Spaghetti with Red Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips

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Before we dive into the food I wanted to say thank you to everyone who responded about their moms.  It was so great reading about your special relationships.  We are all very lucky gals!

Last night’s dinner was a little carb-filled, a bit garlicky, but a lot delicious!  I had originally intended to follow this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and use green Swiss chard, but the produce buyers at HEB/Sprouts/Randalls had other ideas.  When I saw the red Swiss chard in the organic produce section my eyes grew as big as saucers.  The red color would be so pretty against the pasta.  I was sold.

The most time consuming part of this meal was peeling and thinly slicing all the garlic chips.  My hands still smell very strongly of garlic this morning.  Also, if anyone has a tip for perfectly browning both sides of the garlic chips I am all ears.  Without individually flipping them that seems impossible.  Big side note, make sure you don’t completely drain your spaghetti.  You want it to still be wet and coasted with water.  It helps with tossing and gives the noodles a better texture.

Lastly, I transferred my onion/chard mixture to a giant stock pot because the leaves were so luscious and about a foot tall.  They definitely cook down, but would never have fit in my skillet pan.  I really enjoyed how well the red Swiss chard popped in photos.  And be warned it makes A LOT.  We’ll have leftovers for the whole weekend.

Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 8-10 servings

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pounds red Swiss chard, stems and center ribs finely chopped and leaves coarsely chopped separately
1/2 cup water
1 pound good quality spaghetti (imported)
1/2 cup slivered Kalamata olives
8 ounce block of Feta, crumbled

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add garlic slices and cook until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Transfer garlic with to paper towels to drain.  Press paper towels over top of garlic chips.  Add onions to skillet(with leftover oil) and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir diced chard stems into onion mixture with water and garnish with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until almost tender (about 5 minutes).  Transfer mixture to a large stock pot and add chard leaves.  Cover and cook until leaves and stems are tender (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti (add 1-2tsp of salt to water).  Drain spaghetti briefly, but while still pasta is still wet and not fully drained transfer to large serving bowl.

Toss spaghetti with chard mixture, and olives.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle feta cheese on, lightly toss.  Top with garlic chips.  Enjoy!

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“Zwie” Thumbs-up!

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Not to toot my own horn(and show off how cute my nephews are), but I think my Zwieback Toast was a hit!  I toasted it again(now Drieback Toast) in a toaster oven before serving.  The undersides ended up a tiny bit burned, but I just used a butter knife and scraped it right off.  He had one and a half toasts in one sitting and made the cutest sounds.  If you want cute baby overload check out the video at the bottom.

And then there is the stubborn nephew who refused to try it but is adorable anyways.

And now cute baby overload!

Salty “Caramels”

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I’ve had a container of dates in my pantry since May and have had no inspiration to cook with them.  I know they’re great to substitute in breads and baked goods but I hadn’t come across the right recipe, until now. Averie over at Love Veggies and Yoga posted a Raw Vegan Caramels recipe and I had to try it for myself.  They definitely have the caramel texture and flavor with much less sugar and plenty of fiber.  I’m sure somehow we’ll manage to choke them down. 🙂

I do strongly urge using a food processor.  My blender didn’t quite do the trick.  It allows small amounts to get stuck under the blades which makes it almost impossible to completely puree/chop something.  Someday I’ll get a food processor, someday.  At least I didn’t have another hummus fiasco!

Salty “Caramels” (adapted from Raw Vegan Caramels by Love Veggies and Yoga)

1/2 cup pine nuts (I used raw but roasted would work just as well)

3/4 cup California dates (pitted)

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

Grind pine nuts in a food processor(or blender) until almost all “nuts” are broken down.  Add dates and continue blending(you may have to stop and scrape down sides) until all the dates are broken down and mix forms a sticky paste.  Scoop paste only parchment paper and use spatula to make into a smooth square to desired thickness(mine were about 1/2″ thick).  Sprinkle pinch of salt on top and fold into a little parchment paper “pocket”.  Allow to cool in fridge for several hours(or overnight).  Remove from fridge, unfold parchment paper, and using a pizza cutter make 1/2″ cubes.  Store refrigerated in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Thankful Thursday

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This Thursday I wanted take some time and recognize how awesome this woman is.

