Spicy Meatball Zoodle Spaghetti

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What an interesting mouthful of a recipe name, right? I've been intrigued by zucchini noodles, or zoodles, since I first started to see them in recipes. I never tried them because I figured there was no sense in making something that only I was going to eat.

Which obviously changed quite a bit when I decided to do the Whole30. I opted to just make 'noodles' out of the zucchini with a vegetable peeler since my mandoline is currently resting in my mother's garage and I wasn't interested in purchasing any of the kitchen gadgets out there designed to do this.

I'm going to have a follow up post on zoodles because after making this recipe and not being overly impressed with them, I found that most people don't actually boil their zoodles, they fry them or eat them raw. Now, that would have been good to know ahead of time, but I'm the only one to blame for not doing further research. So, please keep in mind that this recipe calls for boiling them which you might not appreciate and maybe you'd be more interested in another technique.



Spicy Meatball Zoodle Spaghetti
Source: A Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 4 (zoodles for 1)
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Ingredients:
    spicy meatballs:
    • 1 lb. lean ground beef
    • 1 tbsp. almond flour 
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 cup onion, minced
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flake 
    • salt and pepper
    tomato sauce:
    • 14.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
    • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
    zoodles:
    • 2 medium zucchini, shaved into thin ribbons 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. Spray with non-stick spray.
2. Combine the meatball ingredients into a bowl and form into 16-20 golf sized meatballs. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
4. In a skillet over medium-low heat, combine the fire roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and tomato paste together and cook until heated through and thickened.
5. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in zucchini ribbons and boil for 1 minute. Drain a colander to remove excess water.
6. Plate the zoodles, top with the tomato sauce and meatballs.





For Tom I made regular pasta and even garlic bread. While I haven't wanted bread at all, garlic bread was difficult to turn down. I opted to eat in the other room so I wouldn't tease myself too much by seeing him eat it. 

Parmesan Garlic Asparagus

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Despite the fact that I am the only one in the house who eats asparagus, I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. My favorite is grilled because I love how it turns those woody little stalks bright green but still manages to add char marks on them. My second favorite way would be roasted and my third favorite would be sauteed. There probably isn't a way to prepare asparagus that I wouldn't like.

I already had the oven on and decided to roast/bake the asparagus for this recipe.



Parmesan Garlic Asparagus
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 2 pats butter
    • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
    • salt and pepper 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place asparagus in a baking dish and season the garlic powder. Place the pats of butter on top and bake for 15-20 minutes or until asparagus is tender.
3. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Easy, huh? With my longer commute for work, I prefer to keep dinners and side dishes as simple as possible now, using the weekends to spend more time on longer recipes. 

Basil, Bacon and Heirloom Tomato Frittata

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Before starting the Whole30, my co-worker suggested I look at Stalkerville.net for recipes that fit the requirements. I've quickly become addicted to the site, it's kind of like Pinterest but specifically for the Paleo and Whole30 lifestyle. Since starting, I've checked back almost weekly to see what new additions there are and that is where I found this recipe.

Any recipe that allows me to use basil is a winner in my book. Basil is probably my favorite herb.

I gathered all of the ingredients and was just struck by the combination of colors.


Just one of the many reasons why I love spring and summer is because of all the fresh fruits and produce that allow to provide such a colorful plate.



Basil. Bacon and Heirloom Tomato Frittata
Source: Paleo Spirit
Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:
    • 8 slices bacon, chopped
    • 12 eggs
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 medium red onion, 1/2 diced and 1/2 thinly sliced
    • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
    • heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
    • salt and pepper
    • whole fresh basil leaves
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Add bacon to a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon. Drain bacon grease, reserving 2 tablespoons.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together with 1 garlic clove, the chopped basil and parsley, salt and pepper.
4. Add the remaining garlic clove and diced red onion to the skillet and cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft. Return the bacon to the skillet and pour the egg mixture on top.
5. Cook until the eggs are set on the edges and almost completely set in the middle. Arrange the tomato and onion slices on top.
6. Remove from the heat and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the middle has completely set. Allow the frittata to cool for 5 minutes before garnishing with fresh basil leaves, slicing and serving.



This is delicious! The heirloom tomatoes really serve no purpose other than to provide color and contrast in the dish, so you could easily make this with just one type and color of tomato if you desired. Usually I am a huge fan of thinking that frittatas need cheese, but this was great just the way it is. The bacon, onion and garlic sank to the bottom and kind of formed a crust.



