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Zucchini Spaghetti

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**I apologize to subscribers for the weird “password protected” post that came to your inbox or feed early this morning!  It was me just being a spaz, but I’ve got this “top secret” recipe now set to public visibility instead of password protected.  Sorry to disappoint if you thought my zucchini spaghetti recipe must contain codes to reveal a huge conspiracy theory, but I hope you’ll find the delicious recipe is quite enough to get excited about in and of itself.  :) **

Have you been wondering what ever happened to the weight loss contract and the 17 Day Diet?  Join the club–I’m wondering too! :D  We did save a good amount of money with the contract, though we only actually stuck to the agreements made in it for like a week.  And we ended up with a bunch of emergencies (car stuff, etc.) that most of the money went toward.  We did much better with the 17 Day Diet and stuck with it for over a month, but soon after got to the third 17-day cycle, which allows for a wider range of foods, we cheated our way into widening the range to all foods, and in great abundance.  Soooo, I think I lost 15 pounds and gained most of it back.  Story of my adult life.  I pretty much diet half the year so I can eat like a pig the other half.  It kind of works for me.

Anyway, this “spaghetti” was the romantic Valentine’s Day dinner I made while we were on the first cycle of the 17 Day Diet, which allows for no starches except for fruit.  The lean meats allowed are minimal as well (turkey, chicken, and fish) and I was challenged to come up with a 17 Day Diet-friendly recipe that would be really delicious and impressive.  Debbi posted her version of Kalyn’s zucchini spaghetti and I knew I had a winner.  And wow, I was right!  This was the most delicious thing we ate during the entire diet, and I would even say it’s one of the most delicious meals I’ve eaten in my entire life.  The sauce is just spectacular (it would be great on real spaghetti, too) and the zucchini is perfect here.  I always have thought zucchini was a vegetable best suited to Italian seasonings and this recipe further proves it.   I can’t even tell you how much I love this dish!

A funny thing about the “spaghetti” strands.  The only julienne slicer I could find was this one, which also has three other cutting blades.  For some reason, I didn’t look at the owners manual and thought that the crinkle cutter was the julienne blade.  I was so frustrated with the slicer, thinking that it was just a poor product, because every time I “julienned” a zucchini, I had to go back and cut the strands apart because the stupid julienning blade was just cutting crinkle-cut slabs.  DUH!  Seriously, I didn’t figure out my mistake until just this week when I finally opened the owners manual and saw that there was another blade that I had missed.  The one for julienning veggies.  DOY.

If you don’t have a julienne cutter, The Pampered Chef has a julienne peeler for $10.50 that I’d recommend–it won’t take up a lot of space and does a fabulous job of julienning your veggies.  I got one and gave the other cutter to Goodwill because, well, you guys know I don’t even have room for my cake pans in this house, so I’m  not about to give up good space for a bulky cutting tool when I could just use Pampered Chef’s fabulous peeler!  Thanks, Tracy (my Pampered Chef consultant)!

Zucchini Spaghetti

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 links low-fat turkey Italian sausage, hot or mild
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large cloves of garlic, minced + 4 more to season the oil
pinch hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 (14.5 oz.) can roasted diced tomatoes with juice
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 medium sized zucchini (9-10 inches long)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (for seasoning zucchini)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy frying pan, then add turkey sausage, squeezed out of the links, and use a spatula to break the sausage apart and cook until it’s lightly browned, about 5 minutes. When the sausage is browned, add 3 cloves of minced garlic, and hot pepper flakes, if using. Stir together and let cook with the sausage about a minute, then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, fennel, basil, and oregano. Turn heat down to low and let the sauce simmer while you prep the zucchini.

Use a julienne cutter to cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strands. (Cut off the ends, wash and dry the zucchini, and then cut into julienne strands. You can also do this with a knife if you’re patient.)

