We Like To Call It “Linner”

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For some strange reason, we like to eat a large meal at about 2:30, especially on the weekends.

We call it Linner.

You know – lunch & dinner. 

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Typically, we eat breakfast at a normal time, before 8:00 and then we get busy, run errands, do yard work, or head out on day trips.

Linner is perfect for those days. 

Tonight we’re headed to a movie, which would interrupt dinner, so Linner is just right. Then we can have popcorn and snacks for “dinner”. 

See how that works? We’re grown-ups now so if we want to have Junior Mints and popcorn for dinner…so be it. 

~Here’s What We Had For Linner~

Grilled Salmon

Penne with Pesto

Bruschetta with Goat Gouda

Peach Tranquility Tea from Teavana

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You can find my vegan pesto recipe here. I like to make a large batch of it and then freeze it in smaller batches to use whenever I like. You can find my bruschetta recipe here. It’s SO easy. This time I topped it with Trader Joe’s Goat Gouda.  A-MAZING. If you can tolerate goat’s milk cheese and you haven’t tried it, it’s an absolute MUST. It’s delicious. It stays somewhat soft after broiling, the perfect texture. It’s not too “goaty”, it’s mild, creamy, I really can’t say enough good things about it.

We’re off to the movies. Hope you all are having a fabulous Saturday!

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Finally Time For a Home Cooked Meal

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Life has been absolutely crazy around here. Tony is traveling and changing time zones twice a week, and the house viewing traffic is picking up dramatically. That last part is a good thing, but it puts us in the position of having to be able to leave our house quickly. That makes it very hard to cook a real meal.

This is a very unhappy Chloe, stuck in a crate at my mom’s house while we wait for people to finish a walk through at our house. She’s not quite as happy as Romeo and Abigail to be at Grandma’s house.

I’ve been trying to make this dish since Thursday and finally on Sunday night, even though we were completely exhausted after having five viewings of our house over the past three days, I forced myself to make a decent dinner. Please forgive the pictures…I wasn’t going to even blog about it but Tony asked if I was taking pictures and was sweet enough to run upstairs and get my camera. The recipe will also be one of those “about this much” recipes, unfortunately. I didn’t write anything down, but you all are so smart and amazing in the kitchen, I know you won’t have any trouble making your own version.

Waiting at Grandma’s house for “kitty, kitty” the new kitten to come out and play with her. Penelope, my mother’s other cat is just around the corner growling and hissing at Chloe in the crate.

Lately we’ve been living on Jimmy John’s un-which sandwiches, black bean salad, gluten-free organic hot dogs and chili, cereal more cereal, peanut butter toast, and Red Robin’s California chicken sandwiches. Did you know they now carry gluten-free buns and will make your fries in a separate fryer from gluten items? We are addicted. Next time I eat one I’ll take a picture for you. And the tartar sauce (which is gluten-free & dairy free)…so delicious and addictive I should probably just be slathering it on my thighs because I’m sure that’s right where it goes after it leaves my mouth.

Tony stayed home an extra day today to take advantage of a motorcycle track day. The kind of track day that makes me cringe and I have to remind him that I really don’t want to know how fast he went and how many people had to be hauled off in an ambulance. He left early this morning, so this is what a lazy Sunday looks like for some of us…not me of course, I have a whole list of things to do!

Yes, we allow them to lounge on the furniture…

I’m used to cooking whole meals at least four days a week and baking something delicious at least twice a week. But lately, our new way of  living on “whatever is easy and doesn’t make the house smell weird” is getting to me. It’s leaving me feeling unsatisfied and rather unhealthy.

So last Wednesday while I was lying in bed wide awake at 2:30 in the morning because we’ve had a weird rash of car break-ins in our neighborhood, the recipe for Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll Ups was born. Maybe a little bit of fear does help with creativity? Or maybe it was the fact that I was sleeping with my gun and that enabled me to calm my mind enough to think about food. Either way, I also had to figure out when exactly I could find the time to actually make the recipe that was making my stomach growl and getting me excited for real food.

I tried Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to make this meal and it seemed like the dinner God’s were against me. And even though we had two more showings on Saturday, I managed to squeeze in a small nap and muster the energy to cook a nice meal on Saturday night, throwing caution to the wind and not caring if our house smelled like garlic and pesto on Sunday morning. I even managed to make an easy Kalamata olive & garlic loaf.

Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll-Ups

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

About a pound of gluten-free, dairy-free Italian Sausage

Hot Pepper Flakes, I like my sausage spicy

Homemade Vegan Pesto

1 Large Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, I buy mine in the white and blue container at Trader Joe’s

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil

Freshly Ground Pepper

About 1/2 Cup Diaya Mozzarella Style Shreds

About 2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Parmesan Style Cheese

1 Jar Ready-Made Pasta Sauce, I used Newman’s Marinara, or homemade of course

1 Package Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles, cooked aldente (follow pkg instructions), rinsed, and separated immediately

Cook pasta, rinse, separate, and set aside. Fry the Italian sausage and pepper flakes (to your taste) until done, drain fat, set aside.

