Chicken Parm Baked Quinoa…with a kick!

A few weeks ago I made this chicken parm baked quinoa… and it was delish +  seemingly healthy.

I decided to dial up the spicy kick a bit and ordered “fire roasted” tomatoes with green chiles (not a great photo!) instead of just plain diced tomatoes.

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I also added extra cracked red pepper and some diced jalapeno into the tomato sauce before mixing…

DSC02433Those were my minor changes/additions to the recipe, and you can check out the original recipe here: Baked Quinoa Chicken Parmesan.

And it came out of the oven wonderfully!

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I served it with a light spinach salad with olive oil and salt+pepper, and it was great. We loved the jalapeno and green chiles in the diced tomatoes – Hewitt loves spicy food, and I have learned to like it a lot more than I used to. It’s just a nice change to a typical chicken and tomato sauce dish.

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An Unintended Hiatus

Blogging can be a lot like exercising or that pile of clothes on the floor… once I’m too tired to go to the gym or too tired put my clothes away, it’s always just a little bit easier to be too tired the next time comes around. So in that way, I am coming back from something of an unintended hiatus, and I’m not saying I was just too tired to blog for the last few weeks, I was just spending my energies elsewhere and I guess I needed a break. But I’m back!

And since late February –

I learned to make homemade enchilada sauce with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – more on that decliciousness to come.

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Had two great friends from college visit / my first pedicab expericence…

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Keep in mind, in pricing quoted with pedicab drivers are per person. (Read: they’ll definitely rip you off.)

And tried my first St. Patrick’s Day dinner like my mom would make – corned beef and cabbage + carrots, turnips and cauliflower mash (instead of potatoes!). I would say it went pretty well – we didn’t have much leftover but cabbage! And you can only eat so much cabbage anyway.

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That’s a very brief summary, but I have to save the rest for all the posts I’ve been backlogging in my head… stay tuned and come back!

What Winter Tastes Like

Last week, we had some crazy temperatures… very few people are actually accustomed to highs in the “17s”. (This week we have had equally crazy weather, ranging from 30-50, but when it was a balmy 14, I was constantly craving comfort food. I had a  fancy mac & cheese at Beecher’s Cheese and decided to try my hand at a new interpretation of the old classic, potato soup.

I stumbled across the recipe and thought it was worth giving a try. So we had loaded baked potato soup, with cauliflower, to make it “healthier”! Check out the recipe here, and the pictures below.

The “lightening up” comes from steaming cauliflower and then blending them in with the potatoes to maintain the creaminess of the soup (it’s pretty close!), but have fewer carbs, calories, etc… or rather, allow you to use more cheddar cheese and feel fine about it.

Add the steamed cauliflower and peeled and chopped baked potatoes to the broth, and use an immersion blender to mix together…

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Top with bacon (we used ham because that all I had!), chives and cheddar cheese and enjoy a cozy meal. Especially when it’s under 20 degrees outside.

DSC02226Next time I make it, I’ll save part of the potato (or add a third one) to add post-blending. I’m a bit of a texture person, so I would appreciate keeping some chunks of potato around to balance it out.

But otherwise, I would recommend this and will definitely make it again!

Spicy Baked Chick Peas (for everyone else)

I don’t actually like chickpeas. Or hummus. Or anything that is really very mushy, but Hewitt (and most of the world) loves chickpeas and hummus, so I decided to make roasted chickpeas for him. I wanted an excuse to try this recipe.

I found the recipe on the Food Network and with little knowledge of what makes chickpea goodness, selected it because it was spicy. I followed it to a T, basically. I added a generous shake or five of cayenne pepper and another five shakes of chili powder.

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And I baked them for 30 minutes, “let them rest” for 15 minutes and baked them for another 20 minutes, and then they were actually crunchy.

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Hewitt claims they were good! You should try them because from what I’ve read they’re a healthy and filling snack. :)

Homemade Ravioli

Finally! For our wedding gift, our friends Nick and Rebecca (who were also our saviors during Sandy) gave us an adorable pasta maker and the ravioli attachment. Since the day we opened the gift, I have wanted to have them over to actually use it! It has been many months in the making, but finally, we broke in our pasta machine and made delicious homemade ravioli.

We started off with quite the spread of dips, hummus and pita, which worked out well… because it was basically midnight by the time our little spinach and ricotta stuffed pillows floated to the top of our boiling pot of salted water.

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Earlier in the day we decided on the spinach and ricotta filling for our ravioli. This was partially influenced by the fact that I had ordered ricotta from Fresh Direct, hoping for 8 ounces, and somehow ended up with three pounds… all to make a white pizza! But this is the recipe we used for our yummy filling. I used part-skim ricotta and fresh spinach, so it was practically healthy, right?

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We did make the accompanying sage butter, and it was perfect. So perfect, the only photo I have is from my sage chopping job:

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First step was to make our “test dough” to “season” our new machine. The dough is only egg and white flour – and you start by “building a well for the egg”.

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When we made our actual dough – which consisted of three times as many ingredients, we realized a bowl would be a lot more conducive to an egg well than our flat counter.

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Rebecca was the resident dough maker-

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And the boys our supporters (and cleaner uppers).

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And after a little kneading and letting the dough “rest” we were on to rolling the dough through the machine.

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Each time you roll the dough through the machine, you change the setting to make the dough thinner.

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Once the dough is thinned, you crease it, put it in the ravioli machine and spoon the filling into it. And voila! Ravioli!

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Once you separate all the individual ravioli, they cook in about three minutes. Fresh pasta cooks incredibly fast and float to the top when they’re done.

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I was so excited (and hungry) by the time we were ready to eat them, I forgot to snap a picture with the sage butter.

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We had so much fun making dinner, and we are so grateful to have such wonderful friends nearby. If you ever want a reason to linger over dinner and really spend time with people, I would recommend a homemade pasta maker. It’s work, but it’s the most fun I’ve had making dinner in a while.

So if you’re ever in the neighborhood and have some time to spare, let’s pick up a couple of pounds of ricotta and catch up over flour and eggs because a four hour dinner is the truest indulgence.

Homemade Pizza

To celebrate the “hanging of the greens” in our home, I made a delicious white pizza to go well with our viewing of The Santa Clause.

First, heat your pizza stone with the oven to 450. I recently learned this is the best way to get the bottom of the pizza crisp.

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pizza dough (courtesy of Fresh Direct)
  • Olive oil
  • Mozarella cheese
  • Ricotta (part skim)
  • Mushrooms (sauteed in olive oil and black pepper, with a dash of white truffle oil)
  • Fresh basil
  • Bake chicken, diced
  • White truffle oil
  • Black pepper

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Assemble pizza and drizzle top with white truffle oil. Creatively get pizza from counter to pizza stone already in oven, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

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Enjoy!

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have come across a number of recipes with brown butter in them, and let’s be honest, at the least “brown butter” is extremely intriguing.

I picked this recipe on pinterest to try both brown butter and a new twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie… and let’s just say, I would recommend it.

You can find the full recipe here – I split the white flour half and half with whole wheat, and I  added an extra teaspoon of cinnamon.

The beginning:

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What browning butter looks like. You heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly…

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Until it looks like this! A browned version that tastes almost nutty.

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After letting the butter cool, you blend it into the batter,

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Cookie-scoop the dough,

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And the ending! Take more pictures – cookies stacked, ooey and gooey.

image_5 Hewitt took these to his office, and we all agree – they’re delicious!