Bacon Roasted Cauliflower Chowder

dinnerreservationsI haven’t been to the grocery store this week and was at a loss as to what to make for dinner tonight.

The meat & cheese drawer gave me a pound of uncooked bacon fresh from the butcher, a wedge of parmesan cheese and another small chunk from a wedge of aged gouda-parmesan.

In the crisper was a bag of fresh sweet mini peppers, a head of cauliflower that was nearing extinction, half a red onion, some carrots, celery, a Rubbermaid container with some still viable sliced Portobello mushrooms and a few other items that found their way right into the compost bucket.

Not a lot to work with, but I’m a gamer (and thankfully my husband will try anything I make) so I trudged forward hoping for some inspiration.

A wrinkly but still salvageable Poblano chili was on the counter and inspiration for a nice warm soup struck.

Bacon & Roasted Cauliflower Chowder

  • ½ Cup Sliced Portobello Mushrooms
  • 6 Slices Bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ Poblano Chili finely diced
  • ½ Red Onion diced
  • ¼ Cup diced Orange Sweet Bell Pepper
  • 1 Carrot chopped
  • 2 Ribs Celery chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 Medium Head Cauliflower
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth (4 Bullion Cubes in 4 Cups Boiling Water)
  • 1 – 5 ounce can Evaporated Milk
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper to taste (1 added about 2 tsp)
  • Reserved Rind of Parmesan or Parmesan-Gouda Cheese
  • Shredded Parmesan or Parmesan-Gouda Cheese (if desired)

Cut the cauliflower in thirds, trim off the stem, spritz with olive or coconut oil spray and roast 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

sweatvegetablesCook the bacon over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add the diced Poblano chili and continue to cook until bacon is crisp but not too brown. Remove both from pan and drain on paper towel.

In the same pan add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and bell pepper.  Saute’ about 8 minutes over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and return the bacon and Poblano chili to the pan. Continue cooking another 10 minutes while bacon fat breaks down some more then switch heat to low.

addcauliflowerRoughly chop 1/3 of the roasted cauliflower into small pieces and add to the pan. Add the bay leaves and seasoned pepper, stir and cook on low about 5 minutes to allow the cauliflower to absorb the flavors of the bacon and other vegetables.

Put the remaining 2/3 of the cooled roasted cauliflower and 2 cups of the cooled broth into the Vitamix or Food Processor/Blender container and process on low until well combined. It will have plenty of texture, but if it’s not thin enough to easily pour, add a bit more of the reserved broth.

Increase heat to medium, then add the can of evaporated milk, a can of water and the contents of the Vitamix container to the pan. Stir well to incorporate. Stir in the remaining broth, the reserved cheese rinds (if you have any) and bring soup just to a boil. Return heat to low and simmer about 20 minutes.

soupRemove the bay leaves before serving.  Serve with toasted French bread chunks/croutons or crusty bread and butter.  Sprinkle chowder with shredded parmesan or parmesan-gouda cheese and chopped parsley if desired.

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This Dinner Will Get You Thirsty This Thursday

IMG_4485[1]We missed taco Tuesday this week.

I was just too tired and sad from having to put my beloved lab to sleep Monday, to even think about cooking and getting my Mexican food fix.  The household is slowly recovering so I ventured out to the grocery store and then into the kitchen to throw something together tonight, that wasn’t takeout.  I came up with something tasty, filling and gluten free!

Chicken Stuffed Pasilla Peppers with Arborio Rice

  • 4 Large Pasilla (A.K.A. Poblano) Peppers
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 2 Roasted Chicken Breasts
  • 6 Strips Crisp Cooked Bacon
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese Blend (Cheddar/White Cheddar/Sharp Cheddar)
  • 2 Chopped Green Onions
  • 1/2 Cup Trader Giotti’s Arrabiata Sauce (found at Trader Joe’s stores)
  • 1/2 – 1 1/4 Cup Organic (Gluten Free) Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream

I bought a nearly 6 pound whole young chicken and roasted it in a 375 degree oven for about 1 hour 45 minutes, took it out to rest and then removed the breasts and placed them in the Vitamix container.  Strain the drippings into a measuring cup and add enough chicken broth to equal 1 1/2 Cups.

In the same oven, while the chicken was cooking, I laid 6 strips of bacon on a cookie sheet and baked them for about 18 minutes, until they were crispy and browned but not yet burning.  Remove the bacon from the oven to drain and cool then cut it into pieces and add to the Vitamix container.

