Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Dinner

My Easter morning started off early and in the kitchen as I wanted to get the homemade quiches in the oven with plenty of time to spare. 
Some refer to cooking as  a labor of love, and I think that applies well on some occasions.   The love to create fresh healthy food for those that we love.  

We returned back from a wonderful Easter Brunch at my Aunt's house, around 2:30 and did some last minute tidying up and then began to chop.   
Chopping is an essential part of life, right?
These are leeks.   I bought 2 leeks on Saturday at the Corona Farmer's Market, (if you missed it on Facebook, I went there on Saturday because I was "in town" for work and because they had New Mexico Green Chiles for sale there, which I was notified of by new facebook friend)   Then later I decided to make a pasta which called for 2 leeks, (and my quiches needed 2 leeks) so ended up buying two more at the store.  It was a very leeky weekend.   The 2 from the Corona Farmer's Market were cheaper and much better quality.    FM on the left and regular store on the right side of the above picture.
I took a few moments of still and silence to take in the beauty of these artichokes.  Wow, they are beautiful.   I must admit that while my Mr. was at the store getting a couple last minute items he had me cut the artichokes (that he was going to be grilling later) and there was a few moments of confusion of which way to cut them, stems long, cut in half, etc.   We recovered quickly, although we had different cutting methods in mind.  My method being the guessing method, his method being the trying to copy the ones we had from the italtian restuarant last week.

These are after they have been steamed for about 40 minutes.


This is the appetizers that I made, details coming soon on another post.  (Green Chile Guacamole and Shrimp cocktail with Green Chile Cocktail sauce)

The recipe that I pulled out of my binder to accompany the ham was a Leek,Corn  and Arugula Fettucini.   I had the recipe pulled from Real Simple Magazine. Leek and Arugula Fettuccini Now this is not the lowest calorie dish in the world, but it passes a couple tests:  homemade and you know exactly what fresh clean ingredients you are putting in it and it was served as a side dish next to protein.  This is something I can put my fork into.

The recipe called for peccorino romano cheese, i also bough mizithra becuase I literally had not ever seen it in the store (or outside of spaghetti factory's manager's special, actually) and the price was not bad considering it was cheese.   The romano did cost a little more, but again: Easter Dinner.    Freshly graded them together.


3/4 of a box of noodles, cook until al dente.


Leeks and garlic in a little olive oil
Looking good there, leeky.


Add in the raw freshly cut off the cob corn.


And some dry white wine, reduce.
Next comes the heavy whipping cream.


You don't see this around our house very often, but man is there a time and place for everything.
The noodles were drained and poured directly into the heated pan.  Tossed in the arugula at the end.  Yes, those are his hands, but he only stepped in at this point because he was concerned it was too runny so he was sprucing it up a little.
Lightly toss until all parts are mixed.  We cooked a little longer to soak up some of the liquid.




We had some serious ham, too much in fact.    Bone and leftovers went home with a friend, wonder if she made that split pea soup with it?


I would have spent more time on a better picture of the table, but I clearly had some eating to do. 

Enjoy... and remember to enjoy tasting your way through the weekend~

Check out the green in this fridge, this is a combination of farmer's market,  and regular grocery store greens.   I went to Vons this week because I needed the ready made crust, which the Safeway brand is the best.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Veggie Quinoa

Quinoa, Quinoa.... the magical grain... the more often you eat... the less you gain~
That's my attempt at a song today, I hope you like it.  Maybe it will even stick in your head for a couple of hours, now that would be fun.

This recipe was one that I had pulled over a year ago and had filed in my handy dandy recipe binder for safe keeping.  I pulled it out on Saturday while scouring recipes for Easter.  It turned out pretty good.... if I don't say so myself.   And it was pretty easy.

Boil 1 cup vegetable stock and then add in 1/2 cup quinoa.   Cook for about 10 minutes
You will notice in the photo that I have the quinoa stored in a glass container.  That is becuase I bought this in bulk from Whole Foods or from Sprouts. (Now adays you don't need the package to give you the directions, when you have the internet and well me at your fingertips...)  There is a small layer of black quinoa at the bottom of this container, which is said to have more iron in it.   I didn't get to it this serving, but next time there will be more room and I can shake some in.
Take a whole head of broccoli (I don't typically buy the bag of already chopped up broccoli, as it is usually worse quality and usually higher priced) and chop off the big stem and rinse.