I liked this so much I opted to make it again this week. Now that's really saying something for someone not usually a fan of eggs!

Weekly Menu 5/25 - 5/30

Happy Memorial Day weekend! After the winter we had, I think absolutely everyone around here went to the beach to enjoy the beatific weather we're having. Yesterday was 74 degrees and and partly sunny. Today and tomorrow are going to be in the low 80s and sunny. This is my kind of weather!

I went to Wegman's yesterday morning expecting it to be the usual crowded nightmare that it is on Saturdays mornings and instead I found it almost entirely empty. My friend came over to hang out at the pool with me yesterday and we were the only people there for over an hour when only two more people showed up. I'm curious to see if it's going to be busier today. My goal for the weekend is to go to the pool every day. Tom is even joining me today which is practically unheard of.

I'm winding down on the Whole30, this is my last full week. June 3rd is my last day. I'm excited but I also have no idea what I'm going to eat once this is over. Since I'm a planner, I planned out dinner for all of next week as well and just stuck to the Whole30 recipes to make it easier. I told my coworker I have no idea what I'm going to eat once I can have everything again. I'm leaning toward an iced caramel coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Yogurt and cheese will probably be the next things I eat. I can't tell you how hard this weekend has been not being able to have a cheeseburger. I don't even miss the bun, I just want the cheese.

Sugar is going to be the hardest. I know I probably consume a decent amount of sugar, real or fake, every day and that bothers me. I want less and what I'm having the hardest time dealing with is the iced tea I used to drink. For the sake of quickness I buy refrigerated iced tea by the gallon. I absolutely loathe wasting calories on liquid so I buy the diet version, which contains aspartame. But then I think is a gallon of iced tea sweetened with aspartame that takes me 6 days to finish really that bad for me? What do you think?

Anyway, here's what I'm making for the week.

Sunday: sausages and peppers

Monday: burgers and sweet potato fries, roasted asparagus

Tuesday: grilled ahi tuna, sesame zoodles 

Wednesday: lemon-pepper pork spare ribs, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted asparagus

Thursday: shrimp scampi (zoodles for me) 

Friday: leftovers 

For breakfast I'm making the bacon, basil and tomato frittata I had last week because it was just that good. For lunch I'm having a chicken meatball spring minestrone soup. Yes, soup when it's supposed to be 90 degrees. :)

Also, my captain swan fan fiction seems to be going pretty well. Have you read it yet? https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10347266/1/Chinese-Food-and-a-Movie

Hope you're enjoying this weekend! 

Breakfast Risotto

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If you like risotto you're going to want to check your fridge and pantry to see how many ingredients you have on hand. Like, right now. I'll wait. 

...


Great, you're back. So, you pretty much need this dish in your life. I'm not even joking when I say this now trumps my previous favorite of mushroom risotto. Sure mushrooms are great and all, but this risotto is like taking risotto to a new level. 


Breakfast Risotto
Source: A Taste of Home Cooking as seen on Elly Says Opa!
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 4-6 cups chicken stock 
    • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
    • 3 oz. pancetta, chopped 
    • 1 shallot, diced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 1/4 cups arborio rice
    • 1/3 cup white wine
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the fresh stuff!)
    • fresh parsley, minced 
    • 4 poached eggs
Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock over medium-low heat.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute, then add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds - 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes or just until rice is lightly toasted.
4. Pour in the white wine, and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Once nearly all of the wine has been absorbed, add in about 1 cup of the chicken stock. Stir occasionally, allowing the rice to absorb the chicken stock.
5. Repeat with remaining chicken stock, stirring more frequently, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. This should take you between 25 and 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Once melted in, return the pancetta to the pan and stir to combine everything.
7. Divide the risotto among plates and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Top with a poached egg.


For the life of me I can't manage to properly poach an egg, so I didn't get the loveliness of the egg yolk mixing into the risotto but I will tell you that even a soft boiled egg on top of this is incredible. I wanted seconds and possibly thirds. It was just that good! 

Lemon Rosemary Parsnip Fries

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I could pretty much replace all white potato fries with either sweet potato fries or parsnip fries. Well, other than McDonald's fries. I'm convinced they put something in their fries that makes them highly addictive. So, other than when eating fast food, I could easily never made a standard white potato fry at home again. 


