organicglory

simple nibbles of natural goodness

New U.S. nutrition guidelines to recommend less meat?

I don’t know if you saw this over the weekend, but a slew of articles came out about the impending update to our government nutrition guidelines, better known as the food pyramid. In addition to the unsurprising findings that we consume too much salt and added sugar, the appointed nutrition panel’s initial report tackles the amount and type of meat in our diet for the first time — saying, in short, that for health reasons and for the good of the environment, we need to cut way back on red meat in particular, which has the highest carbon footprint of all the food we produce.

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Predictably, Congress and meat processors are pissed.

Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama who is chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the budget for the Agriculture Department, issued a formal warning in December to the panel charged with updating the food guidelines.

“Politically motivated issues such as taxes on certain foods and environmental sustainability are outside their purview, ” he told the Washington Post via spokesman.

“The Committee’s foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope and expertise. It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac care,” said Barry Carpenter, CEO of the North American Meat Institute, adding that the recommendations “appear to be based on personal opinions or social agendas.”

But the panel isn’t backing down.

“Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet,” the report says.

Americans are eating less meat than they have in the past, but they are still eating too much, according to the panel’s experts, and all that meat consumption is having detrimental effects on the environment. A study published last year in the journal Climatic Change reported that meat eaters contributed more to global warming than do fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans.

Beef is associated with more than twice the carbon emissions of pork, nearly three times that of turkey and almost four times that of chicken, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The World Resources Institute has estimated that poultry, pork, shrimp, fish and eggs are all much better sources of those two nutrients relative to the amount of feed and land required to produce them.

The government appoints a blue ribbon panel every five years to review our eating habits, examine areas that need greater guidance to improve public health, and recommend an updated list of Dietary Guidelines, which influence school lunches, food labeling, public policy and more. The panel’s experts said they aren’t forcing a vegan diet on the American population.

“But we are saying that people need to eat less meat,” Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members, told the Washington Post. “We need to start thinking about what’s sustainable. Other countries have already started including sustainability in their recommendations. We should be doing it, too.”

Chicken w/ Capers & Artichokes

I have no words for how bad the commuting is in Boston these days, so I’m not even going to address it — just share a great recipe for cold, snowbound days. 

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We made this two weeks ago and I added the leftovers to some yellow rice a couple days later, with the chicken shredded, for a respectable second-round meal. I also wondered if it would be good on pizza with some salty cheese on top, which I might try next time I make this. Or I might toss with some cheese tortellini. If I try any of those combos, I’ll let you know and update this post!

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Lemon Chicken with Capers & Artichokes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 – 1.5 pound package boneless chicken cutlets
  • 1 jar capers
  • 1 jar marinated artichokes
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • splash of chicken stock
  • seasonings of your preference for the chicken
  • olive oil

DIRECTIONS

FYI, the sauce should take about the same amount of time to prep and cook as the chicken, between 10 and 15 minutes.

Cover a roasting pan in aluminum foil. Cut the chicken cutlets to desired size and place in the pan, then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper or other blend, such as Trader Joe’s 21-seasoning salute. Just be careful not to over-salt because the capers and artichokes are already pretty briny from being marinated/preserved.

Preheat the oven to 350, put the chicken in the oven, and start the sauce on the stovetop.

In a stainless steel sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook the entire can of marinated artichokes. Add in the capers (drained). Cut one lemon in half and juice both halves into the sauté pan with the capers and artichokes. Cook and keep reducing liquid.

Transfer the chicken to under the broiler, placing the lemon rinds in the pan for flavor before you do so. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn while you finish the sauce.

Continue cooking the sauce on the stovetop, adding in a splash of chicken stock until it reduces and turns almost syrup-like. Turn off the heat.

When the chicken is browned, take it out from under from under the broiler and remove the lemon rinds; reserve. Pour the sauce over the top of the chicken and squeeze any remaining juice from lemon rinds before serving. Voila!

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I didn’t try these flavors on Georgia, but Mark was a big fan and scooped up a huge portion. It was filling and delicious!

Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, the long list of James Beard semi-finalists was announced today. Boston was pretty well represented ~ especially Alden & Harlow in Cambridge, in the running for best new restaurant.

Have a safe commute & stay warm, wherever you are. XOXO

We’re back (+2 Vitamix recipes)

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? Ever since having a baby, I sure do. I think it’s frowned upon to say that, but traveling with a child is down-to-the-bone exhausting! 

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I’m so glad we got away from this snow. And it never feels like we spend enough time with our family by just seeing them every six months, especially since they used to live up north full time. But I always come back feeling that we should have stayed longer, and like I need to still take a few days off before going back to work so that I can get my life back together and recover from flying with a toddler. Our return flight was delayed, and Georgia did NOT cope well — she threw a water bottle and poured milk on our seat mate, who turned out to be a very understanding grandpa, and kicked the guy in front of us for three hours straight. She head-butted me so hard at one point that I thought she’d broken my nose. Oh, and did I mention that Mark got food poisoning and spent the entire day with a barf bag? Not fun. We actually talked about driving next time even though it takes three full days.

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On the plus side, I think we might be only house in the entire Greater Boston area that doesn’t have horrific ice dams right now. We didn’t have a single leak when we got home, and our next-door neighbors snow-blowed us out so we could get in the driveway upon returning from the airport. We really are so lucky.

where did our house go?

where did our house go?

On our last day in Florida, Mark and I took Georgia to Nokomis Groves for her first citrus swirl. Well, technically she had the lime-vanilla cone in utero, but she very rudely made me throw up the entire thing an hour later, so we had to go back! It only took her one attempt at biting the ice cream before she figured out to lick it and protect her front teeth.

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P.S., can we talk about the fact that mom has never owned a pair of Topsiders, and this kid already has a hot pink pair?? Someone’s daddy sure spoils her.

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She’s in a major daddy phase right now, which is kind of a relief after 18 months of mom-clinging!  

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Georgia also tried her first smoothie while in Florida. My aunt just got a Vitamix (jealous!!) so we made Georgia a smoothie with blueberries, plain Greek yogurt and banana. She loved it! She only just started using sippy cups with a straw a couple weeks ago, so I’m hoping this is the start of her finally giving up her bottle for good. She is SO attached to it.

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If I had a Vitamix, the main thing I’d use it for would be green smoothies, followed by soups. Why green smoothies? Because the Vitamix can puree vegetables, even rough ones like kale, in a way that standard blenders just cannot. If you like to add greens into your fruit smoothies, the only way to make them drinkable instead of gritty is to go with a high-end blender like the Vitamix. Plus, it’s self-cleaning, and has an automatic off sensor when purees are done.

I have a great Cuisinart that we received for our wedding, and it’s still going strong after 7 years — maybe when it dies, I’ll think about investing in a Vitamix! My favorite green smoothie is Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie, the original classic:

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I leave out the herbs and substitute some ice for the water because I prefer green smoothies very cold.

My aunt made a great soup with her Vitamix this trip, and she showed me how. It’s a Sweet Potato Soup that you start on the stovetop and finish in the Vitamix, adding a dash of cream if you want to make it more rich. It has all kinds of spices and some peanut butter in it — yum! We ate it topped with salted cashews.

Sweet Potato Soup

Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy-duty pot with oil and heat over medium. Add in one large diced onion, 3-4 minced garlic cloves, and 1 TBSP minced fresh ginger, and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add in two good-sized peeled and chopped sweet potatoes. Cover with 4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth (the contents of one cardboard box). Pour in 1 cup of water and add in 4 -5 cups of unsalted or low-sodium diced tomatoes (she uses fire roasted).  Add in a 1/2 cup of unsalted peanut butter (smooth), then the following spice mixture: cinnamon (1/4 tsp) cumin (2 tsp) coriander (2 tsp) sea salt (1/4 tsp) and cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp). Bring to a boil. Let cook for about 12 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add in 4 cups of fresh Swiss Chard; she uses the entire bunch from the store, stems and leaves chopped. Cover the pot and let the chard wilt about 2 minutes.
It’s ready to eat as-is at this point, but she let it cool and then blended in the Vitamix until pureed. If desired, add in some half & half or veggie stock. Serve with some nice crusty bread or croutons, and salted peanuts, cashews or asiago cheese on top.

