Flaxseed and Rye Bread with Avocado, Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise Sandwich

I realize that this sounds like a mouthful but trust me it’s worth the effort.

Instead of going gluten free I’ve decided to stay away from all wheat; Dwarf Wheat in particular, and opt for other grain varieties.

I happen to love rye bread and the added benefit of flaxseed made this a great choice.

Although Rye does contain gluten, it is much less than what is found in dwarf wheat which is consumed today.

Let’s get back to this sandwich!

The avocado, fresh basil and tomato are sprinkled with sea salt and a large dollop of mayonnaise.

This is a huge treat for me.

The mayo is the only real dietary indulgence….everything else is so healthy!

It is a filling, delicious lunch that leaves plenty of room for watermelon later in the day!

Enjoy and share!

Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise on Olive Oil Grilled Whole Wheat!

I remember growing up in my European immigrant family with great food.

Some from Italy and some from Eastern Europe but all of it driven by the freshest ingredients and much of it, meatless.

My grandmas and aunts always had their own gardens and were “putting up” or canning something at any given time.

For me summertime always means tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

These were not gourmet growing up.

They were just any bread with mayo, fresh tomato and “crunchy” salt on top.

I spruced these up a little by grilling artisan whole grain bread with olive oil to give crunch and texture to the bread and I’ve also added big fleshy leaves of basil for that peppery edge that basil can give.

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is my favorite with this sandwich.

Even a few slices of avocado would be delish!

Get creative and keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless for a tasty, light and nutritious meal that says, “Summertime” in every bight!

Spinach Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Basil Pesto!

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Spinach fettuccine with sauteed baby portobello mushrooms, pesto and shaved parmesan makes a great meatless, filling and nutritious meal.

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Along with this beautiful salad of fresh yellow peppers and avocados our vegetarian meal satisfies everyone.

Annie’s Green Goddess dressing makes this salad heaven!

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Boil spinach fettuccine, al dente.

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Sautee the mushrooms with olive oil and garlic slices.

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And mix in your favorites. I love basil pesto which I make myself.

I make it vegan and fresh!

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Shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil make this fantastic!

Spacca Napoli in Chicago for Authentic Neapolitan Pizza and Beautiful Cheeses!

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Spacca Napoli on West Sunnyside in Chicago is the home of beautiful fresh ingredients, bufala mozzarella and huge wood burning pizza ovens.

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“Spaccanapoli” is the old quarter and heart of Naples, Italy.
Naples is famed as the birthplace of pizza.

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Mesculin greens with a light balsamic dressing.

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The special today; mozzarella bufala with olive oil and sea salt.

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This didn’t last very long and it worth the trip for the cheese alone!

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Pizza is wood fired and thin crust.

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Fresh ingrediants and light sauce create a heavenly balance of flavors.

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Crispy Breaded Eggplant with Basil Pesto Cream Sauce and Mozzerella Cheese!

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I love eggplant and I love basil!

This recipe combines my favorites along with cheese and the crispy fried goodness of eggplant in olive oil!

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This is basically eggplant parmesean but with basil pesto instead of red sauce.

I also did not use ricotta cheese.

This was easy and so rich and delicious that I can’t wait to make it again!

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Ingredients

2 large eggplants

2 large eggs

1 cup flour or Italian style bread crumbs

3 cups mozzerella cheese

1/2 cup parmesean cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 eggs

1/2- 3/4 cup of basil pesto

a pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

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Method

Begin by dredging the sliced eggplant in the eggwash and flour.

I added slices of fresh basil to the 2 eggs for an extra bite of flavor.

Fry the slices until light brown and crispy and set aside.

Combine the pesto, heavy cream and nutmeg and mix well.

Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with the pesto cream mixture..

Place a layer of the fried eggplant on the bottom of the dish.

Combine the cheeses and 2 eggs and mix well and layer on top of the eggplant.

Then add another layer of the pesto and cream mixture.

Just keep douing this until you run out of ingredients.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly!

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This light tomato, red onion and basil salad complimented the cheesy richness beautifully!

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Green Goddess Rice! Avocados, Basil, Garlic and Olive Oil Make this Rice Divine!

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My friend Mark is great at finding work for me.

Especially recipes that he wants to try when I make them!

His latest find was Green Goddess Rice which he discovered on a cooking channel while on call at the hospital.

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Ingredients

2 Avocados
3 Cups cooked rice
1/2 cup Olive oil
3 Cloves crushed Garlic
1 cup chopped Basil

That was all I got from him.

I cooked the rice

Processed the other ingredients while the rice was cooking then mixed everything together and served warm.

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This is my new favorite way to eat rice!

I love avocados and basil.

I can also see making this with Cilantro which I will soon try and serve with spicy Jalepeno beans.

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I served this dish with sheep feta, olives and fresh avocados.

Divine indeed!

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Pizza Perfection! Goat Cheese and Spinach with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Sauce! Pepperoni with Fresh Oregano! The Perfect Margarhita Pizza!

