in in the top 20 of the Boston Marathon last year. Not percentage, but overall.

I’m uber- impressed.

Friday I made a last minute descison to sign up for an Earth- Month 5k around the corner from my house. ( with his approval)

I went into this knowing that walking was the only option and that my time would not matter.

I had 2 friends who signed up with me.

we finished dead last, but that didn’t matter. We did it.

I had my first benchmark for races here in Colorado and the only thing that I can expect from here is to get better and move forward..

I’m ready

Aveda earth day race

I hope that your weekend was fabulous!

xo

flashback…. Ali’s graduation party

Hello friends 🙂

Our youngest daughter, Alison graduated from high school just 2 weeks ago.. And since we were sooo busy I’m just not getting around to posting about it.

It was a very special time. Both my boys and my daughter in law, Amanda, flew In for this special event.

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And of course, Scott

It all went by so fast..

We had her party the day after graduation simply because everyone was in town. I spent many hours thinking about the kind of party that I wanted to have for her. ( which was really good for me because it helped to keep my mind focused on that versus my life changes right in front of me)

The weather was less than desirable. In fact, downright miserable. Scott had wanted to have the party at a hall, but Ali and I really wanted a big white tent in the backyard.

Having it at home was also important to us as we knew that only 5 short days after the party we would be completely moved out and that this would be the last time that we would get together with our friends and families in this home.

I ended up calling and having sides to the tent added once I saw the forecast.. And the morning of the party I called and ordered a heater.. ( it was in the 40s, damp, windy and cold)

The heater was the best decision EVER!!

Everyone seemed to have fun ! It was so nice to have the majority of our families there and so many of Ali’s friends and a few of mine

Here are some random pics..

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Yes.. Flat Dave was the first party guest… With my family, I’m not surprised at all

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Ali with a few of her friends

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My adorable niece, Kalli

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Lots of family, including Scott’s 102 year old grandmother!!!

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A lot of the food I was able to make ahead

I served

Baked ziti
Chicken broccoli Alfredo
Sweet and sour meatballs
Lemon orzo salad
Anniversary chicken ( chicken with bacon and cheddar cheese)
Homemade pickles
Southwestern bean salad

Lots of snacks and drinks including homemade sangria!

I have all of the recipes that I used in case you are interested. Everything was easy to make a head of time and came out great ( I think)

Of course, I have zero pics of the food, except for the cake and cupcakes 😉

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It was everything that I envisioned her party to be.. We are all so proud of her!!

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It may have been cold and raw outside but it didn’t matter… The love inside that tent was awesome… ( not to mention the fabulous heater 😉 )

Oxox

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taking a bath..

here we are friends… Thanksgiving week.  For some it is exciting, for some it is a difficult time of the year.

 

I have been on both sides if that coin throughout the years…I wish that I had advice for friends of mine having a tough time this year.. just know that I am thinking of you 🙂

 

If you have been following me for a while, or happen to know me personally, then you know that cooking  Thanksgiving dinner is my FAVORITE thing to do in the world!  To me it’s not a chore, it’s a privilege. The days leading up to Turkey day are just as much of a holiday for me as the actual day, You can read more about that  HERE..

 

Today is the Tuesday before, which I have dubbed ‘ big shopping day’…. NO not he day where everyone comes out at 1 am in their pajamas and runs over fellow human beings also in the holiday ‘spirit’ in order to save a buck on GI joe…. I;m talking about the day that I get up very early, go shopping for all of the food that I will need to prepare my meal.

 

Being organized is key. If you know me then you know that organization … yeah… not so much for me, *I* am a multi-tasker. A multi tasker of epic proportions…

 

in fact, while I am typing this, I am doing laundry, wrapping Christmas presents ( the 2 that I have) talking to Ali, listening to some pretty music and bandaging up my finger.

 

All at once.   So to calm my self to a place where I focus on *JUST* shopping for this one meal… it’s a challenge.  But I work myself up for it… and each year I succeed.

