grilled cheese with roasted broccoli

grilled cheese with roasted broccoli

grilled cheese with roasted broccoliThis is the BEST grilled cheese sandwich EVER, at least that’s what Zoe and I said as we devoured this sandwich. Adding roasted broccoli to a grilled cheese sandwich is genius, as it adds an extra punch of flavor and texture, and honestly makes you feel less guilty about eating a grilled cheese.  As one of my readers Samantha says, “can’t go wrong with grilled cheese, but when you add a green- it takes it to a whole new level.”  Samantha, I totally agree with you girl!  Tossing some brocoli into a grilled cheese is also a great way to sneak some veggies into your little ones, so for those of you that have some picky veggie eaters, you may want to give this sandwich a try.  It’s kid approved in my house!

Grilled cheese sandwiches are a staple in this house.  We eat them for lunch all the time, as well as dinner.  Gilled cheese is just the perfect accompanyment to a creamy soup, and in the fall and winter we eat a LOT soup.  I’m lucky because I have one of the best grilled cheese makers, Zoe!  Zoe is a pro when it comes to making a killer grilled cheese, and I will show you her simple trick later in this post.  All you will need is a cast iron skillet and the lid of a pan.  Come on, let’s make up a grilled cheese sandwich!

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quinoa wrap with black beans, feta and avocado

quinoa wrap with black beans, feta and avocado

quinoa wrap with black beans, feta and avocadoSo, I have to tell you that I’m totally obsessed with this wrap, like when I say obsessed, I mean I’ve had this wrap for lunch everyday this past week as well as dinner on a few occasions,  and I’m still craving it.  I’m just as obsessed with this wrap as I was when I first tried my lacinato kale salad, and for those of you that know me or have been following me for a while, you know that is my all time favorite salad ever!  I would put this wrap right up there in the same ballpark as my lacinato salad, and that’s saying a lot.

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roasted sweet potato and farro salad

roasted sweet potato and farro salad

roasted sweet potato and farro saladOk, so I start my new job this week as the Director of Catering for Paradise Foods.  I’m going to be in charge of growing and running the catering division for all 3 stores.  It’s a huge job to undertake and I’m a bit nervous as it’s a bit like starting a new business, but I’m good at sales and I love working with people and food, so to me it’s a match made in heaven.  BTW, I’ll be working most of the time out of the Tiburon store, so if any of you see me, please say hi!  So, since I’m going to be working outside of the home, I’ve been looking for some new healthy lunch alternatives to bring into work.  The funny thing is, I’m working at an amazing grocery store with one of the best deli’s, sandwich and salad bars in Marin, so I don’t really need to bring my lunch in, but I’m on a bit of a budget now, so a brown bagged lunch is the way to go.

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acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and roasted almonds

acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and roasted almonds

acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and roasted almondsSome of you who have followed my blog from the beginning may recognize this recipe, as it’s one of the first ones I posted on the blog.  I decided to re-post it as I made a few changes to the recipe and updated all the photos, plus I feel like it’s a wonderful recipe to share with you all this time of year as acorn squash is in season and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  This is a great meatless alternative for Thanksgiving or you can serve these up as a healthy side dish.  You can even make these vegan by adding nutritional yeast in lieu of the feta.

I love this recipe and make it up quite often for lunch in the fall.  I say lunch because my kids are not fans of quinoa and squash, so I really can’t make this up for dinner as my kids would not be happy campers.  This is more of a “mommy and daddy” meal in my house.

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pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts

pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts

pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnutsToday I’m giving you all a tasty, healthy, easy, family approved and under 30 minute weeknight pasta two ways (whew, that was a lot in one sentence).  I mean who doesn’t love that?  It’s actually the same recipe, but I’m using two different types of pastas as well as cheeses.  The family approved and kid friendly version uses regular spaghetti and grated parmesan.  The “mommy” and teenage (I say teenage because Zoe loves this version as well) version uses whole-wheat spaghetti and Pecorino Romano cheese.  Both ways are tasty, it’s just an individual preference.  I love both versions, but prefer the whole-wheat version because the pasta has a great nutty flavor and is a bit chewy, but chewy in a good way, and the Pecorino Romano cheese adds a bit of salty flavor to the whole-wheat pasta.

whole-wheat pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts… 

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roasted red pepper panini with cilantro-lime mayo

roasted red pepper panini with cilantro-lime mayo

roasted red pepper panini with cilantro-lime mayoI just showed you all a post on how to roast red peppers, so I thought I would show a great way to make use of them, since you probably have a few extra ones lying around.  This is seriously one of my favorite vegeterian paninis, and now that red peppers are in season I find myself making this sandwich up all the time, yes all the time, because I’m addicted!  This panini is overloaded with flavor from the roasted red pepper, smashed avocado, juicy heirloom tomato and the cilantro-lime mayonnaise. It’s truly as satisfying as any panini made with meat, (ask my meat loving hubby) and it’s a great meatless Monday sandwich to pair with your favorite soup or salad.   Who knew that a veggie panini could  be so satisfying and taste so good :)

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vegetarian banh mi sandwich with sriracha mayonnaise

vegetarian banh mi sandwich with sriracha mayonnaise

vegetarian banh mi sandwich with sriracha mayonnaiseI’m sure there are those of you that have never heard of a banh mi sandwich before, am I right?  You’re probably thinking what the heck is a banh mi sandwich.  Well, I didn’t know what one was either until this past spring when my friend Carolyn showed some photos on Instagram of her fixings for a banh mi sandwich.  Since then, I’ve seen these sandwiches popping up everywhere, it’s like my eyes were opened.  Banh mi is the perfect combination of french bread combined with Vietnamese ingredients like cilantro, pickled vegetables, and chilies.  Banh mi’s can be made with chicken, pork, beef, tofu, eggs and salmon and the sauces or spreads vary with each sandwich.  I chose to make a vegetarian version with roasted tofu from my miso kale salad recipe, and a sriracha mayonnaise sauce that our family loves.  This sriracha mayonnaise is also a great dip for fries, onion rings and as a topping for burgers.

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quinoa, tuna and corn salad

quinoa, corn and tuna salad

quinoa, corn and tuna saladQuinoa, quinoa, quinoa.  I’m sure you’re seeing that word everywhere these days and that some of you are tired of seeing recipes with quinoa, but here’s another recipe just incase you’re not tired of it yet.  I admit I did go on a hiatus from cold quinoa dishes for about a year, as I was tired of eating it day after day.  I discovered new and unique ways to enjoy quinoa like sautéed in a patty or cheesy cake, perfect for lunch or as a side dish to your favorite soup or salad.  I also discovered I liked quinoa in the morning mixed in with some steel-cut oats or quinoa flakes mixed with goji berries.  In fact I’m having a bowl of my 5 minute hot quinoa cereal as I type this post, so good!… 

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Israeli couscous salad

israeli couscous salad (1 of 1)

Israeli couscous salad I love it when I find new salads or summer side dishes that can be made ahead to marinate all day or made on the fly to eat up right then and there. This salad is one of those salads that tastes great either way. This is the perfect salad to bring to a potluck, picnic or to serve up in your own backyard. It’s full of summer flavor from the fresh mint, parsley and cherry tomatoes. We love pairing this salad with chicken drumsticks and one of my kale salads for a family backyard dinner. You can really make this a year round salad by adding seasonal ingredients to the mixture, like asparagus in the spring, cauliflower or broccoli in the winter.

I made this salad up last night to bring to my friend Yvonne’s house for a girls dinner. I paired it with my grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and my kid friendly caesar salad. It was the perfect throw together summer dinner because I made everything ahead of time. I made up the couscous salad earlier in the day, made the croutons and salad dressing for the caesar salad the night before and then threw everything together at Yvonne’s house come dinner.  If you get a bunch of great side dishes, you can make a meal out of them. Here’s a photo of our backyard picnic dinner.

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grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes

grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes

grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes (1 of 1) I’m sure you’ve all seen the cover for the July/August edition of Martha Stewart Living in either a book store or your grocery store. If you’ve seen it, then you know why I just had to run out and make up this bread. I opened up my mailbox last week and saw the cover showcasing this beautiful assortment of heirloom tomatoes on top of this toasted bread. I immediately went to the grocery store, bought me some heirlooms and made this up for lunch. I have to say that I was in food heaven. This bread is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside from the juicy heirlooms and olive oil. The crunchy sea salt and fresh basil just give it another punch of flavor and texture. John and I split half a loaf up for lunch one day and paired it with my lacinato kale salad and drumsticks another night for dinner. I also brought this to a friend’s house and served it up as an appetizer. Let’s just say it was a hit with everyone. It’s truly the perfect summer bruschetta!

I cut Martha’s original recipe in half and only used the bottom half of the ciabatta bread instead of the whole loaf, (don’t fret, we used the other half for toast and jam the next morning) so feel free to double the quantities in the recipe if you’re serving a larger crowd.

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one-pan pasta

one-pan pasta

DSC_0027Isn’t this above picture just beautiful and doesn’t it make you want to try a batch of this pasta tonight?  I mean look at all of those fresh ingredients and all that color. I saw a photo similar to this in the most recent edition of Martha Stewart living and it looked so cool and challenging to me. I mean a one-pan pasta, who had ever heard of that (not me)? I seriously wondered how it was all going to work, and I have to say that I was a bit skeptical. I will also admit that the first time I made this pasta up, it didn’t turn out so great, as the pasta was overcooked. I was under the assumption that ALL of the water had to evaporate, so I cooked the pasta way too long and it was a bit over-done. We all really loved the flavors in this pasta though, so I vowed to try it again. Well, the second time around proved to be the charm. The pasta came out perfectly al dente and it created this thick creamy sauce that coated every strand of pasta.

This is the perfect weeknight throw together at the last minute sort of pasta. Literally, you throw all of the ingredients into one pan and cook away. Can it get any simpler than that?  I don’t think so. This pasta is fresh, healthy, full of flavor and a great meatless Monday pasta to add to your recipe box. It’s got the family seal approval in our house. There’s a bit of a kick in the pasta due to the red pepper flakes, so if you’re super sensitive to spicy things, then you might want to cut the 1/2 teaspoon down to a 1/4 teaspoon.  Eli could handle the spice though, so that should tell you something. Ok, let’s do what the Italians do and make up this one-pan pasta.

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asparagus and gruyere cheese pizza

asparagus and gruyere cheese pizza

asparagus and gruyere cheese pizzaWe’re bringing back pizza Friday in the Grandy house, at least for the summer anyway. I just love pizza Fridays. We all hang in the kitchen, I make a big salad while the kid’s roll out the dough and assemble their pizza while talking about their week. I unwind with a glass of wine and watch them (just kidding, I do help). The kids usually create their own pizza, usually just a jar of Trader Joe’s red sauce, some pepperoni and some mozzarella cheese, easy peasy and kid friendly. John and I like a more adult pizza so I like to experiment with different combinations. I created this one night as I had tons of asparagus in the house and thought to myself, why not throw this on a pizza. I added a bit of garlic to some olive oil, threw in some gruyere cheese along with the mozzarella, just to jazz things up, and voila, a delicious pizza was created. I love when that happens. Pizza is pizza, and I love that you can just throw anything on it and have it turn out great, (well, most of the time). My next pizza idea involves some heirloom tomatoes, that is when their prices comes down of course.

This is the perfect spring-time meatless pizza. I love a good white pizza and top it off with some asparagus and gruyere cheese, well HELLO!  I’m a total cheese and carb fan, so pizza works for me. Everyone in the house, except for Eli, loved the pizza. Eli liked it, but he took off the asparagus spears on his slice. Eli just wants you to all know that he is OVER asparagus. He keeps asking me everyday when asparagus season is going to be over. He even marked his calendar. He’s so good though because he eats it without complaint every time it’s served up to him, even though he’s not a happy camper. I will say that this pizza has some pretty strong flavors with the asparagus and the gruyere cheese, it’s not your typical all american pizza, it’s more of a gourmet white pizza, but if  you like asparagus and gruyere cheese, then give this a try.

