oven baked spinach and goat cheese stuffed pork chops

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I love anything that’s dipped in bread crumbs and fried. It’s my weakness. So, lately I’ve been trying to slow down on the pan frying, and increase the oven baked deliciousness that is so much healthier for you. This dish is creamy, juicy, and very filling, and definitely one of my new favorite ways to make pork! I served this dish with some homemade spaghetti with pesto (you can find my pesto recipe here)!

Ingredients

2 boneless pork chops
bread crumbs
small log of goat cheese (I used homemade, will be posting the recipe soon!)
a few handfuls of spinach
a clove of garlic
a shallot
a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise
parmesan

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mince a shallot and a clove of garlic. Brown in a pan and add your spinach. Once the spinach is wilted, and dark green remove from the heat. At this point you can either use the full leaves, or throw the spinach, shallots, and garlic into the food processor to get a nice fine chop.
Slice your pork chop through the center, aka butterfly it, and pound it out so it is nice and thin. Spread your spinach mixture and sprinkle with goat cheese. Roll up the pork chop and tie it with some butchers string. Spread a little bit of mayo over the top and sprinkle with bread crumbs and some parmesan. Bake on a cooling rack, on top of a cookie sheet. This will allow the air to reach all around the pork and will keep it from getting soggy. Bake until it reached 170 degrees, about 30-40 minutes. Serve with your favorite side and enjoy!

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warm quinoa bowl with greens and mixed veggies

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Lunch is the meal I struggle with the most. Usually during lunch time, I’m at work or school and the easiest option is running to starbucks or au bon pain, or any similar option. In the mornings I’m not usually functioning enough to make myself something to bring along, so this week, I prepared a little something that I can grab and go with. This recipe is really just a base idea for something you can customize with whatever your favorite veggies are, or what ever you need to use up in your fridge!

Ingredients

1 lb of ground turkey (I use 93% lean)
1/2 lb italian sausage (I use sweet links and take them out of their casing because they are usually cheaper than the preground sausage)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
1 onion
1 large clove of garlic or 2 small
your choice of greens and veggies (I used baby spinach, brussel sprouts, italian peppers, and leeks)

Instructions

Brown your ground turkey and sausage in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I also threw in a little bit of chili powder, paprika, basil, oregano, and parsley. While the meat is browning, follow the cooking instructions for your quinoa. When the meat is fully cooked, remove it from the pan, and add your onion, garlic, leeks, and peppers with some more olive oil. Once these have started to soften add your brussel sprouts and spinach. Add the crushed tomatoes and ground beef and mix it all together. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add that to the meat and veggie mixture. Once everything is mixed together, you can use this as stuffing in stuffed peppers or stuffed squash, or you can just eat it plain. I also like to add a slice of fresh mozzarella on top as an extra treat, and melt it for a couple minutes under the broiler. Serve and enjoy!

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french toast

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When I woke up this morning I was starving- but when I got to the kitchen and took out my eggs to make my usual omelet, I realized just how sick I was of eggs. I eat them all the time, and they begin to lose some of their excitement after a while. So, I dug around my kitchen to try and find something to whip up, and I remembered I had the last little bit of a baguette sitting out, which would mean it would be just stale enough for french toast! Growing up french toast was one of the family favorites, and it had been way too long since I had any.

Ingredients

slightly stale bread
1 1/2 cups of milk, half and half, or heavy cream (I actually used an almond and coconut milk blend)
2-3 eggs
vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste)
cinnamon & nutmeg (Wholefoods makes a great blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, lemon & orange zest that I used)

Instructions

Mix together the milk, eggs, and spices until combined. Place sliced bread into the mixture and let it soak up some of the liquid. Flip over and allow the other side to absorb some liquid as well. Once all of your bread is dunked, melt some butter in a skillet and place the slices of bread into the pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides, and serve with your favorite maple syrup!

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ricotta and leek ravioli with pesto

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I bought myself a pasta roller almost a month ago now- It’s been sitting on my counter, ready to go, but I was too intimidated to use it. Finally today I just went for it! Ravioli has always been one of my favorite foods so I decided I’d try that first. And because I was making fresh pasta, I thought it would be best to make fresh ricotta as well! It’s definitely a time consuming process overall, but very fun, and very worth it!

