Vegetarian

Almond Cilantro Pesto and Yogurt Dip

Sometimes I am a good meal planner.  I look through the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what we have, what needs to be used, etc. and plan our week of meals out that way.  Other times I find myself on Tuesday mornings after I drop the kids at school (this is when I like to grocery shop since I only have one child to accompany me) with no idea what we have in the fridge and pantry which leaves me searching for recipes on pinterest and making a grocery list while in the parking lot of HEB.

Thanks to my inabilty to plan, I sometimes come home and discover we already had 8 cans of tomatoes, or goat cheese, or couscous, or a dozen chicken breasts I could’ve thawed out, etc.  Herbs are tricky.  Often all you need is a few tablespoons for a recipe.  Thankfully I’ve managed to keep rosemary and thyme alive in the back yard, but parsley and cilantro are another story and so I have to buy them.  They’re not expensive, but when you don’t need much they often get forgotten in the bottom of the produce drawer.  I bought cilantro for a recipe because I thought rather confidently “I know that I have parsley at home, but no cilantro.”  Not the case!  I had two almost completely full bundles of cilantro at home already, so when I unloaded groceries I now had three bundles.

What am I going to do with all of this cilantro?!  A while back I made a peanut and cilantro pesto, so that’s what I thought of first.  I didn’t have any peanuts.  But I did have almonds…

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At this point I had no plan for the pesto I’d just made, but I knew that I could save it.  Freezing pesto in tablespoons to have on hand for later is a trick I am so glad I learned.  Having something on hand in the kitchen is nice, but having pesto on hand is especially nice because you can incorporate some fresh herby-ness to a meal even when you don’t have fresh herbs or if they’re out of season.

The best way I’ve found to freeze pesto (this also works well for tomato paste) is to line a baking sheet with parchment, use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to divide up the pesto, and then pop the pan in the freezer.  Once frozen solid you can put all the pesto balls into a freezer bag (I learned that labeling your bag is very helpful!) and take one or more out as you need them.  They thaw out pretty quickly.

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Of course I wanted to try some of the pesto right away.  I ate some on a chip and it was good, but strong (like most pesto) and needed to be cut if I was going to eat it as a dip.  Plain Greek yogurt seemed like the perfect choice.

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I played around a little with the ratio but found a 2:1 yogurt to pesto was pretty good.  Of course you could start there and add more yogurt or more pesto depending on your tastes.

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The same thing could be done with mayo to make a nice sandwich spread.  You could also spread the pesto on chicken breasts before baking, stir in to hot pasta, use as a dipping sauce for grilled meats or serve with grilled vegetables.  Excited to try some of those out as summer and grilling season get underway!

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Almond Cilantro Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup almonds, raw, skin on, toasted if desired
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (up to 1/2 cup if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine cilantro, almonds and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the Parmesan and salt and pulse a few times to combine.
  3. With processor running, drizzle in the oil and process until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cilantro Pesto Yogurt Dip

How much of the ingredients you need depends on your taste and how much dip you want to make.  Below are the amounts I used to make dip for 2-4 people as an appetizer serving.  Increase or decrease as desired.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) cilantro almond pesto
  • 8-10 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) plain Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips, pita chips, grilled bread

Directions

  1. Combine both in a bowl and mix well to combine.
  2. Serve immediately or chill until 5-10 minutes before serving, it gets thick when chilled so let it warm up at room temperature for a bit before serving.

Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts and Arugula

Fall is coming and with it the return of the roasted vegetable at our house!  Summer is just too hot to have the oven on at high temps for too long, so I rarely if ever roast veggies during the summer months.  There’s been a touch of cool weather in the mornings here recently, so it was time to bring back the glory that is the roasted veggie!  But since it is still pretty warm a cool, fresh salad is the perfect way to enjoy them.

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Cauliflower is not something I enjoy much in its raw state unless it is drenched in good ranch dressing. But when roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper and some garlic it is transformed in to something super amazing.  Here it also gets a tasty boost from cumin, which makes it next to impossible to resist snacking on before mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients for this salad.

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The cauliflower gets combined with chickpeas, feta and pine nuts then tossed with a citrusy sumac dressing and peppery arugula.  Sumac is a spice I’d never heard of before reading this recipe in the most current issue of Fine Cooking.  I couldn’t find it at my grocery store and had to order it from amazon.  If you don’t have it or can’t find it, don’t worry.  It’s a nice spice and goes very well with all the flavors in the salad, but I didn’t find it to be a stand out in the dressing.  It may not be the same without the sumac, but it will still be great.

