March 31, 2015

lentil loaf

Love meat loaf but want to make it without the meat?  I'm not sure that sentence even makes sense, but go with me on this!  This "version" of meatloaf is a wonderful substitution whether you are making this for Meatless Monday or you are a vegetarian.  Another option if your "better half" :) won't go without meat... substitute half of the lentils for ground beef!

Oh and don't forget the chili roasted sweet potatoes, they made the perfect side!!!

Here are some fun facts on those tiny beans called lentils.  They may be a little, but they pack a VERY healthy punch.  Here is a rundown of the benefits...  

1. Lower Cholesterol – Lentils help to reduce blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber. Lowering your cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke by keeping your arteries clean.

2. Heart Health – Several studies have shown that eating high fiber foods like lentils reduces your risk of heart disease. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium have been directly associated with heart disease, so eating lentils will keep your heart happy!

3. Digestive Health – Insoluble dietary fiber found in lentils helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. 

4. Stabilized Blood Sugar – Adding to the many benefits of fiber, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. This can be especially helpful for those with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

5. Good Protein – Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.  Plus, they are the most alkaline of all protein sources!

6. Increases Energy – Lentils increase steady, slow-burning energy due its fiber and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body and is key to energy production and metabolism.

7. Weight Loss – Although lentils include all these beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat. One cup of cooked lentils only contains about 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling full and satisfied.

March 30, 2015

pecan crusted sweet potatoes


This isn't an everyday dish, but for my sweet husband's birthday I figured my wife duty was to make one of his absolute favorites for dinner... pecan crusted sweet potatoes.  This recipe is also one of my most requested dishes at my family's holiday dinners every single year.  The sweet potatoes are light and souffle like with the added egg and the crunchy, sweet caramelized topping is delicious!!!! 

March 26, 2015

soba noodle bowl with pear and cucumber

Back to my cold noodle kick and thankfully this time around... we have the weather for it.  This is the perfect dish if you are wanting something fresh and light for dinner.  The flavors all come together perfectly, with the pear being my favorite unexpected addition.  This makes a great vegetarian main course or would be delicious alongside maple soy salmon or on grilled chicken using homemade teriyaki sauce.

March 23, 2015

slow cooker lemon rice soup


In celebration of our cold and wet weather I decided on this slow cooker recipe for Sunday night.  It was delicious and just what I was hoping it would be.

There is a quaint, Greek restaurant in the town of Buford that serves this soup and the first time I had it, I fell in love.  I chose to add some shredded chicken that I had leftover from the best roasted chicken that I made last week, but it would be just as good without chicken. 

March 21, 2015

blackened fish with avocado corn salsa


Appraisal? Check.  Inspection? Check.  We were finally able to get everything buttoned up for the sale of our house and we are under contract to purchase a house!:)  Yay!!!  So far, so good.  This whole process is so nerve racking!!!!  How do people do this 5+ times in a lifetime?  Packing is nothing compared to having all these moving pieces that have to fall into place at just the right time.  So next up this week... the appraisal and inspection on the house we are buying.  Another week of waiting and praying.  I'm exhausted!;)

On to all things food... 

It was beautiful outside today.  Think 75 degrees and sunny.  Perfect.  This fish dish is what summer is all about.  Grilling, fresh veggies, and cilantro... yes cilantro!  Well at least in my book.  Don't you agree?  Something about cilantro feels fresh and summery.

I used grouper for this, one of my favorites, but you can use any type you like.  Including, if you have fresh fish from fishing.  I served this with chips and salsa to make an easy weekend dinner, but you could also make a green salad or veggie.

March 19, 2015

quinoa edamame mexican salad


With nothing but rain coming down, here is a recipe for those sweet summer days that are on their way!  This salad is perfect for all things grilled... shrimp, fish, steak, chicken, etc.  If you would like to keep it vegetarian, just add some black beans, make some jalapeno cornbread, and dinner is served!:)

Leftovers are perfect.  I actually doubled this recipe and we ate it again yesterday on a bed of spinach, as a light dinner.  I just made some cilantro lime dressing and it was delicious!!! 

March 17, 2015

March 16, 2015

the best roasted chicken


This will go against everything your mother always taught you about roasting a bird.  The secret... you don't baste it, you cook it upside down, and you don't stuff it.  It's simple.  It's delicious.  You will LOVE it.

I used this same recipe (except for the cooking temp) on my Christmas Eve turkey this year and it was by FAR the best oven roasted turkey I have had.  The breast was so juicy you could see it dripping and the skin was perfectly crispy.  No matter what size of bird you do... this will work, you will just want to watch the internal temperature and make sure you cook it to 170 degrees.  Most thermometers will say 190 degrees for poultry, but I find that when you take it out of the oven it will cook a bit more and I don't want the meat to dry out.

