bacon, brusselsprout, and brie grilled cheese

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I don’t know about you guys, but my weekend was full of shenanigans. After the late nights, crazy parties, and ridiculous dancing, all I wanted was some relaxing food- and what better than grilled cheese! I adapted this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen – the original was a vegetarian dish, but I thought adding some bacon would put this recipe over the top!

Ingredients

2-3 slices of thick cut bacon
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons of butter
6-7 Brussels sprouts, sliced thin
Brie cheese
salt & pepper
2 slices bread of choice

Instructions

Dice a few slices of bacon and cook them most of the way, releasing most of the fat. Add in minced shallots, thinly sliced brussel sprouts, dijon, and a pinch of salt and pepper. If you need to, add a little bit of butter or olive oil to bacon fat to extend it. While these are cooking down (it should only take about five minutes once you add the brussel sprouts), slice a few pieces of brie to fit your bread. I used Ezekiel bread for my sandwich, but you can use Italian bread, french bread, rye, etc- what ever your favorite bread is!

Once the brussel sprout mixture is done cooking, add a good chunk of butter to a skillet (I used cast iron but non stick will also be fine!), and slowly heat up the pan and melt the butter. You don’t want the pan to be too hot because then the bread will cook to fast and be nice and crunchy, but the cheese won’t melt! While it’s heating, top your brie and bread with the brussel sprout mixture and gently transfer to your skillet. While it’s starting to brown, I even like to cover the skillet for a couple minutes so the cheese will melt even nicer. Once the first side is golden brown, carefully flip and continue to cook the other side, again until golden brown.

Transfer to a plate and cut in half- then enjoy!

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oven baked spinach and kale felafel

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I love my veggies but sometimes eating them can be a chore. I wanted to whip up a fun new way to eat my greens today, so I modified the traditional felafel to to include spinach and kale in addition to the traditional chick peas! Also, here are some fun facts about the health benefits of the ingredients in this dish;

Kale
Kale is low in calories, has zero fat, and a ton of fiber. It is full of antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K- these vitamins help your skin, you vision, your metabolism and you hydration… vitamin K is even thought to be a cancer fighter! It’s high in iron and calcium, is great for your liver, and is a perfect veggie for detoxing your body! 

Spinach
Similarly to kale, spinach contains many antioxidants and vitamins that are great for you liver, skin, and overall bodily function. It also contains beta-carotene which has been shown to prevent asthma.

Chick Peas/ Garbanzo Beans
A great source of protein, these beans also contain tons of fiber, iron, and manganese; a mineral that helps with energy production and antioxidant defenses. Chickpeas are also thought to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and because they contain folate and magnesium, they are thought to strengthen blood vessels and possibly lower the risk of heart attack.

CuminCumin is one of my favorite spices, not only for the taste, but for all of its great health benefits! Each teaspoon contains 22% of your daily Iron intake, it has been used for centuries as a bacteria blocker on certain foods, and a study showed it can help fight bacteria in wounds in humans.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil has been known to lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. It is high in monounsaturated fat which can help lower cholesterol and control insulin production. It is also full of antioxidant polyphenol which helps protect your cells from damage- certain polyphenols have also been said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients

1 can of chickpeas
a few handfuls each of kale and spinach
2-3 tablespoons of flour (i used barley flour but you can use whatever you have laying around the house!)
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of parsley
a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
half a red onion
two cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
salt & pepper

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add your chickpeas (drained and rinsed!), spinach, and kale to your food processor. Give this a few pulses and then add your spices, onion, garlic, and lemon juice, and continue to mix until everything is combined- it won’t be perfectly smooth and that’s ok. Also, depending on how much spinach and kale you use, you may have to add more flour to help thicken your mixture up a bit more. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spoon a bit of your mixture onto it. I just dropped my mix and let it do its thing, but feel free to shape them into patties. Once they are laid out on the cookie sheet and put them in the oven. I wasn’t exactly timing mine, but I think it took about 20 minutes- when they are done, they will be starting to turn a nice golden brown and will be pretty firm to the touch.

To serve, I chopped up some mini heirloom tomatoes and made a bit of greek yogurt spread to go with the felafel, and threw everything onto a whole wheat pita. For the yogurt spread I added a handful of fresh basil to about a quarter of a cup of plain greek yogurt, some salt, pepper, and olive oil, as well as some garlic powder, and blended it until smooth. I also topped with crumbled goat cheese because, well, goat cheese makes everything better!

