Weeks 18-20 – Pasta e Fagioli, Breakfast Quinoa, Moussaka-Style Lasagna

Whew.  It has been a while!  Sorry folks.  I was in California for work the week of November 17.  When you get promoted to Senior Associate PwC sends you to this amazing resort in Palos Verdes and gives you a professional coach for the week.  It was kind of exhausting because there was so much scheduled.  But it was so great and pretty rejuvenating, so that’s good.  And the location is on a point so you get the sunrise and the sunset.  I need to go back!  Here’s a few pictures from that beautiful place.

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Next, Matt and I met in New Mexico and spent a couple days in Albuquerque and then a few days visiting his Aunt and Uncle in Taos.  It was cool so see some new cities and nice to relax and see Matt’s family before heading to Arizona to meet up with my family for Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving was spent at my brother’s house in Scottsdale, but the real fun began the next day.  We drove to the Grand Canyon and hiked in and out in two days, and camped in the Canyon the night we were down there.  It was an adventure and all were quite sore by the end of day two (my fitbit says it was 15 miles on day one and 12 miles on day two, Matt’s says 17 and 14.  So, somewhere in there.  It was a lot.)  Here’s a few sweet pics from the hike to Havasu Falls:

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Since we’ve been back we’ve just been catching up on life.  This weekend we finally got the place decorated for Christmas!!

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And on to the recipes…We made the soup right before I left for California.  I forgot to take a picture, woops.  It’s fine but I don’t think I’ll make it again.  Too many other soup recipes to try!  The breakfast quinoa recipe we also made for the first time right before I left for Cali – had to use the leftover goat cheese from the roasted squash – and then again this weekend.  It’s pretty delicious.  And the other dinner recipe was pretty good.  I will warn – the oranges definitely give the dish a distinct taste.  We ate the leftovers and will probably make it again some time, but on my end it isn’t something I’ll be craving.  Maybe I’ll make it without the oranges next time.  Anyway, enjoy!

Pasta e Fagioli (recipe from this book)

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces of bacon, cut crosswise into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans (cannellini, Great Northern, navy), drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup ditalini (small, tube-like pasta)
  • ¼ bunch fresh flat-leaf pasta, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium for 7-10 minutes, or until it is crisp and most of the fat has rendered. (As the bacon browns, it may begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, but don’t worry – it will dissolve into the soup later and provide big flavor).
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Stir well and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the beans to the pot along with the chicken broth, oregano, and basil. Stir to combine. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling soup and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pasta is fully cooked.  Stir the fresh parsley into the soup and serve hot with a light sprinkling of Parmesan over each bowl.


Breakfast Quinoa (recipe from this book)

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions
  • 1 package (5 links) Trader Joe’s Chicken Apple Sausage
  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Pour quinoa and water into a small pot. Bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down and let simmer 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Slice the onion, soften in olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. While the onion cooks, slice and add the sausage to the same pan as the onion.
  4. Scoop quinoa into four bowls (I saved two servings in pyrex containers) and split the onion/sausage mixture between the bowls.
  5. In the now empty onion pan, fry an egg for each bowl (or I like mine loosely scrambled). Top each bowl with 1 egg cooked how you like. (If saving extra bowls for a later date I cook the egg fresh the day we’re eating it)
  6. Top each bowl with a small handful of goat cheese and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

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Moussaka-Style Lasagna (recipe from here)

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 8 Ounces Ground Beef
  • 6 Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 15-Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Low-Fat Milk
  • 4 Ounces Baby Spinach
  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Golden Raisins (I skipped these)
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoon Moussaka Spice Blend*
  • ¼ Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • Spice Blend: (3 Parts Dried Greek Oregano, 3 Parts Ground Coriander, 2 Parts Sumac, 1 Part Ground Cinnamon, 1 Part Aleppo Pepper)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the ingredients: Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the stem off the eggplant; cut the eggplant into ¼-inch-thick slices. Zest the orange until you have 2 Tbsp. Cut off and discard the remaining peel and pith of the orange. Cut out the segments (or supremes) from between the membranes; place the supremes in a bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membranes over the supremes. Peel and small dice the onion.
  2. Place the eggplant slices on a sheet pan; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat and arrange in a single, even layer. Roast 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender and browned. Remove from the oven.
  3. While the eggplant roasts, in a medium pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the ground beef; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, until browned. Transfer to a bowl, leaving any drippings in the pot.
  4. Add the onion to the pot of drippings. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the spice blend and all but a pinch of the orange zest; cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, raisins and cooked beef. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until reduced.
  6. Remove from heat; stir in the spinach and orange supremes and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. While the meat sauce simmers, in a separate, medium pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Whisk in the flour and remaining orange zest. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until golden brown and fragrant. Slowly whisk in the milk and ¼ cup of water until no lumps remain. Cook, whisking frequently, 4 to 6 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  8. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce onto the bottom of an ovenproof baking dish. Evenly distribute a layer of eggplant on top of the sauce. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spread with a layer of béchamel sauce. Repeat layering until the dish is filled. Sprinkle with the feta cheese. Cover the lasagna with an oiled sheet of foil. Bake 9 to 11 minutes, or until hot. Remove the foil and bake 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned. Let stand for 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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