Drain the sheep’s cheese and place the entire block in a mixer. Add the fresh herbs, other two cheeses, and the fresh herbs. Mix on medium until it comes together and begins to look somewhat sticky. I was also going to add 1/2 cup chopped spinach to this mixture but forgot!

Oil a 9×9 inch square baking dish with olive oil. Spoon a small amount of sauce over the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

Lay out a lasagna noodle on your work surface. Spread either with a knife or the back of a spoon about 1 to 1/2 Tablespoons of the pesto along the entire noodle. Add about 2 Tablespoons (or so) of the cheese mixture to the end of the noodle nearest you, add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the sausage, and roll up, tucking in any filling that falls out of the sides as you go. Place the roll upright in the prepared pan. Continue until you have used all of your fillings.

Once the pan is full, pour the remaining sauce over the top, spreading with a spoon. Sprinkle with a little more of the mozzarella style cheese and the parmesan style cheese. Oil a piece of aluminum foil and cover.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes covered, remove foil, and bake for 10 more minutes.

Kalamata Olive & Garlic Loaf

With this recipe, I made two small plain loaves and 1 medium olive and garlic loaf. I simply separated the dough and took out the plain loaves first, then added the ingredients for the olive and garlic loaf.

1 Box Gluten Free Pantry French Bread Mix (make using directions on back of box)

Kalamata Olives, about 15 sliced in half lengthwise

Garlic Cloves, about 8 sliced in half lengthwise

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano

1 Egg for Brushing

I wasn’t in the mood to run to the basement to fetch my french bread pan, so I simply lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. It works just fine, but the loaves spread out a bit.

Depending on how you want to separate the dough, do that part first, leaving the amount of dough that you want to use for the olive and garlic loaf in the mixer. Then, add the olives, garlic, and oregano and mix until combined.

Dollop and spread it on the baking sheet or in the french bread pan, brush with whisked egg, and cover with oiled plastic. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place

Bake for about 30 minutes (I use convection). You may need to cover lightly with foil if it begins to brown too quickly.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach, Chicken & Pesto

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I’ve been trying to stick to salads for lunch to up my daily veggie intake, but yesterday I had almost an entire vegetable day purely by accident. I love vegetables, but all day? I must have had a lot going on because typically I’m a protein lover.

After walking the dogs late this morning I couldn’t get my mind off of a grilled cheese sandwich. I also had chicken breasts that needed to be grilled and leftover vegan pesto from the sandwiches I made over the weekend. After the dogs got their “you were good on your walk” treat, I rummaged around and also remembered I had organic tomatoes and a nice bunch of organic flat leaf parsley. I’m crazy for parsley. I don’t know why, but I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I used to eat everyone’s parsley off their plate when we went out to dinner.

So, once I realized I had the makings for a delicious sandwich, I shoved the salad I made yesterday to the back of the fridge and told myself I would eat it for dinner instead.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach, Chicken, & Pesto

2 Slices Gluten Free Bread (I used Udi’s Whole Grain)

Slices of Grilled Chicken Breast

Spinach Leaves

Vegan Pesto

Diaya Cheese

Dairy Free Butter

Fresh Tomatoes

Flat Leaf Parsley

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

I’m sure you know how to make a grilled cheese so I will just give the basics. Grill the chicken first, or use leftovers, your preference. Spread pesto on the insides of both pieces of bread. Place the cheese on the bottom piece of bread, closest to the heat. Layer everything else however you like and cook until nice and toasty.

Bird’s Nest

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I thought it was a good idea to eat something somewhat “healthy” for dinner last night after indulging in fried chicken livers three meals in a row…

This is an incredibly simple and gorgeous meal.

It looked so pretty I hated to poke my fork into it…

But that didn’t last long.

Bird’s Nest

Gluten Free Spinach Pasta (I use Tinkyada)

Vegan Walnut Pesto

Organic Red Chard, sautéed with organic olive oil

Squeeze of Lemon

Organic Egg (s), over easy

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Saute the chard in olive oil until wilted, squeeze about a Tablespoon of lemon over it, and set aside. Take the finished pasta and place it in a saute pan over medium high heat and toss with the pesto. I used about 1 1/2 Tablespoons for one serving.

Arrange the pasta on the plate in a “nest”. Top with the wilted chard. Top with an egg, over easy, and finish with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Welcoming Spring

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I am happy to announce (probably not as happy as you), that you will no longer have to hear me whine about our horrible weather.

What was seemingly an infinite winter, has finally disappeared to wherever winter goes and spring has arrived. We spent the day enjoying every bit of the weather we could with a picnic at our favorite park and a nice walk with the dogs. It was so wonderful to soak up that sun and feel the warm breeze! And I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hear that tomorrow is even supposed to be better than today!