She is my best friend, my seamstress, my shopping buddy, my therapist, my hypothyroid pal, and most importantly my Mom.  She is one of my most important people in my life, and my inspiration for living everyday to the fullest.  She has taught me so much about life and love.  I cannot wait until she gets to meet my future baby.  She is the best grandma out there who selfless in every way.

She sews me awesome dresses and skirts. Offers lots of family recipes and cooking advice.  Heck, she even lets me go “shopping” in her kitchen!  I love you Mom, thank you for being you.

Readers:  What do you love most about your Mom?

Zwieback Toast

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Recently my youngest nephew (almost 7 months) has turned into a biter/sucker/gum rubber.  He puts anything and everything into his mouth trying to either soothe his gum or soothe his need to suck.  He also recently started on solid (sort of) foods and is eager to try just about anything.  My mom always suggests Zwieback Toast, but it is nowhere to be found.  Zwieback comes from the German word for “twice baked” and is basically a crunchy piece of toast which is baked twice.  Once as a normal loaf of bread, then again sliced and toasted to complete crispness.  Sadly you cannot find Zwieback Toast anymore. I’ve scoured the internet for a reason there is none to be found.  All Nabisco tells us is that it has been discontinued.

This left me (and my sister-in-law) in a predicament.  What were we going to give the little sucker fish to satisfy his needs?  Aunt Karen to the rescue, I found and adapted this recipe to contain no eggs or milk.  Babies (and moms) rejoice, you can have Zwieback Toast!  (Tips and tricks are at the bottom of the recipe)

Zwieback Toast

1 package active dried yeast
2 pinches of sugar
1/2 cup warm water (as hot as your tap will get)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
pinch salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Pour the warm water into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 15-30 seconds.  Add two pinches of sugar and the package of yeast.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes until yeast is activated and bubbling.  While the yeast is activating melt the butter mix with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, applesauce, and mashed banana in a mixing bowl.  Once yeast is activated stir in with sugar butter mixture until mixed.  Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time and whisk until it starts to form a ball and pull away from the sides.  Transfer dough to a floured surface and continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky.  Roll dough into a ball and put into a greased mixing bowl with room to rise.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel.

Once the dough has doubled in size (about an hour), divide it into 3 equal pieces and form rolls.  Place rolls on ungreased baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Allow rolls to rise for an additional 30 minutes and then place them into the oven for 2o minutes.  Rolls will turn golden brown on top.  Remove from oven and allow to coll completely.

Once rolls are completely cooled slice into 1/2″ toasts and place on ungreased baking sheet.  Place in a 200 degree oven for 30 minutes turning them once in the middle.  If more crisp is desired toast the pieces again before serving.  Toast needs to be COMPLETELY cool before serving to your baby.  Store leftover toast in an airtight container and freeze extra loaves for later use. Enjoy!

I debated telling you all about my yeast “issues” but I think it may help you with this recipe.   Make sure you buy multiple packets of yeast just in case.  When first testing this recipe it called for milk so I tried four different packets of yeast in milk (1 and 2%), half and half, and then finally after some research tried sugar water.  Success.  My reason for stressing that the yeast must activate is because my attempt yesterday left me with non-rising dough and door-stops for bread loaves.  Not edible for anyone.  Also in hindsight I would have made skinnier loaves (think baguette) so that the toasts would be crisp little disks (think Melba toasts).  Better for baby handling and easier to crisp.  All in all the toasts turned out tasting great, I hope my nephew likes them as much as I do.  His review to follow shortly.

Cheesy Turkey Pot Pies

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I stumbled upon these Cheesy Turkey Pot Pies a few weeks ago on Picky Palate and bookmarked the recipe right away.  Now I know we’re in the dog days of summer and a pot pie is normally a hearty winter recipe, but they just looked so cute in their little ramekins!  I’m a big fan of recipes that are individual little meals.  It makes leftovers a snap.  I will say this recipe is best made after Thanksgiving when you already have many of these items leftover in your fridge/pantry.  However I was determined not to let that stop me.

