Friday, February 1, 2013

Spinach and Kale "Burgers"

Dieting is not normally a word I include in my vernacular.. BUT. I have decided to make a genuine effort to eat less bad calories. In that effort, I am searching out new recipes that allow me to still eat a good sized meal and feel healthy and satisfied but cut back on the calories.

That effort has lead me to.... Spinach and kale "burgers"!

I found a recipe at The Domestic Mama and The Village Cook for spinach burgers and decided to put my own twist on their recipe.

I didn't have enough spinach in the freezer, so I went half kale and the results were great.

I topped my "burgers" with sliced avocado, sans bun, but they would def. be tasty on a toasted roll should you so desire.



Spinach and Kale "Burgers"
Makes 6 burgers

Ingredients: 
1/2 bag frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 bag frozen kale, thawed and well drained
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T EVOO
black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 T olive oil (EVOO) in a skillet. Add chopped onion and cook over low heat until they begin to caramelize (about 15 min.) Add the minced garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes until garlic begins to brown. 
  2. While that is cooking, squeeze as much water out of your thawed spinach and kale as possible. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix spinach and kale, your carmelized onion and garlic, 2 eggs, the panko breadcrumbs, shredded cheddar and spices (you can add any additional that you like, besides the peppers). 
  4. Form 6 patties, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cook each patty for 4 min. on each side. 
  5. Serve with any topping of your choosing, "naked" or on a bun!


Spinach and Kale "Burgers" before cooking.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs



Making a hard-boiled egg seems like an easy task, but there is a bit of science behind making a perfect hard-boiled egg, and I hope this post breaks it down for you!



For my eggs, I follow Martha Stewart's advice for the timing.

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan (there should be enough room for them to have their own space, no overlapping eggs) and add enough water to cover the top of eggs with 1 inch of cool water. 
  2. Slowly bring water to a boil over medium-heat. 
  3. When the water has reached a full boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 12 minutes. 
  4. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. A tip I heard is to tap the egg on the bottom of the bowl to make them easier to peel. The water will get underneath the shell and help to separate it. If you don't intend to eat them the same day, leave out that last part. Martha says you can refrigerate eggs with shells on up to 3 days.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Simple Kid-Friendly Salt Dough Ornaments


Tonight was my first attempt at salt dough ornaments- I know this is a fairly common holiday practice, but I actually never did this when I was a kid!

My first try was not intended to be perfect, I actually planned this for the kiddos I was babysitting for and they both loved it! (Ages 2 and 7)

I used a simple recipe, 1 part salt, 2 parts AP flour, 1 part luke warm water, and some holiday cookie cutters. I found the recipe on busybeekidscrafts.com and you can find it here.

The tops came out great, will look nice once we paint them, but the bottoms were a little messier. When I do this again the grown up way, I will def. cut them out on parchment paper so that I can just move that onto a baking sheet without moving them and they don't stick (they required a little prying with a spatula to get them flipped).


I will be toying around with this recipe and others, so keep an eye out for updated results!

Simple Kid-Friendly Salt Dough Ornaments
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup luke-warm water
  • Cookie cutters
  • Straw (for poking hole to hang ornament)
  • Parchment paper
  • Craft paint and/or glitter for decorating
  • Ribbon or twine for hanging
Mix together salt and flour in a large bowl. Slowly add water and mix. Then kneed dough with your hands for 5 min until you have a smooth consistency.
Roll out dough on parchment paper until it is an even 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in dough. Remove excess dough and move parchment paper onto baking sheet.
Bake in a 200F oven for 2 hours until ornaments are hard, flipping once halfway.

Once ornaments are dry and cool, decorate with craft paint and/or glitter. String ribbon or twine through the hole you made with a straw for hanging!

And there you have it- Simple salt dough ornaments! :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

For Thanksgiving this year, I made one of my easiest entertaining staples ever: spinach and cheese stuffed mushrooms! I started making these years ago for Christmas, and they are always a hit. An added bonus is that they only take 10 minutes or so to prep and 20 to cook so you can throw them together at the last minute! There is no meat in this recipe or flour, so they are both vegetarian and gluten-free; no one can turn them down! The inspiration for this recipe is one I found on the food network website by Paula Deen and have tweaked slightly to add a little more flavor.

You can find the original recipe here.

I forgot to take pictures while making them this year, so this tiny tiny picture you see is from the original recipe on foodnetwork.com :)

Easy Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes about 24 mushrooms

Ingredients: 
  • 24 good sized Baby Bella mushrooms (about 2 packages), stems removed and wiped clean with a damp paper towel
  • 1 (10 oz. package) frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  •  1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • Few dashes of crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • Shredded 4 cheese blend (Parmesan, Asiago, Provolone, and Fontina) for topping- you should be able to find this in the deli section of your supermarket near the grated Parmesan- if you can't find it you can substitute and of these cheeses by themselves.
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F
Defrost the spinach and squeeze as much water out of it as possible.
Combine spinach, cream cheese, feta, parmesan, spices, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Combine well (I use my hands for this).
Lay mushroom caps out on a baking sheet and fill with spinach and cheese mixture.
Press the 4 cheese mix onto the tops of the mushrooms and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is slightly browned on top. 
Serve warm and enjoy!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Not Your Nonna's Pasta e Fagioli

My nan <3

A while back I tried (in vain) to recreate my Nan's pasta e fagioli.

