Sunday, September 30, 2012

whole wheat pasta with spicy spinach & peanut butter pesto

this is one of those "happy accident" recipes.  one day last fall i was craving pesto...but basil season was over.  i had spinach growing in the garden and, since i often use different kinds of greens in pesto, decided to use what was on hand.  i had all the ingredients required except one crucial item...nuts.  now i usually have many different kinds of nuts in the pantry (or freezer)...walnuts, pecans, almonds and pine nuts are staples in my home.  that day i was out of everything and just did not feel like a trip to the market.  i realized i had some organic peanut butter and decided to give that combination a try.

i loved the result.  i added garlic, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  the pesto reminds me a bit of spicy peanut sauce and is really delicious on whole wheat pasta.  i also spread it on  baguette slices and grill, top chicken sandwiches, stir into cheese dip, add a dollop to crostini for soups....there are so many options.  when fresh tomatoes are out of season use the sun dried ones packed in olive oil.  i have also added streamed green beans, roasted butternut squash and/or broccoli and these options are are really, really good.

it is spinach week at food network's fall fest and the perfect time of year to make this pesto dish. my baby spinach is ready to pick and heirloom tomatoes are still in season.  give it a try and please let me know what you think.  happy october everyone!

whole wheat pasta with spicy spinach & peanut butter pesto
1 lb whole wheat pasta, penne or fusilli
3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves (about 6 oz)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch (or 2 for spicy) red pepper flakes
1 red heirloom tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 spinach leaves cut in chiffonade as garnish (optional)

bring large pot of water to boil.  salt generously and add pasta.  cook according to package directions.  cook to al dente. do not overcook.

meanwhile add spinach, garlic and peanut butter to bowl of food processor.  process until smooth.  add 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper to spinach mixture.  pulse just until mixed.  taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

remove pasta from pot with spider strainer or slotted spoon.  do not shake off all the water.  place pasta in large bowl.  add pesto to pasta and stir to combine.  add tomato and green onion and gently stir.  taste and add additional salt or pepper if desired.  plate and drizzle with additional olive oil. top with chiffonade spinach and serve.

check out the delicious sounding kale recipes from the all of the other participating bloggers:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Skinny Hot Spinach Dip
Feed Me Phoebe: October Evening Lentil Soup With Spinach
And Love It Too: Grain-Free Spinach Pie
Cooking With Elise: Baby Spinach Salad With Cranberries, Spiced Pecans and a Maple Vinaigrette
Virtually Homemade: Three Onion Dip With Spinach
HGTV Gardens: Garden-to-Table: Spinach
Thursday Night Dinner: Spinach Ice Cream
Cooking Channel: Fresh Spinach in Indian Recipes
Daily*Dishin: Spinach-Sausage Saute With Pan-Fried Gnocchi
Delicious Lean: Spinach Leaf Roll Ups
Bacon and Souffle: Baby Spinach Pizza With Sopressata and Sriracha
FN Dish: Stuff It With Spinach

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

kale and rainbow chard salad with peaches, blackberries & pinenuts

i first made this salad a couple of years ago when i was making dinner for some vegan friends.  i wanted a big, hearty, delicious, packed-with-flavor salad that was also full of nutrients.  this fit the bill perfectly.  kale mixed with sweet white peaches, sweet/tart blackberries, green onions, dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts.  how good does that sound?

the best way i can describe the process of making this salad is "ceviche like".  ceviche is the latin american dish where fresh fish is "cooked" in lemon or lime juice. the fish is marinated in the citrus juice and this process turns it firm and it looks and tastes like it has been cooked.  the kale salad is a bit like that as it marinates in the vinaigrette for a minimum of 4 hours which wilts it just a bit and softens and sweetens the greens.  this is the perfect potluck salad...the dish you can depend on because you can make it in the morning and let it sit all day.  it travels very well.

it is kale week at foodnetwork's fall fest...the perfect time to finally blog about this recipe.  since it is early fall as i write this post, peaches and blackberries are still in season so that is what i used today but the salad is equally delicious with apricots, nectarines, plums, apples and/or pears.  just ensure you use whatever is in season and looks good at the farmers' market that day. (or from your garden).  and, if you are not serving vegan friends, a lovely goat cheese or parmigiano reggiano is wonderful with this dish.  enjoy!

