Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes

Updating a Classic: Orechiette with Kale & Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas

Back in the early days of my blog, I made this Spinach and Chickpea spaghetti dish that quickly became a favorite and a regular in our rotation. It’s healthy, hearty and easy. Well, I recently updated it a bit and loved the results, so I’m doing a quick post to share! The new version uses orechiette instead of spaghetti and kale instead of spinach, and I roasted the chickpeas in advance to give them some crunch and an extra pump of zest thanks to a sprinkling of paprika when they’re fresh out of the oven. Such simple switches, but they made all the difference! And there was so much flavor that I was able to cut way back on the dairy used for the creamy sauce. 


Orechiette with Kale & Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • Half of a one-pound box of orechiette
  • 1½ Cups Chickpeas
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Onion
  • one pat of butter (about 2 TBSP)
  • 1 TBSP Capers (I keep a jar in the fridge)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Grated Parmesan (or Pecorino) Cheese, amount to taste (approx. 1/4 cup)

DIRECTIONS

First, roast the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas, then dry thoroughly between paper towels (laying on a flat surface and rolling sometimes works well). Discard any loose skins that come off. Arrange on the baking sheet in an even layer, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper,  and toss to coat, then roast — stirring halfway through — for about 25 minutes, or until crispy and browned (but not burnt!) After removing from the oven, season the chickpeas with the smoked paprika, tossing to coat evenly, and set aside.

While the chickpeas roast, wash and dry the kale. Prep the produce: peel and dice the onion and garlic, roughly chop the kale leaves (or tear by hand), discarding the stems, and roughly  chop the capers. Quarter and de-seed the lemon. Finally, put a pot of water on to boil the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, reserving half a cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil over medium-hot in a large pan. Add the diced onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the kale and 1/4 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens have wilted and the water has cooked off.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan of kale and then throw in the capers, butter, juice of three lemon wedges and the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook for a few minutes, stirring thoroughly to combine, and season again with salt and pepper after removing from heat. Once off the stove, top the dish with the roasted chickpeas and stir to combine. Top with cheese and squeeze the remaining lemon wedge over the dish before eating.

Voila!

Without the cream cheese, this actually felt light enough to be in contention as an early spring dish, instead of a heavy “load up for hibernation” winter dinner. Georgia really loves roasted chickpeas as a snack, so she mostly kinda ate this, picking the onion and kale out and setting it off to the side. Cooked greens = bad, but cold fresh greens in a salad = OK by her. Pasta, of course, is always a toddler win.

I live by toddler logic.

That’s all from me today everyone! I hope you try this and like it as much as we did, and that you stay dry in the soggy northeast this week. Happy Tuesday!

Baby & Toddler · DIY · Grow Your Own Way

My baby isn’t a baby anymore…

…She’s a gardener!! And a pretty tall one at that. Daddy and G spent their day off together yesterday planting “Georgia’s patch,” the raised-bed garden Mark has been cultivating along the sunny side of our house for the past five years. This year, for the first time, Georgia picked out all the plants, including strawberries, hula berries, tomatoes, basil, peppers, lettuce and zucchini, and helped daddy replace the soil, dig holes, label the chalkboard stakes and mulch it all over. I can’t wait to taste everything they grow together!!

One thing we don’t usually grow but which I love to buy and bake with this time of year is Rhubarb. It should be hitting the farmer’s markets soon!! Every year, I make a tangy/sweet Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, and this year I am dying to try Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Breakfast Bars, which sound delectable.

And speaking of breakfast and yummy baked goods: there’s a new bakery at the Boston Public Market that I can’t wait to check out. Started by a 22-year-old (!) entrepreneur whose commercial kitchen is based in my ‘hood, Malden, Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery started as a short-term pop-up vendor whose bites were so popular she became the first vendor to convert to a permanent, full-time stall. She sells gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free breads, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and donuts, and locally sources ingredients such as jam, maple syrup, apple cider syrup, fruit, and veggies from farms like Carr’s Ciderhouse in Hadley, Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth, Brooksby Farm in Peabody, and Russell’s Orchards in Ipswich. Check her out!

photo credit: courtesy // #BostonPublicMarket

 Have a great week everyone 🙂

Tips and Tricks

The New Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

If you don’t already shop with this list of the most important produce items to buy organic, now you no longer have an excuse! In honor of Earth Day, here’s a handy dandy printable from the Environmental Working Group, just released last week. You can click the link below the image to download your own PDF to print and cut along the dotted line for your wallet, or just pin this picture for later 🙂  

EWG_DirtyDozen_Clean15_2016
Click here to download the printable

The biggest news this year is probably the fact that strawberries skyrocketed to the top of the list, displacing apples as the #1 most pesticide-contaminated fresh produce item even after being rinsed in the field and washed again before eating.