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sweet potato and chipotle soup

sweet potato and chipotle soup

sweet potato and chipotle soupI know it’s not exactly soup season anymore as spring is in full swing and summer is around the corner, but for me, it’s soup season anytime of year. I mean, my all time favorite soup is my heirloom tomato soup, which is basically a summer and early fall soup. I make batches upon batches of that soup and don’t mind making it in 90-degree heat, because it’s that good. I wasn’t planning on posting anymore soup recipes for the season, but I saw this recipe in Gwyneth’s new cookbook and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I made it up, and was happy that I did.

This soup is wonderfully creamy, but without the cream, as it’s dairy free and vegan to boot. Woo hoo! I love that it’s made with simple whole-food ingredients and most of them I already had stocked in my pantry, besides the sweet potatoes that is. The soup is sweet and creamy but with a spicy kick to it from the chipotle. John and I loved this soup. The kids liked it, but it’s not their favorite soup. They seemed to like it a bit more when I threw on some homemade croutons, as they liked having that extra texture.

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quinoa cakes

quinoa cakes (1 of 1)

quinoa cakes (1 of 1)Ok, so remember when I was obsessed with kale and everything kale?  Well, I’m still pretty obsessed with kale, but now I’m obsessed with quinoa as well.  I have figured out my favorite way to eat quinoa, and that is warm, liked warmed up in patties or a cereal rather than cold like in a salad.  I’ve made more quinoa dishes in the last few months than I have in the past year that I’ve been blogging.  First, there were these quinoa patties.  Super yummy, easy to make and healthy.

quinoa patties

Then I tried quinoa for breakfast with steel-cut oats and goji berries. Say what, quinoa for breakfast?  Oh yes, try it!  It’s my new favorite way to start the day.  It’s a power house of a breakfast.

hot quinoa and oat cereal with goji berries

Now, I ventured into a crispier and cheesier quinoa cake.  Hey, I was thinking of my kids here, because they were not the biggest fans of the other quinoa patties. Kid verdict?  Zoe liked them better than the other ones, (that’s a step in the right direction, still working on her) and Eli LOVED them, so I would say that this recipe was a success. Dry toasting the quinoa before simmering it in the broth adds such a depth of flavor, and the quinoa gets all browned in color and forms into these tiny little balls. The mozzarella cheese gets all melty and crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. These cakes remind me in a weird but healthier way, of mozzarella cheese sticks. I know that’s a strange way to describe them, but they are crispy, cheesy and chewy cakes. I mean who said that healthy foods have to taste healthy, right?  Just give them a try and if you like quinoa and cheese, then you will love these.

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spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacosI know there are many of you who have been patiently waiting for this recipe ever since I showcased it in my weekly menu post last week. Thanks for being so patient and I hope that these tacos make your wait worthwhile. I love it when I find a new family approved and easy weeknight meatless dinner (that was a mouthful). It’s so nice because I try and strive to have at least 2-3 meatless dinners a week, if possible. I want to make meatless nights fun and tasty and full of variety for the family, not boring and something that no one looks forward to. I truly have found the best recipes since I started my meatless search, and these tacos along with my Paul McCartney refried bean tacos are keepers!

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacosI was originally hesitant to try these tacos because even though I like spaghetti squash, I don’t LOVE it as a substitute for good old pasta, (I’m truly a carb girl) and neither does my family. We eat as a substitute once in a while because its healthy.  So, I finally picked up my reserved copy (after months of waiting) of Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook from the library. I opened it up and this particular recipe grabbed my eye. Deb’s photo was amazing and really made me want to eat these tacos. I also loved that Deb was not a huge fan of spaghetti squash being a substitute for pasta either. She did feel differently about spaghetti squash when she made these tacos though. The squash really captures all the flavors from the chili spices and lime and it pairs wonderfully with all the toppings, plus it looks so pretty. I felt that if Deb and I were both in agreement that spaghetti squash is not a great substitute for pasta, then I might agree with her about these tacos, so I was game to give these a try.

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how to cook spaghetti squash

spaghetti squash with tomato sauce

spaghetti squash with tomato sauceToday’s post is sort of a recipe, but really more of a “how to” post. I’m going to show you all how to cook spaghetti squash.  I figured if I didn’t have a clue the first time I cooked one up, then there are those of you that are in the same boat. Spaghetti squash is a delicious and nutritious alternative to pasta.  It’s loaded with fiber, nutrients, vitamins and is high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, plus its fun to eat. When cooked, the inside of the squash shreds into long, thin noodle-like strands resembling spaghetti pasta.  I didn’t believe it until I actually made it and saw the transformation.

The squash is pretty mild in flavor and really tastes like pasta.  I have to admit that my kids and hubby were not entirely satisfied with the squash as they would be with a traditional spaghetti pasta.  To make it more of a satisfying meal, I either have to top the squash with some meatballs or if I’m keeping it vegetarian, then I need to add a side of garlic bread for my carb loving kids.

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kale salad with delicata squash, almonds and aged cheddar

kale salad with delicata squash, almonds and aged cheddar
kale salad with delicata squash, almonds and aged cheddarOk, I must admit, I’m not a holiday recipe kind of food blogger. I don’t feature holiday recipes months before the holidays, unless it’s a recipe that can be used for any occasion, like this salad. I’m honestly not an expert when it comes to cooking turkey or stuffing. I make the same stuffing every year (sausage and chestnut stuffing) and John cooks the turkey, as cooking large birds sort of scare me. I also figure that most of you have family favorite Thanksgiving recipes that have been passed down through the generations. We actually have a family favorite cranberry sauce that John’s mom passed down to us, which John makes every year for Thanksgiving.  

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quinoa patties

quinoa

Happy day after Halloween!  Are you all candied out?  Are you putting yourself on a diet of kale salads and quinoa dishes till Thanksgiving? I’m not going to go that far, but I do need some sort of cleanse from all the sugar I’ve been eating lately. It’s not candy that I need a break from, but baked goods. I have been baking way to many pumpkin muffins, cupcakes and bundt cakes lately, and I need to stop!  Maybe with all of this new candy in the house, I won’t be asked to bake anything. I think the trick-or-treat candy will give me about a week off before the kids start getting sick of it and start asking me what I’m going to bake up. 

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spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basilHere’s an easy weeknight meal that the whole family will enjoy, and the best part is that you can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Yes, you heard me right, dinner in under 30 minutes. What mom or dad doesn’t like that?  Another great thing about this pasta is that it’s made with fresh and whole ingredients, so you can feel good about feeding your family a quick and easy dinner.

The heirloom tomatoes topped with parmesan and mozzarella taste like mini pizzas, but without the crust.  My kids even begged for thirds on the tomatoes.  I used heirloom tomatoes, but you can also use beefsteak, roma or vine-ripe tomatoes, whatever tomato strikes your fancy.

These tomatoes would also make a great side dish or appetizer.  I think they would even taste great topped on a pizza crust with some pesto or olive oil as the base sauce.  OK, I think I just created a new recipe for pizza Friday.  I love when that happens!

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil:

recipe adapted from real simple
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2-3 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - If your kids are not fans of spicy things, than I would go with the 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or julienned, plus more for serving
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
While your pasta is cooking, turn on your broiler and slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the tomato slices in a single layer. Sprinkle each tomato slice with the following ingredients in the following order:
  • salt 
  • pepper -you don’t have to add this to the kid’s tomato slices
  • grated parmesan 
  • mozzarella cheese

I would top each one with an even amount of both cheeses.  
Why not get the kids involved and have them top their tomatoes with the cheese, its like topping a pizza.  Its fun and gets them excited to eat tomatoes.

Broil the tomatoes until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t these tomatoes look insanely good?

In a small saucepan or sauté pan, heat the 3 tablespoons oil with the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.Add the garlic oil, 1/4 cup torn or julienned basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper to the cooked pasta and toss to combine.  Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top each bowl of pasta with the cheesy tomatoes, some fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

The tomatoes are filling, so 2 tomato slices per bowl is plenty, but you may want a third, and that’s ok.That’s it folks.  How easy was that to throw together?  If you’re making this into a two-nighter meal, then you will want to make up some fresh cheesy tomatoes the next night.  I served this pasta up two nights in a row. It was super simple, as I just had to throw the tomatoes together while the pasta was re-heating. 

If your kids love pizza and pasta, then they will love this recipe.  

heirloom tomato soup

heirloom tomato soup (1 of 1)-3

heirloom tomato soup (1 of 1)-3Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had one of those dishes that stands out so much that you remember it and crave it years later?  Well, this soup is one of those dishes.  My girlfriends and I went to Calistoga for a girls weekend a few years back, and we stayed at the Solage resort in Calistoga.  It was such a luxurious and fun filled weekend.  The resort’s restaurant, Solbar, is amazing.  Everything on its menu is seasonal, local, organic and scrumptious.  We all had a cup of this soup and our taste buds were in heaven. We all kept commenting that we couldn’t believe there wasn’t any cream in the soup, because it tasted so creamy.

I have been searching for this recipe and thanks to Pinterest, I found it.  How strange and lucky is that? Someone had actually pinned a copy of this recipe.  Anyway, I found it and re-created it. Some of the instructions were a bit confusing, so I asked my brother-in-law (he’s a chef) to sort it out for me, and I simplified it for you all.

This soup is vegan, pure and made with such simple and fresh ingredients. It’s creamy without the cream, and it honestly doesn’t taste like your typical tomato soup, as its sweeter and not acidic.  The only downside with this soup is that it’s a seasonal soup. Heirloom tomatoes are typically in season from August through the end of October, so I recommend making this soup now!

heirloom tomato soup (1 of 1)

heirloom tomato soup:

recipe slightly adapted from Solbar at Solage Resort
makes 6 portions
printer friendly version

  • 1 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided - you will use 1/4 cup twice in the recipe
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 springs of fresh marjoram or fresh oregano - I couldn’t find fresh marjoram so I used oregano, as it’s a similar tasting herb
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned – see how to microplane garlic below in post
  • 5 overripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and large chunked
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Prep all your ingredients.  Wash your herbs, chop up your onion, peel your garlic and core your tomatoes.

Not sure how to core a tomato? Check out the step-by-step photos below. Pretty simple, right?  Below are how your tomatoes should look when they are all cored.Chop up your tomatoes into large chunks.Take your bunch of basil, your 4 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of oregano or marjoram, and tie them up together with some kitchen twine.  

I would actually loop the twine around a few more times than I did, and tie it in a tighter knot.The recipe asks for the garlic to be microplaned.  To microplane garlic, all you need to do is get a cheese grater and rub the peeled garlic against it to grate it.Heat 1/4 cup olive oil, the diced onion and herb bunch in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium low heat, until the onion is soft, tender and translucent, but not browned.

You’re basically sweating the onion here.
Here’s a photo of the softened onions and herbs.
You can see that I should have tied my herbs together better.Stir in the garlic and quickly add the tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon of salt.Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are broken down.  Make sure you occasionally stir the tomatoes.

Remove the herbs.  Stir in the 1-teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and the 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Turn off the heat.
Puree the soup either using a hand held immersion blender or a regular blender.If you’re using a blender, return the soup to the pot after your puree it.

Keep warm until ready to serve.  Below is the finished product, doesn’t it look yummy?The kids rated this soup a 10+ and Zoe begged me to serve it to her for lunch the next day.  I packed some for her along with a popover and some fruit.This tomato soup is a bit sweeter than my creamless tomato soup, and tastes so fresh, because honestly all the ingredients are fresh.  You will also have to convince yourself and your guests that there is no cream in this soup, because it tastes so creamy.