I served this along side pork tenderloin and crusty bread the night I made it.  The next couple days I ate it with some additional arugula and spring mix for a super satisfying lunch.  The arugula will get wilted, so adding in some new lettuce is a good way to keep it fresh.  If you wanted to make this ahead of time you could toss everything together except for the arugula and refrigerate it overnight.  Toss with the arugula right before serving and enjoy!

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Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts and Arugula

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2-1/4 lb.), trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup dried currants (I did not use these)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  On a large rimmed baking sheet toss cauliflower with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and the cumin.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through, then remove from the oven and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, sumac, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some fresh ground pepper, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, pine nuts, currants (if using), and feta to the dressing and toss together.  Refrigerate now to server later or toss with the arugula and serve.
Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

The Fine Cooking magazine from October/November has a nice feature on cauliflower.  It includes ways to prep and prepare it along with a few recipes.  This tart is one of those recipes.  This curry is another.  I have a thing for coconut and curry, and so I was drawn to this recipe immediately.  I also love to find satisfying vegetarian dishes that we can work in to our meal schedule.  My husband didn’t miss the meat at all.  This one is a keeper.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

There is quite a bit of chopping to be done, but it can all be done in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.  Once that is taken care of, this dish comes together easily.  You’re looking at 45 minutes cooking time in all, but more than half of that is simply simmering time.  Thanks to that simmering time your house will smell amazing.  The only downside there is that it will smell that way for hours, and waking up to the smells of curry you ate the night before isn’t amazing.  But it is worth it!

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

This reheats really well, so it’s a good choice for those of you cooking for one or two.  This will feed you for a couple of meals, and that’s definitely something I look for in a recipe these days.  I love leftover night.

The spices are warm and subtle.  The first taste is sweet and then the heat hits you at the end but is still more warm than spicy.  I didn’t have black mustard seed, so I didn’t use them and I thought this was still wonderful.  The coconut milk tones down the heat and adds sweetness as well as welcomed creaminess.  I used a whole jalapeno with a few seeds and it wasn’t overwhelming at all.  If you want it spicy make sure to use more of the seeds and membrane or even add a second jalapeno.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

The garnishes are necessary, in my opinion.  The yogurt is a nice cool contrast to the warm curry, the cilantro is the perfect herb to compliment the spices and the cashews add richness and crunch.  We ate this with warm naan which is perfect for soaking up the sauce.  Serving this on top of rice would also be delicious (and stretch it a bit).  I hope you try this dish!  My mouth is watering right now as I think about it and I’m considering getting some out of the fridge…and it’s 8 in the morning.  So you know it’s good.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use ghee if you have it)
  • 1 onion, cut into large dice
  • 2 red bell peppers (you could also use orange or yellow)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine (as many or as few seeds as you’d like)
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets
  • plain yogurt
  • chopped cashews
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • naan or rice for serving

Directions

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon stick and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
  2. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, water and raisins.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add in the cauliflower and mix together.  Cover. keep the heat on low and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick.  Season with salt and lemon juice.  Serve with yogurt, cashews and cilantro.

Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan

Slowly but surely I am getting back into the groove of making a proper dinner.  This dish has a pretty quick prep time and you can even put it together earlier in the day and bake it later.  It can be a side or your main dish.  So even on a busy weeknight you can have dinner together without much fuss.  And you can use up any summer squash you might have around!

Once at a pot luck dinner a friend brought this amazing, creamy, cheesy squash casserole.  She described the ingredients to me, but I never got the entire recipe.  When I saw this squash casserole on Pinterest I had to give it a try because it looked so similar. Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan | Hottie Biscotti This casserole is different.  Less creamy and cheesy, more focus on the vegetables, which is really nice.  It’s flavorful, clean tasting, and delicious.  One of the main differences is that this one doesn’t use condensed cream soup, something I really have nothing against, but something that I don’t mind finding a replacement for if I can.  The original recipe calls for eggs and sour cream as the binders.  I used the eggs, but substituted greek yogurt and it turned out really well.

The feta gives a nice punch to the dish.  I mixed in some shredded carrots to add extra veggies and to help with some fridge clean out.  This is a really great side dish.  I served it with grilled pork tenderloin and bread.

