Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dinner Date

For Christmas this year, we gave the kids pre-planned dates for the whole year.  They each get to go on a date once a month.  One month with Mom, the next with Dad, and so on.  This is by far their favorite gift.  And it's the gift that keeps on giving, right?  All year!  So, one of the dates with Mom is to choose a recipe, go to the store and purchase the ingredients, and then make it together.   This is what my son and I did this weekend.  He chose "Pasta with Arugula, White Beans and Walnuts" for dinner and "Raspberry Napoleons" for dessert.  If you're thinking, wow, her kids like healthy food, just know I was just as surprised that he chose this as you!  I mean, really, what 9 yr. old wants pasta with greens and beans???  I have a bunch of "Everyday Food" magazines, and he went through some of them and that is what he chose.  I will say I do have great eaters for kids.  They used to be more picky, but overall they like a lot of things.  My son especially, he's like my husband, he will try just about anything.  I am so grateful to have easy to please kids...well, at least in the food department.  :-)

So here's a look at our date:

 Toast the walnuts... oh the flavor!
 Learning to slice garlic

 Cooking the pasta


I love how he put so much effort into a pretty table.

All the kids liked this dish.  One of my girls wasn't so crazy about her wilted greens, but she still ate most of them.  

Pasta with Arugula, White Beans, and Walnuts

12 oz farfelle (bowtie pasta)
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 TBS butter
1 pound baby arugula
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted

Toast walnut pieces in a 350 degree oven for about 7-9 minutes. Watch them so they don't burn. You don't have to toast them, but it brings out so much more flavor!


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.

Place pasta pot over medium heat. Add garlic and 1 tbs butter, cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes/

Add arugula to pot. Toss just until wilted. Add beans, pasta and remaining 3 tbs butter. Season with salt and pepper. Toss, adding enough reserved water to mixture to coat pasta. Garnish with toasted walnuts.







Needless to say, this dessert was a hit!  

Raspberry Napoleons:

All purpose flour for rolling pastry
1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
1/2 recipe cooled vanilla pudding (recipe follows) please don't use store bought, I promise you won't regret it!
1 container fresh raspberries
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pasty to a 10 by 15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Prick pastry all over with a fork. Cover completely with another sheet of parchment paper. Weight with another baking sheet to prevent pastry from puffing up unevenly. Bake, occasionally pressing top sheet down until pastry is golden. In my oven it only took 20 minutes, but it can take up to 40, so keep an eye on it. Remove the top sheet and parchment, and let cool

With a serrated knife, carefully trim and discard edges; cut into 12 equal pieces ( this is for 4 servings, I was able to stretch it to 6 servings by cutting into 18 pieces).

To assemble, put a large dollop of pudding on the pastry piece, top with a few raspberries and another dollop of pudding, layer a 2nd piece of pastry, repeat the pudding and raspberries, and top it with a 3rd piece of pastry. Dust with confectioner's sugar.


Vanilla Pudding:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Very gradually (a few tablespoons at a time) whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.

Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low, still whisking (wow, there's a lot of whisking in this recipe), cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Stir butter and vanilla into hot pudding.

Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (this prevents skin from forming), chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, whisk (again) pudding until smooth.




Ummm... Hello?  Where did everyone go?  Just keepin' it real here.  {sigh}




Raspberry Napoleons



My son chose this dessert as part of our cooking date.  It was incredible!  I bet it would be even better during the summer when the raspberries are straight from the farmers market!

This is adapted from Everyday Food Magazine.  It calls for home made vanilla pudding which is well worth the effort!!  And actually, it's not hard to make at all.  I've included the recipe.

Raspberry Napoleons:
all purpose flour for rolling pastry
1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
1/2 recipe cooled vanilla pudding (recipe follows)  please don't use store bought, I promise you won't regret it!
1 container fresh raspberries
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pasty to a 10 by 15 inch rectangle.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Prick pastry all over with a fork.  Cover completely with another sheet of parchment paper.  Weight with another baking sheet to prevent pastry from puffing up unevenly.  Bake, occasionally pressing top sheet down until pastry is golden.  In my oven it only took 20 minutes, but it can take up to 40, so keep an eye on it.  Remove the top sheet and parchment, and let cool

With a serrated knife, carefully trim and discard edges; cut into 12 equal pieces ( this is for 4 servings, I was able to stretch it to 6 servings by cutting into 18 pieces).

To assemble, put a large dollop of pudding on the pastry piece, top with a few raspberries and another dollop of pudding, layer a 2nd piece of pastry, repeat the pudding and raspberries, and top it with a 3rd piece of pastry.  Dust with confectioner's sugar.


This is a dessert that I thought looked lovely and delicious, but had my son not requested it, I wouldn't have made it.  Mainly because it took a little more time and with 4 little ones I am sometimes short on time... can you relate?  Well, I am SO glad I did.  I will make it again for sure!  It is one that takes a little more effort, but I really think it's worth it.  And it looks so impressive!

What have you made that took extra effort but you found it worth it?  I'd love to hear from you!





Vanilla Pudding:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl;  set aside.  In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Very gradually (a few tablespoons at a time) whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch.  Whisk in egg yolks.

Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters.  Reduce heat to low, still whisking (wow, there's a lot of whisking in this recipe), cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and immediately pour through sieve into bowl.  Stir butter and vanilla into hot pudding.

Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (this prevents skin from forming), chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.  Before serving, whisk (again) pudding until smooth.






Pasta with Arugula, White Beans and Walnuts


This is a lovely healthy spring-y recipe.  And we all need a little (or alot) of spring in MI right now!
This comes from Everyday Food Magazine:

Pasta with Arugula, White Beans and Walnuts

12 oz farfelle (bowtie pasta)
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 TBS butter
1 pound baby arugula
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted

Toast walnut pieces in a 350 degree oven for about 7-9 minutes.  Watch them so they don't burn.  You don't have to toast them, but it brings out so much more flavor!

Cook pasta i a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.

Place pasta pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and 1 tbs butter, cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes/

Add arugula to pot.  Toss just until wilted.  Add beans, pasta and remaining 3 tbs butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss, adding enough reserved water to mixture to coat pasta.  Garnish with toasted walnuts.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cherry Walnut Bites




This recipe was passed out at a recent gathering I attended.  I believe it comes from deliciousliving.com.
It's a yummy treat you can feel good about eating.  You won't even know it's good for you by the taste!  Cherries and Cocoa have great antioxidants in them, and the walnuts contain omega-3's.    Enjoy!



2 cups dried sour cherries
8 medjool dates, pittted
2/3 cup walnut pieces
2 Tbs fresh orange Juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs dark chocolate chips
4 Tbs unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for rolling

Finely chop dried cherries, dates, and walnuts.  I used a food processor to do this, way quicker!  Add orange juice, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and coconut. Mix together with hands, working into a sticky mass.  It should hold together.

With slightly wet hands, roll mixture into balls.  Roll in excess shredded coconut.  Place into an airtight container and refrigerate.  They will become firmer as they cool.




Monday, January 20, 2014

Breakfast Cookies

 
(continuous Joy Photography is me too... oops wrong copyright!)

These are a staple around here.  And who doesn't like cookies for breakfast??  This is a cookie you can feel good about eating.  :-)  It's also gluten free and egg free if anyone cares.  If you leave the chocolate chips out, its dairy free too!  But that might not be as much fun, unless you're allergic to dairy.  

Another reason I love this recipe is because it's so adaptable.  Don't have 3 bananas?  Use 2, don't have coconut oil?  Use Olive Oil.   I've had to make adjustments sometimes, and they always turn out.
These are definitely one of my favorites.

This is adapted from "Bread & Wine" by Shauna Niequist

3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup coconut oil (you want it liquid, so warm it if you need to)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal**
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add coconut oil and vanilla and stir.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  

Form the dough into  12 balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten them a little bit.  Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes.  






A note about almond meal.  I don't ever buy Almond Meal.  I use raw almonds and put them in the blender or food processor.  For this recipe, it doesn't have to be as fine as what you would buy, and it is expensive to buy it.  I get it as fine as possible, but if there are a few crumb like chunks, it's okay.




What about you?  Do you like cookies for breakfast?  What's your favorite "healthy-treat-like breakfast"?  


Thursday, December 19, 2013

White Bean Soup



White Bean Soup
(adapted from Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist)
2 shallots, sliced
1/2 pund carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1 bulb fennel, sliced
4 celery ribs, sliced on the diagonal
8 cups prepared Great Northern Beans or other white bean*
1 tbs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

For serving:
Vinaigrette (Dijon, balsamic vinegar, olive oil)
prosciutto, sliced in ribbons
Parmesan, thickly grated, or use a vegetable peeler to get pretty strips

In a dutch oven, soften shallots in olive oil over medium heat.  Add carrots, fennel, and celery and allow them to soften, about 15 minutes.  (If you don't have fennel, you can add some fennel seed for flavor or just leave it out)

Add beans and chopped rosemary.
*Note, I use dried beans and prepare them.  If you use canned, I recommend rinsing and draining them.  But you will need to add some water or broth to compensate.  

Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, or longer if you have time.  

Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you are using the prosciutto, remember it is salty, so go easy on the salt.  Bacon is really nice with this soup too.  

Mash with a potato masher for a chunky texture.  For a smoother texture run part of it through a food processor or blender, or use an immersion blender right in the pot.  I love my immersion blender so that is my tool of choice here.  

Ladle into bowls and top the soup with Prosciutto, cheese, and vinaigrette.  
This is a wonderful comforting soup.  

Butternut Squash Soup





Butternut Squash Soup
(adapted from Betty Crocker)

One of my favorites ever!  I've made this soup a few times this year, trying to find exactly the right recipe.  And I finally hit it.  Most recipes have you peel and chop the squash, but I roast mine, it's much easier, and gives it a great flavor.

2 tbs butter
2 medium butternut squash
2 large apples, peeled, chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 tbs brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp pepper
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
squash seeds (optional garnish)
nutmeg (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 375.
Cut the ends off of the squash, scoop out the seeds.  I save the seeds and bake them and use them as a garnish.  Place them skin side down on a baking sheet.  Bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.  

Once the squash has cooled enough scoop out the flesh.

Saute' onions in a couple tablespoons of butter, until softened.  Add the apples, broth, salt, cinnamon, pepper and squash.  Bring to a boil and simmer covered until apples are soft.  

In batches, pour the soup into a blender, or food processor (I use my vitamix), and process until smooth.  Once it has all been pureed, return to a clean pot and heat until warmed.  Ladle into bowls and top with baked squash seeds and a dash of nutmeg.