Tag Archives: spinach

Soup Time!

30 Dec

Cold weather is soup weather. When the chill sets in, the soup goes on. I decided to try making a soup I had never made before. And I wanted to make it from scratch. My darling Denis talked about his sister Kathy’s Italian Wedding Soup. He remembered it being quite delicious. Decision made.

Italian Wedding Soup has meatballs, so my first order of business after finding a recipe that I could start with (while making it my own) was to make meatballs. I used a couple of types of ground meat, bread crumbs, a beaten egg, and some italian seasoning. While some epicureans fry their meatballs, I bake mine. I cooked up a big batch so there were extra to put into the freezer for another day.


While the meatballs were cooling, I assembled the rest of my ingredients. Cooked meatballs, chicken stock (both homemade and store bought), shredded carrots, celery, arugula and spinach, orzo, eggs, parmesan cheese, and finally salt and pepper were set to come together in one magnificent soup. The homemade chicken stock was loaded with succulent herbss-and would perfectly season the soup.


Next I started chopping. I like everything ready when I begin making something, It just makes it easier to assemble.


Just a little FYI…when I use celery in a recipe, I use both the outer stalks and the leafy insides. I don’t waste any flavorful tidbit when I cook.

Next I sautéed the carrots and celery in a little butter. Then I added the stock. My first  ever soup kettle of Italian Wedding Soup was underway. The tantalizing aromas floating through the house brought my darling Denis to the kitchen. One of the many things I love about cooking…the kitchen becomes an impromptu gathering place.


The soup was bubbling away, and the scents wafting through the house made the frosty day outside fade away . Next, more building of the flavors when the chopped arugula and spinach went into the broth.


Then it was time to froth up the eggs. When I add eggs to any recipe, they sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature before adding them to a recipe. Eggs work better in recipes when they are room temperature.


After whipping the eggs, I stirred the soup and slowly drizzled the eggs in-they cooked slowly as they were added. The soup was coming together beautifully.


The house was filled with the warmth of bubbling soup.

In went the meatballs. They just had to be heated through and the soup was complete. Time to dig in!


Freshly grated parmesan garnished the soup. Cripsy garlic bread completed the meal. While it was chilly outside, inside it was warm and oh so delicious.

Soup lends itself to personal csutomization. It can be easily tailored to taste. Love pepper? Grind some flavorful heat into the soup. Want more veggies? Chop them up and toss them in. Is vegetarian soup your preference? Use tofu and vegetable broth. Easy Peasy. Let your food express your personality and have fun!



This and That Pasta

9 Mar

What’s for dinner on a Friday night when everyone is a bit low on energy from the long week?   Something easy for sure! Here is what I did on a Friday when the family was just worn out.  It is important to eat healthy in our family.  Sure we cheat every now and again, but for the most part we all make an effort to eat food that is natural and wholesome.  So how to solve this Friday night conundrum?  We did it in a snap.

I roasted some vegetables, Denis put a pot of water on to boil, and then pulled out a loaf of crusty bread.  There were salad fixings in the fridge, but the veggies with the pasta seemed sufficient, so that was left for another meal.   Dinner in a snap was the goal du jour.  It was so easy to get ready, and dinner was on the table quickly.  Let me share it with you.

I call this recipe Amy’s This and That Pasta.  It’s a little of this, a little of that.  Whatever you have on hand will do.   Here is what I did.  I pulled out a glass oblong pan.  Into it went:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 packages of fresh assorted mushrooms (I have also used canned mushrooms.  Drained, these work just fine.)
  • 1 large jar pimento drained (or a jar of roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, will do just fine too)
  •  A few handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1  28 ounce can diced tomatoes in sauce

I mixed these veggies together with a rubber spatula.  I drizzled olive oil over the top and sprinkled on:

  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • salt, pepper and dried red pepper flakes to taste.

Again I mixed this up and placed it in an oven that was preheated to 400 degrees.  The timer was set to 30 minutes.  On went a pot of water for the pasta.  Then I changed out of my work clothes, and sat down for a few minutes to chat with the family.

When the vegetables were nearly done, frozen tortellini went into the boiling water for about 4 minutes.  The children set the table for dinner.  The sliced loaf of crusty bread was taken to the table.  After draining the pasta and putting it in a large shallow bowl, I poured the hot roasted vegetables over it.  Lastly, I grated some fresh parmesan cheese over it and on to the table it went.