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Ingredients

Pasta

2-3 cups of all purpose flour
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
tiny pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Ricotta

3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon

Filling

1 cup of ricotta (home made or store bought)
2 caramelized leeks & 1 clove of minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste

Pesto

a few handfuls of basil (remove stems)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
olive oil

Instructions

Ricotta

Add the heavy cream and milk to a large sauce pan or stock pot. Once it begins to boil and foam, add the juice of one lemon and turn off the stove. Give it a few stirs, and then allow to rest for a couple of minutes and form curds. Once the curds have formed, strain them through a cheese cloth and allow to separate from the whey. Refrigerate once everything is separated and to the desired consistency (for this I’d recommend a slightly thicker or stiffer ricotta).

Pasta

Make a little well in your all purpose flour and carefully crack your eggs into the center. Add the salt, nutmeg, and olive oil and slowly mix, starting with a fork, and then moving to your hands. When everything is combined and not too sticky (you may have to add more flour), split into four pieces. Make each piece into a patty, so it’s thin enough to go through the pasta roller. Continue rolling out until you get a pasta sheet of desired thickness. Put pasta sheets in the fridge while you assemble everything else.

Filling

Dice up your leeks and make sure to thoroughly clean. Add leeks, minced garlic, and a few tablespoons of butter to a sautee pan and allow to cook down until they are a nice golden brown. Once these are complete, you can either keep them at a rough dice, or quick throw them into your food processor to make a little bit more of a paste. Mix this with your ricotta.

Pesto

Add all of your ingredients into a food processor and blend, slowly adding olive oil until it reaches desired consistency.

Assemblage

Take one pasta sheet and dollop a teaspoon or so of filling, and make sure there will be enough room to cut into individual ravioli at the end! Take your second pasta sheet and carefully lay over the top, and lightly press down around the filling to form your ravioli. Cut apart and to make sure the pasta sheets are sealed together, stamp with the end of a fork.

Cook ravioli for 2-3 minutes, or until they float. Gently strain them and drizzle with pesto. Top with a bit of parmesan or romano and enjoy!

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oven roasted lamb shank with eggplant parm bake and creamy chard and beans

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Yesterday I was feeling the need for something warm, filling, and different. I saw the recipe for a similar eggplant parmesan au gratin, and I knew I wanted to do something similar. So what goes great with eggplant? Lamb. I had never cooked it on my own before, and I was very nervous for how it would come out. Luckily, everything turned out perfectly, and it was a great addition to this hearty meal! I also had some swiss chard sitting in my fridge, and I remembered this great risotto I made a while back that had greens and small white beans in it, so instead of doing it that way, I ditched the rice and transformed it into a creamy side!

Ingredients

Lamb

lamb shanks (or a cut you feel comfortable with)
rosemary & thyme (fresh)
garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper
wine (normally I would recommend a hearty red wine but all I had when I was making this was a dry white wine and it turned out ok!)

Eggplant Parmesan Bake

one medium sized eggplant
roma or heirloom tomatos (i used a mix of both)
breadcrumbs
olive oil
salt & pepper
fresh grated parmesan (romano will work as well)
fresh mozzarella

Creamy Swiss Chard & Cannellini Beans

one can of cannellini beans, drained
a few sliced of pancetta, chopped (optional)
swiss chard
salt & pepper
rosemary
half a container of creme fraiche

Instructions

Throw all of the ingredient for the lamb in a gallon sized zipper bag and let it marinade for a few hours. When it is finished marinading, pour the contents of the bag into a baking pan, and add some more fresh herbs on top of the shanks. For medium rare, you will want the lamb to be anywhere from 130 degrees to 140 degrees internally. I baked mine at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, with an addition 10 minutes to rest. The size of the shanks will affect the cooking times, so I would check the temperature after 30 minutes to check where the meat is at.

Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise so you can cut half moon shaped slices. Once the eggplant is sliced, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and put it in the oven with the lamb for a few minutes to start the cooking process. While the eggplant is roasting, slice up your tomatoes and mozzarella. When the eggplant is mostly cooked, take it out of the oven and start layering in an au gratin pan. I layered the eggplant, then the tomatoes, bread crumbs, and parmesan, and repeated. Then I added the mozzarella on top, along with breadcrumbs that I mixed a touch of olive oil and some more parmesan. When there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left on your lamb, put this back in the oven and allow to bake until the lamb is finished resting, for a total of about 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Last but not least are the creamy swiss chard and beans. This takes the least amount of time so do this as the end when the eggplant is about half way finished baking, add your chopped pancetta to a sauce pan and brown. Add the beans, salt, pepper, rosemary, and creme fraiche to the pan and let cook down to a rich a creamy sauce. Add the swiss chard last- it just needs to soften up a bit. This will only take 2 or 3 minutes.

