Ladies who Lunch (at home)

The fun thing about working in an office is going out to lunch, especially when you work in a thriving foodie corner like San Francisco’s Mission district (see evidence). But working from home presents some lazy lunch temptations. Thinking about my upcoming beach vacation, I decided to trade grilled cheese for veggies…

1. Take a tortilla, spread goat cheese on it, add your veggies of choice and roll it up. I used mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, spinach and greens. Optional: Cut into 1-inch slices so you can enjoy the pinwheels of colorful veggies and textures.

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2. Good news: you can still be lazy about lunch, and eat healthy. This Butternut Squash Ravioli with Walnuts frozen meal from Safeway is low calorie and packed with colorful veggies. The sauce is really good too! If you’re like me and prefer not to microwave plastic, then you can remove the frozen block, put it on a plate and cover it with a bowl. Just decrease the microwave time slightly.

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New Year’s Resolution-Worthy Baked Eggs

This morning I embraced resolutions to eat healthy, make more meals at home, and embrace imperfection. Inspired by a baked eggs recipe from Saveur, I made some tweaks; adding mushrooms and onions, swapping cream for almond milk, and leaving out the bacon. Despite some timing adjustments with the eggs, the result was a delicious brunch that’s deceptively healthy.

First, saute sliced mushrooms and chopped onions with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach at the end and remove from heat. Grease two oven-safe bowls or small gratin dishes with butter.

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Next, divide mushroom mixture between two bowls. Make 2 wells in each bowl, and carefully crack 1 egg into each well. Add 4 tomato wedges and 2 spoonfuls of almond milk to each bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

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Bake uncovered at 425 degrees or higher if your stoneware can handle it. Remove once the egg whites are opaque, and topping is golden brown.

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Note: It took me much longer than the 5 minutes (under a broiler) that the recipe suggested, to cook the eggs through. In fact, I discovered there was still clear liquid on the bottom layer, so I put them back in until I felt safer about the finished result. In total, I probably cooked them for 20 minutes or so, but it will ultimately depend on your risk tolerance, oven and cookware.

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Delicious when served and scooped with sourdough toast!

Ingredient list:

  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Sliced mushrooms (4-6 buttons)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • Butter or nonstick spray
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 spoonfuls of almond milk
  • 2 handfuls of shredded parmesan
  • Nutmeg
  • Toast, optional

Cleaning out the Fridge: Turkey Lasagna with Yogurt Bechamel

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Lasagna noodles saved dinner, once again. Hidden in the bowels in the cupboard, they’ve come to the rescue many times before, paired with unexpected partners like beans, goat cheese and butternut squash.

This time around, I used ground turkey, spinach and crushed tomatoes for the bolognese; and yogurt and almond milk to make a bechamel sauce, inspired by this eHow recipe. The sleeper hit? Cinnamon…

Turkey Lasagna with Yogurt Bechamel

In a large pan, sauté 1 chopped onion in 4 tbsp butter. Add fresh spinach by handfuls, and simmer on low.

In a separate nonstick pan, brown ground turkey. Add 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon and pepper; and 2 cans crushed/diced tomatoes. Reduce heat and bring to simmer. Add 1 cup almond milk and 1 tsp salt.

Combine turkey with spinach, simmer on low.

Meanwhile prep yogurt béchamel sauce:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together 4 tbsp olive oil and 4 tbsp white flour. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to bubble and turn a light golden color. Turn off heat.

Mix in 2 cups cold almond milk and 1 cup of yogurt. Stir constantly and turn a medium-high heat until the mixture starts to boil.

Add 1/3 cup of grated Gruyere cheese and 1/3 cup of Parmesan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a sprinkling of nutmeg and black pepper. Mix together until melted and remove from heat.

For the layering, I used no-bake lasagna noodles, in the following order:

Bolognese
Parmesan
Béchamel
Noodles
Bolognese
Parmesan
Béchamel
Noodles
Bolognese
Parmesan
Béchamel
Noodles
Béchamel
Parmesan

Bake covered with foil at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy the smell of cinnamon throughout the house, and every time you heat up the leftovers!

