Dinner For One ~ Asparagus, Egg and Truffle

When Mister is on business travel or has a late dinner meeting, I usually turn to eggs for a quick dinner. I have never been a bowl of cereal at dinner girl and enjoy my time in the kitchen too much to just pour dinner in a bowl.  Dinner for one doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming.  A few key ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator make all difference.

Eggs and asparagus are a match made in heaven, eggs and truffle are a match made in heaven and the tomato was perfect…so perfect that I went back to the kitchen for a piece of whole grain bread to get every bit of the tomato juice and truffle oil from the plate.

When you find yourself alone, indulge in this simple, elegant and truffle decadent dish for one.

I always have Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt on hand.  For me, there is nothing as wonderful as the taste and aroma of truffles and while truffle products are a bit expensive, a little goes a long way in elevating a dish from drab to divine!

Ingredients for One:

6 steamed asparagus spears
1 poached or lightly fried egg
1/2 tomato, sliced thin
Pinch of black truffle sea salt
Teaspoon of truffle oil

Preparation:

Layer asparagus and tomato on plate and drizzle with truffle oil. Place egg on top and sprinkle with truffle salt and a pinch of ground pepper.  This dish also works very well with hard-boiled eggs, sliced or chopped and sprinkled on top of the asparagus and tomato slices.

This also makes an elegant brunch or salad dish.

Truffles are wonderful in risotto and pasta as well.  I recently made a Lobster Mushroom and Truffle Risotto and there wasn’t a grain of rice left.  I owe that to the truffle!

Linked to:

Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday.

A Meatless Journey, New Cookbooks and Chickpea Spinach Stew

Along with giving up wine for Lent (as part of Rebecca’s Do Without Challenge at Midnight Maniac), we also made a commitment to up our meatless nights from one to at least three a week.  We are not quite a week into both and there is still time for you to “do without” and join the group. It doesn’t have to be meat or wine…any indulgence will do.

For our meatless meals last week, I shot from the hip, pulling a few recipes from online cooking resources. A very kicked-up black-eyed pea and penne salad hit all the notes for a spicy dish (which we both crave and crave often), a fruited couscous stuffed squash deliciously scented with cardamom and yesterday, a zesty citrus chickpea stew with lemongrass, yam and spinach (recipe below).

A very good start for week one!

But this is a long journey and I am not a meatless meal expert. Oh, I have made the occasional meatless meal (butternut ravioli, lobster and truffle risotto, Basque tortilla, and the most decadent Gnocchi a la Parisienne) but never on a regular basis or intentionally.

When we took the pledge, I knew one thing.  We would not eat rice and beans every night.  That was not going to keep the tummies happy. I needed inspiration to keep our meals exciting and there is nothing like holding a gloriously photographed cookbook in my hands for inspiration and motivation to stay the course.

I admit, I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks collecting dust that rarely see the light of the kitchen but none of them are vegetarian (or vegan) and none of them focused on clean eating.  Keeping to my “try before I buy” cookbook resolution (1/2011), I reserved several books on clean eating, vegetarian and vegan cooking from the library.  A few more than several…15 to be exact. Lucky for me,  Mister “volunteered” to make the 2 mile walk to the library with me and with 15 books to bag and carry, I was certainly thankful for his help.

I couldn’t wait to get home, curl up on the sofa under a comfy blanket and devour my “new” books.

An absolutely beautiful book from Linda Long is Great Chefs Cook Vegan. Thomas Keller, Jean-George Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Charlie Trotter, and many other James Beard award-winning chefs create a three or four-course vegan meal, complete with mouth-watering photographs of each recipe and much more.

And mouth-watering they are…Sweet Pea Ravioli with Pea Cream, Wheat Berries with Truffle and Mustard Emulsion, White and Green Asparagus Terrine, Yukon “Linguine” with Sorrel-Arugula Sauce and Charred Corn Ravioli with Basil Fondue. Certainly no rice and bean dinners in this book.  Who knew vegan could be so gourmet!

Another book I really like is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas, Upside Down Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Cranberry-Cherry Biryani and Red Wine & Kalamata Tempeh.  I am not sure what to try first!

Currant Sweet Bread, Blueberry and Almond Bread, Savory Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding, Pistachio-Lemon Pesto Pasta are just a few from the The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I just might have to join the virtual Moosewood cooking group.

A great assortment from the simple and quick to the gourmet from acclaimed chefs.  Amazing, beyond inspirational and too tummy tempting.

What inspires you for meatless meals?  Do you have a favorite book or online resource?

Lemongrass Chickpea and Spinach Stew.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew:

Recipe notes:  I substituted a yam for the Yukon potato and added about a cup of chopped spinach about 5 minutes before serving.  The recipe calls for rice or substitute whole wheat couscous.

