Happy me, happy worms

In addition to my dehydrator, this lucky girl is also a proud owner of a juicer. I’m not yet ready to fully endorse the product. However, on it’s first run it made a pretty damn good juice that I usually pay $5 for.

The juicer is the Breville Multi-speed Juice Fountain and it’s a honker. It takes up a lot of counter space and it’s loud. But the pros outweigh the cons right now. It’s rather simple to clean-up (I put a veggie bag in the pulp catch), it’s easy to use and it made a great pulp free juice.

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Fruit of the earth (“frutos de la tierra”)
• 1 1/2 apple
• 1 celery stalk
• 1/2 beet
• a 1″ piece of ginger
• 3 carrots

Toss in at 5 and drink.

My composting worms are going to be very happy too! Look at all this fresh mash.

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Cheesy but no cheese kale chips

I’m a lucky girl. For Christmas this year, H got me a dehydrator. I finally busted it out yesterday since I had a bunch of kale. You see, there’s this kale chip that I love but it’s $8 a bag! So, I took a look at the ingredients and made my own recipe. It is almost exactly the same taste as the $8 bag and mine cost $3 to make.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can definitely use your oven.

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Cheesy Kale Chips

• 1 bunch of kale, cleaned and large stems removed
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 cup whole, unsalted raw cashews, toasted
• 3 TBS chia seed (I used powder)
• 2 tsp nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp Himalayan salt
• juice of 1 lemon

Mix everything except the kale in the blender (this is where I highly endorse the vitamix blender).

In a large bowl, add your kale and a couple tablespoons of the mixture. The mixture is quite thick so work in batches so you don’t have too much on one piece of kale and not enough on another.

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Pop the coated chips into your dehydrator (125 degrees F) or on a cookie sheet and into the oven (lowest setting). Make sure it’s in a single layer.

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A few hours later (6 in the dehydrator in my neck of the woods or 2 in the oven), you have a deliciously nutritious snack!!!

Enjoy!

Meatloaf for two and a half

This little loaf of savory goodness has become a regular menu item at our home this winter. It’s so easy and besides the ground chuck, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry (remind me to tell you about what staples we constantly have on hand in the fridge and in the pantry. It would be a good grocery list for me too!)

So go out, get some ground chuck and make this little loaf the feature on tomorrow’s dinner table.

Meatloaf
Serves 2.5 people

• 1 lb ground chuck (not lean, you want the fatty bits to keep it juicy)
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
• a splash of milk
• 1 egg
• 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
• 3 TBS catsup, plus more for the top
• 1/2 tsp oregano
• 1/2 tsp thyme
• salt and pepper
• 1 TBS fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
• 1 TBS worshtershire sauce (how do you spell that?)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all the above ingredients except the extra catsup. Don’t mix too much though – just enough to incorporate all the ingredients.

Form the meat in a loaf pan and pat down the top a bit. Make an indentation lengthwise in the middle of the loaf. Squeeze catsup into the indentation and smear it along the top as well.

Place it in the oven covered with foil for about 45 mins. Uncover it and broil for a couple mins to crisp up the top a bit.

Enjoy!

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Arancini – or what to do with leftover risotto

So you stirred, and stirred, and stirred until you thought your elbow was going to fall off. But then you dipped your spoon into a bowl of your creamy risotto and realized why you put so much effort into making it from scratch. It’s pure comfort in a bowl. It’s like the rice absorbed all your love with each turn of the wrist (and that was a lot of turns).

But you made too much and now you have a tupperware bowl full of not so creamy risotto in your fridge from last night’s scrumptious dinner. What to do? Make Arancini – or Fried Risotto Balls.

Not the best picture but they're so damn delicious I forgot to get a good photo before stuffing them in my belly.

Not the best picture but they’re so damn delicious I forgot to get a good photo before stuffing them in my belly.

Arancini

  • Leftover risotto
  • 1 cup of panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • veggie oil
  • 1 egg
  • a splash of milk
  • 1/2″ cubes of mozzarella

1. Put the panko and breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl with the oregano and salt and mix. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg and milk together.

