Red Heart

Lentil Taco Salad

I love a good taco salad, but in the summertime it gets too hot to enjoy one when you have to cook ground beef.  Enter the instant pot and lentils.  Yes, lentils.  I got this idea from the fabulous blog, Pick Up Limes.  The author of that blog is a vegan, which I do enjoy sometimes, but I don't make significant changes when I'm at home interpreting a vegan meal.  


1.5 cups green or brown lentils 
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 head of lettuce, chopped (I usually use romaine or iceberg for this type of salad)
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced (pick a color here if you can, green is fine but the yellow or red bell peppers will stand out nicely)
1 large tomato, diced
1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and diced (if using English cucumbers, you can skip seeding and peeling)
1/2 cup corn (I used frozen here)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
Handful of tortilla chips, crushed
1 tbsp taco seasoning (I made my own here)
1 ripe avocado
dressing of your choice (I used ranch)


1. In your instant pot, add the lentils and double the amount of water.  Cook on HIGH pressure for six minutes.  Natural release for 10.  Release the rest of the way.  Fluff and drain any excess water off (if there is one).  I make these pretty neutral for this recipe (with no flavor add-ins) as we will be tossing the lentils in taco seasoning in a bit.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the lentils, walnuts, sunflower seeds, olive oil, and 1 tbsp of taco seasoning.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Toss well and set aside while preparing the rest of the salad.
3. In a large bowl, add chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and olives.   Add defrosted corn.  Toss well.
4. To serve, add as much of the lettuce mixed as desired to a bowl and then top with as much of the "taco" mixture.  Add 1/4 of the avocado, chopped or sliced (to your preference).
5.  Add dressing and toss.
6.  Enjoy!

Red Heart

No-Lettuce Greek Salad

This is a perfect recipe for those days where it's too hot to turn on the stove.  I like lettuce-less salads for the ability to be stored for several days.  This makes them perfect for packing leftovers.  Assemble the entire salad, except for the tomatoes, and store for up to three days in the fridge.  If adding tomatoes, add before serving.  Tomatoes tend to get mushy when left in the fridge so don't add them until it's time to eat if you are planning on packing this for lunch.

No-Lettuce Greek Salad

*  6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*  2 tablespoons mild vinegar (I use plain rice vinegar) or lemon juice
*  1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
*  Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
*  1/2 english cucumber, coarsely chopped
*  1/4 red onion, peeled and chopped finely
*  1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped finely
* 1 can of rinsed chickpeas
*  1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
*  6 oz of crumbled feta cheese 


1.  Whisk the olive oil, vinegar (or lemon juice) and chives together until blended. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2.  Add the diced onion first, and stir to coat (this will help minimize the bite).
3.  Add all of the vegetables and olives, except for the tomatoes (if you are planning to store this for later).  If you are planning on eating the entire salad in one sitting, feel free to stir in the tomatoes.
4.  Toss the vegetables in the dressing.  Slowly add the cheese.
5.  Enjoy!

Note:  If you are storing this for later, I keep the tomatoes in a separate container on the counter all ready to go.  I grab the salad and the tomatoes and bring it to work to mix in when ready.  


Serves 4: Calories: 547 Fat: 35.4g Saturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 38mg Sodium 726mg Carbs: 43.8g Fiber: 11.5g Sugars: 9.3g Protein: 18.1g

Eggplant Lasagna

Eggplant Lasagna


1 eggplant
10 oz part skim ricotta
1.5 cups part skim mozzarella
2 tbsp Parmesan shredded
28 oz crushed tomatoes
8 oz mushrooms diced
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups kale
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 green onions diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed


1. Preheat oven to 375 F

2. Slice the eggplant length wise, salt and lay out on paper towels. Let sit for 15 minutes. Pat dry. Lightly spray a baking pan and lay eggplant as flat as you can. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. Meanwhile place 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Added diced mushrooms and toss. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, and crushed garlic. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes. Season as desired and pull from heat.

4. Also meanwhile, add remaining olive oil in a cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Add kale and about 1/2 cups water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain pan and set kale aside in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and let cool.

