Blue Apron · Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes

Spring Fettuccine

Hmm. Where did we go for 21 days? It sure whizzed by rather mysteriously for me, until I woke up and realized I hadn’t written a new recipe all month. But I can tell you one thing — we did very, very, VERY little cooking these last three weeks, so that right there is probably the secret to why this blog went silent.

We had my mom’s 70th birthday party, the end of school for Georgia, the start of summer camp, the tail end of audition season for Mark, and annual reviews at my office, plus graduation from the political candidate training program I underwent all winter, Emerge.

I guess we were busy, huh?


You’ll notice this post has the word “Spring” in the title. That’s because that is when I started writing it! It’s probably even more exciting as a meal option now, though, because it’s just that easy — and easy is what you want in the heat (which we finally have here in Boston). And, bonus: you can use any greens that are ready to harvest from your garden now, if you’re in the Northeast.

The title of this should really be “Fresh Fettuccine with Chicken, Asparagus, Kale and Rosemary” but that is just WAY too long, so I’m leaving the flavors a bit to your imagination with a festive-sounding word like “Spring” instead. Because when I think of this season, and eating outdoors or on the porch, with something light and easy to pull together on a weeknight, those foods are for sure on my list…right next to a crisp glass of white wine or rosé.

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I originally made this as part of my Blue Apron subscription but have since redone it and adapted it for our family, and you could do the same. Chicken and Rosemary are natural buddies, but you can leave out any part that doesn’t appeal, including the chicken if you want to make this vegetarian, or the red pepper flakes if you don’t like so much heat. The greens are also interchangeable, so a spring mix or spinach would be fine here, too. Other ideas: you could add in some garlic to the saute step, or even some mushrooms — especially for a heartier vegetarian option if you omit the chicken tenders. I might even add some fresh peas if I saw them at the farmer’s market.

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Spring Fettuccine

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 6 OZ fettuccine
  • 1 bunch kale
  • ½ bunch ssparagus
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 2 TBSP crème fraîche or Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 TBSP grated Parmesan
  • ⅛ TBSP crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

Wash and dry the fresh produce and eat a medium pot of salted water to boiling. Snap off and discard the tough, woody ends of the asparagus, then cut into 1-inch pieces on an angle. Remove and discard the kale stems and finely chop the leaves. Pick the rosemary leaves off the stems, or run through an herb stripper; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and chop into bite-sized pieces, then transfer to a bowl. Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

In a large pot, heat some olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, stirring occasionally for about five minutes or until it is lightly browned and cooked through.While the chicken cooks, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Reserving ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly.

While the pasta cooks, add the asparagus, kale, rosemary, 2 TBSP water and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be, to the pan of chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes or until the asparagus is bright green and the kale wilts.

Add the cooked pasta, crème fraîche and half the reserved pasta cooking water to the pan of chicken and veggies. Cook, stirring vigorously to coat the pasta, until thoroughly combined, just a couple of minutes. If the sauce seems dry, add the remaining pasta cooking water to reach a better consistency. Top with cheese and enjoy!

This makes about two servings, so it’s perfect for date night. Or, it doubles easily.

Buon Appetito!

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Technically summer started last week, but I think you can still safely make this “spring” pasta and be on-season with your ingredients. I know my garden is still overflowing with greens like lettuce, cabbage and kale! In fact things are growing so fast and furious after our heavy spring rains that allergies have hit in full force for me lately, and I hope you aren’t suffering too! Have a great rest of the week, and an awesome start to your Fourth of July vacation if you’re taking off soon. We are staying in town but hoping to savor the warm sun and maybe get to some boating and beach or pool time! 🍉🇺🇸☀️


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Gymboree Sale On Now!

Drinks & Smoothies · kid-friendly · Recipes

Blueberry Super Smoothie

Inspired by the Blueberry Bliss Smoothie at Mother Juice in the Boston Public Market, I set out this week to create a smoothie recipe that had more complex flavors than the results I’ve gotten with just frozen berries and coconut milk alone. While there’s nothing wrong with tossing frozen fruit and milk into the blender, I always suspected there had to be a way of packing even more nutritional clout into something built on antioxidant-rich blueberries. I also wanted to give this smoothie some heft, to make it a real meal replacement possibility and filling enough to satisfy that afternoon sugar craving. I really love how this turned out, and I think you’ll be surprised at the secret ingredient that gives it that extra edge!

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Blueberry Super Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup juice (I chose cranberry)
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 ripe or frozen banana
  • 1 container vanilla yogurt (Greek or regular; about 4 oz.)
  • a small palm full of pistachios
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • a dash of pumpkin pie spice*

DIRECTIONS

In a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, add all the ingredients, placing juice on the bottom and spices/seeds on top. Blend until smooth and enjoy cold!