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a very large frying pan, add 3 whole garlic cloves and sauté until you can start to smell garlic, then remove garlic to another dish (you can discard it, but fried garlic cloves are delicious and you can add them to salad or even eat them straight!) Immediately add the zucchini strands to the hot pan and cook stirring a few times just until the zucchini is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season the cooked zucchini with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Divide between 2-4 plates, then ladle sauce over the top. Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe source: adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen, as seen on Debbi Does Dinner

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Kumquat & Coconut Cookies {Grain & Sugar-Free}

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Whew, two recipe contests in the same week!  I don’t know what’s come over me.  It must be all that state fair competitive spirit leaking over into my everyday baking life!  This one is for Baker Bettie’s Cookie Wars, in which she charged us with a mission to invent a cookie using at least two of the following ingredients:

  • Avocado
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Basil
  • Beer
  • Coffee
  • Cranberries
  • Cream Cheese
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Dried Chilies
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Fennel Bulb
  • Garlic
  • Goat Cheese
  • Grapefruit
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Hazelnut
  • Honey
  • Kumquat
  • Maple Syrup
  • Marshmallows
  • Mint
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peach
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Sour Cherries
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tomato

I’m really curious to see how many people are daring and creative enough to use tomato, vinegar (wait, I’ve done that and it’s fabulous! lol), beer, rosemary, etc.  I’m thinking there are going to be a few savory cookies in the mix!

But me, well, you know my affinity for sweets, so that’s what I went for.  I didn’t intend to make a wholesome cookie, it kinda just happened in the evolution of my creative process.  Here’s how it went.

My first inclination was to create a yogurt and honey spice cookie, which I knew would be a cake-like cookie because of the honey, and since I don’t like cakey cookies unless they’re part of a whoopie pie, I figured I’d also make a yogurt and honey filing for them.

Then I remembered the bag of coconut flour in my refrigerator that I won from Nutmeg Nanny’s giveaway several months ago, and thought it would work well here since the honey and yogurt would add a lot of liquid that usually isn’t in cookies, and you need more wet ingredients in any coconut flour recipe–it’s very thirsty and absorbs lots of moisture.  (I know this from a previous failure.)

I scanned the list again, trying to see if any other ingredients would pair well with the flavor of coconut and pondered over the kumquats.  I’d never had them but had seen them at the grocery store from time to time and always assumed they were miniature oranges.  I remember asking Dennis, “What is the point of these?  It would take forever to peel enough of these to make them worth eating!”  But I Googled kumquats anyway, to see if they might work for me in my cookies.

I found out that the skin is the part that is sweet and delicious, and the inside is very sour.  Most people eat them whole to savor the contrast of sweet and sour.  (I tried this after buying them, and whoo-ey, even the sweet peel wasn’t enough for me to dig the sour explosion on the inside.  But the flavor is very good-very similar to an orange.)  I also found a recipe for kumquat chocolate chip cookies that described the kumquat peels as being great after baking because they get chewy like pieces of candy.  OK, I was sold.  I had to find me some kumquats.

Find them I did, and then I went to work.  I’m pretty happy with my creation!  These cookies have an exotic flavor profile, with a semi-tropical feel.  The honey wasn’t quite enough to balance the sour yogurt and and kumquats (yes, I totally tasted the raw dough. I always do. :) ), but the stevia made them nicely sweet like any good cookie should be.  I love the kumquat flavor, it is a perfect match with the coconut.  I added the spices because a recipe I have from my friend, Marina, called “Cream Cheese Cookies” uses them, but I honestly can’t say they really pronounce themselves on the palate.  They sort of just add a layer of mystery in the background to the overall exotic flavor.

The texture is soft and moist and very tender, which isn’t my usual choice for a cookie (I’m in the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside camp), but these are so unique that it doesn’t strike me as “wrong.”  These cookies are supposed to be different, and it’s actually a nice texture…not unlike shortbread.  The one downside is that coconut flour makes them a bit grainy and while they’re not a dry cookie, the flour makes you thirsty after eating one.

