Garden City Granola Bars and Getting Back to Food Blogging!

I know, I know. Taking my dang time posting new recipes, aren’t I?

But here I am, living in Cape Town, South Africa (things have changed up a bit since my last post which was…EEK…in October). I’ve been neglecting my poor Mile High Pie for job and grant applications. But recently my dairy allergy (I am super sensitive to the protein called casein found in cow’s milk) has been acting up like crazy! So I’ve been making a lot of my own snacks, as dairy is difficult to avoid in store-bought items here. Case in point: I cannot buy non-dairy yogurt other than shelf-stable soy stuff which is way overpriced. It’s awful because I love yogurt, so I’ve been cheating and eating bulgarian yogurt a bit…needless to say it’s uncomfortable!

But back to baking. Seeing as I’m here for the next few weeks still and have had some interesting culinary experiences, I figured it’s about time to pick up the figurative pencil and write down a couple of my recent recipes.

First things first: Garden City Granola Bars. These are an adaptation of a few recipes I’ve found online, with my own influence (yes that means chocolate) thrown in there.

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I absolutely love them for hikes, days exploring the city, or mid-morning munchies. I actually came up with the recipe at 4am one day when I just couldn’t sleep and needed something semi-productive to do. You know how that goes, right? No? Just me at 4am? I guess I forgot to mention that I live above a club and when it closes at 4am and all the happy (and occasionally angry) drunken souls pour out, it’s difficult to sleep. I have become remarkably good at turning city noise into white noise though! Back to the recipe…

Garden City Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick cook oats
  • ½ cup puffed rice cereal
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts
  • ¼ cup diced dried fruit
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ heaped cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs water
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

  • Toast the oats, puffed rice, fruit and nuts in clean pan on stove top (just until the mixture begins to brown and smell delicious), empty into bowl and set aside.
  • In same pan, melt all the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate) together. Heat until bubbling.
  • Turn off heat and mix in dry ingredients.
  • Pour out mixture onto a cookie sheet pre-lined with baking paper. Spread out and into ¼-½ inch thickness (rectangle shaped for easier cutting).
  • Let cool for a few minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut into bar shapes. Bake for 5-7 minutes.
  • Immediately after taking out of oven, sprinkle chocolate chips on top. They will melt on a bit and be secured as they cool!

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Roasting the dry goods before mixing creates a distinctive, nutty flavor and makes your kitchen smell divine!

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What the mixture should look like as it cools, after you shape it.

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Baking complete!

 This is of course not the only bar I was able to make. I also made Mint Chocolate Nanaimo Bars by Chocolate Covered Katie. These were TO DIE FOR.

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The recipe has three layers and quite a few ingredients which makes it seem complicated – but it actually isn’t too bad. One thing that was very interesting though was figuring out the mint flavoring. In Cape Town, at least so far, I have been unable to find mint extract or flavor. I had to actually buy those mint oil capsules (you know, the ones for indigestion!), and cut them open to get the oil! Mission accomplished, and I got my mint chocolate deliciousness. Check out her recipe. Definitely recommend.

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Center layer consisting of soaked macadamia and cashew nuts, peppermint oil, coconut oil, vanilla, sweetener and (gasp!) spinach.

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Top chocolate layer, which contains cocoa powder, coconut oil and honey.

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Crust layer of coconut, dates, cocoa powder and walnuts.

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These buddies are amazing. I keep them in the freezer until an hour or so before I want them, when I pop them in the fridge. After that time lapses, the centre layer takes on an ice cream like smoothness. And they’re totally dairy free. I’m in heaven.

Alright that’s it for now. I’ve been experimenting with coconut yogurt recipes and falling flat on my face. I think the probiotics I’ve bought are either dead, or totally different than what I need. Anyone have advice? Until next time!

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I had a party and only needed 8 ingredients

Well, 8 ingredients without the beer. So 9 ingredients.

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This was really a wonderful get-together. I was missing the fall activities my family would sometimes partake in, so I decided to invite some friends over to carve pumpkins and drink pumpkin beer. In spirit of the season I also wanted to have pumpkin flavored snacks, which brought me to this wonder of a recipe: Three Ingredient Cookies. Technically they could be two ingredient cookies, since you don’t need to add chocolate chips or mix-ins. BUT WHY NOT?? 🙂 

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I was already planning to make seasoned pretzels, and needed something sweet. These cookies are awesome! They’re a bit thicker consistency than cake, so great as handheld snacks.  They take on the taste of whatever mix you buy, and the pumpkin shines through in all its glory. 