Lemon-Rosemary Parsnip Fries
Source: Cookaholic Wife
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
    • 2 large parsnips, peeled
    • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
    • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 
    • olive oil
    • kosher salt 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Slice parsnip into evenly sized sticks. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle fresh rosemary on top. Drizzle with olive oil.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, the flip the fries and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until they reach your desired level of crispiness. Squeeze with fresh lemon juice just before serving. Season to taste with salt. 


Caramel Pretzel Brownies

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When I decided to do the Whole30, I knew I needed to get in one more dessert, specifically one I knew I was really going to like, before I started. I looked around at the recipes I had pinned and found these brownies.

Caramel.

Pretzels.

Chocolate.

That's like my trifecta of heavenly tastes. Sweet, salty and awesome.


Caramel-Pretzel Brownies
Source: Foodness Gracious 
Servings: 12
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Ingredients:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter 
    • 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 3 eggs 
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/4 cup caramel candies, chopped
    • 1/4 cup pretzels, roughly chopped/crushed
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8x8 dish with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick spray.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted add the chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir in with a wooden spoon until chocolate is completely melted. Then stir in both sugars and stir until combined. Let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
4. Whisk the eggs and vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture.
4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until combined and no lumps remain. Pour half into the prepared dish and top with half of the caramel candies. Then pour in the remaining batter.
5. Sprinkle the remaining caramel pieces and the pretzels on top of the batter.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the center is cooked through. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before cutting into 12 squares.


The original recipe calls for mixing in half the caramel candies and the pretzels into the batter, but previous experience let me know that the pretzels in the batter would just become soggy. I opted to keep them on top which kept their crunchiness.

These brownies are so tasty and the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I can't wait until I can have them again! 

Tater Tot-chos

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I first heard about tot-chos on one of the message boards where I spend a decent chunk of time. Then I saw this recipe in the April/May 2014 edition of Taste of Home magazine  and took it as a sign that I needed to make these right away.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I knew it was something Tom would definitely like because how can you really go wrong with ground beef and tater tots? I specifically made this recipe the week before starting the Whole30 just because I knew I couldn't wait an additional 30 days to make it.                                                                                                                                                                                                


Tater Tot-chos
Source: Taste of Home Magazine
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 bag frozen mini tater tots
    • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
    • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning 
    • 2/3 cup water
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup shredded lettuce
    • 1 cup diced tomatoes
    • sour cream
    • taco sauce
Directions:
1. Bake the tater tots according to package directions.
2. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook and crumble, until beef is no longer pink. Drain grease.
3. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat and stir to combine. Add the water and cook until water is gone, 2-3 minutes.
4. Divide tater tots among dishes. Top with seasoned ground beef and then sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on top. Top with a dollop of sour cream and hot sauce.


Yeah, these were every bit of tasty as I expected them to be! 

Weekly Menu 5/18 - 5/23

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How in the world is it the middle of May? I'm blaming this partially on the fact that Easter was so late that I just can't comprehend how we're more than halfway through spring and chugging right on along to summer. Not that I'm complaining, summer is by far my favorite season ever. But there's just something odd about Easter being barely a month before Memorial Day! I need more time to transition from hams and mashed potatoes to burgers and fries!

So I'm ending my second and starting my third week of the Whole30. I'm still craving sweets more than anything. To counteract that, I've ignored the incredibly high price of limes and picked up all of the ingredients for the lemon-lime smoothie I shared with you last week, with plans to make it any time I get that gimme-sweets-right-now craving. Other than sweets, I still desperately miss my iced tea. I will be returning to that the day after this is over. Otherwise, it's going fine. I remind myself of just how strong my willpower is every time I walk through the cheese section of Wegman's to get to the meats. Speaking of willpower though, I did cave yesterday.

Tom and I went to Morey's Piers in Wildwood, NJ because they are one of his new locations at work and it needed a bit of fine tuning before they open next weekend. When he went for the installation last week or so, he told me about how you can win a minion at practically every game and we really needed to go there. So, we decided to go yesterday. I had a pathetic burger encounter (please tell me why a restaurant has no lettuce OR tomato?) and was starving. One thing I have to have every time I am at the beach is Polish Water Ice. I got a child's size one and ate half. I counteracted it with a bunch of water though. Hopefully that helps.

