Tag Archives: spinach

The Best of Both Worlds

Now that our shelter in place order has been extended to May 15th, we are all seeking comfort through various ways. For me, cooking and food are my go to sources for calming myself. It is gradually getting warmer, we are planting in our greenhouse, the garlic is growing, and my daffodils are blooming.

These days, when I ponder what to make, it comes from a place of what is available? It becomes a combination of home-canning, frozen, fresh and pantry staples. I must say that when you put a little thought into it, you will be surprised at what you can come up with to warm the belly. This time it was a fusion of both Greek and Italian cuisines that worked quite well together. I love to make spanakopita, but was out of phyllo dough, I had my quarts of roasted tomato sauce and uncooked lasagna sheets. Then it hit me, why not combine the spanakopita in a lasagna? Bingo, the best of both worlds. It gave us a couple days of comfort food.

SPANAKOPITA LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 sheets of oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounce bag of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained in a wire strainer
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 green onions, using both white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 10 ounces crumbled feta
  • 16 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 quart of roasted tomato sauce (or equivalent of jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9 ceramic pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the drained spinach in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out the remaining water. Place spinach in a large bowl.
  3. Add lemon zest, dill, green onions, garlic, eggs, feta and goat cheese. Mix gently but thoroughly until combined.
  4. In a bowl, combine your pasta sauce with the two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Place a ladle full of pasta sauce in bottom of baking dish, and evenly spread it. Place three oven-ready lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 cup of filling on each sheet and distribute evenly. Top with three more lasagna sheets, repeat with filling. Repeat one more time. You should have 3 layers of spinach mixture.
  5. On the top of the final lasagna sheets, pour an equal amount of pasta sauce over the 3 groups of layered sheets. Top with mozzarella. Cover with foil and place in pre-heated oven. Bake covered for 25 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbling.
  6. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Serves 6

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“A good cook works by the fire of imagination not merely by the fire in the stove.”

Robert Coffin

We Eat With Our Eyes

It is often said that we eat with our eyes.  I believe this is true.  When a dish looks appetizing and beautiful we want to savor it; we might eat a little slower so we can stretch out the experience.  I have made many quiches; some with, some without a crust, but this technique makes the final product a feast for the eyes.  We are fortunate to raise chickens that lay eggs with extremely dark yolks.  This made the color of this quiche a bright yellow, which only added to its appeal.  It is made in a spring-form pan instead of a pie plate.  This allows for a nice deep well for the filling, which I appreciate; but the real joy comes from using hash browns as the crust.  It literally comes out looking like a work of art.

Feel free to change up the ingredients in the filling to suit what you have or your taste preferences.  You can use arugula instead of spinach or a combination of the two.  You can also use Swiss chard.  Vegetarians can leave out the bacon, and you can use Comte instead of Gruyere.  You decide. It will all taste delicious.

SPINACH & GRUYERE QUICHE WITH A HASH BROWN CRUST

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INGREDIENTS:

FOR HASH BROWN CRUST:

  • 1 package frozen hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 farm-fresh egg, light beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

FOR THE QUICHE:

  • 1/2 cup red (or any color you have) seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 farm-fresh egg whites, and 3 additional farm-fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or Comte cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups lightly packed spinach and/or arugula mixed
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with olive oil, then line both bottom and sides with parchment paper; brush with oil again.
  2. Combine the hash browns, melted butter, garlic salt and egg.  Mix thoroughly and press into spring form pan, pushing them up the sides.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hash browns start to crisp up.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR QUICHE:

  1. Fry bacon in skillet, drain and crumble.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onions, red pepper and garlic for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Add spinach and saute for another 1-2 minutes or until spinach has wilted.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl, combine the egg whites, whole eggs, 1/2 and 1/2, shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.  Add the cooled onions and red pepper and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into hash brown crust in spring form pan.
  4. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 40-45 minutes or until eggs are set.

Serves 6

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Note:  This recipe is from my new cookbook Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat.  You can purchase it at our website

“The kitchen is seasoned with love.”

Shelter From The Storm

As we wind up week six of social distancing, I am recognizing my emotions looming large.  One minute grief, then anger, jumping to anxiety, then surprising me completely by hope. I can be washing the dishes or folding clothes and I find tears running down my face.  I listen to the news and feel angry at people who aren’t taking this virus seriously.  I’m furious at the misinformation and lies.  I wake up during the night and process thoughts for 2-4 hours.  There are times I think, “What’s wrong with me? Am I losing my mind?” The truth is, I am completely normal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I am simply leaning fearlessly into my emotions. I want to know what is below the surface of my packaging. The average person didn’t see the corona-virus coming; and then the world came to a collective pause. Everything changed. Nothing is as is was.

We are in shock. I keep hearing people wanting to get back to normal. Yet what does that look like? Why long to return to an existence that was not working for most of us? I for one, have no desire to return to the times of collective exhaustion, greed and disconnection.  In this collective pause why not dream of a better way? Why not take these precious  moments and rein-vision something that sustains and nourishes us? We already know how to distance. We’ve been running away from healthy solutions for humans and the planet for generations, chasing our desire for bigger and better until the world couldn’t take it anymore.