All in all, these aren’t the typical American cookie, but I think they’d be perfect with tea.  In fact, I think I’m going to enjoy a few with a hot cup right now…

Kumquat & Coconut Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup raw, local honey
½ cup Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut flour
5 packets NuNaturals stevia powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon salt
½ lb. kumquats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk the butter and honey together in a small bowl until combined, then whisk in the yogurt until combined, then the eggs and vanilla. Doing it in this way emulsifies the butter so that it doesn’t harden and get clotted when you add the cold yogurt and eggs.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the coconut flour to get any clumps out, then whisk in the coriander, ginger, mace, and salt. Add the honey & yogurt mixture, and stir with a spoon until mixed. The dough will be thick and will get thicker upon standing. Set aside.

Pick off the small stems from the kumquats, then roughly chop them, removing seeds as you go. I don’t have a great knife, so I sliced each kumquat into four slices, then quartered each slice, otherwise I just would have gone nuts chopping like I do with nuts. Add the chopped kumquats into the cookie dough along with the coconut and mix well with your clean hands.

Scoop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets with a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop. You can place them fairly close together as they will not spread. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Notes: coconut oil can be substituted for the butter to make these dairy-free. If you are using a different brand or form of stevia, add it in to taste. There is no gluten to toughen the cookies, so you can mix and re-mix to your heart’s content as you add ingredients to get the right balance to suit your tastes.

Lemongrass Chicken with Peppers

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Secret Recipe Club

It’s that time again! Secret Recipe Club time!  This is my sixth month with the club, and still having a ball.  My favorite part is getting my assignment and then stalking my assigned blog, bookmarking all the recipes I want to try.  I really love the secrecy and wonder how far the other members take it.  I take it so far as to not even pin the recipes I want to try on Pinterest (how I usually keep track of recipes), for fear that the blog owner will find my bajillion pins and figure out I have their blog this month.  That would ruin the surprise.  I also don’t subscribe to the blog I’m assigned to, just in case they keep track of their subscribers, and I don’t leave comments.  Nothing to let on that I’m the one that has their blog!  The secrecy is pretty fun and makes me feel super sneaky. :)

This month, I was assigned to Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, and boy did I have fun scouring Anne’s archives.  Although you may not be able to tell  it from the amount of buttery, sugary treats I post, I really love healthy food, especially if it’s easy to prepare (kinda helps balance out all the time and calories in my desserts), so this blog was perfect for me!  I counted the recipes I bookmarked and know this has got to be a personal record: 44.  No joke.  Um, Amanda (Amanda started the club), is there a reward for “most recipes bookmarked in a SRC assignment?” ;)

But when I came across Anne’s Lemongrass Chicken, there was little doubt that it was the winning recipe.  The grocery store closest to us started carrying lemongrass a couple years ago, and was really happy to have an excuse to buy some!  Of course, when I went to buy it, they were out. Of course!  So off I went to my trusty Asian market, and I found a big bucket of lemongrass stalks, bundled in bunches of 3 for $1.  Can’t beat that!

My friend, Pia, mailed me some vegetable cutters for Christmas and while I was trying to think of what veggies I could add to the chicken (I bulk up most of our meals with as many veggies as I can), I thought of those cutters and knew I’d be adding in some pretty peppers.  I know most people will not have these special cutters (I believe you can buy them at Asian markets, though), so just slice your peppers if you don’t–it will still make a very colorful and pretty dish!

Thanks, Anne, for sharing this wonderful recipe!  It was the MOST delicious dish I’ve ever made with SRC, hands down.  I’ve never had lemongrass before, and I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) that it smelled exactly like the lemongrass soap that my sister makes!  It has a bright & fresh slightly lemony smell and flavor.  It looks like a green onion, and has a fibrous texture similar to ginger.  It is very good and I hope that you have an Asian market near you so you can make this chicken.

I do want to mention that I made this sweet, almost as sweet as the sauces you get on Americanized Chinese fare, so if you want a more subtle sweetness, halve the honey.  I started with 1/4 cup, which was good but barely sweet.  I wanted it sweeter and my recipe reflect the change I made to 1/2 cup honey, but you might want to start with less and taste it once the chicken is cooked. You can always add more!