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Well, tomorrow it’s back to braving the snow and the MBTA commute again for me. Don’t I wish I was still eating well and enjoying nice weather down south! Alas, reality comes crashing back down eventually. I hope you all stay safe and warm if you’re in this snow vortex gripping the northeast! And if you use your Vitamix for something really creative that I didn’t mention, or you have great smoothie recipes to share, call ‘em out in the comments.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Escaping Boston

I am writing this to you from — now don’t be jealous — my aunt’s kitchen table in Florida, where I’m enjoying a view overlooking the pool while eating a smoothie bowl that I made myself for breakfast. Mark and Georgia both slept late today (!) and the weather has been in the low 70s all week, so I am in a pretty good mood!

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We had a rough ride in last week because the post-Blizzard traffic in Boston is still in utter gridlock, so even though we live four miles from the airport it took us over an hour to get there. Then our flight was delayed and plagued by turbulence the whole four hours, which resulted in Georgia throwing up all over me just a little while before we landed. We were not a pretty sight upon arrival in Fort Myers!!

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Luckily we’ve really made up for that one bad travel day, which isn’t to say I haven’t spent the entire week dreading our return trip. And secretly hoping this next storm will force us to stay south even longer. Though we’ve been here countless times since my family moved to Sarasota ten years ago, it’s wonderful seeing Georgia encounter all these special places for the first time as a toddler! She came here at 7 weeks, 6 months and now 18 months, and she’s able to enjoy it a little more each time because she’s so much more mobile and aware of her surroundings.

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Yesterday, we took Georgia to Nokomis Beach, and the day before we met friends of Mark’s from college for lunch at the Daiquiri Deck on Siesta Key. They just had a baby and they live in Chicago, and we haven’t seen them since their wedding a few years ago. It was so awesome that we were all on vacation in the same place at the same time!

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I’ve been reading a really good book while I’m here: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Appealing for anyone who likes science and narrative journalism, it is fascinating but also slightly depressing because it tells the story of a poor black tobacco farmer whose cancerous cells were taken without her knowledge just before her death in 1951 and used to develop the polio vaccine, gene mapping, cloning and more; meanwhile, her descendants live without health insurance. Despite the dark topic, I definitely recommend it.

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We’ve also had some awesome meals so far. Brunch yesterday was at The Breakfast House in Venice, where we had French toast, sausage and biscuits, and a blackberry-and-Brie omelet. Later today we are going for my favorite ice cream at Nokomis Groves, where the only flavors are orange, lime, pineapple and soft serve chocolate or vanilla. I always get a citrus-vanilla swirl. Try not to be jealous, and I’ll write more later this week!

Last-minute Super Bowl snack ideas!

Did you procrastinate, run out of time, or just generally flake on what you’re making to snack on while you watch the Super Bowl until now? Are you going to be one of those idiots in the grocery store on Super Bowl Sunday? As the sleep-deprived, frazzled mother of a hyperactive toddler, I can’t relate to that AT ALL! :)

SAUSAGE CRESCENT BITES

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you will have just seen Mark’s favorite Game Day snack, Pillsbury Sausage Crescent Rolls. They are sweet/savory, just like my super easy Brown Sugar Kielbasa in the Slow Cooker.

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Of course, no Super Bowl party would be complete without Chips and SalsaDip, Wings, Beer, and some Classic Chili. But there are so many other options!

Got a big crowd? How about making them Beef Stew, Baked Macaroni & Cheese — the guilty kind, or the healthy kind — or heck, throw both in together and make a heaping pot of Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni and Chili with Coconut Milk, which happens to be meatless and oh so creamy!

