Making Pizzas – Under The Tuscan Stars

I’ve been meaning to write this since my family left Italy nearly a year ago.  My delay has its roots in a bit a fear that I wouldn’t do this experience justice with my words.  I wanted to describe our experience in such a way that you could relive it with us – the sights, smells, the tastes – a sharing of passion for food with new friends in the beautiful Chianti region of Tuscany.

Before we eat, a little background…

We planned a vacation at what we thought was a beautiful, rustic home, surrounded by olive trees and vineyards, nestled in the heart of Tuscany.  As fate would have it, we hit a culinary jackpot! Our hosts at Montrogoli, Alessio and Arianna, shared a passion for clean eating, or ‘slow food’ as they call it.  Alessio and Arianna embrace this style of eating.  It’s truly a way of life for them.  So much so that they are slowing growing a business that highlights this lifestyle in Italy – KM ZeroTours

Alessio is a trained pastry chef, organic gardner, sommelier, and pizzialo. “What is a Pizzaiolo?”  In short, it is extensive and intense culinary training for creating true Neapolitan style pizza that ensures ancient methods and ingredients are maintained. Arianna is all things Tuscany.  She knows the land, the people, the culture.  This is her home and her heart.  Alessio and Arianna are the masterminds behind KM Zero Tours.  With Alessio and Arianna, you will experience Tuscany from a local’s perspective.  You can experience organic wine tastings, visit local dairy farms for cheese-making lessons, visit local markets to see their handicrafts, and/or get in an Italian kitchen for slow-food cooking classes.

When we discovered they offered a hands-on, pizza making experience in our very own Tuscan holiday home, we jumped at the opportunity.  Making pizzas with a pizzaiolo in an outdoor brick/stone pizza oven in the heart of Tuscany?? We’ll take three, please!! I even got permission to share the recipe!!

Let’s Get Cooking

First, let’s start with 4 simple, but critical dough ingredients:

  • 1 liter water (lukewarm)
  • 1 kilo (700 grams) flour (ancient grain Farina, ground super fine)
  • 15-20 grams yeast (fresh, NOT dry)
  • 30 grams salt (fine, not coarse)

Note: This recipe makes approximately 8-9 pizzas.  This is essentially a recipe for a pizza party!

Directions

  1. Add fresh yeast to the water and stir.
  2. Add the flour to the yeast water and stir by hand until dough begins to form.
  3. With well floured hands, turn out the dough on a floured board.
  4. To begin working the dough, continuously pull the outside of the dough into the center to form a ball. Repeat this process for 3-4  minutes.
  1. Next, stretch the dough to an oblong shape to expose the inner portion of the dough to the air so it begins to dry. Then fold the back unto itself.  Repeat this process until the interior portion of the dough, when exposed while stretched, is no longer humid.

(The interior portion will begin to look like the exterior because it is beginning to dry a bit.)

  1. Place the dough in a slightly floured large bowl. Cover it with a towel.  Allow to rest at room temperature on an Italian summer day for 3-4 hours.

While resting, the dough will double in size.

Note: this is NOT the time to make pizzas.  Some do now, but Alessio says “absolutely not.”  The crust will be all wrong!  It will not digest easily, nor will it have a light and slightly crunchy texture.  [Don’t you just love the passion!?!]

  1. After the dough has risen and doubled in size, with floured hands, flour the top of the dough and a board. In one piece, carefully move the dough to the floured board.  Gently roll the dough into a large log.
  1. Cut the dough into 300 gram sections. Each section will be enough dough for one pizza.  Each portion is gently rolled into a small ball.
  1. Place each dough ball at least 5” from each other on a lightly floured pan. Cover the dough balls with towels.  Allow to rest again for 3 hours.

 Once the dough has risen a second time, it’s pizza making time.

However, if you’re really getting in touch with your inner Italian, you can try your hand at schiacciata too. Schiacciata is a flattened bread that is lightly seasoned with a mixture of olive oil, water, fine salt, and sometimes, fresh rosemary.

Schiacciata is made by pressing the dough with your fingers into flat bread.  The olive oil, water, and salt mixture is then pressed into the bread with the hands as well.  Then, it’s baked.  Alessio finishes his hot schiacciata with a bit more olive oil, salt, and fresh rosemary. This is so simple, but oh so [lose your mind] good!!

But, getting back to pizzas…

While the dough is resting a second time, Alessio and the hubs heat the outdoor brick and stone oven.  When the oven is ready, it’s time to prepare the pizzas.

If you do this with Alessio and Arianna at Montrogoli, the pizza prep surface is truly “rustic Italian” – a lightly floured, huge slab of aged Carrera marble set atop a homemade wooden frame.

By hand [no rolling pin permitted!!] press the dough into a rounded shape.  At this point, we made so many different pizzas my head was spinning!

When making pizzas, order of ingredients is important as is having the freshest of ingredients.  Pizza making is a labor of love [more like passion] and there is no room for poor quality ingredients.  The passion along with fresh and simple ingredients is what makes Italian food well…Italian!

