Category Archives: Main Courses

Miso-Tahini Soba

Well, a few thanksgiving pounds later and today I just really needed something wholesome.  And healthy.  And warm.  And creamy.  And savory!  This soba is kind of like my scrumptious soba salad, but heartier and for colder weather.  The buckwheat noodles are perfect for a post-thanksgiving meal, but the miso-tahini dressing and avocado give this dish the creamy umame that you still crave after 3 days of gluttony.  This warm bowl of earthy heartiness makes me feel like I might be doing something good for my life, after all.  It’s perfect on a crisp cold day when you just need a little something to warm (and fill!) you up. I used left over brussel sprouts and some cauliflower, but you could use any veggies you have.  Broccoli and carrots would be great too!

I was starving and didn’t take any pictures of the process, so this is a streamlined post.  Let’s get to it!

Miso-Tahini Soba

Serves 4

For the dressing: (All amounts are guesstimates, sorry.  Trust your palate!)

  • 3 tbsp Far East Sesame dressing (If you don’t have this, mix some sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar and you’ll be good to go)
  • 2tbsp Tahini (ground sesame seed butter)
  • 2 tsp miso paste (I used yellow)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or use fresh grated ginger for more of a kick!)

For the noodles:

  • 4 oz. dry Buckwheat Soba noodles
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 10 oz. sprouted tofu, extra firm (if you have regular tofu, make sure to drain it first!)
  • 1 cup cooked brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 4 green onions, green and white parts sliced
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • dried seaweed sheets to taste
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook Soba noodles according to directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, chop veggies and tofu.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in non-stick pan until hot.  Toss in garlic and let cook for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, cauliflower, tofu and cook on high heat, stirring occasionally.  Let the tofu and cauliflower get all brown and toasty!
  4. Add brussel sprouts and continue cooking for a few minutes.
  5. Add cooked soba noodles and sesame seeds and remove from heat.  Stir to combine with veggies.
  6. Whisk miso, tahini and dressing in a bowl until smooth.  Mix into noodles until everything is covered.
  7. Serve in a bowl, topped with green onions, avocado and shredded seaweed!  I also used some Japanese chili powder.  If you don’t have any, you can use red pepper flakes or Sriracha.

Happy Munching!


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Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta

Yes, it has butternut!  But this vegetable dish (with a little pasta!) is hearty and filling, not to mention healthy! It would be perfect to eat by the fireplace while it rains or even better, snows outside.  Except I live in SoCal, so I’ll just pretend.   I adapted the recipe from an Eating Well Meatless Meals cookbook I got last year. The original version is vegan, but I used chicken broth the first time I made it and beef broth this time.  I think the beef broth brings out a nice, rich flavor that compliments the vegetables perfectly. Does it look like a hot brown mushy mess? Like most delicious comfort foods, a thousand times YES! (Think curry, stew, chili!) This recipe makes a HUGE portion so there will be plenty of leftovers!  When I made it this time, the pasta got a little over cooked so if you like it more al dente I would let the veggies boil for a little while and then add the pasta after about 10 minutes.

Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta



  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, cut into thin rings
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 8 ounces pasta shells, orrechiete or other small noodles
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. frozen edamame, peeled and shelled
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large stock pan or large dutch oven.
  2. Add onions and cook until deep brown, softened and caramelized.
  3. Add beef broth and wine and bring to a boil.
  4. Add all veggies and return to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then add pasta.
  5. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until all the liquid is absorbed and squash and pasta are tender.

Serve with grated parmesan and a crusty piece of french bread!



Filed under butternut madness, Healthy Living, Main Courses, pasta, Vegetables

Butternut Spinach and Kale Gratin

Ok guys, time for more butternut!

Thanks again to Trader Joes for inspiring me to make something far more delicious and nutritious than the microwave version I saw in the store! I couldn’t get the idea of a butternut and spinach gratin out of my head as soon as I saw it at TJs.  I had to make it.  And I’m SOOO glad I did! It’s warm, sweet, savory and cheesy. So basically it hits all the main taste groups except spicy!  It’s even good for you.  This would make a great new thanksgiving side dish, or a vegetarian main course.  I was happy with it tonight served with a left over turkey burger!