My kids were never big soup fans till I started cooking them more. I think it takes a while for kids to get use to soups.  Soups are one of those dishes that look intimidating, but honestly, they are one of the easiest dishes to make.  I paired this soup for lunch the next day with half of a bagel topped with cream cheese and an heirloom tomato.  It was delish!I served it another day with a beet and kale salad.

This soup pairs well with just about anything.

cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables

cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetables
cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetables

Welcome to marinmamacooks.com!  I finally have my own domain, yeah!  I’m a real blog now, (just kidding, kind of) but it’s a big step for me and I do feel a bit grown up.  I lost a couple of things in the transition like my pin counters, but these things happen and it’s pretty minor in my opinion.

One of my favorite sources for new recipes are magazines.  I love opening one up and looking at all the gorgeous pictures and tempting recipes.  I use to love reading In Style, Oprah and magazines like that, but now I love to ready cooking magazines (I guess I’m getting older).  I currently have a subscription to bon appetit and Martha Stewart Living.  I’m like a kid in the candy store each time one of them arrives.  There’s just something about getting a magazine in the mail.  Cooking magazines are great because they usually focus on seasonal recipes and ingredients.  I hate when I look at a cookbook and crave a recipe only to find that the ingredients are not in season. 

I saw this recipe in the July issue, and it spoke to me.  It looked so fresh and simple, the perfect summer meal.  The recipe did not call for the miso tofu, I added that in to give it some protein and keep it a vegetarian recipe.  You can make this without the tofu and it tastes wonderful.  The cutting of the vegetables was a bit labor intensive, but that was the only thing that took time.  I’m sure there is an easier way to dice up the veggies, and if you have any, send them my way.  I do sometimes find it a bit therapeutic to cut up a bunch of fresh vegetables, it just depends on my day.  Feel free to use any vegetable in the below recipe. This dish is a great make-ahead meal for those busy summer nights.  
Here are my leftovers the next day at lunch!  Yum!

cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables:

recipe adapted from bon appetitmiso tofu recipe from Eating Well
serves 4-6

for the miso tofu: 

  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

for the soba noodles:

  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar – I used brown rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil – make sure you get toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper – sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles (Japanese-style noodles)
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems – these add amazing flavor to the dish, so this is a must
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or brush on some olive oil. Make sure that you coat it well, because if you don’t, then the tofu will stick to the baking sheet. I used my olive oil cooking spray.  

Drain the tofu and wrap it in some paper towels and gently press out the excess moisture.  Cut the block of tofu into square cubes like the picture below.  I cut the block of tofu into 8 slices and then cut those in half to get these squares. It really doesn’t matter how you cut up your tofu, just make sure they are cut into even pieces.

cubed tofuCombine the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons miso and the 2 cloves minced garlic in a large bowl, and use a spatula to mix it together. It will resemble a thick paste.

miso paste with lemon and garlic_Add the tofu squares to the mixture and gently toss to coat. It may not look like there is enough mixture to cover all of the tofu, but there is.

Spread the marinated tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
miso roasted tofu
Bake the tofu on the middle rack, turning two or three times during baking, until browned. About 18-20 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on all sides.
Tip: You can make this tofu up ahead of time, (like the day before) and just re-heat it for a few minutes in a 250-degree oven.
miso roasted tofu
While the miso is baking, wash and slice up the vegetables and set aside.In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, sriracha and toasted sesame oil.Throw the matchstick sliced vegetables into a large bowl, top with the dressing and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.  Run noodles under cold water to cool them; drain well and add them to the bowl with the vegetables.  Add in the scallions and toss them with noodles.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve up the noodles into individual bowls and top them with the sesame seeds, cilantro stems and warm tofu.  
Tip:  Store the tofu separate from the noodles, so they don’t get soggy.
cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetables
Like I said earlier, you can make this with or without the tofu or even add chicken if you like.  We all loved this dish and will definitely make it again. It was so simple to throw together and gave us great leftovers.  
cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables

Serving Size: serves 4-6

cold soba noodles with miso tofu and summer vegetables

Ingredients

    miso tofu:
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Soba noodles:
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar - I used brown rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil - make sure you get toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper - sliced into matchstick sized pieces
  • 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles (Japanese-style noodles)
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems - these add amazing flavor to the dish, so this is a must.
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or brush on some olive oil. Make sure that you coat it well, because if you don’t, then the tofu will stick to the baking sheet. I used my olive oil cooking spray.

Drain the tofu and wrap it in some paper towels and gently press out the excess moisture. I cut the block of tofu into 8 slices and then cut those in half to get these squares. It really doesn’t matter how you cut up your tofu, just make sure they are cut into even pieces.

Combine the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons miso and the 2 cloves minced garlic in a large bowl, and use a spatula to mix it together. It will resemble a thick paste.

Add the tofu squares to the mixture and gently toss to coat. It may not look like there is enough mixture to cover all of the tofu, but there is.

Spread the marinated tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the tofu on the middle rack, turning two or three times during baking, until browned. About 18-20 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on all sides.

Tip: You can make this tofu up ahead of time, (like the day before) and just re-heat it for a few minutes in a 250-degree oven.

While the miso is baking, wash and slice up the vegetables and set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, sriracha and toasted sesame oil.

Throw the matchstick sliced vegetables into a large bowl, top with the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.

Run noodles under cold water to cool them; drain well and add them to the bowl with the vegetables. Add in the scallions and toss them with noodles.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve up the noodles into individual bowls and top them with the sesame seeds, cilantro stems and warm tofu.

Tip: Store the tofu separate from the noodles, so they don't get soggy.

Like I said earlier, you can make this with or without the tofu or even add chicken if you like. John and I loved this dish and will definitely make it again. It was so simple to throw together and gave us great leftovers.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/07/cold-soba-noodles-with-miso-tofu-and-summer-vegetables/

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Ok, here is my first attempt at a “homemade” cooking video.  When I say first attempt, I mean first attempt.  Zoe and I pulled this together yesterday afternoon, and there weren’t any re-takes, we shot and edited with what we had.  I’m proud to say that this video was filmed and edited by my 12 year old daughter, Zoe. Yay Zoe!  Zoe is always shooting videos with her friends, and editing up a storm, so I asked her if she might want to earn a few bucks by filming some videos for the blog this summer. I think she did a wonderful job, and all in all, for our first video, I think it turned out pretty good.  Making your first video is like putting together your first blog post or posting your first photograph.  It can be a bit intimidating, but you have to start somewhere, so here you go.  The video has a cute ending, so stick with it.

I hope you enjoyed the video portion of this recipe (geez, I sound like a stewardess on an airline). For those of you that want the classic recipe post, I have added that as well below.

I seriously love Ina Garten, and have quite a few of her recipes on this blog. Her recipes are easy to follow and perfect for the “everyday” cook. This pasta one of my favorite summer pastas, as the ingredients are simple and fresh and the flavors are amazing. This pasta is the perfect make-ahead meal. The tomato marinade take literally 5 minutes to assemble and it can sit out anywhere from 4-10 hours at room temperature. The longer it sits the better. It’s also the perfect meal to serve up at a dinner party, because it’s virtually a one-bowl meal (less dishes to clean up) and so easy to prepare because all you have to do is throw in the capellini right before serving (the capellini only takes 3  minutes to cook). Instead of slaving over the stove, you can spend quality time relaxing with your friends. Now, that sounds great to me!

Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-4

Ina’s summer garden pasta:

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Serves 6

NOTE: I cut the tomato portion of the original recipe in half, as 4 pints of tomatoes were a bit too much for us, and my kids really don’t want a bowl full of tomatoes. 
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 large or 6 medium cloves) 
  • 10-12 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Below are the ingredients that you will need for the tomato marinade.
Wash up the cherry tomatoes and basil.  Cut the tomatoes in half.  
Slice up the basil into thin strips.
 Combine the cherry tomatoes,1/2-cup olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil,1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1-teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.  
Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.  
Just before you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the capellini and cook according to the directions on the package (be careful, as it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook capellini pasta).  

Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes.  Give the pasta a toss and then add in the 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese and mix together.  
Serve up the pasta in large bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Another thing I love about this pasta is that you can usually get two nights out of it (at least in my family).  Serve this up with some crispy garlic bread and you have the perfect simple summer meal.  

 I chose not to speak in the video because honestly, I’m not ready to do that yet.  Every time I hear myself on video I cringe.  I say the words “you know” and “like” too much, so I have to work up the confidence to do a talking cooking video! 

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 6

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

NOTE: I cut the tomato portion of the original recipe in half, as 4 pints of tomatoes were a bit too much for us, and my kids really don't want a bowl full of tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 large or 6 medium cloves)
  • 10-12 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Instructions

Wash up the cherry tomatoes and basil.

Cut the tomatoes in half.

Slice up the basil into thin strips.

Combine the cherry tomatoes,1/2-cup olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil,1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1-teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.

Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook according to the directions on the package (be careful, as it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook capellini pasta).

Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Give the pasta a toss and then add in the 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese and mix together.

Serve up the pasta in large bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/07/inas-summer-garden-pasta-with-video-tutorial/

miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu

miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu (1 of 1)-2

miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu (1 of 1)-2I’m so excited because I have found another kale salad that I love just as much as my lacinato kale salad. Wendy, Debbie & Amanda, you have to try this. This is going to be another weekly go-to salad for me. I love this salad so much that I ate a whole head of kale on Friday as well as made a fresh batch up for dinner on Saturday, and had leftovers for lunch on Sunday. It was a kale filled weekend for me. This salad is great on its own, but top it off with the miso roasted tofu and you have yourself a substantial lunch or dinner. Did I mention that this salad is also kid and hubby approved?

This is also another great make ahead salad. I do prefer to eat it fresh or within the hour of tossing it up, but it tasted amazing as leftovers the next day and even holds out to day 3 (actually my hubby likes it better the next day, go figure). I re-heated the leftover tofu in a pre-heated 250 degree oven for just a bit, and then topped it on the leftover salad. You don’t even have to re-heat the tofu, I just did because I wanted to. It tastes great, all warm on the cool salad.

miso tofumiso roasted tofu:

Recipe from Eating Well, Fast & Flavorful Meatless Meals
makes 14 square cubes
printer friendly recipe

  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons, miso – see picture and note below
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Below is a picture of miso. You can find it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store usually by where the tofu is kept. Miso is a fermented soybean paste that adds flavor to dishes such as soups, sauces and salad dressings. It is high in protein, and rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s available in different colors, white, yellow, red & brown. If you want a milder flavor then go with yellow or white. If you want a stronger flavor then go with a red or brown miso. The lighter the color, the milder the flavor. I chose this yellow chickpea miso because I wanted a milder flavor and this version is soy-free.
DSC_0203Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or brush on some olive oil. Make sure that you coat it well, because if you don’t, then the tofu will stick to the baking sheet. I used my olive oil cooking spray.

Drain the tofu and wrap it in some paper towels and gently press out the excess moisture. Cut the block of tofu into square cubes like the picture below. I cut the block of tofu into 8 slices and then cut those in half to get these squares. It really doesn’t matter how you cut up your tofu, just make sure they are cut into even pieces.

cubed tofuCombine the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons miso and the 2 cloves minced garlic in a large bowl, and use a spatula to mix it together. It will resemble a thick paste.

miso paste with lemon and garlic_Add the tofu squares to the mixture and gently toss to coat.  It may not look like there is enough mixture to cover all of the tofu, but there is.