 

early in the morning, the grocery store employees are really nice… not that they aren’t nice later in the day, but they are tired..  really tired.  And who could blame them?

You also met other nice ‘early morning’ people… I met a lady this morning who went out of her way to tell me what a great buy the sweet potatoes were.  And where to find them.  I told her about the nutritional benefits of them, next thing you know, we were having coffee and we booked a trip to the Bahamas for a weekend retreat together.

 

just kidding.   everything beyond the coffee part was silly….  but people can be so nice sometimes that it makes you remember why you are thankful.

 

*****  she’s a- rambling again*****…….  ok.. down to business.

on big shopping day, I don’t really do a lot of cooking.. a lot of it is prep….

 

I do make my CRANBERRY SAUCE….. ( which by the way the recipe was from my old friend Mr.s M  who NEVER steered me wrong with a recipe.

A few years back, Scott and I decided  to try to brine our bird.  Brining does a lot of things…. the salt brings out the impurities, the flavor of what you brine with gets taken into the bird, and the salt helps hole the moisture , making for a very moist, delicious bird… But there is one extra benefit that we discovered after a few years of trial and error.

 

stick with me here….here is what is in my basic brine

Kosher salt ( very important to not use baking salt) I use Morton’s in the big blue box

Sugar…  I used brown sugar

peppercorns

citrus…  assorted.. have fun with it!

I onion, peeled & chopped

 

fresh thyme, parsley,  sage, and Rosemary

 

In the past we have tried to mix the brine in a large bowl and keep in in the fridge….   one year we brined in the sink, taking turns to get up and add ice al night long ( to keep the temp cold enough.

 

then somewhere along the way, we learned about this….

 

to you it may look like a cooler, but for our turkey of the year, it is a deluxe bathtub…..

I start by boiling about a cup of water…  add the salt and the sugar to the *clean* cooler then add the boiling water and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.

 

cut the citrus in wedges and squeeze the juice in with the mix & drop the rinds right in there.  Rough chop the herbs, dump the peppercorns and fill the cooler halfway with ice.

Next, rinse the bird ( by now you should have named him…..  our bird this year is Theodore ) and careful submerge him in his custom made bath.

 

The only thing that is REALLY important here  you need to keep the temp 38 degrees or lower…  this is easy to do by adding ice cubes along the way…  just use a thermometer .. because you are using a cooler, the temp stays more regulated than if you used a bowl or bucket… Just make sure that you put the cover on tightly…

 

 

Now here Teddy is, all soaking…and you may be wondering.. what are the cranberries doing in there????  Truth is…  I ran out of ice and the temp wasn’t low enough…. but I did have an extra bag of frozen cranberries in the freezer……. so I added them, and presto, temp right where I wanted it to be 🙂

 

I usally brine for close to 48 hours.  anything for 24 on is fine.

 

the other cool thing about using a cooler, is that it frees up space in your fridge!  Teddy cam right from the store to his bath.. leaving my fridge open for all of the veggies that I look forward to preparing tomorrow!

 

sadly, after I got Teddy Bathing, I cut my finger pretty bad on broken glass in the basement.. timing couldn’t  be worse..  So I’m slacking on a little bit of the prep work this afternoon and taking it easy…..  but I have  all of the necessary things to wrap and protect it, so I’ll be ok.. and  full steam ahead in the morning!!

 

If you are cooking, have fun with it…. it you are a guest, have fun with that…. and if you are looking for a crazy after dinner tradition, come over to my house….  things get a little wierd Thanksgiving afternoon.

 

I can’t wait to share it all with you 🙂

 

be thankful <31

 

 

PST*****   Happy Birthday to my litte sister, Jodie!!!!!! whoo hoot!!!

 

 

 

puppy love

Ya’ll know how much I love my pup, Miss Fenway

 

isn’t she sooo sweet??

 

This past August she became very sick and we feared the worst.  She has a great group of vets who helped us figure out what was wrong with her and nurse her back to health.  During this time, one of Ali’s good friends ( and one of my honorary daughters’) who is amazing with animals and (*ahem, Sara…*  )SHOULD become a vet turned us on to Frosty Paws.. the frozen dog treats that are a pups’ version of a hoodsie cup.

