Flexitarian Favorites…so far

It has been almost a month since I decided to start replacing the meat in my diet for a couple of days a week. I shared this new lifestyle decision with you in my post titled “Less Meat!” I set the goal for two days a week and that has been completely manageable. In fact, I’ve even gone three days in some weeks. If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen posts about my Go Green Bake and my Eggplant and Heirloom Lasagna.

Those were my most involved veggie fixes so far, but I have a few other very simple but tasty favorites too.

I found a recipe for curried egg salad and I can’t get enough of it! I keep forgetting to take pictures of this one, but you can see the finished product in the original post. I’ve also used this as a filling in lettuce wraps instead of on toast just to mix things up a bit.

I am also a fan of flat bread veggie pizzas. Pictured is a pizza margherita. You can make so many different combinations and usually I just use this to finish some odds and ends veggies that are in the refrigerator before they spoil.

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I also tried a recipe from Martha Steward for a Tortilla and Black Bean Pie. It was very tasty! I suggest adding a little extra hot sauce to it. I also replaced the scallions in the original recipe with cilantro. This is what I’ve made for my food swap event coming up next week!

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I had leftover black beans from the pie, so I made Buffalo Black Bean Stuffed Peppers the next night. Basically, I just used 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 6 chopped cherry tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons of buffalo sauce for the filling, and topped it with mozzarella and baked it until heated through. A great way to use the black beans in a different way!

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Balsamic Marinated Pork and Hearty Fruit Salad in Pepper “Boats”

The new season of Master Chef started a few weeks ago so I am find myself newly inspired to keep up with my food challenges. Today marks my 70th post! This weeks challenge included pork chops, plantains, kiwi, and papaya.

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My first thought was that this would be way too much sweetness for dinner. I grew up on meat and potatoes and dessert or fruit always came after dinner. So, I immediately decided that I wanted to use the fruit and make something that was a little more substantial. While I thought about what in the world to do with the fruit, I put the pork chops into a black cherry balsamic marinade. I’ve used this black cherry balsamic in two recipes (sweet potato caprese and salad dressing) now and I am loving it!

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I chopped one plantain, one kiwi, and about 1/4 of the papaya into bite sized chunks. I have only cooked with plantains one other time and tried to make a sweet and healthy dessert with them. I took the plantains in a completely different direction this time.

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I then explored what we had in our own refrigerator to add to it. I chopped about 1/4 cup of red onion, 8 cherry tomatoes, and one jalapeno to add to the mix. I seasoned it with 1/2 teaspoon each of paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. I sauteed this in olive oil butter until the plantains were golden brown and the flavors had mixed well.

image(138) While it sauteed, I did two things. First, I cut a green pepper in half to serve as the “boats” for my hearty fruit salad. Second, I started searing the pork chops.

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Next, I stuffed each pepper with the hearty fruit salad. Once the pork had a nice sear on each side. I put both into the oven and baked them at 300 degrees for about 25 minutes.

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The final dish was so good and so filling! I worried about the mix of spicy and sweet in the fruit salad, but it really did taste hearty and not at all like fruit salad. It seemed to be a relatively healthy meal and it meets the paleo diet standards.  Even the plantains are paleo, which surprised me!

As a side note: My life with my cats is always an adventure…Dropping papaya seeds in the floor will result in consumption by cats. Twelve hours later and it does not appear that consuming papaya seeds is harmful to cats. Here are some foods that are dangerous to cats though. Whew!

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Back to Cooking…Finally!

The past month has been a little hectic! I’ve been in the process of moving, so I’ve been transitioning in a lot of areas of my life…including the kitchen! Unfortunately, I was kitchenless for that time period, which also means that I was blog postless. Blog postless? Apparently, I don’t just cook, I make up words too…

Now, I have a kitchen, but I don’t have all of my supplies unpacked and put away. To squelch my cooking cravings I just worked with what I had to make something quick and easy.

First, I sauteed thinly sliced chicken breasts until slightly browned.

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I shredded the chicken and added a can of black beans, 5 tablespoons of salsa, 1.5 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder for a little kick. I let this simmer for about 15 minutes.

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While the mixture simmered, I cut the top out of two large bell peppers.

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I stuffed each pepper with the chicken mixture and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese.

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I baked it for about 20 minutes wrapped in foil and another 5 minutes uncovered.

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I liked that the filling was protein filled and tasty. It didn’t include carb loaded fillers like rice or bread crumbs. The addition of the lime juice prevented it for getting too dried out while baking. When I make these again I would like to make my own salsa using my recipe from a previous post called Mexican Monday.

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I’m looking forward to getting back to my normal challenges next week!