Being Italian, I always have options like Stuffed Shells with Tomato Sauce and Meatball Pizza at the ready. But for those who prefer to go lighter, or want some more vegetarian options, try Kale Chips, homemade, better-for-you Tortilla Chips, or this awesome Sweet Potato “Chorizo” Chili that is totally meat-free.

I also like to pick up a container of Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili and place it in the bottom of a glass baking dish then pour corn bread batter on top and bake together. It’s like cornbread-chili upside down cake, and it’s delicious!! Add some heat by throwing in some chopped jalapenos before baking, or mix in some cheese before baking … slather on some butter …. and mmmmm.

Got any good recipes I should know for next year? Share ‘em!

Did you enjoy this post? Like it! Pin it! Share it! And most of all, GO PATS!

Mark’s Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls

For those of you who have become devoted fans of reading about my wife’s cooking adventures, hello! I’m the fan devoted to eating everything you’ve read about. Husband and baby daddy Mark here, and I’m pumped to be guest writing on my wife’s blog. 

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Now like I said, my wife’s the cook, I just do the eating, but I do have one or two dishes that I can do, and one of them happens to be an appetizer that is great for many reasons. One, it’s a finger food that doesn’t leave your fingers sticky. Two, it’s a crowd pleaser that never has leftovers, but most importantly, Three, and this is for you ladies, it’s so easy, EVEN A HUSBAND CAN DO IT!!!! There are even accounts of fiances, boyfriends, and common-law roommates being able to complete this dish. So here it is, my Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls.

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Now I know we’re all busy right now, watching our elected officials compete for who can more calmly announce the End Times via Blizzard, but once the roads are passable and you’re done shoveling out, when you can run to the grocery store the good news is you only need TWO ingredients for this dish, and they’re both in the refrigerated section.

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INGREDIENTS

  • One package of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • One 16 oz. package of Jimmy Dean Sausage (I prefer Regular, but if you need a kick in your Super Bowl snack, they also make a Hot)

PREP/KEEP IN MIND:

The Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are easiest to work with when they remain cooler, so don’t take out the package and leave it on the counter while you look for a cookie sheet. Also, the Jimmy Dean sausage is sometimes sold refrigerated, sometimes frozen. If you’ve been keeping it in the freezer, make sure it’s fully defrosted in the fridge before beginning.

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DIRECTIONS

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Open up Crescent Rolls and lay out the rectangles onto a non-stick cookie sheet. If you bought a package of six crescent rolls, you’ll have three rectangles of two triangles each.
2) Spread the ground sausage evenly across all three rectangles of Pillsbury.
3) Roll up the three rectangles the long way, so that you have three long rolls.
4) Slice the rolls into bite size pieces.
5) Spread them out across the cookie sheet so that none are touching.
6) Toss into your pre-heated oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. Some will prefer a doughier taste, some a crunchier taste, so just keep an eye on them, but dudes, remember, opening the oven door will make the whole process take longer.
7) Dump into a bowl and serve to the excited throngs.

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If oven time is at a premium on Game Day, you can always throw these puppies in the fridge after Step 5 and throw them into the oven whenever the VP of Kitchen and Life Organization deems it convenient. This appetizer, combined with my wife’s beloved Kielbasa and Brown Sugar recipe, will give your Superbowl Party all the protein deliciousness you could possibly desire!! Enjoy everyone and Go Pats!!!!

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Prepping for Blizzard

Superbowl? What Superbowl? The only thing on the news now is #Blizzardof2015. I refuse to call it Juno! I hate this practice of giving every major storm some ridiculous human-sounding name. If it’s so memorable, I think the year will do, a la the Blizzard of ’78. 

{ rant over }

Seen from space: already pretty astounding (courtesy noaa.gov)

Seen from space: already pretty astounding (courtesy noaa.gov)

We’ve had some pretty good storms since we moved into our house four years ago. And poor Mark has done the lion’s share of the digging, because I’ve been throwing up (morning sick), breastfeeding a newborn, or entertaining a toddler whose new trick is doing the worm backwards across the floor while yelling “wow, wow, wow!” every morning. Pray for my sanity.