We were basically spoiling her rotten while we were figuring out what was wrong with her.

 

Let me tell you .. she LOVES frosty paws. But they are kind of pricey.  about 5 bucks for a box of 4…  and when you read the ingredients in them.. I can’t even pronounce half of them.

 

So I got to thinking….. “self,” I said, ” we should try to make these”.

 

so I headed off to the on the line new fangled computer thingy.. and guess what? I found a recipe!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:5]

 

it’s no accident that i chose Princess cups to make her treats in 🙂

 

 

I used vanilla, but if your dog is diabetic, use plain yogurt

 

 

*side note*.. this is only half of the mix.. I ran out of cups, so just refridgrated the rest of it unitl I get more cups tomorrow..

I was so nervous and excited to see if she wold like them….

 

 

 

one last thing… I think that I may have confused everyone with the raffle… using the raffle copter fancy thingy below helps everyone to make sure that their entroes are counted and randomly generates a winner, BUT you have to click on the green button and that is what enters you..

 

where it says +5.. do it… click that.  that way your name will be entered.  I will try to go back and add you name in for those who have not done this, but using this hleps me to make sure that everyone has a fair chance..

 

toodles!

 

click on the link below to watch the video 🙂

Fenway trying her frosty treat

a lentil story..

this is a true story.  and it happened today.

I had to help a friend this morning, so I was out and about running errands; unfortunatley, my purse was not… it was at home on the counter…

classic michelle.

soo I headed home to get my purse.. debated just waiting until tomorrow to go to the store.. but I had lentils on the brain.

(doesn’t everyone?)  I-needed-to-eat-lentils-ASAP

back to the store I went….. straight to the isle with the lentils.. and headed home ( actually I made a detour, but you get the idea 😉

I set into the kitchen sans recipe.. just an idea. Lentils, spinach, goat cheese. The rest I just pieced together and I loved it!  I’m so glad that I decided to take pictures of it so that I could share it with all of you!

And here is the funny thing.. I took the last bite of my lunch and read a message from a different friend  looking for a recipe for dried lentils.

here ya go!!

Lentil-veggie bowl

1/4 cup dried lentils ( I used brown.. you could use green  but I wouldn’t recommend red for this… they might get too mushy)

1/2 -1 cup water

1 tablespoon oil of coice ( I am having a fling with coconut oil right now… I can’t  get enough of it )

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 zucchini, chopped

2 handfuls baby spinach, rough chopped

a few cherry tomatoes ( the last from the barefoot garden ;( )

Goat cheese ( omit if veganizing your diet)

Sea salt & pepper

Chopped parsley ( if desired)

In a small saucepan. place lentils & cover with 1 cup of water. (unsalted)  Bring to a boil then reduce heat , stirring occasionally until lentils  get just past the al dente stage.. usually 15-20 minutes. If the water evaporates and lentils still aren’t done, add water in 1/4 amounts until they are done. Set aside.

Heat a saute pan , add the oil & let come to a shimmer; add the zucchini and onions. season with salt and pepper. once they start to brown add the spinach and stir… ( you want the spinach to wilt here, not burn)

add maters and lentils; season with salt and pepper

 Place in serving bowl and dot with goat cheese. ( I used about 1/8 of a cup)

this is half of what it made. It was soo tasty.. and healthy!  Did you know that lentils are a veggie? yuppers!

confession… I went back for the second half…. and even cold… it was still good! Bonus…. lunch on the go 🙂

I love it when friends are in sync with each other !

Still working on the give away…. hopefully it will be ready by tonight!

ciao bellas…. eat yer veggies!!

banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!

NEEEEXXXXTTT…

I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…

OR

2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

quick and easy quiche

quiche scared me.  for years. for real.

I don’t know why I was so scared to make it, but it was so intimidating ..  but lets be real… it’s eggs, and cheese and cream and crust. could it get simpler?

no.

