Wednesday, July 23, 2014

{Video} 3 Quick Vegetarian Dinners 7/23/14- Lasagna Petals, Roasted Veggie Pasta, Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Casserole #3DinnersAWeek

This week I decided to switch it up a bit and focus on three vegetarian dinners... and they did not disappoint.  

My newest Lasagna Petal recipe offered a sweet richness that came together quicker than your typical lasagna.  And it was fun experimenting with roasting green beans, something I'd never tried before.  And just like other vegetables, roasting really brought out their flavor.  And finally, the Spinach Artichoke Quinoa was a nice change from our regular rice... and a whole lot healthier than spinach artichoke dip.  Even my guy loved it and went back for seconds.

So, watch on to see how these all came together, and to learn more about 3 Dinners a Week, click here.


Day 1:

Day 2:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Green Bean Pasta with Goat Cheese

1 vidalia onion, sliced
1 bag Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and halved
1 lb. green beans, cleaned, trimmed and halved
1/2 c. vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 lb. organic rigatoni
Salt and pepper to taste
Goat cheese to taste

On a large, rimmed cookie sheet, add in Brussels sprouts and green beans.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt as desired.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until caramelized.  While the vegetables are roasting, boil the pasta, drain, and set aside.

Then, in a large skillet, add in some olive oil and when heated, add in the onion, and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Then add in the vegetable broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, and then lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the roasted vegetables and pasta to the skillet, and stir to combine.  Add in fresh thyme, check for seasoning and add salt if needed.  Top with goat cheese and serve.

Day 3:

Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Casserole- I modified this recipe by using ricotta cheese instead of Greek yogurt.  And I used a lite Mexican cheese blend instead of the cheeses listed, which added a nice bit of heat.  Finally, I used plain canned artichokes, and not marinated ones- and it still had amazing flavor.  Delicious!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

{Video} Trader Joe's Vegetarian Haul + 2 Weeks of Dinner Meal Plans with Recipe Links

Back when I lived in Santa Barbara, one of my first "real" jobs was an Office Manager for Culligan Water... and yes, saying "hey, Culligan Man" still makes me smile.  Not only were the owners cool to work for, but they really believed in taking care of their employees.  Great pay, flowers for special occasions, and handing me their credit card and sending me off to Trader Joe's each week to buy food for the office.  I'd come back with boxes loaded up with soups, crackers and cookies, granola bars and other snacks... and the employees were happy.  And it was good.

And then I moved to the South, and guess what?  Trader Joe's stores started popping up here too... and it was very good.

These past few months I've been making the transition to healthier, organic foods.  And these last few weeks I've even started to eliminate meat, thanks to the fact that most of my food allergies have cleared up, and I'm now able to eat things that I haven't been able to for over 20 years... like carrots, and broccoli, and apples.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Spinach Ricotta and Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna Petals- the basics and the accessories

This is my third recipe for Lasagna Petals.  Which, to you, might seem a bit odd.  But to me, pretty much fits my personality perfectly.  If something works... stick with it.  

Like buying my favorite pair of pointy toe heels in black, brown, and don't forget red.  Or, revisiting the sale rack the next day to buy three more of those pencil skirts to have on backup for the next three seasons.  Or always keeping my top five in stock... lemons, cilantro, goat cheese, frozen peas and vidalia onions.  I've been blessed with the gift of decisiveness (and some might even say practicality- thanks Mom) ... at least when it comes to the basics.

Never stray too far from the basics, yet add just enough creativity and pop with accessories to keep things interesting.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Garbanzo Bean Salad Sandwich- and how eating Vegetarian the last two weeks has helped me taste clearer

I've always found it unusual that people who were trying to eat less meat, would then fill up their freezer and fridge with chicken strips that weren't really made of chicken, crumbled ground "beef," and don't even get me started on tofu turkey.  All overly processed, "creatively" seasoned, and in the end...a far cry from anything that truly tasted like, or even resembled a big, juicy steak. 

So, as I've been re-exploring the wonderful world of Vegetarianism the last two weeks (although, I'm certainly no where near a complete non-meat eater yet, and don't know that I'd ever really want to be, either), I've been taking full advantage of some of the "perks" that were pretty much prohibited on my previous low-carb-for-over-20-years diet.  Delighting in the fact that I can now eat starchy potatoes with absolutely no guilt.  And that I can enjoy sandwiches as often as I'd like... with actual bread.  I've even grown to like (no, adore) using more of the salad veggies, and less of the lettuce... without the hassle of preparing and cleaning up after meat- especially chicken, which honestly has always grossed me out a bit.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paris of the South Pasta and Why Asheville is Calling Me #AVLWineFest

I'll never forget the day that I first heard about Asheville.  I had just landed a job at a prestigious college in Montecito, CA, and my boss said he was heading there the next day for a conference.  My first thought was, where in the world is Asheville (we didn't have Google back then).  And my next was, is there actually life outside of California?

Now, I'll admit this was almost 16 years ago... back before being voted the freakiest city in America by Rolling Stone Magazine.  And way before Obama not only helped put Asheville on the map, but also one of my favorite rib places.  And don't even get me started on your beer, dear Asheville.

But even then, Asheville was calling me.  Little did I know that three months later, just like their (completely brilliant and spot on) recent ad campaigns asks, "Asheville is calling... will you answer?"  I would.  And I did.  And we packed up the cars, and headed South.
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