Spread the marinated tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

miso roasted tofuBake the tofu on the middle rack, turning one to two times during baking, until browned, about 18-20 minutes, or until the tofu is browned on all sides.

miso roasted tofuYou can really do so much with this tofu. You can throw it on any other salad of choice, eat it on its own or top it on your favorite pasta. The choices are unlimited.  We love it topped on some cold soba noodles with summer vegetables.

cold soba noodles with miso roasted tofu and summer vegetablesWe also love it in a vegetarian banh mi sandwich.

vegetarian banh mi sandwich with sriracha mayonnaise
Oh, I forgot to mention that Eli loved this tofu (not the salad, but we are working on that).  Zoe love’s both the tofu and salad.  She is really turning into my kale gal.
miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu

miso kale salad:

Recipe adapted from Eating Well, Fast & Flavorful Meatless Meals
Note: This is not a make ahead dressing, as it does not sit well on it’s own. I would make it up and then toss it with your kale. Once mixed with the kale, it sits well.
printer friendly recipe

  • 1 bunch (whole head) lacinato/dinosaur kale, curly kale or red kale, large stems removed, thinly sliced – to see a step-by-step demonstration on how to de-stem and slice kale – click here.
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons miso
  • 1 clove garlic, minced - I used 2 medium cloves and it tasted great
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, miso and garlic in a glass measuring cup or small bowl.
Make sure to whisk the ingredients together well. The dressing will be a bit thick and pasty.

miso dressingPut your sliced and de-stemmed kale into a salad bowl.

Pour in the dressing a bit at a time (see my note below) over the kale, and mix well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing.  I actually massaged my kale a bit so the kale really absorbed the dressing.  You don’t have to go crazy massaging this kale salad.  When I say, “massage” your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.  You will notice that the kale reduces in size quite a bit, and what seemed like a mess of kale is now 1/2 of what it was.
Note:  Add the dressing to taste.  Some heads of kale are smaller than others, so just use the amount of dressing for the amount of kale you have.  The first batch I made had less kale so I only used 3/4 the amount of dressing I made.  The second batch I used had a bit more kale, and I ended up using the whole amount of dressing.
Add the 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and toss to coat.
Top the salad with some roasted tofu, or not.  The kale salad is great on its own as well.
This salad is creamy and bowl licking good.  It’s the perfect meal for any vegetarian or non-vegetarian.  
Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Be sure to store the tofu and kale separately.
Got leftovers?  Just re-heat the tofu in a 250 degree oven until warmed. This salad tastes great day two and even day three.
You can also make a kale caesar salad wrap. Just top a whole-grain tortilla with the leftover kale salad, the warmed tofu and then smash an avocado on top and wrap it up. It’s just a fun and different way to enjoy this salad.
kale caesar salad wrap
Like kale salads?  Then you need to try my  lacinato kale salad.  This salad has turned kale haters into kale lovers.
lacinato kale salad video
kale and ricotta salata salad
kale salad with delicata squash, almonds and aged cheddar

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos One of my challenges is to find some new meatless dinner recipes that the whole family will enjoy, besides your typical pasta.  Don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, but I want to offer other meatless alternatives for the family.  I’ve been trying to cut back on our meat intake to just a couple of days a week, and it’s been easy to find recipes that John and I like, but it’s been a bit harder to find recipes that the kids will enjoy as well.  

I recently picked a new favorite cookbook called, Meat Free Monday, and came across this refried bean taco recipe from Paul McCartney.  It was said to be one of his favorite recipes, so I decided to give it a try.  

So how did these tacos go over with the family?  The kids & hubby rated them a thumbs up!  I rated them a thumbs up as well due to the taste factor, but also because I had dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  These tacos are the perfect weeknight meal because everything can be made and assembled in less than 20 minutes, and chances are you have most of the ingredients on hand in your pantry. Double thumbs up to Paul! 

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos:

recipe from Meat Free Monday
serves 4-6

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box - the Fig beans come in a 17oz box and I used the whole box – I also like and most often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped – I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt 
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells – Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional – 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce – I did not add this because the kid’s do not like things to spicy

Below are most of the ingredients you will need to make the tacos.  
I really love beans from Fig Food Company as they are organic, and come in BPA free packaging.  I have a stocked pantry full of their cannellini, garbanzo, and black beans.   
You can find these beans at most Whole Foods.  
Update:  I’m finding that these beans are becoming hard to find, so I often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
Below are the three ingredients you will need for the actual filling, so easy!
First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.
 Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato?  I will show you how.  
Cut your tomato in half lengthwise. 
Then quarter it.
Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.
 Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise. 
It’s much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.
Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.
Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  
Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored. 
Stir in the refried beans.  Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through.  Season to taste with some salt.  
If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.
John wanted a bit more spice so he diced up a jalapeno pepper and topped his taco with it instead of making the mixture spicy for the whole family. 
Below is a picture of the refried bean mixture.  
I know it’s not the prettiest picture, but I wanted to show you what it looks like.
Its time to heat up your tortillas.
You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.  
Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20
seconds per side.
Don’t feel like turning on the grill?  Then turn on your stove.  Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.
You don’t have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.
Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!
Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.
Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Here’s what we topped our tacos with.
I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro. 
The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.
John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.
We paired the tacos with some roasted asparagus (surprise, surprise).
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
These were so good that I had some leftovers for lunch the next day. I paired the tacos with some strawberries and blueberries fresh from the farmers market, so good!
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Do you try and have a meatless day during the week?  If so, what are some of your favorite recipes?

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped - I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells - Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional - 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce - I did not add this because the kid's do not like things to spicy

Instructions

First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.

Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato? I show you pictures in the post, but also explain how to below.

Cut your tomato in half lengthwise.

Then quarter it.

Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.

Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise.

It's much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.

Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.

Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored.

Stir in the refried beans. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through. Season to taste with some salt.

If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.

Its time to heat up your tortillas.

You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.

Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20

seconds per side.

Don't feel like turning on the grill? Then turn on your stove. Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.

You don't have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.

Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!

Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.

Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.

Here's what we topped our tacos with.

I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro.

The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.

John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/06/paul-mccartneys-refried-bean-tacos/

couscous cakes

couscous cakes

couscous cakesDid you ever have one of those Mondays where you get so much done and have tons of energy?  I had that day yesterday and it was an amazing way to start up the week.  I accomplished more in 2 hours then I had the whole weekend.  Whoo hoo!  I even had some extra time to write up this post, so you’re getting 2 posts already this week and it’s only Tuesday.  Bonus!  Who am I?  I don’t know, but I like this new me (don’t get too excited as this is not normal for me).

So I cooked up some salmon last week and whenever I cook up salmon my kids ask for couscous as their side dish.  Basically my kids equate salmon with couscous.  Anyway, I was getting bored of the traditional couscous fare.  Couscous reminds me of white rice, just plain and unassuming, so I was excited when I saw this recipe for couscous cakes in Fine Cooking magazine. These cakes sort of reminded me of my chickpea veggie burgers.  

These patties are so easy to make and require a few simple pantry ingredients, AWESOME!  I even made the patties earlier in the day and then sautéed them up right before dinner, the perfect make-ahead recipe.

couscous cakes:

recipe from Fine Cooking

makes 8-9 patties

  • 3/4 cup couscous – I pack a hefty 3/4 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf or italian parsley leaves 
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten – I found using large eggs not extra large works best here.  
  • finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – you will use this later to cook the cakes

Put the couscous and 1 teaspoon salt in a small pan.  Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover with the pan lid and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.  

Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor.  Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.Here is what your mixture will look like after it’s been chopped.Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork.  In a large bowl, add the couscous, the chickpea mixture, eggs, and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 measuring cup, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate.  Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture to make 8-9 cakes. 

I always throw my mixture in the fridge for a bit before I make the couscous cakes, so the mixture can gel together.   Note:  To make these a make-ahead meal, you can refrigerate the patties ahead of time and sauté them up right before dinner.  You can also refrigerate the mixture as is, and make the patties right before you sauté them.  Either way works.Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  

Add 5 of the couscous cakes to the skillet and then use a spatula to lightly flatten the cakes so they’re about 3/4 inch thick.   Just take a spatula and gently press down on the cakes once they’re in the skillet to flatten them. Cook, flipping once, until the patties are crisp and golden brown on both sides. The recipe said 2 to 3 minutes per side, but mine took a bit longer, like 5 minutes per side.  Just make sure to cook them till they are golden brown on each side.  Transfer the cooked patties to a paper-towel lined plate.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and cook the remaining cakes the same way. You can serve these up with just about anything. I gave the kids a couscous cake and some broccoli along with their salmon.  John and I paired one with a spinach salad and some salmon.  I also love serving these alongside a soup, such as my cauliflower soup.  These would even be great topped with my tzatziki yogurt sauce as a lunch-time entree.  Feel free to jazz these up anyway you choose. I could see adding some red or green onions to them as well as possibly substituting cilantro for the parsley leaves.  This is a great and basic couscous cake recipe.  

Family verdict?    These were rated a 10 in my house and I will definitely be making them again!  Got leftovers?  Just throw them in a 250 degree oven to warm them up.

couscous cakes

couscous cakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup couscous - I pack a hefty 3/4 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf or italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten - I found using large eggs not extra large works best here.
  • finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - you will use this later to cook the cakes

Instructions

Put the couscous and 1 teaspoon salt in a small pan. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover with the pan lid and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork.

In a large bowl, add the couscous, the chickpea mixture, eggs, and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 measuring cup, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture to make 8-9 cakes.

I always throw my mixture in the fridge for a bit before I make the couscous cakes, so the mixture can gel together.

Note: To make these a make-ahead meal, you can refrigerate the patties ahead of time and sauté them up right before dinner. You can also refrigerate the mixture as is, and make the patties right before you sauté them. Either way works.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.

Add 5 of the couscous cakes to the skillet and then use a spatula to lightly flatten the cakes so they're about 3/4 inch thick.Just take a spatula and gently press down on the cakes once they're in the skillet to flatten them.

Cook, flipping once, until the patties are crisp and golden brown on both sides. The recipe said 2 to 3 minutes per side, but mine took a bit longer, like 5 minutes per side. Just make sure to cook them till they are golden brown on each side. Transfer the cooked patties to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and cook the remaining cakes the same way.

Got leftovers? Just throw them in a 250 degree oven to warm them up.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/05/couscous-cakes/

roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza

roasted red pepper pizza
roasted red pepper pizza

So remember on Friday when I mentioned that because I can be a perfectionist with this blog that I sometimes make a recipe 2 to 3 times before I post it?  Well, this recipe was one of those recipes.  I actually only made this 2 times, but still, it was 2 times within the course of a week.  I figured it was OK since it’s a pretty healthy meal and my kids always are happy to eat pizza, even if it’s on a whole-wheat crust.

This pizza is super easy to make, even easier than my sausage skillet pizza.  I know a lot of you wanted to try that pizza but either did not have a skillet or were a bit intimated by the thought of cooking a pizza in a skillet.  So, here is a pizza that everyone can make.It’s your basic run of the mill cheese pizza except that you are replacing the tomato sauce with a roasted red pepper puree and topping it all on a thin and crispy whole-wheat pizza crust.  Isn’t that genius?  Red peppers are so good for you and this is an easy and delicious way to get them into your diet.  I even think that if you had picky kids they would love this pizza (maybe just add a bit more cheese to disguise the red pepper sauce a bit more).

My kids loved this pizza, seriously, I’m not lying.  They thought the red pepper sauce tasted as good as any tomato sauce and they didn’t complain about it being on a whole-wheat crust.  I honestly don’t think they even noticed that it was on a whole-wheat crust till I mentioned it.  They even liked the arugula on top!  My kids are becoming way more experimental with food since I started this blog.  They will try and eat just about anything I make.  They are now even starting to like my “mommy” dishes.  Zoe has been begging me to make my chickpea burgers again, so I am whipping up a batch of those tomorrow.

roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza:

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4-6

Note:  The roasted red pepper sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated till needed. 