Lemongrass Chicken with Peppers

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup honey
½ cup soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon (1 clove) minced garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup (about 1 large stalk) minced fresh lemongrass
3 green onions, chopped
½ of a red pepper, cut into strips or shapes
½ of a green pepper, cut into strips or shapes
½ of a yellow pepper, cut into strips or shapes
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or in a large bowl, combine chicken, honey, ¼ cup of the soy sauce, and garlic, and allow to marinate 10-15 minutes (this is a good time to prep your veggies). Mix the remaining ¼ cup soy sauce with the cornstarch and set aside.

Heat an extra-large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add lemongrass and stir-fry for about 15 seconds, until fragrant but not brown. Add the chicken, and continue to stir-fry until the pieces are cooked through, about ten minutes. Stir the soy sauce & cornstarch mixture, and add it to the skillet along with the green onions and peppers. Stir-fry until sauce is thickened and serve hot over rice, topped with a sprinkle of cilantro.

Makes 6-8 servings

I have to pimp my Tupperware lady, Stacy, because I just got a rice maker from her and used it to prepare my brown rice for this dish.  There are only instructions for white rice and a few other quick-cooking grains on the insert, so here’s how I did mine if you get one and want to make brown rice (the insert does say it can be used for brown rice, but doesn’t give instructions): 1 cup brown rice, 2 1/4 cups water.  5 minutes on high, 30 minutes on 50% power in a 1000 watt microwave.  (The rice cooker is BPA-free, in case you are worried about cooking your rice in plastic.)  Perfect brown rice, and a little faster than it takes on the stove!  Get your own rice cooker here.


Honey Whole Wheat Beer Bread

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Sheesh, I know what you guys are thinking. That with all the alcohol-laden recipes I’ve been posting lately, I must be a secret raging alcoholic! Well, I promise I’m not.  While I will take a sip once in a while, I generally dislike it on several levels. Besides the taste, and abstaining for scriptural reasons like not wanting to cause a brother to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9-13), I’ve seen firsthand the effect it can have on a person’s health and on a family if abused, and I steer clear of alcohol so that I don’t continue that legacy.

However, while I have a personal distaste for it in its pure state, I do have quite a fondness for adding it to my baked goods. A little bit can really intensify the flavor in a recipe, and the baking (and cooking) process eliminates the alcohol content so that it will not have an intoxicating effect on your body.  Win-win!

Because of my fondness for baking with it, you really might think I had an alcohol problem if you took a look in my cupboard! I’ve got rum, bourbon, and brandy upstairs (great for so many things, including a fantastic fruit cake recipe I’ll be sharing come October–it takes two months to make), and I keep a few beers in the basement. Beer is my least favorite alcohol, but I make sure I always have a few on hand because one of my favorite breads happens to be beer bread. Go figure.

Beer creates magic when you put it in a quick bread, supplanting a yeasty flavor that quick breads lack, and it’s just so delicious! I’m very excited about my newest variation on beer bread (I can not believe this is my fourth beer bread post! Stop the madness!) because it is not only delicious, but healthy!

My favorite beer bread has white flour, butter, and white sugar in it, but I wanted something more wholesome this time so I used white whole wheat flour, canola oil, and honey. I was so delighted when I sliced into this loaf and took my first bite! I couldn’t believe how soft, tender and moist it was, and the flavor was incredible. Very yeasty, with a mild sweetness.  I think that honey and beer were meant to come together in bread!

You may remember the leftover Guiness I was going to throw out because I’d already made cupcakes and brownies and couldn’t take it any more. I’m so glad I decided to use the last of it to make this bread because it added a much more intense yeasty flavor to the bread than what I usually get from the lighter colored beers I use and it was quite lovely! But if you have a lighter beer, don’t make a special trip to the store, it will work just fine here and your bread will be much lighter in color (if you use white whole wheat flour like I did), and you might fool healthy-phobic people into thinking it’s white bread.

