“Grilled” Veggie Sandwich

Grilled Veggie Sandwich

The kitchen in my apartment is somewhat small.  This kitchen has much more counter space than the last kitchen I had but I still do not seem to have enough room.  I moved the microwave to the garage to help with counter space and I still feel like there is nowhere to put anything! (However, after starting to house hunt I am much more appreciative of my kitchen after seeing some others!! yikes!)  The laundry room is off of the kitchen as is the back bedroom so there are people constantly going in and out.

Normally, this would just be annoying but during those hot summer days in a poorly ventilated kitchen with only a small window that is not big enough to fit a fan it can be down right frustrating to work over a hot stove…. so I spent much of my time this summer cooking outside on the grill ( I even made homemade pizza on the grill)!  This sandwich was super easy on the grill and we had it almost every week for our meatless meal.

My hubby and I were thinking about this sandwich the other day and decided to make it but winter weather isn’t great for grilling.   I tried my hand at doing it in the oven and I think it turned out pretty well!

“Grilled” Veggie Sandwich

Preheat oven to 450ºF

  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 Zucchini, sliced
  • 2 Onions, sliced
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of fresh Organic Baby Spinach
  • 4 0z Mozzarella
  • 1 Focaccia (or Ciabatta) Loaf, cut horizontally

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I grate mine on a cheese grater)
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic together for the dressing.

On a baking sheet lined with foil, spread all the veggies except the spinach out in an flat layer.  Lightly coat them with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Roast 15-20 minutes or until soft and starting to get a nice color.

Roasting veggies

Once they are done it is time to build the sandwich!  On a separate baking sheet lay the two halves of bread next to each other.  If you are using the dressing spread it across the bread, then top with the veggies evenly on each piece of bread, including the spinach.  Grate the mozzarella evenly over the top of the veggies.  Broil until the cheese is melted and getting bubbly.  Carefully put the two pieces of bread together and cut.

Grrrr-nola

A post to get back into the swing of things.  The Holidays are time consuming!

I love granola but I don’t love the extra sugar that comes with it and sometimes a mountain full of fat is included to make that crispy texture.  If you find a good brand in the store then you are paying for it!  It is so simple to make and you can add and subtract what you want.   I’ve experimented with different granola recipes but I discovered loooow and sloow is the best way.  Low heat and for a long time gives nicely toasted but not over powering taste and a great texture.

There are many way to make granola but I like a little splash of honey instead of agave or maple syrup but you can always substitute for taste (I am not a huge fan of agave nectar but you can do that as well but I suggest researching it before you do).

Granola:

  • 3 cups Rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup Wheat Germ
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cups cashews, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Honey, depending on preference  (clover honey would be good, we get ours locally and it is a light honey)
  • 3/4 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, optional

Preheat oven to 250°F

In a large bowl combine the oats, wheat germ, and nuts.  Add the honey and sea salt (also the coconut oil if using).  Combine to the best of your ability.  Pour mixture onto a large parchment lined pan to create a nice even layer.  Or use two smaller pans.  Put in the oven for 1 hr 30 mins stirring every 30 mins to create a loose and nicely colored granola.

granolaYou can mix in any nuts that you like or even raisins at the end!

Turkey Soup

It is certainly a belated post but I made turkey soup with leftovers from Thanksgiving!  My computer has been on the fritz, randomly shutting down, freezing, etc so I haven’t had much time on the internet, hopefully I can get this posted.

