Sunday, October 28, 2012

traumatic eating

As mentioned, Vance is on his trauma surgery rotation (for a lucky 6 weeks instead of the standard 5 - okay there. I have complained). In an effort to make up for A.) his lack of sleep and proper diet this month B.) my absence due to a great deal of travel and C.) my neurotic need to make sure he is well-fed, I cooked (a lot) this weekend. It was traumatic eating, and quite good.
Saturday night kicked off with cocktails and an copy-cat attempt of Trader Joe's Spicy Black Bean dip. Black bean dip doesn't photograph well, but here is the run down.
1 15 oz can black beans, drained, rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons water
3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic
1 small jalapeno, roughly chopped (from our garden!)
S&P to taste
3-4 dashes of Chipotle Tabasco 
Enjoy with tortillas, pita chips or crudite. So tasty!
For dinner...Salmon Pesto Pasta
Bow tie pasta, pesto mixed with some heavy cream, roasted cherry tomatoes and small fillet of salmon, roasted and flaked. Toss with S&P and enjoy!
Sunday brunch at home...12 South Benny.
Whole grain English muffins, toasted with sauteed yellow and red bell peppers with green onions. Top with fried egg over easy and hollandaise (via blender). A bit of parsley and done. 
I don't want this post to make anyone think I take Hollandaise sauce lightly. Assembling any eggs Benedict can be stressful, but I must be slightly improving because I only snapped at Vance once while preparing brunch this morning. 
Lastly, comforting Sunday dinner, Jamaican Pumpkin Soup and grilled cheese, brie and honey panini.
This soup is adapted from Breads 'n Cheese of Hershey's famous recipe. Nothing beats consuming a bowl of this spicy soup, while I sit in Breads 'n Cheese and get caught up on life in Hershey. This soup reminds me of home, and of course when I made it, it didn't taste the same as it does at 
B'n C. I tried to tweak it a bit!
2 cans packed pumpkin
1 and a half boxes of vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch of green onions, diced
4 yams, peeled, quartered and boiled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice you like)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Generous S&P (according to your taste)
Combine all and simmer for about an hour or more. Test a few times to ensure it's seasoned as you like.
Our paninis were on rosemary and olive oil bread with a triple cream (brie-like) cheese, thinly sliced pear and a drizzle of honey. Butter outside of bread, assemble sandwich and grill in a pan until golden. Oh jeez is this good. Happy eating all - how is the weekend over? All we did is eat.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

hearty fall

Happy Saturday all! Things have been so busy as I have been traveling for the past few weeks and Vance is currently on a trauma surgery rotation. I was in Minnesota (the coldest place on earth) for a few days and was happy to return to (semi) warm Nashville. Well, it's always warm if I'm with Vance (smile). Last night was Vance's and my first date night in weeks, and we enjoyed a fall dinner of mushroom and rosemary risotto with balsamic steamed spinach. 
This dish is so good and definitely makes enough for leftovers.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons EVOO
2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms, mixed (baby Bellas and white button)
5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated in a sauce pan
3/4 cup white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or other semi-dry)
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 cups Aborio rice
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, finely grated
S&P to taste
In a Dutch Oven, add about half the butter and half the EVOO, saute mushrooms until soft and set aside. Add remaining butter and oil and saute garlic and onion until translucent. Add rice and stir until well-coated, add wine and stir well. Once the chicken broth is simmering, add 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stir. Wait until each ladle full of broth is fully absorbed before adding the next. Stir continuously to avoid rice from sticking. After adding broth and stirring for about 25 to 30 minutes, ensure risotto is tender and slightly chewy. Add final 1/2 cup of broth, cheese, rosemary, mushrooms and S&P. Serve immediately. 

The spinach is pleasantly simple. In a large saute pan with lid, add about 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Place a full bag (2-3 big handfuls) of spinach in the pan and give a stir. Place the lid over the pan and steam for a few minutes. Add a drizzle (about 1-2 tablespoons) of good balsamic vinegar to the spinach, stir until hot and serve. We enjoyed this hearty risotto and spinach dish with a good crusty roll and some Honey Brown
Tonight, I am making a salmon pesto pasta and tomorrow is Jamaican pumpkin soup. I love being home and having time to cook! Enjoy the weekend all. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