  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled – see my instructions below on how to roast a red pepper
  • 1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough – you can use regular pizza dough here as well if you don’t like whole-wheat crusts.  I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust.  
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced – you can also buy the shredded mozzarella and make it easy on yourself.
  •  extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • cornmeal for baking sheets
  • arugula to top the pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Wash the red peppers and then cut them in half lengthwise.

red peppers cut in halfCut off the stem with a paring knife and scoop out all the seeds and membranes.  I used a melon baller to scoop out the seeds and membranes.

scooping out red pepper seedsPlace the peppers cut side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

roasting red peppersRoast the peppers in the pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes; until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, rotating the sheet if necessary for them to cook evenly.  Below is what mine looked like after roasting for 25 minutes.

roasted red peppersLet the peppers cool for a minute or two, and then remove them from the baking sheet and place them in a bowl, cover the bowl with foil or a plate, and let cool for about 30 minutes.

roasted red peppers in bowlWhen the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard them, dropping the peppers back into the bowl.

roasted red peppers skinnedPut the peeled peppers into a blender.

 In a blender, puree peppers until smooth. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into a bowl if you’re not using it right away, and refrigerate until needed.  If you’re using the puree right away, then just keep it in the blender for easy pouring.Now, lets move onto the pizza.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Slice up your cheese, toss some arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle shape.  You can also roll the dough out into 2 circles, one large circle or 4 small circles.  It’s really up to you.

We chose to make one large rectangular pizza.
Easy peasy!Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with cornmeal and shape to fit the pizza dough onto the pan.The corn meal helps to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the pan and also helps to make the pizza crust a bit more crunchy and taste like its from an actual pizzeria.Brush the edges of the dough with some olive oil.  This helps to crisp up the crust.Top the dough with the red pepper puree (as you would a tomato sauce) making sure to leave a 1-inch border on the sides. Top the pizza with the mozzarella cheese and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Top the pizza with the arugula.  Slice it up and serve with your favorite salad or vegetable.  We paired the pizza with some roasted asparagus, but I also love to pair it up with my lacinato kale salad.Since we were eating so healthy, I treated us to this for dessert.Cacao nib and cocoa shortbread ice-cream sandwiches.

What are some of your favorite pizza recipes?

wheat berries with charred onions and kale

wheat berries with charred onions and kale

wheat berries with charred onions and kaleAm I turning into a health nut or what?  I have eaten more kale in the past 6 months than I have in my whole lifetime, seriously. This blog is working wonders for my health and waistline (as well as my hubby’s).  It was actually John that picked out this recipe, can you believe it?  We received the recent issue of bon appetit on Friday.  John opened it up, pointed at two recipes, looked at me and said, “honey, we’re making this for dinner on Sunday.”  I  then took a look at the two recipes and happily agreed.  Did I mention that John is an amazing cook, even better than me?  I’m such a lucky girl.

Wheat berries?  You’re probably wondering what the heck they are.  Wheat berries are simply individual kernels of wheat.  They’re a true whole grain.  A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron.  Wheat berries have a chewy bite and a subtle nutty and earthy flavor.  You can find them in the natural foods section of your local grocery store. I found these at Whole Foods in the bulk bins.
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wheat berries with charred onions and kale: 
recipe from bon appetit
serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat berries 
  • 2 medium yellow onions – see instructions below
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - The recipe called for 8 tablespoons but we did not feel we needed all the oil, so we just added what we felt was necessary.
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 packed cups) – I used curly kale for this recipe
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine wheat berries, 1 onion half, 5 thyme sprigs, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2 inches.  
The below photo was taken before I put in the water, of course, but I thought it was pretty so I snapped up a picture.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium or medium low (our stove has an intense flame so we went to medium low) and simmer until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35 minutes. 
Drain in a colander and discard the onion and thyme sprigs. Place wheat berries in a large bowl and let cool.  
Meanwhile, rinse, de-stem, dry and tear up your kale into 2-inch pieces; set aside.  
Cut remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add onions. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are charred in spots, about 5 minutes. 
Transfer onions to the bowl with wheat berries
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to same skillet (we actually added about 1 teaspoon as there was oil leftover). Working in 3 batches, add kale and cook, tossing occasionally, sprinkling with salt and pepper, and adding oil as needed between batches, until charred in spots, about 1 minute per batch.  
This is another tasty and kid approved way to get your kale in.  My kids loved the kale sautéed this way as it reminded them of kale chips but without the crunch. 
Add the kale to the bowl.  Drizzle with the 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and any remaining oil left in the pan; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
We served this up as a side salad for dinner, but I would definitely eat a bowl of this for lunch without the steak!
 Here were my leftovers the next day.  I topped the salad with some leftover steak and the herb salsa.  I then microwaved it for about 1 minute. 
 It was a two-nighter meal and tasted just as good or even better the next night.

What have you made with kale lately?
Are you becoming kale obsessed like me?
Bon appétit

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauceWant an easy-peasy weeknight meal your whole family will enjoy?  I bet you’re saying yes, yes, yes!  Well, read on, because my whole family loves this pasta and I love it because it’s tasty of course, but so quick (under 45 minutes) and easy to make. This is definitely a family and kid friendly meal.  It’s cheesy, hence the title, cheesy baked tortellini. This pasta is rated a 10+ in my house and has quickly become a family favorite.

Life is getting busy around our house, and during this busy time I have to prepare my weekly dinner menu in advance. Zoe now has lacrosse, dance and cotillion 4 nights during the week so goodbye (for now) to sit-down family dinners, and hello make ahead and easy meals.

On Sundays, I put together a list of potential weeknight dinners and I also try to cook a two-nighter meal as well.  When life is busy, I don’t want to compromise on eating nutritionally, nor do I want us eating takeout every night. I want to offer my kids their veggies and a fairly balanced and nutritious meal.  To accomplish this, I try and find recipes that I can either make ahead, that will provide dinner for 2 nights or ones that can be put together in a flash.  This tortellini pasta matches all three of that criteria. You can throw it together in less than 45 minutes. You can also make it earlier in the day, cover it with foil, refrigerate it and then re-heat later that evening.  Oh yeah!!!  I’ll be honest with you all and let you know that we end up using a jared sauce the majority of the time.  I don’t always make the homemade marinara sauce, and that’s ok!  My favorite jarred sauce to use for this pasta is Rao’s homemade Marinara.

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce:

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups marinara sauce – store bought or homemade – I made a homemade version from Giada the day before- recipe to follow below.  I have also made this recipe a number of times with different store bought sauces and my basic tomato sauce.
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound cheese tortellini
  • shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella cheese, - The recipe called for 2 ounces, but really, who measures out their cheese?  Just top your dish with the amount of cheese you want.  
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese - I also did not measure this.  I just topped each casserole with some parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the tortellini.  Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.Below is what mascarpone cheese looks like.  It resembles a soft cream cheese.In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme.Stir all the ingredients together. Its best to mix everything with a spatula because you’re going to have to press the mascarpone cheese against the sides of the bowl to get it to soften up. Once you mix all the ingredients together, it goes from this beautiful red color above, to this not so pleasant orange color.  I’m not even going to go there and tell you what it reminds me of.Cook the tortellini until just tender or al dente, about 2 minutes.  I used frozen tortellini and the 2 minute cooking time was perfect.  Drain.  Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.

Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish or dishes.  Not a great photo, but you get the step involved.
  Top with the grated parmesan cheese and smoked mozzarella or regular mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish or dishes with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses melt on top, about 10 minutes longer.
Note: The cheese will be melted, but will be white in color.  If you want your cheese to be browned and crispy like these photos, then turn on your broiler and place the pasta under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese browns up.
cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce
 That is it folks!  How easy was that dish to prepare?
I paired this up with a salad for John and I, and some broccoli for the kids.
This dish was a two-night meal for my kids and I (not the hungry hubby).  I just covered their leftovers in their gratin dishes, and re-heated them in the oven the next day.
I’m actually re-heating up their leftovers as I write this post.
Here they are eating their leftovers!  Happy as clams!
If you want to make your own marinara sauce then you can follow along with me below!
This sauce is great because it can be made day ahead of time, and it’s fairly easy to whip up.  The only thing that really takes time is chopping up all the veggies.  This is a wonderful marina sauce that you can use as a base for just about any Italian meal.

Basic Marinara Sauce:

Makes about 2 quarts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped – I used yellow onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
Prep your ingredients.  Chop up your onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.  This sauce freezes very well so I saved 2 cups for the above recipe, and froze the remaining amount for a later date.
The sauce may be stored frozen for up to 3 months.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, use your favorite store bought brand.  I’ve done that on many occasions and the tortellini tastes just as amazing.

carrot ginger soup with homemade croutons

carrot ginger soup with homemade croutons

carrot ginger soup with homemade croutonsI was sitting down for breakfast Friday morning and received an email from my friend Carolyn raving about this carrot ginger soup that she had made for her family the night before. She said I had to try it. Carolyn is an amazing cook, actually so amazing, that she could have her own cooking show.  So, when she recommends a recipe to me, I trust that it’s going to be wonderful. I was already planning on making this miso-garlic and tofu salad for lunch and knew this soup would be the perfect compliment.

I know what your thinking, carrot soup?  How boring!!  Well, actually, this soup is not boring at all!  It’s rich and creamy (without the cream) with a hint of sweetness. My kids loved it and said I need to definitely make it again.  They also said to be sure to make the croutons as well.

This is another pantry soup like my creamless tomato soup.  If you have a well-stocked pantry then you should have most of the ingredients on hand.  The only thing that I had to run out and pick up was the sweet onion.  Another thing I love about this soup, is that it’s cream-less and vegetarian. Bonus!

carrot ginger soup with homemade croutons

carrot ginger soup:

Recipe from Food 52

  • 6 to 8 large carrots (about 1 3/4 pounds) - I used 8 carrots and actually weighed them at the grocery store to make sure I had 1 3/4 pound
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups good quality vegetable stock – I did not have any homemade veggie stock on hand, but I used the boxed variety and it tasted great.
  • 1 inch long piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 of a large sweet onion, chopped - these onions are light yellow in color and will be labeled sweet onion at your grocery store. They can also be called vidalia onions.
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper                                                                         
Prep all of your ingredients.  Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a measuring cup.  Peel your piece of ginger (to peel your ginger, just take the tip of a spoon and scrape the skin off), chop up your garlic, chop up your onion half and peel and cut up your carrots into 1/2-inch rounds.  
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On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil (take this from your 1/4 cup) and sprinkle generously with salt.
Set an oven rack 6 to 8 inches (I set mine 6 inches from the top) from the heat source and turn on the broiler.  
Broil the carrots until they brown and soften, turning them over with a pair of tongs or a spatula every 5 minutes or so.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  Once your carrots have cooked, set them aside to cool.  Meanwhile (while your carrots are cooking), pour your 6 cups of vegetable stock into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once the stock has come to a boil, add your piece of ginger and thyme and simmer gently for 15 minutes. 
When the stock has 12 minutes left to simmer, take the remaining olive oil and heat it up in a dutch oven (or whatever soup pan you normally use) over medium heat.  Add the onion and brown it over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 12-15 minutes. Tip: I always start cooking the onions when the stock has 12 minutes left to simmer, that way my onions aren’t done before my stock has finished simmering.  
DSC_0001See the workstation I set up!  So pretty.

DSC_0006Don’t be afraid to brown the onion up.  It smells and tastes amazing in the soup.

DSC_0011 Once your onions have browned, add the garlic and let it cook for about a 30 seconds, and then add the carrots.
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Remove the ginger and thyme from the stock and add the stock to the pot with the onions and carrots. Bring to boil and then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are soft enough to puree. 
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Puree the soup until smooth using either a hand held immersion blender or a standard blender.  I usually wipe down the soup pot while the soup is pureeing.  Return the pureed soup to the pot.  

I actually used my vitamix blender here because I wanted a really smooth soup.  I was able to pour all the soup into my blender in one batch.

If the soup seems too thick (mine was perfect just the way it was), add more stock or water and reheat gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.   

Now onto the croutons!          