And lest you think that the beer-haters in your family won’t dig this, just remember I hate beer, and it literally makes my husband gag to even smell it.  (Remember when he threw up after I served him vodka sauce on his spaghetti?  Yeah, alcohol and him do not mix!)  But we both love this bread.  I think you will too.

Honey Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder, such as Rumford
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
¼ cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) beer

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or oil a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg until uniform in color, then whisk in the oil, honey, and beer. Pour into the larger bowl and whisk well to combine. Pour into prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes prior to cutting. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap or keep in a Ziploc bag with the air pressed out. This bread freezes well too, just slice it before you freeze it and you can take it out slice by slice, as you need it.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia Original

Baba Ghanoush Two Ways: Classic & Tahini-Free

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After last week’s sugar & booze fest, I thought it was time to break out a beautifully healthy AND delicious recipe.  I’m feeling the need to cleanse my system after indulging in a few too many “tastes” of my creations and this is a perfect way to do it: with baba ghanoush!

Never heard of it?  Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip that is similar to hummus, but eggplant stands in for chickpeas.  All other ingredients are pretty much the same!

I’ve always loved hummus but was never impressed with the baba ghanoush I ordered at restaurants.  It was either too smoky or too bland, but I’m stubborn and I had it in my head that if it was prepared properly, I would love it.  So when Jenna posted a recipe for it, and her beautiful pictures mesmerized and dazzled me, convincing me that indeed, I would love it if I made it myself, I ventured forth.

Behold, the baba ghanoush.

There was much jubilation in my kitchen upon the first bite, proof that baba ghanoush is delicious!!

I made the first batch and ate it within a week, then made a tahini-free batch the following week (I ran out of tahini, plus, leaving it out made the recipe 17 Day Diet-friendly).  I actually liked the tahini-free version better, but that is more likely due to me roasting the eggplant longer (the first batch was a little undercooked) than the lack of tahini.  I definitely recommend roasting your eggplants thoroughly (like Jenna says, when you think they’re done roasting, roast them a little more), because it makes a great difference in taste.

I tell you I can’t get enough of this stuff.  I have half a jar in my fridge right now and I had to get up and take a spoonful as I was writing this blog.  And that’s my favorite way to eat it, by the way.  Straight from the jar (or the food processor) with a spoon.  I use it more like a side dish than a dip, but it’s really good with pita chips too!

Baba Ghanoush

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 medium eggplants
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Chips or bread, to serve

Prick each eggplant with a fork until the surface is covered with holes. Place the eggplants under a broiler (or on a grill) and cook for about 40 minutes, until blackened and slightly shrunken, turning occasionally. When they’re very tender, let them cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the eggplant flesh into a the bowl of a food processor with a spoon, discarding the skins. Add the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Process until desired texture, then add the parsley and pulse to combine. Serve with chips, pita bread, a baguette, crackers, etc.

Tahini-Free Baba Ghanoush

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Printable recipe with picture

3 medium eggplants
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Pita chips, crackers, or vegetables, to serve

Prick each eggplant with a fork until the surface is covered with holes. Place the eggplants under a broiler (or on a grill) and cook for about 40 minutes, until blackened and slightly shrunken, turning occasionally. When they’re very tender, let them cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the eggplant flesh into a the bowl of a food processor with a spoon, discarding the skins. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Process until desired texture, then add the parsley and pulse to combine. Serve with chips, pita bread, a baguette, crackers, etc.

Recipes source: adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

OPI Be a Dahlia Won't You

A closer look at my manicure at the time I took the photos of the classic baba ghanoush: decked out in OPI’s Be a Dahlia Won’t You (I love this color! I’m a pink-aholic). I just added a few nail decals instead of trying to do nail art by hand-much easier (and prettier)!

Cauliflower Colcannon

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I’m linking this post with the GreensLove bloghop.  If you are posting a recipe with any sort of greens this month, check it out and join the party!