5. Add ricotta and egg to kale. Season with salt and pepper and stir until combined.

6. Spray cast iron skillet, add about 1/2 cup of sauce to bottom. Layer half of the eggplant flatly over sauce. Add half of the remaining sauce and smooth until flat. Add all of the ricotta mixture and smooth until flat. Top with half the mozzarella.

7. Add remaining eggplant in a layer, add remaining sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella and sprinkle the Parmesan on top.

8. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve with a nice glass of wine and a small side salad.

Red Dress

Smothered Chicken over Lemon Asparagus

Smothered Chicken over Lemon Asparagus


* 1 lemon
* 1 pound asparagus
* 3 chicken breast, skinless (approx 1 pound)
* 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1/3 cup water
* kosher salt, to taste
* cracked black pepper, to taste
* 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
* 3/4 cup whole milk mozzarella


1. Preheat oven to 375 F

2. In an oven proof skillet bring half the olive oil up to temperature to medium high heat. Add chicken breast and sear.

3. Add tomatoes and Italian seasoning (about 1 tbsp to start) to skillet. Place in oven for 30 mins.

4. Pull out chicken and top each breast with an equal share of mozzarella. Place back in oven and cook for about 7-10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile bring water and remaining olive oil to a simmer. Add asparagus and cook until desired done-ness (for thin for me it’s usually 3 mins). Drain liquid and squeeze lemon juice on top. Toss asparagus.

6. Plate asparagus and top with tomatoes and chicken breast. Adjust seasoning as desired.

Serves 3

Red Heart

Cauliflower Cottage Pie

Cauliflower Cottage Pie

This cottage cauliflower pie is simply awesome. This month I"m trying to reduce my carbohydrate macros to 50% or lower on top of reducing daily calories by 500. The first two days has been pretty awesome and unexpected. This meal doesn't make you miss the potatoes in the least. I probably will make cottage (shepherds) pie from now on without potatoes. The cauliflower mash was well received. As part of the reducing my carb macros, I'm trying to push up my fat macros. If you are following a low fat diet, please feel free to reduce the amount of butter as it was more of a taste issue than anything else. Enjoy!


1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/4 c. half and half
2 cups water
8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
11 oz ground beef
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 tbsp. flour
2/3 c. beef broth (I used beef base + water)
1 tbsp soy sauce


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Make mashed cauliflower. Add butter to medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add cauliflower florets. Toss a few times for about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Drain well, except for about 1/4 cup of liquid. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash the cauliflower until smooth and no large chunks remain.

4. Add the half and half and combine until creamy. Set aside.

5. Make beef mixture: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and mushrooms cook for about 10 minutes stirring infrequently until caramelized/brown. Add soy sauce and toss. Add carrots and garlic and cook until softened, 5 minutes.

6. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. About 5 minutes.

7. Stir in frozen peas and corn and cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Sprinkle meat with flour and stir to distribute. Cook one minute more and add beef broth. Bring to a simmer and let mixture thicken slightly, 5 minutes.

9. Top beef mixture with and even layer of mashed cauliflower and bake 20 minutes or until there is very little liquid visible and the cauliflower is golden.

10. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6


Shrimp Pomodoro

I do a lot of my grocery shopping at Costco which might seem a little weird as I am a household of one. You have to be a savvy shopper at Costco if you have a limited amount of persons in your home, but in a lot of instances the prices + quality are just too good to pass up. I shop sales and am I member of Amazon Prime, so I have a general idea of what items cost. Luckily I also have a smart phone so if I'm not entirely certain on a price I can double check when I'm out and about.

What does that have to do with this Shrimp Pomodoro? Well I got the shrimp, olive oil, and parmesan there each for a great price. The per serving price on this dish was very low as I grew some of the tomatoes and got a large beefsteak for free from a coworker. I even used broth saved from slow cooked chickpeas this past weekend. Even if you aren't purchasing in bulk, this recipe is great and affordable as most pasta dishes help you spread the cost per serving. This recipe is adapted from Pinch of Yum's Garlic Butter Shrimp Pomodoro.