Yield:

6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups stew, 1/2 cup rice, and about 1 tablespoon yogurt)

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  diced yellow onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1  cup  diced carrot (about 1 large)
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups  cubed peeled Yukon gold potato, about 1 large
  • 2  teaspoons  Cambodian Lemongrass spice (see link above)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (28-ounce) can diced organic tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I prefer to use dried beans to control salt)
  • 1  (14-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 3  cups  hot cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
  • 1/2  cup  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in potato and next 7 ingredients (through broth). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Serve over rice. Top with yogurt and a chopped fresh cilantro.

Linked to: My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless MondaySumos Sweet Stuff, Something I Whipped Up, Made By You Monday, Homemaker Mondays, Your Recipe, My KitchenMeals on MondayHappy Housewife, All Things RelatedTuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday Tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOPBeauty & Bedlam Tuesday, Melt In Your Mouth

Fruit and Couscous Stuffed Winter Squash

Continuing on our journey (a short one so far) to make 2011 healthier and cleaner and a bit more meatless (well, meatless at least three days a week),  I created this sweet and savory acorn squash stuffed with couscous, fruits and nuts.

If you have visited before, you may have read Kicked Up Black-Eyed Peas and Pasta Salad, Strawberry Chipotle Chicken or even Turkey Tzatziki Muffins and know that I am trying to reverse a few bad winter habits, primarily that of too much cooking, baking, eating (of the wrong stuff) and not enough exercise.

We all crave comfort food during those cold winter months and well, it is just too cold to get out for a run.  I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.

We are now craving a return to our 2010 routine of clean eating limiting our use of “the wrong whites”, more fruits and veggies and less meat.  We are also easing back into our fitness routine.

This stuffed squash certainly fits our renewed eating goals.  Whole grain couscous, cranberries, dates, mandarin orange segments, sweet and savory notes from five spice powder, tarragon and a pinch of chives.  Not too sweet, not too savory, a pop of tart from the cranberries…perfect for a weeknight meatless meal.  It was also beautiful on the plate and we couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy.

Recipe Note:  If your not into meatless meals, adding a bit of sausage to the couscous mixture would be perfect. Earlier this year, I made a simple sausage stuffed version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn or butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 2 tablespoons  dried cranberries
  • 4 dried dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pecan, halved
  • 1 mandarin orange, zested, peeled, segments separated (I have access to beautiful Satsuma mandarins, use a small orange as a substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of tarragon
  • pinch of chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove and discard seeds from squash.  Place squash, cut sides down, in a baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2-inch. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until tender.

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous and next 6 ingredients. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Combine couscous mixture, orange segments, oil, pecans, tarragon and chives. Toss gently. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells.

Place stuffed squash in a baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

This really was filling…we did not need anything else to complete the meal.  If you feel it needs a bit more, a simple spinach salad would be a great side.

Linked to:

inked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

{Meatless Times} Kicked Up Black-Eyed Pea and Penne Salad

Well…we have decided to join the {MEATLESS} crowd.  I admit, I don’t know the first thing about going meatless and frankly, I’m more than a bit concerned about flavor and variety without meat.  I don’t want to eat pasta and rice or beans every night.

At the same time, we are trying to eat cleaner…food closer to natural state so that means cutting out the white stuff…rice, pasta, flour and sugar.  I am sure with more education, the list is going to grow.

Can we do this?  Just 1-3 days a week?

I hit the public library and many of the great real food and vegan blogs for some help.  It is amazing the wealth of information out there and I feel fairly confident that we can do both.  Move in a more meatless direction and eat cleaner.

For the first day, I made a very kicked-up black-eyed pea and pasta salad.  Heat from the HOT pepper, cool from the lime, cilantro and mint, and plenty of protein from the black-eyed peas and a serving of whole grains from the pasta.  I love arugula so in that went (as an afterthought but before serving).

I have never soaked my own beans but chose to buy dry and bulk…easy soak the night before and a 40 minut simmer.  Done and the difference in salt was amazing…none compared to the canned version. And a benefit?  A fraction of the cost of canned.  Who knew?

Overall, a keeper and a great first step into healthier, cleaner  and meatless eating.

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Recipe notes:  I added the penne to make this a meal not a side, substituted Thai red peppers, swapped arugula for the shredded lettuce and used lime instead of lemon.  Once I tasted the salad, it screamed for avocado so I cubed a half and added it to the salad. A healthy serving of MUFA.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces uncooked whole grain penne, cooked using package instructions omitting fat and salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded, ribs removed and finely diced (I used Thai peppers as I had them in the fridge)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (I used one whole lime, including zest)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (I used dried beans)
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 bunch mint, leaves roughly chopped (I cut this in half, I thought that was too much mint ~ at least for us it was)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 cups sliced fresh baby spinach or arugula

Directions:

Combine the garlic, pepper, red onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl.

