Can you believe we are now in the month of November? We have exactly 2 months left in 2017 and we have finally arrived at the time of year when we move into daylight savings time, take out the cozy throw blankets and start thinking of about the wonderful world of “Sides”.
I just live for “Sides”. Forget about the main course. I could be just as happy with a side of potatoes and roasted broccoli for dinner. Sides rule and today we get to talk about a new extra special side made with carrots.
Last year I crossed paths with an interesting package of Tri colored carrots at my local Trader Joe’s Market. My first thought was “pretty”. These little carrots looked so pretty in the bag. I knew that once I got them home washed and peeled them they might transform into something drop dead gorgeous. So I did just that and …….Wow in the end they looked stunning.
But this was not the grand finale. I then took these drop dead gorgeous carrots and made a maple/dijon marinade and proceeded to slow roast them in the oven. They tasted out of this world…..OMG ….again I will never be the same. A new “side” to love and my hope is that you will love them too!
2 Pounds multi-colored carrots, rinsed, trimmed and peeled
¼ cup Maple Syrup
¼ cup Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Pinch Sea Salt
pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Handful of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
¼ cup Pistachios, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place trimmed carrots on top. Whisk together maple syrup, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes. Pour ⅔ of the mixture on top of the carrots and toss to coat completely. Place in oven to bake for 35 minutes, tossing half way through to cook evenly on both sides.
Once carrots are done cooking, heat up the ⅓ leftover mixture (this can be done in the microwave) then pour over the cooked carrots. Topped with a little extra salt, parsley, and pistachios before serving.
“Go vegetable heavy. Reverse the psychology of your plate by making meat the side dish and vegetables the main course”- Bobby Flay
What can be any prettier than a hearty Autumn salad? This amazing creation begins with a crunchy kale base and mix-ins ranging from roasted root veggies, tart apples, toasted nuts, and Pecorino cheese, this salad is far from shy on flavor. Not only is it healthy it will only taste better the next day.
Peel, scoop out seeds, and cube butternut squash.* Toss in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp ground pepper. Spread on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes at 400°F, or until squash is tender and golden brown.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast walnuts until golden brown and fragrant.
Combine kale, farro, apples, squash, walnuts, cheese, and cranberries in a bowl.
For the dressing, whisk 1 tbsp olive oil, orange juice, mustard, shallot, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper in a bowl until fully combined.
Remember your mama saying those famous last words “Eat your Veggies”? Well she most likely knew that all those rainbow of veggies would contribute to you growing up strong and healthy.
Lets all shout out a big praise of “Thanks” to all of our Mama’s for introducing us to the wonderful world of vegetables and color. With amazing flavors that would last all of us a lifetime. This Power salad has everything. It’s beautiful and it really fuels you for the whole day. I like to add protein to it every once in a while (grilled chicken or roasted shrimp). You can also be extra creative and add your own twist of garnishes.
Here are a few ideas: Pumpkin seeds, Toasted Almonds, Roasted Pistachios, Gorgonzola Crumbles, Fresh Herbs – Basil-Parsley-Dill or Thyme.
** My favorite addition to this salad is diced ripe creamy Avocados**
Quinoa salads come in all tastes and styles these days. But this version is one of my all time favorites .
It’s just one great blend of flavors and textures. From the crisp corn (straight off the cob), the creamy luxury of the the diced avocado then there is the little “punch” of heat at the end from the Jalapeño and Cayenne pepper. Topped off with a little squeeze of lime and there you have it- “Little Mexico in a Bowl” a healthy bowl that is.
I grew up with a mother who was very good at serving us a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to remember any dinner that she made us that didn’t include a salad. So needless to say I have always been a big fan of including my “greens” or “The Digestive Detergent’s” into my diet.
