Wow, ten days have passed since I last posted a recipe! My daughter was home for spring break and she was bored so she decided she would do a lot of the cooking, so Helpful! But she doesn’t follow recipes or want to participate in my blogging project, so I haven’t had much to post. Thank you again Melissa Clark and New York Times Cooking for this recipe! This is a very healthy and hearty vegetarian soup that can be bulked up further with lentils, grains or sausage (no longer vegetarian then) if one desires. We decided we just wanted a warm vegetarian soup that wasn’t too heavy, so we left it as is except we added a can of chopped tomatoes and some broth to the recipe.
1 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms such as shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc. medium dice
½ lb shallots, finely diced
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped (use a little less if dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
4 cups water
1 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth
5 ounces baby spinach
fresh lime juice, to taste (I cut one lime and served the wedges with the soup so people could squeeze in as much as they wanted at the table)
plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread out chopped mushrooms and shallots on a large lightly oiled sheet pan. Sprinkle vegetables with a little salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes and then stir. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have substantially shrunk and most of the liquid has evaporated. You can alternatively do this in the pot you are going to make your soup in by sautéing the vegetables.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil to just barely coat bottom of pot, after that is heated add the mushrooms and shallot mixture, tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice. If you like a little more spice, add a little more of all spices as I did. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in can of tomatoes including the liquid, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently for at least 20 minutes. I simmered for over an hour because I had the extra time. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes.
Using a blender or food processor, coarsely purée 1/2 of the soup and add back to unprocessed soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls with a squeeze of fresh lime, sprinkle of thyme and an optional dollop of yogurt. Enjoy!
The only one who usually eats pasta in this house is my son, and frankly he can eat enough of it for all of us if I let him! We call him a “pastaterian.” I came across a Food and Wine recipe entitled Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognesethat I based this recipe on. I changed several things, most importantly I added ground beef and a little chicken breast sausage to 3/4 of the the recipe to satisfy my son who was craving a meaty Bolognese sauce but still left lots of vegetables in to make it healthier than a traditional almost all beef sauce. I also left 1/4 of it vegetarian to satisfy my daughter. The original recipe also called for eggplant but since I added meat I left out the eggplant. Overall we all really liked how both the meat and the vegetarian versions tasted. I noted where you can add the meat or leave it out depending on your preferences. Note: The quantities may look large in the pictures because I doubled the recipe so I can serve it again for a kid party in a couple of days.
3/4 lb lean grass-fed ground beef –IF it will not be vegetarian.
1/4 lb mild ground chicken breast sausage —Note: This may be hard to find, at Whole Foods they made this up for me, just ask you butcher, or just use plain ground chicken breast or pre-made chicken sausage or lean ground beef. I think spicy chicken sausage would be really good except for my spice phobe… so I used the mild sausage.–IF it will not be vegetarian.
1 lb cremini mushrooms, small dice
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
fresh ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild white miso (this is surprising but turned out to be worthwhile)
one 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus grated cheese for serving
one 14.5 oz can crushed peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
3 thyme sprigs (or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I probably add more, but I don’t measure)
½ teaspoon sugar (or honey, to cut the tomato acidity)
1 package of fresh tagliatelle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (I think fresh is important here, dried basil really doesn’t taste the same, but do what you can)
In a small bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms, discarding any tough bits. Drain mushrooms, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms finely.
In a large pot (I like to use an enameled cast-iron casserole, it cleans up easily) heat 1–2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Add additional oil if needed and then add the ground beef if using, chicken sausage if using, cremini, shiitake and chopped porcini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and miso and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chunk of cheese, tomatoes and their juices, thyme, oregano, sugar and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and bring to a simmer.
Halfway cover the pot and cook over low heat so it simmers gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, about 1–1.5 hours. Discard the thyme and oregano sprigs (if using fresh herbs); season the sauce with salt and pepper and more oregano and thyme if needed.
In a pot of boiling water (salt optional), cook the pasta until al dente. Drain
Add the pasta and chopped basil to the sauce; toss to coat. Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese.
I love, love, love Spanakopita, but I seldom make it because it is such a pain to deal with the phyllo dough. I made it today because I planned on making Fennel and Feta Salad with Bacon and the only cow’s milk feta I could find (my preferred feta) was giant-sized, so I decided to make some Spanakopita along with the salad to use up some of the feta. Unfortunately I still have a lot of feta left over. I usually make this the traditional way in rolled up triangles, but today I was going to make it easier and less fussy by putting it in a 8×8 baking dish and then cutting it into pieces. At the last minute I decided that it tastes so much better in individual packets, so I tried something different, muffin tins! You can see from the pictures that I am not going to win any awards for my presentation, they don’t look very uniform or very pretty, but they do taste incredible! So, I will probably not make them in muffin tins again, probably go back to rolling up triangles or trying the casserole approach. I based this off of a recipe from the Kosher Gourmet, adding mushrooms and herbs to the dish and only used 1 pound of spinach/baby kale/baby chard mix since I was adding a bunch of mushrooms. Update March 2018 – I made this without the phyllo dough and baked it in a square casserole dish in a 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Delicious!
