Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese & Cranberries

Lately, most of the dinners chez nous are a fairly consistent staple of Dairy meets Starch, they have Love Child.  This is because it’s easy, because it’s filling, and because I’d like my pre-ice cream meal to be complementary to the main event.  Obvi.

Even when the husband might be thinking we could incorporate some more meat or veggies, he’s smart enough to know not to comment.  Ever.  There are some definite perks to pregnancy.

However.  Every once in a while, you do crave the green stuff.  Ina here, to the rescue.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese & Cranberries 

(adapted from Ina Garten)

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  • 2 ripe pears
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • crumbled blue cheese
  • big handful dried cranberries
  • big handful nuts – walnuts, pecans, or almonds
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or 1/4 apple cider vinegar
  • if using apple cider and not apple cider vinegar, splash balsamic
  • big dollop of honey or 3 big tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • arugula (we used Bibb lettuce, but this would definitely be better with the bite from arugula)
  • salt, pepper (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Peel the pears and slice in half lengthwise; remove the core.  Cut just a small slice off the back – this will keep it steady on the baking pan.  Toss with about half the lemon juice and place in a small baking dish, core side up.
  3. Mix together the blue cheese, nuts, and cranberries in a small bowl and top the pears with the mixture.  Mix together the cider, balsamic, honey/sugar and pour over the pears, reserving a bit of the liquid.
  4. Bake pears for 25-30 minutes & pull from the oven.  Make a dressing by whisking together the rest of the lemon juice, the olive oil, and the reserved basting liquid.  Serve the pears on top of the arugula with the dressing.

The Verdict:

This is delicious.  Eat it.  Feel healthy.  And then, to the ice cream.

 

Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Polenta

No offense to T.S. Eliot, but I firmly believe March is the cruelest month.  It’s long, for one.  There are no holidays.  It still gets dark early, and it’s still cold.  The tourists are in full force, so you’re actually avoiding the cherry blossoms, at all costs.  And someone chose March to be Women’s History Month – which don’t get me wrong – this is important – but how come we’ve got to cram all the events and all the meetings and all the speeches and all the things into March?  I’m pretty sure – actually I know – that women are awesome all year round.  (AKA, I’m really lucky and work on issues that I feel incredibly passionate about, but I’m also le tired.  Growing a human is hard.)

However, despite the lack of posts and despite whining above, rest assured, we’ve been dominating Cooking Light’s March issue.  No one is going to call these meatballs pretty – but they were delicious.  And polenta…it’s the new staple in our house.

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Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Polenta

for the polenta:

  • 3-4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • salt, pepper
  • 3/4 cup ground polenta
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • shredded cheese of your choice

for the meatballs

  • about a pound of lean ground meat (we used turkey)
  • splash sesame oil (this stuff is powerful)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • splash soy sauce
  • pinch of panko or breadcrumbs

for the sauce

  • about 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (yes, really)
  • big dash sriracha or hot sauce
  • about 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • big dash of worcestshire sauce
  1. Make your meatballs.  Combine the turkey, onion, garlic, sesame oil soy sauce and breadcrumbs.  Roll into about 15-20 meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, about six minutes.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, get your stock boiling for your polenta.  (Note: you may need way more liquid at the end.)
  4. Add water, ketchup, sriracha, oyster and worcestshire sauce to the pan and whisk it up.  Return meatballs to the pan and cover, simmering until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. When the stock is boiling, add salt and pepper.  Gradually whisk in the polenta.  Depending on what kind you use – it may take up to 25 minutes.  Add butter and cheese and season to taste.
  6. Serve the whole shebang with a healthy side salad – this kind of heaviness needs a little greenery.

 

The Verdict:

We are the converted.  Polenta – never again pre-prepared.  Ever.  THIS is the way to go.

Chicken Divan*

Clearly I’m the last person in the world to want or think about dieting, or restricting my eating habits in any way, (we all saw what went on over Valentine’s Day at our house) so I don’t even want to put this label out there.  But here goes: this “chicken divan” is paleo.

Let me explain myself for a moment here: this recipe was shared with me by my future SIL, H, who has been on a month-long kick to figure out what has been ailing her stomach.  Turns out, it’s probably dairy.  Turns out, that really, really stinks.  To make up for it, I’m on a mission to consume all the ice cream she can’t.  You’re welcome, H.  Don’t mention it.

Also: this recipe is actually all sorts of delicious.