      
Homemade Croutons:
  • 2 slices country-style bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes - I used some leftover ciabatta bread that I had used for panini’s on Monday
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil – or more if you need it
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt – I usually just throw a pinch of salt in
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper – I actually don’t measure out my pepper, I just twist the pepper grinder a few times.
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Slice up your bread and then cut it into 1/2 inch cubes.
 

In a medium bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Toss in the bread cubes and mix to combine.
Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  
Bake for approximately 12 to 14 minutes making sure to turn the bread two to three times during baking, until the croutons are browned and crisp.
The croutons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.  
Ladle up the soup into individual bowls and top with homemade croutons.  The crunchy croutons absorb the flavors of the soup and taste amazing!
carrot ginger soup with homemade croutons

creamless tomato soup

creamless tomato soup
creamless tomato soup
Folks, I posted this recipe in the first couple of weeks of my blog, but I wanted to reintroduce it to you all because it’s literally my favorite go-to soup.  I call it my 30 minute soup as it really only takes 30 minutes to make.  As Barefoot would say, “how easy is that?”  This is not a barefoot recipe though, this recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.

I love this soup because it’s easy to make and you can get a few meals out of it.  I usually whip up a batch on the weekend when I know I am going to have a busy week and need that quick go-to meal.  It’s also a great pantry soup that you can whip up at the last minute because it only takes 30 minutes to cook and the ingredients are usually something you will already have on hand at home!This soup fills 2 large storage containers so I always put one in the freezer for those last minute meals or for a nice weekend lunch.

I have found it to be convenient to have my freezer and refrigerator stocked with healthy pre-cooked meals that I can take out when I am to lazy to cook or when we have a busy night and there is no time to cook.  Soups are also great for those nights when people are eating at different times because you can just have a big pot simmering on the stove and people can help themselves when they are ready to eat.

Another reason I love this soup is because it uses bread instead of cream to thicken it.  I know white bread isn’t the healthiest option either, but it tastes so good in this soup, and it is only 3 pieces.  You could also throw in some sourdough bread if you want to make it a bit healthier.  My kids love this soup and they are not soup kids, so I am sure your pickiest eaters will love this as well.

creamless tomato soup

Creamless Tomato Soup:

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 3 large slices of good quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth – if you want this to be a vegetarian soup, you can use vegetable broth

I love this brand of tomatoes below.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a measuring cup.  Take 2 tablespoons of oil from this and heat it up in a Dutch oven (or whatever soup pan you normally use) over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and their juice.  Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain.

 This is what it should look like after the tomatoes are mashed.Stir in the brown sugar and bread; bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.  The bread will look like this.VERY IMPORTANT STEP HERE, Remove and discard bay leaf.  Please remember to take your bay leaf out before you puree your soup.  I forgot to once and I had to go through the soup and find all the tiny pieces and take them out.  It was a hassle and took some time, so I am very anal about remembering this step now!

Puree the soup using either a handheld immersion blender or a blender.  If using a blender, transfer half of soup to a blender.  Add 1 tablespoon oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup and oil.  I always wipe down my pan when I’m pureeing the soup so that I don’t have leftover bits of onion or such in the pan.

If you’re using an immersion blender, then add all the remaining olive oil to the soup and blend away until your soup is creamy and smooth.

Once your soup has been pureed, stir in your chicken broth.  Return soup to a boil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

It’s that easy folks!

creamless tomato soupServe up the soup in individual bowls and add a crusty bread on the side or a yummy grilled cheese panini sandwich, that’s what we do in our house.

It’s a perfect winter or fall soup that the whole family can and will enjoy.
Do you have a favorite go-to soup?

lentil “meatballs” with lemon pesto

lentils

Here is another wonderful “mommy” meal that I made this past week. It’s also a great “meatless Monday” meal.  I saw this recipe a few weeks back on Sprouted Kitchen and I have been dying to make it for some time.  I loved my chickpeas burgers so much that I wanted to try another meatless dish that is usually made with meat.  When you hear the word meatball you think of meat, right?  Well, these are lentil meatballs so there is no meat in them.  Maybe lentil balls would be a more fitting name for these.  It just sounds weird, so I think I will keep the name meatballs.

I loved these lentil meatballs and I wasn’t even missing the meat. They were flavorful and dense like meatballs and they really satisfied my craving for a meatless meatball.  Combine them with the lemon pesto and you have yourself a wonderful & healthy vegetarian lunch or dinner.  I promise you, you will not miss the meatballs here.

This dish was not to popular with my kids, but I wasn’t expecting it to be either.  I was really just creating this recipe for myself.  My kids liked the pesto, but did not care to much for the meatballs.  I ate the meatballs and fed them some quinoa pasta with the pesto sauce.  I believe in cooking one meal for the family so I accomplished my goal here.    

lentil “meatballs”:

Recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
makes about 13 medium sized meatballs
printer friendly recipe

  • 2 cups cooked black lentils – 1 cup dry lentils equals 2 cup cooked 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup freslhy grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed – I used my coffee grinder here
  • 2 tablespoons, finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Heafty pinch of dried or fresh thyme – I used fresh thyme here
  • 1 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably) – I used whole wheat panko breadcrumbs from Ians
Here are the ingredients you will need to make the meatballs.
You will need 1 cup of dry lentils to equal 2 cooked cups of lentils here.
Once you measure out your lentils give them a rinse.
Cook up your lentils according the directions on the package.  When your lentils are finished cooking, drain them and set them aside to cool a bit.

Once your lentils have cooled down for a bit, measure out 2 cups and put them in a food processor.Pulverize the lentils into mush and then put them in a large mixing bowl.  Add the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well.Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes.While the lentil mix is resting, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and proceed to make up your lemon pesto (see recipe below).

After 20 minutes or so, check the lentil mix by rolling a round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well.  If it seems pretty wet and it’s falling apart, stir in another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs until the ball stays together.
My mix was perfect the way it was.  I think using the Panko breadcrumbs made a difference as they are hearty breadcrumbs.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into “meatballs sized” balls and line them up on a baking sheet.
Note: they don’t need lots of space between them as they won’t spread. If you want them to be crusty, then brush the meatballs with olive oil.  I wanted them to be brown and crusty so I brushed the entire meatball with olive oil. Here is a photo of the meatballs after they have been brushed in olive oil.  See how nice and shiny they are!
Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  Make sure you turn the meatballs halfway through the baking time.  Remove and cool slightly.
These lentil meatballs are wonderful on their own with the below lemon pesto or you can pair them up with your favorite pasta, like quinoa to make a healthy and vegeterian spaghetti and meatballs.
 I served these up the next day for lunch on some leftover quinoa spaghetti.

lemon pesto sauce:

Recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
printer friendly recipe
Note: Lentil meatballs can be a bit on the dryer side so you will want to moisten them up with this pesto. 
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  •  2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 tablespoons water to thin sauce
Prep all of your ingredients.  Wash and dry your basil leaves, zest and juice your lemon, peel your garlic, measure out your pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
Put the garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth.
 Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
 Add 2 tablespoons of water to thin as desired. I used 2 tablespoons, as I like my pesto be a bit thinner.  This is optional of course. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.
Note:  Sometimes my pesto comes out green as shown in the picture above, and sometimes it comes out a bit more yellow-green.  It really depends on how big the meyer lemons are.  Don’t fret on the color, as it tastes amazing no matter what the color is.  If you feel you want more green, then just add some more basil to taste and then process again.
My favorite way to enjoy these is topped with lots of the pesto and thrown on some quinoa spaghetti.
Have you ever tried a meatless meatball?
If so, did you like it

chickpea veggie burgers & tzatziki yogurt sauce

chickpea veggie burgers

chickpea veggie burgers

I know this blog is about family friendly meals but I am also going to introduce you to “mommy” meals.  Mommy meals are meals that I typically eat for lunch while the kids are in school or on the weekends.  Mommy meals are nutritious, whole grain, chock full of vegetable meals.  I know most of these meals would not appeal to my kids yet so I eat them for lunch or dinner on those nights where there is an acceptable leftover for them.  

Anyway, I have had Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Cooking for about a year.  I love this cookbook as well as her blog, 101 cookbooks.  She is a local gal, just 15 minutes from me (somewhere in SF), so I feel a sort of local kinship with her.  This cookbook has so many beautiful recipes and photos that I often just browse through like I would a picture book.  My hubby was commenting to me the other day as I was paging through the book, how I still have not made a recipe from it.  I told him I have not made anything from it because most of the meals would not appeal to our kids.  He told me, in a loving way, to stop with the excuses and just make something from it. He also promised that he would happily eat anything I made from the book. I decided he was right, so I opened up to page 155 and got ready to make Heidi’s chickpea patties that I have been wanting to try for so long.

These are not your typical burgers that you put inside a bun.  These burgers are the bun!  You insert the goodies inside of the burger.  Genius!  I made these burgers the first time for lunch and they were so tasty that I decided I was going to make them for some friends that were coming over for dinner the next night.  We served them up with some Tzatziki sauce (recipe below), fresh avocado, sprouts, chopped tomato and my kale salad.  It was a fabulous vegetarian meal! I felt so refreshed and light after eating this dinner, that is until I had a huge piece of chocolate cake, ugh! This is a great do-ahead meal because you can make the burgers, tzatziki yogurt sauce earlier that day or the day before.  All you have to do when your guests arrive is heat up the patties and chop up the fresh ingredients to put inside.

I wanted to simplify this recipe so I did not get sprouted garbanzo beans nor did I make my own bread crumbs.  Sometimes we just have to cut corners and make things easier on ourselves. I kept Heidi’s recipe the way she wrote it below and noted my changes in green.

chickpea veggie burgers

chickpea veggie burgers:

Recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking
makes 8 hamburger-sized patties
printer friendly version
This is a great do-ahead meal; you can store shaped, ready-to-cook patties in the refrigerator for a week’s worth of lunches or dinner.  Just cook them up when you are ready to eat them.

  • 2 1/2 cups sprouted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or canned garbanzos, drained and rinsed – I used the boxed variety and 2 boxes gave me 2 1/2 cups plus some leftovers.  I’m assuming it would take 2 cans as well.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 onion, chopped - I used a yellow onion on the first batch and a red onion on the second batch.  I loved both, but really preferred the red onion as it had a bit more flavor.
  • grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (either broccoli, onion, clover or alfalfa sprouts) - I used clover sprouts
  • 1 cup toasted whole-grain breadcrumbs - I was to lazy to make bread crumbs so I just used Ian’s whole wheat panko bread crumbs and they worked perfectly
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter  for sauteing the burgers- I used 2 tablespoons here, one for each batch that I sauteed
I found these chickpeas at the market and grabbed them as they were in these BPA free and recyclable boxes.  I also use Eden Organic chickpeas which are in BPA free cans as well.  If you don’t have the time to soak beans its nice to know that there are great alternatives out there that are BPA free.  
Isn’t the packaging cute?
If you are using sprouted garbanzos, steam them until tender, about 10 minutes.  If you are using canned or boxed beans (which I did), jump right in.  Combine the chickpeas, eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor. 
Note:  I used my mini-prep so I added 1/2 of the chickpeas and 2 eggs plus the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pureed it, and then added the rest of the chickpeas and the other two eggs and pureed it again.Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus.
Pour into a mixing bowl and add in the cilantro, onion, lemon zest, and sprouts. 
Mix all the ingredients together.
Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for about 5 minutes so the crumbs can absorb the moisture.  This is where I clean up the kitchen a bit.
 After about 5 minutes or so, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into patties.  
I formed mine into 8 hamburger-sized patties.  
These patties are moist but will hold their form quite well.  You can always add more breadcrumbs a bit at a time to firm up the dough if needed.  
 Heat the tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.  I happily got out my cast iron pan for this culinary adventure.  Add 4 patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown.  Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes.
Note:  If you are just making one burger for lunch or dinner then just pour enough olive oil in the pan to coat the bottom and cook up your burger.  The cooking time might be less per side as there is only one burger.       
Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from skillet and cool patties on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.  I added another tablespoon of olive oil before I put in the rest of the patties, as I did not want them to be dry.  
Carefully cut the patty in half, insert your favorite filling and enjoy! 