PLUS.. it’s like when you make pizza  you can have fun disquzing your leftovers  I mean… being creative with ingredients 🙂 

And you can have it on the table in under an hour

AND  you can have it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, linner, dinner, snack. 3 am munchies  ( who am I to judge? ) whatever your little heart desires…

 

Mine is based off of this recipe.

 

I have  loosely included the ingredients, because each and every time that I make it I make it different. Use what you like.. just follow the base of the recipe & you’ll be good to go 🙂

 

quick and easy quiche

1 pie crust un-baked ( I use the Pillsbury roll out brand near the dinner rolls)

1/2 cup of cheese of your choice ( I used goat cheese with dried cranberries)

1/2 cup of another cheese of your choice ( I used feta)

1/2 cup to a cup of veggies of you choice ( I used baby spinach & diced onion)

1/4 cup bacon, ham, sausage… whatever you have ( omit if vegetarian) <– I did that

1 cup heavy cream or light cream ( both work, heavy cream just makes it richer) I had heavy cream.. now I have a quiche baby.. If I don’t judge your 3 am munchies then you can’t judge my quiche baby. I called it.
First so I win 🙂

fresh herbs.. chives, parsley, thyme.. whatever floats your boat.. if you don’t have fresh use a smaller amount fo dried, but rub it between your fingertips to release the scent. ( I used fresh parsley and chives)

 

local friends, I have fresh (organic chives, mint and rhubarb up the whazzooo if ever you want some.. let me know )

Sea salt and pepper ( I used sea salt and pepper 😉

 

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out pie crust, place in pie plate and crimp edges really pretty for the camera. ( oh wait, maybe that’s just my house) just crimp. ( unless you want to take a picture and send it to me… that could make me smile 🙂

sprinkle cheese on the prepared pie crust.

 

In a bowl, beat eggs lightly, add cream. herbs veggies and meat. lightly mix together. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into prepared pie crust..  finish with an extra grating of pepper.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for 35-40 minutes or until quiche is set and lightly browned.

 

Kiss your pup a lot while it’s baking.. because that is way more fun than cleaning the kitchen 😉

Let sit a bit before cutting.

( the cooler it is the easier it is to cut)

I love to serve it with a light salad with lemon dressing & parm cheese.

 

( did you know that I love cheese? like so much that I named my car after cheese? true story. I’ll tell you about it sometime)

 

so you know what an awesome food blogger I am? Tian and I ate the whole quiche before I realized that I forgot to take a picture of the finished quiche.

yep…. I’m classy like that.

 

and since it’s almost FALL  ( my very favoritest time of the year..I come to life in the fall).. I enjoyed one of these while staring at my four-legged bundle o joy.

This might just be my favorite  pumpkin ale.. I love what the box states…

off centered ales for off centered people.

 

it’s like they knew me when they brewed this 🙂

 

Remember, there is still time to enter for the 1803 wax melter give away contest consider sharing with your friends.. it will make me happy and if they win then it will make them happy 🙂 

t-48 hours until the race….. I must be crazy…

 

xoxoxox~shel

 

watermelon times three

Ya’ll may have given up on me posting tonight.. I mean it’s almost 9 pm .. where the heck has she been?

Training for a race, that’s where 🙂 🙂 🙂

So let’s talk watermelon. It’s a melon. It’s made of water. Lots and lots of water.

It’s fun to eat in the summer. It’s fun to have it drip all over you bbq shirt. it’s a BLAST to spit the seeds. It is summer in a food

It’s PINK!

I have always loved watermelon. As an adult I started to appreciate it back in the early 90s when I read the book Fit for Life .

(anyone else read it? show of hands? oh.. only me.. that’s cool  :))

Anyhoooo… The preface is that your body is made of mostly water so you should eat mostly food made of water. Also, you should never eat a protein and a carb together, never eat fruit with anything other than fruit..  that you get out int the sun and soak up the free vitamin D.. and most importantly, only eat fruit until noon.