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The pretzels turned out pretty wonderful as well. They’re salty and spicy; perfect with pumpkin beer! Feel free to cut the recipe in half or even less. It makes a LOT of pretzels. (I’ve heard the left overs make great bread crumbs though…)

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I’m planning to post again after this weekend. I’ll be making a vegan chili for a chili cook-off. Here’s wishing me good luck! I will post the recipe after the contest. Also, maybe, a picture of my halloween costume!!

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Three Ingredient Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of cake mix
  • 1 Can of pumpkin (NOT pie filling, pumpkin puree!)
  • Mix-ins (I used Rolos for one batch and chocolate chips for the other)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix pumpkin and cake mix until smooth. 
  • Blend in mix in (I did about ¾ cup of chocolate chips) or save until after baking to put Rolos or chocolate kisses on top.
  • Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Bake 8-10 minutes.
  • Resist urge to eat all while steaming hot.

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Pretzels:

Ingredients:

  • 3 bags pretzel bites
  • 2 packets ranch seasoning mix
  • 1 TBS lemon pepper
  • 2 tsp cayenne (more or less depending on spice needs-for us 2 tsp was perfect and had kick)
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (or canola, or evoo)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix everything except pretzels in a bowl until consistent.
  • Pour over pretzels and mix up.
  • Spread in baking pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once at 5 minutes. I had to do two batches (this makes a LOT of pretzels-look at the picture!)

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Across the country, my wonderful puppy was on a hike, so here’s the obligatory puppy picture!! Happiness!

COOPER

Seriously Simple Seriously Delicious One Pot Pasta

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Other than the cutting board and serving bowl, this was the only dish to clean! Heaven!

As a graduate student, I don’t have much time for cooking or baking. It’s a bit sad, but as I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post — Texas is hot — and turning on my oven only makes my house ¼ whatever the temperature of the oven happens to be. So I try not to turn it up to 400 very often anymore! I know cooler weather is coming, but while my boyfriend tells me about the snow in Colorado, I’m looking at a high of 91 today. 

Last night, however, I was craving some warm filling pasta. And I had a lot of italian-ish ingredients sitting around, so I decided to make up my own modified version of a currently popular recipe on Pinterest, the “One Pot Wonder”.  

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Ingredients! Don’t you just love fresh food from the garden?

This recipe is pretty great, and as easy as the name implies. Just cut up whatever you want, put it all in the pot, and cook until the noodles are ready! My mistake was to cook the whole thing for too long, because my noodles started falling apart after the first serving. I’d recommend either cooking everything BUT the noodles for a few minutes (bring to boil) then add the noodles, or just turn the heat off once the noodles are al dente.

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Full pot! Be patient when trying to get the noodles to fit, they will need awhile to soften up!

You can literally put whatever you want into this. Just keep the staples: ¾ regular package of thin spaghetti/spaghetti/linguini, 4 cloves garlic sliced thin, 4 ½ cups veggie or chicken broth (or water and add salt), 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a can of diced tomatoes (don’t drain). For my version I added: a quartered and julienned red pepper, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper and italian herb mix, a couple extra cloves of garlic sliced thin, and finally I have been growing basil and arugula like crazy in my garden, so I included a large handful of each of those. 

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Might take awhile to get the noodles to soften up because this pot is FULL!

After I cooked everything up and dished it out, I topped my plate with a bit of goat cheese. Because, I love goat cheese! Even without it, this was creamy, probably because you don’t loose any of the starch from the pasta by not draining it. YUM!! Just wish I had someone to share it with.. 😉

 

Cookie dough doesn’t always have to be raw…

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Every morning I wake up at 6am to workout. Today, I decided to forgo that venture in order to post this recipe. It’s. Just. That. Good. In the span of four days, I have made these twice for birthdays (the first time was mine!), and gotten rave reviews. Some of you may know that I love unusual recipes and ingredients, especially in baked goods, which rank as my favorite food in general. For example: Black Bean Chocolate Cookies and Raw Dark Chocolate Brownies. And if that strange ingredient allows my recipe to have few total ingredients, I love that even more. Like Peanut Butter and Banana Oat Cookies or Power Pancakes. So when I stumbled across Texanerin’s Cookie Dough bites, I had to make a version of my own!

Just like my Black Bean Chocolate Cookies, these use beans as a flour alternative. Except this time it’s chickpeas (garbanzo beans). They leave the cookies incredibly moist, which gives the impression that you’re eating slightly undercooked dough-which is THE BEST! I know I’m not the only one who loves cookie dough-which is why this must be shared!!

