The Best Meal I’ve Ever Made

This eggplant parmesan was quite possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever made. It was a few more steps and a few more ingredients than I usually like to cook with (I like fast and easy recipes), but it was so worth it. I have only had eggplant parmesan maybe twice in my life because I can no longer eat dairy. I learned how to make it when I was living in Italy and it was delicious, but so loaded with cheese that I’ve never tried to re-create it at home. For some reason unknown to me, goat cheese has no impact on how I’m feeling, so I decided to look for a recipe that called for goat cheese and no other dairy products. I found one recipe that was eggplant, red sauce, goat cheese, and parmesan and I tweaked it a little to make this delicious meal.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 large purple eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt to weep eggplant slices
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil for frying
  • 1 jar tomato basil spaghetti sauce (I used an organic brand with few ingredients)
  • 1 small block of goat cheese broken into pieces (crumbled would work too)
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red onion
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves

What you’ll do:

  1. Peel skin off eggplant, and slice length-wise so you have thin slices for layering (like lasagna).
  2. Cover the slices with sea salt to remove moisture. Let sit 10-15 minutes and drain water.
  3. Combine the sea salt and flour and blend together with a fork.
  4. Pat dry the eggplant slices with a paper towel.
  5. Warm oil in a large frying pan.
  6. Dip the eggplant in the egg and then in the flour/salt mixture, and place in pan.
  7. Fry on each side until they start to brown (few minutes), and then lay on paper towel.
  8. Saute onions, mushrooms, spinach, and basil in a frying pan and set aside.
  9. In a baking dish, place a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of eggplant slices, then the sliced tomatoes, spinach mixture, and a few pieces of goat cheese. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all the eggplant.Top with sauce, spinach mixture, sliced tomatoes, lots of fresh basil and goat cheese chunks (or crumbles).
  10. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  11. Cool and cut. Enjoy!What’s the best meal you’ve ever made?
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Grilled Citrus Skewers

These were so delicious, and like most of my recipes, SO easy! Although I took the photos, and ate the skewers, I can’t take credit for actually making them. Mom did all the work, but I’ll definitely be making them myself sometime soon. Marinate the shrimp in olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh basil and salt and pepper for as long as possible in the fridge. Place on skewers with lemon slices, grill a few minutes on each side and enjoy!

For the chicken and pineapple skewers we marinated the chicken in teriyaki sauce, salt, pepper, lemon, garlic, and fresh basil. We arranged them on skewers with shallots and pineapple and placed on the grill. Delish!

Seared Ahi with Lemon Dill Aioil

Last night my husband and I made this delicious dinner. We bought a sashimi grade tuna steak from our local grocery store and served it with garlic & balsamic brussel sprouts and the first artichoke from our backyard this year!

The tuna is easy and super fast (I accidentally overcooked it a little, but it was still tasty). I added salt and pepper to each side and seared it in a hot pan with a little olive oil. It really only needs less than a minute on each side, and I went a little long as you can see in my photo.

Then I sautéed onions and garlic in another pan with olive oil, added the brussel sprouts and 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar until they were tender and a little crispy on the edges. I boiled the artichoke and used my lemon dill aioli for dipping sauce for both the artichoke and the tuna.

Lemon Dill Aioli

  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon veganaise
  • juice of half a lemon
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and add ingredients until you have the taste/texture you like. You can definitely make this without the veganaise, but I like to add a little to cut down the tartness of the yogurt.

Enjoy!

Black Bean and Endive “Tacos”

YUM! These little  black bean and veggie “tacos” were delicious! I basically just threw all the ingredients I could find in my fridge together and came up with these. You could use large lettuce leaves instead but I just love the crunch of the endive and happened to have them on hand already. They were so easy and quick to make, and kept me full all night. They are the perfect bite-size portions and would be great for a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend! What you’ll need:

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped (any color would work, I used orange)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (more if you like it extra spicy)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

What you’ll do:

Saute onions, celery, and carrots in 1 tsp. olive oil until tender. Add in bell peppers, then after a few minutes, add mushrooms. Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans until warm all the way through. Mix seasonings with vegetable broth and pour into bean mixture. Stir until seasoning coats the mixture and serve on small endive leaves or any lettuce wrap of your choice. Top with avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, salsa, whatever you like! These “tacos” are so healthy – full of fiber and protein – and taste great the next day for leftovers as well. Enjoy!

Chicken Sausage and Kale Stir fry

I got this recipe idea from my parents’ nutritionist and it turned out great. I’ll definitely be adding it to my list of regular meals I make during the week!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 package chicken sausage, chopped (to make this recipe vegetarian, you could use tofu sausage instead). I used an organic chicken sausage from Trader Joes, but when I do this again I’ll use my favorite Mango and Jalapeno sausage from Aidells.
  • 1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and torn apart
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like a lot of spice)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil

What you’ll do:

Heat the garlic and red chili flakes in olive oil. Add chicken sausage until browned and set aside. Then add onions and saute until tender. Add tomatoes and kale and saute for 2-3 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper, add cooked sausage and serve. Enjoy!