Butternut, Spinach and Kale Gratin


  • 2 lb. Butternut Squash, Peeled and sliced into 1/2″ thick pieces (the longer the piece the better)
  • 1 1/2 16 oz package of frozen spinach or kale (or combination of both)
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste

  1. Peel and slice the squash into thick long pieces as best you can.  It’s hard but just try to make sure they are all about the same thickness.
  2. Defrost Spinach or Kale and squeeze out all the water.  Squeeze out as much as you can!
  3. Sautee greens in olive oil until the water cooks out and it starts to stick.  I used my dutch oven to minimize dish washing!  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
  4. Mix in 1/2 of the parmesan cheese and stir
  5. Set aside 1/2 of the greens.  Smush the remaining half down in the bottom of the dutch oven so it is flat (or oven proof casserole dish if you don’t have a stove/oven safe pan).
  6. Layer 1/2 of the squash on top, arranging so there is an even layer on top of the spinach. It’s like a puzzle!
  7. Cover squash with remaining spinach and flatten.
  8. Make a top layer of the rest of the squash, as flat as you can.  Pour chicken broth evenly all over the top.
  9. Cover with remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs.  Spray with olive oil or cooking spray.
  10. Bake at 425, covered for 40 minutes or until squash is easily pierced with a knife.  Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until top is browned, bubbly and golden!


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Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

Miso Mushroom Butternut Soup

Sometimes I eat things that are not butternut soup. Most times, actually. I guess it’s just butternut madness time and I’m always sick so I always want soup. Also, it’s still 85 degrees here in October! So who doesn’t want a bowl of hot liquid for dinner?
This soup is so umami. I love it’s earthy hearty flavors that are paired so nicely with the sweetness of the squash. It is missing a little something, though.  I wish that I had onions and garlic to add to the mix to just kick up the flavor a bit.  Still, it’s a filling, healthy and quick dinner that will make you smile! It probably tastes better when it’s cold outside, but I wouldn’t know.

Like most things I make, especially soups, I didn’t actually measure anything I put in.  I just dumped it in a pot and let it boil.  I put in approximate measurements to the recipe so you have a clue where to begin, but keep in mind I made a GIANT batch!



Miso Mushroom Butternut Soup


  • 1 box low sodium broth (I used trader joe’s vegetable but I think chicken might be better in the future)
  • 5 cups water
  • 10 large baby bella mushrooms, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 cup frozen kale
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • Garlic Powder and Old Bay seasoning to taste (or fresh garlic if you have it!)
  • 1/4 cup miso paste (I used low sodium red miso)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped

Mix ingredients except for green onions in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for 30 minutes, until mushrooms and squash are tender.  Put green onions into the mix at the end and continue to cook for another few minutes.  Serve piping hot as an appetizer or meatless main course!



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Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Since one of my Skinny Rules this week was to EAT YOUR VEGETABLES (come on! just do it!), I wanted to eat at least a few fresh salads.  Also, I had planned to do a post of “hey, what’s in your CSA?”  but put everything away before I remembered, and was NOT going to take it all out!

figgy goodness.

Well, what WAS in my CSA was…FIGS!  Fresh, sweet, and oh so almost mushy! I had to use them, quickly.

I had an idea in my head for a light, goat cheese and fig salad. Can you blame me?  I needed protein, so I went with the old classic, chicken.  I wanted it to be flavorful and tangy to compliment the figs, and not boring.  I called the boy on my break and told him to marinate the chicken so I could make it when I got home!

I had the boy marinate the chicken so only he knows exactly what went in there.  Friday night it was almost 100 DEGREES in my house so I didn’t want to broil the chicken to make salad, which was my plan.  So, I got Thai takeout (ugh another eating out meal this weekend I forgot, and it wasn’t even that great) instead, broiled the chicken later when it cooled off, and made it for lunch the next day.

Delicious! This salad is light, tangy, flavorful and healthy.  The fresh figs lend a sweetness that perfectly compliments the tang of the vinegar and goat cheese.  If you don’t have fresh figs, you could substitute apple, strawberry or any other sweet fruit you think would be good with goat cheese (ooh! I know! Pear!)  This salad would be great without chicken, and the chicken would be great without the salad! But they compliment each other so nicely, they are perfect together.  This is a super easy recipe that can make you at least 2 dinners or lunches!  If you are making it  a head of time, don’t dress the salad until you are ready to serve.  The figs will get super mushy.

Balsamic Glazed Chicken


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave, honey or brown sugar
  • garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Always rinse your chicken and pat dry! Always!  Marinate breasts in a bag with the ingredients for as long as you can.  If you are short on marinade time, cut the pieces ahead of time.  Actually, do that first anyways.  The more marinade the better!  Cut the chicken into (large) pieces.  Not too small, you don’t want them to burn!

