Gnochhi in Tomato Sauce with Zucchini, Burrata, and Fresh Basil

I’m really beginning to love my three-day weekends.  And my day off on Wednesdays.  Yesterday I took the time to go for a nice run-walk and then grocery shop.  I am seriously getting tired of schlepping everything home from the store carrying water and milk.  I just looked it up on Google Maps, and it’s almost a half mile.  I do enjoy the actual grocery shopping process though.  You never know what you’re going to find!!

Earlier this week I found some gnocchi in the pasta aisle, and yesterday I found Canadian maple syrup, a basil plant, and burrata from Italy.  The maple syrup had nothing to do with this recipe, but I love it because the brand name is “Vertmont”.  I’m definitely skeptical.  I don’t even eat that much maple syrup when I’m at home.  The cost-benefit ratio just isn’t high enough for me.  But, here I would love nothing more than a stack of pancakes loaded with butter and maple syrup.  I’m getting off-topic, but I’ll let you know how the syrup is when I get to it.

The gnocchi I got was good enough, and my new basil plant is prettying up my kitchen, but the star of this dish was the burrata.  I don’t know how I’ve never had it before.  It’s fresh mozzarella with a creamy center.  And it came in the cutest little bucket.  I’m saving the cheese water in my fridge for now {I have no idea for what}, because it was so delicious I can’t bear to toss it yet.  Unless you’re a cheese-hater, you have to go buy some right now.  And eat it all.

Ingredients:

  • 500g gnocchi {Next time I’ll make it from scratch}
  • One decent-size zucchini
  • 1 large can tomato puree
  • 200g burrata
  • Oil and garlic
  • Basil
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. I admit I got hungry last night and forgot to sautee any garlic.  But if you were going to, now would be a good time to do so.  If not, slice and sautee your zucchini.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package directions.  Mine took 2 minutes.
  3. Drain gnocchi, reserving some of the gnocchi water.
  4. Mix together tomato sauce, gnocchi, and zucchini over low heat.
  5. Slice up the burrata.
  6. Serve gnocchi.
  7. Top with buratta, parmesan cheese, and basil.  {I forgot the basil until my second bowl of gnocchi}
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Fresh basil is always so pretty to have.

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Everything coming together

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Burrata time!

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It’s the best time.

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Look at how delicious it is!!!

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Plating

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Up-close.

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There’s the basil!

What’s your favorite way to cook or eat gnocchi?  Am I the last one to make it to the burrata party, or is it a new thing for you too?  Happy Weekend!

Brown Butter Apple Muffins

Happy Wednesday!!  It might be one of my new favorite days of the week.  It’s so nice to sit in a quiet kitchen with a cup of coffee, reading blogs and whatever else I like, without having to rush out the door before sunrise.  Today, I’m waiting for the gas man.  Our gas-powered water heater has started having little explosions lately – nothing major except sparks fly out and it sounds like a car backfiring/gunshot for a moment, and then it’s back to normal.  Just to be on the safe side, the gas guy is coming today to check it out.

In the meantime, I’m also waiting for some brown butter apple muffins to come out of the oven!!  They’re really similar to the brown butter apple loaf I made in the fall, except basically they’re muffins.  American size muffins, according to the packaging of the silicon muffin cups I picked up yesterday.  This could turn into another Lékué love-fest, but I’ll hold off.  Except they’re colorful and silicon and amazing!!

In my quest to have healthy snacks, I’ve been throwing apples into my bag at work every day without checking if there might already be some leftover apples in there.  Yesterday I realized I had a few apples with brown spots that would be perfect for baking, plus an apple in my fruit bowl that started off as remedial when I got it from the market, with a brown dent.  I’ll spare you and save the market rant for another day, but regardless, I had some baking apples.

If I was being honest, I would call these muffins Whole Wheat Rolled Oat Brown Butter Chia Seed Apple Muffins, but I thought that would be too much of a mouthful to say.  I could have called them “Healthy” Muffins, but I didn’t want to scare people off.  I do think these are pretty healthy muffins, if maybe a little large, but they’re so yummy you won’t be able to tell they’re made with whole wheat flour.  Or that they have some chia seeds in them.  Honestly, I know I’m like a year and a half late to the chia bandwagon, but it’s my current favorite.  It goes well in everything, and you really can’t taste it, but it’s filled with protein and fiber; two important pieces of a healthy diet that are easy to overlook.