Servings: 6-8 depending on whether it is a side dish or a main course
1 pound fresh spinach (today I actually used 2/3 spinach and 1/3 mixed spinach, baby chard and baby kale)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, small dice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
6 large cremini mushrooms, small dice
1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), minced
1/2 cup cottage cheese
~6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Phyllo Dough – either thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using or thaw on kitchen counter for two hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the cottage cheese in a strainer over a small bowl and let it drain for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Working in bowlful batches, fill a microwave proof bowl with the spinach or whatever greens you are using and microwave for two minutes. Place cooked spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside and repeat until all the spinach is cooked and squeezed out. Chop up the spinach and place in a large bowl.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and chopped herbs and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Mix together the pressed spinach, drained cottage cheese, cooked onion mixture, feta, lemon juice and nutmeg. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together the eggs and stir them into the spinach mixture.
Lightly grease a 8″x 8″or 9″x 9″ casserole dish if making this the casserole method (highly recommended to save time!). Or if you are going to put in muffin tins grease those or if you are going to roll in triangles prepare a lightly oiled cookie sheet so the triangles have somewhere to land.
Unroll the thawed phyllo dough on a large work surface. If necessary, cut the pastry to 9- by 13-inch rectangles. Place plastic wrap over the phyllo dough with a damp dishcloth over the plastic at all times to prevent the thin sheets from drying out.
Casserole Method: Lay one sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush it or spray it with olive oil. Continue layering five more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry. Layer five more sheets of phyllo over the spinach, giving the top layer a final brush of olive oil. Lightly score the top layer of phyllo into eight squares with a paring knife. (This makes the pie easier to slice after baking.) …Or roll into traditional triangles or use the same layering technique in muffin tins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pie is golden-brown and the top layers of phyllo are crisp. Allow the pie to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze. Leftovers will need to be reheated in the oven to regain their crispiness.
I originally made this in the fall after going to the Farmer’s Market where I saw this very fresh and beautiful Fennel bulb that I had to buy as well as some super fresh assorted baby lettuces. These are still available and looking pretty good at Whole Foods, so I thought I would make it tonight. My recipe is inspired by Food and Wine’s Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon . The F&W recipe uses A LOT of bacon and sugar, so I lightened the recipe by adding more vegetables, cutting out the “candied” part of the bacon and using 75% less bacon. I feel that just a little bacon adds a lot of punch, no need to go overboard. Yum! I really like the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the very savory bacon and feta. Try it out and let me know what you think.
1 medium sized fennel bulb. Halved, cored and sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for the dressing plus some extra for drizzling on the fennel)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (this is very different from regular balsamic vinegar — I like it in this dressing because it is slightly sweet to contrast with the savory bacon and feta –if you don’t have any use a white wine vinegar and add a little more honey)
½–1 teaspoon of honey
~8 oz. mixed baby lettuce
1 large heirloom tomato (or whatever is available), cubed
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Fresh feta cheese to sprinkle over the top
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Cook 2 pieces of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until desired doneness (I often cook more pieces and put some of it into my son’s lunch box that week). Lay cooked bacon on a plate with several paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible. Let the bacon cool and then chop into small pieces.
At the same time, lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add sliced fennel and lightly drizzle a little olive oil onto the fennel and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a small container whisk the Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a several grinds of fresh black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the tomato, radishes, lettuce, fennel, bacon, feta and pine nuts. Toss with the reserved dressing and serve.
Pairs nicely with an unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis
Extremely flavorful chicken and vegetable dish that can be fancy enough for company or simple enough for a weeknight meal
safflower seed oil or other high smoke point oil
3-4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 cup of dry white wine
few sprigs of fresh thyme
handful of fresh sage leaves
few sprigs of fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
5 spring onions (or scallions if you can’t find spring onions), bulbs only sliced thinly, green parts left long
6 large carrots, 2 peeled and cut into thirds, and the others peeled and left whole
2 cups mixed color baby potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 head of cauliflower (or more if you are serving more people), washed and cut into large chunks
2 Tablespoons capers
Heat a large dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat. Add a little oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and when sizzling add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Remove browned chicken from pan and set aside.
Wipe off any extra oil in dutch oven and then place chicken back into it along with broth, wine, herbs, carrots that have been cut into thirds, sliced onion bulbs and capers. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer.Braise the chicken for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove chicken and vegetables from the liquid.
Reduce the liquid until about 1 cup or so. Set pot aside.
While chicken is braising, heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and some rosemary on the potatoes and roast in the oven until partially cooked, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and add cauliflower, whole carrots and sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and roast 10 more minutes, then add cooked chicken, skin side up and cook 8 more minutes or until all vegetables are tender and slightly browned and the chicken is crisped.