I do have to talk about something. On the Whole30 website, it says that doing this is not hard and things like giving birth or surviving cancer are hard. To be completely honest with you, that pisses me right off. Yes, those things are hard but one is a choice and one is something I hope we can cure. Now in comparison, the Whole30 is no where near as difficult as those two things, but that doesn't mean it's easy either. I'm on a boardwalk surrounded by pizza, fries, ice cream, candy, Greek food and Italian food. To truly stick to the Whole30, you'd need to grill your server and possibly the chef about what goes into every single thing they make. Which, sorry, is not going to happen. You should have seen the look I got for asking for a burger without a bun. It was like I asked for beef wellington at McDonald's.

Anyway, my whole point is it is not the easy to eat out at restaurants when trying to strictly follow the Whole30. You need to assume and make allowances for the fact that there is probably sugar or soy in something you are eating. Again, just another reason why I'm not taking this super seriously. Yes, I'm reading labels and doing my best to avoid what I'm not supposed to have but I'm not going to grill a 16 year old kid serving me a burger about said burger ingredients. Sorry, I'm just not.

Now that my rant is over, how about I share with you what I'm cooking this week? :)

Sunday: spaghetti and meatballs (zoodles for me), salad

Monday: crock pot jerk chicken over caramelized mashed plantains 

Tuesday: steak, baked sweet potato, roasted asparagus

Wednesday: jalapeno chicken burgers, sweet potato fries and salad

Thursday: cardamom spiced pork, baked sweet potato and roasted asparagus 

Friday: leftovers, most likely either the jerk chicken or chicken burgers 

For breakfast this week I made an absolutely gorgeous bacon, basil and heirloom tomato frittata (that I can't wait to share with you!) and for lunch, I'm having caramelized onion chicken over stir fry veggies.

I think I may have overdone the carbs last week so I'm trying to space them out more and increase my protein. I'm most proud of the fact that I'm still eating eggs. For the most part, I can handle like one egg dish for breakfast a month and here I've had them every week and it's not bothering me at all!

Oh, and because I think some of my increased page views from sharing my Once Upon a Time fan fiction last week came from all of you, here's the new story I'm working on. I haven't decided yet if there is going to be an end goal to each of these chapters or if each chapter is just going to follow in a general sequence of time. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10347266/1/Chinese-Food-and-a-Movie

And thanks to everyone who followed me on Twitter after I politely asked last week! I love new followers! 

Improv Challenge: Lemon Lime Smoothie

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At first I wasn't sure if I could participate in this month's improv challenge while doing the Whole30. The ingredients for this month are lemon and lime and I had a hard time thinking of anything other than baked goods.

Which, I'll fully admit, I miss. Especially when I'm having a crappy day. Sugar and carbs are comfort food, what can I say? If I wasn't participating in the Whole30, I would have made these lemon lime basil shortbread cookies from Bon Appetit, because I absolutely love using fresh basil. I may just have to make these cookies after my Whole30 is over. I wonder if they would work with almond flour. Does anyone know?

Anyway, after I stopped drooling over those cookies I decided to look for a recipe I could actually have. What's the fun in making a recipe you can't taste? (i.e. Tom's Boston Cream Pie birthday cake)

I found this smoothie recipe and was immediately intrigued. I would've never thought to put lemon and lime in a smoothie, but I sure wasn't above trying it out! Plus, I'll take anything I can get thats dessert-like.



Lemon Lime Smoothie
Source: Incredible Smoothies
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • juice from 1 large orange
    • 1/2 medium lemon, peeled and seeds removed
    • 1/2 medium lime, peeled and seeds removed
    • 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled
    • 1 cup dandelion greens, spinach or kale (optional)
    • 3/4 cup ice
Directions:
1. Add the juice from the orange, followed by the lemon and lime then banana and spinach to your blender (I use a Vitamix). Blend until smooth, then add in ice.

You could also use frozen bananas instead of adding in ice, or just have a less-cold smoothie. It's entirely up to you.



I didn't have as much spinach on hand as I thought and only ended up using 1/2  a cup, which is why my smoothie is so lightly colored. I was expecting this to be pretty sour and hard to drink, but I actually found it quite refreshing. It tastes like summer!


Junk Yard Special

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During the Suja Juice Cleanse, I made the mistake of sitting down and watching the Food Network. While one is sipping down a celery and kale concoction, it is really not best to watch this channel. Just in case you couldn't figure that out on your own. 




I made it through one episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate before I needed to turn off the television and walk away from the living room. But during that episode, they showed this sandwich.

Fresh Mozzarella.

Prosciutto.

Roasted red peppers.

Turkey.