The thyme is a great herb here, you can use fresh or dried.  I used a mixture of green and yellow squash, but you can use all of one type of course.  And something I think I might try next time is using goat cheese instead of feta because I love me some goat cheese.  Enjoy! Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan | Hottie Biscotti

Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan

Adapted slightly from Kitchen Escapades Serves 4-6 as a side dish Ingredients

  • 5-6 squash (mix of zucchini and yellow squash) sliced
  • 3-4 grated carrots
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • heaping half cup of crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large saucepan heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add in the squash and cook for a few minutes.  Add in the carrots and garlic and cook, stirring to keep the garlic from burning, until the squash just begins to soften.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk eggs and yogurt, then stir in the feta and parmesan.  Season with a little salt and pepper.
  5. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and layer half of the squash in the pan.  Spread half of the yogurt mixture on top, then layer again with squash and then yogurt.  Sprinkle with a little extra feta if you have some!
  6. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown.  Serve warm.  This reheats well for a light lunch.

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Herbs and Feta

I have three of the best sisters on the planet.  I was lucky enough to have two of them down to visit a couple weeks ago.  We are all different, but we all share an interest in food and cooking.  When a holiday or party is coming up we often menu plan together.  Lindsey and Sarah found this recipe for an orzo salad while they were visiting and it was the perfect side dish for the steak Ben grilled for dinner.  I made it again the following weekend when my parents were in town and it was a hit yet again!  This salad is simple and delicious and a great choice for a summer side dish.

ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie Biscotti

This salad comes together quickly, can be prepared ahead, and can be served room temperature or cold, making it a really convenient dish.  You can adjust the ingredients to your liking.  I used a lot of tomatoes and herbs, with a small amount of dressing and feta.  You can serve more dressing and feta on the side for guests who want more of it.  You could leave out the chickpeas if you don’t care for them, but I probably wouldn’t add anymore than the can called for.  The chickpea to orzo ratio seemed just about perfect.

The basil and mint combination make this salad bright and refreshing, the feta is a great flavor addition, the chickpeas are a nice texture surprise and the tomatoes provide lovely flavor and color.ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie BiscottiORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie Biscotti

The first time my sister made the dressing I was almost out of red wine vinegar so she subbed in some balsamic to make up the difference.  The next time I made it I used all red wine vinegar and it definitely changes the dish.  I think I preferred it with a little balsamic, but both ways are quite good.

I hope this makes its way to your table this summer!  You will not be disappointed.

ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie Biscotti

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Herbs and Feta

From Giada DeLaurentiis

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cherry, grape or other small tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (can sub in half for balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  While whisking, drizzle in the oil.  Set aside.  Note: You won’t use all the dressing.  Save what’s left in the fridge to use on a green salad.
  2. Cook orzo in boiling water according to package instructions, until al dente.  Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl, toss and let cool.
  3. Toss orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onions and herbs.
  4. Drizzle with some of the dressing, taste and add more until you’re pleased with the flavor.
  5. Toss in the feta if serving right away, otherwise cover and chill until ready to serve.  Toss in the feta right before serving.

Green Posole with Black Beans

This is far from a summer recipe.  It’s soup.  It’s hot and comforting.  Not exactly what anyone is looking for when temps are rising outside.  The last thing you probably want to do is eat a bowl of something warm.  But my sister sent the recipe to me after trying it herself and I didn’t want to wait!

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This spicy vegetarian posole is super delicious.  I’ll definitely be bringing this recipe out again in the fall.  But even with the warm weather my husband and I still really enjoyed this soup and will be having leftovers tonight.

I topped this subtly spicy soup with chunks of avocado, monterey jack cheese, cilantro, tortilla strips, sour cream and a spritz from a lime wedge.  My sister recommends radish slices and shredded green cabbage.  Having all of those things as options would be a great way to serve this soup to guests.

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The recipe calls for a blender to puree some of the ingredients, but it just about filled my blender to the brim.  My sister used an immersion blender with great results, so use one of those if you have one.  A blender works fine if not.

I forget how much I love posole.  There’s just something about the hominy that makes me happy.  It has such a great texture, especially in soup.  The chiles and poblano add a nice heat, but it’s not terribly spicy.  If you like it hot, then don’t be so careful when seeding the peppers.  Be sure to check the seasonings after the soup has simmered.  Mine needed a nice dose of salt along with the lime juice.  You could easily add some cooked shredded chicken for a heartier version.