 

For Thanksgiving we had a free range turkey from a local grower.   Turkeys have many of the same issues that chickens do when they are massed produced.  They are not raised to be a chicken they are raised to be food and are treated as such.  They are genetically modified to produce the meat that most people prefer, the breast meat.  This makes them top heavy and harder for the bird to be mobile.  According to Take Part over 46 Million factory raised Turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving… Here is an overview. http://www.takepart.com/photos/thanksgiving-turkey-shocking-facts/turkeys-on-turkeys-on-turkeys

My mom called the free range bird an “alien” haha.   Honestly, it wasn’t what I had expected.  The legs and chest cavity were elongated, so much so that it didn’t all fit in a Turkey Bag.  It turned out pretty good with plenty of leftovers!  There was a leftover veggie tray so I made soup 🙂

 

Turkey Soup

  • Shredded leftover turkey;  approx. 3 cups
  • 32 oz to 50 oz chicken broth; depending on how much broth you prefer
  • 4 carrots, chopped. If organic you can leave the skin on
  • 1/2 Cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup chopped cauliflower
  • Handful of chives, chopped
  • Half a bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

 

The turkey leftovers were pretty cold from being in the fridge so as best I could I put them in a pot of water and boiled them for 10 minutes, then I shredded the turkey.  Be careful some tiny bones can make it into the turkey, not fun to eat!  Put the carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower in a pot with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the chives, parsley, and garlic  ( I grated my garlic with a cheese grater because I hate chopping it.  It is quicker and you don’t get accidental chunks) for about 1 minute until fragrant.  Add broth and shredded turkey.  Continue to simmer on medium for about 10-15 minutes.

We are still doing grain free when possible but you can add egg noodles and make it turkey noodle soup.  Celery would be a nice touch, but this was  completely a leftover meal and we did not have leftover celery… still pretty tasty.

 

Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup

Shepard’s Pie

I was attempting to make a quick run through the grocery store today after work.  I had my list, I knew where everything was I wanted,  and I was just about done when I went to get the butter. I have improved my shopping skills and do not trust titles like “All Natural” , sure you are buddy, or “as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal”, I’ll eat the oatmeal instead, thank you.  There are some things that are just not in my mind to be suspicious about yet, like butter.  Butter. Margarine sure, but what could be in butter?

Like everyone else,  I do not want to spend all my money on eating healthy so I try and buy organic where I need to and save money on other things where I can.  I’ll admit I’ve been buying the cheap store brand butter because I didn’t think anything of it.  On my quick run through the grocery store today I was caught off guard when I couldn’t locate my normal unsalted butter due to a package change.  My normal white box with blue lettering is now a blue box with yellow lettering and this change gave me the extra 30 seconds to look at it and notice the ingredients: Cream Pasteurized,  Natural Flavors.  Natural flavors raised a red flag and I let out a groan in the middle of the dairy section along with a very audible “it’s butter!” to which I got a weird look from the stock boy. Natural flavors are labeled as a controversial ingredient but it is essentially a nice word to cover up chemical additives in your food.  So, needless to say I now have a healthy skepticism for every food and ended up paying the extra dollar for butter without natural flavors added.

Now on to the Shepard’s pie:

Shepard’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups vegetables – chopped carrots,  peas
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs organic potatoes (3 big ones)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • Celtic Sea Salt, or regular sea salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream (optional)
  • 1/4 cup half and half (optional)
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF

Quarter the potatoes and boil them in salt water until fork tender, around 20 minutes.  I used 3 medium white potatoes and 1 large sweet potato since it was on hand.  You can peel them if you wish, I didn’t for convenience and I like the skins.

While the potatoes are boiling chop the onion and carrots.  In a large frying pan melt the butter and on medium high heat saute the veggies.   After 10 mins or when the they are tender add in any other veggies, i.e. peas or corn.

Add the ground beef to the veggies and cook until longer pink.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Add Herbes de Provence or you could just do rosemary if you have that on hand.  I am just a fan of savory and rosemary together.  Add beef broth, simmer on medium low heat for about 10 mins.  Add more beef broth if needed to keep moist.

Drain the potatoes when tender.  Mash potatoes in a bowl with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer.  Add the sour cream and half and half, you can use any type of milk I had extra half and half  (You can substitute 4 tbsp of butter instead).  Mix until smooth.

Using a 9 x 13 baking dish, pour the beef and veggies on the bottom.  Top with the mashed potatoes and bake at 400ºF for 30 mins.  Around the 20 minute mark top with grated cheddar if desired.