Sure, let's just take everything that I like and currently can't eat and shove them all together on one sandwich. That's just pure torture right there. Determined that I would eat this sandwich after completing the cleanse, I quickly scribbled down all of the ingredients and noted that the sandwich comes from a deli in Philly called Sarcones. Note to self: visit Philly and get actual sandwich ASAP.

Junk Yard Special
Source: Sarcone's Deli
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • 1 sub roll 
    • 2 slices prosciutto 
    • 2 slices deli turkey 
    • 1 slice Provolone
    • 1/2 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, drained
    • 1/4 cup spinach, sauteed
    • dried Italian seasoning 
    • fresh basil, shredded
    • oil and vinegar 
Directions:
1. Slice the sub roll in half. Place a piece of prosciutto and turkey on each half. Slice the Provolone cheese in half and place on each half. Add the mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and spinach to the sandwich. Sprinkle with dried Italian seasonings and fresh basil. Spritz with oil and vinegar.

Optional: Bake the sandwich for 10 minutes or until the bread is crusty and the cheese is melted through. 


Umm, wow. This is one good sandwich! I know I went light on the fillings compared to what they do at the deli bit this was still one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. I ate mine cold and Tom chose to have his lightly toasted. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookie

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Ever since I did the Suja juice cleanse, I've found that I can actually eat a plain banana. This never used to be the case. So I've started buying bananas each week but inevitably I find that I haven't ate them all by the time they were ripe and now we're quickly approaching the banana-bread only options. 

I remembered I pinned these breakfast cookies after looking at a particularly ripe bunch of bananas and figured I'd make them up. 


Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
Source: Sally's Baking Addiction
Servings: 10 cookies
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Ingredients:
    • 2 1/3 cup quick oats 
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 cup peanut butter
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and use a wooden spoon to mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Scoop mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, making each cookie about 3 tablespoons of the batter. Flatten slightly.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just browned. Allow to cool completely on the sheet.



These were really filling cookies. I ate one for breakfast each morning along with some fresh fruit and most days had a hard time finishing the whole cookie!

Ham and Bean Soup

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I feel a bit silly sharing a soup recipe with you when it is 84 degrees and sunny outside, but I'm blaming this on the fact that Easter was so late this year. Easter needs to be in March, then I have more than enough time to use up all that leftover ham in dishes like soup!

I've never made or even had ham and bean soup before this in my life. I decided to choose this recipe because it was more than just ham and beans, and included onions, carrot, celery and green beans; all of which I had in small enough quantities in the refrigerator that made this perfect.


Ham and Bean Soup
Source: Closet Cooking
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 2 carrots, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
    • 6 cups broth (chicken or ham)
    • 1 lb. white beans, soaked overnight 
    • ham bone, 2 cups cooked ham, or a combination of the two
    • 1/2 cup fresh green beans, chopped 
    • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook for 7-10 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute more.
2. Add the broth, beans and ham/ham bone. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
3. If using, remove the ham bone from the soup and strip the meat from it. Return the meat to the soup.
4. Remove 2-3 cups of the soup and puree in a blender until smooth. Return to the Dutch Oven, along with the green beans and cook for 30 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



For never having it before, I thought this was delicious. Tom did comment that it was
"weird" there were other things in the soup aside from ham and beans, but he didn't say that he disliked it. I believe this will be my go-to recipe for leftover ham from now on! 

Weekly Menu May 11 - May 16th

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Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there!

I can't believe the weather we are having. Thursday and Friday were in the high 70's, yesterday and today in the low 80's and tomorrow and Tuesday we're supposed to break 85 degrees! I love it, but I'd love it even more if the apartment complex would open the pool early! I'm still fighting turning on the a/c, much to Tom's dismay. It's not that hot in here.

So, the Whole30 thing. I was supposed to start it last Sunday and then I ended up being super busy on Saturday and just didn't have the time to prepare the foods, so I decided to push it back a day and start on Monday. Except, on Monday, I left for work and got all the way there (50 minutes away) before realizing my lunch bag wasn't on the passenger seat. To make matters worse, I had put all of the prosciutto egg cups in one zip lock bag and had them in my lunch bag. Which was now on the counter and needed to be thrown away by the time I got home. So Monday night, I made more prosciutto egg cups.