Creating Pizzas (in order of ingredients)

  1. Tomato sauce (if using), salt, and then olive oil.
  2. Hearty ingredients than can stand up to flames are added next (e.g., mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, gorgonzola, eggplant, zucchini)
  3. Baking time. (In a fiery hot outdoor oven, one pizza takes about 5 minutes)
  4. Delicate toppings not suited for a kiss by the flames are added now (e.g., soft cheeses, arugula, prosciutto, speck – cured Northern Italian pork, etc.)
  5. Regardless of ingredients, all pizzas are finished with a drizzling of .. you guessed it, a bit more olive oil.


That evening, under the Tuscan stars, we stuffed ourselves silly with delicious pizza, schiacciata, and local wines.  We believed ourselves to be Tuscan (if only for a little while).  I can still smell and taste the pizzas every time I think about that evening.  Those memories will last a lifetime!!


If you ever have the chance to visit Tuscany, you absolutely must check out KM Zero Tours and let Arianna and Alessio show you how it’s done.  Better yet, stay with them at Montrogoli like we did and experience their world with them.  But please, check with us first – we don’t want you booking our holiday home on the week we plan to be there!!!

Thanks again Alessio and Arianna for sharing your fantastic home and recipes with us.  We miss you and can’t wait to return…Ciao!

Cook’s Choice – Baked Egg Avocados

Snacks

Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Sweet, chewy, and salty.  This batch was supposed to make it to the end of the week.  They barely made it to Wednesday!  This is one of the first clean eating cookie recipes I discovered several years ago.  These cookies never get old.

Dinners

Baked Egg Avocados – You know when you prepare a meal and the family (hubby in particular) takes one look and says absolutely nothing – dead silence.  Yep, that’s how this one was received.  Truth is, the hubby doesn’t like eggs unless the yolks are cooked solid. Sometimes, it’s cook’s choice and this gal gets her way ;)   I love eggs prepared nearly any way I can get them.  That goes for avocados too.  Put these two favorites together…well now, that’s just plain fabulous in my book. Tip: Don’t be shy with seasoning.  Eggs and avocados require a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to showcase themselves!

Easy Caprese Salad – Who doesn’t love a caprese salad? This is a light meal ready in 15 minutes or less.  It’s a 25 minute meal if served with pan seared chicken.  It’s an easy crowd pleaser every time.

Clean Eating Sloppy Joe’s and Baked Sweet Potato Fries – An all time family favorite.  Sometimes, when we get all food crazy, we forgo the bun and serve it with organic tortilla chips.  Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and it’s a whole new twist on Sloppy Joe’s.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine 

Dry Ingredients
1 ¼ c old-fashioned oats
½ c whole white wheat flour
1 T. ground flax seed
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. coarse sea salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt)

Wet Ingredients
¼ c.+1/8 c. honey
1 organic cage free egg white
2 T. creamy, salted almond butter (or your preferred nut butter)
2 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir in Ingredients
¼ c. clean dark chocolate, roughly chopped (my favorite is liberty chocolates)
¼ c. organic raisins

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Gently stir in chocolate & raisins. Scoop rounded tablespoon size servings onto a baking stone or lined cookie sheet. Cook 9 to 10 min. (Do not over cook. They will be soft and gooey, until they have cooled a bit). Allow to cool on the baking sheet/stone. Makes approximately 16 cookies.


Baked Egg Avocados

Adapted from White On Rice Couple


Ingredients
1 large avocado (per person)
2 eggs (per avocado)
Several slices of super crispy bacon
Toast, optional but recommended
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, optional

Directions:  Preheat oven to 425.  Halve the avocado’s and remove the seeds.  Carefully hollow out each side a bit bigger to create room for the egg.  Place avocado halves in a baking dish in such a way that they support each other and won’t fall over.  Season with a bit of sea salt and black pepper.

Fancy preparation method: carefully separate the yolks and whites.  Fill each avocado with one yolk and then spoon in just enough egg white to fill the remaining available space.

Quick preparation method: carefully crack each egg and pour it into the hollowed portion of the avocado.  Know that some of the egg white will overfill into the baking dish.  It’s a bit less beautiful, but still delicious nonetheless.

Season the egg with sea salt and black pepper.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, depending on your preferred egg doneness. While the avocados are baking, roughly chop the bacon and toast the bread.  When the eggs are cooked to your liking, top each avocado with the crumbled bacon.  Serve alongside the toast.

Scoop out some of the egg avocado goodness and slather it on the toast.  If you’re feeling edgy, add a couple of dashes of hot sauce!


Easy Caprese Salad

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life

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Ingredients
2 pints organic cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz. fresh “mini” mozzarella pearls, halved
6-8 T. olive oil
Big bunch basil leaves (18+ leaves), finely chopped or get fancy and chiffonade
½ to 1 t. sea salt
½ to 1 t. freshly ground pepper
Balsamic reduction, optional (recipe below)

Directions: In a medium bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a drizzling of balsamic glaze (optional). Serve immediately.

Balsamic Reduction
1 c. store bought balsamic vinegar
4-5 drops organic stevia drops (optional)

Directions: In a small sauce pan, add the balsamic vinegar and stevia. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer until it has reduced by one-half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. It’s done when it is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.


Clean Eating Sloppy Joe’s & Baked Sweet Potato Fries

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries (1 sweet potato per person)

Adapted From Broke and Bougie 

Ingredients
3 sweet potatoes, skins removed
2 T. coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1/8 to ¼ t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. sea salt

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 475 degrees (bake not convection).  Slice the potatoes (skins removed) into French fries.  In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and dry seasonings.  Line a baking dish with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the fries on the pan (do not allow them to touch one another or they won’t get crispy).  Cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook 8 to 10 additional minutes or until done to your preferred crispness.