As the years progressed I became more and more exposed to all the many colors that could be found in the rainbow of the Veggie & Fruit World. With so many flavors and textures to explore. I found that you can taste natural hue of “pepper” in an Arugula salad, that a ripe heirloom tomato can really stand on it’s own or be turned into something extra special just by sprinkling a pinch of Kosher salt and The Avocado “Oh my word where do I begin” the affection runs deep.
So very recently I have found a whole new appreciation for Whole Foods (and I’m not talking about the grocery store). In the beginning of July , I embarked on a clean eating challenge via Fit Girls Guide. They offer a 28 day challenge to commit to clean eating and cooking. So I signed up and so far I’m halfway through the challenge and “Loving It”. Now here is my plain truth I have the worlds biggest sweet tooth. I also am addicted to cheese and baguettes. Yes not the the world’s healthiest of combos. So at first I fretted and maybe protested a bit in my mind. Then one day about two months ago at the urging of my friend Jessica I entered the front door of a local healthy eatery called Luscious Lorraine’s Juice and Food Bar. I ordered a Raw House salad that consisted of – Raw shredded beet, zucchini, carrots, cabbage on mixed greens, with avocado & avocado-tahini dressing. Simple and “Oh My” so full for beautiful flavor. Little by little I found myself going back over and over again. So then it came to me to “Go for It” and take a dive into the world of Rainbow Eating and it’s been once of the highlight’s of my summer so far!
So here are a few of the Veggie “Hits” I’ve prepared this month, that I am sure you too will find surprisingly delicious yourself. Believe me this whole clean eating got has been a very humbling experience so far. I had no idea that all this “Good for you Food” would rock my world like it has. I have so much more energy these days, my sleep has been solid and sound and my taste buds have been taken to new heights. So I encourage you to give some of these recipes a try. You might very well Surprise yourself!
To a pan add Olive Oil, Mushrooms, Peppers, Spinach and sauté until all veggies are soft (try not to overcook them) you still want the peppers to have a bit of a small crunch to them. Season with Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper. Set pan aside.
On a cookie sheet line up the 4 pita rounds and spoon over Marinara sauce on each one. Then add the vegetable mixture generously to each pita and sprinkle with the grated Mozzarella cheese.
**** For extra special seasoning you can add a small sprinkle of dried oregano , parsley or basil to the top of each pizza.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the pita edges are crisp.
Dressings that can be used on this salad are (Balsamic Vinaigrette & Green Goddess)
Preheat oven to 350
Line the chicken tenders on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until tender. Once chicken tenders are cooled , Chopped into bite size pieces and set aside.
Combine all the Greens, Radicchio, Cucumbers, Avocados, Dried Cranberries,Pepitas and Almonds in a large salad bowl. Season with Sea Salt and Pepper to taste.
Pulse the coconut in a food processor until sticky crumbs form. Set aside about ¼ cup of the mixture.
Mix the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and sea salt. Stir in the coconut from step one. Form the mixture into small balls by squeezing until a ball forms. The mixture will be crumbly, so it doesn't work to put the mixture in your hands and roll it. You have to squeeze it. There will be a little bit of excess oil - that's okay.
Once you have the balls rolled, refrigerate for 1 hour or so until they are firm. At this point, if you want, you should be able to take them out and re-roll them to get the shape just right since they'll be firm and malleable.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and shake or stir constantly for a few minutes until the coconut is lightly browned and fragrant.
Melt the chocolate for a minute or so in the microwave. Stir it until it's smooth. Dip each coconut ball in the chocolate and remove with a fork, letting excess chocolate drip off. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and top with the toasted coconut from step three. Freeze or refrigerate to set the chocolate.
These yummy treats taste great when kept in the refrigerator.
Years back I used to have pre conceived ideas about the cast iron skillet. I mostly though it was for Cowgirls only and Lord knows “I’m the farthest thing from a cowgirl”.