2. Heat up the oil in a medium frying pan on medium low heat.

3. Grab a golf ball size mound of risotto. Roll it into a ball. Use your thumb to push an indentation into the risotto. Put a cube of mozzarella into the center and seal it up so the mozzarella is in the center of the risotto ball.

4. Roll the risotto ball in the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Set aside on a plate until they are all rolled out.

5. Check to see if your oil is ready by sprinkling a small piece of breadcrumbs in. If it sizzles right away, start putting in your balls. Don’t overcrowd the pan though because you’ll need to flip the balls as soon as they brown on one side.

6. Place the browned morsels of heaven on a paper towel and sprinkle with a bit of salt.

Serve piping hot with your favorite marinara or the leftover braising liquid from the chicken in the previous post. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

 

Braised Chicken and Mushroom Risotto

It is so chilly on the West coast (I know, 49 degrees is not cold but I have never had “snow days” so I can complain about needing to wear a scarf and gloves). Nothing warms me better than comfort food – mmm, mashed potatoes, potpies, biscuits and gravy, stews. I’m already starting to feel my toes warm up just thinking about publishing this post.

Papa was in the mood for mushroom risotto for his birthday so…I took on the challenge. I’ve made risotto once before so I knew there was going to be a lot of stirring. Nana helped though and we paired it with a very easy braised chicken.

Braised chicken

Braised chicken

Braised Chicken and olives (adapted from Fifteen Spatulas)

  • 4 chicken legs, skin-on and bone-in
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 handful of kalmata olives, pitted
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest of 1 lemon, julienned
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken legs. Heat up an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and the chicken legs skin side down. Cook for a couple minutes until the skin has browned. Turn over and sear on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the fennel and onion to the pan. Saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add the white wine to the pan and bump the heat up to medium high. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper, olives, lemon zest strips, bay leaf, thyme, and chicken stock, and bring to a boil.
  4. Return the chicken to the pan skin side up and place in the oven to cook for ~ 40 minutes depending on the size of your legs (or until the juices run clear when you knife prick the joint between the drumstick and thigh). (While the chicken is in the oven, start the risotto)
  5. Turn the broiler on high, and cook the chicken for 2 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin (watch carefully).
creamy mushroom risotto

creamy mushroom risotto

Creamy Mushroom Risotto (adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook)

  • 2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock (the recipe says duck stock but I couldn’t find any. I bet it’s amazing with it though)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup shallot, leek or onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups risotto rice
  • 1/2 pound fresh crimini, sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  1. Pour the stock and wine into a pot and bring it to a gentle simmer.
  2. In another medium pot, heat the butter over medium-high heat and add the minced shallot or onion and a pinch of salt. Saute until it softens and turns translucent. Add the garlic, mushrooms and rice and coat with the butter. Stir often.
  3. When the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, add a ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir well (I like to use a wooden spoon).  The key to making a great risotto is to constantly stir. Think of it as stirring the bottom of the pot. As each ladle of stock is absorbed, add another, then another. At some point, you’ll see that the rice isn’t absorbing the stock as quickly. Keep adding a ladle of hot stock until the rice is cooked through, but still firm.
  4. When you reach that point, add the grated cheese and a little more stock. Stir to incorporate the cheese into the risotto. Add the chopped parsley and serve at once with your braised chicken.
Together, braised chicken and risotto - comfort in a bowl

Together, braised chicken and risotto – comfort in a bowl

PS if you have leftover risotto, check out my next post on Arancini (or risotto balls)

Galette, Galette

Galette. Like rhymes with barrette or ballet? I might not know how to pronounce it but I do know how to eat it. These yummy packets of savory deliciousness are also known as rustic tarts. They’re super easy to make once you have the dough. I often make a couple batches of dough and freeze them for future “gawl-ets”.

loads of butter

loads of butter

You can really put anything into them. I love the combination of zucchini, sausage and ricotta together. It’s so comforting. But I’ve also made it with leeks, mushrooms and potatoes, one was filled with olives, sundried tomatoes and feta, and another with rhubarb, strawberries and balsalmic red onions. You get the picture. Just use your imagination and fill these babies with your favorites.