To save myself some time I boiled the potatoes, steamed the broccoli, and baked the turkey in the morning.  I planned to come home and torture myself do 90 minutes of P90X Yoga, which really cuts into my meal prep time.  I baked the turkey(just a little salt and pepper on top) for about 25-30 minutes at 350 in my toaster oven and they came out juicy and easy to shred.  I put all three items in the fridge and set off to work.  The only time consuming part left was dicing the veggies, but you could have easily done that in the morning as well.

The recipe calls for 16 oz. ramekins, so I did a little experiment with half 16oz and half 8 oz.  I have to say I think I like the portion of the 8 oz. better.  I’ve started eating smaller meals lately and that way leftovers are also lunch size portions.  However this does mean I need 12 ramekins for this recipe.  I may cut it in half next time.  I also had a bit of an issue on running out of puff pastry.  Making round shapes leaves you with a lot of awkward dough pieces left over.  I tried to roll it back out to fit two of the larger ones but ended up with pieces that shrunk up on me.  Oh well, I’m sure they still taste the same.  I hope you enjoy!

Cheesy Turkey Pot Pies (adapted from Picky Palate)
Twelve 8 oz. pieces, Six 16 oz. pies or One 9″ x13″ pie

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Cups white onions, finely chopped

1 Cup carrots, finely chopped

1 Cup celery, finely chopped

1 Cup frozen peas

1 Cups steamed broccoli, diced

2 Cups baby red potatoes, diced with skin

2 Cups cooked shredded turkey breast

1 Tablespoon fresh minced garlic

1/2 Stick butter

1/2 Cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

3 1/2 Cups chicken broth

1 1/2 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 Sheets Puff Pastry thawed and cut into circular tops

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in medium dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, saute onions, carrots and celery, for 8-10 minutes or until softened. Add in peas, broccoli, and potatoes. Stir and cook for 5 minutes then add in the garlic; cook for 1 minute then add turkey breast. Reduce heat to low.

2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium high heat; whisk in flour salt and pepper for one minute. Slowly whisk in chicken broth until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Once thickened, stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Pour sauce over turkey and vegetables.

3. Divide filling into six 16 oz. ramekins (or twelve 8 oz.) for individual pies. Cut puff pastry into 6 rounds and place over ramekins.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. You can also pour all filling into a 9″×13″ baking sheet and lay puff pastry sheets over top for casserole style and bake for 25-30 minutes. Make sure to place a cookie sheet under the ramekins or baking dish to catch any liquid that bubbles over.

Power “Bars”

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Last week I stumbled upon this cookie recipe from Carrots ‘N’ Cake and had to try them.  I made a couple small adjustments by adding cinnamon and using goat’s milk yogurt, but thoroughly enjoyed them.  They are definitely dense and will sit in your stomach waiting to be digested.  You would think I had learned my lesson about eating too many in one sitting.  Well, think again.  Tonight I decided to make a few changes by adding bananas instead of sugar.  Once I had the batter all mixed up I began to wonder if it would hold together as a cookie and decided to make them into bars.  Well the bar didn’t run at all, so I think we’re safe on the cookie front.  I promise to test them out and post pictures of my successful cookies(hopefully).  Well I did eat too many tonight and have a bit of a stomach ache.  So eat them sparingly.  I don’t want all of my readers (the 5 of you) laying awake cursing my recipes.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Power Cookies (adapted from Carrots ‘N’ Cake)

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (I use the kind with sugar)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces vanilla Greek goat’s milk yogurt (regular vanilla greek yogurt works as well)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60%)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, or use a silicon mat.  Combine banana, yogurt, vanilla, egg, and almond butter.  Blend together using spatula or spoon.  Add salt, cinnamon, and oats.  Chop up chocolate chips into “chunks” and add to batter.  At this point you can choose to make bars or cookies.  If making bars, spread batter into a rectangle in the center of the pan.  If making cookies, use a spoon to portion out dough into 12 cookies.  Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes until batter no longer looks wet.  Bake bars for 20-25 minutes until center looks dry.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes then move to cookie rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!