kale and rainbow chard salad with peaches, blackberries & pine nuts
1/8 cup organic seasoned rice vinegar*
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper

1/2 bunch kale and 1/2 bunch rainbow chard, remove stems below the leaves. reserve stems for another your green smoothies.  chop kale  and chard leaves into large bite sized pieces. (note, you can make this with all kale or all chard)
2 white peaches, chopped into bite sized pieces
6 oz blackberries
4 green onions chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper

make vinaigrette:  combine all ingredients in small bowl and whisk until combined.  set aside
make salad:  combine all ingredients in large bowl.  pour vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine.  ensure salad is well mixed.  cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.  remove from fridge, toss again and taste.  adjust seasonings if desired.  may be made up to 12 hours in advance.
**i suggest you use organic seasoned rice vinegar.  the regular kind contains high fructose corn syrup.  the organic version contains organic sugar.  or buy plain rice vinegar and sweeten with organic coconut sugar**

other greens recipes you may enjoy:
southern greens, napa farmhouse style
rainbow chard frittata
yellow chard bruschetta

check out the delicious sounding kale recipes from the other participating bloggers:
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Kale Kimchi
Bacon and Souffle: Roasted Carrot Salad With Baby Kale
From My Corner of Saratoga: Pork, Kale and White Bean Soup
Feed My Phoebe: Kale Salad With Bagna Cauda Vinaigrette
Cooking With Elise: Risotto With Tuscan Kale
Thursday Night Dinner: Linguine With Purple Kale and Italian Sausage
FN Dish: The Rise of the Kale Chip

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

red chile breakfast potatoes

photo courtesy peter padoven
 it is potato week at food network's summerfest so i went to our local farmer's market to see what is in season.  they had a nice selection of red, yukon gold, russet and purple, but i fell in love with the german butterballs which are described by a seed company this way:

"Rich, golden russet-type potatoes are an all-around favorite for baking, frying and steaming. Truly an all-purpose potato, with delicious, buttery flavor and a tender, flaky texture. Just one look and taste and Butterball will be an instant winner in your kitchen and your garden. Excellent for winter storage."

excellent for steaming and frying?  i have the perfect recipe for these babies... 
i love breakfast dishes for dinner and potatoes and eggs fit this description perfectly.  quick, easy, delicious...what could be better?  and, since i am a southern california girl by birth, adding chile peppers, salsa or hot sauce is required.  tonight i added new mexican red chile powder to my breakfast potatoes recipe and, topped with a fried egg and served with ripe heirloom tomatoes, created a new favorite dish.   try this next weekend for breakfast or brunch. a rebel like me and serve for dinner.  you won't be sorry.... 

red chile breakfast potatoes
(serves 4)
1 1/2 pounds small red or yukon gold potatoes
extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper (red, yellow or green), seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp new mexican red chile powder
sea salt
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
4 eggs

add potatoes to a large stockpot.  cover with cold water by at least 2 inches.  bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid partially ajar, until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife. (about 20-25 minutes).  be careful not to overcook, they will continue cooking during the next step.  drain potatoes in a colander and cool to room temperature.  when cool, cut into bite sized pieces.

while potatoes are cooling, add 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. when oil begins to shimmer, add peppers and onion.  cook until vegetables soften and begin to brown.  add potatoes, garlic, chile powder and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  drizzle another tbsp olive oil over potatoes.  cook until the potatoes are browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes.  stir potatoes often while they are cooking.

place potatoes on serving plates.  add 1 tbsp olive oil to skillet.  fry eggs in oil until whites are solid and yolks begin to thicken. salt and pepper the eggs to your liking then  place on top of potatoes, sprinkle the cilantro over the dish and serve immediately.

here are some other potato recipes you may enjoy
chorizo and potato tacos
best ever baked potatoes
farmhouse potato salad
smashed potatoes

check out these delicious sounding recipes from the other participating bloggers:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Crock-Pot Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes
Feed Me Phoebe: Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad With Almond-Chive Pesto
Dishin & Dishes: Roasted Potato Salad
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Shakin' Hash Browns
Made By Michelle: Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese
Virtually Homemade: Potato Onion Bread With Poppy Seeds
Sweet Life Bake: Tacos de Papa Potato (Potato Tacos)
From My Corner of Saratoga: Easy Crispy Fried Potatoes
Thursday Night Dinner: Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Oil
FN Dish: The Multipurpose Potato