For as long as I can remember, she made it on a weekly basis. When she stopped cooking as much, I waited too long to try to get her recipe. By the time I asked, she had started to get sick and couldn't remember it all.

I tried to work with what she could remember, and the first time I tried to make her pasta e fagioli I was so disappointed with the results (because it didn't taste like hers) I couldn't even stand to eat it, and I hate to admit it, but I threw the whole pot of it away.

I didn't attempt to make pasta e fagioli again for quite some time, and I decided right from the beginning of my second attempt that instead of trying to recreate my Nan's dish, I would start from scratch with my own version.

After reading a few recipes online, I decided what flavors and ingredients I wanted to use and came up with a simple, satisfying, pasta e fagioli that I could definitely eat once a week :)

Not Your Nonna's Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 4

 
Ingredients:
2 T EVOO
2 dried bayleaves
A dash or two of thyme
1 onion
1-2 large carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 15oz. can small white beans (not drained)
4 cups chicken broth (I use low sodium, this dish doesn't need the extra salt)
1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes (I used San Marzano, but any variety will do)
2 cups elbow macaroni (or other pasta of your choice)
  • Add your olive oil to a large pot, about two turns around the pan is a good amount, and as that heats up chop your onions and carrots. 
  • Add the onion and carrot to the pan with your two bay leaves and a splash of thyme (about 1/2 t). Your going to let that cook for about 5 min. on medium-high heat.
  • While that's cooking I get my garlic chopped to a good mince. Once my veggies start to brown I add the garlic and salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two until the garlic begins to brown as well.
  • Add your chicken broth, beans, and tomatoes. I like to break the tomatoes up with my hands, but you can also do this with a potato masher if you don't want to risk getting squirted with tomato guts. 
  • Let this come to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add your pasta and cook until al dente, probably about seven minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves and let soup rest for a few minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve!
Start to finish you can have a meal ready for a crowd in less than a half-hour :)
This would be great served with a cold antipasto and Italian bread. Mangia!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Red-Coconut Curry Chicken

My first attempt at Thai food was a success! I adapted this recipe from Melissa D'Arabian's recipe for Easy Chicken Curry with Vegetables. It was definitely a great place to start because it didn't require any ingredients that I wouldn't have had in the house normally aside from the red curry paste (I was able to find this in the Asian cooking isle at Shop Rite. A store like Whole Foods would probably have a larger selection).

My boyfriend and my friend Steph loved the tomatoes in this dish, but I think I would prefer it without the tomatoes and with more coconut milk and chicken stock instead. Also the addition of peanuts (one of my favorite ingredients in Thai food)! I served this over jasmine rice cooked in 1 part coconut milk to two parts water. This would also be a great recipe to serve over rice noodles!

Red-Coconut Curry Chicken

Serves 4 and takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.
Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (I used baby carrots)
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1/2 lime (I left this out because I forgot a lime!)
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken stock
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
Lime wedges, for squeezing

Directions:
Cook 1 tablespoon of the oil, the curry paste and onions in a large saute pan over medium heat, stirring often and letting sizzle, 5 to 6 minutes. Pat the chicken dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the remaining oil to the pan. Cook the chicken in the onion-curry mixture until golden on all sides. Add the broccoli, carrots, basil, garlic and lime zest and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Let the chicken simmer until cooked through and the sauce begins to thicken, about 20 minutes. Squeeze with lime juice before serving.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie!

I think smoothies are delicious, but always seemed like too much work, either with the amount of ingredients you needed or the amount of clean-up time required. This smoothie is super-easy, super fast, and super delicious.

Just three ingredients: Dark Chocolate Almond Milk (I use Silk's refrigerated kind), Natural Peanut Butter (I'm still a Skippy girl), and a banana! And, of course, ice.

I use the glass I want to drink out of to measure in. I fill it slightly above half-way with ice (roughly 5 cubes), then fill it with Almond milk until there are about two inches left at the top. Then I toss that in the blender, blend until the ice is all chopped, then add a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter and blend until smooth! This should make enough smoothie to just fill the top of your glass.

It's delicious and not just in a "this is good for me" kind of way, it really tastes like a milkshake! :)

Potted Potter Let Down

This past Saturday, on the hottest day of the year in New York, I used my free Audience Rewards tickets (see this post) to see Potted Potter at the Little Shubert Theatre on 42nd St. I was hoping to be able to give a raving review, but the show fell short of all my expectations (both in writing and delivery).

