Beets, Swiss Chard and Creamy Polenta

After a weekend full of friends and parties, I have been a major vegetable (no pun intended) today –watching episodes of the X-Files on Netflix and doing some wedding planning. But I figured I would do something good for myself and plan a comforting but nutritious meal. I decided on this polenta with swiss chard and beets recipe since the colors looked spectacular. Mine turned out pretty, if I do say so myself.

INGREDIENTSimage1

For Polenta
-4 c. water
-1 c. cornmeal
-2 T. butter

-3 T. parmesan
-salt
-pepper

For Vegetables
-1 bunch red beets
-1 bunch green swiss chard
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-3 T. olive oil
-2 T. lemon juice
-salt
-pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash beets and remove the greens and root. Put cleaned beets into baking dish and cover with water. Put layer of foil over baking dish and put into oven for 50 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove beets from oven and rinse with cold water. Once cooled, use a paper towel to remove the skin from the beets.
  4. Place 4 cups of water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk the cup of cornmeal into the water and bring the water to a simmer.
  5. Stir in parmesan, butter, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Wash the swiss chard and remove the stems as they extend from the leaf.
  7. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When warmed, add minced garlic.
  8. When garlic starts to brown slightly, add swiss chard. When wilted, remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.

Layer in a bowl and enjoy! If you try it, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Advertisements

Sausage, Kale and Sweet Potato Cheesy Bake

I am so excited that the weather is starting to turn warm enough to wear skirts and no jacket! On the hottest day of the year so far (though thankfully not humid), I made a cheesy, heavy dish. Sounds counter intuitive but it was great. This one comes from Pinch of Yum. It is perfect because the cheese sauce and sausage are enough to make kale appetizing for even the person who can’t stand kale.

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil to coat panImage 6
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 links of sausage, cut into small rounds
  • 2 C. low sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ C. milk
  • ¼ C. flour
  • ¾ C. shredded swiss cheese
  • 2 C. finely chopped kale

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and Italian sausage. Mix together to coat with oil and continue to cook until slightly crispy outside and both the sausage and sweet potato start to brown. Toss with the kale and transfer to a greased 9-inch square baking dish.Image 7
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil, then to a low simmer. Whisk the flour and remaining ¼ cup milk to form a thick paste. Add this to the broth, whisking to keep the sauce smooth. Add cheese and stir until melted. (The recipe calls for Gruyere but it was a bit pricey for the small amount I needed, so I went with a swiss alternative.)
  3. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the baking dish and bake until cheese is bubbling (approximately 10 minutes).

See? Cheesy perfection. 
Image 4

Asparagus and ricotta frittata

If it isn’t clear by now, I have a deep love for asparagus recipes. There is something about the fresh, crunchy texture that also becomes crispy and charred when cooked that is so addicting. Lately, I have also been trying to prepare make-ahead breakfasts so we can just grab and go in the morning without much effort. Joe leaves so early that he rarely gets to eat any breakfast before he gets the train to the office, so I try to give him easy, healthier options (compared to a breakfast sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts).

This recipe comes from The Lemon Bowl. I am super jazzed about our cast iron skillet and was really looking forward to trying this recipe. (I anticipate more frittata posts to come….) Originally, I chose it because of the goat cheese, but in my plan to make dinner (Green Goat Pizza — a Peace of Pizza favorite), and breakfast simultaneously, I discovered a dearth of goat cheese. Thank goodness we have a ton of ricotta in the fridge, which acted as the perfect substitute in the frittata.

INGREDIENTS

  • Image

    Pre-goat cheese deficit discovery

    1/2 bunch asparagus – trim off stalky ends

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup low fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 ounces ricotta (part skim)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. (I usually just put the asparagus on the baking sheet, drizzle the oil and spices over it, and shake side to side until asparagus are covered). Roast for 10-15 minutes (or until tips get crispy and fragrant).
  3. Remove asparagus from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. (Leave oven at 400 degrees.) Cut into bite-sized pieces. Keep 1 or 2 to decorate the top.
  4. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl
  5. Pre-heat 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add chopped asparagus to the pan.
  6. Sauté the asparagus for 1 minute before pouring the egg mixture into the pan. Stir once with a rubber spatula then scatter the ricotta on top with the reserved  asparagus spears.
  7. Place pan in the oven and bake until eggs are set, (about 18 minutes–the middle stays gooey for a bit.)