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*Did that last ingredient surprise you?? That’s one of the things that made the Mother Juice smoothie so good! You couldn’t put your finger on it, but it tasted SO GOOD. If you want to really amp up the spice factor, add in some cinnamon! And if you want even more protein, make the yogurt Greek (I like Trader Joe’s vanilla bean) and add a tablespoon of almond butter, too.

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You can also swap out the nuts if you don’t like pistachios — I think almonds would be good. And if you don’t use frozen berries or banana, then throw in a couple ice cubes. I make this at night and put it into to-go containers so I can grab them the next morning. With chia seeds, letting them sit in the smoothie overnight lets them plump up and give your drink a wonderful, thick texture! They also add lots of fiber, too.

Read more about chia seeds and find my recipe for chia pudding right here.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

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Recipes

Roasted Squash Pizza

Yes, squash! And kale, and caramelized onions, and apples, and  a balsamic reduction. The secret sauce that pulls it all together? Greek Yogurt!
You all know that I love substituting Greek Yogurt into baking recipes. I’ve done it in baking, and in place of sour cream atop all my chili recipes, and in smoothies left and right. But recently it struck me: why not put Greek Yogurt onto a white pizza? It’s tangy, it’s a little sweet, and in recent years the flavor options have exploded. I briefly considered making a reworked Hawaiian pizza, with pineapple Greek Yogurt, diced ham, onions and mozzarella, but after recently trying some unexpectedly delicious squash tacos, it got me thinking about the versatility of root vegetables and gourds. For this recipe, I used an acorn squash, since the skin is edible and it cooks down into a very sweet, mellow taste when diced and roasted. I pre-cooked the ingredients for this pizza in a saute pan ever so briefly, then assembled it on the pie and popped into the oven for just ten minutes of crisping. Voila!

Kale wilts a lot when cooked, and is a well-documented nutritional powerhouse. It can be tough to eat raw, so even when I’m using it in a salad I like to mix it with a variety of leafy greens chopped very fine. Kale, like other cruciferous vegetables, supports a healthy heart and digestive system, and provides an irresistibly earthy flavor to any dish. If you don’t like it or prefer not to use it, spinach would be an acceptable and tasty substitute.

This recipe makes use of several ingredients that you’ll probably have in double, simply by virtue of the quantity in which stores sell squash (which is whole) and kale (which is in large bunches). It also only calls for half a container of Greek Yogurt, so you could easily buy or make two pizza pies and then cook two of these babies back to back, and use up all your ingredients.

I know it may seem odd, but I actually chose Coconut Blended Chobani as the sweet base for this pizza. Why? Well, coconut seems unexpected, and I like that! I personally love the flavor, and this is a standby choice for me to keep in our house to share with Georgia alongside fresh fruit as a snack. She also loves the mango and pineapple flavors, which I send to daycare with a side of granola. And, just like coconut oil imparts a faint aroma and flavor to the food it cooks with, this yogurt provided a creamy, sweet foundation that made you say “hmm, what’s that I’m tasting?” with every bite of the finished pizza.

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Roasted Squash Pizza

The quantities below are for one pie; to make two, simply double. Many store-bought pie crusts are sold as a pair anyway, and you can always refrigerate the spare for another pizza recipe, or to make homemade oven chips tossed with oil and seasoning for a savory little snack.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pizza crust, homemade or store bought
  • 1 package Chobani Coconut Blended Greek Yogurt
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 acron squash, cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small bunch of kale, shredded into pieces and stems discarded
  • 1 tart apple, cut into bite sized pieces, peel on
  • salt and pepper to taste

optional: balsamic reduction for drizzling (but you really should keep this step, even if it means buying a bottle of glaze instead of making your own!)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 or whatever temp the dough calls for, if you’re using packaged crust. Cut up the apple and set aside.

In a medium-sized saute pan over medium-high, heat a bit of olive oil and add the sliced red onion, stirring, until they just become translucent. Add the kale and cook for a couple of minutes until it just starts to shrink but hasn’t fully wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cubed acorn squash to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the kale is fully wilted, the onions have begun to caramelize, and the acorn squash is browned and becoming tender. Remove the pan from the heat.

Prep the crust by spreading about half the package of yogurt onto the surface in an even layer, adding the kale, onion, and squash directly from the pan, distributing evenly over the pizza.

Sprinkle the cubed apples over the pie and drizzle gently with the balsamic reduction, using a light hand.

Place the completed pizza into the oven for 10 minutes or however long the packaged crust calls for; check to make sure the edges aren’t burning. It’s done when the crust is beginning to brown. Remove from the oven, allow to cool briefly, and dig in!