zucchini and sausage and ricotta cheese galette (this is an adaptation but I’m unable to find from where…my apologies!)

galette dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 TBS sugar
  • 12 TBS cold butter, cut into small pieces (yes that’s a stick and a half!)
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup cold water with two ice cubes in it to make it really cold

1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in bowl. Cut in butter, leaving some pea size chunks. Sprinkle with ice water and mix with the flour mixture until you can bring the dough together. Press into a disk, wrap it in saran wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2. Roll out the disk on a lightly floured counter about 1/8″ thick. You can either make one large galette or three small ones. I’d suggest the small ones because with the filling, it becomes a bit unwieldy. Roll it out to a circle of your size, and no it doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, that’s the beauty of the galette.

for the filling:

  • 2 large zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • 1 italian sausage or 1lb of bulk italian sausage
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of spinach, kale, or other greens
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 oz ricotta goat cheese, less or more to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Pull sausage out of casing and roll it into tiny meat balls. Cook in a large pan until browned. Take the sausage out of pan (but leave the drippings) and add olive oil, onions and salt. Cook for a few minutes. Add zucchini and garlic, thyme and oregano. Stew over medium heat, stirring frequently, until zucchini is near tender. Add the greens and wine and continue cooking until reduced. Add back in sausage. Turn off the heat and add the crème and cook until it coats the filling and only a little liquid remains. Season with salt and pepper. Let the filling cool 10 minutes then stir in all but 1 TBS of the beaten egg and most of the ricotta cheese.
3. Assemble the galette on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the dough down then spread the mixture on top of it, leaving a 2 inch border around the edge. Crumble the cheese on top, then fold the dough over the filling. Brush with reserved egg and bake until crust is browned, 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

PS This is perfect for brunch, potlucks, parties!

Rustic tart to the table.

Rustic tart to the table.

Breakfast Fried Rice, a family staple

Ever since munchkin started eating solids, rice has been the starch option for the majority of our dinners. I make it at night for our dinner and then use the leftovers for her favorite breakfast: steamed rice and eggs (often with spinach or other greens in the eggs). (pro tip: steamed rice freezes perfectly. Put it in individual ziplocks and just pop it out of the bag when ready and microwave for 30 seconds.) Munchkin adores her rice and eggs for breakfast. But what she loves even more is breakfast fried rice. Who wouldn’t with all that soy sauce and bacon?

We’ve already eaten our quota for 2013! It’s super easy to make for large crowds. I think I made it every day for the Papa visit in HI (of course, bacon was replaced with the HI staple: spam!)

And now since NY Nana and Papa have arrived, we’ve eaten it at least 5 times.

The next time you have guests over for breakfast, skip the pancakes and throw on a pan of breakfast fried rice. They’ll love it!

Breakfast Fried Rice

• 4 cups of steamed jasmine rice
• 1 lb of bacon (or ham or spam)
• parchment paper
• 4 scallions chopped
• 3 large eggs
• 2 TBS veggie oil
• 1/4 cup of soy sauce
• freshly cracked pepper

Heat the oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (do not use the totally flat cookie sheet or all your bacon drippings will be in the bottom of your oven. You need a cookie sheet with at least a 1/2″ lip around it). Place the bacon on the parchment paper and bake until crispy (around 15 mins).

Carefully remove the bacon from the oven. That oil is going to be hottttt! And put the bacon on some paper towels. Then chop up about 4-5 slices into 1/4″ strips. Set aside. (the remaining bacon is for the cook to share).

Scramble the eggs and cook them in a bit of veggie oil (or bacon drippings if you’d like) until done in a large nonstick frying pan. Set aside.

Using the same pan, add the rest of the oil or 1 TBS of bacon drippings and fry the rice for 2 mins. Add in the soy sauce and stir until the rice is no longer white. You may want to add more. Add in the eggs, bacon, and scallions. Top with a bit of pepper. Be sure to taste. It should be salty goodness.

Enjoy!

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