Category: lunch

Soup 1

Tuesday morning I woke up to a thick layer of fog that seemed to overtake the entire area.  It had no plans on leaving and left the entire day to feel cool, dark and like an actual Winter.  I sort of loved it.  It is days that these that I turn towards blanket sweaters, jeans, tea and soups.  Anything that is going to feel warm and comfortable.

I need to plan a menu for a small group of women I am hosting today and while going through recipes yesterday to figure out what I was going to make, I couldn’t help but be directed to soup after soup after soup.  The weather was calling me to embrace a little comfort food.  I have heard from a number of people that this recipe for Roasted Tomato Basil Soup was beyond so I decided to give it a try.  It took some time but the end result was worth it.  I made it Tuesday afternoon and of course taste tested with a number of pieces of bread (who wants to serve anything that is not perfect right???).  Perfect.  It was easy to then place in the refrigerator and all I will need to do is simply warm and serve today.  With an evening of homework and practices, along with a busy morning, it is dishes like this that make entertaining entirely too easy.

Soup 2

Kale 1

This past weekend was one of those weekends when the food was just too good.  And I love food.  We ate at one of my favorite burger restaurants on Friday, had fresh bagels for breakfast Saturday, the hubby made homemade seafood risotto Saturday night and we topped it off with a Baptism celebration filled with my favorite Mexican food.  And let’s not forget all the wine involved in this.  From start to finish I had a wonderful time indulging all weekend long.  And then Monday came along.

With out fail, my body always tells me when enough is enough.  And by Monday, it had had enough.  All I wanted to eat all day long were plates and plates of vegetables and fruit.  It is funny how your body works like that, isn’t it?  Telling you exactly what you need?  I did a good job of getting back on track with breakfast and lunch and wanted to keep it going for dinner.  I made this Kale Salad but substituted the Marcona Almonds for slivered almonds (our store was out and I was not about to going running around town!).  I also added rotisserie chicken to make it more of a meal and provide additional protein.  It was SO easy to make, the dressing was delish and it was just what my body needed to feel like we had cleansed a bit with some good clean eating.  I will admit that I did follow it up with a small piece of brownie.  Sorry, I may generally be a healthy eater but there is no way I am passing up a brownie.  That would just be silly.

Kale 2 Kale 3

 

 

Watermelon 6

Every time I return from vacation I feel as if I need a major detox.  I indulge every bit of the way and take no concern to how good our bad my food is for me.  Enjoying the food in the city you are visiting is part of the experience!  But I will admit that towards the end, it gets to feel like a bit too much indulgence.  I also tend to come home sick of eating out.  As much as I love the big meals and the constant glass of wine, there comes a point when I am done.  I am ready for healthy,  home cooked meals, lemon water and feeling a bit lighter.  I become energized to get back in the kitchen and try some new recipes that are going to get us back on track.

I was perusing the internet for some light salads to go with out first dinner home and this Watermelon-Cucumber Salad instantly caught my eye.  Watermelon and cucumbers are instant refreshers and it sounded like the perfect way to get some fruit and vegetables back into the diet without it being too heavy.  Plus, I love goat cheese.  The entire salad took only minutes to put together and was exactly what I was hoping it would be; light and refreshing, just like a summer salad should be.

I will admit that I forgot to pick up the mint at the store and there was no way I was going back out so I am sure that would have made the salad even better, not that I seemed to miss it this time around.  I also left out the red onion because the hubby REALLY doesn’t like red onions.  Again, it was still amazing!  I will definitely be making this salad as long as our warm weather continues.

Watermelon 2

Watermelon 5

Salad 2

This last Saturday night the hubby and I hosted two of my dearest friends from college.  It was LONG overdue.  Three families and eight children leads to the never-ending conflicting calendars and the inability to ever find a date that works for everyone.  I cannot tell you how many times it seems these never work out.  Life just gets to hectic.  Miraculously, last Saturday worked and so I booked it immediately and began working on a menu.