Clean Eating Sloppy Joe’s

Adapted From Broke and Bougie

Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 organic bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground turkey
3 T. honey
1 T. Italian seasoning (alternative: Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
1 t. sea salt
1 t. pepper
1 can organic tomato sauce
2 T. organic tomato paste
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. hot sauce*
1 t. soy sauce*
1 t. apple cider vinegar*
*These 3 ingredients can be replaced with 2 T. Worcestershire sauce

Directions: In a large, deep skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, and bell pepper. Cook until the veggies are softened (about 3-4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the turkey and break it up into tiny pieces. Cook until no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes). Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer to allow the liquid to reduce and thicken a bit (about 5 more minutes). Serve immediately.

SNACKS

Breakfast Cookies – A great grab and go, guilt free breakfast item.  Or, it’s a great treat for when a cookie craving hits!

DINNERS

Arugula and Feta Farro (or Orzo) with Pan Seared Chicken Sausage –This is a quick, impressive dinner option -great for entertaining.  It’s crazy easy, yet it tastes like hours of kitchen time was spent creating it. I usually double this recipe to ensure we can enjoy it all over again at lunch.

Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Quinoa Salad & Chicken Sausage – I know, I know, you “hate” Brussels Sprouts. This time, they are shredded and served as salad greens.  The traditional overcooked, stinky, and mushy Brussels sprouts are nonexistent here.  My original intent was to serve the chicken sausage on the side.  However, at the last minute, I decided to slice it and throw it in the salad.  Outcome: Great success.

Feta Arugula Chicken Sausage Frittata – A quick and easy dinner option with endless ingredient options.  No feta?  Substitute another cheese.  No arugula? No problem-another organic green like spinach, kale, or swiss chard will work.  No meat in the fridge? Go without.  Regardless of your chosen combination, this will turn out great every time.

Pan Seared Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato Fries – Sweet potato fries are a great substitute for traditional fries.  They’re especially yummy with smokey paprika seasoning.  Consider using the same seasoning for your chicken too.

Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti Squash  – A friend recently shared this recipe with me – Thanks Shannah! I chose to microwave the spaghetti squash instead of roasting for the sake of time.  It made an otherwise time consuming recipe ready in no time. 

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Weelicious  

Dry Ingredients
1 c. whole white wheat flour
2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. flax seeds

Wet Ingredients
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (alternative: soften coconut oil)
1/2 c. organic, unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 c. pure maple syrup (alternative: honey)
1 large organic egg
2 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredients
1/2 c. organic raisins (alternative: dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. You can do this by hand or alternatively in a mixer. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir a few times by hand. Finally, fold in the stir in ingredients by hand. Use a large scoop to create individual cookie dough mounds. Bake on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone for 12-15 minutes (slight browning at the edges = done).


Arugula and Feta Farro (or Orzo) with Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Organize Yourself Skinny 

Lemon Garlic Dressing Ingredients
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
2 lemons, juiced
¼ t. sea salt and pepper

Farro Ingredients
2 c. farro (whole grain) (alternative: 2 c. whole wheat orzo)
4 c. organic chicken broth (alternatives: vegetable broth or water)
2 c. organic arugula (OR organic kale), reserve the remaining greens for the salad
1c. + ½ c. feta cheese, grated

(Tip: Buy a block of feta and grate it yourself. Prepackaged feta crumbles have additives!)

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt/pepper and set aside.

If using farro: To a medium size stock pot, add the broth or water.  Bring bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook per package instructions. When done, drain the farro and return it to the stock pot.

If using orzo: To a medium size stock pot, add the broth or salted water and bring to a boil.  Add the orzo.  Refer to package directions to achieve al dente pasta. When done, drain the orzo and return it to the stock pot. (Note: reserve about 1 c. of the cooking liquid).

Prepare the chicken sausage by pan searing while the farro (or orzo) is simmering.

Mix in the greens (arugula or kale) and feta to the warm farro (or orzo).  Once the greens have wilted, pour in the lemon-garlic olive oil and mix to combine.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste. If using orzo, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.  (You’ll find that whole wheat pasta tends to soak up any available liquid and so the additional liquid is needed.)

Serve the chicken sausage alongside the farro (or orzo).  Alternatively, slice the cooked chicken sausage and stir it into the prepared farro (or orzo).


Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Quinoa Salad & Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven  

Salad Ingredients
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed, sliced with a food processor (or by hand)
1 c. dry quinoa
1 c. dried organic cranberries (check ingredients for added preservatives and sugar – sometimes organic sugar cannot be avoided)
2/3 c. slivered almonds, (toasting optional)
1/3 c. feta, roughly shredded
Orange vinaigrette (see below)

1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausage

Directions: Cook the quinoa according to package directions. When finished transfer to the refrigerator to quickly cool it.

While the quinoa cooks, heat a large skillet to medium heat, and cook the chicken sausage. Rotate while cooking to ensure evenin heating. 

Prepare the vinaigrette and set aside.

Once the quinoa and chicken sausage are underway, slice the Brussels sprouts in the food processor (or by hand).  To a large serving bowl, add the Brussels sprouts along with the cranberries, almonds, and cheese.

