Day 11

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Squeaky Clean Spinach & Stone-fruit Smoothie:

I know smoothies are pretty simple, but I figured I’d try something new, and it’s HOT this weekend. I’ve always been a little skeptical of putting spinach in smoothies and sort of get turned off by the dark green color of crazy healthy green smoothies. I have to say, it’s pretty good, and adds smoothness to a smoothie that I’m not used to.

Of course since there are five boys all under my age in this house, I had to make a few batches without spinach, which actually tasted pretty good too. Honestly, they’re just scared (as I was) of the dark green color.

Also, a good trick, that might seem sort of obvious with smoothies is to add ice after you’ve mixed all the other ingredients little by little. Makes for the perfect consistency.

Maybe I’d be more healthy if I made myself a fresh fruit smoothie with spinach every morning…

ImageIn Pursuit of More Recipe:

Ingredients

  • (2) fresh nectarines (can sub peaches or apricots, if using apricots up to 3-4)
  • (1) heaping cup frozen peaches
  • (1) large handful packed fresh spinach leaves
  • (1) banana
  • (1-1.5) cup mango juice (can also sub apricot, peach, or other yellow tropical combo)
  • (1) cup ice cubes (optional)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until super smooth – about 1 minute minimum.

Depending on the strength of your blender, the time it takes to properly blend really varies.

Day 10

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto/Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip

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This was a fun one since no one in my family could decide if i should make the dip or the pesto. I decided to cut the recipe in half so that we could try each. I’d have to say my favorite of the two was the dip, because the white beans added a little extra flavor and just made more sense to eat with a chip.The pesto was great, just really thick and needed some extra salt.

I think the key with these recipes is to roast the red peppers fresh. This also kept the dip and sauce warm so extra cooking wasn’t necessary. I just roasted them the same way I did the brussel sprouts, with olive oil and a lot of salt and pepper. I included a picture up top of the red peppers after being roasted. I secretly just wanted to eat them like that.

I’ll ACTUALLY post pictures of the kitchen that I’m cooking in soon.

Girlichef Recipe:

Ingredients (serves 4-8)

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 4 roasted red bell peppers
  • 2 c. cooked (or canned) and drained cannellini beans
  • 1 c. fresh basil, optional
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Pulse the garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the walnuts and pulse a few more times to break up any large pieces.

Add the roasted red peppers and basil and process, streaming in the oil as you go, until all the ingredients are well combined and as coarse or as smooth as you want them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately with crudités, crostini, or vegetable chips, or spread on sandwiches or toss with pasta.

Store in a covered airtight container in the fridge for a day or so, or freeze.

Day 9

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Salty Sweet Strawberry Crisp with Lazy Basil Ice Cream

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Wow, this dessert is seriously nailing it and it’s also amazing to be cooking in a beautiful kitchen at the house my family is renting on Canandaigua lake (will post pictures tomorrow).

Using Ritz crackers and almonds for the topping made for an unbelievable crunch. Additionally the strawberries get extremely hot and make for a gooey warm sauce that ends up boiling all over everything (AMAZING). I love the little ramekins I used to bake and dish the dessert. It makes for awesome presentation and easy/portioned eating.

Adding basil to soy ice cream made for an extremely fresh topping that ends up melting its way into the dessert as you eat. Also, out of everyone who tried the dessert, not one person noticed any difference in the taste of the soy ice cream. I guess basil and strawberry goo does the trick.

I’d have to say… Strawberries are definitely the most used ingredient so far in the blog. What can I say, they’re on sale at Wegmans and they’re amazing.

Salty Sweet Strawberry Crisp Ingredients

2 heaping cups hulled & diced fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons sugar (depending on berries)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

15 Ritz crackers
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup raw almonds, finely chopped
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
pinch of coarse salt

Lazy Basil Ice Cream Ingredients

1 cup good vanilla ice cream
6-8 large basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 4 6-ounce ramekins on a foil lined baking sheet.