I rough cut my homemade pizzas in six or eight pieces depending on my mood, always using kitchen shears. Depending on the type of pizza stone you have, you may need to add more oil or flour to prevent sticking. I have one like this and love it. These slices reheat very well, too. Just pop a few into the microwave for 1 minute or reheat over low in a small nonstick frying pan until warm. Enjoy 🙂

Looking for more ways to use Greek Yogurt in cooking and baking? Check out  my Strawberry Yogurt CakeOrange Creamsicle Cake, and this Spicy Penne Rosa with Shrimp, which has a creamy tomato sauce, a kick of heat, and some heart-healthy spinach. Lately I’ve been making my own parfaits with the seasonal granola selection at Trader Joe’s, grapes, and apples, since those are the two fruits we have in abundance these days due to toddler preferences and our recent orchard excursion. Greek Yogurt makes an awesome addition to overnight oats, too! Be sure to head on over to Chobani’s recipe page to get even more inspiration.

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Have a wonderful week, and I’ll be back soon with some Thanksgiving ideas … plus a sneak peek at our Christmas card photos, which I can’t wait to share with you (teaser above!) Let me just tell you, portrait sessions with a two year old are NO. JOKE!  🙂

Special thanks to Chobani for inspiring this post.

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Holidays · Recipes

Orange Creamsicle Cake

OK, I made up that name. I have been craving an Orange Julius SO BAD LATELY (and no, I’m not pregnant, just eating like it…and possibly stuck in the 90s) so when I decided to make a simple cake for Easter at the last minute, it had to meet two criteria: involve fewer than five ingredients, and taste like an Orange Julius. I think this is a success story.

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I found a Pinterest recipe that looked promising, then made it even more citrus-y by making up a light orange icing. That was the critical element! Fresh, juicy and bright, this cake is a definite winner.

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I had two tough critics to please — my Easter guests, the husband and the brother — and both loved it. They are both chocolate freaks and not fruit lovers, so I considered that a victory. I hope you like it, too.

Orange Creamsicle Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 1 small container of orange juice, no pulp
  • (you’ll use 1 cup for the cake, 2 TBSP for the icing)

  • 1 small (6 or 7 oz.) container Greek yogurt (I chose 2% Fage)
  • 1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • optional: one orange for zest and/or garnish

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DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, orange juice and Greek yogurt. Mix by hand until well combined and no longer lumpy.

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×9 glass baking dish.

Pour the cake mixture into the pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes; let cool.

Check with a toothpick that the middle is set. Serve cool or at room temp with whipped cream! If you like, garnish with orange zest, peel or confectioner’s sugar.

TO MAKE THE ICING

I winged this, based on past experience which told me that citrus juice + confectioner’s sugar = icing (if you get the ratio right). Here, I used 1.5 cups of sugar to 2 TBSP orange juice, and a dash of zest from a fresh orange I had lying around (optional). Just mix until a paste forms and spread on the cake.

I iced the cake in the morning and then sat it back in the refrigerator while we went to church, so it was ready when we got home. I thought this cake actually tasted best a little on the cool side, so I kept it in the fridge during supper and served it right to the table with whipped cream on the side. (Since it was a rush job, I didn’t have time to make fresh. It was still tasty!) You could certainly serve at room temp if you prefer. I’m sure it would also taste fine with Cool Whip, and my brother had the awesome suggestion to make a simple fruit sauce like you would with strawberry shortcake, just sliced fruit with granulated sugar sprinkled on top until the juices come out. I’m definitely going to try that next time! Maybe, like Mark suggested, for Georgia’s 1st birthday party.

Speaking of her little self, check out that baby of mine on Easter!

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I hope you all have a lovely week and that the rain clears out of Boston and other parts of the Northeast some time soon. Just like babies have to sleep through the night eventually, at some point it has to become summer this year. Right?

If you liked this recipe, and enjoy easy dessert recipes, check this out. Or, if you’re a bit more advanced (I’m not), there’s this lovely cake. And I’m dying to try these.

Recipes

Shortcut Chili

Talk about easy! This is like “cheater chili” because it has so few ingredients and doesn’t have to cook for very long. You can use real beef or vegetarian meat crumbles. (I like MorningStar Farms vegetarian meat substitute).

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Shortcut Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb (approx.) lean ground beef or vegetarian crumbles
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 16-oz fresh salsa (from the refrigerated section of the store)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans

DIRECTIONS

Brown the ground beef or vegetarian crumbles with 2 teaspoons of chili powder in a saucepan (I used my favorite, the Le Creuset dutch oven).

Stir in the 16-oz container of salsa (mild or medium; I chose mild) and the kidney beans with their liquid. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

Optional: mash some of the beans with a spatula to thicken the chili. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt and shredded cheese.

Thanks to Peg for the recipe!

