Thursday, March 25, 2010

Over Indulgence Kick of the Week (followed by healthy!)

I will start this post with an example of what one SHOULD eat for dinner.

Scrambled eggs with onion and mushrooms, olives on the side and a salad of fresh baby greens, grape tomatoes and a dressing of premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Great, right? I should feel proud of myself for at least the next 24 hours. But I don't; want to know why?

I think I may have found the most crazy yummy recipe for spaghetti squash ever. But it's actually 27 Weight Watcher points. And that is why it is the most yummy ever. It didn't make me feel sick or bad, either. Just contented. Also, if you have lactose intolerance, please remember to take a lactaid pill or you'll suffer later. Again TWENTY SEVEN POINTS.

Oh, and Justin took one bite, and answered the neighbor's question "what's for dinner?" with a "I don't know, but it doesn't taste like squash or healthy at all".

"Mock" Fettuccini Primavera

1/2 medium spaghetti squash
Primavera Sauce, recipe follows

Slice squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon as you would a pumpkin. Then completely submerge both halves in boiling water and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the inside is tender to a fork and pulls apart in strands. (It is better to undercook if you are not sure). Remove, drain, and cool with cold water or an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then use a fork to scrape the cooked squash out of its skin, and at the same time, fluff and separate the squash into spaghetti-like strands. Discard the skin. Save the second half to heat later for a side dish another night.

Reheat the squash strands by dipping with a strainer in boiling water just before serving. Top with Primavera Sauce.

Premavera Sauce:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup small broccoli florets, lightly blanched
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves, for garnish
grape tomatoes, slice in half, for garnish

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add broccoli and saute for about 1 minute. Then whisk in cream and egg yolk and cook for only 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly just to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the butter and the parsley. Pour over or toss with the hot spaghetti squash. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and grape tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


OMG. I have to gush. Finally, we hit a stellar night with not one, but TWO new recipes! I'm totally in a semi food coma, but I'm so stoked, I just had to write this down.

The first recipe was one I was sitting on for a while ever since I noticed I could get ground lamb at the Giant. I originally found the recipe just searching for pasta recipes, since they tend to be cheap and easy. This was, as the only things extra I needed to find was ground lamb and feta. The taste was not as exotic as you might fear if you were not used to the combination. Using a tomato sauce brand you are already familiar with makes it a lot less intimidating. I used Classico tomato and basil, since I really like that taste.

Greek Pasta with Meatballs

2 cups hot cooked orzo (or another little pasta that you have on hand)
1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups jarred marinara sauce
3/4 cup (3 oz) crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Keep warm.

3. Combine breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl; stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley. Add egg whites, stirring mixture until just combined. Shape mixture into 12 (1-inch) meatballs; cover and chill meatballs 5 minutes.

4. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs to pan; cook 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Drain well; wipe pan clean with paper towels. Return meatballs to pan. Spoon marinara sauce over meatballs; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 for 11 minutes or until meatballs are done. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley. Serve over pasta.

4 servings

So the next recipe I found after desperately needing a way to cook kale for a side without having any bacon. Basically the only way I know how to cook kale is with bacon grease or as an ingredient in a soup. And kale was the only vegetable available for tonight. Without bacon, I quickly searched Food for anything I could try as the oven preheated for the meatballs. The recipe I found had only ingredients I already had, plus was easy and rated high. Bonus was the comment that this particular talent helped the user to use up their CSA goodies!

Braised Kale with Toasted Almonds
from Aaron McCargo Jr.
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
In a large saute pan over low heat, toast almonds for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly browned. Add butter and allow to brown. Add garlic and onions. Cook for 3 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add kale and toss lightly. Add broth, bouillon and pepper. Cook kale for 5 to 6 minutes until tender and liquid has evaporated.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Veggie Awesomeness

Phew! I just had what had to be both the most healthy and yet most indulgent dinner tonight. It was a recipe of few ingredients but because the quality was so high, and the balance right, it was pretty intense.