 I filled mine with some of the tzatziki sauce, avocado and some clover sprouts. 

tzatziki yogurt sauce:

Note:  It’s recommended that this sauce chill in the refrigerator for a few hours in order for the flavors to blend together.  You can even make this sauce the day before.  This recipe makes a lot of yogurt sauce, so please feel free to cut it in half.  

  • 1 pound (1 pint) plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and grated
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar – we used champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill – I added a bit more to flavor it up
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


This yogurt sauce is also great to use as a dip for veggies for a healthy after school snack or with pita chips.  Peel and grate the cucumber.  Wrap the grated cucumber in a paper towel and squeeze it to get out the excess water.  You may have to re-wrap and squeeze it a few times to get out all of the water.

Scoop out the yogurt into a bowl.  Add the grated cucumber, 3 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil,  1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons minced dill, and a pinch of pepper. 

 Mix the ingredients together.Cover and put the tzatziki in the refrigerator for a few hours so that the flavors can blend together.  

That’s it, easy peasy!Hubby Verdict?  He loved these and was actually the one who suggested that we serve these up for dinner for our friends.  This is coming from a Midwestern meat and potato guy.

He has had one for lunch the past two days as well. 
Kids Verdict?  Eli wouldn’t even try one, Zoe tried it and liked it, but could only handle a few bites!Have you ever made a veggie burger before?  

Do you prefer a beef/buffalo, turkey, salmon or veggie burger?

Rustic Bakery’s roasted butternut squash soup

Rustic Bakery's butternut squash soup

Rustic Bakery's butternut squash soupI have a few favorite local lunch spots that my girlfriends and I frequent often when we want to have a ladies lunch, Marin style.  Marin style means it’s all about being casual when going to lunch to meet your friends.  It’s really about the conversation and food, not the stuffiness of having to get all dressed up or look a certain way, who wants to do that?  Marin is a laid-back, easygoing community, and that is why I love it so.

One of our favorite lunchtime spots is Rustic Bakery in Larkspur.  This is not just a bakery but also an amazing breakfast and lunch cafe. They have some of the most magnificent salads, sandwiches and baked goods.  Everything at the cafe is made with local and organic ingredients.

I was a happy girl when I picked up a copy of Organic Marin from my local library and saw one of my favorite soup recipes from Rustic Bakery inside.  I was excited to go home and re-create this soup for my family and I to have for lunch over the weekend.  

Rustic Bakery’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:

Recipe from Organic Marin

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved and seeded
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to rub on squash halves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to rub on squash halves
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
 Chop up your onion and shallots and set aside in a bowl.  Cut your squash in half.
 Scoop out the seeds and strings from the cavity.  I use my melon ball scooper to do this, as it’s quick and easy.  Rub the olive oil over the cut sides of the squash and season each with salt and pepper.
 Put 2 sprigs of thyme and 3 garlic cloves in each in each cavity.  Doesn’t the squash look so pretty?
Then carefully place the squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet.
Roast the squash for 50 to 60 minutes, until soft and caramelized.
Remove the squash from the oven and let cool.
Reserve the garlic cloves and discard the thyme.
 Scoop the butternut squash flesh from the skin, coarsely chop (just chop it with a spoon in the bowl as it will be soft), and set aside.
Melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.
Sauté the onion and shallots for 7 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown.
Add the roasted butternut squash, the reserved garlic cloves, 1/2-teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper (or just add a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder, that is what I do) and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the squash begins to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the pan.
Note: Break up the squash with your spoon and stir it frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Puree the soup until smooth using either a hand held immersion blender, or puree in small batches using a blender then return the soup to the pot.
Stir in the 1/4-cup cream.

DSC_0082Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if needed.

 This soup was very flavorful, rich and delicious.  It actually tasted better day two, as the flavors had a chance to mesh together.Rustic Bakery's butternut squash soupI paired it up with my kale salad and these crispy olive oil and sea salt crackers from Rustic Bakery.  You don’t always have to go out to lunch to have a gourmet lunch experience.  It’s nice to sometimes treat yourself to a gourmet lunch at home either by yourself or with a few close friends.

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

green bean and shallot ravioli

green bean and shallot ravioliI saw this recipe in the November issue of Whole Living Magazine and I knew I had to make it.  I mean I was literally salivating over this recipe and 5 others.  These recipes were shown as Thanksgiving side dishes for vegans and vegetarians.  I thought to myself as I was staring longingly at the photos, when did I start getting excited over vegetable dishes?  Who is this girl?  I use to get excited over a juicy burger, fries or any sort of sweet, (well, I still get excited over sweets) but vegetables?  This is all recent and very strange for me.  I’m honestly considering becoming a vegetarian.  I would prefer a beautiful homemade (not those frozen things) veggie burger to a beef or turkey burger any day. I’m more excited to eat the veggies that I am going to prepare for Thanksgiving than the actual turkey.  My taste buds are definitely changing, maybe its California and that fact that the produce here is so unbelievably fresh and delicious.One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s another easy pantry pasta.  All I had to purchase was the green beans, as I had some shallots, almonds and ravioli at home and I grabbed a fresh lemon from our lemon tree.  I’m finding that if you keep a well stocked pantry, all you need to do is run out for the fresh vegetables. Onions, shallots, nuts, squashes and pastas keep for some time, so stock your pantry with them and you will always have them on hand when your inspired to create a yummy last minute recipe. If green beans aren’t in season, no worries, you can substitute broccoli rabe instead.DSC_0018Eli and Zoe rated this dish a 10+++.  John and I literally devoured it, so it ranked high with us as well. This is definitely a recipe that is going to be made again and again in our house. Moms, this is an easy throw together pasta for those busy weeknights.green bean and shallot ravioli

 green bean and shallot ravioli:

  • 1 large bunch of green beans, trimmed - We like our veggies, so I grab a hefty bunch. If green beans aren’t in season, feel free to substitute broccoli rabe/baby broccoli
  • 1 bag (22oz) of frozen ravioli - I get the Whole Foods ravioli as it’s just $2.99 a bag, what a steal!
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted – I just throw in a big old handful and call it a day.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.
toasting almondsNext wash up and trim those green beans. Aren’t they just beautiful?  They’re so vibrant and green.  I tell you, mother nature makes the most beautiful food.Peel and slice your shallots into thin slices, set aside.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.Throw the beans into the salted and boiling water, (you’re basically blanching them) and cook the beans until just tender 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of your green beans). I always cook my beans for exactly 3 minutes and they are perfect!   If you’re using broccoli rabe, then you will only want to cook it for 1 minute.  

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable.  There is only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.Transfer the beans with either a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking of the beans.Drain the beans, dry them off, and then set them aside.  

  Add the ravioli to the cooking water, (the same water that you used for the green beans) and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the green beans, ravioli and almonds to your pan and toss to coat. I like to turn the heat down to low and cook the ravioli for a minute or two so that it browns up a bit. Turn off the heat, take your lemon half, and squeeze the juice over the pasta.  Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and add some fresh shredded parmesan.  Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.  

green bean and shallot ravioliThis is a wonderful one-bowl meal your whole family will enjoy! 

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

Rating: 51

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of green beans, trimmed - We like our veggies, so I grab a hefty bunch. If green beans aren't in season, feel free to substitute broccoli rabe.
  • 1 bag (22oz) of frozen ravioli - I get the Whole Foods ravioli as it's just $2.99 a bag.
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted - I just throw in a big old handful and call it a day.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions

First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.

Next wash up and trim those green beans.

Peel and slice your shallots into thin slices, set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.Throw the beans into the salted and boiling water, (you're basically blanching them) and cook the beans until just tender 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of your green beans). I always cook my beans for exactly 3 minutes and they are perfect! If you're using broccoli rabe, then you will only want to cook it for 1 minute.

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable. There's only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.

Transfer the beans with either a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking of the beans. Drain the beans, dry them off, and then set them aside.

Add the ravioli to the cooking water, (the same water that you used for the green beans) and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the green beans, ravioli and almonds to your pan and toss to coat. I like to turn the heat down to low and cook the ravioli for a minute or two so that it browns up a bit.

Turn off the heat,take your lemon half, and squeeze the juice over the pasta.

Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and add some fresh shredded parmesan. Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/green-bean-and-shallot-ravioli/

Penne a la Vodka

penne a la vodka
penne a la vodka

OK, we turned back the clocks yesterday and we had our first California rain on Saturday.  In my book that means it’s officially fall and time to start breaking out our favorite comfort foods. Here’s a pasta staple at our house, Penne a la Vodka!  This dish is a classic in my book and it’s SO delicious. The best part about this recipe is that I usually have everything on hand to make it, which makes it an easy dinner fill in.  Make sure you serve this up with some warm crusty bread to soak up all that yummy sauce.  This pasta tastes even better the next day as the penne soaks up all the sauce overnight.  

Penne a la Vodka:

serves 4-6
recipe from from Rachel Ray

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-ounces (1 box) pasta, such as penne rigate or any curly type of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil, shredded or torn 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Prep all your ingredients, measure out your vodka, chicken stock and heavy cream. Mince the garlic cloves and the shallot.

DSC_0003-3

 Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat. 

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Gently sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 to 5 minutes, (or until they start feeling soft) to develop the shallot’s sweetness.

DSC_0012-2Add your 3/4 cup vodka to the pan.

DSC_0014-2

Reduce the vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes or longer.  Note: The first time I made this sauce I went by the time estimate and did not really check to make sure the vodka was reduced.  Well, you can guess, my sauce tasted like vodka and I had to throw it away.  So please make sure you reduce it by half.  

TIP:  To make sure the vodka is reduced by half other than looking at it, just smell it and if you smell vodka, then it needs to be reduced a bit more. You want to smell the shallots, garlic and butter, not the vodka.

DSC_0029-2Once the vodka is reduced, add in the 1 cup chicken stock and the can of tomatoes.  Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to thicken it up a bit.

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While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta in the salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it).  Drain pasta and then return pasta to pot.  

 After the sauce simmers and the pasta is finished cooking, stir the 1/2 cup cream. 

DSC_0041-2Let the sauce return to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat.  It’s not the prettiest looking sauce, but it tastes great!

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Add your sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. 

DSC_0049-2Serve up a heaping amount of pasta into each bowl.  Add your fresh basil and Parmesan and enjoy! 

DSC_0060-2-2I hope this pasta becomes a staple in your house!

Penne a la Vodka

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Penne a la Vodka

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-ounces (1 box) pasta, such as penne rigate or any curly type of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil, shredded or torn

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Prep all your ingredients, measure out your vodka, chicken stock and heavy cream. Mince the garlic cloves and the shallot.

Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat.

Gently sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 to 5 minutes, (or until they start feeling soft) to develop the shallot's sweetness.

Add your 3/4 cup vodka to the pan.

Reduce the vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes or longer. Note: The first time I made this sauce I went by the time estimate and did not really check to make sure the vodka was reduced. Well, you can guess, my sauce tasted like vodka and I had to throw it away. So please make sure you reduce it by half.

TIP: To make sure the vodka is reduced by half other than looking at it, just smell it and if you smell vodka, then it needs to be reduced a bit more. You want to smell the shallots, garlic and butter, not the vodka.

Once the vodka is reduced, add in the 1 cup chicken stock and the can of tomatoes.

Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to thicken it up a bit.

While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta in the salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). Drain pasta and then return pasta to pot.

After the sauce simmers and the pasta is finished cooking, stir the 1/2 cup cream.

Let the sauce return to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat.

Add your sauce to the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve up a heaping amount of pasta into each bowl.

Add your fresh basil and Parmesan and enjoy!

