Hunger Games

On the way home during my lunch hour or after my work out I think of the last few leftovers and what ever else I have in the fridge. The creativity that comes over me has a certain way of satisfying my hunger. Strangely even when the fridge is nearly bare I am able to throw together some pretty tasty meals, I love the way they turn out! These are my hunger games. Meal planning isn’t all about fixing 6 lunches and dinners during the weekend, not for me anyway. Its about utilizing the food I buy and preparing it with the time I have. I use some time on the weekends to make something that takes a lot of time or even just poach some chicken breast and clean some greens. In the mornings before work, I  steam or prepare my vegetables or thaw something from the freezer, soup, meat sauce, meat or fish and then my hunger and creativity take over each day.  For example throwing a potato In the oven for an hour in the morning and using leftovers to make a meal is fast, healthy and delicious….

Baked potatoes make awesome lunches & dinners and are a healthy carbohydrate and starch.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/506461-carbohydrates-in-potato-starch/

Scrub the potato, rub it with a little EVO, prick with a fork and throw it in the oven for about an hour at 350F.

I use half of a baked potato per meal.

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Half a baked potato w/butter, salt & pepper, pulled pork w/ a tbsp or two of Annie’s BBQ sauce,

a dollop

of sour cream and lunch is ready!

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I tried out Annie’s Organic BBQ sauce and everyone seemed to like it.

 This BBQ sauce is a tangy, spicy mustard flavor, less sweet tasting.

(I personally will try making my own sauce in the future, I prefer a slightly sweeter taste.)

I read a few reviews on the sauce, pros and cons, here are a couple;

http://voices.yahoo.com/organic-food-review-annies-naturals-smokey-maple-bbq-876807.html?cat=22

http://www.bbqsaucereviews.com/annies-smokey-maple-bbq-sauce-35/

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The other half of the baked potato,

I mashed it on my plate with a dab of butter, salt and pepper,

I added some poached chicken breast, steamed broccoli and cauliflower,

grated aged cheddar and a drizzle of EVO.

A delicious, quick, nutritious, easy to fix, meal.

Buon Appetito!

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(Photo left)

A baked sweet potato, quinoa, stewed lentils, parmiggiano, EVO, salt & pepper – judifood:)

Spaghetti anyone?

Since the beginning of Autumn I have been enjoying roasting all varieties of squash. Insistently trying to find a similar flavor to the Italian pumpkin I was used to preparing steamed, in bianco, in my minestrones and was the pumpkin I used in my delicious pumpkin & bacon sauce. The pumpkin or “zucca Mantovana” I was familiar with was a green, grey color not very tall, or big, for that matter, with a stern, bright orange pulp.

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   Maybe a Kobocha squash? The taste isn’t quite the same though… maybe all fruits and vegetables don’t have the same taste grown in different places? I believe my assumption to be truth. My basil plant doesn’t have near the aroma or taste as my Italian basil plants did 😦

      Meanwhile, during my hunt I turned to a different squash and decided to give Spaghetti squash the Royal treatment! I was putting this squash to the Test. A sort of bullish expectation, taking out my my nostalgic upsetness on a squash that calls itself “Spaghetti”. Okay Mr.Spaghetti squash, lets just see what you are capable of!

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I roasted spaghetti squash and treated it as if it were real pasta, traditional spaghetti. Yes, the gluten full, wheat product I no longer consider as food for myself, and have come to the point that I do not miss it at all. I feel as if some foods are part of my past and I know how bad they are for me and I remember the bothersome side effects they gave me. No remorse. Serenity, peace and knowledge that I eat food that is good to me and for me 🙂

[How to roast spaghetti squash, here  http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-178036 ]

So Spaghetti squash, time to show me your stuff!

Ok, so, my 1st Test was Spaghetti squash “In bianco” or ” white or plain”. In bianco, is a condiment of butter or extra virgin olive oil. The butter either browned alone, with a few sage leaves or added in small pieces cold (it melts directly on the pasta itself or spaghetti squash in this case). With or without a grating of parmiggiano, you decide.

I used browned butter and sage leaves and yes, parmiggiano. I treated my Spaghetti squash as a plate of pasta. I warmed my previously roasted Spaghetti squash in the microwave for 40 seconds, added a dash of salt & pepper and poured the browned butter & sage on the squash, mixed with a fork and added the parmiggiano on top. (For even more flavor the spaghetti squash can be put directly in the pan of browned butter and sage to warm up.) PASSED!

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Test #2

I made Pesto, a somewhat lighter version, due to flavor as I spoke of above but a Basil Pesto none the less. ( I will take the time to write out my Pesto recipe in the future, I make it without measuring the ingredients so I will have to take some time to measure and write it down next time!) Spaghetti squash with pesto, Passed!

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Test #3

“Al Pomodoro”, w/tomato. To make it a quick try I used what my children call The World’s Best Tomato sauce. After years and hours of pealing and deseeding tomatoes, making my own tomato sauce, which I happen to LOVE, my kids tell me that Mari’s tomato sauce is the best. Ofcourse my next move was to ask Mari her trick! So to find out she uses tomato paste. Yep, just tomato paste. No fresh tomatoes, no sautéed vegetables, not even onion or garlic. Just a tablespoon butter melted in a small pan a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and a little broth, fresh cream or a laddle of the cooking pasta’s water to liquify the sauce enough to serve it over, in this case, Spaghetti squash. A grating of Pariggiano and there it is, The World’sBest Spaghetti squash al pomodoro!! PASSED!

