Category Archives: dinner

Spinach Pie


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Ughhh, I love this so much. It’s like a giant spanikopita, which is one of my favorite foods in the world. It’s both healthy and indulgent enough, needs almost zero seasoning, and can be prepped the day before, then assembled after work for a quick meal that’s ready in no time flat.

  • 32 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained really well
  • 1.5 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 large vidalia onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. dried dill
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 C. crumbled feta
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • One sheet puff pastry
  • 1 egg (for egg wash on puff pastry)

1.Preheat oven to 375.

2.Heat the 1.5 TBSP EVOO over medium in a large saucepan.

3.Dice onion and mince garlic, then add to the saucepan and stir until soft and translucent.

4.Remove onion mixture from saucepan and set aside to cool.

5.Wring out as much liquid as possible from thawed spinach, using a cheesecloth, or in small fistfuls with your hands.  This is key so you don’t have a soggy spinach pie.

6.In a large bowl, combine the spinach, the room-temperature garlic and onion mixture, the feta, nutmeg, salt, pepper, dill, lemon and two eggs. Mix well to combine. If you’re going to make this the day before, so the flavors really meld together, leave out the eggs until the next day.

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7.Roll out the sheet of puff pastry according to directions, then line a standard-size pie pan with it.

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8.Top the pastry with the spinach mixture, evenly spreading it around the pie pan.

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9.Fold pastry over itself, then brush with the egg wash (use the remaining egg for this).

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10.Bake for 45 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden.

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11.Let cool for five minutes, cut and serve.

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Lemon Chicken

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This was honestly one of the best meals I’ve made in a long, long time. First of all, it’s super easy. Second of all, it made our house smell amazing. Third of all, it’s bright and light and so delicious we both were practically licking the sauce from the plate. I couldn’t wait to have leftovers the next day.

LEMON CHICKEN (serves 4 – recipe from Ina Garten)

2 lbs. chicken breast, skin on (this is critical to the dish, don’t get skinless breasts)
1/4 c. EVOO
8 cloves minced garlic
1/3 C. dry white wine
Zest of two lemons (be sure not to grate into the white part, or the “pith” – this will make the dish really bitter)
Juice of two lemons
1 Lemon, cut into six quarters
1.5 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Kosher Salt & freshly cracked black pepper

1.Preheat the oven to 400.

2.In a small saucepan, warm the EVOO over medium heat, then add the mined garlic and cook until fragrant, about 60 second. Remove from heat.

3.Add white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme and 1 tsp. salt, stir to combine. Pour into a medium size baking dish.

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4.Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with kosher salt and pepper on both sides. Add to the baking dish with the sauce, skin-side up.

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5.Take the six quarters of unsqueezed lemon and tuck them among the chicken breasts.

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6.Bake, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is done and the skin is light brown. If you use a meat thermometer and it indicates the chicken is done, but the skin isn’t brown and crispy, just crank up the broiler and cook for about 2 minutes, making sure not to burn it.

7.Remove, loosely tent with foil, then serve. We had this with quinoa and roasted veggies, and spooned the lemon sauce all over everything. So, so good.

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Paleo Chicken Fingers (Gluten-free)


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Ok, to preface this  – I am not “going gluten-free.” However, I’m half Sicilian, and I love pasta way too much. And I also have a wedding dress I need to fit into in seven months, so something’s got to be done. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free recipes during the week, and “cheating” during the weekends. It keeps me in check with what I’m consuming, especially down here in Texas, and the portion control piece of all of this is also working out better than I expected. After three months of indulging in our new city, it’s time to reign it back in. And it’s a testament to these recipes that Brendan had NO CLUE I’d decided to start eating, and cooking, gluten-free. These were seriously delicious.

PALEO CHICKEN TENDERS (serves 4)

  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken tenders
  • 1.5 C almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great combo of the meal/flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Prep your setup: in one bowl, have the eggs. In another, larger bowl, combine the almond meal with the spices. IMG_0559
  3. Using a fork (this will keep your hands from getting all breaded, themselves) dip the pieces of chicken first in the eggs, then on both sides in the almond meal, lightly pressing to make sure the almond meal forms a good coating on the chicken.
  4. Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray or rub some olive oil on it.
  5. Place the “breaded” chicken on the baking sheet, then bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once, until golden and chicken is cooked through.
  6. Serve with a side of honey mustard – I made this by just combining dijon mustard with a little honey and a little mayo – and some green beans.  So good.

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Lasagna with Kale and Bechamel



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Lasagnas are a labor of love, especially when you do them right. When I take the time to make one of these, especially when it’s entirely from scratch, I double the recipe and freeze another one, just because they take so much time and effort. And then, on days when NEPA misses breaking the record for coldest day ever by one degree, and I’ve spent the day before with a wicked stomach bug that made me feel like I was dying, barely slept because of it, woke up at 2.45am for a 4am taping of morning show (with Ryan Leckey, who, admittedly, I love) at the hospital, then coordinated five more interviews – one of which includes scrubbing up (?? in? what’s it called when you just observe) with a reporter and photographer for a VERY graphic, and incredibly advanced, knee replacement surgery – and am now waiting to connect the final interview of the day so I can just take a freaking nap already, do you know what I do?  I take that second lasagna out of the freezer and start letting that beautiful thing defrost. This is homemade with love right here – my Mom’s meatsauce, noodles from scratch, a nutmeg-y bechamel, some kale and fresh parm…dinner’s going to be the best part of this day.

LASAGNA WITH KALE AND BECHAMEL (Makes one 9.5 x 11 inch delicious pan of lasagna) Continue reading

Cheesy Scalloped Potato, Broccoli and Ham Casserole




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I know that “Healthy” and “Cheesy” don’t usually go together, but trust me, these do. Plus, veggies, which I’ve been trying to eat in some capacity at every meal. This winter has been unbelievably cold and snowy, and we’ve made some stick-to-your-ribs meals that come together pretty easily, warm you up really well and leave enough for lunch the next day, too. Here’s one of them.