Banana Oat Muffins

I recently stumbled upon the Dashing Dish blog and learned how to make muffins with oats instead of flour and I’m hooked. These muffins were so delicious and much healthier than the average muffin made with flour. They turned out tasting just like banana bread. You can find the original recipe here but I made a few slight changes to mine.

What you’ll need: (my changes were taking out the protein powder, using real sugar instead of sweetener and adding unsweetened coconut)

  • 1 small banana
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 sugar (I don’t like using fake sweetener in my baking)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut (because coconut makes everything better)

What you’ll do:

My favorite part about this recipe was how easy it was! You just combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pour into baking cups (use silicone so it doesn’t stick). Then I added a pinch of coconut to the batter in each muffin tin before baking. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Thanks for the idea Katie!

Red Kale Chips

I LOVE kale. It tastes good and is super duper healthy. It is full of vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, calcium, beta carotene and LOTS more. I usually add it to my smoothies in the morning, or saute it as a side dish with dinner, but I had been hearing about how delicious kale chips were so I thought I’d give it a try. I had a big bunch of  Russian red kale so I decided to use it instead of the regular green kale I had. Next time I’ll have to switch it up to see if they taste different. I especially love red kale because of the beautiful purple stems.

This recipe is very easy, and you need very few ingredients – kale, olive oil, and kosher salt.

Wash your kale and peel leaves off of stems. Tear into bite-sized pieces and spread out on a cookie sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil on the top (1-2 tsp) and sprinkle with salt. I used the big kosher salt but regular salt would work fine too. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until crispy.

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Recently a co-worker gave me a huge bag of Meyer lemons and I have been trying to figure out what to use them for. I usually put them in my ice water and tea and add them to chicken and vegetable dishes when I’m cooking, but I wanted to start baking with them. The day after I got them, I found the recipe for Meyer Lemon Muffins on Freshly Pressed and decided I had to try it! You can find the recipe on the Darla Cooks blog. They were absolutely delicious. Next time I’d add more lemon in the batter and would maybe even make a sweet lemon/vanilla glaze to drizzle over the top.

One of my favorite parts of making these muffins was photographing them! The lemon slice on top really made them look fun (they tasted great too)!

Loaded Spaghetti Squash

Carbs. All I ever want are carbs. Carbs carbs carbs. They are delicious and if I could survive on carbs alone (without gaining 100 pounds) I would. But, we all know that eating huge amounts of processed carbohydrates for every single meal is not so good for you. So, I’ve tried to come up with a few alternatives that make me still feel like I’m getting to eat my favorite foods like bread and pasta. I still eat both of those things, but I try to limit them when I can.

One of my favorite ways to make a “pasta” dinner a little healthier is to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles. I usually make it just like I would regular spaghetti, with tomato sauce and sometimes I add ground turkey for a little protein. This time I loaded it full of veggies and it was delicious! (I made it at night so my photo is a little dark)

Spaghetti squash is so easy to make. You can cut it in half, coat with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake for 30-40 minutes until the outside is soft OR if you’re in a hurry, you can microwave it. This particular day I was starving after work and couldn’t wait for the oven to do the work so I poked holes all over the squash, put it on a plate and microwaved it until the outside was soft. The time will depend on how big your squash is. Mine was small so it didn’t take very long at all. I put it in for two minutes, turned it over, and kept adding two minutes until it was done. Total I think it cooked in about six minutes.

While the squash was in the microwave, I chopped all my veggies. I used mushrooms, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. I sautéed them all with some olive oil and white wine. I took the squash out, cut it in half, cleaned out the seeds, and then scraped all the insides out with a fork. Then I added all the squash to the veggie mixture, added a little olive oil and was all done!

What is your favorite way to make spaghetti squash?

 

 

Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Black Beans

Stuffed bell peppers are one of my favorite things to make (I’ve blogged about them before here). Last night I made these with quinoa and a whole bunch of veggies. They were delicious and they were pretty filling because of the protein in the quinoa!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used a quinoa and brown rice mix)
  • handful of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 of a red onion, chopped
  • a handful of mushrooms, chopped (any kind will work, I used white)
  • 1 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • I added a little cayenne pepper for some spice but you can leave that out

What you’ll do:

Chop the top off the bell peppers and clean out the seeds. Hold on to the top so you can put it back on for baking. Saute the onions and green bell peppers in a little olive oil until tender. Then add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. After a few minutes, add the wine and spinach. Mix in the quinoa and cook until heated through. Add the mixture to the bell peppers until they are full, put the caps back on and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The black beans are super easy and super yummy. All you need is a can of black beans (I use organic), 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa or pico de gallo (I used a fresh pico from the store that was extra spicy) and a little salt and pepper! You heat those ingredients together and then top with a little bit of your favorite shredded cheese. I made these for a little extra protein on the side of our veggie bell peppers since we weren’t having any meat. Enjoy!