For now, cooking and my kitchen help to steady my emotional tides. Preparing food for me is like meditation or prayer for some. One thing I do know: we need to practice a lot more kindness and compassion for each other. Our world is not a virtual reality; it is the reality. Right here, right now. We all yearn for shelter from the storm.

 

 

 

Give Me Shelter

As I sit at my desk right now, my home is silent and I recognize the daily importance of silence in my life.  Silence is a dear friend, the kind of friend that can sit with you and not feel uncomfortable when listening to the sound of the heart.  We are so bombarded with noise; we are plugged in and turned on.  Unabated noise can be an onslaught of constant stimulation in a way that confuses, rather than comforts.

During this period of sheltering in place or social distancing,  we are offered an opportunity to listen to our own thoughts. Living a rural life offers periods of time when you don’t see many people, yet I am never lonely.  Our social time largely centers around our weekly appearance at our farmers market to sell our wares.  I can be quite a talker and this is a great time for discussion and sharing.  Now that this is not an option, I do miss the absence of that scheduled human contact; the hugs, the warm conversations with customers, friends and vendors.  However this extended time away from our social connections, allows us to pare down even further in the discovery of what we really value in our life.

Adversity has the power to change us if we are open to that change.  It is my sincere hope that people pause and reevaluate what is most important to them and then act on that knowledge.  May this challenging time provide the reset needed, and the catalyst for manifesting better lives for ourselves and each other.

SALMON WITH ARTICHOKES, CAPERS AND SPINACH

Make sure you have all you ingredients measured and prepped, as this comes together rather quickly.  You don’t want to overcook your salmon!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-4 wild caught salmon fillets, weighing approximately 6 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can 15 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  You will want to sear your salmon in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet.  Generously salt and pepper your fillets.
  2. When your oil is hot, add salmon fillets flesh side down (skin side up).  Sear for about 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and turn each fillet over (skin side down).  Sear for another 4-5 minutes until salmon is almost flaky.
  3. Remove salmon from skillet.  In the same skillet, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, grated garlic, chopped artichokes and capers. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add fresh spinach, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spinach wilts, 1-2 more minutes.
  5. Add heavy cream and paprika.  Bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes more.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Add fillets back to pan with vegetable and cream.  Heat gently for about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve with sauce spooned over fish.

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“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.  –Proverb

Opposites Attract

“I just don’t have the time!”  The lament of so many busy people.  Yet, what are we spending our time on?  The average American spends 4-6 hours per day in front of the television; not to mention, computers, games and phones.  Ok, I do like my techno gadgets, but I love good, wholesome food more.

Cooking has become a spectator sport.  We love to watch, but don’t participate.  But I’m here to tell you, cooking can be fun, entertaining and therapeutic.  Get everyone into the act.  I call my family and friends who want to help in the kitchen: “my sous.”  We laugh, we joke and above all we eat well.  We manage to find time for the things that are important to us.  There are so many meals that simply don’t take a lot of time.  Soups, stews, salads can all be eaten for multiple days, or frozen for future use.  In the time it takes to have a pizza delivered you can have a healthy meal on the table.

In the winter there is sometimes an absence of the type of salads that I enjoyed during the growing season.  I found that if you eat seasonally and try putting some unexpected ingredients together, you are often pleasantly surprised.  In my last post, I used roasted pears as a garnish on my butternut squash soup.  A few days later, I tried the same pairing in a different way in a salad and the results were yumbo-yummy!  Although the dressing is not strictly Paleo, I took creative license for the flavor I was looking for; see what you think…

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Roasted Winter Salad with Lime/Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 4 cups butternut squash, cubed in 3/4 inch dice
  • 3 Bosch pears, cored, seeded and sliced in 6ths
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh kale, torn in bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, torn in bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh local feta, crumbled
  • 1 recipe Lime/Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.  Position rack in center of oven.  In a large bowl, combine squash and pear slices with olive oil.  Toss well and transfer in a single layer to a jelly-roll pan lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle with a little Kosher salt.  Roast, flipping with a spatula halfway through and rotating the pan until they are soft and caramelized; approximately 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Toss the greens with 2 Tbsp of the warm vinaigrette, salt and place on a platter or individual plates. Scatter the squash cubes and pear slices on top, then sprinkle with almonds, tart cherries and feta.  Pass extra dressing.

Lime/Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (non-Paleo)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and a little salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.  Remove from heat.  Let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small heatproof bowl, whisk the vinegar, maple syrup, lime juice and zest, mustard, and a few grinds of fresh pepper.  Whisk the warm oil into the vinegar mixture until emulsified.  Season to taste with more juice, salt or pepper.

Serve 2 as a main, 4 as a side

Proof that salads can be fresh and roasted.  Opposites attract!

Proof that salads can be fresh and roasted. Opposites attract!

“Remember….even small changes can make a difference!”