  • 2 cups fully cooked, diced ham
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced very thin (a mandoline helps a lot – just be careful!)
  • 2 heads broccoli, washed and cut into florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper

1. Heat the oven to 375.

2. In a French oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir, then cook until translucent, approx. 4-5 minutes.

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Chinese Pork Dumplings


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If I could pick one food to eat for the rest of my life (pasta is a given), it would be these. I love dumplings, especially the really good ones. Unless you live in a city, good-quality dumplings are really hard to find – most of the ones I order around here are either too thick, not flavorful enough, or some sort of variation on Asian pierogies.

That said, these are fantastic. Perfect consistency, great filling, light and super tasty. Brendan and I made them together, and it was amazing how many of them we got out of 1 lb. of pork. I gave in and stuck to the basics with this recipe, but I’m already planning what version we’re going to make next. These were a really fun kitchen project, AND they froze really well too. Who needs city Chinese food?? Ok, me. I do. But when I can’t have it, this is a pretty great substitute.

CHINESE PORK DUMPLINGS (makes a ton. Freeze whatever you don’t make in an airtight container)

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, thinly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • Pot Sticker wrappers (I found these at a little Asian specialty store)

1. In a large bowl, combine the pork, scallions, sesame oil, salt & pepper and minced ginger. Mix to combine.

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Creamy Tomato Pasta with Artichokes




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My mom had a pretty rough time throughout December, so before I went away for Christmas, my parents, my sister and I all made a Saturday afternoon lunch and just hung out for a while. My mom’s a vegetarian, and we all needed some comfort food, so this pasta and artichokes in a creamy tomato sauce was perfect. Everything tastes better when you eat it with your family. <3

CREAMY TOMATO PASTA WITH ARTICHOKES (4 servings)

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 shallots, sliced pretty thinly
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 14-oz can chunky crushed tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan (about 1/3 C., plus more for topping)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb. linguini

1. Melt the butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and onion, cook until translucent, approx. 5-7 minutes.

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2. Add the wine, stir everything together and keep stirring sporadically until the alcohol has burned off.

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3. Add the artichokes (drained).

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4. Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook a bit until their skins are looser.

5. Add the can of chunky crushed tomatoes, then the cream, stir everything together.

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6. Get your pasta water up to boiling, then cook your pasta. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining.

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7. Stir in the handful of chopped parsley, about 1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese, then taste and season as needed. Thin with the pasta water if needed.

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8. Add the pasta to the saucepan, combine everything so the pasta is evenly coated.

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9. Serve and enjoy (my mom got the “You’re the Best” plate, of course).

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Mushroom “Meatballs”




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These were the first thing Brendan ever made me, and they’re one of my very favorites. Meatballs are one of the best foods ever, but these are vegetarian, and they honestly stand up to the real thing. Plus, anytime I get Bren in the kitchen is a done deal. He’s an awesome cook.

MUSHROOM “MEATBALLS” (makes about 20 – recipe via allrecipes.com)

  • 1 lb. white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. quick-cook oats
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO

1. Finely chop mushrooms, then heat the 1 tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt, cook and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

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2. Add butter to the mushrooms, cook until golden brown.

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3. Add onion to the mushroom mixture and cook until it’s translucent, approx. 5 minutes. IMG_6834

4. Remove from heat, add garlic and stir approx. 90 seconds. Add mixture to a mixing bowl.

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5. Mix in the oats, approx. 1/3 C. parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and, when the mixture is cool, 1 egg. Add the salt pepper, cayenne pepper and oregano, then mix until combined. Stir in the other egg.

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6. Heat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then roll the mixture into little meatballs.

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7. Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown. Eat alone or over pasta – these are the bomb.

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup


IMG_6896This “Arctic Freeze” makes me want to get into pjs, curl up under a blanket and eat a big bowl of soup. You know, pretty much like last year.  I love loaded baked potato anything, and now’s the perfect time of year for this soup. It was comfort food to the extreme, keeps amazingly well, is thick and rich and totally indulgent.  Plus, bacon. Mmmmmm.

LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP (serves 6)

  • 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. chunks
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • bay leaves
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 dashes nutmeg
  • 1.5 tsp. kosher salt
  • chopped chives
  • sour cream for garnish (optional)

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Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Bulgar, Sausage and Feta

One of the things that entertains me the most about dating Brendan is his ridiculous appetite. The boy can EAT. He’s the best taste tester ever, and  I don’t think he’s ever met a meal he didn’t like. As a Colorado guy, he’s used to more meat-based meals, but sometimes I’ll make something totally vegetarian, and healthy too, and I swear he doesn’t even miss a beat. These portabellos have a pretty meaty flavor, anyway, so maybe that was the middle ground? I added some sausage just for a little more substance and flavor, but you can leave this out if you want.

 
PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH BULGAR, SAUSAGE & FETA (makes 4)
 
– 4 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
– 3 sausage links, uncooked
– 3 scallions, chopped
– 1/3 c. crumbled feta
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/4 C. EVOO
– Italian herbs
– 1 cup bulgar
– 2 cups water
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tbsp. butter
 
1. Clean the mushrooms, scrape out the “gills”. Take off the stems and set aside (don’t throw these away).
 
2. In a bag, marinate the mushrooms with the lemon juice, 1/4 c. EVOO & the Italian herbs for at least an hour.
 
3. Boil 2 cups of water. Place 1 cup of dry bulgar in a bowl, add the 2 cups boiling water, cover. Let this steam for about 30 minutes.

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