PS... Want to make a good thing even better?  Serve it with garlic and caramelized onion smashed potatoes :)

March 14, 2015

slow cooker coconut curry lentil soup


On a rainy Saturday afternoon... this soup was just what we needed.  The coconut and curry are nicely complimented with the toasted almonds and the heat from the red pepper on top.  It's delicious!:)

Updates on the home front... we may have found a house, still waiting to hear back from our offer, but "yay!" to hopefully being done with the search!  It is a cabin on 4 acres, about 5 miles from the church where my husband works and where the kids go to school.  Perfect!  Plus plenty of room for a garden, animals, and for the kids to play.  More to come...

March 12, 2015

eggplant parmesan with creamed spinach


Yesterday I did a bit of house hunting, well actually this whole week, while my husband has been out of town.  Trying to find a house, within a week or two, with 3 kids is quite the chore.  The last time I did this there were no kids to work around and it was MUCH less chaotic.  As soon as we entered one of the houses they were running around crazy, picking bedrooms, and making plans on where their toys would go.  Oh my, I hadn't even gotten to the kitchen yet!:)  Have I mentioned what a daunting task moving is?  There are so many loose ends and what ifs that for a structured person like myself, that likes to always have a plan, it can be a little challenging.  Sometimes letting go and accepting that I won't always know what will happen during the next 6 weeks can be hard to swallow, although let's be honest... isn't it our reality and we just pretend to know what the future holds?!:)  

After all that I knew that I needed some good old comfort food, and what better than a classic like eggplant parmesan with a side of pasta.  This may be a new version for you, of the classic chicken parmesan, but I think you will love it!  This is perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. 

March 11, 2015

Grocery List- Week 26

Meals for the week:

-eggplant parmesan with creamed spinach served with marinara pasta
-the best roasted chicken served with your favorite vegetable or mashed potatoes
-slow cooker coconut curry lentil soup
**reminder- the serving suggestions have not been added to the grocery list**

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 red onion 
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 red chile (garnish for soup)
  • chopped fresh mint (garnish for soup)
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder   
    • toasted slivered almonds (garnish for soup)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
    • 3/4 cup marinara sauce
    • 1, 14 ounce can coconut milk
    Pasta/Rice/Beans/Canned Goods
    • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils 
    • 1, 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach
    • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 ounce cream cheese
    • 4 ounces mozzarella,cut into thin slices or shredded
    • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
    • 1, 2-3 pound farm-raised chicken
    • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

    March 09, 2015

    roasted okra and corn with coconut


    Spring is here (pretty sure I can hear everyone cheering) and with the nice days that we have had, we have been spending as much time as possible outside.  I am ready to start planning my garden and planting flowers, unfortunately we have to find a house and move first (ours sold), so my garden and flower plans are on hold, but the thoughts and ideas just keep coming!:)

    With the beautiful day that we had on Sunday (75° and sunny, for those of you that aren't here in Georgia), and after spending all day outside in the sunshine, I was craving something fresh and light for dinner.  Luckily I had picked up some fresh salmon at the grocery store and decided on blackened salmon, using my blackening seasoning, and paired it with this summery side dish.  Soon it will be perfect for those garden veggies that you will have!   This would also be delicious with blackened chicken, tofu, or grilled steak.

    March 07, 2015

    general tso's


    Another crazy day!  Baseball, sunshine, and some great food... can't get much better!  Did I mention that my youngest daughter talked me into buying another bird!?  Although with her big eyes and cute little 4 year old voice she didn't have to talk very long.  As silly as this sounds... I did feel sorry for Blu having to be alone all day, sitting on his perch, staring at the walls, waiting for the kids to get home from school and entertain him.  So... meet Jewel.  Let's hope that this is the end of our introductions!;)  On to the food....

    I love Chinese food!!!  General Tso's and Orange Chicken are two of my favorites!  We used to get take-out once a month or so, but after we started eating clean the preservatives they use hurt my stomach.  This General Tso's recipe is delicious, so worthwhile, and can be made with either tofu or chicken.  I opted for steamed broccoli, but you can use any veggies that you have on hand or a family favorite.

    March 06, 2015

    roasted carrots over pearl barley with an herb sauce


    Today was quite the day.  It started off with me checking Facebook and seeing that a lady was selling a parakeet that included a cage, food, toys, mirror, basically anything and everything that a bird could ever want.  The thought came to me... my daughter would love a bird and she has been working so hard at school and so doing well that I should get it for her.  After a quick phone call to the husband, who thought I was half joking/crazy, I met the lady and became a parakeet owner.  Meet Blu (yes, just like in the movie Rio, which by the way if you haven't seen it... you should!).  Of course now my youngest daughter wants one, a girl since Blu is a boy, and my son is convinced that he will get the baby that they will have.  Oh the things I get myself into!  However, seeing their excitement and fascination = priceless!

