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Menu Plan Monday

I'm living a single-girl life this week so more left overs and less cooking at home. Nothing too glamorous or exciting to take note of....sorry!

Monday: Cooking with Lex..who knows what we will come up with!

Tuesday: Nicose Salad

Wednesday: Cooking with Brit...another surprise!

Thursday: Ash is in town! Dinner out! Most likely Postino or LGO.

Friday: Left overs!

On another note...last week's meals turned out great. It was really fun to try some new ideas and pull in some fun ingredients to make some tastebud-happy meals! Our two favorites (and most innovative) meals were the Paella and the Sweet Potato/Black Bean Enchiladas. After a couple requests for my recipes, I thought I would at least point you in the direction that led me to these dishes. I made a few notes of what I added or changed to get you started. You know the way I feel about sticking to a recipe....

Easy Paella (Inspired from Rachel Ray)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups enriched white rice (For half of the rice, I used a bag of saffron rice)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (I substituted this for the saffron rice because of the price of the threads)
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken broth or stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into thirds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 pound chorizo, casing removed and sliced on an angle
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, 24 shrimp
1 cup frozen peas
2 lemons zested
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 scallions, chopped
Lemon wedges

In a very wide pan or paella pan, preheated over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, add rice and saute 2 or 3 minutes. Add saffron threads, bay leaf, broth, and thyme and bring liquids to a boil over high heat. (I also added the scallions and parsley early on to flavor the rice) Cover the pan with lid or foil and reduce heat to simmer.
In a separate nonstick skillet, over medium high heat brown chicken on both sides in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add peppers and onions to the pan and cook 3 minutes longer. Add chorizo to the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat.
After about 13 minutes, pour in peas, scatter lemon zest over the rice and seafood, then cover the pan again. Stir rice and seafood mixture and lift out bay and thyme stems, now bare of their leaves. Arrange cooked chicken and peppers, onions and chorizo around
the pan. Top with parsley and scallions. Serve with wedges of lemon and warm bread. Yum!

*This was extremely yummy. The perfect date night dish for our Saturday night. I also think this would be ideal for a large group. It made MORE than enough for 6+ servings. I missed the crust that you can get around the edge of traditional paella - but with a great glass of red wine we felt like we escaped to Espana! Ole!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, rinsed, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced * I added a little extra (as usual)
Fresh lime juice from 1 big juicy lime
2 heaping cups cooked diced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup chopped roasted mild green chiles (I used 2 cans)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I at least doubled this)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder mild or spicy
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8-10 Whole Wheat Tortillas
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can red enchilada sauce

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Choose a baking dish that would hold 8-10 rolled enchiladas. For the Enchilada Filling, using a mixing bowl, combine the drained black beans with minced garlic and lime juice. Toss to coat the beans and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the cooked sweet potatoes with the chopped green chiles; add the spices. Season with sea salt and pepper. Pour about 1/2 cup of red enchilada sauce in the bottom of your dish. Lay the first tortilla in the sauced baking dish; wet it with the sauce. Spoon 1/8 of the sweet potato mixture down the center. Top with 1/8 of the black beans. (I also added a small bit of shredded cheese) Wrap and roll the tortilla to the end of the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas. Top with the rest of the sauce. Top with a sprinkle of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the enchiladas are piping hot and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

*I added 1/2 diced onion into the black bean mixture. We love onions in this household. I also topped with some fresh sliced avocado. Blake loved these enchiladas and normally is not crazy about vegetarian dishes. He thought it was hearty and satisfying and didn't even need a protein other than the beans. Definitely worth trying!


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