Spinach and Gorgonzola Sandwiches

houndskeeperSometimes, you get inspired by the ingredients for one recipe and end up wanting to make something completely different. This list:
  • spinach
  • cream
  • Gorgonzola
  • Italian bread
  • flour
  • butter
  • eggs
  • nutmeg
is the basis for a delicious spinach dumpling. They’re tender, and the recipe makes a crap-ton of the things – enough for our family to have a couple of meals.
 
They’re also a giant pain in the ass to make, as are just about any dumpling. And even more so when small children are involved. Standing over a giant post of boiling water while the dumplings cook, fishing them out, and repeating the process several times is just not fun. It’s also not something you can let cook on its own for a few minutes.
 

This was on our plan for yesterday, but, well, let’s just say that plans changed a few times this week. So, the dumplings were pushed to tonight. Except, I’m not interested in standing over that giant pot of water today. Instead, I’ll change this up a little bit, add some bacon, and turn the whole thing in to sandwiches. I’ll leave a recipe below with the warning that this hasn’t been tested, though I see no reason why it wouldn’t work. Updates to come later.

Ingredients

  • 1lb spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces Gorgonzola (or other tasty bleu cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 4 small Italian bread loaves
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)

Make It!

  1. Cook the bacon slices to desired crispiness. Set the bacon aside, but reserve the grease in the pan.
  2. Add the spinach to the pan and lightly saute the spinach on medium. Add the vegetable broth and wilt the spinach. Salt and pepepr to taste. When the spinach is wilted, pull out of the pan and set aside momentarily. Turn the heat down to low and add the cream, nutmeg, and Gorgonzola to the pan. Allow the Gorgonzola to melt into the cream. It will thicken and turn in to a lovely sauce. Add the spinach back to the pan and coat the spinach well. Set aside and keep warm.
  3. Cut the loaves in half, drizzle with olive oil, and toast. You could rub the toasted bread with a clove of garlic to bring more flavor to the party.
  4. Fry the eggs to your desired temperature. An over easy egg will make a secondary sauce on the sandwich when the yolk is broken while eating.
  5. Assemble the sandwiches with a generous amount of spinach, two slices of bacon, and one egg each.

Review: Lebanese Beef Zucchini Boats

I spent more time than I’d like to admit browsing recipes online. Between what pops up on my Facebook feed, research for something I want, and interactions with other food bloggers, the list starts to get quite extensive. Even though I I often find recipes to try, I find myself going back to the standards in my own Recipe Collection.

Not too long ago though, I started making sure I added new recipes I wanted to try. I made myself a rule: I add at least two recipes a week, and put them on the plan right away. Some of them I put on the plan for weeks out, and some in a matter of days. Not only does this keep me trying new things, but, it makes planning that much easier, as I don’t have to decide on a meal to make.

That’s how I came across these Lebanese Zucchini Boats from Physical Kitchness. Chrissa developed this recipe to use and highlight tahini, or ground sesame seeds. I’ve been a fan of this Middle Eastern delight for a long time, and was excited for the excuse to purchase it. Ready to give ground beef another go (I’m not a huge fan), and more excited by the promises Chrissa made in her description, I rushed home to empty out some zucchini and give this one a go.Lebanese Zucchini Boats

And boy did it delight! The tahini really smoothed out the texture of the ground beef, and added an extra flavor that’s got me going back for more. Though she says the nuts and mint on top are optional, I wouldn’t skip them. The almonds bring a beautiful crunch and the mint freshens and brightens the whole dish. This really is a synergistic dish with every component working to support the others.

The actual zucchini boats are trickier than they look. Starting with larger zucchinis, especially ones that are fatter. This will let you get a deeper dish and stuff them a bit better. You could also use an acorn squash to keep it in the same family and seasonal, and easier to stuff with all of the beefy goodness. Since the beef is fully cooked when it comes time to stuffing the boats, there’s no need to worry about the dish being undercooked – the final step is really just to bring everything together and hot.

Have you found a recipe or an ingredient lately you’re excited to try?

Fennel Stuffed Mushrooms

Saying farewell to one season and welcoming another always brings changes to more than clothes and activities. In our house especially, food leads the changing of the seasons. Labor Day brought with it cooler temperatures in Portland, along with a bit of rain. Perfect weather to welcome in the rich, oven baked and slow cooked meals of fall and winter.

Welcome the fall without saying goodbye to the summer. Light, sweet, crunchy, and fresh, these little vegetarian bites pack a promise in every bite.
Welcome the fall without saying goodbye to the summer. Light, sweet, crunchy, and fresh, these little vegetarian bites pack a promise in every bite.

This weekend, though, is going to be hot. Yes, hot is relative in the Pacific Northwest, but, to us, it’s hot.