Remove chicken and vegetables from oven and arrange on a platter. Serve with the reduced liquid on the side. Enjoy!
This is a project, I have to be honest, but well worth it, it came out AMAZING! The beef was so tender and the vegetables were so full of flavor! Last night my husband and I had dinner at Zola, a French bistro here in town. The food was really good, very rich, but in portions that one can handle the richness. My husband and I like sharing our food so we can try more things that way and generally control the large portions that most restaurants dish out. We have been to this restaurant one other time so I knew the portions were normal human sized, so we shared a beet salad, which was delicious, and got a scallop dish and Short Rib Beef Bourguignon. The beef dish was so delicious that my husband requested that we try to recreate it at home. “We,” hah! Anyways, the cooking thing is my new hobby, so I said why not try it.
I made this following a recipe by Melissa Clark on the New York Times Cooking site. I added twice as many vegetables, much less bacon and a pound less beef than the original recipe. I also decided to throw the mushrooms into the stew while it was cooking instead of the traditional method of sautéing the mushrooms with additional onions in butter and adding them when serving. This way I saved some calories (no butter) and an extra step that I won’t miss! If you want it richer, then go ahead with this step. I also added some baby potatoes to the stew, so it can be a complete one pot meal and will hopefully feed us for the next two nights (because now I am tired).
2 pounds beef (beef chuck is most common, but can be very fatty – today I used organic grass-fed chuck eye steak and beef ranch steak), cut into 2-inch cubes and patted dry.
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, thick cut (or any bacon)
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
3 large carrots, large dice
3 celery stalks, large dice
1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on the size (I also had some trumpet mushrooms in my fridge so I threw those in)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, medium dice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups red wine, preferably a light young red such as Pinot Noir
1 cup beef stock or low sodium beef broth
1 large bay leaf
3 large sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of parsley
2 cups of mixed color baby potatoes (or large potatoes cut in 2 inch cubes)
Season beef with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove bacon to a paper-towel line plate and pat off as much grease as you can. Wipe out at least half of the bacon grease left in the pan, leaving a little grease and all the browned bits for flavor.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Raise the heat under the dutch oven to medium-high. When pot is fully heated, add the beef in a single layer in the pot, leaving space between each piece. Cook until well browned on all sides and transferring pieces to a plate as they brown, about 10-15 minutes. Repeat with remaining beef.
Crumble or chop the crisped bacon into a small pieces. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium to prevent burning and stir in onion, carrot and celery. Add a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.
Add garlic, tomato and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in flour, cook for 1 minute and then add wine, stock, bay leaf, thyme and parsley, scraping up browned bits at bottom of the pot.
Add the browned beef and bacon back to the pot, along with two cups of mixed baby potatoes and then cover with tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Let cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Occasionally stir the beef mixture while it is cooking in the oven.
When finished cooking taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Fish out the bay leaf, parsley and thyme sprigs and discard. Serve in individual casserole dishes or in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Bon Appétit!
Tonight is a Thursday and I start to get a little lazy by Thursday. I was pretty busy today and wanted to buy some specialty items at Trader Joe’s so I thought I would try to find dinner items there as well. I came across some pasteurized and packaged crab in the refrigerated section and decided I would make crab cakes and arugula (rocket) salad for dinner. Easy enough! Maybe throw in a hunk of garlic bread for my almost-teenage son (he is difficult to fill up lately!). I have been making crab cakes in the oven for years, but I keep trying slightly new recipes. I am not a fan of mayo, so I always use non-fat plain greek yogurt in it’s place, although I have experimented with leaving the yogurt out as well, I think the crab needs that moisture, so today I am leaving it in. One can also pan fry them, they may be better, but you have to be willing to use a little more oil with that method.
2 green or spring onions, green part only finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of paprika
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 large egg , lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed (today I used some I bought from Trader Joe’s in a refrigerated package, when it is available I use fresh crab, but today I used what is quick and easy – it is Thursday)
Canola oil or cooking spray
Quick Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup of organic ketchup
2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
dash of hot sauce
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium sized bowl mix the first 11 ingredients together (red bell pepper through egg yolk). Add 1/3 cup of the Panko to the mix and put the other cup of Panko in a shallow bowl to use later to coat the patties. Add the crab and mix the ingredients thoroughly.
Shape the mixture into 8 patties and set on a plate. If you have time put the patties in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (you can make cocktail sauce and a salad while they sit in the fridge!). This helps them to firm up a bit, but will be ok either way.
If you are making cocktail sauce, just mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Easy! I probably add a lot more horseradish, but I like it spicy!
Remove crab cakes from the fridge. Lightly dredge in the reserved Panko. Place Panko-crusted crab cakes on a pan lightly coated with cooking spray or oil of choice. Bake for 15 minutes on each side or until golden on each side. Serve with cocktail sauce or sauce of choice. I also made a simple salad with arugula, sliced cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and very thin shavings of parmigiano Reggiano cheese with a light lemony vinaigrette. Enjoy!