Apr 1, 2012

The Cleaner Plate Club - Sauteed Red Chard with Clementines, Feta and Balsamic Reduction

This is a very colorful side dish with lots of flavor.  It's earthy, sweet, salty & tangy.  I'm not sure how many kids would eat it.  Mine are fairly adventurous, but wouldn't try it.  Otherwise, I would make it again.  (Even if you don't try this recipe, it tells how to make a balsamic reduction, which is delicious, especially on fresh strawberries!)

2 T evoo
1 bunch red Swiss chard, stemmed and sliced into chiffonade
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 clementines, oranges or tangerines, peeled and sectioned
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Heat evoo in large saute pan over med-high heat.  Add chard and saute until it starts to wild, about 2 min.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to cool until just warm.

Toss the greens with the orange sections in a bowl.

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat by two-thirds, or until it is of a syrupy consistency and will coat the back of a spoon.

Drizzle the greens and oranges with the balsamic reduction.  Top with the cheese.  Serve warm.

(Serves 4-6)

The Cleaner Plate Club - Hearty Kale and Potato Soup

This recipe is easy, healthy and tastes good.  I would skip the suggestion for pureeing the kale, unless you don't mind bright green soup.  Although this was supposed to make it more appealing to kids, mine weren't convinced.  (They called it Grinch soup).  When I suggested trying it with their eyes closed, my five year old finished his entire bowl.  As far as I'm concerned, anyone who can get a five year old to eat kale soup is genius!  (I did not use Parmesan rinds).

1 T canola oil
3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed or chopped very small
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 c chicken broth
1 lb potatoes, chopped to 12 to 1/4 inch pieces
1-2 Parmesan rinds (optional)
12 oz kale, stemmed and chopped fine
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lemon
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Warm oil in a large stockpot over med. heat.  Add sausage and cook until browned, about 6 min.  Mix in the garlic and saute 1 min.  Set aside in a bowl.

In the same stockpot, add the broth and potatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 min.  Using an immersion blender, blender or food processor, puree until the texture is chunky-smooth.  (If you think your kids will have issues with the kale, hold off on the puree.  Add the kale and simmer for 12-15 minutes, then puree and add the sausage, Parmesan rinds and seasonings).

Add the Parmesan rinds, if using, kale, and the sausage mixture.  ring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until kale is cooked but still retains its bright color.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove rinds.

Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over each bowl.  Add about 1 t of grate Parmesan, if using, on each serving and serve hot. 

(Serves 8)

Mar 19, 2012

The Cleaner Plate Club - Pasta with Chard and Asparagus in Herb-Parmesan Sauce

Meatless Monday...asparagus is almost in season!

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound angel-hair pasta
1 T butter
2 scallions, sliced (about 1/4 c)
1 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c half-and-half
3/4 c grated parm
1/4 c chopped mixed herbs (3 T basil, 1 1/2 t oregano, 1 1/2 t thyme)
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 t olive oil
1 bunch chard (about 12 ozs) stems removed, chopped
1 T chopped fresh chives

Steam asparagus for 5-7 min, until tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.  Drain and put back into the pot.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over med-high.  Add scallions and saute until golden, about 5 min.  Add flour and saute for 3 min.  Add half and half, whisking to remove lumps, and heat through.  Add Parmesan and stir until it has melted and the sauce has a nice texture.  Stir in the mixed herbs.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

Heat the oil in a skillet over med-high heat.  Add the chard and saute just until it starts to wild, about 3 min.  Add the asparagus, and stir to combine.

Toss pasta with chard and asparagus.  Pour cheese sauce over the mixture, and stir gently to incorporated.  Sprinkle the chives on top and serve. 

(Serves 6)

The Cleaner Plate Club - Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

Yum!  I loved this recipe, as did my 7 year old daughter.  My only complaint is that it has too many onions.  If you have leftovers, they become quite overpowering if left in the fridge overnight.  (I would reduce by half).  Oh, and my cashews burned the first time around.  8 minutes roasting time may be too long; check them after about 5.  Otherwise, a great side!  Did you know broccoli and cauliflower are associated with a decreased risk of cancer?  Omit the bacon if you are vegetarian or want to be even more health conscious.  This makes a BIG salad. 

2 T plus 1/3 c honey
3/4 cup unsalted cashews
1/8 tsp cayenee
1/8 t salt
1/2 lb turkey bacon
1 med-large head broccoli
1 med-large head cauliflower
1 red onion, chopped
2/3 c dried currants or raisins
1/2 c canola mayonnaise
1/4 c evoo
1/4 c cider vinegar
1 T soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350

Combine 2 T of honey and cashews, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl and mix well.  Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet.  Arrange the bacon strips on a separate baking sheet.  Put both baking sheets in the oven to roast.

