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I fell in love again… with this risotto. It’s been a while since I’ve made a risotto; not the right season, too much stirring, but this one was just right. Creamy and bright and hearty all at the same time. Exactly what we needed as winter hit Seattle. I’ll be bringing this one around for a dinner party soon. It’s sure to be a family favorite.

sausage spinach tomato risotto

Sausage Tomato & Spinach Risotto
via martha stewart

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Something new! I feel like we’ve been stuck in a rut lately, but maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten out of the habit of cooking every night and have been eating way too much junk. This was a great dish to get us back on track. Super healthy and super delicious – plus it’s easy to make vegan and gluten free with a little earth balance swapped out for the butter and gluten free options for the noodles and tamari. What’s tamari you say? It’s like soy sauce, only better! Made without wheat, a little less salty, but still big on flavor. And this dish showcases it perfectly, along with a few of my favorite things: mushrooms and bok choy.

shiitake bok choy soba noodle bowl

Shiitake Bok Choy Soba Noodle Bowl
via a house in the hills

4 cups, washed and thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 small/medium bok choy,
2 bunches of buckwheat soba (about 16 oz)
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons tamari
1/8 cup mirin
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
sesame seeds to garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles per package instructions, drain and rinse with warm water.
While water is coming to a boil, prepare mushrooms, sauce and bok choy. In a large non stick sauté pan heat earth balance butter with 4 tablespoons tamari and add mushrooms. Give a quick stir to coat and then cook on high heat for 6 minutes (do your best to not stir the after the initial mix). Give them another stir and cook an additional two minutes. The should be brown, slightly crispy and a little caramelized. Set aside until noodles are prepared.
For the sauce, combine mirin, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of tamari. For the bok choy, trim off ends, wash thoroughly and dry. In a large wok combine noodles, sauce, bok choy and mushrooms. Cook over medium high heat until bok choy is wilted. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately!

For you non-paleo followers, don’t let the tag frighten you away – this dish is awesome! We’ve made it twice now, and I know it’s going to be a regular in our weeknight rotation. I love the substitution of broccoli slaw for noodles. It’s still hearty and delicious, and possibly more flavorful! The recipe below makes about 3 servings, and we’ll usually double it so there’s enough for leftovers.

paleo pad thai

Paleo Chicken Pad Thai
via the paleo mom

1 1/2 lbs chicken meat, cut into small 1” chunks
4-5 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (more if you use breast meat, less if you use thigh meat)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (or use 1 more Tbsp fish sauce, or soy sauce if you’re not paleo)
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
½ Tbsp Coconut Vinegar (Apple Cider Vinegar would work too)
5 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
4-5 green onions, finely chopped
12oz package of broccoli slaw
2 medium carrots, cut into thin julienne strips

Heat a wok (or large saute pan) over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic, cook about 1 minute. Add chicken and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Add fish sauce, coconut aminos, lime juice and vinegar. Cook at a rapid simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Add broccoli slaw and julienned carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft but still firm, about 3-4 minutes. Toss or garnish with green onion and cilantro to serve.

 

This weekend we celebrated my lovely mother’s birthday with a little family brunch. I broke out my savory french toast recipe and revamped the crustless quiche with new flavors. I think it’s my favorite version yet. The sausage made it a super hearty version, while the bell peppers added just the right sweetness to balance the salty bite.  Happy brunching!

crustless quiche part 2 italian

Crustless Quiche Part 2, Italian Style
via mrs. harding cooks

10 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. shredded cheese (I used white cheddar this time)
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 green onions, chopped
1 lb sweet italian sausage
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 small onion, finely diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined and no lumps remain. With a wooden spoon, stir in cottage cheese, 3/4 of the shredded cheese, melted butter, and green onions.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and break into small crumbles. Remove to a paper towel and let cool slightly before adding to egg mixture. Leave the grease in the pan over heat, add bell pepper and onion, and saute a few minutes until soft and tender. Add the garlic and saute a minute or so more. Add chopped spinach and cook a few minutes, until wilted. Add cooked vegetable and spinach to egg mixture and stir to combine.
Pour into a 9×13 pan, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until browned around the edges and lightly browned in the middle. Serve hot! Or not – this reheats well.

It snowed last night here in Seattle. And the answer to snow is always a hearty soup. We made this a little while back on a cold, cold night and it really hit the spot. Packed with veggies and greens and sausage and lentils, this is definitely a meal in a bowl. The sizzlling garlic oil addition at the end adds just the right kick of flavor. Definitely satisfies all my winter desires.

lentil soup with sausage chard and garlic

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard & Garlic
via smitten kitchen

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch fo salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water (6 cups is, conveniently, a little less than 2 empty 28-ounce cans, so you can get any tomato pulp you missed), more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though we preferred ours on the thick side). When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.
To finish, divide soup among bowls, then add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Drizzle this over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

Trying to get back on the paleo wagon this week with a hearty stew to start us off. Fresh, meaty and bright! The lemon added just the right amount of acid to this hearty, delicious dish.

chicken-meatballs-with-braised-lemon-and-kale

Chicken Meatballs with Braised Lemon and Kale
via bon appétit

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium shallots, minced, divided
1 scallion, minced (all parts), plus thinly sliced green tops for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken meat (or turkey)
1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more
1 lemon, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch curly kale, destemmed

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallot, scallion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until softened and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1/3 of ground chicken and cook just until cooked through, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add remaining chicken meat, salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Mix just to combine. Wipe out the pot and add the remaining tbsp oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Form meat mixture into 8 meatballs each about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and add to pot (mixture will be soft). Cook until light golden brown on all sides, 6-8 minutes total. Remove meatballs to a plate; set aside.
Add remaining shallot and lemon slices and cook until lemon slices are tender and starting to turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and return meatballs to pot. Bring to simmer, lower heat and cover. Cook meatballs until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Add kale to pot, and cook until tender and bright green, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Divide kale and sauce among 4 shallow bowls, topping with meatballs and lemon slices. Garnish with sliced scallion tops and serve.

 

And now for the main course! Lamb and a spicy twist on gorgeous classic sprouts for our New Year’s Eve dinner party. Alas, my dear friend winged it on this amazing lamb that paired so perfectly with these curried brussel sprouts. Fortunately, I’m a sucker for rules and always have all the steps laid out for every dish I make. Voila! Simple steps for quite the side.

spiced lemony brussels sprouts with lamb

Spiced Lemony Brussels Sprouts
via martha stewart

2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon hot or regular curry powder
Coarse salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in middle and lower third. Divide brussels sprouts between two rimmed baking sheets and toss each with oil and curry powder. Season with salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, stirring and rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a serving dish and top with lemon zest and lemon juice.