 Even a couple days after I made them, they were still super moist and flavorful. But let’s be honest, they won’t last more than a couple days anyway!

I ended up using maple syrup instead of honey-but you get the idea.

I ended up using maple syrup instead of honey-but you get the idea.

The original post had a few helpful tips. Make sure you use natural peanut butter, so that your cookies don’t end up overly oily. Because, ew. You could try honey, maple syrup, or agave as a sweetener. I just love the taste of maple, and I was low on honey.

Chickpea wash!

Chickpea wash!

You won’t quite use a whole can of chickpeas, so you will have some yummy protein to snack on while you bake!

Processed dough

Processed dough

The original post said this dough isn’t good uncooked-and I totally disagree. I loved it! When you are rolling it into balls, you will probably get some on your fingers. Lick clean, please! (As long as you aren’t going back into the dough..unless this is a batch just for you!)

Chocolate PB love

Chocolate PB love

The consistency of the dough is a bit on the soft/stick side compared to typical cookie dough. Hence the need to wet your hands when shaping the balls.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Finished cookies

Finished cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained, and paper towel dried
  • 1/2 cup + 2 TBS natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey, or agave)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup bitter or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put all ingredients but chocolate chips in food processor, blend until smooth. Make sure to scrape sides a few times, to avoid leaving whole beans.
  • If dough warmed during process, put in fridge for a few minutes. This will avoid melting chocolate.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Wet hands and shape into small balls, place on cookie sheet. You can flatten them down if you wish, they won’t change shape much during cooking.
  • Bake for about 8-10 minutes (you can really cook as long as you like, there’s nothing in them that would make you sick if raw!).
  • Enjoy!
Snack time.

Snack time.

My patient, ever-watching companion. (I'm only half in the kitchen! Can't get mad!)

My patient, ever-watching companion. (I’m only half in the kitchen! Can’t get mad!)

Something Fishy and Delishy

I crack myself up with that title. I know it’s awful, sorry about it. Hahahaa…delishy.

We rarely cook fish in our house. Something about it intimidates us-perhaps the multitude of times I have completely screwed up a seafood attempt. I’m pretty good at mixing up tuna salad, and sauteeing shrimp for taco night-but that’s about the extent of my experimentation with this wonderful food category. On Monday night my love returned from his trip back home. I though it would be fun to celebrate with a different meal, and so found myself scouring the Sprouts newsletter for meal inspirations. Salmon was on sale, and so, voila! Salmon for dinner. It was also a beautiful afternoon and evening, and we decided grilling it would be the best option. After developing a very simple marinade, which we left the salmon in for about 3 hours, it was grilled and laid on a bed of caesar salad! Homemade croutons to boot. This was one of the most delicious, simple, excitingly flavorful meals I’ve made in a long time. Or should I say, he made, because the marinade started when I was still at work… 🙂

While we enjoyed our meal, outside on a gorgeous summer evening, Cooper played in the next room with his new frisbee. Picture is at the bottom-isn’t he just adorable? But back to the salmon…

The complete meal!
The complete meal!

Grilled Marinated Salmon with Caesar Salad and Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS + 1 TBS vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 lb salmon filet, skin on
  • A few pieces of french/italian bread (we chose wheat)
  • 1 Heart romaine lettuce
  • Handful of sundried tomatoes (optional)
  • Caesar dressing
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Mix up the first 7 ingredients (just 2 TBS of the olive oil) in a large bowl or dish (large enough to fit salmon flat)
  • Place salmon in marinade, coating both sides. Leave skin side up, in marinade, covered in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
  • About 45 minutes before grilling the salmon, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut up the bread into 1/2 inch cubes (crouton size).
  • Toss in 1 TBS olive oil, add seasonings you like-garlic, salt, pepper were our choices.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, stirring at 5 minutes to assure even cooking.
  • Just before grilling, mix up salad ingredients: chop romaine, toss with caesar, parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes. Top with croutons.
  • Heat grill to medium-high. Air on medium, so as to not overcook the fish.
  • Place salmon skin side up on grill, slightly off from the heat. Cook 5-7 minutes.
  • Flip and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on doneness desire (is that a word?) 🙂
  • Remove from grill, allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Carefully cut salmon into thirds, removing skin as you plate the fish. It should come off with ease!
  • Enjoy (we also made garlic bread to go along with this-yumm!)!

Great company!

