Gnocchi and Vegetable Soup

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My husband and I recently returned from a dive trip to the Philippines. It was an amazing trip filled with great diving, good friends and TONS of delicious food and drink. That said, when we returned home from a week of lush eating and drinking we needed to incorporate a healthy dose of vegetables into the week’s menu. It is not necessarily soup weather where we live at the moment but I could not pass this recipe up. As is my pattern, this is a super easy dish to throw together. Seriously, the most difficult part is prepping the veggies. This recipe will be ideal for brisk fall and brutal winter nights to warm up your core and fuel your body with nutrients. This recipe was adapted from Umami Girl who hosts a wonderful recipe blog.

Serves: 8

Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 (32 oz) cartons of vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 (15 oz) can of white beans
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
  • crushed red pepper flakes to top

Directions:

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-hot heat. Add the onion and celery. Saute until tender/crisp (about 5 minutes) then add the carrots and garlic and cook until garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  2. Add the three cartons of vegetable broth and Italian seasoning. Bring it to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat to create a simmer.
  3. Once simmering stir in the white beans and spinach. Once spinach begins to wilt add in one gnocchi and cook it until it pops up to the top. I do this in order to taste the broth. Taste your tester gnocchi with a healthy spoonful of broth and veggies. Add salt/pepper to your taste at this point. Once you have the broth up to your standards add in the rest of the gnocchi and cook until they pop up to the surface of the soup.
  4. Dish the soup and top with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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Spinach Tomato and Sausage Skillet over Angel Hair Pasta

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I am not a big fan of super saucy dishes unless it is curry. I feel that when things are over sauced it takes away from the real stars of the dish. The big players in this one are spicy sausage and chunky style sun dried tomatoes. The combination of these two offers a degree of savory-sweet (with a kick). It is my favorite flavor combo making this recipe a new favorite in my Rolodex. If you are into bold flavor and a meal that will feed your family for a few days than give this dish a try! This recipe was adapted from a beautiful recipe blog called Julia’s Album.

Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage (I went with spicy but refine to your own taste)
  • 8.5 oz jar of sun dried tomatoes julienne cut in oil (reserve the oil you will use it to cook)
  • a pinch (or more) of red pepper flakes. I tend to like things spicy and opted for upwards to three pinches. Tailor it to your taste
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • One bunch of fresh basil, chopped (I am aware that “one bunch” is incredibly vague so to clarify just buy a packaged bunch of fresh basil from your market’s produce section)
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb angel hair pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet heat the entire contents the sun dried tomato jar over low heat. Once heated up the temperature to medium and add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink.
  2. Add Roma tomatoes, basil, spinach, garlic, and salt/pepper to taste. Toss this mixture gently to be sure that all veggies get coated with the tomato oil goodness. Continue to cook until the spinach begins to wilt. Then remove the skillet from heat and cover it.
  3. Cook your pasta per the packaging, drain and add it to your sausage and vegetable skillet. Mix it all together and plate.
  4. One extra and totally optional tip is to reserve some of the spinach (or buy extra) and add crisp spinach to the dish as you plate it. This adds color, nutrients and a wonderful crunch to the dish. I highly recommend.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Spinach and Mozzarella Meatloaf

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This is not you mother’s ketchup and brown sugar topped meatloaf. This is a flavor packed cheesy meatloaf. I’ve had fails with meatloaf before that left me with a brick of dry beef but this recipe made such a juicy loaf that I doubt I’ll ever use a different one again. It is really hard to describe just how good this meatloaf was! I was able to prepare this ahead of time which was great as I had a busy afternoon planned with the kids. We got home in the late afternoon and all I needed to do was preheat the oven and cook this baby up. It does take an hour and 15 minutes to bake so be sure to allow yourself that time.

Serves: 1 loaf about 8 slices     Calories: approximately 444/ slice     Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cups of finely chopped spinach
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl mix together ground beef, spinach, bread crumbs, 1.5 cups of the mozzarella cheese, onion, garlic, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well but do not over-mix as you run the chances of drying it out.
  3. Transfer this mixture to a loaf pan.
  4. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top of the loaf.
  5. Make a tent over the pan with foil. Don’t let the foil touch the cheese on top of the loaf because it will just stick to the foil and peel off.
  6. Bake for 1 hour
  7. Remove loaf from the oven and take off foil.
  8. Place loaf back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.simplifylivelove.com

Spinach Muffins

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In trying to get Chance to eat fruits and vegetables I thought it would be genius to essentially lie to him and tell him I dyed these muffins with food coloring. He ate the first one with no problems but the second time around he started noticing the flecks of green. Looks like I need to be more sneaky with this one. Nonetheless my husband and I are loving these and who knows maybe I’ll get my picky little monster to try them once more. You cannot taste the spinach at all and I think this is because the vanilla extract masks the veggie-ish smell overpowering it with sweet vanilla. I thought these tasted like cupcakes so I’ll enjoy every last one!

