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I asked my darling husband to select the recipe for Meatless Monday. He made a beeline to one of his favorite cookbooks, Chris Carmichael’s Eat Right to Train Right. After considering a few recipes, he chose the Leafy Spinach Lasagna. And an excellent choice it was!

The recipe calls for fat-free cottage cheese and part-skim mozzarella, but I opted for regular. I mean, shouldn’t we get some reward for going meatless? Next time, I’ll add some mushrooms and perhaps try it with goat cheese. Mmm…

Join me tomorrow as I attempt to catch up on my Tuesdays With Dorie posts. I’ll have something for everyone – chocolate, mint, coconut, walnuts, toffee. Not all together mind you. Until then…

While I enjoy participating in Meatless Mondays, I find myself in a pickle every week because Monday also happens to be my favorite T.V. night. Between Chuck, 24, and the tough decision between CSI: Miami and Law & Order, I have to get dinner on the table much earlier than normal.

Well, last week threw one more Monday night task at me…our monthly neighborhood meeting. Bom, bom, bom… Never fear, Super Husband to the rescue! Not only did he accompany me to the meeting, he then cooked an amazing meatless dinner while I watched Chuck. Thanks, hon!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a HUGE fan of pasta. Well, actually I love all carbs, but pasta and bread top the list for starch lovin’ gal. Last week we noshed on a Kevin original creation: tri-color rotini, fresh spinach, garlic, grilled artichoke hearts, baby portabella mushrooms, and feta cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 7.5-oz. jars grilled artichoke hearts (*do not drain)
  • 8 oz. sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 9 oz. fresh spinach
  • 12 oz. tricolor rotini
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat water to boil. In large skillet, combine minced garlic, artichoke hearts with liquid, and mushrooms over medium-high heat. Season with freshly ground black pepper (to taste). Once the mushrooms begin to soften and brown, add salt to taste.

Add salt to boiling water and drop the pasta. Just before pasta is al dente, add spinach to skillet with artichokes and mushrooms; cover and steam for 3-4 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing gently. Remove skillet from heat and crumble in feta. Enjoy!

    If there’s one thing that makes me look forward to Mondays (well, almost), it’s Meatless Mondays. Well, that and new episodes of Chuck and 24!  Last Monday night I made this Spinach Red Pepper Frittata for dinner.

    Spinach Red Pepper Frittata

    Recipe courtesy of MeatlessMonday.com

    Onion and red pepper are sautéed until sweet and contrasted with crunchy hash browns. Garlic spiced spinach brings some leafy greens and a healthy dose of Vitamin K to this hearty frittata. This recipe has been adapted from Pat Cooks and Bakes.

    Serves 4

    • 1 teaspoon butter
      1 teaspoon olive oil
      1/4 cup onion, chopped
      1/4 cup red pepper, diced
      1 1/2 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
      1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
      1 clove garlic, minced
      4 eggs
      1/4 cup nonfat milk
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/8 teaspoon pepper
      1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Heat the butter and olive oil in 9 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When butter melts, add the onion and red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.

    Add the potatoes and cook 6-8 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the spinach and garlic and cook 1-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

    In a medium bowl beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until smooth. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, lifting edges and allowing uncooked egg to flow underneath intermittently.

    Sprinkle with cheddar if using (Of course you’re using. Who wouldn’t want cheese in their frittata?) and bake 15-20 minutes, or until set. Cut into 4 wedges to serve.

    Bon appetít!

    Chicken Toscana Soup

    Last week was my turn to host game night which meant I got to toss around menu ideas (one of my favorite hobbies, incidentally). I knew I’d be making an Italian dessert so after contemplating several ideas, I decided to make the entire meal Italiano.

    Two of my favorite dishes at Romano’s Macaroni Grill are their chicken Toscana soup and warm spinach salad. The soup is a creamy chicken soup with gnocchi, tomatoes, and spinach which compliments the salad – fresh spinach wilted and tossed with prosciutto, roasted garlic, fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil then topped with toasted goat cheese – perfectly!

    Lucky for me, I was able to find some “copycat” recipes. Thanks, Google and RecipeZaar!