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

apple, fennel & cheddar cheese panini

i have a love/hate relationship with fall.  it is such a beautiful season...warm, bright and sunny here in california with days that start out crisp & cool and then heat up in the afternoon sun.  the leaves in the vineyards turn glorious colors...deep red, vivid orange, dark magenta, bright yellow.  dusk comes earlier each day and the holiday season begins.  this transition period makes me sad to see summer (my favorite season) end but eager to experience all that fall offers.
so when food network picked apples to feature for summerfest this week it seemed a perfect choice.  apples are such a quintessential fall fruit but are actually ripe and delicious in late summer.  when choosing a recipe i decided i was not quite ready for apple desserts as i am grabbing every bit of summer fruit that i can (peaches, please don't leave me yet!), but apple, fennel and cheddar cheese paninis would be perfect for this time of year.

i have always loved the classic combination of apple and cheddar cheese.  adding the sweet, crunchy, licorice taste of fennel and sweet hot mustard takes this flavor profile to another level.  grilling it all together panini style...over the top!

i have a panini press so these sandwiches are easy and quick to make whenever i want.  if you don't have a panini maker you can also make this as more of a classic grilled cheese...either way works.

all photos courtesy peter padoven
apple, fennel & cheddar cheese panini (i like these with a really good whole wheat bread but sourdough, french or raisin bread is also delicious)

4 slices whole wheat bread
sweet hot mustard
1 medium granny smith or jazz* apple, cored and thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch)
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
4 slices extra sharp cheddar cheese
black pepper

spread about a tablespoon of mustard on each slice of bread. layer 2 slices of cheese on top of the mustard on one slice of bread.  add a row of sliced apples and one of fennel slices over the cheese.  top with another slice of bread, mustard side covering the fennel.  repeat steps with remaining 2 slices of bread.

follow the directions on your panini press to grill the 2 sandwiches.  cut in half and serve immediately.  (if you are making grilled cheese sandwiches, spread butter or olive oil on the outside of each slice of bread.  grill in a skillet until each side is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

happy transition everyone!
here are some other apple recipes you may enjoy:
purple cabbage slaw
roasted apple and caramelized onion soup
apple and pear crisp
caramel apple pie

now it is your turn to participate in summerfest. simply leave your apple tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit food network and do the same same. be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from the other participating bloggers:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Gluten-Free Jewish Apple Cake
Virtually Homemade: Apple Pie Muffin
Chez Us: Baked Apples With Creme Anglaise
Daily*Dishin: Easier-than-Pie Creamy Apple Bake
Made by Michelle: Pear Apple Crisp
From My Corner of Saratoga: Spiced Apple Dutch Baby
Thursday Night Dinner: Apple Bread Pudding
Devour: 7 Apple Desserts Beyond Pie
Healthy Eats: Marrying the Apple With New Flavors
FN Dish: Let's Go Apple Picking

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

back-to-school roasted chicken legs #pullupachair for food network

ok...raise your hand if you could use some terrific tasting recipes for weekday lunch? food network is getting the entire food community together to celebrate a virtual back-to-school brown bag luncheon, called the communal table, on monday, september 10th and they have invited me to cool is that?  here's how it works....bloggers from all over the country, as well as the food network gang, will each  create a post on their respective sites about a dish perfect for delicious packed lunches.  each blog/website will contain links to all the other blogs so readers can see what everyone is “bringing to the table.”   just think...a one stop place to view loads of delicious sounding recipes.  what did you have for lunch today?

green bean, heirloom tomato and red onion salad
during my corporate life i was never organized enough to pack my lunch...i always grabbed something on the go...or...more frequently...skipped it all together.  i now realize how unhealthy that was.  if i could go back in time, i like to think i would take a different approach by doubling healthy recipes on the weekends and then having the leftovers for lunch.  roasted chicken legs are a perfect example.   i would prepare a hearty green bean, heirloom tomato and red onion...and grab a couple of these chicken legs. that would have been a perfect lunch.  (now if i just could have convinced myself to eat outside on warm days versus at my desk i would have had a much less stressful career!)

roasted chicken legs with marmalade glaze

10 chicken legs (organic if you can)