Once the chicken sausage is fully cooked, allow to cool slightly before slicing.  Add the chicken sausage along with the quinoa.  

Top the salad with the orange vinaigrette, and gentle stir.  Season with salt/pepper to taste.

Orange Vinaigrette
1/4 c. freshly-squeezed orange juice (alternative 1 large orange, juiced)
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. apple cider vinegar
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Directions: Whisk together all ingredients.


Feta Arugula Chicken Sausage Frittata  

Ingredients
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 links, preservative free chicken sausage, chopped
Large handful of organic arugula, roughly chopped
¾ c. organic feta, crumbled
5 organic eggs (alternative: 3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites)
Sea salt/freshly cracked pepper
Salsa, optional topping
Hot sauce, optional topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 375.  In an oven safe, nonstick skillet, heated to medium, add the olive oil.  Brown the chicken sausage for about 5- 7 minutes.  

In the meantime, in a small bowl whisk the eggs.  Add the cheese, stir, and set aside.  

To the skillet, add the  onions and sea salt/pepper (to taste).  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Add the arugula to the skillet, stirring often.  Continue cooking until the greens are softened.  Add the garlic, cooking until fragrant (about a minute).  

Pour the cheese/egg mixture evenly atop the skillet.  Allow the eggs to cook until the edges begin to firm up.  Place the skillet in the oven for 10-15 minutes to finish cooking the eggs.  The frittata is done when the eggs in the middle of the skillet have firmed up.   

Carefully remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes.  Serve in “pizza style” slices from the skillet OR ensure the frittata is loose by running a nonstick spatula around the edges of the frittata and invert the skillet on a plate.  Enjoy as is or with top with salsa and/or hot sauce.


Pan Seared Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Adapted from Broke and Bougie 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries (1 sweet potato per person)

Ingredients
3 sweet potatoes, skins removed
2 T. coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1/8 to ¼ t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. sea salt

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 475 degrees (bake not convection).  Slice the potatoes (skins removed) into French fries.  In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and dry seasonings.  Line a baking dish with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the fries on the pan (do not allow them to touch one another or they won’t get crispy).  Cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook 8 to 10 additional minutes or until done to your preferred crispness.

Pan Seared Chicken
Ingredients
2-3 organic chicken breasts
Sea salt, freshly ground
Black pepper, freshly ground
½ T. Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (alternative: another dry, preservative free poultry seasoning)
½ t. or less olive oil

Directions: Heat a skillet to near medium heat.  Pound out the chicken so its thickness is even to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle both sides with salt/pepper and the dry seasoning.  Coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil, giving the pan a swirl or two around.  Place the chicken breasts on the pan (do not move around once placed other than to flip on the other side). Approximately 7 minutes later, flip the chicken.  Notice how far up the side of the breast it is cooked.  If the color change is about ½ of the way, you can estimate it will likely take the same amount of time on the flipped side.  

Ideally, the chicken is flipped only one time in the skillet.  Never ever cut into the chicken while cooking to see if it’s done.  All of the juices run out and the result is dry chicken.  Once the chicken has cooked on both sides, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for several minutes before cutting.


Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti Squash

Adapted from Lighten Up 

Ingredients
1 lb. wild caught shrimp
2 spaghetti squash,
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small red onion,  thinly sliced
1 lb. organic asparagus, woody stems removed and sliced into 1” sections
1.5 lemons, zested and juiced
2 T. olive oil
1.5 T. organic butter
Sea salt
Red pepper flakes

Directions: Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Place upside down in a microwavable dish with a lip.  Add 1 tablespoon of water and cover with plastic wrap.  Pierce the plastic wrap with a tiny hole to allow steam to escape.  Cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes or until the skin is super soft to the touch.  Repeat this process with the other spaghetti squash.

While the squash cooks, heat a large skillet to near medium, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the garlic, onion, and asparagus and season with a pinch of sea salt and red pepper flakes. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the shrimp, lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt  and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 5 more minutes. (NOTE: shrimp cooks fast! You want it to begin to tighten into a curl and turn from translucent to opaque.) Then, quickly add the lemon juice and a 1.5 tablespoon of butter. Give it a quick stir and remove from the heat. 

With a fork, scrape the spaghetti squash to remove the spaghetti-like strands and add it to the skillet. With tongs, toss it with the shrimp mixture. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. 

Plate and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and some Parmesan cheese. 

Vacation Eating

Last week, my daughter and I visited my parents in Florida.  One evening, we spent time with my parents’ friends from childhood.  Renee, a wonderful cook and host, planned a fun-filled evening that had everyone cooking in her fantastic kitchen!  The main course from our evening is featured here.

Chicken with Mixed Wine (Pollo al Vin Cotto) and Goat Cheese (Fresh Pasta) Ravioli with Creamy Walnut Sauce 

Wow…right!?! This is an ambitious and impressive menu.  It’s definitely not a weeknight meal.  It requires a good deal of preparation work and cook time. However, it is [and was] perfect for a dinner party given that lots of hands are available to chop, dice, mix, and help make it all happen. We even had my little one in the kitchen cutting fresh pasta dough and sealing the ravioli.  It was such a fun, hands-on cooking experience!  Food is always better when everyone is involved – even if some are only in charge of washing dishes😉

Thanks again to Jeff and Renee for hosting!

