Saturday, February 26, 2011

Carbo Loading

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Now, it's been quite a week in my kitchen!  As you may be aware, I try to plan my meals for the week around a theme.  A few weeks ago I did mini-loaf week, followed by burger week.  Sometimes its just one ingredient that's the common theme.  Like cooking a pound of chicken and using it in meals throughout the week.  When I first started my menu planning for this week, I had no real common thread. But, now that I'm writing these recipes out, I'm noticing that my menu this week was VERY carb heavy.  Oops, maybe that's why I didn't do so well in the Biggest Loser competition this week : )  But I think I needed a week like this! And maybe deep down, I made all these carbo loading meals for my half marathon this weekend.  Tomorrow I'm running the Hyannis Half Marathon in what looks like snow and rain.  At least I will have my running buddies with me!

The first meal I made was Thai Chicken Enchiladas.  I raved about the Thai Chicken Pizza I made a couple weeks ago and when I saw an old recipe for a version of enchiladas on Closet Cooking, I knew I had to try it!  I used his ingredients for the filling but the peanut sauce from a few weeks ago.  This recipe is out of this world.  Plus I cheated a bit and bought already cooked rotisserie chicken.  You gotta take shortcuts when you are gone from the house for 12 hours each day : )  I also used whole wheat tortillas so that made it healthier right? Right? Okay maybe not.  But they were the most perfect enchilada I've ever had! Just such an interesting twist on a classic Mexican dish!

Thai Spicy Peanut Chicken Enchiladas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
2 green onions (sliced)
1 large carrot
2 cups bean sprouts
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
6 whole wheat flour tortillas
1 cup jack and cheddar cheese (grated)
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts (chopped)
2 red chilies (sliced)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the red pepper and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the green onion, carrot and bean sprouts and saute until tender, about a minute. Remove from heat. Mix in the chicken, cilantro and 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce. Spread some of the peanut sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. Place some of the filling in a tortilla, wrap it up and place it in a baking dish. 
Repeat for the remaining tortillas. Pour the remaining peanut sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle on the cheese. 
Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese is melted about 20-30 minutes. Serve garnished with chopped peanuts, sliced chilies and cilantro.
Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like smooth, use whatever you want)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha (or hot chili sauce)
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup boiling water
Put the ingredients except for the boiling water into a bowl. Put the sauce into a saucepan and let it cook through until it is hot.  It is going to be really thick and this is where the boiling water comes in.  I add enough hot water to get it the consistency that I want it to be.
Just one of these tortillas fills you right up.  I enjoyed these enchiladas Monday night and again throughout the week for lunch. Huge fan of these!

Then I made Spaghetti and Meatballs, one of Dave's favorite meals.  Although, I made pesto turkey meatballs AND Katie's Quinoa "Meat"balls!
This was such a fun recipe and it was pretty quick!  I prepped all the ingredients for the quinoa meatballs the day before so this really came together quickly!  The first thing I did when I got home was get some water boiling for the pasta.  Then I made "fake out" homemade sauce. I used a jar of really good tomato sauce and then added San Marzano crushed tomatoes with a bunch of seasoning.  I let that simmer together for about 40 minutes. Now on to the meatballs!
Quinoa Veggie "Meatballs"
Ingredients:1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup of sliced portobello mushrooms (sliced small!)
1 cup of fresh baby spinach
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 tbs pine nuts (almost any kind of nut would work well here too!)
2 eggs - one for egg wash
1/4 cup of parm cheese
A couple generous pinches of crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa according to package using either water or vegetable stock and set aside to cool a bit. Cook the onions, mushrooms, red pepper and spinach in a large skillet for 5-7 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, wilted spinach, red pepper and onions. Add the oregano, rosemary and crushed red pepper.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add the pine nuts and cheese and combine mixture.  Add the cooled quinoa and mix in one of the eggs.  Shape the mixture into even-sized balls and place on a greased and foil lined baking sheet.  
Make an egg wash by mixing together the remaining egg and a splash of water.  Using a brush, paint the meatballs with the eggwash.  Bake at 400 degrees until they are cooked through, browned and slightly crispy.  

