Archive for the ‘Entrees’ Category

Best Pizza Yet

Monday, October 26th, 2015

I rode just shy of 100 miles this weekend: 64 miles on Saturday and 30 something today. The original plan for today was to do another 60 or more miles, but my cycling partner had one flat and 3 blowouts. So that cut today’s ride a bit short, but made it a more intense ride.

Stopping to fix a flat ...

Yesterday I made pizza dough and today pizza. Everything was entirely from scratch: the crust, spicy turkey sausage, and the tomato fennel sauce.

Homemade From Scratch!

Blogging from the phone is fun, but it is also kind of a pain. So hard to see on this tiny screen!

Finally … A Chance to Ride!

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Today was my first opportunity to ride in a while. Too long. I got just over 50 miles in and it felt great! It was a beautiful day … not too hot … not too cold … a bit breezy, but not too much.

Quick water stop at William Pond Park, off the American River Trail in Sacramento.

I rode on the American River Trail from Old Town Sacramento towards Fulton, about 20 miles on the path, before turning around to head home. I was hoping that the wind I rode into would help me on the way back home, but …not so much.

Although, I suppose it’s a matter of framing. If I look at it from the perspective that I really need to train for my upcoming 2015 Napa Valley Tour de Cure Ride, then yes, it was indeed helpful because it made me work harder.

It was an interesting ride out there today. I encountered a snake crossing the path (shudder!) … wild turkeys … geese … squirrels … lots of wild life on the Trail today!

I was pretty hungry when I got home, but it was mid-afternoon so I didn’t want a very big meal. On the ride, I got to thinking about smoothies, and I haven’t had one in a while. This was a very light smoothie, very refreshing, and not super sweet.

Perfect Post-Ride Snack - Blueberry Cherry Protein Smoothie

Blueberry Cherry Protein Smoothie

1 cup filtered water, chilled
1 cup crushed ice
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen cherries
1 scoop whey protein powder

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Makes just over a pint of smoothie.

Whey protein is a great recovery food, so it’s often recommended after a ride or workout. This smoothie held me over a while, so I could get some chores and stuff done.

For dinner, I had some Rock Fish (a type of cod), shrimp, and tomatoes that I wanted to use.  I chopped and then sauteed the tomatoes in a little olive oil, added a bit of slightly crushed fennel seeds, herbs de Provence, and a little crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. I simmered the tomatoes with the fennel and herbs until the tomatoes began to break apart a bit. I cooked these on low for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. In another skillet, I briefly sauteed the shrimp (just until they turned pink) and added them to the tomatoes. Then I sauteed the fish in a bit of olive oil. Then, I poured the tomato and shrimp mixture over the fish, gave it a gentle stir, and turned the heat down to low, simmering until the fish was fully cooked, tender and flaky.

To serve, I had some leftover homemade croutons, so I placed a few in the bottom of a bowl. I ladled some of the fish-shrimp-tomato mixture on top, being sure to include plenty of the juices, then topped with a bit of Feta cheese.

Rock Fish, Shrimp, Tomatoes, Fennel, Feta

This came out even better than I expected! The picture does not even begin to do this dish justice.

I hope you had an awesome day and got to get some great cycling and amazing food in.

I had a very short weekend after a very long week, and may I just say that I am looking forward to Saturday already?

Mahi Mahi with Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

A little healthy comfort food was in order tonight. It was a long day that started with a dreadful commute. It took me nearly three times my normal commute time this morning. It would have taken me less time to ride my bike. I really do need to start doing that.

Mmmmm-mahi mahi with roasted asparagus and mushrooms.

Seared then poached Mahi Mahi with roasted asparagus and mushrooms. The vegetables are so easy to cook this way – simply drizzle with a little olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Then roast for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Roasting vegetables brings out a rich, sweet decadence that makes them seem like a treat. As long as you do a light drizzle of oil and don’t over salt, they’re still healthy.


Poached Rock Cod

Friday, March 20th, 2015

The day started on the bike trainer … just a quick 30-minute session. Then work. Then traffic. Then a quick ride to Old Town Sac and back. Then a super healthy and yummy and light dinner …

Rock Cod Poached with White Wine & Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes & Fennel Seeds, Asparagus & Green Beans, & Sprouted Rice. Healthy, light, comforting, and delicious. This picture does not do it justice!

Vegetable Lasagna

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

There are lots of ways to make vegetable lasagna, but this is one of my favorites.

