Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

I love the Orzo and Spinach Salad that Whole Foods makes and thought about replicating it at home.  A quick search on the internet brought me to one that sounded promising, and I made a few modifications.  This salad can be served cold or at room temperature and would be great to bring to your next BBQ.

Orzo & Spinach Salad

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked orzo pasta (can be whole wheat)
  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb crumbled feta cheese (2 cups)
  • 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, onion, pine nuts,olives, basil, salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
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I don’t own a Vitamix.  I’ve never done a cleanse or a detox.  But I do love a good, healthy smoothie every now and then.  This is a great way to start your morning or makes a great snack.  My kids love this too (although I could put just about anything into a blender and they’d be hard-pressed to not like it!)  I try not to have juice around the house (we have diabetes in the family and juice is filled with sugar) but this smoothie is plenty sweet without it.  This has become my “go to” green smoothie because it actually tastes good and it’s good for you.  It’s from Brit Morin, who is a young Martha Stewart type.  Her website Brit + Co is fun to check out for DIY and craft ideas.  Enjoy!

 

Spinach Smoothie

Recipe from Brit + Co.

Ingredients:
– 2 cups spinach
– 1/2 cup almond milk (original recipe uses sweetened, but I buy unsweetened)
– 1/2 cup frozen mango
– 1/2 of a small banana (2 ounces if you have a scale)

Directions:

Place your spinach in the blender. Add the almond milk and frappe until smooth. This step is key for a smooth texture. Add the frozen mango chunks and banana. Blend again until smooth. Your smoothie will be thick, but not so thick that you can’t drink it from the glass without the help of a spoon.

Total Calories – 145 calories.

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I know what you’re thinking.  “You really think I’m going to take the time to brown butter for some homemade cookies?”  I know it seems like one more step, but it’s worth it!  These cookies are amazing!  Crunchy, nutty, buttery, salty, sweet, and wholesome.  What I do as a time-saver is I make a double batch, roll up all of the cookie dough balls, and freeze half in a freezer ziplock bag.  The balls won’t stick to each other and you’ll have them ready to go for when you need a fresh, baked dessert.  Just bring them to room temperature and follow the same baking directions … and it’s like you’ve just been slaving away on them!  Note: I use dark chocolate chunks because I prefer dark chocolate.

 

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

Recipe from the blog How Sweet It Is.

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

Makes about 15-18 cookies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chocolate chunks

optional: 1- 2 tablespoons milk, if dough is crumbly

Directions:

Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so. Set aside and let cool COMPLETELY. Note: It does not need to solidify at all, but it should not be warm to the touch.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, oats and cinnamon, mixing, then set aside.

Once butter has cooled, add to a large bowl. Whisk in sugars, stirring until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, whisking until smooth once again. Slowly begin to stir in dry ingredients, using your hands if necessary (I always do) to bring dough together. If you find that the dough still won’t come together, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time (I rarely have to do this.) Fold in chocolate chips, distributing them evenly. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms and edges are golden. Let cool before serving.

 

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This is one of my ‘go-to’ grilled chicken marinades – very flavorful, fresh and healthy.  I do think marinating the chicken overnight makes a big difference (and makes for one less thing to do the day of!)  I whiz up my marinade, toss with my chicken pieces in a bowl, and store in Ziplock bags in the fridge overnight.  Let sit on the counter 15-30 minutes prior to grilling.  Recipe is easy to double if you’re having friends over.

 

Zesty Chicken Thighs

Recipe very slightly adapted from the blog healthyseasonalrecipes.com

Zesty Chicken Thighs

Active Time: 1 hour

Makes: 8 – 10 thighs or drumsticks

Make ahead: Prepare marinade 1-2 days before adding the chicken.

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat or Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 
2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Approx. 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, any extra fat trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Fit food-processor with steel blade attachment. With motor running, drop garlic cloves one at a time through feed tube and process until finely chopped. Remove lid and add yogurt, ginger, honey, lime juice, curry powder and salt. Process until smooth.
  2. Place chicken thighs and/or drumsticks in a large bowl and toss with marinade. Pour everything into a resealable plastic bag and seal. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours or up to 1 day for maximum flavor.
  3. Oil grill rack and pre-heat grill to medium heat (375 degrees). Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill and cook without turning for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over with a thin flexible spatula and continue grilling, turning and rotating occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat (without touching the bone) registers 170-180 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Note the chicken may stick to the grill slightly. Serve hot or cold garnished with cilantro.
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Wondering what to do with Swiss chard?  It’s one of the healthiest vegetables out there and bountiful at the grocery store and at farmers markets almost year-round.  I’m always looking for new, simple recipes that use this superfood.  This one is wonderful – it’s basically a Swiss chard pesto that would be great on orecchiette or penne pasta.  If you double the recipe, the pesto would freeze well for future dinners.  Enjoy!

 

Orecchiette with Swiss Chard and Parm

Recipe from Mario Batali; featured on the Today Show.

Orecchiette with Swiss chard and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
Preparation

Combine the oil, onion, garlic, and chard in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and chard are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Season well with Maldon salt, add 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is very tender, about 20 minutes. Season with pepper and remove from the heat. Place ingredients into food processor and finely chop. Set aside in large bowl.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Drop in the pasta and cook until just al dente.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the chard ragu and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce). Stir in the cheese.

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and serve with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.

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I’ve made this recipe a few times and it’s always a hit (even with the kids)!  If you love artichokes (um, yeah!) and olives (yeah!), and you’re looking for something new to do with chicken (please!), then try this meal.  I serve it with crusty bread (rustic sourdough loaf) which is great for soaking up any excess liquid.  I hope you love this!

 

Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives

Slightly adapted from Epicurious | February 2013; originally from The Longetivy Kitchen by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

 

Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Total Time: about an hour

Ingredients

  • 8 organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 11/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cinnamon stick, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of lemon juice and a pinch of salt
  • 8 thawed frozen or jarred artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2/3 cup whole pitted green olives, such as Picholine or Manzanilla
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or cilantro

Preparation

Pat the chicken dry and season salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, working in batches if necessary, and cook until well browned on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Decrease the heat to medium. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in 1/4 cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pot. Stir in a pinch of salt and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the remaining 1 3/4 cups of broth, the lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Decrease the heat to medium-low, add back the chicken thighs, and cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and olives and stir gently to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Check largest chicken thigh with a digital thermometer to make sure it is cooked through to at least 170 degrees in the center.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste; you will likely want to add another squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Garnish with the mint or cilantro.

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