Because we can finally see a light at the end of the winter tunnel, it won’t be a big deal if we get a little more rain here and there. The hope of sunny days ahead and the taste of today and tomorrow will tide us over, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be planting herbs on the deck and filling pots with flowers. Before we know it, we’ll be relaxing in lawn chairs, sipping cocktails in the backyard, and watching the sun set – one of our favorite weekend evening past times.

In honor of spring’s arrival today, I made us a lovely dinner full of spring colors. Did I also mention it was simple? Incredibly simple, fresh, and delicious. Perfect for the day after all of that Easter indulgence.

(*Serves 2) 

Pesto Bruschetta

6 Pieces of Left Over GF French Bread (This recipe makes 2 loaves. We always eat one fresh and then I freeze the second for bruschetta.)

6 Tablespoons of Vegan Pesto (When making this, I always try to make a double batch so there is plenty to freeze and use whenever I need it.)

About 12 Organic Cherry Tomatoes

About 2 ounces of Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Freshly Ground Pepper

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Slice the bread and place on a baking sheet. Broil until toasted. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of pesto on each piece of bread. Slice tomatoes in half and distribute evenly. Crumble sheep’s milk cheese evenly. Grind pepper on each piece and drizzle with olive oil. Place under broiler when vegetables are placed on grill. Remove when tomatoes are softened and cheese begins to bubble and brown. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  

Vegetable Kabob & Grilled Zucchini

2 Small Organic Zucchini

1 Organic Red Bell Pepper

1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper

2 Small Organic Sweet Onions

Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Garlic Powder

Dried Parsley

Cut peppers and onions into large chunks and place in medium bowl. Remove ends of zucchini, slice lengthwise and add to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and dried parsley, toss until thoroughly coated. Add to medium-high grill about 6 minutes after the chicken has been added. Add the zucchini a few minutes after the peppers and onions have been on the grill. It cooks very quickly.

Simple Grilled Chicken

2 Organic Chicken Breasts

GF BBQ Sauce

Rice Vinegar with Herbs

Rinse and dry chicken breasts and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle with about 1/4 cup BBQ sauce and 1/4 cup rice vinegar. Stir to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Place on medium-high grill 6 minutes before adding the vegetables to the grill.


Spinach Pasta With Grilled Veggies, Chicken Thighs, and Walnut Pesto

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Typically if I’m on my own for dinner I eat leftovers or toast, or cereal, or sometimes just dessert. However, all day today I was thinking about pasta and that Vegan Walnut Pesto I made a few days ago.  The day that I made it I didn’t have a chance to use it so I stuck it in the freezer. This is an incredibly simple meal that is absolutely packed with flavor. A perfect meal for two, but if you’re on your own, you’ll have enough for dinner tonight and leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Enjoy!

Spinach Pasta With Grilled Veggies, Chicken Thighs, and Walnut Pesto

Tinkyada Spinach Brown Rice Pasta

3 Chicken Thighs

1/2 Red Bell Pepper

1/2 Orange Bell Pepper

1/2 Summer Squash

1/2 Tablespoon Vegan Walnut Pesto

About 3 Tablespoons Gluten Free Barbecue Sauce

About 1 teaspoon Chopped Garlic

About 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Dried Oregano

Sea Salt

Combine the BBQ sauce, chopped garlic, and vinegar in a small bowl. Add the chicken thighs (rinsed and dried) and toss. Set aside. Cook the pasta (reserve about 1/4 cup pasta water), rinse, and set aside. (Some people are completely against rinsing their pasta, however, with gluten-free pasta, I have found that if it’s rinsed right after draining it doesn’t stick). In a medium bowl, add the peppers, sliced in half, and the summer squash, sliced but not too thin. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a generous amount of garlic powder, oregano, and sea salt. Toss and set aside.

Heat the grill to medium to medium high and grill the chicken until it has about 7 minutes to go. Add the vegetables and grill everything until done.

Next, slice the chicken and vegetables. Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the pesto, vegetables, and chicken. Heat the reserved pasta water in the microwave, add about 1/2 to the mixture and toss. You may have to add more pasta water as you toss depending on the consistency of the pesto and how it disperses throughout the pasta, veggies, and chicken.

Vegan Walnut Pesto

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What do you do when you have a ton of basil because you keep buying it thinking that you’re out but you actually already have three packages in your fridge? You make pesto, of course! I don’t “do” cheese as you know, and I didn’t have pine nuts so I improvised and used walnuts instead of the pine nuts and left the cheese out altogether. It’s wonderful even without the cheese and really, you can make pesto with any nut you like.

Fill your food processor up with fresh basil

Add about 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

Add about a handful of walnuts

Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into the mix

Pulse until thoroughly combined.

Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle olive oil in until it comes to a somewhat smooth consistency.

Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.