Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

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With the last remnants of winter hanging by a thread, I will succumb with one final post to the Gods of Comfort Food. Yes, as we all bid a fond farewell to cold weather veggies I thought I would share one of my favorites that I don’t get to make all that often anymore (my kids are not fans of mushrooms). This recipe although time consuming can be made ahead and re-purposed into a second meal or appetizer, which makes it so much more appealing in my eyes. So this might not be one of those recipes that you make on the fly, but may be the perfect capstone to a Sunday evening family meal.

As we’re trying to eat a bit more meatless, I noticed that the Wynn Las Vegas has revamped their menus to include vegan and vegetarian recipes at each of their eateries. What better way to get a little bit of Vegas at home?  Ok, so maybe it’s not the same, but I started with my classic mushroom risotto (one of the dishes on the Wynn’s menu), and then I decided to add some fresh spinach for a bit of texture and freshness.

Shopping List:

  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup of red onions, diced
  • 2 cups of your favorite mushrooms, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 cup of baby spinach torn into bite sized pieces
  •  1 cup of Arborrio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese

Instructions:

1. In a medium saute pan on medium heat melt the butter and olive oil together. Once melted toss in the smashed garlic and onions. Lower the temperature to low and stir the onions and garlic occasionally for about 20-30 minutes until the onions are nice and caramelized.

2. Remove the onions from the pan at this point and add the chopped mushrooms to the same pan to cook over medium heat until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms to the onion mixture and then toast the rice in the same pan for about 2 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and add 1 cup of stock and stir the rice occasionally for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process of one cup of liquid every ten minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is chewy.

4. Finally, add the cream cheese, the spinach, and the mushroom and onion mixture into the rice. Stir it all so that the cheese is evenly distributed.  Serve with a few sliced almonds on top and Viola!

Serves: 4 entree portions

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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With weather across the country dangerously cold, I thought I’d share one of my favorite comfort food recipes. I love to order Chicken Pot Pie at restaurants in the winter because it always seems to satisfy that creamy and crunchy fix I am looking for, but I am always left longing for more of the soupiness that is inside the pastry crust. I developed this dairy free version to fill that void.

This is a pretty simple recipe that can be whipped up on the fly with a grocery store rotisserie chicken if you like. You can even serve this over pasta or rice instead of with the pie crust on the side.

Shopping List:
4 cups Chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons flour, preferably Wondra
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups total Diced carrots and celery
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 chicken breast, shredded about 1 cup
pie dough, optional

Instructions:
1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter and then add the flour. Whisk together to make a smooth paste and let the flour cook to a tan color. This is your roux.
2. Slowly whisk in the mustard, wine and chicken stock, or if you prefer vegetable stock.
3. Toss in your veggies, and let them simmer at a low temperature until they are cooked to your liking (5-10 minutes).
4. Then add the precooked chicken and warm it throughout.
5. To serve top with lemon zest and a lemon wedge, and a piece of baked pie crust or French bread.
Enjoy!
Serves: 4

Curried Carrot Bisque

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With the new year in full swing and keeping with my resolution of eating more veggies, I thought I would post this lovely soup recipe today.

It’s been a while since I have posted a soup dish, and as a result since I have extolled the virtues of this simple meal. Yes, soup can be a meal!

I could fill my belly with the endless warmth that soup provides for days on end. Especially in this chilly winter weather we are wading through. To come home to a simple soup to soothe the soul sounds simply satisfying and stupendous to me. Wow! That was a lot of alliteration.

I’m not sure what it is about soup, but it really does cure all! When I’m feeling a bit under the weather a simple bowl of tomato bisque with a grilled cheese makes me feel sooo good.

And on a busy night where I don’t have time between kids activities to cook a big dinner, throwing together a quick chicken noodle with leftover vegetables from the week is how I survive.

I hope you enjoy this spicy twist on Tomato Bisque inspired by Chobani’s #MadeWithChobani project!

