Super Mason Jar “Salads”

Super mason jar salads 1I’m always looking for creative, healthy lunches for the work week. I can’t quite get with the traditional sandwiches and wraps, and I could never find a way to make salads that lasted throughout the week, were easy to pack in the mornings, and that I looked forward to enjoying at lunch time!

However, all of this changed when I stumbled across this post on Pinterest. Inspired by the Vintage Mixer, I decided to emulate the popular to-go lunch trend of mason jar salads, but instead of cucumbers, chicken, and lettuce, use cooked, nutritional powerhouse veggies and quinoa! Then I’d have vegetarian lunches with high vitamin content that contained some of my favorite sides combined into a salad. I was so excited to begin. A half day of prep and cooking later (and quite a bit of nibbling along the way), I had six “salads” for a nourishing week of ready-to-go lunches! Continue reading

Poached Eggs over Winter Vegetable Hash

20140127-111847.jpgSince learning I was allergic to corn, I have opted to purchase pasture raised eggs. The first time I tried them I was astonished at the dramatic difference in color, flavor, and health benefits. I still never get over it! Such a creamy white, and such a brightly colored, orange yolk! I will never, ever go back. 

I once read on a website where someone said that man cannot make a better sauce than the oozing yolk of a good soft-cooked egg. I could not agree more! Although I used to think making poached eggs at home was never worth the trouble, finding such excellent eggs changed my mind real quick. It also helps that I found what I think is the perfect way to poach eggs! No more straggly egg white frothing in the water. Here is a neat poached egg with a perfectly glorious soft yolk! Continue reading

Sick Boyfriend Chicken Soup

soup2 crPoor boyfriend called me up last night to say he still wanted to come over today but he wasn’t feeling well. Although I was sad my man was sick, I was excited to create a nutritious, yummy, comforting chicken soup to make him feel better! This soup only takes a little bit of chopping, and can be modified with whatever you have in your kitchen. Mine features great (and allergy-legal) winter vegetables, fresh herbs, and chicken thighs that remain tender simmered in the tasty broth.

This healthy chicken soup feels and tastes so good, and is perfect for whoever in your life is sick (including yourself)! I present to you: Sick Boyfriend Chicken Soup.

Sick Boyfriend Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 in. chunks
1 c. chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
2 medium sized parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig oregano
3 sprigs thyme
3 1/2 c. water
1/3 c. cream (optional)

Saute the chicken cubes in a skillet with olive oil until lightly browned on the outside. If necessary, do this in two batches so that the chicken gets browned and not steamed. Move the chicken to a Dutch oven. Saute the mushrooms in the same skillet until lightly browned as well. Add the sauteed mushrooms, other vegetables, and herbs to the Dutch oven.

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Pour 1 cup of water into the skillet and deglaze it. This means gently stir the water around the pan, scraping the bottom, to get up all the crispy pieces on the bottom and to mix in with the leftover flavorings. Pour this water, the additional 2 1/2 cups of water, and the (optional) cream into the Dutch oven.

20131231-184426.jpgPut a lid on your pot (loosely, so steam can escape) and cook on medium-low heat for 1 1/2 hours.

Spoon into bowls and, if desired, top with Parmesan cheese. Serve with tea to your poor sick loved one.

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I accompanied this soup with Homemade Dinner Rolls. I am in love with these soft, tender rolls!

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Best wishes for a well and healthy body, and a Happy New Year!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage, Balsamic, Brown Butter Parm Sauce

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Unfortunately, learning I’m allergic to white potatoes does not make my love of gnocchi disappear! Fortunately, sweet potatoes are another story and NOT on my list of illegal food. (I will find ways to eat delicious foods legally!)

So tonight, wrapped up in fuzzy sweaters and socks against Richmond’s first “winter storm” of the season, I have decided to embark upon the path of sweet, decadent comfort food.

Makes 6 servings (If cooking for one like me, the extra gnocchi can be frozen and saved for later. And the sauce is easy to cut down for smaller servings.)

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cooked sweet potatoes (I used 3 small ones)
1 egg
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. King Arthur flour, plus more for kneading

Peel cooked sweet potatoes and put them in a mixing bowl. Blend with the mixer until the sweet potatoes are pureed. Add the egg, and then the salt, pepper, and flour. Mix until combined. Put dough onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough until it comes together well and is not sticky.

Fill a medium sized pot halfway with water and set on medium high heat to boil. Divide the dough into four equally sized sections. Roll each section into a long rope, about 1/2″ thick. Cut the coil into pieces about one inch long and press all around with a fork. (This will help the gnocchi hold your sauce later!)

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Drop gnocchi into the boiling water. You will have to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. Gnocchi is done when it rises to the surface. With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked gnocchi and place in a bowl. (NoteIf you are making this dish for less than six people, the gnocchi freezes well, so you only need to cook as much as you need. To make the frozen gnocchi later, simply drop, unthawed, into boiling water and cook as normal.)

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Sage, Brown Butter Parmesan Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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8 tbs. butter
6-8 leaves of fresh sage, chopped (plus additional leaves if desired for garnishing)
3 tsp. King Arthur flour
6 tsp. organic balsamic vinegar
3/4 c. milk
6 tbs. parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. (If you will be garnishing your dish with fried sage leaves, go ahead and fry them in the butter now. When you are done frying your leaves, add the chopped sage and stir continuously. When your butter begins turning a light brown color and starts smelling nutty and delicious, turn off the heat. Add the flour and stir into the browned butter.

Add the balsamic vinegar and milk to your roux (butter/flour mixture), stirring gently and consistently until combined. At the last minute, add the parmesan cheese and remove from heat.

Add the gnocchi to the sauce pan and stir until all pieces are fully covered in sauce and reheated. Serve, garnish with fried sage leaves if desired, and enjoy!

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