Add the peas, tomatoes, mint, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss in the arugula and avocado.

Serve with a slice of whole grain bread if desired.

If you are still with me and you live this or will try the same, PLEASE feel free to leave me a comment on what sites, magazines or cookbooks you reference for recipes or ideas or simply for education. I am considering the magazine Vegetarian Times but open to magazine, cookbook or education ideas.

A big thanks in advance!

Linked to:

Tuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOP, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Monday Mania, My Meatless Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Beauty & Bedlam Tuesday

Curry Turkey Muffins with Yogurt Tzatziki

If you read my post on Strawberry Chipotle Chicken, you know I am in crisis mode.  My favorite skinny jeans don’t fit…too much rich cooking and baking these past few months.

So I am back to clean, light and healthy eating…not forever of course, just until I can get back into my jeans.

I love using Jennie-O extra lean ground turkey…I use it in lightened Bolognese, turkey burgers. turkey chili and turkey meatloaf.  I can lighten almost any traditional meat dish with turkey.

I was craving curry and found a great recipe for Curry Spiced Meatloaf.  I had some wonderful rainbow chard that needed to be used…a fine chop, quick saute and into the loaf it went. I think this really helped keep the turkey moist.

The perfect topping was a tzatziki made with Fage zero to lighten it up even more. The cucumber mint added a cool counter to the hot curry I used.

Inspired by Taste of Home Curry Spiced Meatloaf.

Recipe Notes/Modifications:  I used brown rice for the rolled oats,  1/2 bunch rainbow chard (sautéed) instead of carrots, no salt chicken broth for the milk and lean turkey breast for the beef. I baked these savoy little loafs in a muffin tin for portion control.  Served with a salad, a dollop of tzatziki, it was just perfect.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs or rolled oats
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine egg, milk, bread crumbs or oats, garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper, carrots and onion. Add ground beef; mix well. Pat meat mixture into an 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan or muffins tins.  Bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes or until no pink remains.

Servings:  4 – 2 turkey “muffins” each.

inked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate,  Eat at Home, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Welcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, Wandering Wednesday,

Strawberry Chipotle Glazed Chicken

It  has finally happened…all of this rich cooking and baking has…well…added a few pounds and if I don’t get back to clean eating, I will be forced to invest in a pair of pajama jeans.  There, I said it, zipping my skinny jeans has become a daily challenge.  The words out of my mouth while trying to squeeze into them are not pretty, not pretty at all!

I did this to myself…I threw my clean eating habits out the window and blamed it on the cold, snowy, winter in Denver. I have no motivation to head out on a run when it is 30 degrees and snowing.  I have no motivation to get on the elliptical.  I haven’t lifted a weight in 3 months.  I allowed these pounds to creep up on me! Arrrgghhhh!!

I love my bedazzled TR skinny jeans so I just can’t let this continue!  My favorite jeans are staring at me, mocking me from the closet. And I have another confession…it isn’t just one pair, it is all of them.  Even the Lucky boyfriend jeans (which, by the way, run big).

YIKES! I. Refuse. To. Buy. New. Jeans!

With spring around the corner (and a return to SoBe), it is time to dust off the Eating Well, Cooking Light and Clean Eating cookbooks and get back on track. Back to light, healthy and Clean Eating principles. Back to working out.  Cheers to my jeans sliding right on without tugging, pulling, squatting and cussing!

So, the question I will be asking myself over the next few weeks is:  Pajama Jeans or ?

Today ? wins with strawberry chipotle grilled chicken.  Fresh, smoky and slightly spicy!  A perfect “re-entry” to light and healthy food. Served simply with EVOO misted steamed spinach.

Strawberry Chipotle Grilled Chicken adapted from Eating Well.

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries, tops removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup strawberry preserves (I used no sugar preserves)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  1. Stir strawberries, broth, preserves, ketchup, vinegar, chipotle peppers, thyme and allspice in a small deep bowl. Transfer to a shallow nonreactive dish large enough to hold chicken. Add chicken and turn to coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat grill to high. Oil the grill rack. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a medium skillet.
  3. Bring the marinade to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced by about half, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, reduce the grill heat to medium and grill the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 7 to 9 minutes per side. Let the chicken cool slightly; serve with the sauce.

If you are struggling with the winter hibernation weight blues, join me on my daily culinary journey to take control of my jeans. It will be light, healthy and oh…so…delicious!

Linked to: Tuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOP, Delectable Tuesday

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