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Green Posole with Black Beans

From Martha Stewart adapted from Homesick Texan

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, quartered, and seeded
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (extra for serving)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 ounce baby spinach leaves, 1 large handful, about 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • fresh lime juice from 1 lime (extra wedges for serving)
  • kosher salt
  • monterey jack cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced or cut into chunks
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips or baked tortilla strips

Directions

  1. Heat broiler with rack in top position.  Place a sheet of foil on the rack.  Broil the poblano until charred and skin is bubbling, 4-5 minutes per side.   You can also do this over a gas burner using tongs.  Transfer to a paper sack or zip-top plastic bag, close it tightly, and let steam 20 minutes.  Rub the poblano with paper towels to remove skin.  Stem, seed, and place in a blender.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook tomatillos until soft, about 5 minutes.  Drain and transfer to the blender.
  3. Add serranos, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, spinach, cumin, oregano, and 2 cups of broth.  Blend until smooth.  OR you can put everything from the poblano to the broth to a pot and blend with an immersion blender.
  4. Pour tomatillo mixture into a large pot and stir in 4 cups broth, the hominy, and the black beans.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
  6. Add lime juice.  Taste, add salt and adjust seasonings.
  7. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, chips and extra lime juice if desired.

Quick Chickpea and Spinach Curry

I get one cooking magazine in the mail. Fine Cooking.  I’ve mentioned it more than once (at least a dozen times probably) on the blog.  It’s most definitely my favorite cooking magazine.  It doesn’t have loads of content, but what it does have is good content and not a lot of ads.  Anyway, buy a copy sometime and check it out.

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This recipe for chickpea and spinach curry is from the latest  issue.  While doing meal planning for this past week I was at a loss for Tuesday’s dinner.  So I grabbed the magazine and started flipping through it.  This one stood out to me right away.  I love the flavors in Indian food, but it often takes a lot of time and ingredients to make good Indian food at home.  This recipe allows you to take some short cuts but still wind up with a very flavorful and satisfying meal with just enough spice.

Our Tuesday nights get a little crazy, no matter how hard I try I always feel like I am rushing to get dinner ready or the house picked up.  This meal fit in perfectly with our  busy night (although I failed in some ways this past week and we were still rushed!).  It comes together incredibly quickly and cooks up in a flash.  It’s full of good-for-you vegetables and fills you up without being heavy.  But your house will smell like curry for a few days.  That’s the only downside.  Ben came home the next day from work and said, “Indian again?” to which I replied “No, spaghetti and meatballs.” which I’d spent all day cooking.  I was sure it would’ve masked the curry, but no.

You can serve this as a side dish or as a vegetarian main, which is what I did.  The recipe below serves 4 as a side and 2 as a main.  It’s easily doubled or tripled, so can suit whatever your needs are.

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I skipped out on the yogurt the first time around, but ate it with leftovers and loved the creamy, coolness of it next to the spice.  Definitely serve this with naan if you can, but I am sure it would also be nice on a bed of white rice.

If you don’t like cilantro or are serving this to people who don’t, leave it out of the dish.  You can serve fresh cilantro separately and let people decide how much, if any, they want.

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Quick Chickpea and Spinach Curry

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne (optional, I left it out)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6-7 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional, mix in or on the side)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional for serving)

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add in the onion, ginger, curry powder and garam masala and cook for a few minutes, until the onion is softened.  Add in the garlic and cook for one minute more.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon and add no more than 1 teaspoon)
  4. Add in the spinach, a cup or so at a time, letting is cook down just a bit before adding more to keep you pan from getting  overloaded.
  5. Once the spinach has cooked down and is wilted, season with more salt if needed, cover the pan and turn off the heat.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  6. You can stir in the cilantro to the dish now if desired or serve it on the side.

 

Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cranberries, Almonds and Feta

A good friend of mine gifted me with a free local produce box from Greenling.  Greenling is an Austin based company that now also operates in the Dallas, San Antonio and Houston areas.  They make organic, local produce more easily accessible and do a great job of it.  They even delivered my box to my front door, and we live way out in the burbs.  In my lovely local box was a bunch of kale and 3 huge beets, along with some other treasures.  I immediately knew what would become of the kale and beets.