Georgia: she was born ready.

Georgia: she was born ready.

How we prepare for big storms

  • Fill the gas tank in the car
  • Run the laundry in case the dryer vent is blocked for a few days
  • Put the shovels, gloves, hats and boots on the porch
  • Put ice melt on the front steps and sidewalk
  • Clean out (or, in our case, repair) the gutters
  • Put away the grill (as I’m sure everyone else did in October)
  • …unless you have an electric stove, in which case keep it handy in case you need it to cook
  • Buy batteries, candles/lighters, toilet paper and cat litter (both for her highness, and to coat the ice)
  • Fill any prescription medications or even over-the-counter necessities like infant Tylenol or Aleve for sore backs after shoveling
  • Stock up on bottled water, granola bars, fresh & dried fruit, peanut butter, english muffins, crackers, jam and canned goods like baked beans and veggies that don’t need refrigeration
  • Bring the summer cooler inside or onto the porch in case you need to store perishables when the power goes out
  • Keep an extra cell phone charger in the car as backup
  • Get out the snow shoes or cross country skis for post-storm transportation!

Mark and I are both born and raised in New England, so this is old hat for us. I grew up with a circular driveway and literally nothing, even our long tandem drive in Somerville, can compare to shoveling that torture. Our biggest issue now is living on a steep hill in a city where most people park on the street, so after a big storm like this it can be impossible to get out of the driveway for a few days. But I feel so lucky to even HAVE a driveway after parking on street for 10 years.

What we eat during the storm

I pre-cook dinners that can be eaten with or without power and taste good at room temp. A favorite example of this is my meat-free shepherd’s pie. We stocked up on whole milk for Georgia, and I’ve never been so glad to have our days of formula behind us. Even if we lose power, it’ll be cold enough to store the milk on the back porch for a few days. Then, we have a snow day tradition of pancakes, coffee and scrambled eggs! Our favorite mix is from Trader Joe’s (no surprise there):

Gone are the days when a 6-pack and a bottle of wine were our top must-haves for a snow day, but I can reminisce…and maybe sneak a sip or two after bedtime. If we don’t lose power, I’ll be working remotely and firing up the DVR, which we’ve loaded already in anticipation. I need to catch up on Downtown Abbey, people!

Stay safe, everyone!

Stay safe, everyone!

Our upcoming trip to Florida is starting to look twice as appealing all of a sudden. Keep warm, respect the travel ban, don’t over-exert yourself shoveling too much at one time, help your neighbors, and if all else fails, spend the day in PJs under a blanket fort :)

Carbonara 2.0: company edition

A few weeks ago, we were talking about having a friend over for dinner — his wife, a colleague of Mark’s, is on tour for over a year — and Mark thought it would be really nice to hang out together and cook him a solid, stick-to-your-ribs, home-made, comfort-food dinner. And, since he really wanted to do the cooking himself, he either had to learn a new recipe or amp up the wow factor of his spaghetti carbonara, which is really the only dinner he cooks by himself. 

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And then! We saw an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that gave us just the inspiration we were waiting for. So, after putting Georgia to bed one night during vacation, we put our heads together to start recipe testing. And I think we finally made the tweaks that will turn this weeknight staple into a creamier, more decadent dish worthy of company.

Here are the key things we changed:

  • Cooking the bacon in a tbsp of olive oil instead of relying on bacon fat to grease the pan.
  • Using a stainless steel pan instead of non-stick, which affects the drippings and the heat level you can use.
  • Smashing the garlic instead of dicing in a garlic press, which mellows the flavor; we also added it later in the cooking.
  • Adding wine to the sauteing bacon, but making sure it burns off a bit so the flavor doesn’t overwhelm.
  • Separating the egg whites and yolks, which allows the whites to impart an airiness to the sauce and prevents the risk of scrambling that arises when you add both to a hot pan. Also, adding yolks to the finished dish makes for an extremely creamy sauce.
  • Adding a dash of light cream for a thicker sauce and more fancy mouth feel.
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spaghetti carbonara: notoriously difficult to photograph.

