I’ll admit that I go through food phases. For a while I was all about grilling chicken thighs and I’m pretty sure I ate that every day for lunch and sometimes dinner for a good couple of months. In the winter I get on a comfort food kick and make meatloaf, chili, and stew every week (or so it seems). As the season changes from winter to spring and back to winter again because Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind in Indiana, I find myself wanting spaghetti (or maybe its simply because my race season has started and I always want spaghetti when I’m running.) Either way – I’ve been playing around with using spaghetti squash, zucchini, and yellow squash as my noodles. But all in all, it is the same variation of the same thing – squash noodles and sauce on top. Then my friend sent me a link for baked pizza spaghetti pie. I thought I could do something like this but make it more like baked spaghetti and less like pizza plus add in my own favorite things. It makes a ton and I plan on eating it for lunch every day this week so I suppose I’ll share the rest with my husband so it won’t go to waste. Enjoy!
1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squash
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms (your choice of kid), sliced
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup – spaghetti sauce (no sugar added, I used Classico)
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish, or I used a 2 quart dish which is a 7×11, either one will do, and set aside.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and threading. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when you press on it.
3. Using a fork, shred the squash into a large bowl and set aside.
4. Place a large pan over medium heat. Add ground beef, bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion. Cook until pink no longer remains in the beef and it is broken up into pieces. Add in olives and mix together.
5. Combine the beef mixture with the spaghetti squash in the bowl. Add 1 cup of spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper. Finally, add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix everything together until you can no longer see the eggs.
6. Evenly distribute the mixture into your baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a slight crust forms on top of your baked spaghetti. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
About 2 weeks ago my friend, Z, said she had tried this new chocolate mousse recipe that was dairy free and she had some to share with me. I love anything chocolate/dessert and if it is dairy free and gluten free, count me in. I drove over to her house to pick it up and literally I pulled the used spoon out of my lunch box and devoured the whole thing in my car on my way home from her house. No – I am not ashamed. I can’t tell you how good it was. It was freaking AMAZING. I HAD to have the recipe. This was Friday evening.
Enter Sunday afternoon – I have now procured the recipe from my friend. You can find her original recipe here. So Sunday afternoon I gave it a whirl on my own. The recipe was so easy and took less than 15 minutes from start to finish. The worst part is waiting the few hours for the mousse to set so you can partake in the chocolatey rich goodness of it. Anyway, I was able to make 5 1-cup ziplock plastic to-go containers out of 1 recipe. Naturally, I ate one every day Monday – Thursday as an after school treat or after dinner dessert (I shared one with a friend). That was on March 9th.
Since I had consumed my last chocolate mousse, I really haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’ve never been addicted to anything so I’m not sure what that feels like but seriously I could not stop thinking about this mousse. And now that I’m writing this (and eating my mousse at the same time) I didn’t realize that I just made this last week. Still – not ashamed.
So tonight I caved and busted out my KitchenAide mixer and took a quick 15 minutes to make myself another heavenly batch of the highly addicting chocolate mousse. You can thank me (or my friend, Z, later). You’re welcome!
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Palm Sugar (coconut sugar)
1 cup mini chocolate chips (I use EnjoyLife)
4 eggs separated
1 can full-fat coconut milk (just the solid cream part, not the liquid)
1. Separate 4 eggs, place the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another
2. Open a can of coconut milk and drain all the water from it, making sure to keep the solid milk fat portion
3. Add water to a pot and heat until it is boiling
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the coconut sugar to the pan, whisking it in until it the sugar is dissolved
5. Move pot to another burner and allow it to cool for about five minutes
6. Add the chocolate chips to pot and whisk until melted
7. Whisk egg yolks until they are light yellow in color
8. With your mixer, whip egg whites until they form stiff peaks
9. Add the egg yolks into the same pot and whisk until the consistency of the chocolate mixture is smooth
10. Fold the egg whites into the pot containing the chocolate mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined
11. Add the can of drained coconut milk to the mixture and again, whisk until well combined and the mixture is smooth.
12. Place the chocolate mousse into containers, 1 used 5 1-cup ziplock disposable containers and evenly portioned them out.