lots o' pumpkins

I spent the week recruiting in Pennsylvania and was able to spend time with my family. My mom and I enjoyed a great lunch at Shake Shack and then dinner at Lolita in Philadelphia. Lolita is a wonderful BYO tequila restaurant, where they mix margaritas for you table-side. A week of visiting beautiful undergrad campuses, enjoying time with family and sampling delicious food was a great welcome to fall. On Friday night, I had dinner with Meredith and Jen. We had so much fun catching up at Houlihan's. Nothing beats dinner with the girls.
Gourds at the farmer's market.
Kathleen and Billy came up to Hershey for the weekend, and we carved pumpkins on Saturday night. Well, in truth, I served as the bar wench of sorts and supervised the carving (as I sipped a Pomegranate martini). I also was on hors d'oeuvre duty and we had assorted cheese, Wegman's crab dip and bruschetta.
Cheese board with Yancey's Sharp cheddar, Drunken Goat cheese and a country pate.
Kathleen's, Dad's, Billy's & Mom's pumpkin creations.
After years of research, Mom nailed this pumpkin!
Roasted pumpkin seeds - great over a salad or for a crunchy snack.
Preheat oven to 350°F.

 Separate the seeds from the pulp and place seeds in a bowl. Don't worry if there's a little pulp left on the seeds when you roast them—it only adds flavor. Just remove the biggest pieces so that the seeds are easy to toss.

 In a bowl, toss the seeds with about 2 table spoons EVOO, coating thoroughly. Add a generous amount of salt and some seasonings. For these spicy seeds, I used S&P and crushed red pepper. Spread seeds in one even layer across a Pammed baking sheet. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown. Stir the seeds every so often while they're baking, so that they toast evenly.Back to Nashville tonight and then off to Minneapolis on Tuesday. I am ready to have a weekend at home with my husband - soon hopefully!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

oktoberfest and fall fun

This weekend was full of fun as we celebrated Vance's birthday, went to Oktoberfest in Germantown, and I made turkey, butternut squash & pumpkin chili. On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at Oktoberfest.
although I have been trying to not eat as much meat - a brat did happen and kraut and (obviously) bier
a great afternoon with my hubby and some delicious beer
Vance's birthday is this week and he also starts on trauma service (not exactly the best timing to celebrate his birthday!) We had a delicious dinner last night at Bistro 360 in Belle Mead. We started with crispy venison spring rolls, and Vance had a filet with root vegetables in a demi glace. I enjoyed delicious Big Eye seared tuna with soba noodles and vegetables in a ginger sauce.
Birthday Boy!
On Sunday morning, I made a (huge) pot of turkey, squash and pumpkin chili, and we enjoyed it for dinner with some delicious Elevation beer.
Our friends, Sarah and Teddy, sent us this delicious brew! Elevation Brewery is owned by Teddy's brother and is located in Poncha Springs, Colorado.

Pumpkin chili is a staple for fall in our house. Today, I pretty much mirrored the same recipe as last year,  except I also added half a butternut squash (peeled and cubed) and a can of black beans (drained). This dish cooked from about 11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the slow cooker. The butternut squash needs some extra time so make sure to check the squash to see if it needs more time to cook or if you need to adjust the heat. We also had birthday cupcakes from the Cupcake Collection in Germantown. Vance had a sweet potato cupcake, and I had red velvet with cream cheese frosting - so good!
Tomorrow I head up to Pennsylvania for recruiting, first stop - Philadelphia! Night all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

fall on fall

Today was one of the first days that I busted out a full-on fall outfit (courtesy of Meredith who gave me the sweater I currently have on). Did you know that having a friend in the retail industry is pretty amazing? Mer has gifted me some amazing finds including a pair of Anthro jeans I wear all the time, Leifsdottir sandals and one of my favorite sweaters. Speaking of friends, I will be heading up to Pennsylvania on Monday, and I am so excited to see my girls in the Hershey area!
Back to fall on fall, butternut squash hash with a burnt orange wool sweater, equals fall on fall.
I know I have raved about hash before, but seriously, hash 'n eggs are such an easy (and healthy) dinner. For this dish you will need...
half of butternut squash, peeled and cubed (roughly 1.5 cups)
half of a red bell pepper, diced
small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 tablespoons EVOO
3-4 eggs (depending on how hungry you are)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saute pan, add garlic and onion. Saute until onion is translucent. Add cubed squash and cook for a few minutes. Add in stock, stir and place a lid over the pan. Allow to cook over medium/low heat for almost 10 minutes. Squash should be getting nice and soft. Add in diced bell pepper and sage, return lid and cook for a few minutes. Season with S&P. Ensure bell pepper is cooked through, but still crisp. Prepare eggs (Vance likes his sunny side up, I am an over medium kinda gal).
Assemble hash with eggs on top.
Butternut squash hash with eggs, side salad and a cheddar biscuit - yum!
I love butternut squash and, as it turns out, that is okay! We also love sweet potatoes, but when you look at the nutritional comparison, squash has sweet potatoes beat. Enjoy your squash!