Simply take your favorite lasagna recipe and make a few modifications. Don’t have a favorite recipe? Then just use the one that’s on the box of lasagna noodles and make a few changes:

  • To your tomato sauce, add shredded carrots, eggplant, fresh fennel, and zucchini; add sliced fresh mushrooms and chopped fresh tomatoes.  Saute the vegetables just to soften a bit, then add the sauce and simmer until the flavors combine – at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours. If you have a few fresh basil leaves, that would be great, too. Just tear them up a bit and add to the sauce while it’s simmering.
  • Use ground lean turkey instead of ground beef or fatty sausages. For a little extra flavor, add some crushed fennel seeds and red chile flakes. while you’re cooking the ground turkey. I like to cook the meat in with the tomato sauce, but some recipes call for the meat to be added in a separate layer.
  • For the cheese filling – substitute fat free cottage cheese for ricotta cheese, add spinach.
  • Use reduced fat cheeses, and go easy on the amount of cheese you add – you’ll be surprised at how much you don’t miss it! I put most of the mozzarella on top just to give it the illusion of cheesiness.

These simple changes will lighten up your lasagna. It’s also a great way to get vegetables to those who don’t care for vegetables.

Your sauce will be chunky - full of lean ground turkey and healthy vegetables!

So I guess it is true … you can have your lasagna and eat it, too!

Enjoy a lightened up version of lasagna!

Challenge: Day 17

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Today was a different kind of challenge because I was cooking for family and wanted to make a meal they’d all like, but would also fit within my Challenge. Well, for the most part fit the Challenge.

The menu:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Chicken Provencal
Shrimp with Spinach and Mushrooms
Stir-Steamed Vegetables
Pasta with just a drizzle of olive oil
Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

The stuffed mushrooms weren’t really on the Challenge, because they were made with full fat cheese, but I figure they didn’t have that much filling, so two small ones would be sort of OK. Next time I make them I will try a reduced fat cream cheese and I think add some sun dried tomatoes for color.

Stuffed Mushrooms

They’re easy to make. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean 12 large crimini mushrooms. Simply pop the stems out of the caps and trim and discard the cut end. Chop the stems finely, then saute in a little olive oil with some fresh garlic. Cook until the excess liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool. Blend about 4 ounces of cream cheese (preferably light), about 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 teaspoon each paprika, black pepper, and onion powder. When the mushroom and garlic mixture has cooled, mix this in to the cheese mixture. Make a little well in the mushroom cap, scooping out the soft, fleshy center. Just barely scrape – you want to maintain the integrity of the mushroom cap. Evenly divide the cheese mixture into the mushroom caps and gently press down to fill the cap and even out the top. Bake about 20 minutes, remove from oven, and top with just a touch more Parmesan cheese. Increase heat to broil, then return the mushrooms to the oven for a few minutes just to brown the tops a bit. Be careful – these can quickly go from perfect to burnt!

Chicken Provencal

For the Chicken Provencal, marinate a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a little white wine, olive oil, and herbs de Provence. Marinate at least a few hours or best if overnight. You will want to slice each breast into two or three thinner pieces before marinating. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a heavy bottomed skillet on high and pour in no more than 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. When the pan is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and add one piece at a time to the skillet. Reserve the marinade. Brown the chicken a little on each side. Cook a few minutes on medium-high heat, then add about 1 cup of white wine and cook until it’s reduced by about half, then top with chopped fresh tomatoes – I like to use heirloom cherry tomatoes because they’re delicious and easy to work with. Use about 1 cup of the cut tomatoes per breast of chicken. Then add the marinade to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is tender and fully cooked (about 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve cut your chicken). Season to taste with salt and pepper. We enjoyed this with a little pasta, but it would be equally good with rice, or just on its own.

Shrimp with Heirloom Red Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

The Shrimp with Spinach and Mushrooms could hardly be any easier. Saute sliced mushrooms until they just begin to soften, then add fresh spinach. Cover and allow to steam until the spinach begins to wilt. Clean and devein the shrimp, saute in a non-stick pan, turning each shrimp just once. Add the cooked spinach and mushrooms to the pan, give a gentle stir to combine well. Cover and allow to cook on low for a few minutes, careful to not overcook the shrimp (they’ll get tough). Season to taste with salt and pepper. I have a feeling that bacon would add great flavor to this, but … not so great for the Challenge!

Stir-Steamed Veggies - asparagus, broccolette, carrots, green beans

The Stir-Steamed Vegetables … see here for the method.

The cookies … clearly are not on the Challenge, but it’s Sunday Dinner with Family, so …

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a recipe I have been working on and it’s showing great promise.

I got a quick ride in this morning, and was hoping that I had had time for more, but then it got super windy in the afternoon, so I was thankful that I was not out in that.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Challenge: Day 11

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Happy Valentine’s Day! We have the perfect weather for cycling here today, and the air is pretty clean, too! So, I celebrated Valentine’s Day by treating myself to a long bike ride along the American River Trail.

At the turn around point. I love this bike!

Quick stop on the way home - William B. Pond Park along the American River Trail.

I rode about 65 miles, so I think I earned a few extra carbs today. I fueled my ride with a nice, heart-healthy bowl of steel-cut oats, with a couple of walnuts, a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and about 1 tablespoon of dried blueberries.  During the ride, I had 2 small whole grain fig bars and a Cliff gel.