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/penne-a-la-vodka/

warm butternut squash and chickpea salad

butternutsquash

Here is an amazing comfort food that is actually good for you. It’s a great vegetarian dish that you can serve up as a side dish or as a main entree, as its very satisfying and filling.  I love butternut squash and I am always searching for new recipes that call for it.  I found this particular recipe last spring at the Smitten Kitchen.  I made it up one night when I was sick of food and wanted a vegetarian option for dinner.  My kids are not big fans of butternut squash or this salad, so it’s really just something that I make for John and I.  I love making it for lunch on a cool weekend because it’s so warm and satisfying, almost like a good soup.

Ok, here are the ingredients you will need in addition to the squash.

Warm butternut squash and chickpea salad:


for salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds) 
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped 

for tahini dressing:

 

  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

 

 

Preheat the oven to 425°F.


Next, I’m going to demonstrate how to cut and peel a squash.  
If you already know how, then you can skip down past these photos.   
Cut off both ends of your squash.
Peel your squash from the top down until you see the bright orange color.
Once your squash is peeled, cut the squash in half.
 Cut the squash again into these large chunks.
Scoop out the all the seeds and that middle gooey stuff.  I use my melon ball scooper for this as it is quick and easy.
I always save and rinse my seeds so that I can roast them later.  Roasted squash seeds make a great snack.
Now you just need to cut up your squash into even sized chunks.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, olive oil and a few pinches of salt.  Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated.  Roast them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 20-25 minutes, or until soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool.
While your squash is cooking, chop up your onion and cilantro and rinse & drain your can of chickpeas.
While the squash is cooling, you can make up the tahini dressing.  In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice.  
Note: You will want to use fresh lemons here for your lemon juice.  It typically takes 2 lemons to get a 1/4 cup of juice.
Add the tahini, and whisk to blend.  Add the water and olive oil and whisk well.  If you want a thinner sauce, you can add a bit more water.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully.  
Note: If I am serving this up for guests, then I will add the sauce (add it slowly to taste, don’t use the whole bowl of sauce) to the whole bowl.  If I’m just serving myself a small bowl for  lunch or dinner, then I will just add a spoonful to my dish, and reserve the rest of the sauce in the refrigerator.

This is my third day of eating this for lunch and I am one happy camper :)  Today was cool and misty so I paired it with some warm tea.  Perfect fall dish!

roasted red pepper and tomato soup

roasted red pepper and tomato soup
roasted red pepper and tomato soupOK, I admit, I am on a soup kick lately.  I love that I can make soup ahead of time and then re-heat it later for dinner or for lunch throughout the week.  Soup is just so uncomplicated, pure and so darn easy to make. Once you make a homemade soup, you will never go back to the canned variety.

I’ve been trying to eat seasonally and take advantage of all these amazing vegetables that are available right now.  While I was at the market the other day, I noticed these beautiful, enormous, organic red bell peppers.   We love red bell peppers raw, but have never tried them in a soup, so I was ready to experiment.  I’m so glad that I did because this soup was amazing.  It’s silky in texture and tastes honestly like roasted red peppers, hence the name.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup:

recipe from Dinner with Julie

  • 4 red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise with seeds and membranes scooped out 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme - if using fresh thyme, make sure it’s chopped
  • 1 14oz. can diced or whole tomatoes, undrained – I used diced tomatoes
  • 1 liter (4 1/4 cups) vegetable stock or chicken stock- I used vegetable stock
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sour cream (optional) - I added a little less than 1/2 cup here 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Wash the peppers and then cut them in half lengthwise.Cut the stem off with a pairing knife and scoop out all the seeds and membranes.  I use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds and membranes.Place the peppers cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with foil. Roast the peppers in the pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes; until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, rotating the sheet if necessary for them to cook evenly.  Below is what mine looked like after 25 minutes.Let the peppers cool for a minute or two, and then remove them from the baking sheet and place them in a bowl, cover the bowl with foil or a plate, and let them cool for about 30 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard them, dropping the peppers back into the bowl.  In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add in the chopped thyme, tomatoes with their juice, and chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.Add the red peppers along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Make sure to stir the soup every so often.After the soup has cooked for 20 minutes, add in the sour cream and some salt and pepper to taste. The soup is going to look a bit curdled here until you puree it. Puree with either a hand-held immersion blender or transfer soup to a blender and pulse until smooth.  

If you’re using a blender to puree the soup, make sure to wipe out the pot before adding back the soup.  Turn the heat to low and heat the soup through.  Give the soup a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, serve warm. 

roasted red pepper and tomato soupServe the soup up with some popovers, some yummy bread or some warmed nann bread.  Enjoy!

cauliflower soup

cauliflower soup
cauliflower soup
Its fall people and that means its time for to bring out those yummy comfort soups!  I made this soup yesterday, as I had a head of cauliflower that had to be used up.  This soup was super easy to whip up and required only 5 ingredients.  How easy is that?

I love this soup because it’s a creamy soup without the cream!  The cauliflower makes its taste creamy, so its warm and comforting without all that fat!  My family rates this soup a 10+.  My kids ask for this soup as when the weather starts turning cool.  I often serve this up with some couscous cakes or chickpea veggie burgers
cauliflower soup

Cauliflower Soup:

recipe from Smitten Kitchen
  • 1 medium sized head cauliflower - If you get to large of a head, then you may want to add a bit more chicken stock.
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped – I used a yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart (4 cups) low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock - I used chicken stock – Note:  if you use vegetable stock your soup will look browner than my photo, but it will taste the same
  • 1/2 cup finely grated or shredded Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower and then rinse it.  I love rinsing my veggies in this strainer, especially when there is a lot to rinse at once.  
Coarsely chop the cauliflower and set it aside (coarsely chop means to just cut up the vegetable in random sizes).  The below photo is not that exciting, but you can see how the cauliflower is all different shapes and sizes.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat.  Once the oil is heated, add the onion and garlic.  Cook until softened, but not browned, about 5-8 minutes.
Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil. 
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15-20 minutes.

Below is how it should look.Remove from heat and, using a hand held immersion blender, puree the soup, or puree in small batches in a blender and return it to the pot. 

Tip:  If you’re using a blender, wipe out or use a spatula to get all the leftover pieces out of the pot, so you have a nice clean pot for the soup puree.  
Add the Parmesan and stir until smooth.  Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.  Keep warm until ready to serve.  Below is the finished product, doesn’t it look yummy?Top each bowl with a bit of parmesan and some freshly ground pepper.  I sometimes top the soup with some chopped fresh chives, and it tastes amazing, so give it a try sometime.

cauliflower soupI love making my soups on the weekends or during the day while the kids are at school, and then storing them till dinnertime or later that week.  It just makes dinner that much easier when all you have to do is re-heat some soup and add some warm crusty bread or a pre-made chickpea burger or couscous cake!   

Broccoli Lemon Pasta – Kid rated a 10

Broccoli Lemon Pasta - Kid rated a 10

Broccoli Lemon Pasta - Kid rated a 10Looking for an easy, family friendly, one-bowl pasta dish?  Look no further because this pasta fits the bill.  This is my weekly go-to pasta because it’s super easy to make (I could literally make this blindfolded) and it’s a one-bowl meal. It’s one of those pastas that my kids request often and I happily make.  It’s our family’s favorite comfort food.

Zoe often brings the leftovers to school for lunch and I now have to pack a huge container as all her friends all want a forkful.  This pasta is the dinner of choice at all sleepovers.  You have to believe this is good if a bunch of 12 year olds are preferring a bowl of broccoli pasta to pizza!

Broccoli Lemon Pasta:

recipe from Barefoot Contessa
serves 6

  • 4 broccoli heads or 3 bunches of baby broccoli – use as much broccoli as you want here, the more the merrier
  • 1 box of your favorite twisty pasta – we like to use cellentani
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper (for the grown ups)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts or toasted walnuts

 

I love to prep all my ingredients ahead of time so they are ready to go when needed.  Wash and chop up the broccoli into small florets, zest the lemon, mince the garlic and squeeze your 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside in small bowls.  I put the lemon zest and minced garlic into the same bowl because they both get used together later.  Get out a small glass measuring cup and add the 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil for the pasta. Below are two ways to cook the broccoli.  Pick the one that works best for you.

Put your broccoli in a steamer over about and inch of water (or however you steam your broccoli). Put the lid on and steam away.  I like to steam my broccoli while the pasta water is cooking so I get it out of the way.  We like our broccoli to be a bit underdone so it has a bit of a crunch.  You want to make sure not to overcook or undercook it.  Once my broccoli is cooked, I pour it in a bowl and put it aside.

Here’s my new favorite way to cook up the broccoli or baby broccoli. I throw the broccoli in for the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time. So, if the pasta cooks for 8 minutes, I throw the broccoli in at 7 minutes and then drain the pasta and broccoli together.  NOTE:  If one minute seems too short then throw it in for the last two minutes.  One minute definitely works for baby broccoli and broccolini.  Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium low heat.   Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute.  Pour this mixture into the glass measuring cup (the one the salt is in) and then add in the tablespoon of lemon juice, mix the ingredients together.Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl that the broccoli is in.  Add the lemon mixture (see above) and mix everything up together really well so all the pasta and broccoli is coated with the lemon mixture.  Serve the pasta up into individual bowls.  I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of broccoli and then I add the pasta.  I top the kids pasta off with some freshly shredded parmesan and I add freshly ground pepper and toasted pine nuts to John’s & my bowl.  The pepper just adds a bit of flavor and the pine nuts add a nice nutty almost meaty sort of crunch.

Broccoli Lemon Pasta - Kid rated a 10The kids rate this dish a 10!  The broccoli tastes amazing as the lemon gives it such a nice flavor and takes away the bitterness.  I can honestly say that I’m not the biggest broccoli fan when it’s just steamed, but I can eat a whole bowl of broccoli when its made this way.  You might even want to make this lemon sauce and just add it to a mess of broccoli one night.

I hope this pasta becomes a family favorite in your house.

Broccoli Lemon Pasta – Kid rated a 10

Broccoli Lemon Pasta – Kid rated a 10

Ingredients

  • 4 broccoli heads or 3 bunches of baby broccoli - use as much broccoli as you want here, the more the merrier
  • 1 box of your favorite twisty pasta - we like to use cellentani
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper (for the grown ups)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts or walnuts

Instructions

Prep all of your ingredients. Wash and chop up the broccoli into small florets, zest the lemon, mince the garlic and squeeze your 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside in small bowls. I put the lemon zest and minced garlic into the same bowl because they both get used together later.

Get out a small glass measuring cup and add the 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside.

Below are two ways to cook the broccoli. Pick the one that works best for you.

Put your broccoli in a steamer over about and inch of water (or however you steam your broccoli). Put the lid on and steam away. I like to steam my broccoli while the pasta water is cooking so I get it out of the way. We like our broccoli to be a bit underdone so it has a bit of a crunch. You want to make sure not to overcook or undercook it. Once my broccoli is cooked, I pour it in a bowl and put it aside.

Here's my new favorite way to cook up the broccoli or baby broccoli. I throw the broccoli in for the last minute of the pasta's cooking time. So, if the pasta cooks for 8 minutes, I throw the broccoli in at 7 minutes and then drain the pasta and broccoli together. NOTE: If one minute seems too short then throw it in for the last two minutes. One minute definitely works for baby broccoli and broccolini.

Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute. Pour this mixture into the glass measuring cup (the one the salt is in) and then add in the tablespoon of lemon juice, mix the ingredients together.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl that the broccoli is in. Add the lemon mixture (see above) and mix everything up together really well so all the pasta and broccoli is coated with the lemon mixture.

Serve the pasta up into individual bowls. I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of broccoli and then I add the pasta. I top the kids pasta off with some freshly shredded parmesan and I add freshly ground pepper and toasted pine nuts to John's & my bowl. The pepper just adds a bit of flavor and the pine nuts add a nice nutty sort of meaty crunch.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/10/broccoli-lemon-pasta-kid-rated-10/