Recipes

Spicy Penne Rosa with Shrimp

This has a nice subtle heat that will call to mind shrimp fra diavolo. Made with whole wheat pasta, spinach and a creamy sauce of fire-roasted tomatoes and non-fat Greek yogurt, it packs a healthy punch that will keep you feeling fuller longer. Tons of great protein and flavor in here!

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Ingredients

  • 1 package whole wheat penne
  • 1/3 cup 0% Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes, such as Muir Glen
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (eyeball it to your taste)
  • frozen shrimp, deveined and without tails (about 1 cup)
  • small jar of marinara sauce or tomato soup
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (add more if you like heat!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for the pan
  • parmesan, shaved, for topping

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Directions

In a good-sized skillet, heat a couple swirls of olive oil over medium heat until warm. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (more or less to your taste) until the garlic begins to soften but hasn’t browned. Meanwhile, put a pan of water on to boil for the penne.

Once the garlic and red pepper flakes are ready, add the tomatoes to the pan with salt and pepper. You can also use fresh tomatoes, chopped (about 2 medium tomatoes, or 1/2 a pound). Cook about 5 minutes.

Turn up the heat to medium-high, and add the shrimp. Next, add the spinach until it starts to wilt. You might, like me, find yourself wanting to add more once you see how much it wilts down.

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Cook for a few minutes, until the spinach have just wilted and the shrimp are pinkish and see-through. Add the cooked penne, the Greek yogurt (adding more from the container to taste, if you like it) and then add either the marinara sauce or a splash of tomato soup (I thought of this in a pinch) to loosen the sauce.

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Stir until it is well mixed, taste for seasoning and desired thickness, and top with grated parmesan cheese. Divide into pasta bowls and serve warm. Voila!

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Inspiration for this recipe came from Back To Her Roots. I only altered one thing in the original recipe: Mark hates mushrooms, so I omitted them.

ENJOY!

Recipes

Soy Chorizo Chili

I got this recipe from Food to Run For. It sounded easy and hearty for a cold winter day, and what better opportunity for comfort food than Blizzard 2013! Plus, it gave me a chance to break out my new, red Le Creuset, which Mark got me for Christmas. Ogle the beauty:

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You only need a few simple ingredients — sweet potatoes, red onion, black beans, chorizo, broth and salsa — and then it simmers on your stovetop for an hour or more, filling the house with yummy smells. And it’s versatile, so if you don’t care about keeping it vegetarian, you can swap the meat and the broth to suit your taste.

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Soy Chorizo Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped sweet potato
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 Package of Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s, removed from the casing
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky salsa, mild or medium
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • Water, if needed to thin out the chili
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

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Directions

In a large stock pot, simmer all the ingredients except the water, broth and seasonings for at least one hour. After an hour, taste for salt and pepper and add broth. Turn up the heat with medium salsa instead of mild, or a splash of hot sauce; or keep it mild like we do. And, if you don’t care about it being vegetarian, you can add in spicy sausage or even use chicken broth instead of veggie.

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One important note about using a Le Creuset: you must coat the bottom of the pot with a fat, whether butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two like I used here. I sauteed the chopped red onion for a few minutes while I prepped the sweet potato. I found that two cups of sweet potato amounted to just about what you’d yield from chopping one large sweet potato (peeled, of course).

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If you buy the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s, which I highly recommend, you have to remove the casing before using it. It ends up having a crumbly texture that’s perfect for chili.

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A little bit messy, but so worth it!

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Another important note about cooking with Cast Iron: you really, really can’t start cooking over high and then turn down the heat like you do with normal cookware to get the pan hot, as cast iron retains heat extraordinarily well and it’ll ruin your food if you do that. Start over LOW and then turn up a tiny bit if you need it. These cook so evenly and efficiently, it takes getting used to.

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I added in the broth bit by bit, so I could see how it was absorbing before adding too much. If you prefer it more liquid-y than I do, you can add all the broth and even some water too.

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I also covered mine for a bit to help the liquid absorb. You can leave it uncovered for sure.

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It’s done whenever the sweet potato chunks are nice and tender but not falling apart!

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Serve it plain or topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt. Delicious.

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I like this recipe even better than the Real Simple Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili I made last Valentine’s Day (what was I thinking, making chili for Valentine’s Day??) You can tell I’m not a newlywed I guess. We also went to the Bruins game and drank 6 beers and two plates of nachos between us instead of hitting a nice dinner, so you can see where our priorities lie.

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I realized after making this that the soy chorizo might be the perfect taco filling that I’ve been searching for since becoming vegetarian. You wouldn’t even need to season it; it has that taco seasoning flavor going for it already, with just a touch of heat.

The heat in this mellows a bit if you reheat the next day, making it the perfect candidate for leftovers. I served it topped with sour cream for Mark, and plain Greek yogurt for me. That was a delicious substitution which I highly recommend!

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Enjoy this flavorful, filling dish to take the bite out of winter.