And the fruit should have high water content. Like watermelon. Because it’s made of water.

Are you gettin’ where I’m going here?

Are you smelling what I’m cooking?

watermelon is chock full of water.

*ducks* ok. ok. I get it…  you know what I am trying to say..

soooooo our first recipe will blow you away. Or at least it did me. I saw this earlier this summer on the Rachael Ray show and I was like, ” GENUIS!”

*side note.. I was on the Rachael Ray Show last year.. yeah.. I’m famous ~~  :inspects manicure like I’m important)*

So Rach (I can call her, that, we’re buds)was talking about how watermelon was made of….ok.. you get it, I know, I know!!!

do you know where I’m going with this?

Let’s play a game. Let’s look at some pictures.

look liked plain old cubed watermelon, right?

look again

getting cooler warmer?

ok.. I’ll give it to you… I’m nice like that 🙂

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!  you have figured it out, haven’t you… you are a genius.. you are… YOU ARE!!   She made watermelon ice cubes!!!!  because #$%^&  melon is made of #%$%^ which freezes! GENUIS! 

so to make these watermelon cubes even better.. I added them to this…
tea that Amanda and I found while she was here..( on clearance!).. although I think that you could use any fruit tea.. truth be told, it was her idea to use this tea with the cubes… she also comes from great jeans genes.

brace yourself..

I’ll give you a minute… I understand…

So the next recipe…. Years ago I came up with a brilliant idea to make a watermelon salsa. I was SOO proud of myself and promptly made some for my mom proclaiming my obvious talent.

And while we were eating it, a chain restaurant advertised on tv their ‘new watermelon salsa’

Really? REALLY?  yeah, really.

But in my heart of hearts,. even if the rest of the world was already doing it, I came up with my own in my kitchen, so I’m ok with that 🙂

Watermelon Salsa

2 Cups cubed seedless watermelon

1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, chopped and soaked like we did for the leeks

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lime

Sea salt & pepper

~ everyone in the pot~

and mix :).. seriously…  you CAN do this!

volia!  done 🙂 I like it if it sits overnight but it is reallllllly hard to do… cause it’s

so

darn

good

You can top grilled chicken with this, tofuTop a salad… or eat it alone. 

Maybe if you live on the wild side like me, you could put it on vanilla ice cream

*note to self.. buy ice cream tomorrow*

here’s a napkin for you 🙂

Okkkeeddookee…. last recipe…

we are going to get smoky.. and sultry.. and tangy

with watermelon?

um. yes.

Grilled Watermelon Salad

1 thick piece of watermelon, about 2×4.. sprinkle with salt & drain on a paper towel ( I tried to use my tofu press, but it didn’t do much) then rinsed after 10  min

1 tomato, sliced, sprinkled with salt, drained on paper towels ~ I did not rinse the salt of these babies ( I chopped the end up for topping)

1 thick slice of red onion

A few chunks of feta cheese

2 wedges of lime

Olive oil & a pastry brush

Grill pan

Sea salt and pepper

start by making sure that everything is as dry as it can be. Then using pastry brush, brush all veggies with olive oil. Preheat he grill pan until it is super hot then place watermelon, tomato and onion in the pan. then let the pan do it’s work.. don’t play with it!  After about 5 minutes, using tongs, carefully flip them. ( my tomatoes didn’t look so purty.. but they did taste good 🙂

Place the watermelon on a plate, pretty side up, then arrange remaining ingredients ( except lime) on the plate..  Squeeze on wedge of lime over the salad and garnish with another.

this recipe is sensory overload. The smokiness from the watermelon with the sweetness of the onions, the depth from the tomatoes and the zing from the lime juice & saltiness of the feta….. I loved this!

Ic ame up with the idea after seing one of the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen the other night ( don’t tell me the winner, I had to DVR it until Scott comes home this weekend )

I saw a similar combo on the show and have obsessed over it since then.

’cause sometimes I do that..

like with watermelon 🙂

night friends…..

I have a kitchen to clean!

oxox

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