I should disclose that the experience itself started on a sour note when the theatre didn't open it's doors in the 95 degree heat until 5pm (the time the show was set to start), and after spending the last half hour in the lobby sweating, we got to our seats to find out that the air conditioner in the theatre had given out and we would be spending the next 70 minutes with 200 or so sweaty strangers.

Potted Potter describes itself as "All 7 Harry Potter Books in 70 hilarious minutes"- I found it to be a few pages of Harry Potter books sprinkled in between Dan and Jeff babbling about... well Dan and Jeff. The two stars of the show, Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner, who were actually nominated for an Oliver Award in 2012 for PP, over delivered every joke and made the show more about their back-and-forth banter and whining than about actual Harry Potter jokes. I guess my letdown lie in the fact that I thought the humor would come from them actually trying to act out the books, as all the characters, more along the lines of One-man Lord of the Rings. But, Potted Potter, was not that. It was a children's show (their Oliver nom. was in the Best Entertainment and Family category), which is fine, had I known that. I guess I didn't do enough research before getting my tickets.

A bonus for children who sit up front: they may have an opportunity to go on stage and will enjoy the "Quidditch Game" and water gun used in the show, and the over-acting should be amusing to those under 12.

Stated simply, Potted Potter is for children, and adults who are bringing children or are fans of Harry Potter and comedy, won't find much to laugh about for this over-priced show ($79.99 for Orchestra).

If you have children, or are not particular in your humor, or just want to see for yourself, here is a coupon that I got when exiting the theatre for a 4-pack of tickets. Maybe it was just the heat, and not the lack of humorous writing, that made this experience such a let down, although I find that unlikely. In any case, I won't be seeing this again!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancake- For One!

I went to bed (and subsequently woke up) with a burning desire for a cinnamon roll. Not just any cinnamon roll, but one that could stand up to the deliciousness of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll- just without actually driving to Cinnabon, or all the work it would take to make one from scratch! I knew the dough would be my downfall in this quest, at least as far as time was concerned, but I found a recipe (Homemade Cinnabuns- The Easy Way) online that used ready to bake white bread as the dough, which I thought might actually turn out the way I wanted it to. Problem was, I neither had that in the house nor wanted to go to the store to buy it.

Now I was on a quest to figure out how to make something equally as satisfying, yet with ingredients I already had in the house.
I remembered a recipe for Cinnamon Roll Pancakes that I had stumbled upon a while back and thought that might be a perfect solution!
I cut the recipe by four in order to make just one, beautiful, cinnamony pancake, and cut corners by using Krusteaz pancake mix and Betty Crocker Cream Cheese frosting, so all I actually had to make from scratch was the cinnamon sugar filling.
I must say, I was very happy with the results!


Cinnamon Roll Pancake- For One

(Adapted from RecipeGirl's Cinnamon Roll Pancake Recipe)

For Pancake:

1/2 cup Krusteauz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
1/3 cup H2O

For Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:

1 tbl spoon butter (melted)
1 1/2 tbl spoons light brown sugar
a pinch of cinnamon

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 tbl spoon of pre-made cream cheese frosting :)

- Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour pancake mix onto skillet and cook until you see bubbles forming on top and bottom crust is starting to get firm.
- Put your cinnamon sugar mix into a ziplock bag, twist it so that your filling is all towards a bottom point, and snip off the edge of the bag. (*Tip: Don't snip until the bag is already in position, the filling will come out right away!)
- Create a swirl of cinnamon sugar filling in your pancake. Don't get too close to the edge or it will start to melt off the side.
- When the bottom crust is browned, flip the pancake and allow the cinnamon sugar filling to form a crust.
- Once your pancake is finished, use another ziplock bag for your frosting and create a swirl of cream cheese on top!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Free Potted Potter

After making it 6 months sans facebook, I think maybe it is time for me to again share a tidbit of my life with the internets (just not through the dreaded FB).

So here it is: my first blog post.

What shall I write about? Oh, you know. A little of this, a little of that. Probably some delicious recipes, DIY craft ventures, and a little golden nugget of something like this every once in a while...



Yes, I just purchased tickets to see Potted Potter. And by purchased, I mean got for free with my Audience Rewards points. I must say, I usually feel as though my rewards points take forever to accumulate (after years of saving, my Continental points only got me half way to Florida) but after a mere year of show-going, I had enough points to purchase two completely free orchestra tickets, saving me roughly $140. I am impressed, audience rewards. Kudos.

So what exactly am I in for with Potted Potter? Basically a two man parody encompassing the entire HP Series in 70 minutes. (Yep. All 7 books.) Appropriate point usage seeing as my Continental point wipeout was to visit Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter for about 36 hours. Worth it for the Butter Beer alone.