Light Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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Last weekend I made a vegan spinach and artichoke dip from http://www.plantpoweredkitchen.com (great ideas on this site).  I really enjoyed the idea of pureeing cashews with almond milk to make a dairy-free creamy base for a dip or spread.  I took the recipe a step or two in a different direction to make a vegetable based dip (no longer vegan) with peppers, basil, and a little parmesan.   After a few trials I found a combination that is really good and very healthy.  Earlier this week I baked it with chicken over a bed of onions, not bad.  The real winner came today when I used the dip as a spread on a prosciutto panini (recipe to come), it was perfect. The spread alone is a simple snack to bring to a gathering or to put out on football Sunday.  Serve warm with veggies, pita chips or toasted bread.  If you are into the dairy-free thing, skip the cheese.

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Ingredients:

3/4 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup almond milk (more for consistency)
1/2 lemon, juice
2 cloves garlic
10 small fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 lb frozen spinach (you can use fresh as well, try 1 cup packed)
12 oz artichoke hearts (frozen or canned-drained)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Add cashews, almond milk, lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt, mustard, red pepper flakes, and jalapeno to food processor with “s” blade.  Process for 1-2 minutes until liquid.

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2. Add red pepper, spinach, and artichokes to food processor and blend until combined to desired consistency.  Add more almond milk as needed.  If you are planning to serve this as a warm dip, just pulse in the vegetables to leave larger pieces of artichoke and pepper.  If using as a spread then pulse to the consistency above.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.

3. Spread the mixture into a small baking dish to heat for serving at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

2013-10-26 15.18.55Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Turkey Bolognese

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My mission of reducing processed foods in our diet is reaching an all time high with spaghetti squash season.  This dish is easy, flavorful, and very healthy.  From what I have learned a bolognese is really just a meat based sauce, so you can substitute for any meat of choice if you don’t have ground turkey on hand.  This recipe started to develop for me after I read a recipe from Martha Stewart (we are totally friends 😉 ), then I added a few additions of my own…like more bacon…and wine…and mushrooms.  My husband really enjoyed this dish without me having to make regular pasta noodles, so I consider this a total success!

Ingredients:

-1 medium spaghetti squash
-1 pound of lean ground turkey
-5 slices of bacon
-1 Tbsp garlic and chili pepper infused olive oil
-1 large onion, diced
-3 stalks of celery, diced
-1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (any mushrooms of choice)
-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
-1 Tbsp fresh thyme
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp black pepper
-1/4 cup dry red wine
-1 15oz can of tomato sauce
-2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes

Directions:

1.  Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds, spray with olive oil and season with pepper.  Bake in oven at 375 for 45 minutes.  When it is fully cooked it is easily scraped out with a spoon to make spaghetti-like strands.

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2.  While squash is cooking, in a large heavy sauce pan cook bacon over medium heat until cooked through, remove from pot to use later.

3. Add 1 Tbsp of infused olive oil to pan with bacon grease along with onions, celery, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper, cook for 10-15 minutes until soft.

4. Remove onion and mushroom mixture and put in bowl for later use.

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5. Brown turkey in pot, breaking to crumble.  When fully cooked drain grease and add onion and mushroom mixture and crumbled bacon back to pot.  Add red wine and simmer for 5 minutes before stirring in tomatoes and tomato sauce.

6.  Let simmer for 30 minutes to develop flavor.

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7. Serve over spaghetti squash, add parmesan cheese if desired.

Linguica and Ricotta Frittata

Linguica is something I didn’t know anything about until meeting my husband.  Coming from a small town south of Boston, he grew up on this Portuguese meat.  Whenever we are back East, no visit is complete until he has a linguica and cheese omelette at least once.  When I was at the Paulina Meat Market the other day I noticed some homemade linguica sausage in the window, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  The day I got the sausage we had half of a link thinly sliced with cheddar cheese and bread as a pre-dinner snack.  The next morning I decided to make a breakfast frittata, as I know that I will never be able to make an omelette that compares with what the diners in New Bedford make.

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Ingredients:

– 8 eggs, beaten

– 1/4 onion, diced

– 1/2 jalapeno, diced

– 1/2 cup linguica sausage, diced

– 1 medium tomato, diced

– 1/8 cup of red wine

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed.  More for garnish.

– Red pepper flakes

– Salt and pepper

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Ricotta ingredients:

-1/2 cup of ricotta cheese

– 1 pad of butter

– 1/2 tsp minced garlic

– 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

Directions:

1. Make ricotta cheese: Sauté over medium heat in heavy skillet mushrooms and garlic in butter for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir into ricotta cheese.