Once the chicken has finished cooking, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry the Pasilla peppers then carefully cut the top off of all four, discarding the stem and seeds.  Take each of the peppers and cut a wide V shape on one side (from the top toward the solid bottom it’ll look like a V-neck shirt).  Place all 4 peppers on a cookie sheet.

Remove the stems and seeds from the bell peppers.  Cut in half and then into quarters until all pieces can lay flat on a cookie sheet.  Bake both sheets of peppers 20-25 minutes until the skins blister and start to blacken.  Remove the bell peppers from pan to cutting board to cool and then cut into small pieces and add to the Vitamix container.

Pulse the mixture until well combined.  Move mixture to a mixing bowl, add 3/4 cup shredded cheese, the chopped green onion and the Arrabiata sauce stirring to combine.

Fill each of the Pasilla peppers with the chicken mixture mounding each until they’re full.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over each of the peppers and bake in the 400 degree oven until the cheese is melted and starts to brown.

Rice:  In a medium saucepan with a lid, combine the reserved drippings/chicken broth, 1 TBLS butter or olive oil, and 1 Cup Arborio rice.  Cook over medium heat until it reaches a boil then put lid on, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and allow to steam for 10 more minutes then fluff rice with a fork.

Sauce:  While the rice is cooking, simmer the reserved pieces of Pasilla pepper with about 3/4 cup chicken broth until liquid reduces by half and peppers are fork tender. Move peppers and broth to the cleaned Vitamix container and process until only a few small pieces remain.  Add 3/4 Cup sour cream to the Vitamix container and process until thoroughly combined and smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve:  Place rice in the center of the plate, lay one stuffed pepper on top of the rice and drizzle the sauce over the pepper.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to:  recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a Facebook page you can visit too https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Doc Says It Might Be Time To Cut Back a Bit

childdietI hate dieting!  Me without a hearty breakfast (think coffee, eggs, bacon, and some kind of bread), lunch, a snack around 4, and dinner + wine = a grumpy, hangry girl with a raging headache!

But I’ll be a good girl, at least as much as I can be, so my doctor gets happier with my blood tests and that stupid body composition machine she likes to torture me with every few months.

So, I grudgingly started today with a meal replacement shake prescribed by my doctor: Designs for Health PaleoMeal Plus Lean Body 14 Day Program.

There are some pluses to this choice:

  • It’s only available with a doctor referral
  • You get a significant discount off the regular $139 with a doctor referral
  • It’s made with Proserum, exceptional quality, native whey protein concentrate
  • Comes from cows that graze on pesticide-free, chemical-free natural grass pastures, and which are never given hormones, genetically modified organisms, or injected pathogens
  • The most important part, I get to eat between meals!

In addition, I know that I’m not making an effort to drink enough water, so 1 stocked up on liter bottles of Essentia 9.5% alkaline water.

Lunch was a really exciting smoothie concoction that I threw into the Vitamix:

  • 2-3 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 Large Ripe Nectarine – seed removed
  • 1 Naval Orange Peeled
  • 8 Medium – Large Frozen Strawberries
  • 6-8 Ice Cubes

I mixed the fruit & spinach together on 2-5 speed until blended then threw the ice cubes in and popped it up to 8 until the ice cubes were crushed up.  It was a very putrid shade of green but surprisingly sweet.

Big Bonus:  I got 5 of my fruit/vegetable servings out of the way in one fell swoop!

sugarbabiesTattling on myself:  While I was digging through the refrigerator I came across a bag of Sugar Babies.  The bag of Sugar Babies is no longer in the refrigerator…  Baby Steps.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Red Bean Chicken Chipotle Chili

It’s the first week of October and, after a few “cool” days in the low 80’s, it’s headed back up into the triple digits in perpetually sunny Southern California.

I’m not complaining at all, except that I do have serious weather envy about this time of year when the leaves are turning and there’s a chill in the mornings and evenings.  The forecasters “promise” that we will be seeing rain and cooler temperatures “soon” but I’m not holding my breath.

To get out of the never-ending summer blah’s I will just crank the thermostat down to 70 degrees, put on a light sweater, pull out the slow cooker and throw together something that just might fool the family into thinking it’s really fall!