    Quick & Light Chicken Toscana Soup Inspired by Macaroni Grill

    Serves 8

    Ingredients

    • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
    • 2 medium onion, chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 90 ounces low-sodium low-fat chicken broth
    • 2 large tomatoes
    • 4 cups cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from Fresh Market)
    • 16 ounces 1% low-fat milk (I used whole milk)
    • 16 ounces mini gnocchi
    • 10 ounces baby spinach (fresh, half bag)
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Fresh basil (if you only have dried, rub approx. 3/4 tsp. between palms and add when you add the milk)

    Directions

    1. Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent (5-10 minutes). Add the chicken broth and bring to boil. Add chicken and tomatoes; bring back to a good simmer for 5 minutes. Add gnocchi; cook for 1 or 2 minutes if mini size, a little longer if larger.
    2. Add milk and heat until steaming. Stir in spinach just long enough to wilt. Ladel into bowls and top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil if you have it.

    Warm Spinach Salad

    I wilted a ton of fresh spinach in my wok then dressed it in a roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette (recipe below). I toasted several slices of goat cheese (instructions to follow), crisped the prosciutto, and voila!

    Roasted Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette Inspired by Macaroni Grill

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 ounce roasted garlic
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 lemon, juice of

     Directions

    Place vinegar, honey, salt and roasted garlic in a food processor. Puree until the garlic is chopped very fine. With the food processor still running, add olive oil and lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    To Toast Goat Cheese:

    • 12 oz. goat cheese
    • 1/2 c. dried bread crumbs
    • 1/2 c. walnuts, ground fine

    Slice rounds of the goat cheese with a sharp knife that is placed under hot running water after each slice is made. Pat the rounds so that they are firm, with rounded edges, and about 1/2 inch in thickness. Combine the bread crumbs and ground walnuts. Brush the goat cheese rounds with a bit of the walnut or vegetable oil and coat with the crumb mixture. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, or until the crust is brown. (Instructions by Cooks.com)

    I tried baking the goat cheese in the oven, but found that browning it on the stovetop in a small non-stick skillet worked much better. Click here for the chicken Toscana soup recipe and here for the roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette recipe. Buon Appetito! Come back soon for the Italian dessert – 100% made from scratch. You won’t want to miss it!

    A co-worker of mine brought this delicious soup to work to share with the rest of us. Naturally, I wanted more and I could hardly wait to make this simple yet tasty soup myself.

    Ingredients:

    1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded

    2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed and drained

    Chicken stock (I used Swanson’s reduced sodium broth)

    1 small bag frozen diced onions, thawed and drained

    1 large package fresh cheese tortelloni or ravioli

    1 packet Italian seasoning

    Sharon used a store-bought rotisserie chicken in her soup. I opted to bake a chicken in my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. I used the recipe that came with my baker – Smothered Chicken with Garlic (check out the recipe here). I must say, I was impressed with the flavor of the chicken. Apparently, Kevin was too because he kept nibbling at it and I wondered if there’d be any chicken left for the soup. Only the fear of being permanently labeled the Soup Nazi kept me from slapping his hands away. 🙂

    Sharon chose cheese ravioli for her soup, whereas I used Buitoni’s three-cheese tortelloni. Note: Either eat or freeze this soup within a day or two of making as the pasta will absorb much of the broth.

    Next time I make this soup, I will definitely use fewer onions. I’ll also replace the frozen spinach with wilted fresh spinach. Instead of using the store bought Italian seasoning packet, I’ll make my own Italian herb blend using one of my favorite kitchen tools – the mortar and pestle. What’s your favorite kitchen tool?

    Have a favorite soup recipe? I’d love to hear about that too.

    The Grillmaster hard at work

    The Grillmaster hard at work

     

    Filet mignon, sauteed spinach, and red wine – does it get any better than that? Last night, Kevin (aka The Grillmaster) worked his magic on some filets. His steaks are so amazing that I don’t order steak when we go out because he has me spoiled…I love it! I whipped up the garlic sauteed spinach (thanks, Barefoot Contessa), rosemary & garlic oven fries, broccoli, and salads. Be sure to click the link to my favorite spinach recipe. It’s very similar to the spinach we had at Fishmongers Seafood Grill in Atlanta which was phenomenal.

    “B” joined us for dinner and came bearing wine. He chose a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon by Red Diamond in Washington State. Delish! After finishing the Cab, we opened a bottle of Angove’s Red Belly Black 2007 Shiraz from South Australia. As I’m more of a Cab girl, I didn’t enjoy the Shiraz as much, but it wasn’t bad.