Shopping List:
3 cups carrots roughly chopped
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2-3 teaspoons curry powder, a little less if you don’t want it too spicy
2 cloves garlic, whole
Juice of 1 lime, about 1 tablespoon
1 5.3 oz. container plain Chobani yogurt
One pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. In a medium stockpot bring to a boil the carrots, stock, curry and garlic. Let this summer for about 20 minutes or until carrots are super soft.
2. Transfer to a blender and purée (with steam vent open) for about a minute until it is a smooth consistency throughout.
3. Return the purée to the pot and stir in the yogurt and the lime juice. Then warm it back up and serve it garnished with cilantro and croutons if you like.

Serves: 4 appetizer portions or 2 meal portions

For more recipes with Chobani click here.

Martha’s Parmesan Shortbread Crackers

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‘Twas the weekend of a holiday party,
With my “mommy” schedule filled to the brim.
I had no free time for something hearty.
Of course, I wouldn’t chance it on a whim.
So what’s a girl to do when an appetizer is required?
Even if I weren’t tired,
I’d turn to Martha to settle my fears?
And, a pint of beer.
(Ok, that last line was just for the rhyme. I don’t drink beer)

These crackers are super versatile and can easily be made in advance. You can even freeze a batch unbaked, if you like.

Shopping List:
1 1/2 cups flour
8 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 sticks salted butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch of cayenne

Instructions:
1. In a small bowl mix together with a pastry blender or two forks in the butter and flour until it is pea-sized crumbles.

2. Stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper.

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface to form it into 1 inch round logs. Then wrap it wax paper and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

4. After chilling slice into 1/4 inch rounds and space 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Bake @350 for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm in the center.

Makes: 3-4 dozen crackers

Savory Tarlets: Fig Jam and Brie and Roasted Tomato Basil

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With the holiday season upon us, I thought I would post an oldie, but a goodie. If you’ve never used puff pastry sheets before, you are definitely missing out. It is by far my favorite trick when entertaining .

You can purchase the lovely dough in the frozen food aisle of any grocery store. Simply thaw it, then bake it off to make a fancy breadstick or a topping for a pot pie, or in this case savory tartlets. Top these buttery little rounds with whatever is in season and suits your taste.

Puff pastry makes something simple become decadent. So next time you sign up for a potluck, you might just find yourself using this delicate dough.

Shopping List:

1 box puff pastry sheets (2 sheets per box)

1/3 cup fig jam

4 ounces brie

1/4 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded

Instructions:

1. Thaw the puff pastry sheets, then them roll out to 10 inches x 12 inches. Use a 3-inch round glass or cookie cutter to cut out  approximately 16 tartlets. You can roll out the scraps of the dough once to make remaining tartlets.

2. Lay out the circles of dough on two parchment lined baking sheets. Then, top one tray of circles with 1 teaspoon of fig jam and a thick slice of brie. Top the other tray with a teaspoon of cherry tomatoes, a teaspoon of parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of basil. Drizzle the tomato pizzettes with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Top the fig and brie ones with a pinch of sea salt only.

3.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown at edges. Top the fig and brie tartlets with almond slivers.

Makes: 24  tarlets

Double Duty Meal #2: Lemon-Mustard Chicken and Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

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We eat a lot of chicken around here. As you might guess if you are a frequent visitor to my blog. Chicken, in my opinion, is a perfect double duty food element.

You can easily whip up a big batch of chicken on the weekend, and stock pile it in the fridge for quick fix meals later in the week. My favorites are to use it in a soup, a salad or a pasta dish. It is so versatile that all you need to do to reinvent it is to mix the chicken with some new flavors.

I’ve come into a pretty good routine in the past year of cooking meals that do double duty.  So, here’s another of my favorites.

 

Shopping List:

CHICKEN MARINADE:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts

 

Instructions:

1. Mix together the marinade in a ziptop bag and place the chicken inside. Make sure that all sides of the chicken is covered before you leave it to do it’s thing in the refrigerator. Marinate it between 1-3 hours, longer than this will cause the chicken to become mushy.