My original recipe for spaghetti carbonara is posted here. I’ll list the new step-by-step directions below. We liked this so much that we are keeping almost every aspect except the cream for our weeknight dinner version! It really takes it to the next level.

Spaghetti Carbonara for Company

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 1 package good bacon*
  • 1 cup pecorino, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed/smashed
  • 2 TBSP white wine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

* if using high-quality pancetta instead, you’ll need about 4-5 ounces, NOT the equivalent of a 12-oz. package of bacon.

DIRECTIONS

Start by placing a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, chop the bacon into a large stainless steel saute pan and add a swirl of olive oil, about 2 TBSP.

When the water boils, add the pasta to the pot, stir to separate, and start cooking the bacon over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes and then add in the garlic and stir for just a minute. Add the wine and allow to burn off for a couple minutes, then season with plenty of black pepper and finally pour the cream over the pan.

When the pasta is just under-cooked, remove from the pot and add to the pan with the bacon. Stir. Turn off the heat and pour in the egg whites and half the grated cheese. Stir gently.

Just before serving, pour the yolks over the pasta and toss until the sauce it just thickened. Serve topped with the rest of the grated Pecorino cheese!

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Ways you can adapt this: use milk instead of light cream, or continue to omit dairy as in my original recipe; serve the egg yolks on top of the pasta or in a nest and allow guests to stir in themselves; add more pepper and/or red pepper flakes to heighten the heat; and of course, you can use high quality pancetta instead of run-of-the-mill bacon to make this even better-suited to a dinner party.

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I also know sometimes people like to toss in peas or some other cooked green, like broccolini or spinach, in the same way you would with fettuccine Alfredo. In Italy, pasta is never the main focus of the meal, so my serving recommendation always includes giving each person a small portion of such a heavy pasta, and pairing it with a steamed asparagus, minestrone soup to start, toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, or fresh bright greens (mesclun, arugula, etc.) tossed with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt. And of course, with a glass of wine! However you enjoy it, I hope this hits the spot.

Stay tuned for Mark’s Super Bowl recipe, coming soon! And, check out these great ideas for game day snacks in the slow cooker, courtesy of the Today Show. I also saw the following cute idea for serving veggies with dip in individual serving cups at a friend’s baby shower:

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Isn’t that clever? you put the dip in the bottom.

Have a great weekend everyone, and stay safe in the storm we are getting up here in Boston. I’ll be here Saturday, and then visiting my mom in the hospital (she is having surgery today ~ keep her in your prayers, please!)

Creamy Pesto Linguine tossed with Crispy Balsamic Chickpeas

Hello! Easy healthy recipe for your New Year’s resolution to eat better and cook more. I made this on a night Mark was working and I could eat whatever I wanted, which usually results in Indian food, something with mushrooms, or something spicy. Or soup, because the man just does not consider soup a meal, even if it’s hearty and homemade. Well, except for this one.

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Pesto Linguine with Crispy Balsamic Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 1 pound linguine (can be gluten-free, brown rice, etc. if desired)
  • About 1/2 cup prepared (or jarred) pesto, quantity to your preference
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • olive oil, about 2 TBSP
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese, shaved or grated, for the top
  • optional: a dash of light cream to make more decadent

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400F and set a large pot of water to boil. If you are making pesto fresh, be sure to do this ahead of time and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven (you know the kind I like), heat olive oil over medium. Any large pan is fine, as long as it’s oven-proof.

Add beans and garlic and cook, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to make sure beans get coated well with seasonings.

Transfer to the oven and bake until beans are browned and crispy, roughly 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once water boils, cook the pasta until al dente. Once fully cooked, about 10 minutes, drain and return to the pot, off the heat. Toss with preferred amount of pesto until coated.

Remove chickpeas from oven and pour in balsamic; stir until chickpeas are well coated and the vinegar has thickened slightly.

Optional: add dash of light cream to the linguine for a creamier sauce.