Move on from weather and get to the food you say? This recipe is all about doing just that: moving from one season to the next and welcoming differing cooking methods for the changing weather. Start out by pulling the stems off of some Crimini mushrooms, lining them up on a pan, drizzling them with olive oil and sprinkling them with salt, and then tossing them in to an oven so they become soft but retain their shape. If it’s too hot for the oven, the grill works just as well for this step.

While your mushrooms are cooking, make up a blue cheese based slaw of fennel bulbs. With their crunchy texture and light sweetness, fennel won’t let you forget the freshness of the garden while you still enjoy the earthiness of the fall.

The perfect addition to the last potluck of the year, or the first of the many indoor dinner parties to come.
The perfect addition to the last potluck of the year, or the first of the many indoor dinner parties to come.

Ingredients

  •  3.0 fennel bulbs
  •  1.0 cup sour cream
  •  0.25 cup apple cider vinegar
  •  2.0 tsp fennel seeds
  •  0.25 cup sugar
  •  0.33 cup blue cheese crumbles
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  • 24 Crimini mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
Make It!
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Line the mushrooms top down on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over mushroom caps and place in 350 for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
Mix the vinegar and sugar together, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sour cream, blue cheese crumbles, and fennel seeds. Whisk until combined.

Put a heaping spoonful of slaw in each mushroom cap and serve, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Want this recipe to appear in your collection? A three month membership to the {IMH} Digital Meal Planning Board is only $17. This recipe, and others, are included in the program already to get you started. What fall favorite will you add?

Balsamic Orange Roasted Fennel

Balsamic Orange Roasted Fennel lined up on a cutting board and ready to serve.
Balsamic Orange Roasted Fennel lined up on a cutting board and ready to serve.

There’s a bit of magic that happens when vinegar and sugar meet with heat and are allowed to glaze over. Thick syrupy goodness drizzles into every crevice of the food, and a light crust even forms on the outside. The interplay of sour and sweet and the different textures that form over the food bring a complete mouth feel to the party, and allows a simple vegetable to stand up and shout a little bit.

The fennel in this dish is already sweet, but it doesn’t do such a great job of standing up on its own. The Balsamic Orange Marinade that becomes a glaze in the oven supports the fennel and helps it achieve that greatness. Even when paired with the strong flavors of a marinara, this side dish does an amazing job of standing up on its own on a plate. I like to serve this with a bit of Parmesan cheese on the side. This also pairs well with a softly cooked egg (whether boiled or fried or poached). Just serve the egg on top of the fennel and then slice in to the egg to make a lovely sauce right there on the plate.

Ingredients

4 small fennel bulbs

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small sprig rosemary, dusted

1 pinch crushed red pepper

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Make It!

1. Preheat your oven to 350F

2. Remove the fennel fronts from the bulbs and reserve for another use.

3. Cut each bulb into eighths or smaller. If you only have large bulbs available, use fewer bulbs and cut them smaller.

4. Combine the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in some olive oil. Toss the prepared fennel in the vinaigrette. These can sit in the marinade for the day covered, in the fridge, if desired.

5. Line up the marinaded bulbs on a sheet pan. Place in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the fennel is browned and soft but not mush.

Simple Sunday: Bento Box Lunch Prep

A sample Bento with meatballs, roasted fennel, cashews, tomatoes, dried cherries, sun dried tomatoes, and the ever-present egg.
A sample Bento with meatballs, roasted fennel, cashews, tomatoes, dried cherries, sun dried tomatoes, and the ever-present egg.

 

Meals outside the home can be difficult. Between dietary requirements, getting the food where it needs to go, and catering to likes and dislikes, preparing a meal meant to eat away from home can be a chore. The chore becomes harder when you focus on real food, and stocking cans of soup or buckets of ramen at work to heat up in the microwave aren’t good options for you.

Enter what we call the “Adult Bento Box.”

These beauties are inspired in part by the Japanese Bento Box, which has a little bit of everything. Although I love Japanese food (and other Asian cuisines as well), they’re not my favorite. But, there’s no reason the concept can’t be used for other flavors. My Bento Boxes are usually built on a leftover of some sort, be it a meat or a vegetable, and have small things added to them. I keep nuts, sundried tomatoes, and a small bit of a somewhat fancy cheese in the house just for these purposes. Herbs, green onions, and other veggies like carrots or fennel fronds also stick around to be added to these boxes to add flavor and texture.

For this week, I’m keeping my leftovers fresh by basing the Bento Boxes on a roasted fennel we made up on Saturday night. Monday’s Bento will have a Quinoa meatball in it, a few fresh cherry tomatoes, a handful of cashews, some chopped parsley, a boiled egg, a couple of dried cherries, and a couple of sundried tomatoes.