1 small jar meyer lemon marmalade or orange marmalade
extra virgin olive oil
grey sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

preheat oven to 425 degrees. line rimmed baking sheet with foil and then with parchment paper, drizzle approx 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over paper.  using a pastry brush, coat entire pan with the oil. place chicken legs, skin side down on prepared baking sheet. generously season chicken with the salt and pepper.  roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  remove from oven, turn legs and roast for another 15-20 minutes or until juices run almost clear when pricked with a knife.  remove from oven

meanwhile, place marmalade in small saucepan. heat over medium heat stirring until softened. do not let boil.  remove from heat. using your pastry brush, coat each chicken leg with the marmalade.  place back in oven and roast an additional 5 minutes.  keep a close eye on the chicken to ensure the marmalade does not burn.  serve chicken hot, warm or at room temperature.

check out the delicious sounding recipes from my fellow #pullupachair bloggers:

Tidy Mom: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter Cookies

Made by Michelle: Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches
Chez Us: Healthy Tuna Salad
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox 2012: The Ultimate Collection
Bacon and Souffle: Gruyere Grilled Cheese With Apple Salad
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Cakes With Black Bean Salad Tossed in Cumin Vinaigrette

Adult options:

This Girl Can Eat: Cashew-Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Spicy-Korean “Ramen” Noodle Soup
Haute Apple Pie: Edamame Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches
Creative Culinary: Margarita Watermelon
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Swiss Chard Turnovers With Parmesan and Pistachios

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

roasted beet and avocado salad with meyer lemon marmalade vinaigrette

can you  believe it is already the first week of september?  i am writing this post on labor day, the traditional last day of summer.  students are back in school, college football was played this past weekend...the nfl season starts this week, soon the weather will begin to turn.  so it was not a surprise that this is beet week at food network's summerfest.

i always think of beets as a winter vegetable but, in california, beets are grown year round.  i like them best picked in summer when they are still tiny.  i serve them raw shaved into salads or added to cake batter, boiled, steamed...even cooked on the barbecue.  my favorite way though is roasted and added to salads.  today's recipe is perfect for this time of year as it is substantial enough to serve as a main dish at lunch or light supper; it also works as part of a salad buffet.  tonight i paired the salad with roasted chicken legs.  the meyer lemon marmalade vinaigrette is sweet/tart.  perfect to tame the richness of the avocado and beets.  i brushed some of the leftover vinaigrette on the chicken as it was roasting...really delicious.  enjoy!

roasted beet salad with meyer lemon marmalade vinaigrette
4 medium beets
1 large hass avocado
1/4 of a sweet white onion, sliced
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp cashews, chopped
coarse grey salt
freshly ground black pepper
meyer lemon vinaigrette (recipe below)

meyer lemon vinaigrette
2 tbsp meyer lemon marmalade**
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sweet hot mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the salad:
roast the beets (instructions here) and allow to cool.  cut into bite sized pieces and mound in the center of a serving platter.  peel and chop the avocado (instructions here).  spread the avocados around the beets.  scatter sliced onions over the top.  sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and one of pepper over the salad. drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of vinaigrette over vegetables.  top with cilantro and cashews.  serve with remaining vinaigrette on the side.  add additional seasonings and/or vinaigrette if desired.

for the vinaigrette:
in a small bowl, whisk together the marmalade, vinegar and mustard.  when mixed, slowly add in the olive oil, whisking continuously.  add a large pinch of salt and pepper.  taste and add additional oil, vinegar and/or salt if desired.  ** if you can't find meyer lemon marmalade (my favorite), any citrus marmalade will work.

other beet recipes you may enjoy:
roasted beet salad with bacon vinaigrette
farmer's market roasted beet soup
roasted beet, fig and orange salad
pink lentils with roasted beets

now it is your turn to participate in summerfest. simply leave your beet tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit food network and do the same same. be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from the other participating bloggers: 
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Roasted Beet and Apple Walnut Salad With Honey Yogurt Dressing
What's Gaby Cooking: Beet, Corn and Quinoa Salad
Chez Us: Pickled Beets
From My Corner of Saratoga: Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon
Feed Me Phoebe: Spaghetti With Beet Greens and Blistered Tomatoes
Virtually Homemade: Orange Roasted Chicken With Beets and Green Beans
Thursday Night Dinner: Beet, Carrot and Ginger Soup
HGTV Gardens: Garden-to-Table: Beets
Cooking With Books: Roasted Beets, Carrots and Goat Cheese Tartine
FN Dish: Better Beets

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