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We have making pizza down to science here.

And I must admit that this is due to the secret weapon in my kitchen; My Daughter!

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She has the perfect touch when it comes to preparing the dough; which we buy at a local pizzeria, and she has the perfect touch when it comes to layering the ingredients!

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She gets the dough just right. Thin but not too thin and she has a light touch with the cheese, which is key to proper cooking.

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Her specialties include but are not limited to the Margarhita and pepperoni pizzas.

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We were so confident with our skills that we threw these pizzas on the grill! First time ever and they were perfect!

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Fresh oregano made the pepperoni especially delicious for th meat eaters but the overwhelming favorite was the Margarhita with basil fresh from the garden and fresh mozzarella.

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I tried my hand at something a bit more fancy; spinach and red onion with mushroom and goat cheese topped off with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

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The reduction came out perfectly, it was my first attempt! I simply poured about 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small frying pan and on meduim heat let it cook until it started to thicken.

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My mistake was to pour it over the pizza before baking. I should have drizzled it over the pizza when it was finished cooking to keep the thick texture that I so proudly created!

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Lightly blanche the spinach before layering on your pizza. It can dry and burn if you don’t.

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Tr your hand with your favorite ingredients. Be patient. Cook with loved ones and Enjoy!

Summer Fun! The Best Drink Ever! Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka Cocktails with Bruschetta!

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The possibilities are endless with this Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka from Pinnacle.

We mixed ours with fresh pineapple, coconut milk and pineapple/coconut juice.

The secret to the amazing taste was, of course, the vodka but we were careful not to add anything too sweet.

Fresh ingredients are a must. And the juice we used from Hortex is great because they are natural with no added sugars.

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This recipe was fairly “freehand”.

I used one fresh pineapple which I cut the night before and placed in the freezer; huge tip! Freezing the pineapple make the drinks amazing!

In the blender place half of the cut and frozen pineapple

1/2 can of coconut milk

1 cup of juice

1 cup of Pinnacle Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka

Blend until creamy and frothy

Some enjoyed some whipped cream on top!

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These brushetta are fantastic! My friend has this recipe down to a science and we are able to whip these up really fast:

1 baguette sliced about 1/4 peices

olive oil

3-4 fresh garlic cloves

3-4 tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

fresh mozzerella

Slice the bread and rub with garlic cloves on bothe sides

Use enough olive oil to lightly cover both sides

Toast lightly under the broiler

Chop tomatoes and basil and mix with some olive oil and salt to taste

Top toasted bread with tomato mixture and shredded fresh mozzerella and serve!

Meatless Monday! Whole Wheat Linguini with Peas, Scallions and a Spicy Peanut Basil Sauce!

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It was just me for Meatless Monday! today.

I was hungry for pasta, which I rarely eat, and I wanted to keep it simple and fast.

I also didn’t want to shop for any ingredients. So, Meatless Monday! was a really low carbon footprint meal.

Let me also add that the peanut butter which I use is a no sugar added, natural brand made from roasted Valencia peanuts; that’s it!

I scavanged the pantry and the freezer for what was available.

I just happen to have a basil plant on my patio.

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I am sure that there is a better peanut sauce recipe but I improvised with what I had.

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Ingredients:

Whole wheat pasta

1 cup frozen peas

5 scallions

1/2 cup broccoli florets

Sauce:

1 Tbspn peanut butter

1 Tbsp Bragg’s Aminos

1/2 lime, juiced

1 Tbspn crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup fresh basil chopped

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Method:

Boil the pasta.

Chop the veggies.

Mix together the peanut butter, Bragg’s Aminos, lime juice and crushed red pepper.

Place veggies in the colander and pour linguini and water over veggies and allow to drain.

Mix the sauce and chopped basil into the pasta, mix and enjoy!

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I like the idea of gently “scalding” veggies with the pasta water. It brings out the flavors of the veggies and warms everything nicely.

Meatless Monay Pasta

Just me, dining al fresco!

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A cool cucumber salad with red onion complimented this meal and tamed the heat a bit.
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Tuna Tartare, Passion Fruit Martinis and a Magical Night at Le Colonial, Chicago!

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Le Colonial, Chicago is a treat for the senses.

The exotically luxurious atmosphere is the first hint that you are in for something special.

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These Passion Fruit Martinis were incredibly fresh and delicious! Floral and fruity yet light and refreshing on a warm summer night.

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Tuna Tartare with wonton crisps was light and satisfying and tasted fantastic with our cocktails….round 2!

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Romance was in the air so sharing an entree of vermicelli and seafood in coconut curry seemed like the right thing to do!

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What put this dish over the top for me were the copious amounts of fresh basil and cilantro; a garnish, I know, but for me a side dish or side salad!

The aroma of fresh herbs and the delicacy of the spicy coconut broth made my tastebuds tingle!

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The music, the martinis, the warm summer breeze…

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