Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta

Since I made the decision three weeks ago to eat healthier and exercise on a regular day basis, I have been trying out a bunch of different recipes, with the large majority being vegetarian dishes. No, I am not converting, I just wanted to eat less meat. Well, telling Chris this, made him a little nervous, for he does not exactly share my new found love of vegetarian meals. So, tonight when I told him I was making this pasta dish, he said, "Oh great, another meatless dish." Well, after eating this pasta dish, he looked at me and said, "Okay, this is blog worthy." Seriously? I said. This means he LOVED it! And, he sure did. Now, he ate like 5 platefuls of this stuff so I know he really liked it! Anyways, this dish is really good. Really, I loved it! It has such nice flavors running all the way through it. The toasted walnuts and fresh grated parmesan really make this dish shine. So try it sometime when you are in the mood for a meatless dish.

My Kitchen Cafe blog

2 heads garlic, papery skins removed, top quarter of heads cut off (on the pointy side of garlic) and discarded
6 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 pound short pasta ( I used Ronzoni smart taste brand: Rotini)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut one 12-inch sheet of foil and spread it flat on the counter. Place the garlic heads, cut side up, in the center of the foil. Drizzle 1/2 tsp. olive oil over each head and fold up the sides of the foil to seal well. Place the foil packet directly on the oven rack (not on the preheating baking sheet) and roast until the garlic is very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil packet from the oven, open the foil and set it aside to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, trim the outer leaves off of the cauliflower and cut the stem flush with the bottom. Cut the head from pole to pole into 8 equal wedges and then cut the cauliflower into large bite-sized pieces. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl; toss with 2 Tbsp. oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the cauliflower is well browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower roasts, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 Tbsp. salt and pasta; cook until al dente. Squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic to a smooth paste, then stir in red pepper flakes and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice. Slowly whisk in remaining 1/4 cup oil.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the chopped cauliflower to the pasta; stir in the garlic sauce, 1/4 cup cooking water, parsley, and 1/2 cup cheese. Adjust the consistency of the pasta with additional cooking water and season with salt and pepper. serve immediately, sprinkling with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and toasted nuts.

Note: I added a total of 1/2 cup cooking water in ours.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grilled Pesto Shrimp and Summer Veggie Salad

Source: Sisters Cafe (I love this blog, amazing)

Okay, so I made this tonight for dinner and all I can say is, "Oh my, goodness it was good!" It made me realize that eating healthy isn't so hard after all. we made it tonight, because I want to continue eating a little healthier and because it gave us an excuse to fire up the grill one more time before summer is officially over. Seriously, try this. It is such a great way to use up all those summer veggies from your garden!

For the grilled veggies:
1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 red onion, chopped into large segments
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
Olive oil (I used Extra Virgin and it was great!)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Either use previously prepared pesto or make a small batch of fresh pesto:
2 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. walnuts
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled (My garlic cloves were huge and so 2 was a little too much for me, so next time, I would use one if they are big)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

For serving:
Spinach ( I don't like straight up spinach, too chewy for me, so I mixed spinach with romaine lettuce)
Tomato wedges
Crumbled feta cheese

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates to prevent food from sticking.

To prepare the veggies for grilling, combine the bell peppers, red onion, squash and zucchini in a large bowl and toss. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.

To make the pesto, combine the pine nuts, walnuts, garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process 30 seconds. Add basil leaves, olive oil, salt, and pepper and process until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and process 1 minute. Set aside.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers for the grill. Once the skewers are assembled, use the back of a spoon or a pastry brush to smother the pesto onto both sides of the shrimp. Set aside.

Transfer the veggies to a grill basket and cook on the grill until they are crisp-tender, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill). Remove the grill basket from the heat and place the shrimp skewers on the grill in a single layer. Assemble the salads while the shrimp cook by tossing the grilled veggies atop a bed of spinach.
Allow the shrimp to cook just until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill), turning once during cooking. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and place them on top of the salads. Top with fresh tomato wedges and crumbled feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Crispy Southwest Wraps (Vegetarian) with Homemade Guacomole

Source: Sisters Cafe Blog

In an attempt to eat healthier, I made these for dinner tonight. They are so good and good for you. I knew I would like it, and knew Lexi would only have a cheese crisp, but Chris was the wild card. Well, the verdict is in, and even he liked it and if filled him up. I was worried about the latter because there is no meat in it. But, it was a hit for us! The guacomole really made this meal fantastic! It was my first time making homemade guac and let me tell you, this is now my recipe. so easy, and so so good and fresh tasting. I want to try it again using the cilantro, though, and see if it makes a huge difference. Anyways, try it you will like it!

1 cup cooked brown rice, warm or at room temperature ( I used Minute brown rice and it was such a timesaver)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced ( I used red, and am glad I did)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (I left this out, forgot to buy it, and I think it is worth buying, it would add just more flavor, so next time I will add it)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1-2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby monterey jack and did not measure, just guessed)
6 medium tortillas ( I used whole wheat, and it was good)

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or panini maker) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve with salsa or my favorite, homemade Guacamole--yum!

My Favorite Guacamole
2 avocados, mashed
1 jalapeno minced (I took the seeds out)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (I left this out, and I thought it was just as good without it)
1 small tomato diced (I used a roma)
kosher salt to taste
squeeze of a lemon

Mix together and enjoy!