Heat up about a teaspoon of olive oil and minced garlic
Slice up mushrooms  (this was the already sliced bag from trader joe's that I just sliced smaller)  You don't want to wash mushrooms, just brush them with a paper towel.   If you submerge them in water they soak up the water like a sponge and you have soggy mushrooms, not tasty.
Now add the broccoli as well as cubed firm tofu.   Yes, you can eat tofu, it is a healthy alternative to meat and you still get your protein in.   The main reason that Quinoa is deemed one of the best grains is because of it's high protein content.   The more protein you can add into your mix, the better.  You should have atleast a quarter of your plate in protein in every meal.    That includes breakfast and lunch.   What protein did you have today?

Love this pan because it has a see through lid.
Once it has cooked through some, you can add the magic veg.
Spinach, Spinach.... the magical green.... the more you eat... the more you stay lean~
place the lid back on, just until wilted.

I threw in sliced ham at the very end (it wasn't in the recipe) for two reasons: we had some extra in the fridge and in an attempt to please the hubby.  He prefers every meal to have a piece of meat in it.     In the end, the pink adds a great color contrast to the dish.
Isn't it gorgeous?
Lastly, you add in the quinoa, (which turned a darker tan becuase of the dark vegetable stock) which has such a great nutty taste when cooked this way.
Lid back on to keep warm until ready to eat.

Great thing about this dish is that it can be eaten hot or cold.  I packed some and took it to work, and I ended up eating it cold in a parking lot in my car.   Much better than anything I could have picked up or driven through for in the 10 seconds it took to grab out of the office fridge on my way out the door.  This alone was my meal and I felt very satisfied knowing I had vegetables, protein from the quinoa and the tofu and the ham, and it tasted wonderful.   I did end up treating myself to an iced chai tea latte at the end of lunch, which was a treat and a half.

 I found the recipe here: Allrecipes.. .COM~

Enjoy and remember if you eat well, you are sure to play well ~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

White Minestrone

Soup is a great meal that you can cook ahead and have on hand for midweek lunches or for a quick dinner. 
I made this soup midweek, so I skipped a couple steps like the parm rind and the homemade pesto garnish.   I did add the parmesan at the end and it still tasted great.

                                           Fry up the chopped bacon in EVOO

                                        Shredded cabbage, Fennel, onion, garlic

                                        Add to the cooked bacon, add a bay leaf

 Sweat the cabbage mixture
                                                           Add th stock

                                        One can of rinsed white cannelini beans

                                           1 cup fussili pasta, cook until al dente

Cook until al dente

                                           Pull off the stove, and add the peas

               French Bread, wth roasted garlic chunks in it.  Now this is a carb to "splurge" on.

                                                     Healthy dinner time 

                                               Doesn't that look yum-o! 

Yay, there are leftovers for the week.   
They can be frozen or refridgerated in plastic bags or plastic containers. 

                                Soup makes for a great lunch during a busy work day.

White Minestrone with Fusilli  by Rachael Ray Rachael Ray  

(this is her exact recipe, I modified it for items I had.)

  • 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large bulb fennel, quartered and thinly sliced, plus a handful of fronds, chopped
  • 1/2 small head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • A couple of scant handfuls freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus the rind for the stock and a hunk for shaving at the table
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can white beans (14 ounces), rinsed
  • 1 cup short fusilli pasta
  • 1/2-2/3 cup frozen peas (a couple of small handfuls)
  • 1 cup fresh herbs (mix any two: tarragon, basil, parsley, mint), packed
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
Heat a couple of tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta, if using, and cook until lightly browned. Add the sliced fennel, cabbage, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Throw in the Parmigiano Reggiano rind and bay leaf, cover the pot and sweat the fennel and cabbage, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and the beans and bring to boil. Stir in the fusilli and cook until just about al dente. Stir in the peas, turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Discard the cheese rind and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Meanwhile, using a food processor, pulse the packed herbs, fennel fronds, pine nuts, lemon juice, grated cheese, remaining 3-4 tablespoons EVOO and salt and pepper into a pesto.
Serve the soup in shallow bowls with spoonfuls of the pesto for mixing in. Pass the hunk of cheese for grating at the table