2. In large oven safe heavy skillet, sauté onions and jalapeno with thyme, a dash of red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper to taste for 5 minutes.  Add red wine and cook.

3. Add linguica and sauté an additional 5 minutes before adding tomatoes.

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4. Turn heat off to skillet and spread linguica and onion mixture evenly on bottom, pour eggs into skillet.

5. Dollop ricotta cheese mixture onto eggs throughout.

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6. Cook in oven at 350 for 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

2013-09-28 10.25.12Enjoy!

 

Garlic Chicken with Zucchini Ribbons

Tonight for dinner we had a few chicken breasts left over from the BBQ last night.  Instead of the rich and bold taste of BBQ sauce I took the chicken in a different direction…Garlic.  With the ribbons of zucchini and garlic on the chicken it has a hint of fall flavor.

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Chicken: I butterflied each breast open to decrease grill time and create more flavor from the seasoning through each bite.  I sprinkled a generous amount of salt, pepper, and garlic seasoning on each breast right before grilling.  When you butterfly chicken the risk of over cooking and drying out definitely increases, so watch closely while grilling.  These took 4 minutes on each side on a high heat grill, then let them rest for 10 minutes before eating .

Zucchini Ribbons: I read a recipe today that make the zucchini similar to this but then covers it all with an alfredo sauce.  I didn’t want such a heavy dinner, so I skipped that part entirely and added Parmesan instead.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini (I used a large yellow and small green one)

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil (infused with garlic, pepper, and red chili peppers)

Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

1. Using a vegetable peeler I sliced the zucchini into very thin ribbons length wise and gathered them into a bowl.  I drizzled olive oil, salt, and pepper onto the ribbons and mixed together with my hands to coat each ribbon.

2. In a cast iron skillet on medium heat I coated the skillet with olive oil and added the cloves of garlic and a crushed red pepper flakes.  I let this cook for 2-3 minutes, until I could smell the fragrance of garlic before adding the zucchini.  The zucchini cooks quickly and I didn’t want it to burn, so I tossed it with tongs every minute or so until the ribbons started to soften trying to be careful not to let them turn to mush.  Total cooking time was 8-10 minutes.  Finally I topped it off with some grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.

On the side I made a small Caprese salad with a huge tomato from the farmers market and fresh basil.  I drizzled infused olive oil on it with fig balsamic from Old Town Oil.

Infused Olive Oil

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Making infused olive oil is a way to add more flavor to dishes without so much effort or cooking time.  Right now I have a garlic, pepper, and red chili pepper infused oil that is really complementary to cooked vegetables or even for dipping bread or pizza crust in.  I found this jar at Marshalls for just a few bucks, the stopper/latch combo is really a nice feature.

To make, I put a few cloves of garlic (cleaned and sliced in half), a table spoon of pepper corns, and 2 whole dried chili peppers into the jar.  Fill with a good quality olive oil and close the jar, done.  The flavor gets better over time, but I try to make sure to use it in a few weeks in case the garlic starts to turn bad.

 

Grilled Vegetables and Sausage

For dinner last night we kept it simple, grilled out a spicy vegetable mixture and Italian sausage.  In an effort to make it a full meal I put it on a bed of arugula and baby spinach.  In the past I would have tossed the vegetables with olive oil and some noodles to make a meal; however, I do my best to cut out grains and dairy in my diet, so I went with greens.

The vegetables were what I could find at the farmers market fresh this week, you can use anything you have available:

-zucchini

-cauliflower

-snap peas

-red pepper

Tossed with a spray of olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes for some heat.

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In the picture you may also notice the can of Stiegl Radler, if you haven’t had this before, I highly recommend it (as long as you are over 21 of course).  It might be the most refreshing beer I’ve ever had, just sayin’.

The vegetables filled up the grill basket, so they took a good 30 minutes on the grill to cook through.   Time your sausages accordingly to finish at the same time, ours took about 20 minutes to cook through fully.

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Because the sausage has some grease to it and the vegetables were sprayed with olive oil before cooking, I didn’t feel it needed a dressing once I chopped everything up and mixed it together.  I did however add fresh mint and basil leaves to the salad for a little more flavor and some fresh Parmesan shavings since I have a block left over from the other nights brussel sprouts.  You can certainly add dressing if your heart desires, I would stick to something neutral in flavor or just some olive oil.

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Of course my husband doesn’t want a big salad for dinner, so he ate his sausage and vegetables together with the greens as a side salad.  The salad is simple: just cucumber, tomatoes, red onion tossed with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste on a bed of arugula, baby spinach, and basil.