    After dinner, we took advantage of the warm weather and sat on the patio to digest, drink more wine (for health purposes – ya, right!), and entertain the pups. Here’s a cute pic of Mocha with her new favorite toy, the Kong frisbee. Don’t let the eye shine fool you, she only acts possessed! Coal was busy chewing a rawhide which didn’t make for a great photo op. No worries, I’ll catch him next time.

    Mocha & her new frisbee

    Mocha & her new frisbee

    Friday night's dinner

    Friday night's dinner

    I have a lot to share today, so stay with me, okay? First, I just have to tell you about dinner last night. It was amazing! Kevin aka “The Grillmaster” grilled steaks last night while I prepared Spinach and Feta Potatoes and Greek salads. Oh, it was so delicious! Unfortunately, I cannot take the credit for the potato recipe. This Rachael Ray inspired dish comes from Liz’s Cooking Blog, which you should definitely check out if you’re looking for a tasty new recipe.

    Me & Kevin - Jingle Bell Run

    Me & Kevin - Jingle Bell Run

    This morning, Kevin and I went to Fort Conde to meet Cindy and a few other friends for the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis. Kevin opted to do the 5K while Cindy and I chose the 1 mile fun run. It was a beautiful and festive morning. Participants received jingle bells to pin to their shoes. We even saw Santa!
    Mixed Grill

    Mixed Grill

             
                         Bucket O' Crab
    Bucket O’ Crab

     This afternoon, Kevin and I ventured over to Pensacola, Florida. We stopped at Peg Leg Pete’s on Pensacola Beach for a yummy seafood lunch. I ordered the steamed snow crab legs – mmm…scrumptious! Kevin chose the mixed grill – a delectable assortment of grilled seafood (scallops, shrimp, and grouper) served with rice, garlic bread, and sugar snap beans.

    What more could I ask for – fun with friends, good food, and a beautiful sunset…a terrific day indeed!
    Today's sunset

    Today's sunset

    You may have noticed a salad in the pic I posted yesterday of our Thanksgiving feast (lower left corner). My mom copied this recipe for me from one of her old cookbooks (maybe Southern Living?). I’ve made this salad the past two Christmases and it’s always a hit. Kelly prepared the salad this year and it was delicious as always.

    SALAD EXTRAVAGANZA

     

    1 pound fresh asparagus

    1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained

    1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and cut into thirds

    1 (12 ½- ounce) jar baby carrots, drained *

    ½ cup pitted black olives

    1 cup fresh mushrooms

    1 (0.7-ounce) envelope Italian salad dressing mix

    1 small head romaine lettuce, separated

    1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach

    1 avocado, sliced in wedges

    Sour Cream Sauce *

    1 cup croutons

    8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

     

              Snap off tough ends of fresh asparagus. Remove scales with knife or vegetable peeler, if desired. Cook asparagus, covered in a small amount of boiling water 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain.

              Place asparagus and next 5 ingredients in a shallow dish. Prepare salad dressing mix according to package directions; pour over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

              Drain vegetables; reserve marinade. Line a large platter with lettuce. Top with fresh spinach eaves. Arrange marinated vegetables and avocado on spinach. Drizzle the reserved marinade over salad arrangement. Serve with Sour Cream Sauce, croutons, and bacon. Yield: approximately 8 to 10 servings.

     

    Sour Cream Sauce:

    1 (8-ounce) carton commercial sour cream

    ½ cup mayonnaise

    ¾ tablespoon prepared horseradish

    2 teaspoons chopped chives

    2 teaspoons grated onion

    1 teaspoon lemon juice

    ¼ teaspoon dry mustard

     

    Combine all ingredients; stir well. Chill. Yield: 1 ½ cups.

     

    * I use fresh baby carrots instead of carrots from a jar. The first year I made this salad, I served it as suggested with the sour cream sauce, bacon, and croutons…it was overkill. The sour cream sauce was left virtually untouched. The bacon, however, was a nice topping.

    According to Kelly, this recipe even passed the mother-in-law test, which has secured it’s place on our holiday menu. 🙂 What’s on your menu for Christmas?

    "Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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