So when my husband and I where first married he brought a box into our little kitchen and there it was his bachelor cast iron skillet. I asked him “Do you really cook with this thing”? His reply was “Of course I do, you should give it a try”. So then I began trying new recipes in the Bachelor Skillet and low and behold a whole new world of deliciousness was opened up to me.
The Bachelor skillet (Along with a few new ones that have been acquired) has continued to provide many wonderful dishes for my family through out the years. You can make practically anything in it (except ice cream). Steaks, Corn Bread, Cookies, Amazing sautéed veggies, Fajitas, Chicken Marsala, Fried Chicken, Bacon, Fish and now Eggplant Parmesan.
After making my Eggplant in the skillet I think I will never go back to baking it in the casserole dish. I fell in deep love with this version of it. You will too!
2 pounds eggplant (1-2 large eggplants, depending on size)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoons black pepper
1 egg, beaten
⅓ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
⅓ cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
5 Slices fresh Mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for serving
Torn fresh Basil for Garnish
Spaghetti or other pasta, for serving, if desired
Slice eggplant crosswise into approximately ¼ inch rounds. Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 15-20 minutes. Using a clean towel or paper towels, soak up as much excess moisture as possible. Set eggplant aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes, until onions become translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer over low heat.
While sauce is simmering, place beaten egg into a shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a separate shallow bowl. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then coat with bread crumb mixture.
In a Cast Iron Skillet (12 inch), heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook eggplant in oil 10-15 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through.
Pour tomato sauce around eggplant in skillet. Lay the soft Mozzarella sliced cheese over eggplant, cover and heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil just before serving.
Why is it good to eat these little “mini cabbages”? Well first off Brussels Sprouts aren’t among the most well-loved vegetables. But as a member of the nutritionally potent cruciferous family, they’re worth a place in your healthy diet. Not only are Brussels Sprouts a good source of protein, iron and potassium, but they also offer other benefits that can boost your overall health.
If you still find you aren’t a fan of Brussel Sprouts I promise by taking this route to enhance them with BACON and Caramelized onions , you will see the most unlikely of people licking their plate and devouring every last morsel.
They are a little time consuming but worth every step.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Caramelized Onions
4 slices bacon, diced (I used Smoked Applewood Bacon for more amazing flavor)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salted or unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the ends of the brussels sprouts, and cut the larger ones in half (mine must have all been large because I cut them all in half). Spread them on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss until they are all well coated. Spread evenly on baking sheet, roast in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until they are nicely browned, turning once halfway through so they will brown evenly.
While the brussels sprouts are roasting take a large skillet and fry the diced acon until it is nice and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow the bacon to drain on paper towels. Set aside.
In the same pan (yes, with all the bacon grease…you can take a little bit out if you are feeling really guilty) add 2 teaspoons of butter and the thinly sliced onions, keeping the heat on high until you start to see a little bit of color in the onions, at this point reduce the heat to medium low, to low, lightly season with salt and pepper. Slowly cook the onions until they are soft and brown and caramelized, stirring often… took me about 30 minutes. Combine the roasted brussel sprouts and bacon into the pan of caramelized onions, stirring to mix, when all is heated through serve immediately.
This past week my friend Esther gave me huge bag of beautiful Red Peppers from her family ranch here in the Coachella Valley – Rancho Leamus. I knew immediately that I wanted to make some of this dip. All you need are the peppers ,a small handful of fresh ingredients and a food processor then you are home free. You can dip Veggies, Sliced baguette toasts or Pita Chips into it and enjoy.
½ cup pine nuts, toasted (heat them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often until golden)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
⅓ cup olive oil
For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and oil. Season to taste with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the salad, cook the orzo in the chicken broth until tender according to package directions. Drain well but do not rinse. Let the pasta cool to room temperature, tossing often so it doesn't stick together (stir in 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing if the pasta is overly sticky). Toss the cooled pasta with the tomatoes, chives or green onions, basil, and arugula or spinach.
Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle the feta and pine nuts over the top and toss lightly. Serve at room temperature.