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Chicken Divan*

(*sort of)

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • olive oil, ghee or, (gasp) butter
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3-4 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • large handful curry powder
  • small handful ground coriander
  1. Soak your cashews – either by placing them in a bowl of water overnight (which takes forethought and planning, which I didn’t have) or by placing them in a sauce pan with about 3 cups of water, bringing to a boil, and then turning off the heat, leaving them to soak for about an water.
  2. Heat a deep skillet, add olive oil or butter to the pan.  Season your chicken liberally with salt and pepper and then add it to the pan and cook until it turns golden brown.  Put the broccoli over the chicken and cover the pan, allowing the steam to cook the broccoli.
  3. While all that cooks away, drain the cashews and add them to your food processor, along with the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, coriander, and curry.  Pulse a few times, and then slowly add the chicken stock, turning the food processor on all the way.  Add stock until you achieve your desired consistency.
  4. Pour the cashew sauce over the chicken and broccoli mixture and give it a good toss, making to sure to coat the whole thing.  Give it a moment or two to cook down (the raw garlic, in particular!), and then serve…with couscous.

 

The Verdict:

As you’ll note if you check out the original recipe and what I describe above, I doubled the sauce and the broccoli (not the chicken) and found this is more than enough to feed 2 people, with LOTS of leftovers.  We’re making up for Vday, after all.  Have no fear though: this is actually really good and makes you feel sort of virtuous at the same time.  Pass the couscous, though.

 

 

 

 

Two-Tomato Basil Lentil Salad

After gorging ourselves on french onion soup mac & cheese for a week, it’s time to atone for our sins.  Or at least get some new vegetables circulating in the system.

I’m practicing my future mom skills with this “recipe:” what’s in the fridge tonight, will it be done in less than 20 minutes, how can I make it look like pasta, and will it be at least as good the second and third and fourth times?

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Tw0-Tomato Basil Lentil Salad

  • 1 cup red split lentils (these turn almost risotto-y when you cook them, which is a bonus for me)
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • big handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • handful sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (green parts only)
  • big handful basil, chopped
  • big handful feta
  • dash olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt, fresh ground pepper
  • optional: salad greens (spinach, mixed greens, arugula, etc.)
  1. Combine lentils, water, garlic cloves, bay leaves, and a dash salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it cook for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through.
  2. While the lentils cook, chop the rest of your veggies.
  3. When the lentils are done, remove the bay leaves – and if you have a garlic press, which I really, really hope you do – pass the cooked/softened garlic through the press and mix it all around.  Combine lentils with tomatoes, scallions, basil, feta olive oil, lemon and give a good toss.
  4. Serve on top of salad greens for a little more oomph, top with freshly cracked pepper.

The Verdict:

The big bonus from this lentil salad is: it actually looks and tastes like risotto.  So basically, we’re eating straight pasta for the second week in a row! Hollerrrrr.

Homemade Granola.

Turns out when you’re pregnant, you wake up at night.  Repeatedly.  As far as I can tell, this is due to three main reasons:

  1. Baby throws all night “how hard can you thrash around” ragers.
  2. My bladder is now the size of a shelled pistachio.
  3. At some point around 4AM, my stomach realizes it hasn’t eaten in SIX WHOLE HOURS and the situation needs to be rectified, ASAP.

I have therefore spent far too many 4AM time slots contemplating what I will eat for breakfast.  After I made this for the first time, I’m happy to report my contemplation has changed from “what” I will eat, to “when” an appropriate time to go eat might be.

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Homemade Granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • slightly less than 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • big pinch of salt
  • about 1/3 cup honey
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or coconut oil
  • dash vanilla extract
  • you can customize anyhow you like, but for my part, I like slightly more than a 1/2 cup each of the following ingredients:
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • slivered almonds
    • dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside for a moment.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, and a dash of vanilla.  Slowly mix together with the dry ingredients, until all oats are coated.
  4. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the oat mixture in a thin, even layer.  Bake at 300 for 15 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together your add-ins: coconut, cranberries, and almonds, in my case.
  6. Remove the oats from the oven and gently mix in your add-ins, so they’re evenly distributed in the pan.
  7. Pop the whole thing back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the oats are golden brown.
  8. Remove – and as hard as it is – let cool for about 10-15 minutes before stirring and breaking up the crumbles.  It’s worth it, trust me.

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The Verdict:

I can’t believe how late in life I came to this epiphany: granola is amazing.  Serve on top of a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt (I find the granola sweet enough) and berries, and watch your hunger dissipate for at LEAST 2-3 hours.