Tuesday night I came home with a migraine and said eff it to a real dinner, had a bag of popcorn and went to bed at 7:45 pm. The rest of the week went pretty well though. On Thursday I even made Tom a Boston Cream Pie for his birthday and the damn thing is still in the fridge and I haven't snuck a bite. There was one minor cheat though. While making the pie, I dropped some chocolate on my finger and stuck my finger in my mouth before I realized what I'd done. I'm fairly confident that 1/8 tsp. of chocolate won't ruin the whole thing though. As of this morning I'm down 1.5 lbs, which could be nothing more than water weight. Not getting excited yet.

Sunday: apple bacon pork roast, five-spice butternut squash puree, garlic-butter mushrooms 

Monday: grilled rosemary chicken, leftover butternut squash, roasted asparaugs

Tuesday: green chile and cilantro turkey burgers, sweet potato fries, cucumber and tomato salad

Wednesday: beef stir fry

Thursday: lettuce cup tacos

Friday: leftovers (I'm assuming it will be a burger and the butternut squash) 

Breakfast for the week will be the sweet potato and turkey hash that I've made quite a few times and lunch will be zucchini boats with sweet potato fries.

The Whole30 hasn't really been hard yet, but with the crappy week I had last week I definitely did want to indulge in comfort food. And it was kind of hard to go through all of the blogs that I follow, seeing mixed drinks, cupcakes and various other things that I can't have. But I did it on a full stomach and reminded myself that it's only 30 days. (25 now!)

The only thing I miss is the tea I used to drink. Making my own is really no big deal, but even with all the fruit I'm adding, there isn't enough sweetness for me. It looks like I'm drinking slightly discolored water and pretty much tastes the same. I'm going to try using more tea bags in the next gallon and hope it imparts some flavor.

Oh, and while I would usually try to keep certain aspects of my life separate from others, I'm really proud of this and wanted to share. So, if you follow me on Twitter, (which if you don't, why not? I'm @cookaholicwife. Follow me! I'll follow you back.) you know that I am a huge Once Upon A Time Fan. (The 2-hour season finale is tonight!!) Anyway, I'm a huge fan of the show, but I am also a huge Captain Swan fan. Otherwise known as I want Hook and Emma to get together. The point of this that I decided to break away from just writing blog posts and try my hand at fan fiction. I have two stories on the website, one of which is even in the specific Captain Swan section.

Here are the stories: Insufferable Pirate and the one I'm most proud of, Take It Out On Me, which yes, is a Florida Georgia Line song and my inspiration for the story. Take It Out On Me is rated M for language and adult content. I'm assuming my blog readers aren't children, but I just wanted to throw that out there.

Parmesan Rosemary Rice

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I feel like we eat the same side dishes over and over again. Actually, I know we do because I rarely have any of them to blog. I would much rather find a recipe that is a full meal than have to choose a protein, vegetable and starch for dinner each night.

I really want to share more side dishes with you and I'm hoping the Whole30 will allow me to do that since I'm using it to force me to plan away from my usual meals. Obviously, this wouldn't be approved for the diet, but I made this for dinner a few weeks before I started.



Parmesan Rosemary Rice
Source: Love and Flour
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 cup rice, uncooked
    • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Directions:
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add onions and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened and lightly golden. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
2. Add the vegetable broth and rice and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and rice is tender.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the rosemary and stir in the Parmesan cheese.



Since my rosemary plant is thriving I am always on the lookout for recipes using fresh rosemary. The flavor came through nicely and we really liked this version of rice. 

Nutella Banana Bread

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First, happy birthday to my wonderful husband Tom! Now we're finally the same age again and I don't have to hear any more jokes about him being so much younger than me.

He lives in some alternate universe where days are like years and the 28 days between our birthdays is like a decade to him. He finds it incredibly amusing. Personally, I think he's just lucky I like him.

He asked for a Boston Creme Pie for his birthday cake which I did not think to make in advance of the actual day, so I can't share that with you today. Hopefully soon though!

Not too long ago I was going through the pantry seeing what I had to use for baking. I came across a half empty jar of Nutella and remembered I have a ton of recipes involving Nutella pinned that I never seem to make for some reason.

I also had some over-ripe bananas and crossed my fingers I had a Nutella banana bread recipe out there waiting for me. Turns out I did!



Nutella Banana Bread
Source:   Blissfully Delicious
Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed 
    • 1 3/4 cup wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt 
    • 1/4 cup Nutella 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Whisk together the butter, applesauce, brown sugar and eggs. Stir in the mashed banana.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until no lumps remain.
5. Microwave the Nutella for 30 seconds until just warmed up.
6. Pour half of the batter mixture into the prepared pan and add half of the warmed Nutella. Swirl with a spatula or knife. Add the remaining batter and top it with the remaining Nutella. Switl again.
7. Bake for 1 hour, rotating after 30 minutes.
8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.