Toss strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Divide evenly among ramekins.

Using your hands, crumble crackers into roughly pea sized pieces a medium bowl. Add brown sugar, almonds, salt and melted butter. Toss together until damp and evenly mixed. Top ramekins with mixture.

Bake ramekins uncovered on foiled lined baking sheet at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and top is browned.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve the crisps, remove ice cream container from freezer and sit at room temp to soften. Roll basil leaves into a cigar-shape and slice finely (aka chiffonade), then chop finely into small pieces. Scoop about 1 cup of softened ice cream into a small bowl and fold in basil with a spatula. Serve immediately over warm strawberry crisps.

To make ahead: You can bake the crisp several hours ahead of time. Cool, then keep loosely covered at room temperature. (I don’t recommend refrigerating, as the topping will get soggy.) Reheat at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until warm.

Day 8

2 Recipes Today:

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Pancetta Carbonara:

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Making this recipe was a lot of fun. I was excited to research the best kind of vegan Parmesan for my milk allergy. I found that the best substitute might be from Galaxy Nutritional Food products. It was really nice to try a substitute for cheese, I had been missing the taste for a while.

The pancetta was really amazing, and all I did was just buy small pancetta bites from Wegmans that I was able to fry with garlic.

Carbonara is very heavy but such a good pasta dish.

Tyler Forence Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving- I used vegan parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

Roasted Brussels Sprout with Kielbasa

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So I took a food network simple Brussels sprout recipe and got a recommendation from Lily to add some sort of meat to it, to pair nicely with the carbonara. I had a little bit of left over kielbasa so used that, which roasted so nicely and added extra taste to the brussel sprout.

I’ve always loved Brussels sprout but haven’t found a way to cook them that I liked until this recipe. I think the key is simply just a lot of salt and oil. Additionally, cooking the sprouts for a long time allows the flavor to soak through and take away the bitterness of the vegetable.

I’m proud of myself for finally just adding in an ingredient like kielbasa because the ingredient worked perfectly with the other dish.

Finally I made a main and side dish for a complete dinner.

Barefoot Contessa and Mitchell Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

Serves: 6; Calories: 109; Total Fat: 7 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 4 grams; Total carbohydrates: 10 grams; Sugar: 2 grams; Fiber: 4 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 269 milligrams

Day 7

Breakfast Pizza

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Baking a pizza cleanly through the whole pan must be an art, especially where eggs are concerned. I decided to listen to one of the comments on the recipe and put the dough in a Pyrex can instead of on a pizza sheet. This allowed the eggs to spread out and cook a little higher since there was some depth in the pan.

I also struggled to make this a milk-free recipe, but just decided to take out the cheese. The shredded has browns were great, and I might even add a little more next time I make them. I used turkey sausage instead of vegetarian sausage because let’s be real, real meat is better.

It’s funny that this is the second recipe I’ve made that fake’s pizza crust, I definitely owe it to myself to learn how to make real pizza crust soon.

Vegetarian Times Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 8-oz. can low-fat refrigerated crescent dinner roll dough
  • 7 oz. vegetarian breakfast “sausage” patties
  • 1 cup frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 8-oz. carton egg substitute or 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup skim milk or soymilk
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Separate dough into triangles. Press triangles together to form single round crust on 12-inch pizza pan coated with cooking spray. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form rim.
  2. Cook “sausages” 5 to 7 minutes, breaking into small crumbles. Drain on paper towels, and let cool slightly.
  3. Top prepared dough with “sausage,” potatoes and cheese. Whisk together egg substitute, milk, sage, salt and red pepper flakes in medium bowl. Carefully pour milk mixture over “sausage” mixture. Bake 25 minutes, or until crust is browned. Cut into wedges, and serve warm.

Day 6

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins Recipe

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Thanks to my mom’s co-worker Sue, who found this recipe, I didn’t even have to go to the grocery store to make it. Both Oatmeal and Strawberries are great ingredients for a muffin. Macerating the strawberries in sugar and balsamic vinaigrette made the strawberries great for baking, which is a good trick for the future.