Monday Quarterback Pesto

My low-lactose spinach dip may not have scored big on Super Bowl Sunday, but it made a delicious pasta sauce on Monday night!

For the dip, I followed this recipe as a guide, swapping almonds for cashews, using fresh garlic in place of powder, and goat cheese instead of cream cheese.

For the pasta, I added leftover turkey meat from burritos (previously seasoned with cumin and chili powder, plus chicken broth) to cooked pasta, and stirred in two spoonfuls of the spinach dip. Delicious!

Rosemary’s Gravy

Tonight I searched around for ideas to use the fresh rosemary in my fridge, along with the frozen chicken breasts that made up my last remaining supply of meat. The menu? Chicken breasts baked with red wine, olive oil, fresh chopped rosemary, and salt & pepper – inspired by a Foster Farms recipe.

I baked the chicken at 400 degrees for nearly an hour, but it was too dry. I also sauteed spinach in butter, fresh chopped rosemary and salt & pepper, inspired by this recipe; and mashed potatoes (with butter and almond milk).

I sprinkled some of the juices from the pan over mashed potatoes. My only regret is that I didn’t make gravy out of the tempting golden bits at the bottom of the pan. Maybe next time!

Veggies & Pasta

Night 1: boiled spaghetti in low sodium chicken broth; added spinach towards the end. Meanwhile, sautéed sliced zucchini in olive oil. Served zucchini over pasta with Parmesan.

Night 2: sautéed broccolini and bok Choy (cut into 1-2 inch slices) in olive oil; covered and steamed until slightly tender. Added soy sauce and leftover noodles from night 1 and cooked until warmed through. Voila!

Devilish Angel Hair

You don’t have to make a pact with the devil to enjoy pasta on Halloween. Tonight I kept things simple by boiling angel hair pasta and adding a handful of flavorful ingredients.

Toss baby spinach in with the boiling pasta, just before draining and reserve some liquid in the pot. Add 1/3 to half a cube of butter, a quick pour of olive oil, a handful of chopped pecans, plus salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste. Trick or treat?

Cleaning out the Fridge (Again)

Once upon a time I made homemade Pad Thai. I used a similar method the other night to clean out the limited items in my fridge, this time using rice noodles, corn, spinach and egg (cooked in garlic). The sauce consisted of soy sauce and brown sugar – but the original recipe calls for lime.

Basically, you saute two chopped cloves of garlic, scramble two eggs in the same pan, and then set aside. Meanwhile soak the noodles as instructed. Saute the spinach and corn in the same pan used for the eggs; remove. Saute the noodles with the sauce, then mix back in all the other ingredients.

It’s a light way to enjoy the Thai fan favorite. We ate the entire batch in one sitting!

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Veggie Lasagna

Tis the season for homemade lasagna. I made my very first batch on one of those “clean out the fridge” nights before vacation. Using a recipe for “Roasted Vegetable Lasagna” from Everyday Food, I modified the types of cheese and vegetables, using ricotta, mozzarella, diced tomatoes, spinach, peas and no-bake lasagna noodles.

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Tonight I made David-style lasagna (i.e. heavy on the dairy products) from an Epicurious recipe adapted with homemade bechamel sauce, spinach, mozzarella, and three kinds of cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar and cottage – hey I was desperate). Because I used a larger pan, the layers weren’t as thick. I’d recommend sticking to a 9×13 or 9×9 pan for a thicker bite. Still delicious though!

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Turns out there are endless variations of vegetarian lasagna. You can swap out the veggies, cheese and red/white sauce to your liking. It’s not hard, it just takes time.

5 Minute Pesto

Pre-washed spinach + walnuts + olive oil = 5 minute pesto. I had a stash of leftover spinach and a sudden inspiration to make pesto. If you have a blender or food processor, it literally takes 5 minutes to whip together homemade pesto. First, I blended the spinach leaves, then added walnuts, then olive oil, salt and two crushed cloves of garlic. One batch for the fridge, and one for the freezer. Fresh, easy, and will be delicious with a variety of pasta dishes.

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