Oh, this is good. The perfect amount of chocolatey goodness pairing so nicely with a banana bread. Plus, as far as bread goes, this is an incredibly easy recipe. You can have it prepared and in the pan in 15 minutes or less and then you can go about your day, doing as you please for that hour while magic happens in the oven.


Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

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Sometimes, you just don't want bread. I love a cheese steak as much as the next person, but in all honestly, it's the stuff between the bread that is what I want. The bread is just an after thought. I honestly can't even tell you if I've ever noticed the difference in what types of bread different sub shops use. It's all just a long roll holding the good stuff to me.

I wanted to make cheese steaks for dinner but I didn't want the bread aspect. I thought for a bit and then realized I could easily turn this into a form of stuffed peppers. Tom is not a fan of them and it just so worked out we had extra sub rolls in the pantry from a previous meal. I made all of the filling and stuff mine into bell peppers and saved his for a toasty roll.


Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Bell Peppers
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
    • 4 green bell peppers, sliced down the middle (tops removed)
    • 1 tsp. olive oil 
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 6 oz. mushrooms, chopped 
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 lb. deli roast beef, chopped
    • 8 slices provolone cheese, halved
    • salt and pepper, to taste 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook onion and mushroom for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. 
3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and roast beef. Cook for 1-2 minutes more or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
4. Place one half of each cheese slice in the bottom of each bell pepper. Divide the onion/mushroom mixture into each bell pepper and top with each with the remaining half slice of cheese. 
5. Place each bell pepper into a 9x13 baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheese is melty and browned and bell peppers are softened. 



These were so tasty! I'd much rather have a cheese steak like this than on a roll any day! I had the leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week and this is just as good the first time as it is microwaved the next couple of days. 

Tomato Tart with Garlic-Basil Crust

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What caused me to first start planning my Easter menu was deciding that I wanted to make a tart with tomatoes and mozzarella. I didn't want to make a tomato pie, especially one with mayo (that just sounds like a terrible combination!) and I didn't want to use any other type of cheese but mozzarella.

It took quite a bit of searching before I found this recipe, but as soon as I read the ingredients I knew it was the one I was going to make.

I don't have a 100% success rate with any form of dough, especially one made to be crumbly, and since I was making this for guests and not just a "let's see if this turns out recipe" for blogging, I took extra precautions and picked up pre-made pie crust at the grocery store.

I crossed my fingers that this crust and I would get along, and set out to make it.


Tomato Tart with Garlic-Basil Crust
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
Garlic-Basil Crust:
    • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
    • 1 medium garlic clove
    • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
    • 4-5 tablespoons ice water 
    tomato tart:
    • 8 oz. sliced fresh mozzarella
    • 3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • salt and pepper
    • olive oil 
    • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, julienned
Directions:
1. First prepare the crust by combining basil and garlic together in the bowl of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely chopped. 
2. Then add the salt and flour and pulse to combine. 
3. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times or until the mixture resembles coarse pea-sized crumbs. Add in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing several times between each addition until you have used 4 tablespoons of water. Process for 30 seconds to see if the dough forms a ball. If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water. 
4. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Flatten into a 5-inch disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. *Dough can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for 1 month. Thaw from frozen in the refrigerator.*
6. While the dough is chilling, place the sliced tomatoes in a colander for at least 30 minutes to drain away excess water. 
5. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. 
6. Cut a round of parchment paper and place it over the removable bottom of the tart pan. Lightly mist with non-stick cooking srpay. 
7. Gently lay the dough over the tart pan and press into the pan, up the sides of the pan to create the fluted effect. Trim away excess dough.  
8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Layer the sliced mozzarella on the bottom of the tart pan. 
9. Arrange the slightly dried tomato slices in a ring around the edges of the pan and a second ring in the center. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. 
10. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has started to brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. 
11. Garnish with julienned basil. *Tart may sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours.*


Not only was this a pretty tart to look at, but the flavors were incredible as well. It tasted most like a margherita pizza or even a caprese salad. I didn't think everyone would be interested in it, but it was one of the first things to quickly disappear.

I have a feeling this is going to become my go-to summer recipe to bring to parties. 

SRC: Baked Blueberry Banana Oatmeal

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! Had I realized that we would be posting today, I would've chosen a recipe fitting for the day, but I didn't even think of it.