Shrimp Pomodoro

*  1/2 lb shrimp, devined with shrimp and tails removed
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 tbsp minced garlic
*  1.5 cups chopped tomatoes (I used one medium beefsteak and 1/2 cup yellow cherry tomatoes)
*  1 cups vegetable broth  (I used leftover "bean broth" you can use chicken broth here if that is more your style)
*  1 tbsp unsalted butter
*  1/4 cup chopped basil
*  8 ounces pasta (I used Barilla Bucatoni)
*  1/2 oz parmesan


1.  Add about 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2-3 minutes.  remove and set aside.  Bring a seperate pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Add additional 1/2 tbsp olive oil if needed to the pan.  Add the garlic and saute for about a minute watching closely to avoid burning.

3.  Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth and simmer for 15 minutes.  The sauce will thicken and reduce.

4.  Meantime add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente as directed on the package.  Drain leaving about 1-2 tbsp of pasta water in the pot with the pasta.  Set aside the pasta until the sauce is ready.

5.  Add the butter and basil to the sauce and stir till combined.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed.

6.  If you'd like to reduce it more let it simmer a bit before adding the pasta.  Once ready, add the shrimp and pasta to the pot tossing to combine.  Let the pasta and shrimp sit in the sauce on low for a minute or two to mingle the flavors.

7.  Serve warm with a sprinkling of parmesan.

Serves 2 | Calories 645 | Fat 19.8 g | Saturated Fat 6.8 g | Cholesterol 342 mg | Potassium 846 mg | Carbs 71.6 g | Fiber 1.8 g | Sugars 4.9 g | Protein 45 g

Chana Masala

I adore Indian food.  One of my favorites is Chana Masala.  It's easy to make and made with cost effective ingredients, but besides all that, it's freaking delicious!  This recipe is adapted from many sources including Serious Eats, Smitten Kitchen, Minimialist Baker, and the Guardian.

Chana Masala

*  2 tbsp fresh ginger
*  1/2 cup fresh cilantro
*  1 fresh green chilies, with seeds (I used a serrano pepper)
*  1 garlic clove
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 medium onion, diced
*  1 tbsp ground coriander
*  2 tsp ground cumin
*  1 tsp cayenne pepper
*  1 tsp ground turmeric
*  2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
*  2 tsp smoked paprika
*  1 tsp garam masala
*  1 28 oz can of peeled San Marzino Tomatoes and their juices, roughly chopped
*  1/2 cup water plus more if needed
*  4 cups cooked chickpeas
*  2 tsp kosher salt
*  The juice of one lemon lemon


1.  Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and ground cumin.  Stir infrequently until slightly browned.

2.  Add garlic, ginger, cilantro, and serranos to a small food processor to pulse into a paste.   Add the paste mixture to the pan with the onions.  Cook about 5 minutes.

3.   Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, toasted ground cumin seeds, smoked paprika, and garam masala.

4.  Cook spiced mixture for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and their juices, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan that have stuck.

5.  Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves 6 | Calories 250 | Fat 6.2 g | Sodium 788 mg | Potassium 872 mg | Carbs 40.2 g | Fiber 11.6 g | Sugars 9.9 g | Protein 11.7 g

Shrimp Boil Soup

A tasty recipe today, Shrimp Boil Soup, which as the name suggests is a soup version of a classic southern seafood boil.  You could change this soup up by exchanging the shrimp for clams, mussels, lobster, or crab.  You can reduce the spicy by reducing the Old Bay or substituting a more mild sausage.

Shrimp Boil Soup


*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  6 oz andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4" inch thick slices
*  1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
*  2 cups corn
*  3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
*  7 cups water
*  2 tbsp chicken base
*  2.5 cups diced red potatoes
*  8 oz 51/60 shrimp, peeled and devined
*  lemon wedges, optional


1.  Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.

2.  Add onions and sautee for a few minutes, until softened and then add the sausage.  Brown the sausage and onions.

3.  Add corn then saute for 2 minutes.

4.  Add the water and chicken base.  Bring the stock mixture to a boil and then add in 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning.