Links to the recipes and ingredients are below.  Since we didn’t deviate from the original recipes other than to make fresh pasta for the ravioli instead of using premade pasta sheets, please refer to the original recipes. I was not about to suggest changes to recipes from the greats – Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse!

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Chicken with Mixed Wine (Pollo al Vin Cotto)

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups red wine
Scant 12 ounces honey
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
1 (3-pound) chicken, cleaned, giblets removed, and cut into 8 portions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 large onion, cut into large dice
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup green olives (Sicilian variety), pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons almonds, skins removed and toasted
1 1/2 cups vin cotto
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot red chili flakes, for garnish
Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

Fresh Pasta (for ravioli)

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs

Goat Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Walnut Sauce


Ravioli Filling Ingredients
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced lemon peel
3 large pasta sheets see Fresh Pasta recipe (above)

Sauce Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan

 

 

Bring on Spring (Salads) & Such

SNACKS

Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins  – Sweet, moist, and appley.  Yum.

DINNERS

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – This dinner option never gets old because it’s sooooo good.

Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese – Hello old friend…sorry it’s been so long since we’ve enjoyed spending time eating you!  Seriously people…have you tried this yet?

Spiralized Zucchini “Zoodle” Salad With Tomatoes & Goat Cheese and Pan Seared Chicken Sausage – This is a room temperature salad that would be great for an office luncheon or picnic.  It’s also swell the next day when the flavors have really settled in and made themselves at home.

Greek Salad with Pan Seared Chicken – A super duper easy dinner option that could also work great for an office event too.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins

Adapted from Weelicious 

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. homemade buttermilk (see recipe below) or (alternative organic milk)
1/2 c. honey
1 large organic egg
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredients
1 c. peeled and chopped organic apples (about 2 medium apples)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan (alternative: silicone muffin cups).

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Very gently, stir in the apples.  Fill muffin containers ¾ full and bake approximately 15 minutes.

Muffin Tips:

  • Mix/stir as little as possible to create fluffy, moist muffins.
  • I don’t like the clean toothpick test for muffins because they are often overdone. Muffins continue to cook for a bit longer when removed from the oven.  Instead of the toothpick test, watch for them to begin releasing from the edge of the baking cup/tin (and look for a slightly golden color).
  • Once you’ve baked a few batches, you’ll begin to learn your oven’s ideal baking time.

Homemade Buttermilk

Ingredients
2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice
1 c. organic milk

Directions: Stir together both ingredients in a small bowl and allow rest for 5 minutes.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted from Food Network

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Ingredients
1 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered, & deseeded
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil (divided = 1 T, 2 T.)
Sea salt
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced, optional (but oh so flavorful)
1 (28-ounce) can organic crushed or whole tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano)
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 loaf 100% whole grain sourdough bread, broken into bite sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional topping)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 T. of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss the tomatoes with your hands to evenly cover with oil and salt. Roast in the oven (approximately 20 minutes) or until the edges are browning slightly.

In the meantime, heat a stock pot to medium heat. Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil, fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté one minute, stirring constantly. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and water (refill the tomato can with water to get all of the tomato bits and juices). With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the bread. Add the roasted tomatoes when done roasting (don’t forget to reserve a few for the grilled cheese sandwiches). Scrape the baking sheet to get all of the roasted bits and remaining oil. Allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (I like to use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup just a bit).

Serve with a drizzle of the olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Tips:

  • Reserve a few roasted tomatoes for the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • The original recipe calls for “day old” bread. This is not essential. You can use bread straight from the bread bag. It won’t impact the recipe in the least.

Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

IMG_7616

Ingredients
100% whole grain sourdough bread
Organic mozzarella cheese slices or shredded
organic tomatoes, very thinly sliced (alternative: several roasted tomatoes from the soup recipe)
fresh basil leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Assemble the sandwiches as if you were making them for the traditional skillet version.

Sandwich order: bread, cheese, basil leaves, tomatoes, a bit more cheese, and bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Check on the sandwiches a few minutes early to ensure the bread is not getting too dark.


Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese

Adapted from Bev Cooks

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Dough
Trader Joe’s premade whole wheat dough, prepared per package directions

Pizza Toppings
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2-3 NON GMO sweet corn ears, shucked and kernels removed (alternative: 2 c. frozen NON GMO sweet corn)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small pkg. organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 c. organic mozzarella, shredded
2 oz. goat cheese
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
Tabasco style hot sauce, optional topping (recommended if you omit the jalapeno)

Directions: Preheat the oven to required pizza dough temperature.

In a medium/large skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil and onion and jalapeno (if using). Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the corn and sauté another 5 minutes. The next step happens quickly because you do not want to burn the garlic! Add the garlic, stirring constantly, allowing it to cook for about a minute or until you can really smell it. Immediately squeeze the lemon over the skillet.  Stir in the cilantro and the cherry tomatoes.  The heat will help the tomatoes to release their juices (about 5 minutes).

Remove from the heat. With the dough on the pizza stone or baking sheet, add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the corn mixture. Crumble the goat cheese atop the pizza and add the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake according to pizza crust directions. This is amazing – especially with a few drops of hot sauce on each slice!!!