Instead I specifically searched for a recipe including blueberries because I had bought too many of them the week before. I knew I could easily add them into the fruit salad I have every week, but I wanted to do something different with them.

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Tasty Gardener which is written by Heather. She has a lot of really delicious looking recipes on her site and a ton of gardening tips which are really quite peaceful to look at.

I finally decided to make her baked blueberry banana oatmeal because I had all of the ingredients on hand.



Baked Blueberry Banana Oatmeal
Source: Tasty Gardener
Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
    • 2 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
    • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 pint fresh blueberries 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-sticking cooking spray.
2. Whisk together the banana, eggs, sugar, vanilla, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add the oats and milk and stir until fully combined. The mixture will be very liquidy.
4. Stir in the blueberries then gently pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve later on.



Personally, I prefer this after it has sat in the refrigerator overnight and then I've heated up a serving in the microwave. Straight from the oven it is too runny for my liking, but after sitting overnight, it takes on the perfect creamy denseness that you want from a baked oatmeal.


Weekly Menu 5/3 - 5/10

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I really can not believe that it is May already. This year sure is flying by!

I have a slight problem. I can't say no to a food challenge. I've started to seek out ones that involve me blogging recipes on certain days again, because apparently the ones I already participate in are not enough. However, I've gotten myself into something much different this time.

My coworker, Stephanie, leads a paleo lifestyle. (She also does crossfit, but that's another story). We eat lunch at our desks and her lunches always smell delicious.  For a while now we've talked about the different recipes she makes, what the lifestyle is like, what foods she's misses...all that good stuff. Except last week she basically challenged me to do a Whole30 because she just completed another one.

I've looked up Whole30 and the paleo lifestyle before. I brushed it off as a good idea for someone else, because you may remember that I live with the vegetable hating, starch loving carnivore otherwise known as my husband. Telling him I was making a pizza with a cauliflower crust would probably result in him dying from laughing so hard.

So Stephanie and I talked about all of my concerns with it. First, we discussed what VHSLC (veggie hating, starch loving carnivore) would and wouldn't eat. No sweet potatoes, no zucchini, no asparagus, no bok choy...the list ended up being quite extensive. I didn't want to make two separate meals for dinner so I needed recipes where they could be easily modified/changed into something he would eat. We talked about my love of cheese and bread. She told me thinking that I couldn't do this was really more in my head. I could do it, I was just choosing to make excuses as to why I shouldn't. Then she told me she would allow me one cheat: my beloved popcorn.

And that is when I realized that I was going to try out a Whole30.  I'll be completely honest, I don't know how well this is going to go over. I can give up coffee, I can give up alcohol. I didn't have dairy for 10 days so I'd like to think 30 won't be that hard, but we'll see. My biggest concern is that when I don't feel like cooking, the foods I choose to eat are not on the Whole30 approved list.

So I decided I was going to fool-proof myself. I wasn't just going to commit to 30 days and try it out, I was going to plan out an entire menu for 30 days, find additional back up recipes for those crazy nights and then try it out. I've also spend the majority of this week shoving all the things I won't be able to have for the next 30 days down my throat. Mainly water ice from Rita's, a bagel from Dunkin and jalapeƱo poppers from Sheetz. I had a glass of soda (which is pretty rare for me) and I've been eating pretzels like they aren't going to make them anymore.

I initially planned to start today (Sunday) but I ended up not being prepared this morning so I decided I would push it back a day and start tomorrow.

Sunday - scalloped potatoes and ham  

Monday - crock pot chipotle beef with pineapple salsa tacos (over mashed sweet potatoes for me)

Tuesday - coconut chicken, parsnip fries, roasted green beans (yes, this really is like the 4th time I'm putting this on the menu. I HAVE to make it this time!)

Wednesday - lemon butter hake with sauteed zucchini and squash (over rice for Tom)

Thursday - cardamom-spiced pork, sweet potato fries and cucumber and tomato salad 

Friday - leftovers 

Saturday - tuna "salad" (no mayo) in an avocado 

Breakfast for the week will be prosciutto egg cups sans the shredded mozzarella cheese. For lunch I'm having bacon and sweet potato chili which I am quite excited for.

So I guess I'll let you all know next week how this first week goes!

(If you have any suggestions, tips or recipes you think I need to try, please send them my way; either in the comments section, or email me at cookaholicwife@gmail.com) 
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