But first, I did have to mention the success of last night's dinner, as even after tonight, it was the best in a long time. I have a CSA, and therefore a lot of veggies. And because it isn't spring yet, I'm getting a lot of onions. My friend Rebbecca suggested I make soup with all the soup ingredients, so I decided to try my hand at the french variety of soup.

Look! I was creative in using oven-proof bowls! My soup looked more normal. Justin's container, shown above, was bigger than the piece of toast. That's Gruyere all broiled on top.

Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Gruyere Toast

1 Pound yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise
3 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or more. I was liberal in the definition of "sprig")
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon (or 2) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (we used sauvignion blanc)
2 cups beef stock
1 cup water
two slices of bread for toast - french or rustic, ciabatta if available
2 Tbls unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups grater Swiss Gruyere cheese

In a heavy 5-quart pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and exceedingly soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to broil. Toast the bread.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into two ovenproof bowls, float the toasted bread on top, and cover it with a thick layer of the Gruyere. Put the soup bowls under the broiler on the middle rack and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and golden.


Okay, and so for tonight. The preparation was way prettier than the resulting meal, so I took a picture of the before:

How sweet and healthy-looking is that? If you have butternut squash or a heck of a lot of shiitake mushrooms, try this recipe out. Also, you can find this really neat wide noodle at Whole Foods sometimes. If you can't find it, just use fettuccine.

Pappardelle with Squash, Mushrooms, and Spinach

12 oz pappardelle or fettuccine pasta
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes butternut squash (from 1-pound squash)
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
1 1/2 Tbls chopped fresh sage
1 5- to 6-oz package baby spinach
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bit, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook until almost tender, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, sage, and remaining 1/4 cup butter; saute until mushrooms are soft and squash is tender, about 8 minutes. Add spinach; stir until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta to sauce in skillet. Toss to coat, adding pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Soup

So the CSA blessed me this time with two pounds of parsnips. Last time we had parsnips I combined them with turnips for that lovely gratin. This time, double the parsnips and erase the turnips. Now what? Luckily I had a friend over who mentioned a tasty parsnip soup she dined on in Europe. She did not have a recipe, but was positive I could easily find a nice recipe somewhere. I did, thanks to Emeril and Food Network. No picture yet, as I was incredibly busy making a new favorite soup at the same time. That carrot and butternut squash soup is still the best way I've found to use a butternut squash.

Cream of Parsnip Soup
Courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2000, changed to suit what I had on hand

2 Tbls butter
1 1/3 cups chopped onions
2/3 cup chopped celery
freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp chopped garlic
6 2/3 cups chicken broth
2 lbs parsnips, peeled and diced
1/4 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter in a 6-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaf and garlic.

Add the stock and parsnips and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the parsnips are very soft, about 1 hour. Remove soup from heat and allow to cool a little. Discard bay leaf.

Using a hand-held blender, carefully puree soup until smooth. Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Evolution of Slicing

I spent the last two weekends chopping and slicing. Here are the results of the first batch of bad experiences:

On the left became a curry-spiced butternut squash soup. On the right became a very unhealthy soup with heavy cream and sausage. And in the middle all those sliced parsnips and turnips became this:

This is a parsnip and turnip gratin, with gruyere cheese and those are bits of roasted panko crumbs on top. It was like a slightly sweeter potato gratin.

The weekend before, (or was it after?) I tried frying sweet potatoes to make them more enjoyable. They turned out pretty well:

Basically what I was using was the forth side of a four-sided cheese grater. You know that one side that is sort of a slicer? That's what I used for all of this. Well, it's so awkward that I eventually injured both thumbs and my right middle finger, all on the tip, in a 10 day period. So I decided to finally break down and get what is called a mandoline, basically a more professional veggie slicer. And with said slicer, I was able to breeze through two pounds of beets for pickled beets:

And one really huge sweet potato for the best chips yet:

Oh man, and can I say, using the fry daddy outside is the only option unless you want the house smelling like a McDonald's.