I was way overdressed for how warm it got, so by the time I got home I was in need of some cool refreshment.

Fresh, cool watermelon is a perfect way to rehydrate after a ride.

And hungry, too!

Whole Grain Rice Medley with Smoked Chicken Apple Sausage and Green Beans.

This is about 1 cup of carbs, 1/2 cup protein, and 1/2 cup veggies, so it’s easily within my Challenge!

I have got to start getting some longer rides in so I can get ready for my 2015 Napa Valley Tour de Cure!!! Please consider donating to my ride – it’s a great cause!


Challenge: Day 8

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

I’ll have to do this later today, but here’s Day 8 Dinner …

Remember that piece of beef I was marinating? Here it is!

Coffee-Marinated Steak with Heirloom Red Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

I marinated a small piece of beef in a little coffee, balsamic vinegar, and Herbs de Provence. It had very nice flavor.

The Red Heirloom Spinach was interesting. I’m trying it in a salad today for lunch, with a little of the leftover beef, some fresh mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and a light espresso-balsamic vinaigrette.

Totals for the day:

* 3 1/2 cups vegetables
* 1 cup fruit
* 3 cups protein
* 1 cups carbs
* 2 T healthy cheese (“light”)
* 1 T dressing (homemade marinade)
* 2 tablespoons nuts

Must run! Work, work, work!

Challenge: Day 7

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Today was going along fine until about noon, then I suddenly felt funky sick. I had a little ginger candy and that worked like a miracle and I feel OK now. I’m thinking maybe I had too much coffee and not enough food this morning. I started drinking lots of water and nibbled on my food as tolerated.

I made a light, healthy dinner tonight with the leftover salmon from last night.

Spicy Teriyaki Salmon with Steamed Veggies

Totals for the day:

* 3 cups vegetables
* 1 cup fruit
* 2 3/4 cups protein
* 1 1/2 cups carbs
* 2 T healthy cheese (“light”)
* 1 1/2 T dressing (Teriyaki sauce & Sriracha)
* 2 tablespoons nuts

Challenge: Day 3

Friday, February 6th, 2015

I started my day with 30-minutes on the cycling trainer. My schedule today at work was packed and I had errands to run after work, so no gym visit tonight. By the time I got home, I was super hungry, even after a nice sample of some Naked juice at Costco. It was a mango-carrot blend and it was goooood.

Today was about snacking, really. I had frequent small snacks, just due to my schedule. My totals for the day:

* 2 1/4 cups vegetables
* 2 cups fruit
* 2 1/2 cups protein
* 1 1/4 cup carbs
* almost 1/4 cup healthy cheese and fats
* 1 tablespoons dressing (honey)
* 3 tablespoons nuts

I am just right on some categories, a little low on others, and over only on nuts. That’s OK as far as I am concerned, because it’s all going to pretty much balance out in the end. Once I feel like I have no flexibility to have a little +/- room, then it’s over. I’ll be eating just to meet the rules and not for enjoyment. I like food. I like good, healthy food. If I feel too restricted, it takes that pleasure away and then I feel deprived. That does not work for me.

For dinner tonight, I had some beautiful wild cod with fresh fennel, tomatoes, herbs de Provence, and toasted whole wheat bread cubes.

Wild Cod with Tomatoes and Fresh Fennel

5 ounces (by weight) of fresh wild cod, cubed (about 1 cup of cubes)
1/2 cup of diced fresh fennel (about 1/4 of a medium sized bulb)
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
pinch or two of herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon avocado or olive oil
slice of whole wheat bread, cubed (about 3/4 cup of bread cubes)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all of your ingredients. Heat a good non-stick pan to medium-high and add diced fennel. Saute a few minutes just to get a little color on it. Add the fish cubes and cook the fish a bit on all sides. You don’t really have to cube the fish, you could leave it whole. I just cubed it to see how much it would take to make it a cup, because that’s how things are measured on this Challenge.

Cook the fennel and cod a few minutes until the fennel softens a bit and the fish begins to cook through.

Add the tomatoes and herbs, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook on low for about 20 minutes.

The fish will be very flaky. The fennel and tomatoes will have softened and produced a nice broth.

While the fish is cooking, prepare your bread cubes. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan until it just starts to shimmer. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the oil. They’re probably not going to coat very evenly because there’s not much oil, but that’s fine. You’ll want them to be very light oiled and toasted.

To assemble, first place the toasted bread cubes in the bottom of your bowl.

Ladle the fish and vegetables over the bread cubes, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Admittedly not the most attractive meal I have made, but it was quite good!

Planning ahead is going to be critical for me to be successful in this Challenge, so I also started cooking tomorrow’s lunch tonight. I’ll have these cooked with hearty greens with some of the leftover chicken from last night.

Fresh crimini mushrooms to be cooked with chard, spinach, and kale greens for tomorrow's lunch.

Another busy day is ahead for tomorrow, so now it’s time for some nice warm peppermint tea with honey to help me sleep.