Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Alaina introduced me to Chocolate Covered Katie’s creative oatmeal recipes. As loyal oatmeal eaters, we were excited to experiment with her various concoctions. We both had a few failed attempts, so we challenged ourselves to create our own delicious breakfast oatmeal recipe with a touch of creamy chocolate sweetness. Over the past week this has become the reason I get out of bed in the morning. When my alarm goes off at 5:15, I am so tempted to snooze, but knowing that gooey chocolate and peanut butter oatmeal is waiting to be prepared helps me get out of bed.
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Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
1-2 spoonfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 spoonful of natural peanut butter
1/2 a banana, sliced
1/4 cup of berries or jam
Directions:
Mix rolled oats and chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl. Add the milk. Drop peanut butter on top in the middle (it will soften and get gooey and yummy), and sprinkle a few more chocolate chips, and place banana slices on top. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave oven, and how you like your oatmeal. I like mine a little crunchy. (Mine in Michigan is ready in 1 minute, and here in LA is ready in 2. Strange huh?) Stir for gooey deliciousness. Be happy to be awake.

Pappardelle with Hot Sausage and Mushrooms

I really do not have much to say about this dish except that it is deliciously simple and you really should prepare it. The sausage and mushroom sauce can be used with any type of pasta, but we really liked it with our whole wheat toasted onion pappardelle. The specialty pappardelle pasta and san marzano tomatoes gave the dish a weekend elegance.  

Ingredients:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 28 ounce can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
Salt & Pepper
A pinch of oregano
A pinch of thyme
5 hot turkey sausage links
1 pound pappardelle pasta
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. When the oil is hot, add the sausages and brown them slowly. Cook for several minutes, turning them occasionally so they brown on all sides. When the sausages are browned, remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Once cool, slice each sausage into 4-5 pieces.

Meanwhile heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, sausage and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Stir in thyme, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. 
While sauce is simmering, cook the pappardelle in a large, deep pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (check package for exact cooking time). Drain.
Divide pasta into bowls, top with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and enjoy. 
Serves 4. 

Quinoa Burrito Bowl

A few years ago my sister completed Shannon Sodano’s 21 day cleanse. I was impressed by her dedication. During the cleanse, you gradually remove foods from your diet, like meat, sugar, dairy, caffeine and alcohol.  Nutrient dense foods, such as leafy greens and beans, are incorporated into your diet. (No chocolate for 21 days?? Crazy…) Early in December during Shannon’s visit to Los Angeles I expressed an interest in the 21 day cleanse, but was not yet ready to commit. I consider myself a healthy eater, but a gluten-free vegan diet is intimidating. Shannon’s new 3-day program seemed like the perfect option for me. I’ve found it to be a great way to explore exclusively eating clean foods, make time for meditation and a fun challenge for creating deliciously flavorful cleanse meals. This dinner recipe does not taste like something you should be eating during a cleanse. All your favorite fresh Mexican flavors in a bowl. Tonight, we’re making cleanse tacos!

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Juice from 2 juicy limes
Sea salt, to taste
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
1 small red or purple onion, diced fine
2 small yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced fine
1 cup corn kernels
Tortilla chips
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, diced
A few teaspoons homemade taco seasoning (or a little cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes)
Fresh salsa
Directions:
Prepare quinoa according to package directions. I cook quinoa in a rice cooker. 1 cup rinsed quinoa, 2 cups water, turn the rice cooker on and 15 minutes later, perfect quinoa!

Drizzle the cooked quinoa with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Squeeze on fresh lime juice and toss again. Season with sea salt, to taste.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan, and saute diced red onion for 3-4 minutes. Add diced yellow pepper, and roasted corn kernels. Cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add drained black beans. Sprinkle with homemade taco seasoning.

Spoon the quinoa in a bowl. Next, add the with vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with diced avocado. Top with salsa and cilantro.

Serve with an extra lime wedge.

Serves 4.