I don’t know about you, but my family eats A LOT of strawberries, and buying these organic is a priority for us. The cost difference is usually $1 or $2 per 1-pound container, shopping at Target, Aldi or Trader Joe’s. And don’t forget that Costco has a large and impressive selection of organic produce, pantry, dairy and frozen items, if you have enough mouths to feed and enough storage to accommodate their package sizes (which we do, even with just a 1,100 sq. ft. house and a 20-year-old refrigerator. It might be more doable than you think!)

I’m also relieved to see that some items — namely avocado, mangoes and onions — are solidly on the clean 15 list, because those can get pricey when you buy organic, and there may not be a reason to. Studies have shown that the nutrition in organic- and non-organic foods is the same, so the real reason to invest in organic produce is to avoid pesticides, many of which can disrupt hormones and cause cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, and neurological problems.

red strawberries organic

Beyond following this list, the best way to avoid pesticide exposure is to buy in-season produce from local vendors such as the farmer’s market or a farm share/subscription box, especially those that are certified organic.

  • Looking for a Boston-area farmer’s market? Click here for an interactive map. You can sort by organic, you-pick, geographic location, you name it!
  • Don’t forget the Boston Public Market is open 7 days a week starting July 18! The new hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Here’s a vendor list.

***

If you aren’t familiar with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), they are worth getting to know.  In addition to their produce guide, I rely on their Skin Deep cosmetic grading database and their annual sunscreen guide when I’m out in stores. Now, they’ve released an app that consolidates those consumer resources so you can simply scan items as you shop to evaluate their ingredients and effectiveness. I’ve already downloaded it! And that’s saying a lot, because I have 8,000 Georgia photos on my phone, so nobody gets new real estate without REALLY being worth it. 😉 

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Have a wonderful weekend and happy (non-toxic) shopping!!

Tips and Tricks · Uncategorized

Monday Musings

OK fine, it’s Wednesday! But I wrote this on Monday, which is a holiday in Massachusetts. I think it has something to do with Redcoats running ~26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston in search of brunch on their day off.

In all seriousness, Marathon Monday is second only to Christmas in my world when it comes to excitement and anticipation. (I can even overlook that confounding apostrophe after the “s” in Patriots’ Day for long enough to enjoy myself). We’ve taken Georgia to watch the Marathon since she was in utero, but this year was the first time in her life that it wasn’t freezing out and when she could really enjoy it and cheer for the runners. She kept offering them her snacks — “runners, do you need some Pirate Booty?” — and skipping alongside them, asking for high-fives. And she got a few, too! It was an awesome day, the sun was shining, and Mark had the day off to boot. That’s all I need.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, including ways to stop having so much trouble digesting food so that I can cook and eat normally again, a.k.a. the basis of this blog. I want to thank you all for your kind words after my last post! It helps to know others struggle with mystery tummy ailments, too. I’ll be sharing a longer post about some of the ways I’m trying to get my stomach back on track, but in the meantime, here’s what I’m contemplating, doing and buying these days.

What I’m coveting

Every year when it gets warm, I start to want an everyday (non-road) bike again. I can’t wait to see the new Ikea City Bike which is only available in Europe so far, and I’m highly intrigued by the relaunch of Columbia Bicycles.

What I’m hoping to cook when I’m back in sorts

This Creamy Lemon Pasta from the New York Times.

What I’m listening to

The “Quiet” podcast about being — and parenting — an introvert (that would be me, obviously, not Georgia).

What I’m streaming

Kimmie Schmidt (meh so far) and Cooked (next on my list are these food documentary ideas).

How I’m relaxing

With this essential oil & this diffuser

How I’m moving

This after-work Zumba class and these 10-minute workouts at home (which are killer!)

What I’m gifting myself for my birthday

I’m turning 34 Saturday (eek!) and I have a tradition of treating myself. I always pick out one fun new makeup item and one new book, I always schedule a Stitch Fix to arrive the week of my birthday. And, I always get a mani or a pedi. Those are my favorite things to do for myself, and the older I get the more I’ve found that celebrating myself is the best way to feel special! Ever since we got married, Mark renews my New Yorker subscription for my birthday, since that’s what I read on the train every day. I made the mistake of mentioning that I’d love to seriously upgrade our on-its-last-legs blender soon, and as a result I’ve spent the last week reminding him that we can’t afford to spend over a week’s worth of daycare tuition on a Vitamix, much as I’d love to! Though I’m flattered he wants to spoil me :/. And I’ll probably repay him by dragging him for Mexican food on my birthday, too. Poor guy!!

Have a great week everyone and enjoy the wicked warm weather we’re supposed to get in Boston tomorrow 🙂 Summer is around the bend! xoxo

Recipes · Uncategorized

Pizza Bolognese

Hi all! It’s almost Friday! Can I get an AMEN? I’m going to to get real with you briefly, because I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been blogging less frequently lately. If you’re my mom, this is the part where you’re hoping I ‘fess up to having morning all-day sickness again, but the sad truth is that I’ve been in the grips of a tremendously bad flare-up of my old stomach problem for weeks now — something I’d thought was permanently behind me since having Georgia. I’ve had to go into crisis mode with food, and that has meant eating (and cooking) much less while I try to get this under control. Happily, I did try out one new winning recipe this week that Mark and Georgia deemed a success, so I’m here to share that with you, even if I can’t eat it myself!