13. Refrigerate overnight
14. Sprinkle a generous amount mini chocolate chips on top of mousse before serving and enjoy!
So today was the last day of ISTEP+ (or at least the first round of them) and I was looking to indulge a bit. Yes, some days I can be an emotional eater. I was looking forward to the rest of my fruit salad but with a whole lot of coconut whipped cream on top (more whipped cream and less fruit if you know what I mean). But the whipped cream alone just wasn’t going to cut it tonight. I wanted something more. So I pulled some staples from my pantry and made a delicious topping for my whipped cream that tastes oh so sinful but it’s really not that bad for you at all. I got this recipe from my friend, Z. You can find the original recipe here. It is so simple and it really takes your dessert to that next level. Enjoy!
4. Next put the almonds in the pan and toast until slightly brown – again keep a close eye on them because they also toast quickly!
5. Add the toasted almonds to the coconut flake mixture and toss.
6. Allow to cool, then store.
I’m a huge proponent of eating clean (when you can) and staying on a budget. Let’s face it, eating healthy can be expensive. Produce isn’t always cheap and because it can go bad, you are always stocking up your fridge for the week. The key to saving money is finding the produce that is on sale and buying that for the week. I used to just buy whatever I wanted for each week but when my grocery bills were exceeding $100 (for just 2 people), I was thinking my spending was getting out of hand. PLUS, I was throwing some stuff away because I just couldn’t eat it fast enough. Now that I’ve eliminated a bunch of things from my nutrition like dairy, legumes, and gluten (not for the trend but for health reasons), I find I’m able to eat more produce because I don’t have as many choices to choose from.
Anyway – Kroger was having this great sale on produce: Pineapples – $1.00, Strawberry Papayas – 2 for $5.00, 5-lb. bag Blood Oranges – $2.99, and Raspberries 2 pints – $5.00. I also picked up a package of pre-sliced mangos for $4.99 (that wasn’t really bargain shopping but I LOVE mangoes and they were really ripe this week so I couldn’t pass it up). So I picked up all of these things, took them home, chopped them up into bit-sized pieces and made myself this super delicious tropical fruit salad. To take this fruit salad to the next level, I whipped up some super easy coconut whipped cream. Yes – you really can make whipped cream from canned coconut milk. It just takes a little bit of planning and a few minutes and you are all set.
1 can coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional – if you like it to be a tad sweeter)
1. Place a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Place your coconut milk in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight if you really like to plan ahead. This ensures that the cream separates from the liquid.
2. Separate the solid cream from the liquid. Save the liquid for later or pour over your fruit salad to act as a liquid. In your metal mixing bowl, add the solid coconut cream and vanilla extract (and powdered sugar if you are using it). Mix with an electric mixer on high for 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed through and it has a creamy consistency.
3. Add a huge dollop to your fruit salad and enjoy!
The actual fruit salad ingredients with their prices
1 small pineapple – $1.00
2 strawberry papayas – $5.00
1 container pre-sliced mangos – $4.99
1 pint raspberries – $2.50
2 blood oranges – $.74 (8 oranges for $2.99 = $0.37 an orange)
1 can coconut milk – $2.89
Total – $17.12
Makes about 10 servings (perfect for breakfast and lunch sides) = $1.71 per serving
Let’s face it – chocolate covered strawberries can be expensive. You order a bouquet from Edible Arrangements and you’re looking at a minimum of $29.oo for 1 dozen strawberries. $29.00?! WTF! And that is just for the strawberries and the box it comes in, it doesn’t include delivery charges. If you want them to be delivered, tack on an extra $12.00. So one dozen strawberries covered in chocolate (no sprinkles) will cost you an upwards of $40.00 when everything is all said and done. If you buy them from the bakery aisle at the grocery store, 1 single strawberry can cost you almost $2.00 a strawberry, or $5.99 for a 4 count with your Kroger Shopper Reward Card. Anyway you look at it, for a dozen chocolate covered strawberries you are still spending around $20.00. Ridiculous if you ask me.
There is a simple budget friendly solution. Make them yourself. Even making an allergy-friendly version of these decadent treats are cheaper than buying them already made. Today, this very minute, Kroger has 16 oz. containers of strawberries 2 for $4.00. So you can potentially get 24+ strawberries for $4.00. In addition to the strawberries, all you need is 1 package of Enjoy Life chocolate chips. These cost anywhere from $4.59 – $4.99 depending on where you shop. Sometimes you can get a really good buy 1 get 1 free deal from Earth Fare or $3.99 at Kroger when they are on sale. I tend to stock up when I can so I always have a bag on hand. Then you need a splash of whatever milk or milk substitute you drink at home. I drink unsweetened almond milk, but soy milk can work just fine and if you don’t have a dairy allergy – regular chocolate chips and milk work fine too.