It was a simple meal, and so easy to toss together.  The vegetables imparted what I call “vegetable liquor”, meaning they juiced up a bit while roasting.  The roasted pasta sauce was a snap to make with the oven doing all of the work.  It was a nutritious dinner for a Friday night. Most vegetables work in this recipe except starchy ones (like potatoes), so use this recipe as a base and substitute with what you have in your kitchen.

Toss your favorite veggies together, let them roast in the oven, have a seat and wait for dinner to practically make itself.  Easy, quick, nutritious.  Perfect for a family meal.  Weeknight meals do not have to be grand, time consuming, or fussy.  Remember the true focus of family meals.   Connecting.  Conversation.  Togetherness. Meals can be easy, yummy and nutritious, but more important, a happy social time to reconnect.  Bon appetite!

leftovers from anywhere

31 Dec

With a humble and grateful heart, I am returning from time at a beautiful mountain home of friends.  There were 22 of us staying together, and it was a lovely harmonious bunch.  The house was bursting with adults trying to hold down the fort and kids from 8-21 years of age being, as they should, kids.    There were a lot of personalities present, all meshing beautifully.

Meals were certainly an event.  4 tables fit all of us in one room, so we ate together.  The cacophony of spirited meal conversations happily resonated throughout the house.  With such an array of food and folks, there was no avoiding some “foodie” talk.  This is a topic I dearly love!

We talked about food, budgets, meals, food allergies, and, with a busy family, the challenges of putting together a nutritious and cohesive meal.   Varied information and opinions gently led these conversations.  Low and behold, lingering at the table over some hot cider after dinner one evening, talk turned to what to do with the leftovers.  Anyone who know me know that I am a big fan of leftovers.  They are a great “second act” if you will.

Leftover spinach kale artichoke cheese dip!  Yummier the second day!

Leftover spinach kale artichoke cheese dip! Yummier the second day!

Some of the folks had assembled an amazing appetizer.  It was a hot dip including cream cheese, garlic, mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach and kale.  It was fantastic to munch on with chips and veggies as we made dinner.  It was a pretty big batch, so there was some left over.  We also had some cauliflower left, albeit not much.  These were the leftovers that got our creative juices flowing.

leftover cauliflower-so inspiring!

leftover cauliflower-so inspiring!

Both would have made a fabulous omelet the next morning.  The minds and culinary talent present would not be wasted with just one option though.  We forged ahead thinking of more creations with dip and cauliflower.  I credit Robin, one of the sisters (sibling, not nun!!) there with a brilliant thought.  Pizza.  It sounded amazing, but executing this wasn’t clear.  So when I got home, I researched.

What I found with my digging is that you can made a pizza crust with cauliflower.  It needs to be put into a food processor or blender and pulsed to powder form.  About a head of cauliflower will make about 3 cups of cauliflower powder, which is enough for one pizza.  The leftover dip would have been dynamite as the topping!  Voila!  A really cool way to use these leftovers!

I have not tried this yet, but am gearing up to give it a whirl.  See?  You can take leftovers from anywhere and move way beyond just heating them up for another meal.  Make something new.  Let the creative spirit take you in a new exciting direction!  I will keep you posted on this latest culinary adventure and you let me know where your leftovers take you!

Cannelini and Greens

31 Aug

I am a self proclaimed foodie.   I think about food a lot.  I think about how to grow it, how to prepare it, and try to conjure up interesting twists of flavor with what I have on hand.  Although I love the European method of shopping daily to prepare the freshest food, I am not a person that likes to hop in the car and zip out to the store for a missing ingredient when I cook.  Nope…I like to put music on, surround myself with my the folks I love, and get in the kitchen and cook.

That is exactly what I was doing when I created my cannellini dish lately.  I looked at ingredients that I had on hand, craved something different, poured Denis and I a glass of red wine and got to work.  This is what I came up with, and I must say, it was brilliant.  Here is my recipe.

