Mushroom, kale and goat cheese pasta

Today is the perfect example of the times I “follow a recipe” which is really when I find 1 or 2 recipes and choose to make some combination of the two. What I call….creative….

I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a mushroom pasta with goat cheese and spinach from Pinch of Yum and a kale spinach and goat cheese pasta from Fork Knife Swoon and both peaked my interest.

INGREDIENTS

  • image31/2 lb. pasta (i ended up with less pasta because I accidentally forgot to get more penne and only had 1/4 lb. gemelli)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves (diced)
  • 1/2 white onion (large and diced)
  • 6 baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 medium bunch organic kale (they were out of non-organic kale and I think it was actually cheaper)
  • 2 T. vegetable stock
  • ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 T. goat cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package.
  2. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a wok or wide pan and mix in garlic, until starting to brown. Add onion until it starts to become translucent. (I love my wok and how it helps to toss everything together)
  3. Quarter mushrooms and add them to the pan until softened (4 minutes).
  4. Separate kale from the stalk and cut into 1-2 inch leaf chunks. Add the vegetable stock. Toss in the pan until leaves are shiny and fragrant (5 min).
  5. Remove from heat and add a dash of black pepper and the goat cheese (this will allow the goat cheese to melt a bit).
  6. Add cooked pasta to the cooling pan and toss together.image2
  7. Serve immediately. Garnish with extra goat cheese if desired.

The pasta dish paired perfectly with my lovely merlot, as I snuggled in to watch the snow accumulate while finishing up continuously watching of the final season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Snowpocalypse hibernation begins!

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The tasty finished product with my equally tasty Merlot

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Soup’s on: Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon

There is absolutely nothing more perfect than soup during chilly months. After a frosty

IMG_1750weekend, this soup sounded divine. From Damn Delicious, this Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup is the perfect thing for my flexitarian diet (which arguably is just another word for omnivore, but I love the idea of it:  a tendency towards vegetarianism, with the occasional addition of meat). That’s kind of me in a nutshell! Plus, since I started eating bacon again (after 9 years), I do like to indulge occasionally.

The one downside to this soup is that it is not type of thing you can just leave sitting to cook. It requires a number of cooking steps and consequently, cooking vessels. The clean up was less fun. Good thing we have the “I cook, you clean” rule at our house….

INGREDIENTS (y
1 butternut squash (3 lbs., peeled and cut in 1″ inch chunks)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 slices bacon, diced
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

*The ingredients called for chopped red bell pepper, but given my problems with bell peppers this week, I decided to veto that ingredient.

FOR THE SOUP
4 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 tsp. dried sage*
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

*The recipe included thyme, but sort of by accident, I put in dried sage that we had leftover from our new home purification, rather than thyme. I image the thyme would have been good, but also love sage in soups and it pairs so nicely with squash and caramelized flavors. A happy accident! 

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. (Have I mentioned that I love love love our Misto?)

2. Place diced squash (I have finally learned to buy the pre-sliced, pre-packaged butternut squash–despite the fact it is probably more costly and there is ugh…plastic packaging…it saves about 20 minutes of hacking open the skin of a butternut squash. I used 2 of them), onion, bacon and garlic on the baking sheet in a single layer, and mix to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender. Stir around at about 15 minutes to ensure everything cooks evenly.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the other 4 bacon strips and cook until brown (I like my bacon extra crispy, so I usually cook about 8 minutes).Transfer to paper bowl lined plate to soak up the grease.

5. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the squash mixture, sage, and cook until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and puree. (The recommendation is to use an immersion blender, but not having one, I had to settle with putting 3 different batches of squash and chicken stock in the blender, before adding it to the pot.

6. Bring to a boil, then simmer until slightly thickened.

7. Garnish with cooked crispy bacon and goat cheese crumbles.

On the side, I made some roasted brussels sprouts. This with the soup was a perfect flavorful combination–the epitome of comfort and fall.

Tips: if you are going to be making soups regularly, it is time to get an immersion blender. It will make the process easier and more equal. Also, always use the right knife. I grabbed a carving knife to multi-task cutting the vegetables and the meat, and since it was not enough of an angle for dicing, it slipped and  nicked my hand. Lesson learned.

