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  • Leigh

Sunday Dinner Time

Sunday evening has always been a struggle for me. I feel the need to create a special family meal while also finishing up weekly chores--like the Saturday laundry that didn't all make it into the washing machine--and getting ready for the work week ahead. So, I've had many a Sunday night meltdown. Fortunately, my husband and son have been patient with me and eaten whatever dinner I've managed to make, albeit sometimes later in the evening than I intended. My husband and son also have been great about helping to clean up the kitchen debris, and, occasionally, air out the house. Yes, at one point, I "toasted" a kitchen towel by "drying" it in what I thought was a turned off oven. Not a good idea, as I had not turned off the oven, and the towel caught on fire. Oops. My husband suggested I not do that again. Probably a good idea.

Nonetheless, despite all the hassles, I do like to cook Sunday dinner for my family. I think it's an important expression of my love for them, and getting everyone together for the Sabbath meal is a way to create family bonds. With my own struggles in mind, I intend in the Advent Cookbook to limit the complexity of the recipes I offer. The weeks running up to Christmas tend to be stressful enough without adding food production problems. Yes, the Advent Sunday dinners will be special, but I'll also try to make them easy to prepare.

All that said, do you need something for Sunday dinner in August as well as in Advent? How about some simple turkey cutlets in a cream cheese sauce spiked with cranberries? The turkey cutlets cook quickly, and the sauce gets tang from the cream cheese as well as grainy mustard. I like to serve the cutlets with brown rice or noodles, neither of which require much tending on the stove. Green beans or broccoli, steamed quickly in the microwave, provide a nice green contrast to the turkey cutlets, and some lettuce and sliced tomatoes drizzled with a little dressing will round out the meal.

I often bake on Sunday evenings, which, admittedly, causes dinner production problems. Nonetheless, I like to serve special breads and/or desserts with the Sunday meal and to have the leftover baked goods for later in the week. So, I'm offering up to you an "Elvis Cake," which is loaded with protein from a secret ingredient (don't tell your spouse or children) and perfect for using up the bananas from the previous week that lingered too long in the fruit bowl. The "Elvis Cake" is dense, full of dark chocolate taste, and shouldn't send you into a sugar high because of the protein content. The cake also makes use of a boxed cake mix for ease on a busy day. Don't have bananas? Don't want to bake in August? How about some simple mango frozen yogurt? I'll provide a recipe in the hope that it may be the only thing that "melts down" in your house on Sunday evening! Enjoy!

Turkey Cutlets in Cranberry-Mustard Sauce

Turkey Cutlets in Cranberry-Mustard Sauce -- Serves 4-6

4-6 turkey cutlets, about 1/4-1/2-inch thick (1-1 1/2 pounds)

1/4 teaspoon of salt (if you must)

1 tablespoon of canola oil

2 cups of low sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon of minced dried onion

1-2 teaspoons of dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1-2 tablespoons of grainy Dijon mustard

8 ounces of low-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup of dried cranberries (save a tablespoon to sprinkle on top, later)

Fresh mint (optional, but really good)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil, and swirl it around a little in the pan. Dry the turkey cutlets with a paper towel, sprinkle them with a little salt, and add them to the hot pan. Let them brown for about 3 minutes and then flip them over to brown the other sides, again for about 3 minutes. Remove the turkey cutlets from the pan to a plate. Carefully pour the chicken broth into the skillet and turn the heat down to medium low. Add the dried onion, parsley flakes, pepper, salt, and Dijon mustard and stir to combine everything. Let the broth mixture simmer (turn down the heat a little more if necessary) for about 5 minutes or until reduced by about half in volume. Turn down the heat to low and add the cream cheese, stirring to blend it in. Stir in all but a tablespoon of the dried cranberries. Add the turkey cutlets and any accumulated juices on the plate back to the pan and spoon the sauce over the cutlets. Let the cutlets cook a couple of minutes and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle the cutlets with the remaining dried cranberries and the mint, if you'd like, and serve them over rice or noodles or the non-evil carbohydrate of your choice.

Elvis Cake

Elvis Cake -- Serves 8+

1 can (15 ounces) of no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained

3 medium very ripe bananas

1/2 cup of peanut butter

1/2 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

Confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9-inch spring-form pan with non-stick cooking spray. You can line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper if you'd like to make the cake easier to remove, but it's not essential. In a food processor, pulse the black beans until they're pureed and relatively smooth. You'll see some white and black bits. Add the bananas to the food processor and pulse until they're incorporated. Add in the peanut butter and water and pulse until everything is smooth. Pour the cake mix into a large bowl and mix in the cinnamon and chocolate chips. Dump the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the cake mix and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are well combined (no need to beat hard). The batter will be thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes. Let it cool and dust it with confectioners' sugar.

Mango Frozen Yogurt – Serves 6 +

This dessert combines two of my favorite foods—mangoes and Greek yogurt. The frozen yogurt is creamy, sweet, tangy, and reasonably guilt free, because it’s made with nutritious ingredients. Of course, if you eat the whole batch, by yourself, it might not be so guilt free. So share some. It’s better that way.

1 16-20-ounce package of frozen mango chunks

2 cups of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt

¼ cup of honey

1 teaspoon of lime juice (optional)

Add all the ingredients to the container of a blender or food processor and pulse until well combined. Continue to pulse, scraping down the sides of the container, as necessary, until the mixture is blended and reaches a thick consistency. Serve the frozen yogurt immediately or put it in a covered container and freeze it until it is firm. Let the yogurt thaw in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes first, so it’s easier to scoop, if you’re serving it from the hard frozen stage.

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