Amy’s Cannellini and Greens

  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 cans cannellini beans-rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups of fresh arugula and spinach
  • 4 slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parmesan cheese

Heat a large pan on medium, and put olive oil in pan.  When hot, add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and stir.   Let cook for 1 minute.   Add canned tomatoes with juice, thyme, parsley, and sage.  Stir to mix.  Shake in salt and pepper to taste.  Heat until hot and bubbling, about 4-5 minutes.  Add cannellini beans and give the mix a good but gentle stir.  During the last few minutes of cooking, add the prosciutto.  While that is heating through, take a large shallow bowl and line it with the fresh arugula spinach mixture.  Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over it.  Just a sprinkle will do.

Taste bean mixture.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  Pour hot beans over greens.  The greens will wilt a bit, and the scent coming off this dish is amazing!  Serve.

This dish is quick to put together and a great way to use some leftover greens when you are tired of regular cold salads.  It is a pretty dish, and packed with nutrition.  Cannellini beans are rich in antioxidants, loaded with beneficial fiber, and have plenty of heart healthy b9.   It is a beautiful dish to have on your dinner table, with the added benefit of being very nutritious!  Bon Appetite!

Oh yum!

Oh yum!

Tale of a Saturday morning

18 Mar

Today is just a regular Saturday.  I got up, did a load of laundry, and made a big lunch for my son heading out to a long day of life guarding class.  While I was doing this, I nibbled on a bagel.  Trying to shake the long week off, I head to the gym for  a workout with Denis.

At the gym, we hopped on some treadmills for a good 40 minute run.  Then we headed over to the free weights for a little strength training.  Such a great start to the weekend!  We zipped on back home, and were surprised that the workout didn’t leave us super hungry.  Peculiar, I thought, as we usually have a pretty healthy appetite!  But knowing post workout major food craving comes on fast and strong, I decided to make something when we got home anyway.  Eating some protein after a workout is important.  Since it was still morning, I thought eggs would work for the post workout nibbler.  And what better way to eat eggs than a big honkin frittata?  (Okay, maybe deviled eggs, but that’s a story for another day!). There were 2 goals here-a great post workout dish plus plenty of leftovers for my teenagers!

I went the fridge and pulled out 1/2 dozen eggs.  Then I started digging.  My frittata would be totally dependent on what was on hand.  As Denis would say, I am the best refrigerator cook he knows.  I can pull any meal together with the odds and ends in my kitchen.  I dug into the pantry, the freezer, and the fridge.  Here is what I pulled out:

4 pieces of uncooked leftover bacon

1/4 bag leftover frozen hash brown style potatoes

1/2 an onion

1 package frozen chopped spinach

jar of roasted red peppers

6 eggs

skim milk

A chunk of sharp cheddar cheese

First, I got my trusty ol’ cast iron skillet out.  Then I turned the oven to 450 to preheat.  Next, I cut the left over bacon into small pieces  and tossed it into the skillet, which was on medium high heat.  That started sizzling, and I cracked the eggs into a mixing bowl.  To cut down on the fat, I used 4 whole eggs and 2 with the whites only.  I whipped those while the bacon was cooking, and added about 3/4 cup skim milk.  I let that sit.  While I was working on that, Denis chopped 1/2 the  onion, 1/2 the jar of roasted red peppers, and shredded about 1/2 cup of the cheese.

When the bacon was done, I scooped it out of the skillet and put it on some paper towels to soak up the grease.   I tossed the chopped onion and the potatoes into the still hot skillet.  That started cooking.  I cooked it, stirring twice, until the onions were translucent  and the potatoes soft, about 4-5 minutes.  While that was cooking, I put the package of frozen spinach in the microwave to thaw, then squeezed it dry.  After the onion and potatoes were cooked, in went the red peppers and spinach.  I gave everything a good solid stir and let it heat through.

After about 2 minutes I gently poured the egg mixture into the pan.  I gave the whole thing a good stir.   Only one.  That was it.  The heat was still medium high, and I left the skillet on the heat until the eggs started to set, about 4 minutes.  I sprinkled the cheese on top, then popped it into the oven for 10 minutes.  I toasted some whole wheat bread to accompany the frittata.  It was a yummy dish, I used up some leftovers, and it was ready in a snap.  With all the vegetables I added, it was also packed with nutrients.

So what is in your pantry, your fridge, your freezer?  Have some fun, get creative, and whip up something fun!