Between the two of us, we got 2 days of breakfasts. Pair with fruit and an english muffin or toast for a balanced meal.  

 Image 1

Spring-fresh asparagus, goat cheese & pistachio flatbread

Today was kind of a rough day (despite only being Monday) and all I wanted to do after work was crawl into bed and forget about all responsibilities. This included laying face down on the bed and listening to Serial (which I am finally catching up on). However, it was GORGEOUS outside so when Joe got home, he coerced me into a run at the park. Needless to say, we were in a pinch when it came to time for making pizza crust.

For dinner, I had chosen a (surprise surprise) recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod for an asparagus, goat cheese and pistachio flatbread pizza. Typically dough, even for flatbread needs about an hour to rise, but having worked up a sweat and after a long day, waiting over an hour for dinner seemed ludicrous. That’s where the slightly-stale pita saved the day. Seriously….if you have stale pita in your fridge, DO NOT THROW IT OUT. Unless of course, it is moldy. If it is just kind of hard around the edges, make it into PIZZA! Trust me.

This was quick, easy, tasty and paired so perfectly with the sunny, warm spring day it was ridiculous!

Ingredients

  • 4 oz goat cheeseIMG_2213
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions (tops only)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 5 large asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 pita breads
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios, shells removed
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, chives, and lemon zest.
  3. Using a julienne (or a vegetable peeler), shave asparagus spears into long, thin shavings. Place shavings in a small bowl. Drizzle a little of the olive oil over the asparagus shavings and gently toss.

    3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the flatbread. Cover with shaved asparagus and left-over asparagus stalks. Place crumbles of goat cheese evenly over the flatbread. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

    4. Place pitas on a baking sheet (it took 2 for me) and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is starting to melt and flatbread is crisp (you can tell when the middle starts to puff up or curl on the edges). Remove from oven and top with chopped pistachios.

Believe it or not, “peeling” asparagus is quite difficult because the stem is likely to break or not peel deep enough to get a strip. Frustrated, I broke out the julienne (careful of my fingers) and got perfect slivers of asparagus, and chose to use the left over stalks on the flatbread. I limited my use of the oil over the pitas because I was concerned with making them soggy. Just about 1/2 T. on each did the trick to revive the slightly-stale bread and produce crispy deliciousness.

Saag Paneer

I’m backkk!! It has been a while. I have had some medical issues recently and it was hard to get excited about cooking. Tonight I was pretty excited about trying some ethnic cuisine, heavy in iron and protein, and a side of bread. With Passover only days away, goodness knows I want to pack the chametz in as much as possible.

I made this delicious Saag Paneer– my first time ever making it from scratch. This one comes from Connoisseurus Veg.  I left out the suggested lemon juice by accident but  I think it could definitely use the acid flavor the next time. It was a bit too sweet. I would probably use less coconut milk, too, so it is slightly less creamy. Either way, it was delicious. Here’s the deal:

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 T. grated ginger root
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 9 oz fresh spinach IMG_2184
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. extra firm organic tofu
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Dry tofu by pressing between paper towels and then chop into cubes.
  2. Put onion, ginger, garlic and spinach in a food processor until chopped but not quite blended
  3. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add tofu and cook until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Keep flipping over so all sides of the tofu cubes are golden brown.
  4. Sprinkle turmeric over the tofu and mix until tofu cubes are coated. IMG_2182
  5. Add the spinach mixture, broth, spices, sugar and salt. Stir to mix then reduce and allow to simmer.
  6. Add coconut milk and cook for a minute. Mixture should be thick and creamy.

