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).


The Cleaner Plate Club - Cider Braised Brussels Sprouts

I don't normally have much of an opinion about Brussels sprouts, but these are good!  The apple cider reduction mellowed the flavor and gave them a slight sweetness.  (My kids wouldn't eat them, but I'll keep trying).  Brussels sprouts are high in vitamins C, K, A, B1 and B6.  They are also phytonutrients that contain folate, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorous.  Quick and easy.  Make this recipe in the Fall when Brussels sprouts and apples are in season!

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts (about 6 cups), tough stems and outer leaves removed
1 T evoo
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 c apple cider
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half.  Set them in a large saucepan, and add enough water to just cover the sprouts.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sprouts are bright green and tender but still firm, about 7 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sprouts and continue cooking until the garlic has softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. 

Pour in the cider, increase the heat to high, and simmer until the cider is reduced by half and the sprouts are tender, adding a splash more water if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

(Serves 6)

Mar 8, 2012

The Cleaner Plate Club - Ginger Carrot Raisin Cupcakes

Mmm...who knew a "cupcake" made with whole wheat flour and 5 cups of fruits and veggies could taste so good?  These cupcakes are so moist and dense.  You need just a little of the cream cheese frosting - it's very sweet.  I didn't use the crystallized ginger (which costs $10 at my supermarket), but they were still so good.  I also used applesauce, rather than oil.  If you don't have orange extract, use a little orange zest.  Unfortunately, my kids weren't too crazy about them.  (Even the 5 y.o. who ate garlicky white beans and kale for dinner - go figure).  I think they were expecting something more "cake-like."  Bummer, because I was looking forward to making them again.  If you like carrot cake, you should definitely give it a try!  (I made no adjustments for high altitude). 

1 1/2 c plus 1 T whole-wheat flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c canola oil or applesauce
3 eggs
1 t orange extract
3 1/2 c shredded carrots
1 c raisins
2 T chopped crystallized ginger
cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and mix well.

In a separate large bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil, eggs and orange extract.  Cream with an electric mixer.  Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended.  Fold in the carrots, raisins, and ginger.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups with liners.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool.  Frost with cream cheese frosting.

(Makes 12 cupcakes)

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz low-fat cream cheese, softened
4 oz butter, softened
1 t orange extract
2 c confectioners' sugar

Combine the cream cheese, butter, orange extract, and confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl.  Cream with an electric mixer on med-high speed until fluffy. 


Mar 7, 2012

The Cleaner Plate Club - Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

I roast whole chickens fairly often.  It's simple and economical.  This is definitely the best recipe I have tried.  You can make 2 whole chickens, as the recipe suggests, or use one and cut the recipe in half.  I made two and had a second dinner ready to go for later in the week.  The herbes de Provence are a bit pricey, but really make this a flavorful dish.  I had to add about 20 minutes to the cooking time and it came out perfectly juicy. An added benefit of roasting a whole chicken is using the leftovers for chicken noodle soup!

2 whole chickens (3-4 lbs. each)
1/4 c. evoo
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T dried mixed herbs (herbes de Provence works well)
Salt and freshly round black pepper
1 lemon, halved
1 bunch fresh or 2 T dried rosemary
1 bunch fresh or 2 T dried sage

Preheat oven to 350

Rinse chickens, pat dry with paper towels, and place breast side up in a large roasting pan.  Slather with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle the dried mixed herbs, salt, and pepper.  Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over each chicken, the stuff a lemon rind inside each, along with about one-third of the rosemary and sage.  Put the remaining herbs on the top of the chickens.

Roast the chickens for about 60 minutes, until the thermometer reads 170.  The thermometer goes into the thickest part of the inside of the thigh, away from the bone.  Cooking time will vary with the size of the chickens.

Remove to a cutting board and cut into pieces for serving

(Serves 6 plus 2 lbs. of meat for other recipes)

Mar 6, 2012

The Cleaner Plate Club - Garlicky White Beans and Kale

It may not sound kid-friendly, but my 5 year old kid ate it!  My 7 year old managed to eat a few bites, but said it wasn't her "favorite."  By adding some smoked chicken sausage (as the cookbook suggests), she didn't go hungry.  Personally, I thought it was great (as did my husband), and I will definitely make it again.  Quick and easy, inexpensive and nutritious (high in beta-carotene, vitamins A, K and C, fiber and calcium).  If you've never had kale before, it's a leafy green that is actually part of the cabbage family.  It is really quite tasty!  Oh and if you can, buy it organic.  Serve with some crusty bread, roasted potatoes or squash. 

2 T evoo
2 garlic cloves - minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bunch kale (12 oz. or 6 stems), washed, stems removed
3 cups cooked cannellini or other white beans, including cooking liquid, or 2 (15 oz) cans
1 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat evoo in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper, if desired, and saute until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high.  Add the kale, turning to coat it with the oil, and saute just until the kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the kale to a bowl.

2. Add the beans and their liquid to the skillet and bring to a vigorous simmer.  Return the kale to the pan and heat thoroughly, mixing it with the beans.  Sprinkle on the parsley, if desired.  Season with Salt and pepper.

(Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a main course)

Mar 5, 2012

Meatless Monday

"Meatless Monday" originated during World War I when the FDA encouraged families to reduce staples, such as meat, to help the war effort.  It was reintroduced in 2003 to encourage people to eat less meat for both health and environmental reasons.  The campaign was endorsed by the Center for a Livable Future, a division of the Johns Hopkins Bloomburg School of Public Health.  Every Monday, I will be posting a recipe for one of my favorite family-friendly vegetarian meals.

Grilled Cheese with Green Apple, Brie and Caramelized Onions

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups onions, sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
8 slices of bread (whole wheat, sour dough, rye - whatever you like)

4 oz brie, sliced thinly

Saute onions in 1 T. olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until they start to brown.  Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

Assemble sandwiches with caramelized onions, apple slices and brie.   Heat remaining olive oil (or butter) in pan and toast both sides.  You could also use a toaster oven.  Mmm!    
(Serves 4)