5.  Add potatoes then turn heat down to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

6.  Once the potatoes are fork tender, add the shrimp to the pot.  Cook about 3 minutes, then serve warm with slices of lemons.

Serves 4 | Calories 301 | Fat 10.9 g | Cholesterol 132 mg | Sodium 894 mg | Potassium 781 mg | Carbs 32 g | Fiber 3.6 g | Sugar 3.8 g | Protein 20.8 g
Red Dress

Eggplant Rollata

I've been on an eggplant kick lately.  I'm not sure what inspired it.  I certainly would never reject anything with eggplant, but I never really started cooking with it until this summer.  A couple of weeks ago I made an eggplant pizza (eggplant as the "dough") that was fabulous, but this week I'm making an eggplant "rollata" based off a recipe I saw on a Tasty video via Facebook.  Now the recipe is written a bit poorly, so at some points I threw the recipe out the window and did what I wanted to do.


*  1 large eggplant
*  2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
*  1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
*  ½ cup parmesan cheese
*  ¼ cup basil
*  1 egg
*  pinch of Kosher Salt
*  pinch of fresh cracked pepper
*  1 cup marinara sauce


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF

2. Slice the ends off the eggplants and slice them into ¼ -inch slices

3.  Lay the slices out on a baking sheet.

4. Salt both sides of the eggplant slices and let them sweat for 20 minutes.  Then pat the slices dry with a paper towel and dry the baking sheet.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until soft.

6. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 2/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese,  1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and half of the basil.

7. Remove eggplant slices from the oven and turn oven to 400ºF.

8. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mixture onto eggplant slice then roll it up, repeating for all slices.

9. In a 11×17-inch baking sheet, pour ½ cup of marinara sauce, then add all the roll-ups seam down. Pour remaining ½ cup of marinara sauce and top with the remaining basil, mozerella, and parmesan.

10. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serves 3 | Calories 528 | Fat 27.8 | Cholesterol 131 mg | Sodium 1025 mg | Potassium 845 mg | Carbs 31.1 g | Fiber 7.6 g | Sugars 12.6 g | Protein 40.5 g

Hot Italian Sausage Pasta with Lemon

It's official!  I'm back living alone, just me and the dog.  The nice thing about living alone is I can literally throw a dish together last minute and not have to worry about someone else's preferences.  I think, mid dish, heh lets add some thyme from the garden and I don't have to explain it to anyone.  The difficultly with living with another person is that I have a very diverse taste buds and I enjoy cooking without a reacipe from a well stocked chicken.  Also...the cost is much lower.  I spent $45 last week in groceries and will likely spend the same this week.  How?  I buy meat in bulk, buy produce from the market, and shop the sales for staples.

This recipe resulted out of having a few bits and bobs that were just short of going bad.  I had about 1/4 pound of spinach a day or so ready to go, 1 cup of cherry tomatoes that were ready to be trashed soon, and some leftover frozen italian sausage.

Hot Italian Sausage Pasta w/Lemon


*  1 lemon
*  2 hot italian sausage links
*  8 oz pasta
*  1/4 pound spinach
*  1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
*  1/2 medium spanish onion, minced
*  1 tbsp minced garlic
*  2 tsp good olive oil
*  cracked black pepper
*  parmesan, grated
*  3 sprigs thyme (optional)
*  1 tbsp chicken base


1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook to al dente.  Drain water, reserving 1.5 cups of pasta water, and set aside pasta.

2.  Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium high heat, bring the olive oil to temperature.  Add spanish onions and cook about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.

3.  Pop the italian sausage out of its casing and add to pan.  Crumble the italian sauage and cook until throughly browned.

4.  Add cherry tomatoes, thyme and a few grinds of black pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes stirring infrequently.   Add chicken base and 1.5 cups of reserved pasta water.  Bring to a simmer.

5.  Remove thyme from pot.  Add reserved pasta and top with spinach.  Wilt the spinach.  Squeeze a lemon and toss again.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

6.  Serve with a showering of parmesan.