I’m welcoming myself back! Trying to get better at my time management, forcing myself to cook blog worthy meals, and actually blogging them. Wish me luck!
At work (Kaia FIT Lafayette) we are finished up week four of our current six week Brik, or boot camp program. I decided to really clean up my diet during this time. No sugar, no alcohol, no wheat, no grain, no dairy. I’m not doing a strict Whole30 but I’ve stayed pretty close to being on track. I was with my dad during his birthday last week so I had a few beers with him and cake to celebrate. But afterwards I jumped right back in. No regrets but motivation to keep on keeping on. And so far it’s been a great and easy experience. I don’t focus on what I am not eating but instead focus on all the good stuff I am eating.. veggies, lean protein, and some fruit pretty much makes up my daily diet. Typically I do eat a clean diet but the chocolate consumption was out of hand. I’m too embarrassed to admit how much I was eating! Amazingly it was no struggle to give it up. In fact there are bars sitting in the cabinet that I haven’t touched. Go me!
Now for this meal! I love a good tomato sauce. We eat plenty of tomato sauce with ground beef over cauliflower rice. It’s a weekly staple for quick and easy cooking. This is along those lines except I used ground turkey and braised a whole cauliflower. Really there is nothing to it. And it looks pretty fancy. If you have the time go ahead and make your tomato sauce from scratch. I used a jar that I love (sugar free) and added capers, kalamata olives, red wine vinegar, parsley, and smoked paprika. The cauliflower is pushed into the sauce and simmered until tender. My kids happily gobbled this up without question to where the pasta was. I’m pretty happy to know there are leftovers waiting for dinner tonight!
Tomato Sauce Braised Cauliflower
Whole cauliflower braised in a puttanesca style tomato sauce. A beautiful presentation for a simple meal!
- shallot, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
- 1 crook neck squash, chopped (substitute zucchini)
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 32 oz jar tomato sauce (sugar free- read your labels!)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- splash red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/4 cup pitted & chopped kalamata olives*
- 1 whole head cauliflower, leaves removed from bottom
- olive oil
- fresh basil, to serve
- pecorino romano, fresh grated to serve (if you are not dairy free)
- In a large pot heat up a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and squash. Saute 5 minutes until starting to soft. Add the garlic and ground turkey. Continue to cook until turkey is browned. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Add the jar of tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, parsley, smoked paprika, capers, and olives. Bring to a simmer. Season with s&p.
- Place the head of cauliflower into the sauce pressing down so it is 2/3 of the way submerged.
- Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until cauliflower is tender crisp.
- Serve with plenty of fresh basil and pecorino romano.
I recently discovered dried kalamata olives from trader joes. They are AMAZING. I love the intense olive flavor they offer.
Leave the ground turkey out for a vegetarian meal.
I’m trying to not get buried in life right now. It’s hard. I’m learning proper time management with my new responsibilities. I’m feeling the pressure of not having enough hours in the day to get everything completed. I rush throughout the day most days. I hate rushing. I’m a planner and isn’t planning supposed to prevent rushing? My patience is a bit lower right now and my kids are not responding well to this. Patience is not my strong point. The past few weeks Cia and Cash have been getting less attention than their usual and they are acting out against this. Granted I’m really happy with everything I have going on but I need to better manage my time. Set aside time to play with my kids everyday. Set aside work time so I’m not working late into the night. Meal planning/prepping so dinners are easy but still nutrition and delicious. Basically being a bit more organized than I typically am. And those who know me know I already am organized. It’s just shifting my perspective and my schedule to make it all work. Minor problems I know but this is what is going on in my world.
I cooked this meal last week and posted a picture on social media commenting “One day I will blog my recipes again”. I received positive feedback on this so I thought why not just start here. There’s no reason why I can’t share a recipe or two a week. My pictures are awful but the recipe was delicious. I didn’t measure anything, I rarely do these days, so my recipes are in there most basic format. Run with them add your flare where you feel comfortable and have fun cooking. If it’s not fun then the final product is never as delicious as it could be and your eating experience is not a relaxed and nurturing as it should be.
kelp noodles, 5 spice meatballs, and roasted bok choy
Chinese 5 spice meatballs. Veggies in a ginger broth. Roasted bok choy. Kelp noodles. All combined together to create something delicious.
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ~ 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
- 1 shallot, sliced into thin rounds
- shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
- carrots, chopped
- celery, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
- 3“ ginger knob, 1/2 grated and 1/2 left whole
- 2-3 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 package kelp noodles, rinsed well
- baby bok choy, washed and dried
- coconut vinegar
- cilantro leaves
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place ground beef in a bowl, season generously with s&p, and add Chinese 5 spice. Gently mix to incorporate. Roll into small meatballs and place in a greased pyrex dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Turn heat up to 425.
- Meanwhile in a pot heat up a bit of oil over medium high heat. Add the sliced shallot and cook stirring often until browned. Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, and ginger (both grated and whole). Season with s&p. Continue to cook stirring often for 5 minutes. Add coconut aminos and chicken stock. Once simmering add kelp noodles and meatballs; turn heat to low.
- Slice baby bok choy in half lengthwise and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with coconut vinegar. Bake for ~4-6 minutes until wilted.
- Serve soup in bowls topped with roasted bok choy and cilantro leaves. Serve with kimchi.
I kept my broth as basic as possible and I didn't want a lot of broth just enough to coat everything. Feel free to spice it up. Add in some chili paste, miso paste, and/or wakame seaweed.