(Rustic) Breakfast for Dinner

Joe has been complaining that we never eat breakfast for dinner, so I opened my new favorite cookbook from Liana Krissoff that I got for the holidays: Vegetarian for a New Generation, and picked out the tortilla española recipe. It had been forever since I had a spanish omelette– the last time may have been when I was studying abroad in Spain in 2009. My most favorite thing about this recipe is the addition of the pepper-apple jam. Its tangy, spicy flavor rounds out the starchiness of the potatoes and the fluffiness of the eggs.

The finished product

The finished product

Rustic Tortilla Espagnola  (serves 8)

  • 1 1/2 lb. yukon gold potatoes (I used the 3x pre-washed, pre packaged ones, typically meant for steaming)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • yellow onion (medium, diced)
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Red Pepper and Apple Jam (yields 2 cups)

  • granny smith apple (medium, diced)
  • jalapeño peppers (seeded and minced)
  • 2 red bell peppers (large, diced)
  • 1/2 c. turbinado sugar
  • 2/3 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Since this is somewhat a lengthy process, I had to prepare the omelette and the jam simultaneously. Since the packaging on the potatoes claimed to be triple washed, I did not scrub or rinse them. If you are using loose potatoes, be sure to rinse them first.

  1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water, covering the potatoes and leaving about an extra inch of water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Test the potatoes with a knife– if it slides in and out with ease, they are done!
  2. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool a bit. It is harder to cut them when they are still hot from cooking, but you do not want to let them get cold.
  3. In a 10 inch sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until starts to brown and is soft and translucent (about 8 minutes). remove from pan and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, and sprinklings of salt and pepper.

    Mix together, delicately.

    Mix together, delicately.

  5. Cut the potatoes into 1/8 – 1/4 inch slices. Add them to the bowl with the eggs.
  6. Add in sautéed onion and gently combine.
  7. Using the same pan as the onions, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan, swirling to coat the bottom.
  8. Pour in the egg mixture and pat it into an even layer (the potatoes will try to stick out otherwise).
  9. Cook until golden brown on the bottom (10 minutes) and then take a large plate upside and flip the pan onto the plate, so the uncooked mixture is face down. (This part is pretty messy, so be sure to use oven mitts and hold the plate against the pan tightly before flipping.)
  10. Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and slide the tortilla onto the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes more.
  11. Put on a plate to serve and let cool before cutting into slices. (I made them into quarters.) This preserves the structural integrity.
  12. Top with the pepper jam (recipe below). If you would prefer not to make the jam, you can add dashes of paprika for a hint of spicy flavoring.

For the jam (I cut the recipe in half because the recipe yielded 2 cups, and I suspected it was more than I needed. I was right–there was enough sauce for a 1/4″ layer across the entire tortilla.)

  1. Put the apple, peppers, sugar, salt and vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
  2. Cook for 40 minutes or until consistency becomes jam like and the liquid evaporates.
Pepper and apple jam

Pepper and apple jam

I cut the recipe for the jam in half. Although the recipe called for red pepper, my store was low on produce and I had to settle for using a yellow bell pepper.

The smell was absolutely divine while cooking. The jam consistency still had quite a bit of liquid after the time so I turned up the heat a bit to cook it faster.

This meal was equally good the next day for lunch, especially with the jam having had enough time to soak into the tortilla and get a bit more spice from the jalapeños.

Avocado and edamame farro

Joe was at a meeting this evening so I was on my own for dinner, and was pretty excited about making a quinoa and veggie-loaded dish without eye-rolls and groans. Unfortunately, when I got home tonight I found that we were out of quinoa. The horror!! Luckily, we had farro, which as it turns out was a great substitute. Farro is incredibly high in protein and fiber, and just a really good base for flavors, a soft fluffy grain when cooked but with a slight crunch.

This recipe comes from, once again: Two Peas & Their Pod, and takes about 25 minutes total.

(There are a number of modifications from the original recipe but mostly because I forgot to add the cucumber and hate following directions properly, especially when I am cooking for one)

All the grains and the greens

All the grains and the greens

INGREDIENTS 
1 cup farro (rinsed and cooked according to the package)
3 cups water
1/2 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cubed
2 green onions, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Toss with (I did not actually measure, full disclosure):
1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Rinse farro and then add to a pot with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then set to simmer and cover until light and fluffy. Then drain extra water.

2. Add veggies and toss with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now I’m ready to go lift some weights with all this protein! Just kidding.