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lentil cakes with poached eggs

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First off, I wanted to apologize for my slight hiatus. My computer decided it wanted to stop working and I had to turn it into the apple store for repair! Although I will not be posting every single day, I will try my best to post four to five times a week! Any ways, onto this great recipe!

If you’re anything like me, you have enough leftovers to feed an army when you decide to cook. I’ve tried learning to cook smaller amounts and cut recipes in half, but it just never works out. So more recently, I’ve been trying to find recipes that utilize some of the types of leftovers that I always have around. This recipe, which I slightly modified from Cannelle et Vanille, I was able to use some leftover lentils from a potato salad recipe that I will be posting at some point this week! That being said, you can definitely make this recipe with fresh lentils.

Also, a lot of people are very intimidated with poached eggs. They’re a lot easier than they seem- I promise! If you’re really uncertain about cooking them in the traditional sense, there are pans and other gadgets designed to make poaching eggs really simple! Now, on to the recipe!

Ingredients

3/4 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus more for the eggs
6 eggs (4 are to poach)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (the original recipe called for panko, I did a mix of half whole wheat traditional breadcrumbs, and half panko)
1 medium green onion, sliced into thin pieces
3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (I used fresh thyme, plus my lentils had already been cooked with a few other herbs, but you can use your favorites!)
1 ounce of finely grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons vinegar

Instructions

If you are using fresh lentils, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook the lentils for about 15 minutes so they are cooked, but not mushy. If you are using leftover lentils of any sort, bring to room temperature.

Whisk 2 of the eggs and add to the lentils along with the breadcrumbs, green onion, chopped herbs, parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Stir to combine- I started with a wooden spoon and then switched to my hands to really get everything combined. I also had to add some extra breadcrumbs but you will be able to decide if you need more or not while you are mixing. Take about 1/4 cup of mixture, roll into balls and then gently flatten the ball slightly to form the cakes.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil (or oil of your choice) and heat until you see ripples in the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, turn the heat down to medium and start cooking patties- about three minutes on each side or until golden brown. If you want to focus on just cooking these instead of making them at the same time as the poached eggs, you can make these first and keep them warm in the oven! 

While the oil is heating, bring about 5 inches of water to a boil in a sauce pan and add a splash of vinegar (most suggest white wine vinegar but I didn’t have any so I used cider vinegar). Crack your eggs into a bowl to make cooking them easier. Stir the water vigorously until you create a whirlpool affect. Add your eggs to the swirling water and turn down the heat so it is at a gentle boil. The whites will begin to wrap around the yolks, and at this point, time the eggs to cook for 2-3 minutes. Gently remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel.

Remove the lentil cakes from the oven or pan and top with the poached egg. Finish with a touch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

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swiss chard, fennel, goat cheese & ricotta pizza

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swiss chard, fennel, goat cheese & ricotta pizza

I’m a fan of any and all types of pizza… why wouldn’t you want tomatoes and bread and cheese, all in one? At least that’s how I originally looked at it. Now I still love my classic New York cheese pizza, but I love pies that use fresh and healthy ingredients as well! So, when I was scavenging for food in my fridge today, this is what I came up with! Enjoy!

Ingredients

Pizza Dough
2 packets of active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups of warm water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 cups of flour (1/2 AP, 1/2 whole wheat)

Topping
a medium fennel bulb, sliced thinly
one onion, sliced
one bunch of swiss chard
bacon
goat cheese
home made ricotta

Ricotta
4 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tbsp of lemon juice

Instructions

In a large pot, add your whole milk and your heavy cream. While you are waiting for this to boil, add 2 packets of active dry yeast to the cup and a half of warm (about 110 degrees) water. This will need to sit for about five minutes before you do anything else. Once you see your milk start to develop foam on the top, watch carefully because it will begin to boil soon. As the milk begins to boil, add in two tablespoons of lemon juice and give one quick stir. Let rest for about two minutes. You will see curds have formed and at this point you can strain through cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Let your curds separate from the whey and you will soon have ricotta! Depending on how stiff or moist you’d like your cheese, draining times will vary.

Now you can finish your dough. The water and yeast should have developed a slight foam on top, and at this point you can whisk in the olive oil, salt, and sugar. Once they are combined being to stir in your flour. If it gets to difficult to do with a spoon, feel free to get in there with your hands! You don’t want to overwork the dough at this point though, so once everything is combined, coat a new bowl with a touch of olive oil and put your dough in there to rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep somewhere warm to rise and double in size.