For the turkey meatballs, I followed Baked Bree's recipe. You know, my favorite food blogger. Her recipes are amazing!
Pesto Turkey Meatballs
1 pound of 93% Fat Free Ground Turkey Breast
3/4 cup of bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of pesto sauce (I would have made my own but I couldn't find basil so I used prepared)
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
1 egg
Mix everything in a bowl and combine well.  Roll mixtures into balls.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
I took the turkey meatballs out a little earlier than the quinoa ones and added them to the sauce.
Once the quinoa "balls" were browned and cooked through, I put the whole thing together.  Pasta, sauce, and 4 "balls" sprinkled with parm cheese on top. Such a delicious comfort meal, taken to a new level : ) I would be lying to you if I said these stayed together perfectly.  The quinoa "balls" fell apart pretty quickly but like Katie, I loved the texture.  Quinoa is so versatile and this recipe rocked!

I also made Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprout, Bacon Carbonara inspired by Closet Cooking.
Mine wasn't as creamy as I would have liked, probably because I used an entire package of pasta.  I  tried to "healthify" this recipe by using rice pasta and lots of veggies.  But really, carbonara isn't supposed to be healthy!

Butternut Squash Carbonara

1/2 pound pasta
4 slices bacon
2 cups squash 
1 cup of brussel sprouts
pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
Roast brussel sprouts and butternut squash on a baking sheet at 400 for 20 minutes. Start cooking the pasta. Fry the bacon in a pan (I cooked the bacon in the microwave). Mix the egg yolk, heavy cream and parmigiano reggiano in a bowl. Drain the cooked pasta reserving some of the water. Add the pasta to the pan and toss. Remove the pan from the heat and wait for the sizzling to stop. Add the egg mixture and toss to coat. Add a bit of the pasta water and toss to mix and coat. Add in roasted squash and brussels and top with more parm cheese.
And last but certainly not least, I made Pesto Arugula Lasagna Stacks, also inspired by Baked Bree. These were suuuper simple to make and packed so MUCH flavor.  I can totally see myself using this method with a variety of ingredients.  This vegetarian meal was a tasty surprise for the end of a long week.
Pesto Arugula Stacks
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 (6-ounce) package washed and rinsed baby arugula
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 egg
salt and pepper
1/2 cup of pesto
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Brush 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil all over the surface of a baking sheet. Place the lasagna noodles in a large pan and cover with boiling water.  Let the noodles soak for 10 minutes. While the noodles are soaking, put the arugula in a microwave safe bowl and cover with a paper towel.  Microwave until the arugula is wilted, about 3 minutes. Mix together the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, lemon zezt, egg, and pesto.  Season with a pinch of salt (the cheese is very salty so go easy) and pepper. Drain the arugula and get out the excess water.  I like to squeeze it through a paper towel until no more water comes out.  Chop the arugula and add to the ricotta cheese mixture. Take the noodles out of the water and drain onto a kitchen towel.  Lay 4 sheets of pasta onto your baking sheet.  Spread 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture on the pasta and top with a bit of the mozzarella cheese.  Add another layer of pasta and repeat.  Top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and a little fresh pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes.  The cheese should be melted and bubbly.  Makes 4 lasagna stacks.  Slice the stacks in half and serve on top of each other.
It was a really fun week in my kitchen.  I hope these meals give me the energy I need for tomorrow's race : )

What did you cook up this week?  And... if you are running Hyannis, let me know!


  1. These all sound awesome! I love your dinner ideas because I'm always looking for new ones and I really need to get better at planning :)
    Good Luck tomorrow!!

  2. so grabbing the quinoa the meatballs recipe! thanks for sharing =)

  3. Oh my gosh, all of these meals look amazing to me!! Now I'm totally craving spaghetti and turkey meatballs! I hope you ladies have a great run tomorrow - I can't wait to hear how it goes!!

  4. Wow! I am in awe of all these amazing meals and honestly a bit jealous. I neither have the skill nor time to get meals like these done during the week.

    I am so in for Hyannis and hope to be able to find you girls so we can run together!

  5. I will definitely give the quinoa meatballs and lasagna stacks a try. thanks for posting!

  6. I need all of this carb loading inspiration, because honestly I've been really bad about it lately! These should definitely have fueled you for the half and they all look so delicious! Good luck on the race!

  7. ooh my. everything looks so delicious, Lizza! Hope the race is going/went well - can't wait to hear about it!

  8. That carbonara sounds amazing! And so do the rest of your meals!

  9. I think I need to make all of these meals this week to prepare for 20 in Salem. Everything looks sooo good! I am have my eye on the meatballs for a pre-race meal!

    PS - today was so fun! Thanks for running with me!

  10. Holy A-game Batman!
    I want to make everything in this post!

  11. I love these posts filled with recipes. The pesto arugala stacks look fun and tasty!

  12. WOW. I am seriously in love with every single one of these recipes. Thanks for the great photos, instructions and inspiration! I'm adding them to my bookmarks now!