Broil under high heat for about 10 minutes, then turn pieces and broil until the sides are crisp and just starting to burn!  The sugar and vinegar caramelize so beautifully! You could also grill the chicken with great results, just cut bigger pieces so they don’t fall through the grill.  Let chicken cool.  Serve by itself, with cooked vegetables or with a salad!

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glazed Chicken

(serves 2)


  • 2 Balsamic Glazed Chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4-6 fresh figs, sliced
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Arrange ingredients in a bowl so they look pretty!  Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine!

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Zucchini, Tomato and Soyrizo Sautee

I was so inspired by this awesome recipe for spicy tomato chorizo pasta that I wanted to make my own!  But Skinny Rules friendly of course, and today is my meatless day besides! Soyrizo is a great alternative to chorizo, with only 10 grams of fat per large serving.  The taste and texture is very similar to real chorizo (a little softer though).  I have had a giant zucchini from the garden on my counter for a week and several tomatoes that were just this side of mushy.


This sautee is quick, easy, healthy and super super yummy.  It would be great over pasta, or with quinoa.  I ate it plain and it filled me up just fine!  The zucchini are crunchy, while the soyrizo and tomatoes create a creamy, spicy sauce to compliment it.  I have left overs and I’m thinking of scrambling eggs with it for breakfast!

Zucchini, Tomato and Soyrizo Sautee 


  • 5 oz. Soyrizo
  • 1 large zucchini, cubed into 1/4″ pieces
  • 2 large or several small tomatoes, chopped or halved
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • smoked paprika to taste

Drizzle olive oil in  skillet and let it heat over medium high heat.  Brown the garlic in the oil for about a minute, until fragrant.  Add the soyrizo and sautee for a few minutes, until it gets a little crispy.  Add tomatoes and zucchini, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until zucchini are cooked but not soft.  You want a nice, firm, crunch!  Season with smoked paprika and salt and pepper if you want.   Enjoy over pasta, with some crusty bread, or by itself for a light dinner!

Let the soyrizo get all nice and crispy

don’t overcook!


Filed under Main Courses, Recipes, Vegetables

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce

Butternuts of love

My garden has been bursting forth with tomatoes and eggplants, and today I harvested a plenty!  We are going out of town soon, so I needed to use the produce up, and fast.  The last thing I’ve felt like doing is cooking lately, in this heat!  But a nice, light pasta sounded manageable.

Beautiful Heirlooms, almost ripe!

I’ve never made tomato sauce from scratch before! That being said, this sauce turned out to be so much more than I ever imagined.  It’s creamy, rich, and almost decadent from the eggplant.  The fresh tomatoes lend a tangy sweetness that is nothing like canned tomatoes or the sauce I usually use.  The sauce is mellow but somehow bursting with depth and flavor.  I’m proud to say that the majority of the ingredients for the sauce came from my garden!  Urban gardening like whoa.  I served this over a bed of brown rice spaghetti, but it would be great with any pasta you like.  Top with a good, strong parmesan or a light, creamy mozzarella.  You won’t be sorry, and I doubt you’ll go back to canned sauce ever again! (Ok, maybe when it’s late and you’re tired and you don’t have 2 lbs of ripe tomatoes ready to go…)
Additions or enhancements to make in the future: Add lemon juice or zest, use some wine instead of some of the chicken broth, add onions, mushrooms or greens.  But honestly, it’s perfect the way it is.
Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce
  • 1 lb. eggplant (any type), chopped into 1″ cubes or 1/2 moons
  • 2 lbs. ripe or over ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • pinch of dried rosemary
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bunch of fresh basil
  • shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, then add eggplant. Add a pinch of salt, then sauté eggplant until it begins to soften, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and stir, sautéing for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir, sautéing for another minute.
  4. Add the chicken broth, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary and cayenne pepper (wait to the end to salt, as the sauce will become more salty as it reduces).   If you don’t have the herbs, don’t worry.  I literally just used a tiny pinch of each.  Dried “italian seasoning” or oregano would work too.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to medium-low.  Simmer until the liquid reduces, stirring occasionally.  I simmered for a good 30-35 minutes, so if you can’t wait that long, use less broth.  But I assure you, it’s worth the wait!
  6. When the sauce is a nice, thick saucy consistency (eggplant and tomatoes will be translucent and broken down), you are done! Oh, except don’t forget to add salt and pepper and taste it!
  7. Serve over your favorite pasta, with your favorite shredded cheese and torn fresh basil leaves.


Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, Recipes