At this point you can begin all of your chopping and rinsing. Slice your fennel thinly and caramelize- this will take a while, fennel is a strong veggie and needs time and patience to break down. Once they are soft and brown you can add in your sliced onion (I also added a splash of white wine!), and begin to cook it. Put the fennel and onion into a dish, and start to wilt your swiss chard- don’t even worry about washing the pan! While the chard is cooking down, throw a few pieces of bacon in a skillet and cook until crispy.

Once all of your toppings are ready, your dough should be good to go! There will be enough dough for a couple pizza’s- cut in half and save half the dough for later. Gently knead the dough on a floured surface and start to stretch to whatever shape pizza you’d like to make. For really thin crust I flatten out the dough even more with my rolling pin. Transfer your dough to a cookie sheet or pizza stone and throw on your toppings (for a vegetarian option, omit bacon)! I cooked my pizza at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes and then bumped the temperature up to 500 to finish off and get a nice crispy crust. I knew mine was ready when I could smell the pizza and when I looked in the oven, my crust was a golden brown!

I topped my pizza with some garlic powder, fresh parmesan, and salt and pepper. Divide up and enjoy!

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sunday dinner

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Milk Poached Chicken with Fennel on Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

I eat a lot of chicken. And I feel like I always make it the same way- as chicken cutlets or in stir fry. I decided to experiment and play with my chicken this week after reading about a few different techniques to get the most tender and delicious chicken around. When I was deciding what to serve it with, I wanted something besides pasta or bread, so I made polenta for the first time and mixed in my favorite cheese. I was a little scared to see if it would actually turn out, but after a lot of vigorous stirring and sweating over the stove, I had a creamy pot of goodness. Check out the recipes below!

Ingredients

For the Chicken:
Either a whole chicken or a few chicken breasts with rib meat
olive oil
salt + pepper
1 bulb of fennel
1 shallot
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
a few cups of milk
a few sprigs of thyme
a cinnamon stick
whole star anise
lemon zest

For the Polenta:
1 cup of cornmeal or polenta
4 cups of milk
goat cheese
parmesan rinds
salt + pepper

Instructions

Brown your chicken on all sides- it doesn’t have to cook the chicken significantly, it just has to turn it a nice golden brown. As you’re browning the chicken, start sauteing your shallots, garlic, and fennel in the bottom of a dutch oven (I diced my shallots, crushed my garlic, and sliced my fennel thinly). Once your chicken is done browning, add it to the dutch oven, and pour a few cups of milk over the top of the chicken- you can use part milk and part water as well if you do not have enough milk. Add your spices and lemon zest and bring to a boil. Cooking times will change depending on what type of chicken meat you go with- I used chicken breast and it was finished in 20-30 minutes. If you are using a whole chicken, you can finish by baking off in the oven. 

While your chicken is poaching, bring four cups of water to a boil. Begin to stir the water to create a whirlpool effect, and slowly add one cup of cornmeal/polenta, stirring vigorously. Once the polenta is combined with the water and you don’t see it separate when you stop stirring, you can take a break. Let it bubble for a few minutes, then stir for a few minutes- it’s almost like risotto! You’ll want to cook the polenta until it is very thick- about 25-30 minutes. Once it is thick, add as much or as little goat cheese as you’d like, a parmesan rind or fresh grated parmesan, and salt and pepper. Stir all of this in well, and let the polenta rest for a few minutes before serving.

To go along with this dish, I also sauteed up some spinach and mushrooms. When serving, I scooped the polenta into a bowl, added a layer of spinach, and topped with the chicken and some fennel.

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oatmeal bread

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Growing up, I was very lucky to have home cooked food all the time. One recipe that I could not get enough of (and still can’t get enough of!), was my mothers Oatmeal Bread. We would only have it a couple times a year, usually around St. Patrick’s day, as a partner to traditional Irish Soda Bread. This loaf is so warm and hearty, and perfect for a snowy day.

The only things I tweaked from the original recipe were using half whole wheat flour, and adding about a half a cup of flax meal.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (up to half can be whole wheat/your choice)
2 cups of buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup of oats + 1/4 cup
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together with a kitchen aid or by hand until everything is incorporated. The dough will be sticky, so sprinkle the extra oats on top to make it easier to handle. Split the dough in half, and lightly shape each section into a round loaf. Place the loaves onto a cookie sheet- you can either spray the sheet to bake or use parchment paper like I did. Cut an ‘X’ into the top of both loaves, and put into the preheated oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes.

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