Really – that’s all you need. $9.00 and a little bit of time and you’ve got yourself the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert, surprise, gift, etc.
1-2 16 oz. containers (depending on how many strawberries you want)
1 bag Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Splash of Almond Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla but you can use whatever you have on hand)
Parchment Paper to prevent sticking
- Wash strawberries and pat dry, remember to leave stems as they allow easy gripping for dipping into the chocolate.
- Place 2 cups of water in a pot and top with a glass bowl.
- On medium high heat, add all of the chocolate chips to the glass bowl. Stir gently with a spatula until chocolate is smooth. You can add your almond milk at this time until you get achieve your desired thickness. I found the Enjoy Life chips tend to have a thicker consistency when they are melted than regular chocolate chips.
- Remove the chocolate from the heat to avoid burning (no one wants burnt chocolate for Valentine’s Day). Dip the strawberries into the chocolate and place onto your parchment paper.
- Allow them to cool for 45 minutes. The strawberries will get a nice hard shell.
- The strawberries will keep for 3 days covered in the refrigerator.
Since my last few attempts at making spaghetti squash have been absolute fails (I’m still figuring out my
new antiquated oven), my latest thing has been zucchini noodles. A few months ago I purchased a julienne peeler to make my noodles. While it does the job, it takes FOREVER and it wastes a lot of the zucchini. I feel bad wasting any food so I went a bought a mandolin slicer that has a julienne blade. Well, the worked too but I still couldn’t use most of the zucchini for fear of slicing my fingers off. The nifty finger guard only works of you are slicing it like chips and not like noodles. So that was kind of a bust (however it does work well for making sweet potato home fries but that’s another blog). Then I saw a picture in my new cookbook Against All Grains of a spiralizer. I had to have it.
I busted it out for the first time tonight to make some real zucchini noodles and let me tell you, my life is now complete. I spiralized 4 large zucchini in roughly 5 minutes! And out came these long beautiful noodles. I cooked them in some olive oil and dumped some pasta sauce on top. It was magnificent. I could twirl my zucchini noodles like real noodles. It was awesome! I will probably never julienne my zucchini or squash ever again. It’s the spiralizer all the way.
Do you ever have those days where you simply crave something from your childhood? That is exactly what happened to me. Most of the time people crave some type of comfort food like mom’s mac & cheese or meatloaf or even an apple pie. But today, that wasn’t the case. Today I was seriously craving something Asian and not your average run of the mill Chinese takeout (which is completely Americanized). I wasn’t something that you really can’t get at a restaurant. You can only get it from someone’s house who knows how to cook authentic Asian cuisine. Since my mom lives in Pennsylvania and I live in Indiana, my only solution was to call her up on the phone, ask her what I needed, and take a trip to the local Asia Mart.
The freshness from the lemongrass make this probably one of the most popular Thai soups out there. And if you really want to eat it authentically, you pour a little on your jasmine rice as flavoring. But if you don’t eat grains, you can eat a big bowl of this broth-y soup either with your meal or as a light meal by itself. Due to the pungent flavor of the lime leaves and lemongrass, this soup is perfect for all seasons. It’s a refreshing summer soup but since it’s hot it makes a great winter treat too! I’ve made it with shrimp but my mom said you can also make it with chicken if you’d prefer.
For any of you who do Whole30 or follow the Paleo diet, I’ve made sure that this recipe is 100% compliant. Enjoy!
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
4-inch piece of tender lemongrass, roughly chopped (you don’t want to eat this)
1-2 limes, freshly squeezed to taste
6 tablespoons fish sauce (I use Red Boat which doesn’t have sugar)
1-2 small fresh red or green chilies, roughly chopped (optional – I don’t like the heat so I don’t use them)
16 straw mushrooms, cut in half (canned mushrooms will do)
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1. In a pot, heat the stock and add the lime leaves, lemongrass, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and chilies (if you are using them). At this point I would taste the broth to determine if it has enough lemon/lime flavor to the broth. If not – add more lime juice. Bring it to a boil and simmer for two minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and shrimp and cook for a further two to three minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through. Be sure not to overcook your shrimp!
2. Pour into soup bowls and serve.