Spiralized Zucchini “Zoodle” Salad With Tomatoes & Goat Cheese and Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Mama Balance

Salad Ingredients
3-4 organic zucchini, spiralized
1 pint organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ c. fresh organic basil, thinly sliced
1 T. sunflower seeds (alternative: pine nuts)
1.5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients
2 T.  balsamic vinegar (alternative: red wine vinegar)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
½ t. sea salt, freshly ground
¼ t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/8 t. dried crushed red pepper, optional

Directions: Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, assemble the salad in the order listed.  Pour the salad dressing over the top.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste.

[If pairing the salad with chicken sausage, set the salad aside or in the refrigerator.]

Pan sear the chicken sausage.  Serve alongside the salad.


Greek Salad with Pan Seared Chicken

Adapted from Katri

Salad Ingredients
1 pint of organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (Alternative: any organic tomato)
1 organic cucumber, chopped (skin on or off, up to you)
1 organic bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 c. Kalamata olives, halved
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients
2 T. of fresh lemon juice (alternative: lime juice)
2 T. vinegar (red or white wine vinegar)
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. of dried parsley, optional
1 t. of sea salt
1/2 t. of freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. of extra virgin olive oil
4 drops organic stevia, optional

Directions: Stir together all ingredients for the dressing. Set aside. Add all veggies and cheese to a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the top, and gently stir. If you can wait, refrigerate this for at least 30 minutes. The flavors will marry and get happier the longer they hang out together.

While the salad flavors spend some time getting to know each other, pan sear the chicken.

Let’s Do This – Chocolate Chip Cookies

SNACKS

Honey Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies – Finally, a “clean” chocolate chip cookie that truly tastes and looks like a chocolate chip cookie.  I dare you to eat just one.

DINNERS

Indian Summer Chili – I know, here we go again with this recipe.  The hubs requested it one last time before warmer weather hits and chili is “out of season.”  It really is a great take on traditional chili.  BBQ and cumin in chili is a winning combo.

Mint & Chocolate Pancakes with Homemade Chocolate Sauce – Breakfast for dinner? Yes, please!  This was our St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  Perfect, right? Not so much. The homemade chocolate sauce was so rich that it overpowered the pancakes.  Next time, I’ll used mint extract flavored homemade whipped cream and drizzle on a bit of the chocolate sauce.

One Skillet Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta – Craving pasta for dinner but trying to reduce carbs?  I’ve got the solution to your conundrum so long as you are willing to give zucchini pasta a shot.  I promise you, this is good stuff!!

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Carrots – Consider this any night of the week because it’s fast and easy.  But, don’t overlook it as an entertaining option either.  Creamy and cheesy [stuffing] always compliments chicken and roasted carrots make for a perfect side.

Hope something makes your belly smile.

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Honey Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Adapted from Bless This Mess 

Dry Ingredients
1 c. old fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 c. white whole wheat flour
1.5 t. baking powder
½ t. sea salt
 
Wet Ingredients
½ c. local honey (not raw)
1/4 c. creamy nut butter
1 organic egg
2 T. coconut oil, melted
2 T. organic butter, melted
1t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredient
½ c. clean eating chocolate chunks

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a slightly larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Gently stir until just under-stirred.  Stir in the chocolate chunks, reserving a few to sprinkle on the tops of the cookie mounds. Create cookie mounds with a scoop or two tablespoons.  Flatten mounds by hand just a bit. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chunks.  Bake on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone for approximately 12 minutes.


Indian Summer Chili 

Adapted from Rachel Ray

IMG_7039-0

Ingredients
2-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 lbs. organic ground turkey (not 99% fat free)
1-2 T. chili powder (check ingredients to avoid preservatives)
2 T. grill seasoning blend (check ingredients to avoid preservatives–Kroger’s Grill Time Chicken is a good option)
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce, optional (alternative: balsamic vinegar)
1-3 T. hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy (several ingredients add heat – start slow and add more when tasting at the end)
1 large organic onion, chopped
2 large organic green or other color peppers, chopped
1 bottle of stout beer
1 (14 or 16-ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 can organic diced tomatoes (Carly: organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 c. organic smoky barbecue sauce (or make your own – recipe below)
1-2 c. organic, frozen corn, optional
plain Greek yogurt (optional topping)
crumbled organic tortilla chips (optional topping)
organic cheddar, shredded (optional topping)

Directions: Heat a large stock pot to medium heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the turkey, chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.  Stir the ingredients and break up the turkey into tiny bits.  Continue cooking until the turkey is no longer pink (approx. 5-7 min.). Add the onions and green peppers, and cook until softened (about 5 min.). Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to barely simmering.  Cover and allow to simmer for at least 20 min.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients
1 (15 ounce) can organic tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can organic tomato paste
1 t. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. garlic powder (alternative: 3-4 garlic cloves, minced)
1 T. onion powder
4 T. unsulfured molasses
3 T. raw honey
5 T.  balsamic vinegar

Directions: In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Store unused BBQ sauce in the refrigerator, or freeze.