Meatballs, roasted fennel, and an egg ready to go for a lunch.
Meatballs, roasted fennel, and an egg ready to go for a lunch.

My meal plan this week includes a roasted eggplant salad tonight followed by some spinach dumplings tomorrow night. These, along with an egg, the fennel, and some pantry items, will be used to keep my Bento Boxes fresh all week long. With just a little bit of effort, leftovers are made new and fresh all week long, and I get a lunch full of wholesome, real food easily prepped the night before or even a few days in advance.

Jalapenos in Fish Sauce

Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that really just make things better. Years ago, we lived next door to a gentleman who taught us to finely slice or chop jalapenos and put them in fish sauce. The jalapenos can be pulled out and put on top of food to spice it up. Since they’ve sat in the fish sauce, they mellow out and bring a level of umami to the party they don’t have otherwise. The Fish Sauce itself can also be used sprinkled over rice (or anything else) or added to a recipe that calls for Fish Sauce.

Jalapenos in Fish Sauce, with more ready to go.
Jalapenos in Fish Sauce, with more ready to go.

Part of the beauty of this little sauce is how simple it is. The jalapenos can be replaced for nearly any pepper, from milder Aniheims or Poblanos to spicier Serranos all the way up to Thai Bird Chiles and Ghost Peppers, if you really want to add the spice. I love the flavor and the spice level of jalapenos, so I stick with them.

Sliced JalapenosIngredients

  • 3 – 4 jalapenos, sliced in half, seeds removed, and then thinly sliced. Full rings or chopped jalapenos work as well
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Make It!

Combine ingredients in a small mason jar. Adjust the amount of each ingredient to ensure the jalapenos are covered, and there is a generous but not overwhelming portion of sesame seeds in the jar. Shake well. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or so before using. This can also be stored in the fridge and used instead of hot sauce.

This recipe is available as a public recipe in the {IMH} Digital Meal Planning Board. Start your meal planning bliss today!

Oatmeal and Eggs and Cranberries

Oatmeal. It’s almost an onomatopoeia: a word that sounds like what it is. Thick, and often the texture of paste, this is a dish that I think has received a bad reputation as a result of less than stellar preparation. Starting from scratch immediately improves the oatmeal situation. Soaking the oats overnight and cooking them with milk or cream, butter, a bit of salt, some fruit, some cinnamon, and maybe even a bit of sweetener to taste yields a bowl of porridge that cooks relatively quick, offers a variety of textures, and doesn’t overpower with its sweetness.DSCN0416

There’s still the trouble of “relative” quickness. I rarely have the time to get myself showered and out the door much less to cook breakfast before leaving. Enter baked oatmeal. The oats provide a medium to pack in nuts and fruit. Once baked, the oatmeal can be stored in the fridge for a week (and sometimes longer). I toss a square in a reusable container with a bit of yogurt and I’m the door. Even though my commute is relatively long (about an hour, which, in Portland, OR, is an eternity of a commute), my oatmeal is still fresh, springy, and slightly crisp on top by the time I get to work.

Though this takes a bit of advance planning, we usually put it together with whatever we have on hand. We’ll use walnuts, hazlenuts, and almonds interchangably (or even all together) in this one. Some weeks, there’s no nuts. Sometimes, we add dried fruit such as cranberries or figs. I’ve also been known to add in fresh fruit such as apples or pears.

Baked OatmealBaked Oatmeal Upclose

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats (don’t use quick cooking or instant oatmeal. Just good old fashioned oats)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1tbsp yogurt (whey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp salt
  • butter

Make It!

Soak the oats overnight in 6 cups of water with the yogurt.

Drain the water and rinse the oats. Pour in to a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center of the oats. Crack the eggs, pour in the milk (or cream), honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Beat well then slowly add to the oats (think making pasta). Add in the walnuts and cranberries and mix well.  Pour in to a greased baking dish (a 9″ equivalent – I used my square cast iron pan most recently) and top with little squares of butter. I usually use about two tablespoons total between greasing the pan and topping the oatmeal. This butter gives the top of the oatmeal a crisp texture and golden brown color that makes oatmeal unlike any other oatmeal.

Bake in a 350 degree oven approximately 30 minutes, or until the top just starts to brown and the oatmeal no longer jiggles when moved.

Serve with a healthy dollop of yogurt. Or have it for dessert with a bit of ice cream.

Turkey and Eggs and Cheese

Who isn’t flooded with turkey after Thanksgiving? What do you do with all that turkey? Sure, there’s turkey sandwiches, and turkey pot pie, turkey soup (which also becomes turkey pot pie, which, technically, is a leftover of a leftover), and turkey salad. What do you do when you’ve run out of turkey leftover recipes and there’s still leftover turkey?