Great company!
Doesn't he just look guilty for finding that frisbee?
Doesn’t he just look guilty for finding that frisbee?

The BLAST – Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Sprouts,Tomato

The new and improved BLT is now the BLAST.

This is just a quick post again, because I didn’t even take the time to photograph this process to its real potential. But then again, a delicious sandwich really only needs one photo to make your mouth water, and to get to you say, “Damn! Gimme dat!”. At least, this does it for me.

Brief background: Last Saturday we went to Fort Collins, a fun town that is home to Colorado State University and New Belgium Brewery (in addition to many more breweries). Without our knowledge we arrived on the day of a motorcycle rally and were treated to a few talented and fearless souls doing moves like this.

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Oh hey bro!

It was so intense, and grisly, and manly, that I just needed something with bacon on it. But I’m not a big pork eater, actually I don’t really touch the stuff. Luckily I discovered (when in Safeway on the ride home) an exciting new turkey bacon option.

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It was SOO good. Believe me-even the carnivorous boyfriend was a fan. And a lot better for you too. One piece has only 40 calories and it’s 94% fat free. Yes please! I loaded up a sandwich with the BLAST ingredients, added a handful of pretzels to the plate (I love something crunchy with a sandwich) and enjoyed a meal as satisfying as surviving a day of wheelies on a motorcycle could ever be. 

As a side-I sort of feel silly even explaining how to make this sandwich, since we all know what goes in a BLT and I explained the difference, but hey, it’s a food blog, so I will anyway.

Enjoy! And happy Memorial Day!!

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Annnd…cue drool.

BLAST (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Sprouts, Tomato)

Ingredients

(makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 4 slices whole wheat toast
  • 2 slices cheese of choice
  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 avocado pitted and sliced
  • handful of sprouts
  • ½-1 whole tomato, sliced
  • A few pieces of lettuce, arugula or spinach
  • Mayo or mustard if desired

Directions

  • Heat skillet to medium-high.
  • Toast bread; place cheese on two slices immediately after toasting to allow to melt slightly.
  • Cook turkey bacon thoroughly on skillet. It was about 3-4 minutes on each side once the skillet is good and hot.
  • Spread mayo or mustard on bread slices. 
  • Evenly divide remaining ingredients on bread, form sandwiches.
  • Pair with a Fat Tire beer, and live it up!

Peanut Butter + Banana = Bliss

As I’m sure many of you do, I often find myself having a banana with a bit of peanut butter as an afternoon snack. Or as a breakfast option. Or between some whole wheat bread with honey and toasted. Or for dessert. 

You probably get it, I love the combination of peanut butter and bananas. 

Tonight I was craving this combination, but not in the normal direct-peanut butter to banana-banana to mouth sort of way. I wanted cookies. I wanted peanut butter and banana cookies. I wanted, healthy peanut butter and banana cookies.

I scoured pinterest for the perfect recipe but only got inspiration. So many recipes included refined sugars, or too much brown sugar/honey as a replacement for white sugar (somehow we have gotten to a place where anything brown trumps and becomes healthy compared to anything white-how did that happen?). I didn’t want a whole lot of sugar, or honey, or butter, or dulce de leche added to my cookies. We’re talking peanut butter and bananas after all, they’re perfect as is and could anyone argue that they’re sweet enough? 

So I made up my own recipe, and I’m quite content with the results. And guess what? I can share them with almost all of my friends because they are: gluten and dairy free! Sweet. Literally. 

These cookies have home ground oat flour (super easy with a blender or food processor), bananas, peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and corn starch. Cornstarch may take you by surprise-but it really softens the dough and allows for a super fluffy, melt in your mouth delicious cookie. I also added a few blue berries to half of the batch, which was a wonderful idea. 

Coconut oil: it’s rich, it’s lucious, it’s satisfying. And if you only use a little bit-it’s really not all that bad. Moderation, people. I wouldn’t recommend taking a tablespoon of it to the face, but I LOVE what it adds to these cookies. Because it’s only 2 tablespoons, it adds a nice aroma without interfering with the taste of the PB, banana and oats. But don’t take my word for it-whip up a batch of these babies yourself. It only takes 20 minutes (prep, bake and cleanup!!). 

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Blending the oat flour.

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Ready to bake!

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Out of the oven and oh so tempting.

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Yum. I’ll take them all, thanks.