Serve one of two ways — combine the balsamic chickpeas with linguine and toss, or plate the pasta and top with the chickpeas. Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy!

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I got three lunches out of this, and it was very tasty reheated. I just love the crunch of the chickpeas against the sweet-tangy balsamic sauce, and the satisfyingly filling pasta! It makes me feel like I’m indulging more than I am, and if you omit the light cream, it’s even healthier. Sometimes it’s good to have a more luxurious version of your everyday recipes in your back pocket, so I like to test recipes both ways. In fact, Mark helped me do just that for our go-to spaghetti carbonara, and I’ll be blogging about version 2.0 of that recipe soon.

I really hope you enjoy this. You might also like this Mulitgrain Spaghetti with Spinach and Chickpeas, or my Harvest Vegetable Pasta. It’s been a while since I made both of those, so I think it’s time to add them back into the rotation! I hope you have a nice long weekend. Stay warm:)

This recipe was inspired by TheLiveInKitchen.

2014 in review

It’s that time again — the year in review! Curious what my most popular dishes were in 2014? I hope you are, because most of them are playoff-ready recipes that I know you’ll want to have handy this weekend. We are a Pats household (obvi) and last week’s game against the Ravens was a real nail-biter, so we are pretty pumped for Sunday’s game against the Colts. 

But back to the year in review. OrganicGlory had a huge year in 2014. We grew to more than 1,000 followers (thank you!!), published more than 70 posts, saw a big uptick in comments, and had a couple of pretty big hits on Pinterest.

social media

The biggest hit on Pinterest, hands down, was my Brown Sugar Kielbasa recipe, which has become my all-time most popular recipe on any platform, and has made 30,000 impressions on Pinterest. One day in December, it got 3,771 views on this site, which is more people than I ever thought would read the blog in my entire lifetime. But no wonder! It’s so easy and delicious, and a good go-to for potlucks, holidays and game days.

crunchy numbers

Other popular posts this year? For sure it was my Shepherd’s Pie, my silly post about the Best Smoothie Container I’ve ever owned, and my tips on Beating Morning Sickness. That always enjoys a spike in traffic this time of year when lots of people are finding out they are pregnant with late summer and early fall babies :) 

Other recipes that do really well every year are this Kale Salad with Lemon-Avocado Dressing, Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa, Vegan Spinach-Artichoke Dip and Pumpkin Bread from Scratch.

The cool thing about blogging is that you get to “virtually” meet so many people from so many different places. Because people read from such a diversity of places, I’ve also gotten to learn from them about ways they adapted, tweaked or improved upon my recipe ideas.

globe

One person added spicy brown mustard to the Brown Sugar Kielbasa; another tossed in pineapple chunks for the last half hour, and yet another added chili powder. I’ve heard from several readers who have used my strawberry-rhubarb crumble recipe as a pie filling, or who took the topping and put it on apple crisp (genius! why didn’t I think of that). One friend took my egg-free orange creamsicle cake as a base recipe, and added chocolate sour cream frosting and sprinkles to it; another time, she used the same recipe but baked it in a Bundt pan and drizzled the frosting, which is how I serve it from now on because it looked so much better.

hi, nancy!

All of this is to say, THANK YOU for supporting me, for leaving me feedback and ideas, for helping me hit 1,000 followers when my goal for 2014 was 100, and for coming back when I have rough patches with baby sleep, work or life and disappear for a week or two. Click here to see my full year in review for OrganicGlory, and now, enjoy a few other fun links to while away the rest of this afternoon until it’s time to go home.

The Kitchn’s most-pinned recipes of 2014

Did you know yoga is as good for your heart as aerobic exercise?

Healthy breakfast ideas I wish I had on Christmas morning

My new favorite workout pants

The 20 bands you need to hear live this winter

3 surprising ways Poland is actually more eco-friendly than the U.S. (two of these I do already, but the third I’m just not sure about).

That’s all I’ve got today ~ have a great week, everyone! And if you don’t already, help me make 2015 even more awesome by sharing my posts and following me on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. See you soon!

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