Roast the cashews for 8 minutes and set aside to cool.  Roast the bacon for about 15 min, until crisp and browned, and set the strips on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets.  Combine the florets with the onion and currants in a large bowl, and toss well.  Crumble in the bacon.

Make the dressing by whisking together the mayo, remaining 1/3 c honey, evoo, vinegar and soy sauce.  Toss the dressing with the salad and refrigerate the chill.

Just before serving, chop the cashews and toss them into the salad.

(Serves 8-10)

Mar 16, 2012

The Recipe Project: A Delectable Extravaganza of Food and Music

I found this quirky cookbook at my library while scanning the new release section.  It is a compilation of recipes, playlists and stories from famous people, including food network chefs Mario Batali and Aaron Sanchez.

The best part is that it includes a CD in which all of the recipes have been turned into songs by the band One Ring Zero.  I have to admit, the tunes are catchy. 

However, with recipes like pickled pumpkin, octopus salad, and brains and eggs, I'm not sure that it would get much use in my kitchen. 

My favorite recipe is for "raw peach":

1) you should part your hair behind
2) dare to eat it
3) hold the peach in front of your mouth
4) bite in
5) and indeed there will be time

Serves 1       

Mar 12, 2012

Meatless Monday

Blue Corn Enchiladas with Goat Cheese
from: Colorado Farmer's Market Cookbook (2002)

If you can't find blue corn tortillas, yellow or white will do.  It's not the healthiest recipe (calls for 1 lb of Monterey Jack - I think 1/2 lb is enough), but it's very tasty!  Serve with a big raw salad. 

6 T peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 c thinly sliced onion
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 blue corn tortillas
1/4 lb goat cheese, crumbled
1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Enchilada sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350

In a skillet, heat 2 T of the oil over med heat and cook the onion and bell peppers until soft.  Transfer to paper towels and drain.  Add remaining 4 T of oil and cook the tortillas, one at a time, 5 seconds on each side.  Drain on paper towels.

Fill the tortillas, first with the veggies, ten with 1 T of the crumbled goat cheese and  T shredded Monterey Jack cheese.  Roll up the enchiladas and place them in a baking dish just large enough to hold 8 enchiladas.  Spoon sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining Monterey Jack cheese.  Bake until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are heated through.

(Serves 4)

For the sauce: (this makes ALOT of sauce...I cut the recipe in half or freeze half for later use)
1 T olive oil
1/2 white onion, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 T ground cumin
1 t sugar
2 t  paprika
1 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf
cayenne pepper

In heavy saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onions, bell pepper and celery over medium heat until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, cumin, sugar, paprika, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Add cayenne to taste.  Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Discard bay leaf.

Mar 11, 2012

The Cleaner Plate Club - Meatloaf Florentine

My 5 year old likes to remind me that he is a "carnivore."  He loves meatloaf and I love how easy it is to sneak a few vegetables in.  This recipe contains lots of spinach and fresh herbs, but he didn't seem to mind at all.  I found this recipe a bit odd, in that it makes 2 meatloafs (16 servings).  The cookbook also suggests meatballs Florentine as a variation.  I made one meatloaf and 24 meatballs for later in the week.  This was an excellent time saver, but my family preferred the meatloaf.  I served this with the apple cider braised Brussels sprouts, which was a great accompaniment.

I have found the BEST way to make meatloaf is to take it out of the oven about 15 minutes before it is finished, cover it in mashed potatoes (or a "potato blanket"), and put it back in the oven to finish up.  Adding some chopped parsley adds some color.  My kids love it! 

2 T evoo
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey, buffalo, pork, lamb, or a combination)
1/2 c roasted tomatoes (there is a recipe in the cookbook) or 6 ozs sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 1/2 c chopped fresh herbs (primarily basil, pus some rosemary, thyme and sage)
2 eggs, beaten
1 c bread crumbs
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c ketchup
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350

Heat the evoo in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onion and garlic until soft and light golden, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, and mix together to combine thoroughly. 

Divide the meatloaf mixture in half.  Place in two loaf pans sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake uncovered for 60 minutes, until cooked through and a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 180.

(Makes 2 meatloafs, 8 servings each)

For meatballs:

Shape meat mixture into meatballs.  Bake the meatballs on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.  (Freezes well).