I love Shepard’s Pie because it is versatile   You can add different types of vegetables if you want or use sweet potatoes which gives it a great fall color.  I have added parsnips into the mashed potatoes before!  It is easy to cut back on the fat if you want a lighter dish but we were looking for something hearty on a cold fall day!

Enjoy 🙂

Turtle Cookies and a Benefit

Baking regular cookies on a grain free diet =  cruel and unusual punishment. I will admit I did have a few cookies!

My Hubby’s uncle was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung cancer late last year and this past weekend there was a benefit for him and his family.  I was volunteered to bake which was fine by me!  I made 2 Mile High Peanut Butter Pies, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a new recipe Turtle Cookies.  Trying a new recipe for a benefit is a little insane but I didn’t even think about it until after I bought the ingredients.  I had to wrap them up so my husband would stop eating them so I think they were a success along with the benefit which raised more money than was hoped for!! woot!

Turtle Cookies

  • 4 oz bittersweet baking chocolate
  • 6 oz semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cut up caramels
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave (or if you are like us and do not have a  microwave, then use double boiler) until smooth.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Add the chocolate to the eggs and sugar.

Add the flour to the mixture until just combined.

Mix in 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup pecans  and 1/2 cup cut cup caramels (the smaller the better).

Refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Once they are refrigerated, drop ice cream scoop size dough balls onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Make sure to have plenty of space between them otherwise it will become one giant cookie.  I did 6 cookies per large sheet.

Bake for 6 minutes.  Remove the cookies and top with the remaining chocolate chips, pecans, and caramel pieces.

Bake for 6-8 more minutes, until they do not look giggly in the center.

Allow to cool on pan for a few minutes then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

 

Grain free for a week? Challenge accepted.

We changed our eating habits over six months ago and while we have more energy we haven’t seen much change in our appearance so we decided to try something different for a week. Our regular diet includes a lot of whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, rice, and quinoa.  I don’t remember eating so much pasta when I was younger but when you come home at 7 am after working all night hungry all you want is something quick and easy so you can get to sleep! Enter pasta.  Easy, quick, and filling.  Or if I’m not in the mood to cook then there are always Triskets and cheese.

That is why we decided to try the grain free.  Wheat free would have been much easier but we still rely heavy on a lot of grain during the week.  It has been a long week with meetings and weird shifts for the both of us so I’m going to do my best to remember what we had since we didn’t stick to my meal plan. 

  • Friday:  Spaghetti squash used as noodles topped with a meat sauce.  Grain free pumpkin bread. 
  • Saturday:   Quinoa stir fry with zucchini and yellow squash. Quinoa is technically a seed even though in some people it is digested like a grain, I soaked it overnight to help digestion.
  • Sunday: Buckwheat pancakes! We were craving something like carbs.  Even though it has wheat in the name it is a seed, too!
  • Monday: Cottage pie. (Veggies topped with mashed cauliflower and cheese)
  • Tuesday:  Tortilla soup with sour cream, avocado, and cheddar cheese
  • Wednesday: Beef taco bowl
  • Thursday: Quinoa pasta topped with lemony tuna and asparagus

 

 Breakfast usually was an omelette or yogurt.  Lunch was the hardest part for me since I’m used PB&J or leftovers.  There weren’t many leftovers this week and no bread! I literally had a carrot and celery stalk one day.

We  tried baked Quinoa crackers which were to be honest kind of weird.  They didn’t have the crunchy cracker taste to it even after baking them longer so I might try to fry them a little in coconut oil next time.  I also made grain free peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.  There were good but had a strong sucanat after taste to them, but I was out of vanilla so that may have been why. 

I do feel more alert throughout the night which is great because I’ve been feeling exhausted lately.  J is really excited about it and wants to do a second week.  We are going to have REAL pizza (mmmm doughy deliciousness) tomorrow, then off to a wedding Saturday, and then on Sunday start week 2!