Tag Archives: spinach

Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

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


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


Green Monster Smoothie

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

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

A Party? In a Bowl? Why yes, thank you! (A Super Bowl Party Appetizer Wrap-Up)

As many of you know I love to entertain, mostly because I love to make mini-foods. But really because I enjoy hanging out with friends while celebrating something special. So, it’s been a pretty long tradition–ok so it’s only been 4 or 5 years, but what ‘evs–of hosting a small group of friends for a Super Bowl Viewing Party.

Normally, I will make a couple of heartier dishes and ask the other families to lighten the load by bringing a dish to share. Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl Go To Party Faves!

Nothing like a hot dip to get the party started, yeah? P1050450Baked Green Chile Artichoke Dip
Simply fresh flavors make this one pop.

P1050799Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
You’ve got to have something for the kiddos, too.

Pizza Pop 'ems
Pizza Pop ’ems

Pizza Pop ’ems
And, who doesn’t love bacon? P1040448

Bacon Carmelized Onion Pinwheels
Ok, maybe the vegetarian doesn’t love bacon? Real men do eat quiche.P1030196

Spinach and Feta Quiches

I really don’t care who wins, FYI.

Spinach and Feta Mini Quiches

So you might be expecting a Halloween inspired post from me this week, but I haven’t been satisfied with any of the treats for tricking that I have attempted lately. So this one is to kick off the impending party season.

This is a classic and simple vegetarian brunch option that could make an appearance as an horsd’oeuvre too. And of course, a Quiche is always a nice treat for your lunch break.

Shopping List:

1 1/2 cups frozen potatoes O’Brien-style

1 pound baby spinach

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

8 organic eggs

1/3 cup low-fat milk


1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. And grease with butter or spray with cooking spray a 12- cup muffin pan.

2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil for about 1 minute. Then add the spinach to flavored oil.Stir the spinach as you let it cook down. It will reduce to almost 1/4 of the size, after about 5-7 minutes.

3. In a medium-sized bowl (preferably one with a spout) beat the eggs and milk together.

4. Divide the frozen potatoes, spinach and feta between the 12 cups. I put the potatoes on the very bottom of the cup, but the order doesn’t really matter too much.      

5. Pour the egg mixture on top of the veggies and place the muffin pan in the oven. Let it bake for approximately 17 minutes. You want to make sure the tops are no longer wet and then they are ready.

Makes 12 mini Quiche.

A Collection of Salads: Pasta, Hearty, Bean, Slaw and Spinach

Thai Carrot Slaw

We all know that summer truly came to an end a few weeks ago when the kids (and teachers) went back to school, but with the official change of seasons this week I thought it would be nice to compile some of my favorite salads that I’ve posted this summer along with a few new ones that I haven’t yet photographed.

Now, I have to preface this list with the fact that these are not the only salads I make. In fact, these are strictly my party salads (one’s that I serve at a party or bring to a potluck) and salads for lunch. For dinner I rarely make such a filling side dish, but often use spinach or romaine with a few other simple ingredients and a favorite dressing or a fast homemade one to round out my veggie intake.

Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

Pasta Salad My favorite recreation this year is probably a Trader Joe’s inspired Israeli Couscous Spa Salad. For over a year I was buying a pre-made salad similar to this one at the market when I realized that I could reinvent this salad at home pretty easily. As a result I decided to combine it with some Waldorf-like ingredients to make a really fresh and filling meal and not so much like the romaine based one at the food chain.

Hearty Salad One that stands the test of time for my family is the Marinated Mushroom Salad, which is so simple and hearty that you could certainly toss it with some cooked pasta to make a meal too. The great thing about this one is that the ingredients like bacon and garlic add a lovely robust flavor to the meal and it’s darn easy to make, I mean you just pile it all in a bowl and let it sit at room temperature until you’re ready to serve it. That’s why this one always makes an appearance at holiday meals.

