Back. (& a Kale and Sesame “Sushi” Bowl)

It’s been almost exactly two months since I last posted.  I’ve read lots of blogs where people talk about taking a break or needing some fresh ideas, or going on some crazy, awesome trip, but the truth is, I just ran out of time.  And if I want to be even more honest, I ran out of energy.

The last two months have been among the two craziest & change-filled months of my life.  There have been some incredible highs – my best friend getting married, for one – and some low lows.  Suffice to say, you want to put your best foot out on the interwebs, and I’ve been missing my fancy footwear.

And clearly, a LOT has happened.  The weather has changed, for one, and I’m back to taking pictures of food in the dark.  A favorite blogger is now vegetarian.  Eater published the best-ever interview of Ina Garten and it made me love her even more, if that’s possible.  Tom Brady (continued to) earn my eternal love and respect through sheer domination on my fantasy squad, and then left me hopelessly baffled and saddened through his “non-endorsement” endorsement of Donald Trump.  No words.

AND – it’s been over a year since I started this blog.  Going forward, I’m hoping to start posting regularly again, if not a little less frequently, due to a job change and less time to experiment in the kitchen.

So now, in honor of my vegetarian friend who sent me nice little notes during my period of absentia (thank you!!), I bring you the following, from A Modern Way to Eat.

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Kale & Sesame “Sushi” Bowl

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • salt
  • 1-2 cups frozen endamame (sans pods)
  • 1 pomegranate (you’re really just after the seeds, so feel free to buy pre-seeded)
  • dash sesame oil
  • 2 big handfuls shredded kale or other crunchy, leafy green, stalks removed
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • optional: 1 egg (poached)
  • for the dressing:
    • zest and juice from 1 lemon
    • tablespoon honey
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • dash rice vinegar
    • salt, pepper
  1. Cook your rice according to package directions (ain’t no shame in the minute style).
  2. Heat the endamame through, either in the microwave or by putting them in a bowl and covering with boiling water.
  3. De-seed your pomegranate, as needed – instructions here.
  4. Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add a splash of sesame oil and saute the greens until a bit wilted, above 3-4 minutes.  Keep warm.
  5. Make your dressing by whisking all ingredients together.  Add a bit of the pomegranate juice, if you have any from the de-seeding process.
  6. Pour the dressing over the warm rice, add the sesame seeds and give the mixture a toss.  Add the rest of your salad ingredients and top with avocado and cilantro…and if you’re feeling good about it, a poached egg.  Add dressing as needed.

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The Verdict:

Not really a recipe?  I understand your point.  Still, it feels good to be back, and it feels good to eat this.  So that’s a win, in my book.

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Lemon and Ricotta Pappardelle with Baby Kale

Another day, another big bowl of pasta.  (Beach season is almost over, right?)

This is the kind of dinner you make when mostly you’re just thinking about takeout.  In other words, it’s not really a recipe, but a scrounging of things that exist in your refrigerator (frost living!) that will save you $25 so you can apply that to your next run to Current Boutique (or whatever you save your pennies for). I’m not anything but future-oriented when it comes to consignment.

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Lemon and Ricotta Pappardelle with Baby Kale

  • 1 bag pre-washed baby kale
  • 1 bag pappardelle pasta
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk, I say!)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
  1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter together over medium heat.  Add shallot and lower heat, cook down slowly, until translucent (about 5-10 minutes).  Add a bit of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Add the minced garlic.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add your pasta.  Cook according to directions.  Drain, reserving about a cup of starchy water.
  3. Add the baby kale (or whatever greens you have) to the saute pan and cook down until wilted.  Add the pasta to the pan, a squeeze of lemon, the ricotta cheese, and a splash of the reserved water.  Mix through until a creamy sauce forms – add more water, as needed.
  4. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese; eat wearing sweatpants.

The Verdict:

If pappardelle is on the menu – anywhere, including in my own house – there’s a 110% chance I’m ordering it.  I just can’t say no.  This bowl of goodness is worth the Dadbod.

Vegetable Pasta with Sherry Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Remember that time when I said everything on here would be relatively healthy?

Welp, relatively was the operative word in that promise.  Also: it’s cold outside, and you deserve it.

creamy + cheesy + veggie +...carby
creamy + cheesy + veggie +…carby

Vegetable Pasta with Sherry Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

  • about half a box of pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • salt, pepper + crushed reds
  • 3-4 tablespoons sherry
  • large handful spinach
  • large handful kale
  • about 1/3 cup cream
  • 2-3 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
  • optional: parsley, parmesan
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente.  Reserve a little bit of the starchy water for the sauce.
  2. Heat the olive oil and the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, some crushed reds and gently cook the mixture as the pasta cooks (about 10 minutes or so).
  3. Add the sherry and cook off the alcohol; add the starchy water, cream, gorgonzola, spinach, and kale.  Add the pasta and bring the mixture to a quick boil to thicken the sauce.
  4. Serve immediately, topped with a bit of parsley and/or parmesan.  Contemplate going for a run…tomorrow.