I even took the time to add up all of the ingredients and figure out the nutrition information for you.  I’m in a place right now where I want to make sure that everything I put in my body has a purpose.  That means no empty calories and mindless carb-binging {the half a loaf of bakery bread after work yesterday doesn’t count} for me.  In case you’re interested, I’ll put the nutrition info at the bottom of the post.  I think they have a decent amount of protein and fiber, and they’re yummy!  It’s always a good feeling when you save food from the garbage bin {I’m still sad I don’t have compost here} and it actually tastes like something you want to eat!

So, here it goes.  Whole Wheat Rolled Oat Brown Butter Chia Seed Apple Muffins.  They just came out of  the oven, and they’re as good as they look!!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp apple butter
  • 2 large apples, cored and diced {I leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you like.}

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F {176 C}.  Take your eggs out of the fridge so they can come up to room temperature.
  2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat until browned and nutty.  Let cool a few minutes so as not to curdle the eggs.
  3. Pour into a large mixing bowl and mix with brown sugar and eggs.
  4. Add flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, baking soda and salt.  Mix until combined.
  5. Add Greek yogurt, apple butter, and apples.  Mix until well distributed but don’t overmix.
  6. Divide evenly into muffin cups.  {I made 6 large muffins.  This would also fill a loaf pan, or probably 12 smaller muffins.}
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes for large muffins {until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean}, or 1 hour for a loaf.  {Smaller muffins would take less time than large muffins, probably 15-20 minutes.}
  8. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy!!!
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New Kitchen Toy Unveiling

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Everything mixed up, plus chia seeds. You should probably add the chia seeds with the other dry ingredients, but this worked too.

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ready for the oven

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All done!

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Creative close-up

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Super close-up

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Naked muffin

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Brunch!

Nutrition Info per large muffin:

Calories: 384

Fat: 13.6g

Carbs: 54.8g

Fiber: 6.8g

Protein: 8.7g

*I’m not a nutritionist.  I got these numbers using MyFitnessPal and a calculator.

What’s your favorite kind of muffin??

Salmon Melt with Cheddar Cheese on a Homemade Bagel

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I love leftovers.  Especially when I can re-purpose them into something new.  If you’re keeping up with the whole story, last night I had salmon and lentils for dinner, and, yada yada metric system, had a bit left over.  I wasn’t about to let amazing salmon go to waste, but fish also isn’t something I like to let hang around my fridge forever.  For lunch today I got creative, and made a tuna melt of sorts.  I’m calling it a salmon melt, and it was a big hit with me.

I used the last of my homemade bagels for my bread, {All of the toasted nutty seeds were delicious!} but feel free to use whatever bread suits you.  You could even skip the salmon and make this with tuna.  And any cheese you like.  All you need is a fish, a cheese, a bread, and a heat source, and you’re golden.  Here’s how I did it:

Salmon Cheddar Melt on a Homemade Bagel:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh cooked flaked salmon {about 2 ounces}
  • Cheddar cheese {enough to melt}
  • 1 bagel, toasted and split into two open face halves.
  • Butter for the pan.

Directions:

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • On one side of your toasted bagel, layer cheddar cheese and flaked salmon.
  • Close sandwich, and carefully transfer to pan.
  • F lip after a few minutes.
  • Repeat on opposite side.
  • Remove from heat when cheese is melty and bread/bagel is golden brown.
  • Slice in half and serve.

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What’s your favorite way to eat leftovers?  Have you ever tried a salmon melt?

*I had the most  beautiful melty pictures after I cut it in half, but my internet is being slow tonight.  I’ll try and load them for you guys later.  In the meantime, enjoy the melted salmon glory 🙂

Pan Seared Salmon and Lentils

Hey you guys.  Happy Saturday!!  We’re almost into February, which I have deemed the beginning of Spring.  If only because here, the sun will finally rise before 8am and set after 6pm.  I’m calling it a win.

In the meantime, I’m pretty new to lentils.  I love them now,  but it didn’t always used to be that way {sidenote: is that a sentence?  I’ve been here long enough that my English is going}.  Last year I tried them for the first time, and while I don’t eat them every day, they do make a nutritious meal or hearty side dish.  Lots of protein and fiber and iron.