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Test #4

“Alfredo”, with broccoli and shrimp. I sautéed a clove of garlic and a small piece of onion, chopped, in a tsp or so of butter, I added a few broccoli florets and a few shrimp, salt & peppered, then added approximately 1/4 c heavy cream and a grating of parmiggiano. When warm and bubbly I added the spaghetti squash to the pan and cooked at low heat until warmed. Topped with parmiggiano and WOW, delicious! PASSED!

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The next Test? Spaghetti squash and meatballs…. and maybe even with my Pumpkin & bacon sauce 🙂

Buon Appetito!

Fennel Gratin

Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables, both raw and cooked. Fennel’s flavor is subtle and decise at the same time, it is very unique.

There are two types of Fennel, male and female. The male is a plumb bulb like shape that has both a light citrusy and a sweet aromatic licorice flavor. (I personally am not a licorice fan but I do like Anise.) The female is a longer and flatter shape, a lighter taste and is best baked, grilled or braised. The male has a stronger, flavorful taste and is delicious raw, cut into salads or just by itself with a grind of pepper and a little evo, delicious!

http://www.connectionsforwomen.com/article_details.php?article_id=338

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Italian “Finocchio Gratinato” or  “Fennel Gratin ” was one of my favorite dishes.  A crust of bread crumbs, grated Parmigiano, seasoned and toasted under the broiler until golden. I tried it my way, the Judifood way, no gluten and I omitted the Parmigiano. I used almond flour, ghee, thyme, salt & pepper. My Autumn has a whole new feel, deliciously healthy and tasteful with a crisp warm coating!

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My recipe:

Steam the Fennel slices for 10 minutes or until tender.

Turn on the broiler and melt 1/2 tbsp Ghee in a 10″ x 6″ broiler and oven proof dish.

Place the steamed Fennel in a single layer in the dish and drizzle with 1 tbsp Ghee.

Lightly salt the Fennel.

Cover the Fennel with the Almond flour and distribute remaining Ghee over the Almond flour.

Sprinkle with ground Thyme, Salt and Pepper.

Brown the Fennel Gratin under the Broiler for 10 minutes or until golden.

Buon Appetito!

Minestrone

Minestrone comes from the “cucina povera” or “poor kitchen”. Created and elaborated from it’s own ingredients, a mix of leftover or fresh, slightly wilted or oven roasted vegetables or dried legumes possibly simmering with meat broths or bones, cheese crusts and  dry bread crusts. Or like mine, without the elaboration of the last 4 listed but with a touch of dried herbs. Some omit the starches, the beans, potatoes and some add rice, barley or pasta. Minestrone can be what you want it to be, a soup, a “zuppa” (a stew-like consistency) or even a puree’. And deliciously decorated with grated cheeses, crispy bacon or like me, with my favorite olive oil and a grind of fresh pepper or like Joe, pureed and topped with crispy bacon and fresh bread (below).

passata

But if you are like me, you use what you have including half of a roasted sweet pumpkin and rejoice from the grande finale of the composed “Minestrone”.

My Composition:

I sautéed 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves garlic in a couple tbsp. Evo in an 8 qt. pot.

I added:

  • 2 roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 medium sizes Carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 large red Potato, chopped
  • 4 handfuls of fresh Spinach
  • 4 Broccoli florets
  • 4 Cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 *handful of the following: dried chick peas, dried peas, dried cannellini beans & lentils (soaked for 4 hrs)

*1 handful = 1/4 cup

pot of minestrone

I sautéed all the ingredients for a few mins then added 1/2 gallon of Spring Water.

I added 1/4 tsp of:

  • maggiorana, thyme, oregano, dill weed,
  • 2 bay leaves and 3 tsps sea salt.

I let boil then simmer for an hour + and then added:

  • 1/2 roasted sweetie pie Pumpkin, cut in large pieces (approx. 2 cups)

I added another 4-6 cups Spring water as needed and let simmer until all the dried legumes were soft and to just the right consistancy.

Buon Appetito to Joe and I!

Joe

Spinach and rice Soup

This is a very old and simple soup that I was taught how to make in Italy. This soup was one of those dinner meals we favored and enjoyed weekly during the cooler seasons. There are very few ingredients in this recipe but none the less is a very satisfying dinner to me. I use vegetable broth but you can use whichever broth you prefer. I use Arborio rice in this recipe because this is how I met this soup and its delicious leftovers, for breakfast!    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arborio_rice

2-3 servings  (I eat them all, 2 bowls for dinner and 1 mug for tomorrow)

  • 4 cups Vegetable broth (recipe here:http://www.squidoo.com/vegetable-broth)
  • 4 cups fresh Spinach leaves (not easy to measure, I stuffed the measuring cup.)
  • 4 handfuls of Arborio rice (yes, handfuls, the Italian way, cup your hand and fill it up with rice, 4 times)
  • 2 tbsp Evo
  • 1/2 an Onion, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

In a  5 quart sauce pan, saute the onion in the evo until translucent, add the spinach, chopped largely and cook until reduced and leaves are dark green and limp, add rice, mix and  let saute a couple minutes. Salt and pepper the ingredients to taste. Add broth and let simmer until rice is cooked. Approximately 10 minutes.

Serve with grated Parmigiano,  Buon Appetito!

*Leftovers are delicious!

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