Mint & Chocolate Pancakes with Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Adapted from My Little Celebration 

Dry Ingredients
1 c. whole white wheat flour
1.5 T. baking powder
pinch sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1 c. organic milk
2 T. organic coconut palm sugar (yes, this is a wet ingredient)
1 T.  olive oil or (alternatives: coconut oil or butter, melted)
1 T. unsweetened organic applesauce
1/2 t. organic vanilla extract

1/2 t. peppermint extract
All natural green food coloring (optional)
3 T. unsweetened cacao (alternative: unsweetened cocoa powder)

Directions: In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  In a separate, slightly larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Very gently stir the wet and dry ingredients.  Separate the batter into the mixing bowls.  To one batter, stir in the chocolate.  To the other batter, add the peppermint extract and green food coloring.

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
½ c. local honey (not raw)
Heaping ¼ c. cacao (alternative: unsweetened cocoa)
½ t. organic vanilla extract
Up to 1 T. water or milk (to create desired consistency)

Directions:  Whisk together the first three ingredients.  Add water (or milk) to obtain desired consistency.


One Skillet Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta

Adapted from Rachel Cooks 

Ingredients
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. all ground turkey (not extra lean)
Sea salt/pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 large organic carrot, finely diced
1/4 t. red pepper flakes (or less if spicy is not your thing)
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can organic diced tomatoes
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. coconut palm sugar
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
6 organic zucchini – spiralized or zoodled (If you don’t have a Spiralizer, you should)
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions: Heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add olive oil to coat the bottom.  Add turkey and break into tiny pieces.  Season with salt/pepper.  Cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes).  Add the onion, carrots, and red pepper flakes.  Cook until the vegetables are softened (about 3 minutes).  Add the garlic, allowing it to cook for 1 to 2 minutes (do not overcook). Add the tomatoes, oregano, and coconut palm sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes – uncovered.  (This will allow some of the liquid to cook out).  Add the zucchini.  Use tongs to gently mix the zucchini into the sauce.  Allow zucchini to cook until slightly softened (approximately 5 minutes).  Stir in the fresh basil and cheese.

Plate and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a bit more Parmesan cheese.


Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Carrots

Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine 

Timing Tips: First prep. the carrots and the chicken stuffing.  Roast the carrots.  In the meantime, finishing preparing the chicken.  The carrots and chicken will end up in the oven at the same time.

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients
Bag of organic carrots, rinsed and peeled
1-2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 t. paprika
1/4 t. cumin

Directions: Preheat the oven 450 degrees.  Slice the carrots in half lengthwise and then quarter the halves.  In a large bowl, toss the carrots in the olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, paprika, and cumin.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, and arrange carrots in a single layer.  Bake for 20 minutes (flipping over with a spatula halfway through roasting).

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients
3/4 c. feta, crumbled
(Note: store bought “crumbled” feta has several questionable added ingredients you can avoid by buying a block of feta and using a kitchen grater to achieve “crumbles”)
1/2 c. thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
3 T. organic cream cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil

4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a small bowl stir together the stuffing ingredients.  In the thickest part of the chicken breast, slice a pocket (be careful not to slice all the way through).  Stuff ¼ of the mixture into each chicken breast. If needed, secure the stuffing with a toothpick.

Heat an oven-safe skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil to coat the skillet.  Pan sear the chicken (4 minutes on each side).  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake 5 additional minutes or until the chicken is done.

Note: Whatever you do, do not cut the chicken for doneness.  You should be able to see the chicken cooking up the sides.  When it is no longer pink on the sides, the center should be done as well.

If you must cut, wait at least 5 minutes after removing from the oven before doing so.  A premature cut will result in bone dry chicken.

3 Out of 4 … Not Too Shabby!

SNACKS

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins – There are a ton of blueberry muffin recipes out there.  This one is easy, and it has oats making these guys (not sure why they are “guys” and not “girls” but, lets go with) a bit more filling.

Breakfast Cookies – A great grab and go, guilt free breakfast item.  Or, it’s simply a great treat for when a cookie craving hits!

(This makes twice that I’ve made these babies and failed to take a picture. Apparently, I’m so excited to eat these each time that a photo is the furthest thing from my mind. Or, I’m simply losing my mind. Either way, you’ll have to trust me that these cookies are beautifully delicious🙂

DINNERS

Green Harvest Couscous – The original couscous recipe was a great starting point, but it lacked something.    A few additional ingredients did the trick.  It’s great on it’s own, mixed into a salad, or as a side. [1 of 4]

Kale and Pear Salad – Tired of the same old salad recipe?  Me too.  This salad packs a flavorful punch.  Don’t leave out the pomegranate! [2 of 4]

Tomato and Basil Bake with Pan Seared Chicken – Get used to seeing this recipe.  When tomatoes season is in full swing, this will be a perfect answer to using up any  variety.  In the meantime cherry tomatoes were the answer this time. While the tomatoes are baking, pan sear some chicken.  This is delicious,   healthy, and ready in no time at all. [3 of 4}

Quinoa Quiche & Organic Bagged Salad – Truth moment, my original recipe was a bit of a flop. The original recipe looked fantastic.  When I halved the recipe, I didn’t use a smaller baking dish. This was likely the problem.  My version was flat, and the quinoa wasn’t completed covered. The end result was less than appealing visually.  Next go round, a smaller pan and a bit more cheese too! [not so much…nothing a few adaptations can’t fix]

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Adapted from Finger Pricking Good

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Dry Ingredients
2 c. white whole wheat flour
1 c. organic oats–quick or regular oats
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1 1/2 c. organic Greek yogurt
3/4 organic coconut palm sugar
2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
¼  c. local honey
4 T. organic unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 t. organic vanilla extract

1 c. organic fresh blueberries

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Gently mix until just about combined.  Stir in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin tins ¾ full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Weelicious

Dry Ingredients
1 c. whole white wheat flour
2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. flax seeds

Wet Ingredients
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (alternative: soften coconut oil)
1/2 c. organic, unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 c. pure maple syrup (alternative: honey)
1 large organic egg
2 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredients
1/2 c. organic raisins (alternative: dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries)
1/2 c. shelled pistachios, optional

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. You can do this by hand or alternatively in a mixer.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir a few times by hand. Finally, fold in the stir in ingredients by hand.