I’ve made them before with salmon, but tonight I decided to pan-fry the lentils, like risotto, instead of boiling them.  It’s my favorite way to cook rice now, and I thought it could work for lentils too.  The salmon I cooked the way I usually do, in a frying pan skin side down with a little olive oil.  Super easy.

Pan Seared Salmon and Lentils:

Ingredients:

  • Uncooked salmon filet.  {Probably 6-8 ounces per person.  I’m still getting used to the metric system, which is why my piece was so big.}
  • 1/2 cup dry uncooked lentils {Check your lentils – some you have to pre-soak, some you don’t.  I didn’t have to soak.}
  • 1/2 head garlic, peeled and chopped {I like garlic.  If you don’t that’s okay too}.
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste {If you buy it in a tube instead of a can, you’ll make your life so much easier}.
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pre-washed arugula or other lettuce mix.

Directions:

  • Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add butter, 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, and mushrooms.  Sautee until soft and brown.
  • Add tomato paste and garlic.  Stir and let cook until fragrant, but don’t burn the garlic.
  • Add lentils and stir.  After about a minute or two, when lentils are brown and nutty, add 2 cups water.  {You could also use vegetable broth or chicken broth.}  Be careful because steam will likely rise up from the hot pan.
  • Cook lentils uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, adding more water as necessary, until they are tender.
  • While the lentils are finishing up, cook your salmon.
  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.
  • Lay salmon in the pan, skin side down, and sear for 2-3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat and cover pan so it doesn’t splatter everywhere.
  • Cook until salmon flakes easily {Mine was 10-15 minutes, but I also had a giant 12 oz piece.  Watch your particular salmon so you don’t overcook it.}
  • Plate salmon over the arugula and add lentils on the side.
  • Enjoy!!
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mushrooms and garlic sauteing with tomato paste

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dry lentils added

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brown and nutty

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lentil close-up

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Gorgeous salmon close-up. My favorite thing about Palma might actually be the fish market.

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lentils and salmon, side by side.

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plated and gorgeous!

What’s your favorite way to have salmon and lentils??  How do you cook your lentils?

Avocado Brownies that don’t suck. I promise.

Hey you guys.  Happy Friday.  I know, it’s still Thursday, but for me that’s Friday, which after this week is welcomed with open arms.  Last night I was having serious chocolate cravings, and that’s how these avocado brownies were born!  Today I’m thrilled to come home to them and some Ben and Jerry’s in my freezer!

Overall, I’ve been trying to eat healthily.  My carby snacks have been replaced by fruits and veggies, and I do feel healthier, but sometimes you need some chocolate.  I’ve tried avocado brownies in the past, and they just aren’t the same.  The texture is always all floopy, and if the avocados aren’t ripe enough, you see chunks in the brownies.  Gross.  Instead, I decided to make brownies that just happened to have avocado in them.  Maybe, if I took away the “healthy” label, I could make something healthy that didn’t taste like sock fuzz.  And I think I did it.

Yummy Avocado Brownies!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 ounces baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 very ripe avocado, mashed {If it’s not ripe it won’t mash up and you’ll have chunks.}
  • 3  eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour {I stayed on the healthy kick.  With all the chocolate, you can’t really tell, although if you’re concerned about the wheatiness, feel free to sub in whole wheat pastry flour, or even all-purpose flour}.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, {about 220 C}.
  2. Prepare your 8×8 pan if you need to {with butter}.
  3. Melt butter and baking chocolate in the microwave.
  4. Mash avocado in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Pour butter/chocolate mixture over avocado.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  7. Add sugar and vanilla and stir.
  8. Add cocoa powder and flour and stir until well combined.
  9. Spread into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Brownies will have a nice crackly top when done but still be very soft.  Let chill to all come together if desired, or eat right out of the pan.

I don’t have a lot of pictures, because I was too busy devouring brownies to take more.  Do enjoy my pretty green Lékué spatula though.  It was pretty and on sale and I needed one.  And sadly, they’re not paying me to say that.  It’s just a nice spatula.

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I’m so glad I found a lighter version of my favorite brownies!!  What’s your favorite brownie recipe?  How do you lighten up your favorite dessert?