The Verdict:

As you’ll note from the menu plan earlier this week, this wasn’t part of our plan this week.  This was a hail Mary after the Husband wasn’t able to make it home for dinner – it just didn’t feel right to make the asparagus tart without him!  Which also means this isn’t a “recipe” – this is a mix+match based on what’s in your fridge.  Sometimes, that’s just how you have to roll.

Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Spinach

That moment when you’ve come back from a trip and it’s freezing and the idea of putting on your coat and going to the grocery store and lugging those groceries home and just, no, no, you just can’t?  That’s the moment for this soup, inspired by my fridge…and the Kitchn.  Every single ingredient was already in my fridge or my pantry- and is likely in yours, too.  And if not? Just substitute in the veggies that are.

so many veggies in one pot!
so many veggies in one pot!

Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Spinach

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 ribs celery, diced
  • optional: any other leftover vegetables you might have laying about – I threw in some yellow bell pepper, which was lovely
  • 1 onion, diced
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds (you know, the essentials)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about a cup red lentils, rinsed and picked
  • about 4-6 cups broth and/or water, if you don’t have broth…more or less depending on how “soupy” you like your soup
  • 2-3 dried bay leaves
  • dash cumin
  • large handful kale
  • large handful spinach
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • optional toppings: Greek yogurt, cilantro, parsley, etc.
  1. Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery, & onions, add a good pinch of salt, a dash of pepper & crushed reds, and cook gently – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for a minute or two, then add the lentils, give them a quick toss with the veggies, and add the broth, bay leaf, and a dash of cumin.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat.  Simmer with the cover on, about 12 minutes.
  4. Add the kale and spinach, stir through, and then cover and simmer another 8-10 minutes.
  5. Removing the soup from the heat, add the lemon juice, ladle into bowls and serve with your desired toppings.
so good & so good for you.
so good & so good for you.

The Verdict:

So healthy, so wallet friendly, so quick and easy.  What’s not to love?

Frost Living: Kale, Mushroom and Pancetta Pasta.

Every so often when I was little, my mom would leave home for a few weeks to visit her parents and brother in Germany.  My mom is a trained chef, and for almost every single night of my childhood, my mom filled our home with the smell of onions, garlic and a well seasoned sauce.  We were beyond lucky to not only be fed a home cooked meal almost every night, but be to be fed an unbelievable home cooked meal almost every night.

So for those two weeks or so a year, my dad would be in charge.  And there is nothing my dad loves more than a good opportunity to empty the fridge/freezer.  Every time my mom would leave, we would live almost exclusively off of the contents of our freezer, which my mother kept well stocked (chicken breasts, half off! ground beef, buy one get one!).  “Time to live off the frost of the land,” he would announce.  First, we’d go through the frozen meats and vegetables, sometimes the chicken stock.  And then, by the time my mom got back, we’d be into the frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and ice cream.

I may be an adult now, but I still love a good “frost living” dinner.  Tonight was no exception.  After coming back from the Cape earlier today, we had no energy to grocery shop or even plan.  Tonight’s dinner brought to you exclusively from ingredients we already had on hand.

“Frost Living” Pasta

  • pancetta, diced
  • olive oil
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • red onion, sliced
  • garlic, minced
  • greens (leftover kale and bitter green mix – leftover from the pie earlier this week)
  • chicken broth
  • white wine
  • spices: garlic salt, salt, crushed red pepper, ground black pepper, ground mustard
  • pasta
  • cheese (we used cubed fontina)

1. Get a pot of water boiling; cook pasta according to directions.  Drain.

2. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan.  Once heated, toss in the onion and heat until translucent.  Throw in a handful of diced pancetta.  Pour in a few turns of white wine, let it cook down for a bit before tossing in the garlic and a few sprinkles of each of the spices listed (minus the salt, which I like to save for last so as not to oversalt, and so as not to draw too much water out of the mushrooms).

3. Toss in the mushrooms – the more, the better, as mushrooms will cook down a whole lot.  Let them cook down a bit before mixing in the greens -again, the more, the better.  Add in some chicken broth to add a little bit of salted flavor; add in salt and pepper; let it all cook down and meld together.

4. Toss with pasta, add in some extra cheese, and enjoy.

The Verdict:

This is a go-to.  It’s always dependent on what we have in the fridge/freezer, and no pasta is ever the same.  But it’s almost always comfort in a bowl.  Key to this dish is the crushed red pepper – adds just the right amount of heat.

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not pictured: all the melted cheese.