Peanut Butter and Banana Oat Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 TBS peanut butter 
  • 2 TBS coconut oil (make sure it is the consistency of butter-you don’t want it too hard or runny)
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Optional blueberries (or chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mash ripe bananas with a fork. Add PB, coconut oil and honey and blend with fork.
  • Using food processor, turn oats into fine flour consistency (takes just a minute).
  • Add in remaining dry ingredients and blend until combined (do not add blueberries or other topping yet).
  • Add oat mixture to banana mixture and mix to combine.
  • Spoon by heaping tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. 
  • Press in blueberries or chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Say, “YUM!”

Last call for winter soup

Today is daylight savings-and I couldn’t be more excited to have that extra hour of light after work. It’s no fun trying to motivate yourself to work out after 5pm when it’s already getting dark. I find myself going to the gym and aimlessly wandering around the machines; using this one for a minute…then that one for a minute…then determining I deserve frozen yogurt for working out. Go me!

But with the sun being out a little longer each day now, I’m sure to get out with the puppy and go for more evening runs. We’re also approaching race season in my neck of the woods-and training for a 10k will begin in a week. You will likely hear occasional groans from that coming up.

But through all this exercise, or attempts at, a girl’s still gotta eat! And I still love my vegetarian recipes now and again. The way I see it, you know you’ve hit the jackpot on a vegetarian soup recipe when your self proclaimed carnivore boyfriend asks for it regularly, and you still use veggie sausage long after you’ve reincorporated meat into your diet. With daylight savings comes the end of soup season as well-so I need to get my fix in while I can. I love kale or spinach wilted into soup, and this sweet potato kale soup recipe is just what I need (every other week or so).

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Sweet Potato and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, washed and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces (I keep the skin on-can be peeled if you don’t like the skin)
  • 1 lb white potatoes, washed and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces (same with skin)
  • 1 (14 oz) package vegetarian sausage, sliced (I like Tofurkey Italian Style)
  • 6 cups veggie broth
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed (navy or white kidney-not garbanzo)
  • 1 small head kale, chard or spinach, rinsed and chopped

Directions:

  • Heat 1 TBSP EVOO over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook about 5 minutes until softening. Add potatoes and heat for 15 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  • Add broth, bring to boil and continue to cook over medium-low temp, covered, until potatoes are done (about 20 minutes).
  • Add remaining TBSP oil, veggie sausage and white beans, cook additional 5 minutes until heated through.
  • Stir in greens until wilted, serve and enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Christmas Eve Eve Spaghetti

About three weeks ago I decided to re-incorporate meat into my diet. That’s right, I’m a “recovering vegetarian”. In reality, I loved being a vegetarian – despite grumbling from family (I can hear you!) – but on a serious budget and with a carnivorous boyfriend, I just don’t have the devotion. All of you vegetarians who are sighing in disapproval, I apologize.

That being said, I am exploring only the yummiest, healthiest meaty recipes. Last night, Tim and I made Turkey Meatballs with Linguine and a beautiful side salad. I couldn’t be happier with the way these babies turned out.

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Turkey Meatballs with Linguine

Ingredients:

      Main Dish:

  1. 3/4 cup 1% milk
  2. 2 cups French or Italian bread torn into bite size pieces
  3. 1 large egg, beaten
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp pepper
  6. 1 tsp italian seasoning
  7. 1 lb lean ground turkey (93%)
  8. 1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  9. 1/2 lb linguine, cooked as directed.
  10. 1 24 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I love mushroom sauce personally)
  11. *Optional: 2 tbsp of the red wine you are drinking anyway.
  12. Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling if you wish!

    Spinach and Avocado Salad:

  1. 4 cups Baby Spinach Leaves
  2. 1/2 avocado, chopped
  3. 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  4. 2 Tbsp blue cheese
  5. 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds, walnuts, or pecans
  6. Salt, Pepper, Oil and vinegar to taste

Directions:

  • Place bread pieces and milk in bowl until milk is completely absorbed – about 10 minutes.
  • Once absorbed, mix in turkey, egg and seasonings. Shape into 16 balls (it may seem difficult, because they are sticky and might fall apart-but they will stay together and it’s worth it!)
  • Heat large skillet over Medium-High heat. Begin boiling water for pasta.
  • Heat EVOO in skillet. Cook meatballs over Medium-High heat until light brown, about 5 minutes, turning a few times to cook evenly.
  • Add pasta sauce to meatballs, cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    *I add the wine at this point-I love the flavor a small bit of red wine adds to pasta sauce.*
  • Cook pasta according to directions
  • Mix salad ingredients together.
  • Plate, sprinkle pasta with Parmesan and enjoy!!

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