Nature's Perfect Food
Beans have the highest antioxidant content, period. Plus they're delicious, low cal, and they fill you up fast
by Prevention magazine
Health Benefits: Bean by Bean
The key nutrients in each bean vary by type. Give your  body a broader range and reap the anti-aging and disease-fighting benefits by might it up.

Rich in anthocyanins, the same heart disease– and cancer-fighting antioxidants that are found in grapes and cranberries.

Garbanzo (chickpeas)
A recent study found that a chickpea-fortified diet slashed “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by almost 5%.

The thiamin (vit B1) in this bean protects memory and brain function; a deficiency has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Navy Potassium regulates blood pressure and normal heart contractions.

Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Some Bean-Based Power Meals
Cup for cup, beans provide about twice as much fiber as most veggies, and you can count them as either a protein or vegetable in your meals. Here, three fast fixes that will fill you up for less than 500 calories:

Taco Salad
Top 2 cups of bagged baby greens with 1/2 cup of rinsed and drained canned black beans. Top with 1/4 cup of salsa, sprinkle with reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese, and garnish with 2 tablespoons of chopped avocado.

Mediterranean Bean Boats
Spoon 2 tablespoons of rinsed and drained canned garbanzo beans into each of 4 large romaine lettuce leaves. Top each with a few strips of jarred roasted red pepper and garnish with chopped onions and pine nuts.

Rustic Bean Sauté
In a medium skillet, sauté 1/2 cup of rinsed and drained canned kidney beans with 1 cup of canned Italian-style tomatoes and 1 cup of frozen cut green beans. When heated through, transfer to a dish and dust with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tastes Like The Weekend

As always, this was an action packed weekend in the ewpw household.  On Saturday, in the midst of moving two very heavy armoires up two very long flights of stairs and then into our house, we almost grabbed takeout.   However, after trying to think about what to get and nothing sounding too compelling, we instead decided to whip something up at home.   This is what I came up with.  I like to think of it as a Mediterranean salad.  

There are cannellini beans, (canned, rinse well) which are a great source of fiber and protein, yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, Mediterranean hummus and cucumber. 

 At the end, I threw on cauliflower and bacon and a little bit of olive oil and salt/pepper.  This hit the spot and was way healthier than anything I could have ordered.

Later in the evening we met up with some good friends for a night of good ole fashion dinner, drinks and dancing.    There was debate going on whether or not I was going to post this picture.  I think it’s fair that I post it and say that I did partake in tastings of all the fried food that hit the table.   And then  I split a bacon guacamole burger with the gentleman, ditched half of the bun.   There's a time and a place for everything and Saturday night was a time for french fries, especially after making good decisions all day long with oj, yogurt and granola, orange, tea, salad etc.  It was a great night out with good friends and an added  bonus was that I burned extra calories on the dance floor.

Sunday I started the day with a cleansing session of a run/walk to the bolsa chica wetlands.  I didn't have my car and the husband was gone, so I was forced to run there.   Everything happens for a reason.   I turned back a few minutes before planned because I saw a coyote in the near bushes and I thought it was a good idea for the pup and I to exit as soon as we could.  
The weekend ended with a bang.   We went out to eat in Hollywood and saw Rain, a Beatles Tribute Band at the Pantages Theater.  Great show, and great time with family.  
First to hit the table was steak tartare, a crab cake and mussels.  
We split all three between the 4 of us at the table and wow was it good.  
The presentation was telltale to the taste.
We also all shared a brie and carmelized brick oven pizza (amazing), ceasar salad (traditional dressing), salmon, and a couscous stuffed red bell pepper.   This dinner was such a treat and did not dissapoint.  The show afterwards was spectacular!

Hope you had a good weekend too~