Use a large scoop to create individual cookie dough mounds.

Bake on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone for 12-15 minutes (slight browning at the edges = done).


Green Harvest Couscous 

Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine 

Ingredients
1 10 oz. box whole wheat couscous
2 T plus 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, halved
4 slices of preservative free bacon, chopped
2 organic zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea Salt and pepper
1 (5 oz.) package organic baby arugula, chopped
1/2 organic English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped, optional
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted (alternative, toasted pine nuts)
4-6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
¼ c. sliced olives, optional

Directions: Prepare the couscous per the package directions with the exception of using broth instead of water.  Once the couscous has absorbed the water, stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ of the lemon juice.

In the meantime, warm a skillet to near medium heat.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to coat the pan followed by the onions, bacon, and zucchini, and some sea salt/black pepper.  Once the bacon has cooked and the vegetables have softened (about 7 minutes), add the garlic.  Saute until the garlic is really fragrant (about 1 minute).  Remove from the heat.

In a large serving bowl, add the vegetables and bacon mixture, lightly scraping the skillet to get the seasoned goodness on the pan.  Stir in the couscous and the remaining ingredients: arugula, cucumber, nuts, goat cheese, olives, and remaining lemon juice.  Give it a good stir.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste.  Finish it with a good drizzling of olive oil. Enjoy.

Refrigerate any leftovers.  Serve cold with an extra drizzle of olive oil.


Kale and Pear Salad & Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

From Taste Love and Nourish 

Ingredients
1 bunch of organic kale, washed and stems removed
1 organic pear, sliced into segments
handful of pomegranate arils, optional
1/4 C. toasted and salted pepitas (i.e. pumpkin or squash seeds)
Freshly shaved Parmesan

Directions: Layer salad in the order of ingredients.  Top with Apple Cider and Chia Dressing

Apple Cider and Chia Dressing

Ingredients
1/3 C. organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. local honey
1 T. chia seeds

Directions: In a glass jar with a lid, add all ingredients.  Shake vigorously.

Serve alongside with pan seared chicken sausage.


Tomato and Basil Bake with Pan Seared Chicken

Adapted from Taste and Tell Blog 

Ingredients
1 pound organic cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 t. each sea salt, black pepper
⅓ c. whole wheat bread crumbs
2 T. melted organic butter (alternative: melted organic coconut oil)
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
¼ c. good quality Parmesan cheese, grated

3-4 organic chicken breasts

Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or aluminum foil).  Preheat the oven to broil.  In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, sea salt/black pepper.  Spread an even layer of tomatoes on the baking sheet. Broil for approximately 10 minutes, turn over at the halfway point.

In the meantime, melt the butter or coconut.  In a small bowl, add the bread crumbs.  Pour the melted butter or coconut atop and stir.  Sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.  Broil for approximately 30 seconds to lightly brown the bread crumbs.  Immediately sprinkle with the freshly chopped basil and Parmesan cheese.

Serve the tomatoes alongside or atop pan seared chicken breasts.


Quinoa Quiche & Organic Bagged Salad

Adapted from Noshing with the Nolands 

Ingredients
1/2 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 T. extra-virgin olive or coconut oil
1 small red onion, diced
¼ t. each sea salt, black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 c. organic greens, roughly chopped (ideas: spinach, kale, swiss chard)
2 c. medium-size broccoli florets
6 organic eggs (alternative: 3 whole eggs, 4 egg whites)
1 c. organic milk
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
3/4 c. organic cheddar cheese, grated
1⁄4 t. each sea salt, black pepper
1⁄4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Organic Greek yogurt, optional topping (alternative: organic sour cream)
Organic salsa, optional topping

Directions: In a large skillet heated to near medium, add the olive oil.  Add the onions and sea salt/black pepper.  Saute until softened (about 7 minutes).  Add the organic greens, broccoli, and garlic.  Stir until the greens have wilted and the garlic is very fragrant (about 2 minutes).  Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 (no bigger) baking dish with olive oil (or coconut oil).  Add the broccoli mixture to the plan, followed by an even layer of the quinoa.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, and sea salt/black pepper. Evenly pour it over the quinoa. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top.

Bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.  Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the Parmesan cheese is starting to brown slightly.  Remove from the oven.  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Serve as is or topped with some salsa and/or a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Organic Bagged Salad
Ingredients
Organic greens
Red onion, thinly sliced
Toasted pepitas (sunflower seeds)
Good quality Parmesan cheese

Dressing
Ingredients
3 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: In a glass jar with a lid, add all ingredients.  Shake vigorously.