Makes: 12 muffins    Calories: 192/muffin    Prep time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 20 minutes per batch

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of spinach, pureed (We buy fresh spinach by the “bunch at our store. If this is not an option for you, a bunch is equal to about 2 very large handfuls)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a blender or food processor puree spinach.
  3. Add the rest of your wet ingredients to the blender/food processor and blend until smooth
  4. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and stir it all together.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. You don’t want to over mix because that will change the texture of your muffins.
  6. Spray a muffin tin/mold with cooking spray or full muffin tin with muffin papers and pour batter 2/3 of the way into each cup.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes and do a toothpick check. If the toothpick comes out clean you’re all set but if it comes out with batter stuck to it you need to add a few minutes of bake time. Repeat toothpick test until it comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy warm with butter 🙂

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.messforless.net

Spinach Meatballs with Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Orzo

1970951_10205600543951031_8676735917190554793_nSun-dried tomatoes are to me like candy is to my 4-year-old. I can snack on these tangy sweet nuggets all day. That said, I get excited when I can add them to my recipes. Think jimmies on your ice cream… Yep, pretty much the same thing in my book. The orzo could really stand on its own as a meal but since we are trying to pack in the protein I threw in the meatballs for good measure. The meatballs were an absolute treat. They seemed to have much more substance than any other meatball I’ve made before. To explain how good they are my picky 4-year-old even ate 3 of them on his own. This recipe will make it into my normal rotation for sure. One thing I would like to note is that I used a rice cooker to make the orzo. It is extremely easy to make in the rice cooker but as not everyone has the appliance I will provide two sets of directions for the orzo.

Serves: 5     Calories in Meatballs: 294 per serving     Calories in Orzo: 102 per serving  

Time for Meatballs: 1hr 30 mins     Time for Orzo: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup italian breadcrumbs, I used whole wheat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Ingredients for Orzo:

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, more or less depending on your taste.
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped

Directions for Meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until combined
  3. Form into small/medium-sized meatballs and line them in a greased baking dish
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes until cooked through.
  5. Serve with sun-dried tomato and spinach orzo.
  6. Enjoy!

Directions for Orzo in Rice Cooker:

  1. Place all ingredients in your rice cooker
  2. Secure the lid and press cook. This will cook for 10-15 minutes
  3.  When the cooker switches to warm, stir the orzo and let rest for 5 mins before serving.
  4. Serve with meatballs and enjoy!

Directions for Orzo Stove top: 

  1. Combine orzo and chicken broth in a small/medium saucepan. Bring to a boil
  2. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes until orzo is tender.
  3. Fluff with a fork and add tomatoes, spinach, and basil.
  4. Cover once more and cook on low heat until spinach starts to wilt and tomatoes are warm through.
  5. Serve with meatballs and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original meatball recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

*Original orzo recipe adapted from “Rice Cooker Creations with Debra Manning” (p.75)

Spinach and Cheese Filled Ravioli with Pesto Sauce

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After I got comfortable with making pasta I couldn’t stop. Perry invited a few friends of ours over for dinner so I used it as the perfect excuse to show off my new found pasta making skills. I want to say that I like the raviolis better then the tortellini but I think that is only because I found them easier to make. I had the roll and press process down so it didn’t feel as tedious to me. Also the cheese filling is AMAZING. This is definitely the combo I’ll be using from now on. Hit the spot and our guests loved it too.

Serves: 6-8      Calories: 800 (yes this is a once in a while dinner..)    Time: approx. 2 hours depending on how fast you work with the ravioli

Ingredients for Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Spinach/Cheese filling:

  •  1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 lb ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pkg sargento provolone cheese, diced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make pasta dough. Recipe found here
  2. While dough is resting, sauté spinach with garlic, shallots and olive oil.
  3. Drain liquid and place in a mixing bowl with ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone.
  4. Mix well until nice and firm. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. After you’ve let your dough rest, separate it into 4 equal parts. Keep the parts of the dough you aren’t using right away wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your clean and flat workspace. Flatten dough into a thick oval shape with your hands. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the oval and roll it flat with a rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards. Constantly move the dough to keep it from sticking to your work surface.
  7. Once the dough is flat, using either a stencil or the rim of a drinking glass, punch out as many circles as you can. Roll up left over dough and cover with plastic wrap to be used again.
  8. Take two of the circles and roll them flat again because after you initially cut the shape it will probably contract a little bit. Once flat add about 1/2 tsp of the spinach/cheese mixture to the center of one of the circles. Place the other circle on top of the other and press the seam together. Using a fork press the edge of your circle to complete the seam.
  9. Repeat with the rest of your dough and store uncooked ravioli in an airtight container for no longer the 24 hours in your fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.
  10. When ready to cook bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the raviolis start to float, about 5 minutes or so
  11. While ravioli is cooking whip up the pesto sauce by adding all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blending until paste like.
  12. Top  raviolis with pesto or any other sauce you choose.
  13. Enjoy!

*Original recipe belongs to http://www.food.com and  Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com and Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com 

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Greek Spinach Veggie Burgers

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If you look at my previous posts you will find a recipe for  “veggie burgers.” I used to make them once a month and stock my freezer for the weeknights I did not feel like making a dinner from scratch. That is a great recipe but I recently found a new recipe for veggie patties that trump any other veggie burger I’ve had. These Greek spinach veggie burgers are  delicious, easy and healthy so I know I’ll be making it a few times a month. I would not suggest making them and freezing them so it is not a “stock up your fridge” recipe. We were able to get two dinners out of them though.

Serves: 4      Calories: 367

Original recipe found at: http://www.bhg.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix (or your favorite stuffing mix)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 10-oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns or pita pockets. (Toasted if you like 😉 )
  • burger toppers (we used Greek yogurt, feta, and red onion). Suggestions: red peppers, black olives, tzatziki sauce or dried cranberries. Get Creative!

Directions:

1.) Combine oil, garlic, oregano, dill weed, and black pepper. Stir in the stuffing mix coating thoroughly. Stir in eggs, spinach and 1/2 cup of feta cheese. Mix well.

2.) Form into four 1/2 inch thick patties. (don’t make the ends of the patties too thin because than you risk it coming apart when flipping.)

3.) Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium and add the patties. Cook for 3-4 mins on each side or until browned and heated through.

4.) Top with your favorite extras and enjoy!

*Photo is an original taken by me

*Original recipe found at http://www.bhg.com