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Savory Spinach Ricotta Pie

Lower-Fat Spinach Ricotta Pie

Let me start off by saying that I am not a baker. I like to cook, but I don’t often bake. In fact, this is the first pie I have ever baked! This is a pie that my mama Helene made when I was growing up. I decide to make this pie myself using lower-fat ingredients to make it a bit more FBB friendly. This savory pie is just amazing!

Serves 5-8.

Ingredients:

  • pre-made pie crust
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic salt/black pepper

Begin by heating 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and sauté for about 5-10 minutes on medium heat. Then add the chopped spinach and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Season with a dash of garlic salt/black pepper. In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, egg and the spinach and onion mixture. Combine and season with more garlic salt/black pepper.

Place the bottom pie crust into a greased pie dish and then spoon in the spinach and ricotta mixture. Place the top pie crust over the mixture and use your fingers to crimp the crust shut. Use a knife to cut small slits in the top of the pie. I took a small amount of olive oil and used it to coat the crust to add some extra shine and flavor. Bake the pie in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.

Great Gratin.

Summer Squash & Leek Gratin

A gratin is a dish that has is topped with breadcrumbs, cheese and is browned in the oven. This particular gratin is made with fresh vegetables and herbs. The bread crumbs and parmesan adds creaminess to the dish while the leeks and squash add a crisp bite. It’s a great way to eat your veggies!

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 4 small summer squash
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tbsp light Smart Balance butter
  • salt/black pepper

In a large pan, melt 2 tbsp of light Smart Balance butter and then add the crushed garlic and onion. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes and then add in the leeks and squash. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring often, and then add the skim milk and sour cream. Stir to combine the ingredients and then add in 3/4 cup of bread crumbs. Remove the pan from the heat and add in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix well and then put the mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven on 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Spice Up Your Rice.

Vegetable Baked Rice

This is such a simple and yummy dish to make! This baked rice is a great way to highlight your favorite vegetables. Because it’s baked, it creates a warm and hearty meal. Feel free to change the recipe to add any vegetables you like!

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked rice, white or brown (I used white)
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1  cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the zucchini and red pepper. Cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are tender but still crisp. In a large bowl, add the cooked vegetables, rice, sour cream, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together and then pour the rice mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and then bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Pancake Day Is The Best Day.

You learn something new everyday! Yesterday, I learned that it was Pancake Day. Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday. In America, we usually call it Fat Tuesday, but in the UK, it’s more often called Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. This is apparently Gareth’s favorite day of the year. The pancakes he made are much thinner than what Americans would call pancakes, and are similar to what we would consider crepes. He made the batter using flour, butter, eggs, milk, a pinch of salt and water.  After he cooked them up and tossed them in the air (a talent I was unaware of and am still in awe of), he rolled them up and topped them with lemon juice and sugar. He ate 9 pancakes in total and was in blissful food coma for the rest of the evening!

Helene’s Healthy Cabbage.

Toasted Sesame & Tamari Red Cabbage

This cabbage is amazing! My mama, Helene, created this healthy cabbage recipe years ago.  I grew up eating this meal and it was always one of my favorites. I haven’t had it in years and I was really craving it, so I asked my mom for the recipe. I’m not sure why I waited so long! It is one of the easiest recipes and is so delicious and nutritious. I served it with whole-wheat couscous but you could also serve it with rice, pasta or eat it on its own.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head red cabbage, sliced
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium tamari  (tamari is gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes (this is a supplement found at Whole Foods)

Begin by heating the sesame oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the red cabbage and the tamari and then put the lid on and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Keeping the lid on will allow the cabbage to steam and reduce. Add the nutritional yeast and then continue to cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Cooking From The Heart.

I came home from work on Monday expecting to head to the gym and watch The Bachelor, but instead, I smelled something delicious cooking in the kitchen. It was Gareth cooking me dinner for Valentine’s Day! It was such a great surprise! This was a momentous, historic occasion in our household because this is the first real meal that Gareth has ever cooked for me. He made me Spaghetti Bolognese from his “Cooking For Blokes” cook book. Cooking for someone is one of the most loving things you can do. Eating and enjoying the meal together is a shared experienced of the other’s hard work, effort and the love they put into the food. It was a delicious meal that I will never forget.

Lucious Lemon Pork Chops.

Crunchy Lemon Pork Chops With Mozzarella & Avocado Puree

I rarely cook pork, but this particular night I went to the grocery store, they didn’t have any chicken breast (imagine that!) so I picked up these pork chops instead. This recipe could certainly be cooked with chicken breast instead of pork if you prefer, but I think that the pork gives it a unique flavor and texture that combines amazingly with the crunchiness of the corn meal, the tartness of the lemon and the smoothness of the avocado and mozzarella. Delish!

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 thin cut, lean pork chops
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella (1 oz each)
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic salt
  • hot red pepper flakes

Begin my marinating the pork chops with the juice from 1 lemon and a dash of garlic salt and hot red pepper flakes. Allow them to sit in the lemon juice for about 30 minutes. After marinated, bread the pork chops by coating them in egg and then coating them in corn meal. After the pork chops are breaded, heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. It’s important that the pan is non-stick because the breading on the pork is fairly delicate. Cook the pork in the oil on each side for about 1-2 minutes until golden brown. If the oil begins to smoke, make sure to turn the heat down. Place the pork chops on a non-stick baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

While the pork chops are in the oven, add the avocado and the juice from 1/2 a lemon into the food processor. Add a dash of garlic salt and hot red pepper flakes and blend until smooth.

After the pork chops are done baking, plate the pork and then top with a slice of fresh mozzarella, a spoonful of the avocado puree and a slice of tomato. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the top to enhance the lemon flavor.