    Believe it or not... I had never had pearl barley before.  Strange considering how easy it is to prepare and how delicious it is!  It reminds me of a larger, nuttier version of rice and could accompany just about anything.  When I went to go buy it I realized how many different grains that I have yet to explore so they have been added to my mental checklist of things to try.

    This dish is such a compilation of flavors which go so well together and simple to prepare.  Plus, if you use the rainbow carrots... it's quite pretty!  The sauce can be made earlier in the day and the carrots chopped... I will definitely remember this one for serving guest because it's simple and looks great.  It would also make a delicious side (just half the recipe) with or without the barley, and would go well with a grilled meat or since it's winter I think it would pair perfectly with a pot roast.

    March 04, 2015

    slow cooker potato and white bean chowder


    Last week we had a snow day, and with school being cancelled, the whole family was home.  However, since we live in Georgia and flurries are about the most we ever get, there was no snow on the ground.  Since we couldn't go build a snowman we opted for a hike, which was a muddy one at that, and some yard work.  About halfway through the day I began to hear the question "what's for dinner?".

    For some reason cooking dinner always comes easily when I have my normal, weekly structured routine, but on the weekends, or when everyone is home on vacation, I never feel like cooking.  Shocking, right!?  I know some of you can relate!  However, during the winter, I can always use my slow cooker and spend a few minutes earlier in the day, coffee in hand before everything gets busy, and prep dinner.  Then I don't mind, so that is exactly what I decided to do.  What came from that was delicious... and turned out to be my favorite potato soup yet!

    This soup isn't cream based, which is nice, but still smooth and creamy from the potatoes and beans.  If you are on a dairy free diet or vegan you can easily leave out the cup of milk and still have a rich soup.  I added it, but mostly out of habit, because when making potato soup that's what you do.

    March 03, 2015

    taiwanese cold sesame noodles


    In staying true to my new found kick of cold noodles dishes, I know I know... kinda picked the wrong time of year, but here is another one!  After making singapore hawker noodles with coconut, I couldn't resist.  The sesame sauce for this is to die for, like lick the spoon good!

    Feel free to throw in extra veggies based on what you have available, like bell peppers or zucchini, especially when summer is here and your gardens are full.  Grilled chicken would be delicious, speaking of summer, thinly sliced on top of this pasta and you can use the sauce as a marinade, just double it.

    March 02, 2015

    mixed greens with eggs and bacon


    This salad just opened a door to a whole new world for me!  If you have ever read my previous post that discussed poached eggs than you would know that I can't make them.  For some reason, every time I try, not matter which means I use, or tricks I think will help, I fail.  Hi, my name is Sarah.  I can cook, bake, etc. etc. etc. but I can't poach an egg.  It's like a support group.  So... moving on.  I no longer have to resign myself to a life of eggs over easy to get that soft, runny center.  Yay!!!!  Meet mollet eggs.  Some of you will also love these... I know it!  Mollet (pronounced mole-ay), which means soft in french, refers to eggs that are cooked somewhere between soft and hard boiled so the whites are firm but the yolks remain a little soft. They are delicious, easy, and I can make them!

    One of my favorite restaurants in Athens, Georgia is Etienne Brasserie, and they serve a version of this salad.  It is a cozy, little French restaurant that has outstanding food.  Their menu is often created based on local availability and what is in season, fresh from local farms and charcuteries.  After the last time we dined there I knew I could come up with something close... and here it is.

    The blend of thinly sliced greens is perfect with varied texture and flavors, ranging from bitter to sweet.  In a perfect world I would have used frisée lettuce, but it can be tricky to find and with three kids I don't make a habit of grocery store hopping.  So, I ended up using red leaf lettuce, which is also soft in texture just a bit milder.  Arugula would also work well.  This salad is perfect as a side, or if you are like me on a Sunday night after a crazy, hectic day, it can eaten as a main course with a loaf of crusty French bread.

    March 01, 2015

    roasted eggplant and chickpea soup


    On a day like today, rainy and cold, some soup could really lift your spirits.  I may have just the perfect one... especially if you like eggplant.

    I know I really like the mild flavor of an eggplant, but it isn't a vegetable that we eat often because I find it a bit tricky to come up with recipes.  You have your eggplant parmesan and you can grill them in thick slices, both delicious (in fact I will be posting a new recipe soon for eggplant parmesan with creamed spinach, so stay tuned), but beyond that it can get a bit fuzzy.  This soup is a perfect way!  Plus, for some crazy reason, this is a vegetable that my kids don't "prefer"... I think that sounds much nicer than any way they might put it.  If you have a hard time with the texture, then this recipe is for you!:)

    To be honest... I can see some people thinking that eggplant soup just doesn't sound all that inviting, but I promise it'll surprise you and it's so simple!!  In fact, I have made this soup a couple of times for guest and they loved it! The chickpeas add the perfect crunch to vary the texture and the yogurt adds a coolness that is then one upped by the fresh oregano.