Marinated Mushroom Salad

Bean Salad Another hearty one is the White Bean Picnic Salad. The flavors here are so fresh and clean that they pop against the creaminess of the white beans. The nice thing about this one is that you control the sodium since you’re not using canned beans. But hey, you certainly could cut down on the time involved by using a canned low sodium white bean of your choice. I’m not against using those  types of shortcuts that make our lives simpler, but in this case I was trying to cut the salt down in our diet. That’s the great part about eating flavorful food, you don’t need as much of that other stuff, like salt, if you’ve wonderful food.

White Bean Picnic Salad

Slaw Ok so eventually I move to slaws. As far as slaws go, they’re normally too sweet for me, and the mayo in most of them really grosses me out. So I tend to toss my coleslaw mix with a store-bought Asian Dressing, but I also like to make this Thai Carrot Slaw, which would be really fun for a Halloween party.

Spinach Salad So my favorite spinach salad has to be one that I copied from the Marriott Desert Springs Spa. They no longer have this one on their menu, weep weep, but I ordered it so many times before they took it off that I have got the flavor profile down, and now I feel that I own it.

I haven’t taken any pictures of it, crazy since I just made it for our back to school party, but I thought as I was accumulating ideas I couldn’t ignore this one. It’s pretty simple. Here it goes. In a serving bowl combine one pound of baby spinach, one sweet potato (peel it, cube it, then steam for 4 minutes in the microwave) , a kid-sized box of raisins, a couple of handfuls of pecans toasted, a handful or two or dried cranberries and a few slivers of red onion. Toss with your favorite dressing. A sweet one like a honey mustard works well. To mix your own Honey Mustard vinaigrette simply combine 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Or… I often use my go to party dressing in a pinch, Girard’s White Balsamic Vinaigrette. This one serves 3-4 as a meal.

As summer’s end officially makes it’s mark on the calendar, we all know the weather hasn’t followed the rules this year, so go ahead and continue to make some salads as a light dinner. Maybe this collection will give you a few more in your repettoire.

Spinach Pesto Sauce

Spinach Pesto Pasta

There’s nothing better than fresh herbs wafting through your nose. All that flavor coming from a little leaf is so cool to me. Ok, maybe I’m a bit of food geek. Anyhow, I remember many a lazy summer evening eating pesto pasta for dinner when I was growing up, so I thought I’d try to mix it up a bit and add in some more veggies to that herby delight. I figure if you still keep the basil and parmesan flavors you can hide some spinach there too.

The thing I love about sauces is that they are so versatile. When I make different sauces, like this one, I start to think of all the things it would work in other than pasta. For example, this is great on a sandwich, grilled veggies, fish, chicken and stirred into some basic chicken soup. This is such a simple fast meal you can easily whip this up while pasta is on the stove or chicken is on the grill.  And to me…pesto is just a little hint of summer…man I wish it were here already.

Shopping List:

1 cup fresh spinach

1 bunch (about 1 cup) of fresh basil

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds (you could certainly use regular raw almonds, but I had these on hand)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

1 lemon (you really only need 1/2 a lemon, so save the other half for your iced tea)


1. In a small saucepan over medium heat warm the olive oil and garlic until the oil is infused with the flavor of the garlic. This will take close to 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in your blender add the clean spinach and basil. Then place the nuts on top. That’s an important tip because they weigh down the leaves so the leaves will actually puree in the blender. Also add the parmesan and the juice from half of the lemon.

3. Pour the warmed garlic and olive oil in the blender too. Then, push the highest setting, on mine it’s “liquefy”. Let it go until it becomes a thick paste. You might have to stop it to make sure the leaves are reaching the bottom of the blender.

4. At this point stop and taste it, you might need to add a dash of salt and pepper to suit your taste. Toss half of the sauce over 1/2 a box of cooked pasta …and…You’re done! Dinner served. Easy, right?

5. Save the other half of the sauce in a freezer safe zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. You can pull it out in the next two months and make this meal even faster.