Just as I announce my welcoming of fall I jump back into summer recipes. But what can I say, garden tomatoes have a special place in my mouth. I need to consume as many as I can before the season officially ends! We do have a steady supply of tomatoes coming in from our garden, but a friend had a nice bounty she needed to unload so I happily volunteered to take them off her hands. One can never have too many garden tomatoes!
In cherishing the beautiful sweet flavor of garden tomatoes I opted to create a no cook tomato sauce. Grated tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, and s&p. The easiest quickest tomato sauce ever! Served with spaghetti, pecorino romano, and more fresh basil. Serious yum in the tum. And for a little extra something, I tossed in some balsamic marinated garden cucumbers right before serving. Maybe I’m not quite ready for summer to end after all.
A no cook tomato sauce perfect for your garden tomatoes.
for the sauce
- 3-4 large tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- spaghetti (I used Jovial brown rice - gluten free)
- pecorino romano
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- Slice tomatoes in half horizontally. Using a box grater or grater attachment on a mandolin grate the tomatoes into a large bowl. Gently press the cut side of each tomato half into the grater as you grate, and you'll be left with just the skin to discard. Awesome!
- Press or finely mince garlic and add to the tomatoes.
- Thinly slice basil leaves and add to the grated tomatoes.
- Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and season with s&p.
- Cook noodles according to box until just al dente. Drain and add to the tomato sauce. Stir on occasion and let the noodles cool. They will absorb the tomato sauce.
- Once room temperature grate in a bunch of pecorino romano, drizzle in a bit of olive oil, and season with s&p.
- chopped basil leaves
- pecorino romano
- a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- red pepper flakes
- fresh chopped avocado (my kids loved this addition)
- cucumber (plain or marinated in balsamic vinegar)
- chopped cherry tomatoes
As I’ve recently mentioned we are enjoying the Blue Apron service. About once a month I choose three meals to be delivered to our home. As I look through the meal selection and pick out which week has the tastiest match for Josh and I, I also gain some inspiration. With this in mind, a few weeks ago I came across their recipe, fusilli con buco pasta with summer squash and mint. I chose to skip the week but I loved the sound of lemon and mint with summer squash. Especially when I can pick the mint from our garden and buy the squash local from the farmer’s market. No fancy ingredients to buy from the store. This is something that really appeals to me about many of the Blue Apron recipes, the use of fresh herbs and lemon to flavor simple and quick to prepare meals. I feel like I’m totally back to the basics and we are enjoying every bite of it.
Summer Squash & Mint Pasta
A simple pasta dish inspired by Blue Apron. Summer squash and shredded chicken seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mint. Perfect for a summer pasta dish!
- 2-3 oz pasta, I used tarchiette
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
- 1 large shallot, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
- 2 round summer squash, sliced into wedges
- 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken)
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 sprig mint, chopped
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
- Heat up a pot of water to cook the pasta. Once boiling add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.
- Heat up ghee and olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallot, zucchini, and summer squash. Season with s&p and continue to cook until lightly browned, 5 minutes or so.
- To the veggies add the cooked pasta, reserved pasta water, shredded chicken, lemon zest, lemon juice, most of the mint, and 1/4 cup of the pecorino romano. Cook while stirring until everything is well mixed, 2 minutes. Season with s&p.
- Split into bowls and garnish with remaining pecorino romano and mint.
Sometimes I forget how much I love spaghetti squash. I like to bake it until just ‘al dente’, so the ‘noodles’ still have a bit of crunch. Spaghetti squash is the perfect noodle substitute tasting so delicious that I don’t even care that I’m not eating a plate of pasta. And this is saying something. I have always had a love for pasta coming in any shape and form. But within the last year or so I’ve made my choices to reduce certain foods from my diet, prioritizing what I love most. So I’m that girl who will skip a plate of pasta to enjoy a beer or two instead. And at this point I’m pretty sure I would make this trade any day of the week ;). I’d like to quickly note that this is not for weight purposes but rather for nutritional reasons.
Anyway there’s not much too this recipe. I came across the idea for curried spaghetti squash on the Food Network and ran with it. Garam masala, fresh ginger, lemon juice, and cilantro make for bold vibrant flavors all coming together with a bit of coconut milk. I topped the squash with curry marinated chicken. It seems fancy but it’s really quite simple, making for an easy weeknight dinner.
Curried Spaghetti Squash and Chicken
Plenty of flavor in this dish!
- 1lb chicken tenders
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 spaghetti squash, cooked and 'noodles' scraped out
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Season chicken tenders with s&p. Place coconut milk, coconut sugar, and curry powder in a glass tupperware container and mix. Add chicken and marinate in fridge overnight.
- Preheat oven to 425.
- In a large saute pan heat ghee over medium heat. Add the shallot and ginger. Cook a few minutes and stir in the garam masala.
- Add the lemon juice and honey. Stir to mix.
- Add the cooked spaghetti squash and combine well. Season with s&p.
- Meanwhile place chicken tenders in a single layer on a nonstick bake pan with a rolled edge (or line a flat baking sheet with foil and turn up edges of foil). Place in oven and cook 5-7 minutes. Broil another few minutes until lightly browned.
- Add coconut milk to the spaghetti squash and heat through. Stir in cilantro, reserving a bit for garnish.
- Serve spaghetti squash topped with chicken tenders garnished with cilantro.
I kept my ingredient list to a minimum, but feel free to add extra veggies to the mix, sautéing at the beginning in ghee.. mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, ect..