Once everything is finished, you can plate and enjoy!

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bacon, brusselsprout, and brie grilled cheese

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I don’t know about you guys, but my weekend was full of shenanigans. After the late nights, crazy parties, and ridiculous dancing, all I wanted was some relaxing food- and what better than grilled cheese! I adapted this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen – the original was a vegetarian dish, but I thought adding some bacon would put this recipe over the top!

Ingredients

2-3 slices of thick cut bacon
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons of butter
6-7 Brussels sprouts, sliced thin
Brie cheese
salt & pepper
2 slices bread of choice

Instructions

Dice a few slices of bacon and cook them most of the way, releasing most of the fat. Add in minced shallots, thinly sliced brussel sprouts, dijon, and a pinch of salt and pepper. If you need to, add a little bit of butter or olive oil to bacon fat to extend it. While these are cooking down (it should only take about five minutes once you add the brussel sprouts), slice a few pieces of brie to fit your bread. I used Ezekiel bread for my sandwich, but you can use Italian bread, french bread, rye, etc- what ever your favorite bread is!

Once the brussel sprout mixture is done cooking, add a good chunk of butter to a skillet (I used cast iron but non stick will also be fine!), and slowly heat up the pan and melt the butter. You don’t want the pan to be too hot because then the bread will cook to fast and be nice and crunchy, but the cheese won’t melt! While it’s heating, top your brie and bread with the brussel sprout mixture and gently transfer to your skillet. While it’s starting to brown, I even like to cover the skillet for a couple minutes so the cheese will melt even nicer. Once the first side is golden brown, carefully flip and continue to cook the other side, again until golden brown.

Transfer to a plate and cut in half- then enjoy!

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lentil cakes with poached eggs

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First off, I wanted to apologize for my slight hiatus. My computer decided it wanted to stop working and I had to turn it into the apple store for repair! Although I will not be posting every single day, I will try my best to post four to five times a week! Any ways, onto this great recipe!

If you’re anything like me, you have enough leftovers to feed an army when you decide to cook. I’ve tried learning to cook smaller amounts and cut recipes in half, but it just never works out. So more recently, I’ve been trying to find recipes that utilize some of the types of leftovers that I always have around. This recipe, which I slightly modified from Cannelle et Vanille, I was able to use some leftover lentils from a potato salad recipe that I will be posting at some point this week! That being said, you can definitely make this recipe with fresh lentils.

Also, a lot of people are very intimidated with poached eggs. They’re a lot easier than they seem- I promise! If you’re really uncertain about cooking them in the traditional sense, there are pans and other gadgets designed to make poaching eggs really simple! Now, on to the recipe!

Ingredients

3/4 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for the eggs
6 eggs (4 are to poach)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (the original recipe called for panko, I did a mix of half whole wheat traditional breadcrumbs, and half panko)
1 medium green onion, sliced into thin pieces
3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (I used fresh thyme, plus my lentils had already been cooked with a few other herbs, but you can use your favorites!)
1 ounce of finely grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons vinegar

Instructions

If you are using fresh lentils, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook the lentils for about 15 minutes so they are cooked, but not mushy. If you are using leftover lentils of any sort, bring to room temperature.

Whisk 2 of the eggs and add to the lentils along with the breadcrumbs, green onion, chopped herbs, parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Stir to combine- I started with a wooden spoon and then switched to my hands to really get everything combined. I also had to add some extra breadcrumbs but you will be able to decide if you need more or not while you are mixing. Take about 1/4 cup of mixture, roll into balls and then gently flatten the ball slightly to form the cakes.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil (or oil of your choice) and heat until you see ripples in the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, turn the heat down to medium and start cooking patties- about three minutes on each side or until golden brown. If you want to focus on just cooking these instead of making them at the same time as the poached eggs, you can make these first and keep them warm in the oven! 

While the oil is heating, bring about 5 inches of water to a boil in a sauce pan and add a splash of vinegar (most suggest white wine vinegar but I didn’t have any so I used cider vinegar). Crack your eggs into a bowl to make cooking them easier. Stir the water vigorously until you create a whirlpool affect. Add your eggs to the swirling water and turn down the heat so it is at a gentle boil. The whites will begin to wrap around the yolks, and at this point, time the eggs to cook for 2-3 minutes. Gently remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel.

Remove the lentil cakes from the oven or pan and top with the poached egg. Finish with a touch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

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