2. Drain the chicken and either grill it on a hot grill for 6-7 minutes per side or cook it  in a saute pan on medium high heat for the same amount of time. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan as the chicken will steam, rather than caramelize.

3. Save 1 1/2 chicken breasts to shred for the salad below.

 

Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

For the second dish of the week you will need the items below. Check out the original posting of this recipe here.

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (see above)

1 cup uncooked Israeli Couscous (or other small pasta)

1 apple diced

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup dried cranberries

4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles (hey: by all means if you hate blue cheese a good substitute is feta here, or you could leave it out altogether)

1/2 loosely packed basil

1/3 cup olive oil

Edamame Sesame Salad

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The other night it was blazing hot, and I was dreading making dinner. That’s where this refreshing salad came into the picture. I had tried a similar one at Lemonade over the summer, and my daughter and I both loved it. It just so happens that I found this recipe in the most recent issue of Cooking Light. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Shopping List:

1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, cooked
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds (I used more than that)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:
1. Place edamame and carrots in a medium sized bowl, then drizzle in oil and vinegar.
2. Sprinkle with seeds, cilantro and salt. Give it a good stir, and viola! It’s ready. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 2-3 as a main dish.

Green Monster Smoothie

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P1070400I am always looking for ways to get more veggies into our family diet and with the trend of adding them to smoothies I have to say I was a little hesitant. But I will admit that I have been won over.

 

A few months ago I ventured into one of the juicing stores around town, and  I tried one of their drinks that didn’t seem to far off the beaten path. I think it was orange and pineapple and spinach. I was blown away because I realized that if my kids were comfortable with the green color, they would surely drink this one.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not going crazy and hiding spinach in everything. Because that’s just ridiculous…kids should know what a real vegetable tastes like. Here’s my twist on the drink I tried.

 

Shopping List:

3 cups of fresh baby spinach
1 banana
1 cup of frozen pineapple
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:
1. In a sturdy blender layer the ingredients in the order listed above and blend on the highest speed possible for about 1-2 minutes. Adjust the amount of milk to get it to the consistency you like.

Serves: 2

Maple-Spice French Toast

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P1070394When we head out of town I like to clean out the refrigerator before we go, so that upon return I don’t find some unidentifiable food that’s morphed into something other worldly. I normally make it into an opportunity to eat soups and salads for most of the week prior to the trip. Which in return makes me feel better about gorging myself on vacation food.

Recently we traveled for a long weekend, and I did what I could and used as much produce as possible beforehand, but I still had half of a loaf of bread to leave behind. This was inevitably due to all the salads we ate, but I just popped it in the refrigerator so that it would still be salvageable when we returned. Unfortunately it was a little dry to use for sandwiches, but it was perfect to make a big batch of french toast.

From time to time I will make french toast on the weekends during the school year, but eating it mid-week is a treat for my kids. Occasionally when I have extra time I will make a big batch like this and freeze it for those busy school days.

Shopping List:
9 slices of bread, about half a loaf
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk of your choice, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3/4 teaspoon of maple flavoring
3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
powdered sugar and berries for serving

Instructions:
1. In a shallow bowl beat together the eggs, milk, maple flavoring, spice and sugar. Then turn on your griddle to medium and grease it with a little butter.
2. Once the pan is hot, dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture one side at a time. Then cook the bread for 1-2 minutes per side.
3. Serve with berries and powdered sugar. Or cool and store in freezer-safe storage bags. If frozen, microwave for 20-30 seconds per slice.
Serves: 3-4

Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups

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Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups

P1070235One of my biggest daily challenges is to try to get a healthy meal on the table that the whole family will enjoy, while still shuttling kids to their afterschool activities. But often after working and then doing homework with the kids and driving them to their stuff, I succumb and just throw together some pasta and sauce or end up ordering takeout. I know it’s a bad habit.

Sometimes I will actually plan out the meals for the week on Sunday, and then head to the grocery store, and then chop up some of those fruits and veggies so they are ready to go. That of course is always the plan, but often the weekend fun and busy week gets in the way of my best laid plans. Read the rest of this entry