Get creative. Make an omelette.TDay Breakfast 6

We’re a big fan of brinner – breakfast for dinner – in this house. This one takes turkey and cranberry sauce and makes it new with sweet, tangy, creamy Jarlsberg cheese and fresh scallions. Serve it with some sweet potato hashbrowns and B’Fast Apple Pie for a rounded meal that includes a treat.

The following recipe will make one omelette. Scale it up to as many people as you’re serving (the Meal Planning Board will do this for you automatically).

 

 

Turkey Omelette

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • turkey, cubed
  • scallions, sliced
  • Jarlsberg Cheese, shredded
  • cranberry sauce
  • pinch paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make It!

Beat the eggs with the cream (half and half, milk, or water will do nicely as well). Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika. Pour into skillet on medium-high eat with melted butter or olive oil. Allow the eggs to start to set. Pull eggs from the edge back so egg in the middle can set as well.

Add the turkey, cheese, and some scallions to the omelette.Fold over when the eggs have nearly set, and allow to cook another 30 seconds or so so the cheese melts.

Slide on to a plate and garnish with additional cheese, cranberry sauce, and a few scallions.TDay Breakfast 9

Apples and Cream Cheese and Walnuts and Egg

Have you had enough of apple pie? I don’t think it’s possible to have too much, but, sometimes it’s hard to justify pie for breakfast. It’s sweet, sticky, sugar laden, and strongly associated with being a dessert only.

This, however, this is a pie that’s designed for breakfast. A layer of cream cheese is topped with apples and walnuts and floated with egg. I’ts an apple pie that remembers being a quiche. Or perhaps a quiche that remembers being an apple pie. Regardless, these come out of the oven poofed up a bit and creamy and slightly sweet. Omit the crust (or use a sprouted grain) and be sure to soak the nuts to make it GAPS friendly.

B’Fast Apple PieBreakfast Apple Pie

IngredientsBreakfast Apple Pie Ingredients

  • 3 apples
  • .5 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese, separated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cream or milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2tbsp butter
  • pie dough

Make It!

Chop the apples to pieces approximately 1/2″ square in size. Melt butter in a large skillet on medium to medium high heat and add the apples. Cook until softened. Add the cinnamon and sugar and stir well. Continue to cook until the pectin from the apples begins to thicken. Stir in the walnuts, salt to taste, and pull off the heat.

Beat the eggs with the cream or milk.

Roll out the pie dough to 1/4″ thick. Press in to four large ramekins. Spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese into the bottom of each crust (use more cream cheese for a creamier pie; this can also be omitted). Fill the ramekins with the apple and walnut mix. Top each ramekin with 1/4 of the egg and cream or milk mixture. Place in a 400 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the egg has formed a dome and has browned slightly.

Shrimp and Coconut and Green Beans

Part of meal planning is watching and taking advantage of sales. This last week, one of our local grocery stores had a coupon to buy one pound of shrimp and get a second pound free. Considering most meals we have with shrimp we only use a half a pound, this was a huge savings. I’ll admit, we decided to splurge and focus an entire meal around one of the pounds of shrimp.

Most of the rest of our meal plan was already done when we started considering the shrimp. We didn’t need to produce any leftovers either for a meal or to re-purpose. So, we looked backwards at what we had remaining from the week prior and considered our options.  We had green beans that needed consumed and hadn’t been spoken for yet. And we almost always have a bit of coconut milk in the pantry. So, we cleaned the shrimp, tossed the shells into a stockpot with an onion, covered with water, and simmered for an hour. We strained out the shells, returned the stock to the pot, and added the coconut milk to make a base for the soup. Shrimp, green beans, ginger, and garlic when into a cast iron skillet just until the shrimp were cooked, and then everything in to the pot. If you’re short on time, you could easily use a stock that’s already prepared and save the shells for a later stock (trust me on making a seafood stock –  it’s super simple and is incredibly decadent for the time and effort investment).

Shrimp and Coconut Soup

 

Ingredients

  • 1.0 pound shrimp
  • 0.5 pound fresh green beans
  • 1.0 clove garlic
  • 8.0 oz coconut milk
  • 8.0 oz stock or broth
  • 2.0 limes
  • 1.0 tsp fresh ginger
  • coconut oil or butter
  • scallions
  • cilantro

Make It!

Peel and devien the shrimp. Take off the tails. Use the tails and shells to make a stock (or save them to make a stock later).

Bring the coconut milk and stock or broth to a simmer. Add the ginger, juice of 1 and 1/2 of the limes (save the last half of the second lime for serving), and smashed garlic. Keep warm.

Saute the shrimp in the butter or coconut oil until they just start to curl. Add the green beans and garlic and continue to saute until the shrimp just starts to turn pink. Pour the coconut milk over the shrimp and be sure to loosen any flavor that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with scallions, cilantro, and a lime wedge.