Butternut Squash (about a cup) vs. Sweet Potato (cup)
Calories 63 vs 130
Fat (g) .1 vs 0.0
Carbs (g) 2.8 vs 4
Sugar (g) 3.1 vs 7

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

64 degrees

It was 64 degrees in the house this morning when we woke up. I thought that (like seriously) never happened in Nashville. Last year at this time, it was still in the mid to high 80's. I remember my friend Shana and I walking to get popsicles at the Vanderbilt Farmer's Market. Last October, Vance and I spent his birthday weekend (October 18th) at the pool! The past week has brought wonderful cool weather and the leaves have started turning more rapidly. It's fall.
Vance's parents were here for a few days and we certainly did a lot of eating! In addition to some of Vance's favorites like shrimp 'n cheddar grits, we had Mexican Dip while the Steelers played on Saturday, Edly's Barbecue last night and a very easy and delicious chicken and eggplant rollatini.
This dish is great for serving vegetarians and meat-eaters. Some pieces are rolled
chicken and others are eggplant.
Via Skinny Taste blog, this recipe is a great make-ahead dish. The ingredient amounts below definitely feed about 5 to 6 adults. I made the dish in the photo (above) and another small dish of just eggplant.
3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut longways and pounded until about 1/3 inch thick
1 medium eggplant
3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
5 eggs, beaten with a little water
10 oz frozen spinach, squeezed dry of any liquid
About 12 or so ounces fat free ricotta cheese
6 oz fresh mozzarella 
olive oil non-stick spray 
1 jar (about 2 to 2.5 cups vodka sauce or your favorite marinara sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dry cutlets, season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 450°. Lightlyspray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Slice top and bottom off eggplant to clean it up. Slice eggplant lengthwise into thin (1/4 inch) strips. You want long, even, thin slices of eggplant as you will be rolling the eggplant. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp grated cheese in one bowl or plate and the egg mixture in another bowl.
Shred or finely chop 1.5 oz of mozzarella cheese and combine with remaining grated cheese, spinach (make sure you squeeze it dry), and ricotta cheese. Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of spinach-cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and keep seam side down. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down in a baking dish (no toothpicks needed). Repeat with the remaining chicken and with the eggplant strips. When finished, lightly spray with olive oil. Bake the dish for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with sauce and assemble mozzarella on top. Bake for about another 5 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Enjoy!
Tonight we enjoyed a quick pumpkin sauce on cheese ravioli.
 In a large sautee pan or Dutch Oven, sauté about 3 garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add a half of medium white onion, diced. Next add spices: 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sauté until fragrant. Pour in 1/2 cup dry white wine. Allow to cook and bring to light boil. Mix in 15 oz packed pumpkin, 1 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth, stir until hot, add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. Season with S&P. Over simple cheese ravioli, pour the sauce and top with toasted walnuts and Parmesan cheese - so yum. This sauce would be delicious over plain pasta as well. 

My few weeks at home have been nice, but they are about to come to a close. Monday, I head up to PA for a week of recruiting and then off to Minneapolis for a few days. Apparently in Minneapolis, it is almost winter. This is stressful! Night all.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Preparing a creative and healthy meal out of leftovers can be a challenge, but last night it worked out quite well! I had a large amount of wild rice leftover from Saturday night's chicken Marbella dinner (which was delicious). 
Chicken Marbella courtesy of The Silver Palate Cookbook
I also had purchased button mushrooms that were on sale and of course we had our staples like eggs, spinach and Parmesan cheese.

Mushroom and Wild Rice Frittata (adapted from Eating Well)
Roughly 1.5 cups cooked wild rice (I used Uncle Ben's 10 minute rice)
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
S&P to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 chopped onion, small-medium
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
8 oz mushrooms (cremini, white button, shiitake), sliced
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Set cooked rice aside and beat eggs in a large bowl with parsley, dash of salt, shake of pepper and nutmeg. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Heat oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. Add onion and bit more salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in rosemary, then add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they release their liquid and the pan is almost dry, mix in spinach and sauté well. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in the rice. Pour the reserved egg mixture evenly over the rice and vegetables. Partially cover and cook until set around the edges, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Place the pan under broiler and broil until the eggs are set and the top is nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
This frittata makes a delicious dinner or brunch. Serve with salad and a piece of crusty bread - delicious!