With the incredible weather we have been having, it only made sense to pull together a menu that involved the grill and lots of flavor, without it being too heavy.  We went with a basil and lime marinated chicken and decided to pair it with this Arugula, Avocado, Papaya and Jicama Salad and these Grilled Sweet Potatoes with lime and cilantro.  Both were incredible and stole the show against the chicken.  I tend to become bored with the traditional salad and opt for grilled vegetables instead.  The combination of avocado, papaya and jicama intrigued me and I loved the idea of combining these fruits I have never combined before.  The flavor was amazing and it was just as light and refreshing as I expected it to be.  Sometimes our palette just needs an adjustment and this recipe got me right back into loving salads again.  It makes for the perfect warm summer night menu.

I will note that instead of making our own dressing, I did simply use a pre-made pomegranate dressing.  We were entertaining!  I had to cut corners somewhere!  Also, I know I am not showcasing the sweet potatoes here but they were delish!  I highly suggest giving those a try as well.

Salad 1

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This Easter the hubby and I were hosting a portion of my family at our home.  We have consistently taken either Christmas Eve or Christmas but this was our first time entertaining for Easter.  When it came to what to make, my initial thought was of course brunch.  It is something I love to serve and love to eat so it usually makes perfect sense.  There was just something that told us to try something different.  Our final decision?  A Wine Country Lunch.

The menu was inspired by a recent cookbook I picked up, The New Wine Country Cookbook.  I had my eyes set on trying the Israeli Couscous Salad with Almonds, Blood Oranges and Greek Olives and this lunch made for the perfect setting to give it a whirl.  

Paired with ribs, grilled pineapple, grilled vegetables and white wine, this salad was the perfect way to bring it all together and feel as if we really were in Wine Country.  It was so good in fact that I had another bowl and another glass of white wine with it for dinner.  

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
2 cups vegetable broth
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 blood oranges, chopped
3/4 cup Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1. Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat.  Add the almonds and toast until crisp and golden (5-7 minutes).  Set aside
2. Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic.  Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  
3. Add the couscous and cook until the couscous begins to brown, about 6 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes.
6. Scoop into a large bowl and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and mint.
7. Add the toasted almonds, diced oranges, olives, lemon juice and half of the parsley to the bowl of couscous.
8. Toss gently, season to taste, add the parsley and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.


This is only one of many amazing recipes in this book and if you are as much of a fan of wine country as I am, I highly suggest you picking it up.  You can order The New Wine Country Cookbook here.

Beyond simply the food, Easter is such a special day for my family and it also re-centers me and my focus in life.  I loved all the family time and always leave wanting more.  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter as well.


* This recipe was taken from The New Wine Country Cookbook, page 51.

I know I am jumping on the trend bandwagon with this post but I do not care because I am obsessed with Avocado Toast.  For breakfast, lunch or dinner, I just cannot get enough.  As a mom, it does make the EASIEST lunch ever, allowing you to get some great nutrients in with very little time.  The only difference between mine and perhaps the uber healthy version is that I like cheese with it, because cheese is my favorite and I see no reason not to add it.  Here is what you need to do…

Ingredients:
Two slices of cheese
One Avocado
Two pieces of bread
Salt and pepper

1. Turn your broiler on.
2. Toast two pieces of bread in your toaster and then set on a baking sheet with a slice of cheese on each piece.
3. Still the toast and cheese under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese on top.
4. Remove from the oven and place on a plate.
5. Slice the avocado and lay slices across each piece of toast.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
ENJOY!

Last week when I was in LA, I had lunch at The Fat Cow, a great restaurant located at The Grove.  I was in a salad mood and ordered their “Skinny Cow Chopped Salad”.  It is one of the best salads I have ever had and have been thinking about recreating it ever since.