Red Bean Chicken Chipotle Chili

  • 1 – 16 oz pkg Dry Red Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 – 8.11 oz jar La Costena Diced Chipotle Peppers in Sauce
  • 2 – 14.5 oz cans Diced Tomatoes with Onion
  • 1/2 – 12 oz bag Fresh Spinach
  • 3 – Large Carrots Peeled & Cut into Chunks
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 1 TBLS Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Fresh Ground Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 3/4 lb Chicken-Spinach Sausage (Or any other flavored fresh chicken sausage you prefer)

Rinse and pick the red beans in a strainer.  In a medium saucepan put the beans and about 1/2 the pan of water over medium high heat until it just reaches a boil.  If you are preparing the beans and soaking the night before, remove from heat, cover and set pan aside.  If you are “quick soaking” the beans, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 2 hours.

Cut raw chicken breast into 3/4″ to 1″ chunks and sausage into 1/2″ slices.  Spray a medium skillet with olive oil spray and brown the chicken and sausage over medium-high heat.  It’s not necessary to cook the chicken through, it will finish in the slow cooker.

Place the carrots and 1/2 cup water in a 2 quart microwave safe bowl and microwave on high 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Carrots should be fork tender but not mushy.  Adjust time for the strength of your microwave.

In food processor/Vitamix container add undrained tomatoes, the carrots, chipotle peppers with sauce, the fresh spinach, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.  Process until well blended but not entirely smooth.  Taste the sauce add a few grinds of salt & pepper and adjust the rest of the spices as necessary.

Put beans, chicken and sausage into your slow cooker then pour the sauce over the top, making sure you scrape as much as possible from the container.  Stir until just combined.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

I love this recipe because I get to hide vegetables in the sauce and it can be as healthy as you want it to be.  I like to add some fresh avocado chunks and a bit of cheese to the top of mine and serve it with crusty bread and a salad for a hearty dinner that easily feeds 8 and packs 40g of protein in each serving.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Tomorrow’s Post:  Tailgating on Thursday Nights Sucks!

Meatless Monday

IMG_4404[1]I love to shop at Trader Joe’s!

Their produce is always fresh, they have great weekly specials and have a really unique, well priced wine and liquor department without having to fight with a giant grocery store atmosphere.

While browsing the aisles today I was inspired to create something quick and healthy for dinner tonight and didn’t want to ruin the workout I had just suffered through by making something that would make me feel bloated and bad about myself.

There were so many bright orange pumpkins displayed around the store that I thought something based on the same fall flavor would be great.  A few more minutes in the produce department and I came up with an idea that didn’t seem very hard at all.

 No Fuss Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna

  • 1 – 12 oz package Trader Joe’s Cut Butternut Squash (In the fresh produce department)
  • 3/4 – 12 oz package Trader Joe’s Fresh Leaf Spinach
  • 9 – Sheets Trader Joe’s No Boil Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 – 16 oz container Trader Joe’s Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 – 16 oz pkg Trader Joe’s Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 – Wedge Trader Joe’s Parmesan Gouda Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Skim Milk
  • 2 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • Fresh Basil (About 6 large leaves)
  • Nutmeg, Oregano, Salt, Pepper and Paprika to taste

Cook the butternut squash, in it’s package with a corner cut off, in the microwave for 6 minutes.

Shred the mozzarella cheese and grate 1/4 to 1/3 of the wedge of the gouda-parmesan wedge into two separate bowls and set aside.

In Food Processor (I used my Vitamix) combine the squash, milk, garlic, nutmeg, salt and 1/2 the container of ricotta cheese.  Process until just smooth.  Do not over process.  If too thick add a little more milk.  Taste and adjust the spices then set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the spinach, the other half container of ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, the chopped garlic, and some salt and pepper.  Stir until the spinach is well coated.

In a lasagna pan (or 9 x 12 Pyrex pan) drizzle some olive oil then layer as follows:

  1.  1/3 of the squash mixture, a single layer of the unboiled lasagna noodles (I used 2 whole and 1 split to fill the layer), then a layer of the spinach mixture;
  2. 1/3 of the squash mixture, a single layer of the no boil lasagna noodles, then a layer of the spinach mixture;
  3. Final 1/3 of the squash mixture, a single layer of the no boil lasagna noodles, then the rest of the spinach mixture;
  4. Top the lasagna with the rest of the mozzarella cheese, the grated parmesan-gouda cheese, and then sprinkle with oregano, paprika and the chopped fresh basil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is just browned.  Remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes so the cheese sets.  Cut into 8 pieces and serve with a green salad for a healthy meal.  My husband also added some Frank’s Red Hot to spice his up.  It was a great change of pace and there was enough left over for a couple of lunches this week!

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Tomorrow’s post:  Slow Cooked Red Bean Chicken Chipotle Chili