A couple years ago I made lasagna and garlic bread for dinner on St. Patrick’s Day and happened to mention it in my Facebook status.  I don’t really celebrate the holiday, so it wasn’t on my radar, but one of my Facebook friends was like, “Hey! Where’s the corned beef and cabbage???”  I’d never made any sort of Irish-type food whether on St. Patrick’s Day or otherwise, and thought I just might try it the following year.

And so I purchased my first beef brisket last year.  It turned out to be the worst brisket in the history of briskets.  It. was. horrid.  I still shudder just thinking about it.  (80% fat, with a foul flavor.)  But, I also made this cauliflower colcannon, which was very good and ended up being the main course rather than our side dish.

The pureed cauliflower serves as a lower-carb, more nutritious replacement for the mashed potatoes that colcannon is usually made with.  I opted for kale instead of cabbage in my colcannon, but it would be good either way.  This made a mighty tasty dish, and a good alternative to traditional colcannon if you are going to be eating a high-calorie dessert afterward.  Kinda helps balance things out.  And I’m a Libra, so I’m all about balance.  Cauliflower Colcannon + 1 dozen Andes Mint Cupcakes = balance.  Right?  Right.  Let’s do this.

Cauliflower Colcannon

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 lightly packed cups kale, cabbage, or other greens
½ cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)
Milk or heavy cream for thinning, if necessary

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, clean and cut the cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until very tender. Drain the cauliflower well and pat it very dry between several layers of paper towels, not allowing it to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the butter, salt, and pepper until almost smooth. Set aside.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add the greens. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until greens have wilted and given off some of their water. Add the onions and garlic and cook one minute more. Stir in the cauliflower mixture and thin with milk or cream, if necessary. Serve hot with a pat of butter, if desired.

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

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It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  I can’t tell you how thankful I am to Amanda for starting this club.  The amount of fun I have with it is a little ridiculous.  My favorite part is getting my blog assignment and stealthily stalking that blog, hunting down recipes that I want to make and post for reveal day.  I always bookmark a million and it takes me an entire week to narrow down my choice to one recipe.

{You can find my past Secret Recipe Club posts here.}

This month I was assigned to A Little Nosh and unlike previous assignments, I knew which recipe I was going to make within a minute of clicking on her blog.  I still went through Amy’s archives and bookmarked half her recipes, but did eventually return to the original that caught my eye and knew I couldn’t fight it.  I had to make the crockpot chicken cacciatore because:

1) It’s beautiful and I like pretty food.

2)  I’d never eaten or made it and thought it would be fun to try something new.

3) It fit perfectly in our diet plan while we were in the 2nd cycle of the 17 Day Diet.

4) I noticed the recipe originally came from one of my blogging buddies, Renee of My Kitchen Adventures, and it tickled me to think that I’d be making Amy’s and Renee’s recipe at the same time.

 

I changed the recipe to make it on a slightly larger scale with a higher ratio of veggies, and it completely filled my 6-quart crockpot to the brim.  The leftovers were enough to last us all week, and what beautiful lunches we were bringing to work!  The vegetables and sauce were such a tasty compliment to the tender chicken breast meat, which pretty much fell apart as soon as you touched it with a fork.  So delicious.

Thanks, Amy, for sharing this great recipe.  I never even saw it on Renee’s blog, so I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity through you and the SRC to try it!

Crockpot Garden Chicken Cacciatore

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6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large ribs of celery, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 (4 oz) cans sliced mushrooms, drained
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons water or chicken broth
Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken breasts inside the bottom of a 6-quart crockpot. Add in the bell peppers, onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Pour the juice from the tomatoes into a medium bowl, then put the tomatoes into the crockpot.

Into the bowl with the tomato juice, add the tomato paste, chicken stock, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well, then pour on top of the tomatoes and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender.

Mix the cornstarch and water together until no lumps remain, then pour over the top of the vegetables. Stir, turn the crockpot to high, and allow to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over brown rice or your choice of starch.

Recipe source: adapted from A Little Nosh, originally from My Kitchen Adventures

To check out the other submissions in Group A for The Secret Recipe Club, click on the Mr. Linky below!



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