Last night we met up with some friends in Palm Desert to relax, BBQ and let the kids play.  We were in charge of a salad so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gather all the ingredients and try this salad out.  It was nutrient dense, easy to throw together and a delicious compliment to the food.  I have found a new staple for our menu at home.

Ingredients needed:
Kale
Shredded Cabbage
Shredded Carrots
Chopped Radishes
Pumpkins Seeds
Sunflowers Seeds
Dressing of your choice, but I suggest a vinaigrette to keep it light

After completely over indulging on the Fourth, I was in the mood for some uber veggie filled meals on Friday to make up for it.  I came across these Grilled Vegetable, Herb and Goat Cheese Sandwiches and it sounded pretty delish.  With all the eggplant, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, it seems like the perfect way to get some healthy food back into our system and was light enough for a warm summer evening.  The entire sandwich involved some simple grilling and mixing, making it incredibly easy to make.  I finished the meal with a grilled caesar salad and a glass of red wine.  All in all, a fab dinner if I do say so myself!

We were able to make it to Day 3 of the Sambazon Cleanse!  I will admit, the first day was HARD.  I was craving bread and chocolate all day and even though there was plenty of food and juices to keep me full, I wanted what I love…CARBS!  By Day 2 it was starting to click and I began to notice the benefit of eating clean.  Today is the last day and I have to say, I am glad we did it!

One thing I have loved about this cleanse is the food.  Sambazon did a great job of creating extremely clean and healthy meals that have provided MUCH more flavor that I was expecting.  I have been making everything the day before so that the hubby can bring it all to work and we really have had a great menu of items.  This recipe for the Roasted Beet and Orange Salad with Caraway Seeds has been one of my favorite (it was lunch yesterday).  I love beet salad and the flavors, colors and light dressing just feels like summer.

What you need:
2 large beets, scrubbed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 oranges, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. beet greens
1 c. baby spinach
4 tsp balsamic vinegar 
2 tsp caraway seeds
4 tbsp hemp hearts
salt (optional)

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Place the beets in a roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil
3. Roast for 45 minutes
4. Cool to room temperature and then cut into bite size pieces
5. Place beets in a salad bowl and add the oranges, greens and spinach
6. In another bowl, combine the remaining oil with the vinegar, seeds and salt
7. Pour over the salad and toss.  Garnish with hemp hearts


Other items that we have eaten from the cleanse that were pretty good?  This Red Potato and Green Bean Salad that tastes way better than it looks.


And this Open-Faced Veggie Burger with Avocado and Organic Side Salad which we actually packed up to bring to an Angels game.  It was delicious and as you can see, piled with so many yummy things, but I still missed having a beer and hot dog!


Have a great weekend!

* recipe courtesy of Sambazon


Gone are the days of a few crackers and fruit as an after school snack.  My boys come home HUNGARY and it seems, eat our entire kitchen.  I cannot even imagine what the teenage years are going to be like.  I have been trying to come up with some heartier snacks for them to get them until dinner and these Grilled Peanut Butter-Banana Fingers from Cooking Light: Real Family Food did the trick.  A little protein, a little fruit and a little sweet.  They were perfect and not to shabby for me either.  What is not to love about peanut butter, chocolate and banana?  I will tell you.  NOTHING.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 slices white bread
1 small banana, halved crosswise
cooking spray
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons honey (optional)

To Make:
1. Preheat pan or panini grill
2. Spread peanut butter evenly over 2 bread slices.  Cut each banana half lengthwise into three slices.  Layer banana slices over peanut butter on bread slices.  Top with remaining bread slices. ( I actually put the peanut butter on all four slices because I hate when I have a grilled sandwich and it is not evenly spaced.  Blame my OCD).
3. Coat outside of sandwiches with cooking spray and grill, about 1 min on each side.
4. Cut sandwiches into 4 slices.
5. Drizzle sandwich slices evenly with chocolate sauce.  Serve with honey for dipping (one son liked this, the other didn’t.  I did not think it was necessary and sweet enough without the honey)