I only pulled this together because some ingredients were going to go bad otherwise, what with me not eating them as planned, but I’ll be keeping it in our regular rotation (and hoping I can partake) because it’s so easy and filling. This is a recipe you can shop for all at Trader Joe’s if you like, but it’s simple to swap out TJ’s ingredients for regular supermarket stuff, too. As with all pizza recipes, you can make your own dough, buy it at a pizza shop for a buck or two, or go with the pre-made brand of your choice. I normally use Target’s thin-crust two pack, but wanted a thicker, doughier option this time to hold up against the pillow-y mozzarella and chunky meat sauce.

Pizza Bolognese

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pizza crust (I like the thicker style of Boboli for this one!)
  • handful of shredded cheese, any kind, as a base layer
  • ~3/4 cup meat sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Bolognese); adjust quantity to taste
  • one fresh mozzarella ball, torn into chunks by hand
  • handful of basil leaves, shredded by hand
  • optional: Italian seasoning on top (I used Wildtree Hearty Spaghetti Blend)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450F and place the pizza crust on your baking tray. I use a non-stick pizza pan since we make homemade pies so often, but you could use a rectangular or square baking sheet and stretch the dough to fit it, or buy a non-round pre-made crust to accommodate your pan.

Layer some shredded cheese on the crust in a light layer. (I had packaged cheddar on hand that I wanted to use up). Follow with the sauce, spreading it out evenly and to your desired thickness. Too heavy will slip right off the pie after cooking; a little goes a long way!

Continue by breaking up the mozzarella by hand and dropping it on the pizza, distributing as evenly as you can or to your desired level.

Follow by ripping some basil leaves over the top, quantity to your taste.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until browned on the edges of the crust, and allow plenty of cooling time after so the ingredients stay together. If you try to eat it too quickly it’ll be too heavy and might fall apart. 10 minutes cooling should do it! Enjoy!


I’ll be back soon with a few thoughts on how I’ve tried to get my digestion back on track, in the hopes it can help someone else. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for young women (see what I did there?) to have chronic stomach ailments that baffle doctors, and while it’s frustrating to have them tick possible reasons off the list — celiac? colitis? preservatives? obstruction? — without finding any answers, it’s helped me develop a few tools of my own to combat the symptoms, and so far my approach IS working. This is the reason I became a vegetarian in the first place, so the first thing I do is eliminate what little meat I DO eat these days as soon as symptoms re-emerge. I’ll be back this weekend to share my other tips and lessons learned. Hope all of you are well and feeling excited about Spring! Pretty soon it’ll be Marathon Monday and we can all start planting our gardens and opening the windows for some fresh air! XOXO.

 

Uncategorized

One-Pot Pasta

So, this is not a new trend. It’s not even new to ME. But finally, after seeing it explode on Pinterest over the last few years, I decided I had to at least try the concept of “one-pot pasta,” also known as “putting a bunch of things into one large stockpot with your dry spaghetti and boiling it into dinner.” Was I skeptical? Of course! It can’t really be that easy, can it? Well, I’m here to tell you it can — I’m officially a one-pot pasta convert, and this won’t be the last one-pot recipe I’ll be sharing. Dig in!

By its very nature, this recipe is adaptable. I decided to start off with a pretty failsafe combo — basil, tomatoes, onions and sausage — and experiment from there. If you don’t have these exact ingredients, improvise! It’s hard to mess this one up.

One-Pot Pasta

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
  • 2-3 cups tomatoes, halved (I used grape tomatoes from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 package sausage, about 12 oz. (I used Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s, but you could use any flavor/variety), thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced (or use 1 medium onion)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated pecorino cheese for serving (could also use parmesan; amount to taste)
  • 4 1/2 cups water

DIRECTIONS

In a large stockpot — I used my large Le Creuset enamel Dutch oven — add the spaghetti (I broke mine in half to fit in the pan), tomatoes, sliced sausage, fresh basil, garlic cloves, shallots and 4 1/2 cups of water, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Over medium-high heat, bring pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the pasta is done and the water has reduced, approximately 10 minutes.

Stir in the grated cheese and serve!

img_5384   Don’t stress if there’s still a little unabsorbed water in the pan when you are done  cooking. It’ll help form a bit of a sauce when you add the cheese.

This dish reheats extremely well as leftovers. I drizzled olive oil (actually, garlic-infused flavor) in each tupperware before storing in the fridge so that it re-moistened easily in the microwave, and it worked like a charm!


Happy Wednesday, everyone ~ here’s to this dismal weather warming up soon.