The recipe calls for this to be served with naan or rice. I have had rice-based dishes the past few nights so I forewent the rice and used some toasted pita bread instead of naan. IMG_2185

The best part about this meal was how quick it was to cook! Perfect for a busy week night.

Sunday Brunch Edition: Asparagus Egg Bake for 2

So this weekend has been yet another where we have left the house only to grocery shop and scout the Goodwill and Salvation Army for Steampunk goodies. Still getting over the virus from hell and being away from each other for 2 weeks, Joe and I spent the better part of the weekend sitting on the couch, watching movies, cooking, doing laundry, drowning ourselves in tea and cough medicine, and doing minimalist art projects.

Joe has been playing with his dremel and making a really neat wood ring. I did crossword puzzles and read. Since I am in the upswing of the illness and he is still struggling, I did most of the cooking. As a special treat, I made us brunch this morning. Let me start off my explaining, the following recipe is NOT what the original source, Sue Doeden suggests. It is my (typical) artistic interpretation.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
  • 2 English muffins
  • 1/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar
  • 6 asparagus spears (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Crack eggs into a bowl and add milk, whisking together.
  3. Add tablespoon of melted butter and whisk until equally mixed.
  4. Lightly grease 2 ramekins with olive oil.
  5. Cut 1 of the English muffins (I used Thomas’ whole grain, which is healthier without that gritty taste the whole wheat ones have) and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Cover the bottom of the ramekins with the muffin (approximately 2/3 of the muffin) between the two.  Save the other English muffin to toast for the side.
  6. Layer 1/2 the amount of asparagus pieces and 1/2 the shredded cheddar, then the remaining chopped English muffin and asparagus.
  7. Pour the egg, milk, butter mixture over the top. It should just reach the rim, as it settles in between the dry ingredients. IMG_1822
  8. If desired, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  9. Place the ramekins on a baking pan (in case of spills–they will happen) and put into the oven to cook for 25 minutes.

Serve immediately with a side of English muffin, fresh fruit (I used blackberries and mandarin oranges), and french press coffee (Vermont Coffee Co. is my weakness).

Happy brunching!

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Cheese

This on_DSC4401e comes from Northern Spy Food Co., a popular restaurant in Manhattan. However, I learned about this tasty dish when I went to visit my bestie, Rose, in Boston this past August. After the bus ride from hell and arriving to Boston and navigating public transit to SoWa, I was graced with this filling and fresh meal. I think in addition to butternut squash, Rose may have used grilled red and yellow peppers. It is kind of a blur at this point, but it was magical! Upon my return home, I asked Rose for the original recipe so I could recreate it at home.

This is the third time I made this dish–each time doing something a little bit different. The first time I cut the butternut squash myself, instead of using the pre-cut, pre-packaged one. (I learned quickly, that I wanted that 20 minutes of my life back) I also used whole almonds without toasting them. The second time I added a smoked cheddar cheese and sautéed onion. This time, I went with slivered almonds and got them a bit…crispy. Big surprise. I still have not learned how to “toast” nuts to the point they get fragrant before they start to get burnt. Although, I would definitely add the (non-burnt) toasted nuts in the future. The squash and everything else starts to soften up once it is mixed together-  so the toasted nuts added just the crunch that the dish was missing. Maybe next time I will try dried cranberries for added sweetness.

_DSC4396INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cubed butternut squash
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • bunch kale (ribs removed and sliced into 1 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar (1/4 inch cubes)
  • fresh lemon juice
  • parmesan cheese (sprinkled)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and lay on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper until lightly coated. Cook for 35-40 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize.
  2. Toast almonds in a small pan in the same oven until fragrant (2-3 minutes).
  3. Toss kale with 1 T. of lemon juice and 2 T. of olive oil in a medium bowl. Add cubed cheese, almonds and the squash. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Mix together and serve.

This dish can be served warm or cold. Try it out and let me know what you add to make it your own!