Tres frijoles tacos

image1After a long weekend full of delicious foods, including turkey and traditional side dishes, and feeling so full I thought I might die…(my “hollow leg” failed me this time) I was ready to cook a hearty but not heavy meal when we returned home on Sunday. Rather than going for my traditional comfort food, chili, I stumbled across a recipe for three bean tacos from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Two Peas & Their Pod.

Like any traditional taco, the juice from the seasoning is the best part. I loved that this recipe took all of those flavors, soaked up in the beans. The result was a protein-packed meal, that was filling but not pain-inducing, thankfully!

Two Peas quotes 20 minutes for the cook time and they aren’t kidding. Finally, a quick and easy meal for those busy work nights.

INGREDIENTS:

olive oil (to coat the pan)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (I used El Paso; mix according to package)
10 Old El Paso Stand ‘n Stuff Taco Shells (These shells are ideal because they are sturdy and keep the filling in)

Toppings:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped vine tomato
Sliced avocado
Lite sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cook taco shells according to package.

2. In the meantime, in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and peppers and sauté. (The recipe calls for 5 minutes but it was more like 3 before the pepper started to brown a bit). Add the rinsed beans, cilantro, lime juice, and taco seasoning. Cook until heated thoroughly and sauce is mostly soaked up.

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I love the colors of the beans and peppers

3. Place bean filling inside of taco shells. Add desired toppings.

The only thing I might change next time is to include sliced black olives for some added salty flavor. Although the recipe calls for 10 tacos (this is how many come in the package) it was a lot of filling for just 2 of us. We ate 3 tacos each and took the rest of the filling over rice for lunch the next day. The beans were a combination with the rice and made for an equally delicious lunch! Definitely looking forward to making this one again.

Nutty Coconut Lime Breakfast Balls

Lately, I have been getting very hungry by 10 a.m., and have been getting frustrated with carb-heavy breakfasts. I was reading Greatist and came across a few recipes for energy bites. The Coconut Lime ones really stood out because of the unique flavor palate and the nuts and dates.

IMG_1416

Coconut Lime Breakfast Bites
(Yields 14 balls)
This one comes from http://paleogrubs.com/lime-energy-bite-recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • Zest of 1 limes
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions

1. Place almonds and cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

IMG_1413

2. Add the dates, salt, lime zest and juice until the mixture starts to clump together. IMG_1414

I cut down the recipe to 2 limes instead of 3 in the original recipe because it seemed too strong of a flavor component. (Definitely a good decision. I might even try 1 the next time, though the lime does balance out the sweetness of the dates incredibly well).

3. Take about 1 1/2 T. worth of mixture into hands and roll into balls. The mixture had a course texture with all of the nuts but became more tacky as I rolled it around. This was helpful for the coconut, but even with the consistency only some of the coconut stuck.

They were the perfect amount of sweet and tangy, which made them the perfect mid-morning snack or part of breakfast! I am looking forward to trying other varieties of these tasty bites.

 

Tangy and Crunchy Spring Rolls

I was craving something crunchy and fresh, and have been wanting to do spring rolls forever. I wanted to make them a few months ago but I couldn’t find rice paper wrappers at my local grocery store. Thank goodness for Whole Foods! Though, I did get quite the laugh standing in line with one item while people around me had $200 worth of organic groceries. I am all about organic and local, but some things just kind of make me roll my eyes.

Anyway, instead of using a recipe I just grabbed a few things that I thought would have that super satisfying crunch. On a whim I used apples which worked nicely with all the fresh vegetables, none of which had a particularly overwhelming flavor. This made the tanginess of the sauce stand out.

Ingredients
Wraps
1 medium red delicious apple
1 c. snap peas
1 c. carrots
1 c. red pepper
10 rice paper wrappers

Dipping Sauce
2 1/2 Tbs. creamy peanut butter
1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 tsp. water
1 Tbs. soy sauce

*Next time I might include sprouts or cellophane noodles to add more substance

Chop up all the ingredients for the wraps into match sticks, about 1 inch in length.

Vegetables

Take the rice wrappers 1 by 1 and soak them in warm water for 5-10 seconds (I put some water on a plate).

Place the ingredients in the middle of the wrapper and begin to fold like a mini burrito, starting at one end, folding in the sides, and then rolling to close.

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Dip (or spoon the sauce over the spring rolls– the ingredients start to fall out) the spring rolls into the sauce and ENJOY!

IMG_1136

I served with extra apples (they can also be dipped in the sauce)