Thai Beef and Basil Noodles with Shiitake Gravy

Well, hello.  I had no intention of disappearing after Thursday but it happened.  And then yesterday Chris hijacked my computer for work after his had to take an emergency overnight trip to California.  We did, however, take full advantage of him not having his work computer and went on an epic walk and planted our herbs.  I even had to breakout the SPF for the first time of 2017 after my shoulders started showing signs of a little sunburn.  All that to say – I’m here and thriving.  I also have an awesome dinner recipe for you that can replace the takeout noodles you picked up last night.

Thai Beef and Basil Noodles with Shiitake Gravy comes together super fast so like any stir-fry, prep all your ingredients before you ever turn on the stove.  Make sure to cook the ground beef over a medium-high heat so that it gets a little crispy on the outside.  Thankfully rice noodles are hard to overcook – simply pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak until tender.  If they get sticky, simply run more hot water over them. Easy peasy.  Bok choy and shiitake mushrooms fill your bowl to the brim with vegetables and if you’re like me and love ‘shrooms, fill free to go a little heavy.  In fact, we doubled the amount of mushrooms because we love them so much.  The fantastic flavor comes from lots of fresh garlic and ginger along with oyster sauce, soy sauce (or tamari) and crushed red pepper flakes.  Finally before serving and after you’ve taken the pot off the heat, add in lots and lots of fresh torn basil.  I adored the freshness that the herb gave the whole bowl of noodles.

thaibeefandbasilnoodles

Chopsticks are totally optionally but they totally made eating much more fun.  Seriously scrumptious and we felt as though we had been “transported to a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant in Manhattan” (direct quote from Big Guy).

One-Pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I’m balancing out the pound of kale I’ve eaten this week with pasta and cheese and bacon.  In all honesty, this mac ‘n cheese is a little sneaky because there’s not only broccoli in this dish but there’s another veggie hidden amongst all that cheese.

Can you guess?

PUMPKIN!

Yes, pumpkin.  But you honestly can’t taste it at all.  The original recipe called for butternut squash but canned pumpkin is way more readily available (you could even use mashed sweet potatoes).

And not only is this mac ‘n cheese full of good for you stuff, you only need one pan to make this dinner.  And you don’t have to wait for water to boil.  So good.

Here’s how fast it all comes together:  Cook your bacon and then reserve for later.  Sauté the garlic in the bacon fat then add in the chicken stock, milk and pumpkin.  Bring to a boil.  Add in the pasta and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Add in the broccoli.  Cover and cook for 3-5 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add in the bacon and cheese.  Cover and cook for 1 minute or until the pasta is cooked to perfection.  DIG IN.

macncheese

I love mac ‘n cheese.

Marinated Kale Salad

Just like avocado toast, kale had it’s moment of being the “it” food.  And while I enjoy kale, it’s not necessarily my first choice of greens.  However, over the weekend my Momma prepared a “killer kale” salad and I couldn’t help but want more kale this week.

While I was putting together my menu for the week yesterday, I came across a recipe in my Cooking Light binder and decided it was the perfect dinner for meatless Monday.  Marinated Kale Salad is made my first massaging the kale with EVOO and a little salt and allowing it to “rest” at room temperature for up to an hour.  The kale is then seasoned with a mixture of lemon juice, mustard and garlic.  I sliced a red onion and soaked it quickly in hot water before tossing it with lemon zest (instead of sumac) and sesame seeds.  The kale is finished by tossing in a can of chickpeas and some pepper.

I topped my salad with an egg for a little extra protein.

kalesalad

This salad was hearty yet light, a little zippy from the lemon and full of flavor from the garlic and the red onion.  By massaging the kale with EVOO and allowing it to marinate, the kale softens just a bit but stays crunchy.

And while this salad might not be quite as incredibly as the one my Momma made (walnuts, sautéed mushrooms, bacon and goat cheese took hers over the top) I sure did feel healthy eating it.  And since kale is so hearty, the leftovers will make perfect lunches this week.

Kale yeah!

Pear and Gruyère Strata

Visits with your grandparents should always end with a something sweet.  When we made plans with Mawmaw and Pawpaw a couple of months ago for them to visit, I immediately started planning our short but sweet visit.  I knew that I wanted to send them home with a full belly on Sunday morning so that they wouldn’t have to worry about stopping to grab lunch on the way (because, well, there’s nothing in between here and there worth stopping for until you get the Wilmington).  Also knowing that our Saturday was pretty full, I decided to pick a breakfast that could be prepped before they ever arrived.

The Pear and Gruyere Strata is incredibly easy to prep and involves no cooking before the strata actually cooks the morning you plan to eat.  Cinnamon bread (I used a gluten free cinnamon raisin bread) is layered on the bottom of a baking dish and then topped with a mixture of sliced pears (I left the skin on), butter and sugar.  On top of the pear mixture goes shredded gruyere and then a final layer of cinnamon bread.  In a bowl, combine milk (I used 2%), eggs (I used 1/2 cup eggs that were whisked instead of egg substitute), sugar and cinnamon.  This all mixture gets poured over everything.  Cover and place in the fridge for at least eight hours (mine sat in the fridge for almost 24 and it worked perfectly).

The next morning, simply uncover, sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 50 minutes.

Breakfast is ready!

strata

Serve with copious amounts of coffee!  And bacon if you really love your grandparents.