The muffins tasted awesome but were just a tiny bit under cooked. I still haven’t mastered the art of knowing when something is finished baking. I love cookies and brownies under cooked but definitely am not a fan of a doughy undercooked muffins. Luckily these weren’t too bad.

I find baking a good amount easier than most other cooking, because you sort of rely on the oven to make the dough spread and rise, so presentation is less of a responsibility.

James let me go solo with cooking this recipe (and he’s leaving on Wednesday), which made me feel like I had to be an octopus to get everything done. He did take an awesome picture of this one though!

Simply Recipes Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 pound strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1 Mix the oats and plain yogurt together in a large bowl.

2 Rinse and core the strawberries. Roughly chop the strawberries (I cut them in quarters lengthwise and then make one or two crosswise cuts). You should have about 1 1/2 cups of chopped strawberries. Place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with white sugar and balsamic vinegar. Gently stir to coat the strawberries with the sugar and vinegar.

3 Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a 12-well muffin tin by coating with butter or lining with paper muffin cups.

4 Whisk together in a medium bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, finely ground black pepper, and cinnamon.

5 Add the eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract to the oatmeal and yogurt mixture. Stir until just incorporated.

6 Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the flour mixture into the oatmeal. Stir until just incorporated and the flour is moistened. Do not over-mix! Or your muffins will end up rubbery. The batter should be rather lumpy, not smooth.

7 Gently fold in the strawberries, including any of the sugary vinegary liquid the strawberries have been sitting in.

8 Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin wells or cups. Bake until the tops are browned and the muffin bounces back when you gently press on the top with your finger tips, about 20 minutes. A bamboo or metal skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool for a couple minutes in the muffin tin before removing to serve.

Day 5

Gazpacho

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So to be honest, I least enjoyed the taste of this recipe. I think my problem is with Gazpacho in general. It tastes a little too similar to salsa, so I feel like I’m eating salsa as soup, which is just a little alarming. Although, with some added croutons, the soup tastes nice and refreshing. All of the fresh vegetables would also make an awesome salsa.

Everyone in the family got to taste the Gazpacho tonight, which was awesome. It’s nice to hear everyone’s feedback, and everyone seemed to like this recipe.

We didn’t have a food processor that was working, but small amounts of the vegetables in a blender on the chop setting worked just fine. I also loved the taste of the white wine vinegar, after buying a whole jar of it I’ll have to find another recipe that uses it.

Food Network Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Day 4

Day 4

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Citrus Berry Terrine

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This recipe was a little bit more nerve racking than usual. When I took the gelatin out after two hours it was in no way “the consistency of egg whites.” I ended up blending it up with a little extra orange juice to get to a consistency that could mix with the fruit.

My brother Logan tried this tonight and said: “it’s okay, just too fruity.” I’ll take that as a compliment. The recipe was pretty good, and was a nice spring treat with lots of great fresh fruit flavors. I used orange juice (not grapefruit juice) and I might try using grapefruit juice next time for a bit more of a sour taste.

It’s a little frustrating how long most desserts take with freezing, refrigerating, and baking. I think I might be more of a “real food” cook. I’m going to try to tackle a Johnny Iuzzini dessert recipe before the month is up.

Ingredients

segments from 2 navel oranges cut into bite sized pieces
segments of 1 pink grapefruit cut into bite sized pieces
2 packets of unflavored gelatine
1/3 cup cold water
2 cups orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups (1 each) raspberries, blackberries, blueberries

Directions

Cut orange and grapefruit into bite sized pieces. Rest citrus fruit on double layer of paper towels and cover with another double layer of paper towels. If paper gets very wet, change it.

Sprinkle over water in large bowl to soften. Bring juice and sugar to a boil in medium pan to dissolve the sugar. Pour some of the juice over the gelatin and stir gently to dissolve. Stir in remainder of juice. Put gelatin mixture in refrigerator and let sit for about two hours, stir occasionally.

