Spinanaberry Smoothie

This is my all time favorite go-to smoothie. It really packs a punch. Some may call it a "green smoothie," but really it's my spinanaberry smoothie.

2 c. orange juice
4 c. packed fresh spinach
2 bananas
5 frozen strawberries
2 T. flax seed oil, not pictured
8-10 ice cubes, not pictured 

The health benefits are just as outstanding as the flavor. Alone, the spinach packs a whopping 360% vitamin k, 100% vitamin a and 10% iron. Great way to start a morning. Don't you agree?

When making a green smoothie, it is important to start with the liquid and secondly with the leafy greens. Blend to desired consistency, breaking down the spinach.

Finally, add in the banana, strawberries, flax seed oil (if using) and ice cubes. Blend and serve.

Makes 2 - 16 oz. smoothies.

Having trouble fitting all your necessary veggies and fruits into your daily meals? This is a helpful way to incorporate them. Personally, I eat lots and lots of veggies each day, but struggle with eating enough fruit. So this is my way of getting in a few extra dark leafy greens, but more so, fruit. Have you played around with any green smoothie recipes? What is your favorite combination? Please share! I would like to bulk up my arsenal, plus the warm months are just around the corner!

Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

Sometimes you need to call in the forces after a long day at work. A complete meal from scratch is like the day when pigs fly. But your torn, you want to fill your family with nutrition. I believe sometimes homemade meals can be made quicker by sneaking in a few secret shortcuts.

My favorite shortcut comes in a jar. It's called modifying jarred pasta sauce. But to be honest, trying to improve bad jarred pasta sauce (i.e. Prego, Ragu, etc.), is not possible — these are just bad to the core. But, my sauce when done...it's bad to the bone. I typically purchase Classico or Trader Joes brands for the base.

Marinara Sauce
1 T evoo
1 jar if your favorite pasta sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 t red pepper flakes, if you like a little heat

Step 1: Heat 1 T of evoo. Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the jar of pasta sauce and heat through, bringing to a simmer, melding the flavors.
Step 3: Once heated, the sauce is ready.
Easy, quick and wholesome, right?

Tofu Ricotta
16 oz. firm tofu
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. dried parsley or Italian herbs
1/2 c. chiffonade* basil
1.5 t salt
freshly ground pepper

Step 1: Drain the tofu and press dry with paper towels. Crumble tofu in a bowl, using the back of a fork.

Step 2: Incorporate the dried Italian herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Mash until the consistency of ricotta. Fold in basil.

*Chiffonade may make you pause, but you know what it is. It is the basic technique of cutting basil into ribbons.
Step 1: Stack your basil leaves.
Step 2: Roll the leaves lengthwise.
Step 3: Slice thinly and perpendicularly.
There you have it folks, chiffonade basil!

Fun Fact: Chiffon is French for little rag referring to the fabric-like strips that result from this technique. Thanks Wikipedia.

Eggplant Rollatini
3 medium-sized eggplants
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
non-stick spray
tofu ricotta
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Marinara sauce

Step 1: Preheat the grill pan and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 2: Cut the two ends off the eggplant. Cut the eggplant lengthwise, into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange eggplant slices onto a few sheets of papertowel. Sprinkle with sea salt to help remove excess moisture and bitterness. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. (At this point make the marinara sauce and tofu ricotta while waiting) Rinse off the salt from the eggplants and pat dry with a towel. Spray hot grill pan with non-stick spray and then grill the eggplant slices until lightly browned on each side and tender, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

Step 3: Place a tablespoon of the tofu ricotta mixture on one end of the eggplant and roll up tightly. Place the eggplant rollatini into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining eggplant.

Step 4: Evenly distribute the tomato sauce on top of all the eggplant rollatini. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Bake for 15 minutes. After removing from the oven, drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" —Julia Child

How To: Seed a Pomegranate

A while back I promised a tutorial on how to quickly and easily seed a pomegranate. Obviously I am a bit camera shy and it has taken me a while to finally cut to the chase and create a video for you all.

My first tutorial — even in video! Here is the time that you should feel so blessed. Ha...okay, well you can judge that after you watch. So here goes nothing...

Do you have any special kitchen tricks?

Returning to Chaos

Hello silent blog world. I am back! A twelve day vacation then lots to catch up on upon my return at work. But catch-up wasn't the "returning to chaos," that would mean the following situations:

This past week we've had our water main and water heater break. Sound bad? Oh wait, that is not all...then yesterday morning leaving for work, not just my car, but Nick car as well were un-drivable! Insanity I tell you. In-san-i-ty. Go to find out, my ABS sensor went out and needed replaced ($$$). Nick's car on the other hand, well we don't know. It is sitting dead in the parking lot right now.

Shout out to my mama. She saved us! Mom, you helped us more than you think. Thank you for allowing us to drive your car the last few days — we couldn't have dealt with this chaos without you!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. —Melody Beattie

But, on the positive side of life — Nick has accepted two new counseling positions (one at the same hospital where I work)! With Nick now quite busy, he has surprised me with an early Valentines getaway weekend, this weekend! I cannot wait. We need a break after this chaotic week.

We're going to drink lattes. Finally go see Le Mis! Go out to eat. And finally have the ultimate relaxation at our favorite getaway spot, Hotel Arista.

What do your weekend plans include?