 

 

Indian-Spiced Pea Fritters

A freezer staple gets a make-over and becomes a delicious meatless dinner.  We all have sweet peas stashed in our freezer.  Some of us may eat them and others may use them as an ice pack.  As for me, I always have a bag or two but I rarely put them to use.  This recipe happened to be in the latest Cooking Light magazine and I was flipping through on Sunday thinking of our meal plan for the week, I couldn’t help but make this since we had ALL the ingredients on hand.  My bank account appreciates me not needing to buy anything else.

About one and a half cups are pea need to be thawed for these fritters.  Once thawed, lightly mash the peas.  (Honesty, I think I should have mashed mine a little more than I did.  So don’t be scared of mashing too much.)  To the peas add in breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free), sliced green onions, garam masala (love this spice!), a little red pepper, salt, and two eggs.

Heat up a little oil on the stove top and then add in half of the fritters, about 1/4 of a cup each.  The fritters cook about 3 minutes on each side, carefully flipping to keep together.

The pea fritters are served with 2% Greek yogurt.

peafritters

I rounded out the whole meal with a simple salad.

The pea fritters gave me a little trouble on the stove-top (fritters ALWAYS stress me out) but they were delicious.  So simple yet the peas were completely transformed.  If you don’t have garam masala, I highly recommend you give it a try.  It’s a mix of spices: cardamon, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, fennel, mustard seeds, cloves and red chile peppers.  So don’t be scared of the spice name.

Oh, and since St. Patty’s day is Friday, this is the perfect GREEN dinner.

Spicy Veggie Hash {plus WIAW}

Hey friends!  I have an incredibly busy day ahead but I wanted to pop in and share an easy yet delicious recipe plus WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday).  I am intrigued to read what other people eat on a day-to-day basis whether it’s a celebrity, a dietician or just another blog I read.  So here’s how yesterday’s food looked:

coffee

6am – Coffee (with almond milk creamer) & Jesus.  After my alarm goes off and I fully wake up (face washed, teeth brushed, contacts in), I head straight to the kitchen and start the coffee pot and take my vitamins.  I spend about 15-20 minutes doing my bible study questions for the day (still in John!).  I used to scroll through Instagram first thing in the morning but I’ve learned that’s not the best way for me to start the day.

yogbowl

6:30am – Time to break the fast and watch the news.  Greek yogurt + KIND Granola + Peanut Butter was the bowl of the day (and a typical breakfast two to three times a week).

vitalproteins

6:45am – More coffee and creamer.  I add a scoop of collagen to this cup.  You can read all about the benefits of collagen here.  I did quite a bit of research before biting the bullet.

orange

10am – I am currently fighting off germs.  I have a fever blister and I had the feelings of a cold coming on.  If you follow me on SnapChat, you know that I put together a “cold chaser” shot:

1/4 tsp. oregano oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. honey
Pinch of Himalayan salt
It was absolutely horrific and I pray that it works.  Immediately after this shot, I reached for an orange for extra vitamin C and to get the awful taste out of my mouth.
spicyveghash
12pm – I found myself with some extra time yesterday so I spent a little time in the kitchen preparing lunch. I typically reach for a smoothie or leftovers for lunch but I’m glad I pulled out the knife and put some effort into lunch.  I prepared a Spicy Veggie Hash and it was deeeelicous.  Plus I have leftovers for the rest of the week.  You do have to dirty up two pans – but it’s worth it. This recipe is incredibly filling and I loved the combination of the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and cumin.
Changes I made to the recipe:  I left out the tomato; I used a different cheese that I had on hand.
muffin
3pm – As usual, an afternoon snack!  I paired one of the muffins I made late last week with 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter.
salads
 6:45pm – Following a walk with a friend, I threw together a salad that consisted of mixed greens, strawberries, avocado slices and avocado.  This combo is one of my absolute favorites and it totally made me crave spring.
teatime
7:10pm – Tea time.  I wanted something to sip on and reached for a warm cup of tea while I watched E! News.
In addition to the above, I also enjoyed two lime flavored carbonated water (similar to La Croix but an off brand) as well as lots of water.
Oh and a pickle around 4:30pm.

Ground Beef and Pasta Casserole

A one-pot dish that is sure to be a winner on the dinner table.  It’s healthy comfort food that’s also husband and kid-friendly.  I recommend this dinner on a night when you have a little bit of time to prep (30 minutes) but once it goes in the oven, the work is done.

I love that this recipe makes prep easier by using a food processor to chop up the carrots and onions.  Simply place the veggies in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Let the dishwasher clean the food processor.

Sauté the onions and carrots for about 4 minutes and add in the finely chopped garlic, allowing that to cook for 2 more minutes.  Then add in the Italian seasoning – I made my own Italian seasoning using dried basil, thyme and oregano, some red pepper flakes and a little salt.  Add in the beef.  I find that Trader Joes as some of the best ground beef.  I try and stock up when I got and throw several packages in the freezer for nights like this.  Cook the beef for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.  I like using a potato masher for this.  Seriously.  Then goes in the chicken stock, fresh basil, tomato paste, vinegar, pasta (I used gluten-free brown rice pasta) and the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook about 13 minutes or until the pasta is almost cooked through and the pasta has thickened a bit.

At this point I decided to transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish knowing we would have lots of leftovers.  But you can totally keep this a one-pot meal and starting the whole recipe in an oven-safe pot.

Top the pasta with mozzarella and bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Sprinkle with basil and dig in!

groundbeefcasserole

So yummy!  Absolute comfort food – carbs and cheese.

Like a said, a true winning dinner that everyone will love.