When gelatin reaches consistency of egg whites, rinse a 9×5 loaf pan with cold water and shake out extra water. Gently stir the citrus and berries into the gelatin mixture. Shake the pan to settle the gelatin. Chill for a minimum of four hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, dip pan into bowl or sink of hot water for a few seconds and turn a knife around edges. Unmold onto a platter.

 

Day 3

2 RECIPES TODAY

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Avocado-Grapefruit Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

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I guess today turned into vegetarian day, didn’t mean for it to, but it was nice to feel full after a vegetarian meal.

The homemade fried shallots were my favorite part of the salad. Everything else on the salad was so sweet and mushy, so the shallots gave a nice crunch and spice. I also loved the pomegranate molasses. I had never heard of it before, but it makes for a great dressing, especially with pomegranate seeds.

I think the biggest thing I learned from cooking the salad was how easy it can be to fry in a frying pan with just vegetable oil and flour. I love store-bought croutons, but homemade croutons might have to be what I make from now on.

This recipe reinforced for me that avocado + fruit= a party in the mouth. After eating spiced apples and avocado on a turkey burger at Sweet Water Tavern in Boston, I’ve been obsessed. The grapefruit and avocado combination was just as satisfying.

My dad got home just in time for a bite of the salad, he approves.

Food and Wine Magazine Recipe:

Ingredients

  1. 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
  2. 20 medium shallots (1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
  3. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 3 ruby red grapefruits
  5. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, plus more for drizzling
  7. 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  9. 16 cups loosely packed baby lettuces, such as arugula, frisée and radicchio
  10. 2 Hass avocados, each cut into 15 wedges
  11. 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 300° over moderately high heat; alternatively, test the oil by adding a small bread cube—it should turn light brown in 1 minute. Toss the shallots with the flour until completely coated, shaking off the excess. Fry the shallots in batches until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. 3
  2. Using a sharp knife, peel the grapefruits, removing all the bitter white pith. Cut between the membranes to release the sections. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with the 1/4 cup of pomegranate molasses, the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the lettuces with 1/3 cup of the dressing and mound them on a large serving platter. Put the avocado wedges and grapefruit sections in the bowl, season with a pinch each of salt and pepper and toss with the remaining dressing. Arrange the fruit over the salad and garnish with the pomegranate seeds. Drizzle a little pomegranate molasses around the edge of the platter and top the salad with the fried shallots.

Peppadew & Hummus Grilled Naan Pizza

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Finally I found a way to eat hummus that I don’t get tired of while eating. Additionally, buying packaged naan and grilling it is such an amazing way to fake pizza crust.

This is the second recipe I’ve made that has called for peppadew peppers (I also used them in the pasta salad from day 1). I could actually eat them all day. For my taste buds, they are the perfect balance between spicy and sweet.

While eating this pizza I couldn’t help but think how much my mom would LOVE it. It’s a pretty easy recipe so I might have to pull it out again for her.

There are ways to make pizza healthy, and this is one of them for sure.

Wegmans “Menu” Magazine Recipe:

Ingredients

1 pkg (8.8 oz) Whole Grain Naan
1/2 cup roasted garlic hummus
1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes, quartered, divided
1/2 cup peppadews, sliced in thin rings, divided
6 leaves Fresh Basil, torn into a few pieces, divided
Fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

Preheat grill on MEDIUM 10 min.

  1. Spread each naan with 1/4 cup roasted garlic hummus, 1/4 cup tomatoes, 1/4 cup peppadews, and 3 fresh basil leaves; season to taste with pepper. Drizzle each with 1 Tbsp oil.
  2. Place on grill; close lid. Cook 2-4 min, until crust begins to brown around edges.

Chef Tip(s):
For a crispier crust, place naan bread on grill, flat side up; grill 2 min, prior to adding toppings.