Turkey Cauliflower Mushroom Bake

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“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage.  We will welcome summer’s ghost.”  Henry Rollins

Even though my children are grown and flown the coop, I still feel like it’s Back to School every September.  And that means baking wholesome one dish meals that fill the house with enticing aroma.   This healthy casserole is one of those perfect fall dishes, chock full of vegetables, low in carbs and fat.  Kids will think they’re having a fabulous Italian meal and won’t suspect you have an entire head of cauliflower hiding in there!  Roasted cauliflower is combined with ground turkey, mushrooms and spinach, topped with marinara and a sprinkling of parmesan.  It is baked to a pipping hot,  delectable 1-dish meal in just 15 minutes.  It can be made ahead a day.    I modified the original recipe from Cookin’ Canuck by adding spinach and shallots to the mix.  It made for a delicious weeknight low-carb meal.  To save time, you can use bottled marinara.  You can serve it over pasta, but then…there goes the low carb!  Enjoy!

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Breakfast Grain Salad with Fruit

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For a recent morning business meeting on a sveltering hot day, I was looking to serve something cool.  I searched for a breakfast salad not knowing if such a thing existed.  I came upon a quinoa berry salad on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog.  I loved all the fruit and nuts in it and the mint and basil herbs for flavor punch.  The vinaigrette is fat free and a combination of orange, lemon and lime juice with honey. My grain mixture had red quinoa, lentils, amariinth, wheat berry and farro.  So good with a great tooth feel and  crunch.  Fantastic source of protein as well.    I added arugula to my version and seasonal fruit instead of just berries.  It was a big hit.  Easily doubled for a crowd as I did for mine.  Why didn’t I think of salad for breakfast before now?  It was like a giant grain and fruit bowl that have become so popular.  Best eaten the day it is made because of the berries.  This salad is so good you may not want to have it just for breakfast.  It would make a great side for any meal.

Breakfast Grain Salad with Fruit

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Honey Citrus Vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon orange zest
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped basil

Salad:

  • 2 cups cooked ancient grains mix  or quinoa, cooled to room temperature
    1 1/2 cups strawberries, cut in quarters for the large ones or halves for the smaller ones
    5 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 1 cup of chopped seasonal fruit such as plums, pears or peaches
  • 1 cup blackberries
    1 cup blueberries
    1 cup roughly chopped toasted whole almonds
    1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
    1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • zest of 1 lime

Directions:

For the dressing:  In a small jar, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, honey, mint, and basil. Reserve.

For the salad:  In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked grains and the arugula.   Toss with the vinaigrette. Top the salad with the fruit, almonds, basil, mint and lime zest.  Toss gently just before serving.

Transitioning the Front Porch into Fall

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“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

F Scott Fitzgerald

When I lived in Canada, the air would turn crisp starting on August mornings. In Pennsylvania, we’re still enduring sweltering heat.  It’s just too early for mums and cute pumpkins.  There’s still plenty of porch-sitting weather to enjoy.  In fact, some of the best porch weather is yet to come.  With a front porch that is styled in blue and green, I wanted to give it some fall flair but didn’t want to go all pumpkin orange on it yet.  Enter  transitional fall decor that ties in with the porch colors where late summer and early fall combine. Here’s how to bring in some fall decorating without the classic mums and pumpkins, yet!t

1-  Add an autumn wreath to the front door in porch colors:   Continue reading

Grilled Pork Loin Chops with Grilled Plums

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This dish was a total invention when I discovered several plums in the bag I had taken home were a little bruised.  Grill them I thought!  I cut a pork loin into 1/2 inch thick chops and rubbed them with a mix of cumin, onion powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  At $1.89 a pound this week at Aldi’s, slicing pork loin into chops is the most economical way to get nice thick chops for a song.  As a bonus, you get to slice them the thickness you like.  The plums were grilled first, then tented while the pork cooked so they would release some of their delicious juices.  The grilled plums were served alongside the pork and seasoned with orange zest and chopped mint.  The whole dish was drizzled with some pomegranate molasses and served with a side of basmati rice and grilled asparagus.  Don’t have promegranate molasses?  Substitute a fruity balsamic vinegar. Don’t eat pork? Swap it for chicken.   For a weeknight meal, this was a totally unexpectedly succulent dish featuring  in-season plums.  I hope you are running out this very minute to pick some plums up so you can make this dish yourself!  It’s that good.

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Plum-Almond Ricotta Cake

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“A party without cake is really just a meeting.”  Julia Childs

This easy but elegant cake has it all: it is gorgeous, moist, gluten free, not too sweet and topped with ripe, plump plums. The ground almonds and almond paste marry well with the fruit while the orange zest and juice adds a bright note to the ricotta, a perfect pairing of flavors. The almond meal gives the cake some toothy texture and plenty of healthy protein so you can eat it without guilt. A sprinkling of sliced almonds adds crunch and another layer of almond flavor. This is a lovely, gluten free cake that is delicious for brunch or as a special dessert.  Substitute peaches, nectarines or figs instead of the plums. Almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.

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Wild Purslane Salad in a Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette

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Come late August, I have usually thrown in the towel on my garden because the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania is just too much for this Canadian girl and I’ve let the weeds win my constant battle with them.  This year I have an additional excuse for the sorry state of affairs!  A garden snake startled me in early spring and took up residence in my garden.  I know, I know.  They are beneficial.  They consume a lot of bugs and vermin.  But I threw in the trowel right then and there and decided that this would be the year I let the weeds grow with wild abandon alongside their little friend.  However when a garden party looms in your near future, one must tend the garden and tame the beast.

One of the weeds happily growing in profusion was purslane.  

I remember reading about its nutritious value and decided I would find my inner foraging spirit and harvest it to eat.  With its plump, soft, succulent-like leaves, purslane is high in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, low in calories like most leafy greens, and rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti oxidants.   Dr. Strum natural skin care out of Germany uses it as a star ingredient in their line of products(WSJ Style Issue, September 2018).  But I cannot tell a lie.  I pulled the purslane up and was still hesitant to consume it.  I am after all new to this foraging business.  What if this was something bad for me?  I photographed a patch with my favorite plant identifying app, PictureThis, and it confirmed the weed as being common purslane. (The app is a free download and is very easy to use.  You take a phone picture through the app and it identifies the plant).   Reassured, I took the purslane into the kitchen to come up with a recipe to eat it in.  But truth be told, I was still dragging my feet, foraging whimp that I am!
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Portobello Personal Pizzas

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“Warm, enticing scents were floating down, basil and oregano and tomato.  It made Wes long for something, something he couldn’t place. A happy childhood, a home.”

Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake

If you’re eating low carb and missing pizza, these portobello “pizzas” will satisfy your craving totally.  Easily customizable with whatever toppings you love, these mini pizzas are easy to make to order.  Bursting with oozey gooey melted cheese, they are mouth-watering with the enticing aroma of baking pizza filling the kitchen. Continue reading