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I loved this salad.  We ate it as a side dish the night I made it and I ate it for lunch the next three days in a row.  Kale holds up so well that it was delicious every time, not soggy and droopy like salads can get after being dressed and stored overnight.  It was probably better after a night in the fridge, so you can always make it ahead of time.  Maybe leave out the almonds so they stay crunchy, and leave out the feta if you don’t want it to be pink!

The beets provide great color and earthiness, but if you don’t like beets add in some shredded carrots, chopped apples or pear.  Use golden raisins in place of the cranberries, toasted walnuts or pine nuts instead of the almonds.  I like to play around with the dressing also, different kinds of vinegar, honey instead of agave, orange juice instead of lemon.  Just start with a big bunch of kale and add in what you like and what you have on hand!  Enjoy!

Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cranberries, Almonds and Feta

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 large beets
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch of kale, stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces of feta cheese

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane or very finely chopped
  • kosher salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Roast the Beets: Preheat oven to 400°F.  Peel the beets and cut them into 1 inch chunks.  Spread them onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme and toss to coat.  Roast for 40 minutes, turning twice, until they are fork tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  You can do this ahead of time and store the beets in a container in the fridge for a day or two.
  2. Make the dressing: Combine all ingredients and whisk well, season with salt and pepper and taste, adjust to your liking.
  3. Combine kale with half of the dressing and toss well (your clean hands work well for this!)  Add more dressing if it seems dry, but be careful not to overdress.
  4. Add in cranberries, beets, feta and almonds.  Toss gently so you don’t break up the feta too much.
  5. Serve immediately or let sit in the fridge for a few hours to let flavors marry and allow the kale to soften a bit.

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach & Feta

Breakfast for me is almost always a piece of fruit and a bowl of cereal, unless my sweet man has suggested going to pick up donuts or breakfast tacos.  When I scramble eggs for Carson I will sometimes scramble some for myself and toast up a piece of bread.  Scrambled is really the only way I like my eggs.  I cannot stand a runny yolk.  I wish I could because I want so badly to order eggs benedict simply because I find it to be a beautiful dish.  Alas, I am stuck with boring (and rather unattractive) scrambled eggs.  Eggs are good for you.  They are full of protein, and you can cook them quickly. They can be a really wonderful way to start your day.  And there are ways to dress them up and make your eggs more interesting.

My mom would make us cheesy eggs as kids.  The more cheese the better, specially if some of it got slightly crunchy on the edges of the pan.  It’s kinda like fricco!  You can’t go wrong stirring some salsa, cheese and crunched up tortilla chips into scrambled eggs for some cheater migas.  I remember once my sister made scrambled eggs for the family with feta cheese and fresh dill.   When I took out the carton of eggs a few weeks ago I saw the feta cheese and decided I’d add some to my eggs.  Then I remembered that I had some spinach that needed to get used up or else I’d have to toss it, so I took that out as well.  I wound up with quite a tasty breakfast and a nice change of pace from cold cereal.

eggsandfeta

This will serve one person, so adjust as needed for more servings.  I use one whole egg and one egg white.  Once upon a time I was scared of the yolk because that’s where that fat is!  Then I wised up and realized that not only did I need fat in my diet, but a little yolk makes scrambled eggs much tastier.  I tried making these eggs the first time by adding the raw spinach in with the eggs, but I didn’t like the way the eggs cooked.  So the next time I sauteed the spinach in a teeny bit of olive oil, took it out of the pan and let it drain a little on a paper towel, scrambled my eggs, then added the spinach back in near the end of cooking along with the feta.  I found this to be a much better method.

Spinach cooks down to practically nothing.  So be very generous with the amount of raw spinach you cook.  Better to have extra than to find yourself wishing you’d cooked more of it.  As far as the feta goes, you don’t need much.  It’s a very flavorful cheese, so a little goes a long way.  The feta is also pretty salty.  Use extra salt sparingly.

This is a great savory breakfast and a tasty way to eat more vegetables, something I am working on in my meals.  Adding some fresh herbs in with the spinach would be lovely.  Goat cheese would be a nice cheese to try instead of the feta.  And there are other veggies you can add as well, cherry tomatoes, sauteed zucchini or peppers.  Lots of options.  Let me know if you come up with a spectacular combination!  Enjoy.

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach & Feta

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • a generous handful of baby spinach
  • feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

  1.  Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat.  Drizzle a tiny bit of oil in the pan, then add your spinach.  Sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring until spinach has just wilted.  Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off some of the liquid.
  2. In a small bowl whisk the eggs (or one whole egg and one egg white) until they are combined and a little foamy.  I like to use a tiny whisk or a fork.  A big whisk and such a small amount of liquid doesn’t really work well.
  3. Spray your pan with non-stick spray.  Add the eggs and scramble as you like.  My mom scrambles them into small pieces.  I like them a bit bigger, so I let them cook for a little bit right when I add them to the pan, then I stir gently and infrequently until they just about done, a little undercooked.  Add the spinach and feta to the pan and stir to combine.  Season with pepper if desired and salt if needed.

 

Cauliflower Mac with White Cheddar, Parmesan and Thyme

In my dreams I am someone who eats nothing but good-for-you foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, that are all beneficial to my health and do things like make my skin glow, provide me with all my daily vitamins, and will add years to my life.  I grow all my own vegetables and get my eggs from the chickens I’m raising in my backyard.  In that backyard I am hanging my clothes out to dry on the clothesline.  In reality I love a greasy hamburger with cheese and bacon served up with a plate of crispy fries and followed by a creamy vanilla milkshake.  I’ve never grown anything edible besides some tomatoes that didn’t make it through the season.  And I actually hate the way clothes feel and smell after drying outside.  I’m nothing like I am in my dreams.  I like healthy foods, but I also really like to indulge.  I’ve visited both extremes of unhealthy habits with food and over time I’ve become better able to understand that there is a healthy balance between the two.  I believe that there is a time to indulge in cheesy macaroni and a time to take it easy and fill your body with nutritious vegetables.  This dish allows you to have your mac and eat it too.

cauliflowermacaroniandchees

Upon first reading this recipe in Fine Cooking I dismissed it as being way too much work.  I came across it again a few weeks later and thought I should give it a try.  It turned out to be really delicious and not terribly time consuming.  This is nothing at all like the ooey gooey cheesy macaroni and cheese I usually make, so it isn’t truly fair to compare them.  However, the flavor of this macaroni was full and rich thanks to the sharp cheese and fresh thyme.  Since it’s a warm baked pasta dish it still serves as comfort food, but it doesn’t carry all the butter, whole milk and cheese (and guilt) of the full fat version.  One of the best parts about it is the cauliflower and onion puree.  There’s half a head of cauliflower in this!  And it adds a wonderful flavor and creaminess as well as a good amount of vitamin C.  Purees are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet, and I’m going to look for ways to do more with them.  There are only so many salads and sides of steamed broccoli a girl can take before she needs some real food.  And while you eat this you can feel good knowing you’re getting some of your daily veggies.

There are a few things I did that are different from the original recipe.  I used macaroni instead of penne.  I used heaping measurements for the cheese because, well, I just love cheese.  And I used 2% milk instead of 1%.  I know there is a big difference between the two, and next time I will try 1% if I remember to pick some up.  Ben and Carson both drink 2%, and I have recently made the switch to almond milk, so that’s all the milk we have in our house most of the time.

If you make this dish start to finish it probably wouldn’t take you all that long, but it dirties a lot of dishes.  One of those dirty items is a blender, and I kinda hate cleaning the blender, not sure why.  As a stay-at-home mom I rarely have the luxury of making dinner leisurely and I also don’t want me or my husband to be stuck with a bunch of dishes when all we want to do is sit down after the kids are in bed.  So, here are some ways to make this easier and less stressful to prepare.

  • Make the vegetable puree earlier in the day, or even the day before, and store it in the fridge.  Warm it up in the saucepan and continue the recipe from that point.
  • Grate the cheese ahead of time and store in the fridge in ziplocs or tupperware.  (I prefer bags because I can throw them away.  But that’s because I am lazy and wasteful.)
  • Cook everything, put it in the pan, cover and put in the fridge.  Bake it that evening or the next day.

Give this a try. Even if you hate cauliflower I think you’ll like it.  And if you have any healthy and delicious recipes to share, please do!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 cups 1-1/2-inch cauliflower florets (about 1 lb.; from 1/2 head) 
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled 
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 oz. macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups 2% milk 
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard 
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 
  • 2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup) 
  • 1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 cups using a rasp grater)

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.
  2. Put the cauliflower, onion, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.
  3. Fill the pot three-quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  4. While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the vegetables in the blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk and the thyme. Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano. Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.
  6. Transfer the pasta and sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  7. Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.