Simple Lemon Pasta with Spinach + Green Olives

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Last night I went to bed with today all planned out in my head. I was making a toasted quinoa dish with indian spiced apples and veggies. As you can see that isn’t how things happened. Instead I bring you one of my go-to meals. Easy and satisfying.

Recently I started reading again.. for the first time in a long time. I have a tendency to collect books I want to read and the beautiful untouched pages couldn’t be ignored any longer. Unlike most 20-somethings out there I spend my extra cash on random kitchen gadgets, plates and bowls, french patterned spoons… and cookbooks. So almost a year after purchasing ‘My Berlin Kitchen’, by Luisa of the blog The Wednesday Chef, I cracked the book open and began to read. It ignited a passion in me, opened my eyes again to everything I want to do with myself. It is easy to forget the things you enjoy when dealing with the ups and downs of day to day life. I laughed, my heart sank and flew as I read through the chapters of Luisa’s journey, and I was swept away by the tasty recipes that I have now added to my own tremendous pile of scribbled recipes. Like Luisa and so many other wonderful f00d-loving people I want to make a real effort to finally cook all the recipes I have collected over the past 5-6 years. Everything that I took time to keep around because something about it seemed special and tantalizing.

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This pasta is light and has a summer edge from the lemon, perfect for when you need something that isn’t take-out. Fast to prepare, you can use any veggies you happen to have on hand. The olives are what brings the pasta to life.

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Simple Lemon Pasta with Spinach + Green Olives

Brown rice pasta

spinach + corn (I used frozen)

A good extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

olives (I used jalapeno stuffed green olives)

fresh lemon juice

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta, any variety will do, according to package directions. Chop up your olives in the meantime. I tossed my frozen spinach + corn in the microwave for a second before mixing with the strained pasta. Add desired olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a decent amount of parmesan cheese to top it off.

Enjoy on a stoop or porch in the summer sun.

Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

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Macaroni & cheese is one of my all-time favs when it comes to comfort food. Is there anything better on a bad day then a nice big bowl of macaroni and cheese? When food supplies are low I tend to whip this up quite frequently as an easy weeknight dinner. Mixing in different spices and vegetables every time to keep it fun! Here The classic dish gets dressed up with spicy green curry paste, fresh lemon and parmesan cheese.

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Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

1 3/4 cup dried pasta

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

olive oil

3 medium carrots, sliced

about a tbsp of soft cheese, I used a laughing cow wedge

1 tsp green curry paste

1-2 tbsp plain yogurt or milk

frozen spinach + corn

grated parmesan cheese

squeeze of lemon

sriracha

salt

Boil pasta according to box directions, I used quinoa shell pasta. drain pasta and set aside. Add minced garlic and about a tbsp of olive oil to the same pot. cook for one minute then add the spinach, corn and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are warm. Then add pasta back to pot with the yogurt or milk, green curry paste and soft cheese. I used laughing cow, you can use any type of cheese you like. Stir till combined and add more yogurt/milk if necessary to get the right consistency. If you want your macaroni to have a little more zing then go ahead and throw in a bit more green curry paste! Once everything is well combined and hot season to taste with salt, fresh lemon juice, and sriracha (if you like it a bit spicy). Serve with a lemon wedge and grated parmesan cheese on top.

Creamy Eggs + Leeks with Baby Hasselback Potatoes

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This yummy breakfast was made on a whim and serves one. For when you just need some solo-brunch time.

Feel free to make as much as you like, however! I didn’t use exact measurements and ended up throwing a bunch of things together as I went along. The plump sweet white corn combined with soft cheese, eggs, basil, and sautéed leeks is one hell of a tasty combination. All topped off with the slight saltiness of kalamata olives.

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Creamy Eggs + Leeks with Baby Hasselback Potatoes

5-10 small potatoes (I used a combination of red, yellow and purple)

Olive oil

Sea salt

Basil, dried or fresh

Coconut oil

1 colve of garlic, minced

1 leek, chopped

milk

2 eggs

basil, dried or fresh (I used dried)

chopped kalamata olives

Spinach + white corn (fresh or frozen, I used frozen)

freshly grated parmesan cheese

soft cheese (cream cheese, goat, I used laughing cow garlic and herb)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Scrub your potatoes, then slice thinly with a sharp knife just until you reach the bottom (so that all the slices are still connected). Place in a glass baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and basil. Toss lightly to coat and place in the oven while you prepare your eggs. Cook until potatoes are cooked through and the edges begin to brown.

In a small saute pan heat a small spoonful of coconut oil and add the minced garlic. Cook for a minute until brown and fragrant then add the chopped leek. Saute until leek pieces are soft and tender. In a small bowl whisk eggs with the chopped kalamata olives, basil, a pinch of sea salt, a large tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, and a few generous splashes of milk. Add egg mixture to the pan with the garlic and leeks, heat on med-low. Add spinach, white corn, and soft cheese to the pan and slowly scramble until eggs are cooked. Top with extra parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm with potatoes, preferably with a large glass of orange juice and enjoy the spring sunshine.

~

Curry & Lemon Roasted Vegetables with Hummus

Welcome Fall. My first dish of the season not eaten cold. Hearty Veggies with a lemon twang and topped with a creamy goodness. YES. Welcome Fall.

Purple potatoes are a million and one times better then your average yukon gold. Their dark mysterious skin gives way to vibrant tie-dyed insides that not only taste great but up the cool-ness level of your dinner a few notches.

Curry & Lemon Roasted Vegetables with Hummus

{any vegetables you have on hand will work}
I eggplant, halved length-wise & chopped
2 medium sized potatoes, halved & chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
2 large leeks, halved length-wise & chopped
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp red curry paste
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all of the chopped vegetables in a baking dish. In a small bowl whisk together all other ingredients until combined and the curry paste is completely dissolved. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix until everything is coated. Sprinkle with additional salt/pepper if desired. Roast for about an hour, until all vegetables are soft and cooked though. Eggplant may get a bit crispy around the edges.

Serve over salad, pasta, rice or as a side dish. I spooned mine over a bed of fresh spinach and topped with a generous spoonful of smokey baba ganoush (hummus is also equally delicious).

~

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Spinach and Feta Almond Crust Tart

A Spinach & Feta Almond Crust Tart

I may be described by some as an odd child……when asked what my favorite foods were, from an early age, you can bet black olives and spinach to be among them. And if ever in the form of a spinach souffle I’m pretty sure I fought a few poor family members for that last bite and scrape of the side of the bowl. One of the many joys of growing up is having the ability to make my own spinach and cheese tart, exactly how I like, and I don’t have to share…..with anyone!  For future reference, though, if I ever do offer you a slice of my spinach pie, I must like you a hell of a lot.

So here is a recipe for one of my favorite dishes, it keeps well in the fridge, and makes for a splendid lunch served hot or cold with a salad on the side

Pie Crust:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup hazelnut flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

herbs/seasonings of choice (I used a little thyme and garlic powder)

Filling:

10 ounces or so chopped spinach (fresh or frozen) I favor frozen spinach here and probably used a bit more then normal.

1 yellow onion, chopped

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 eggs

feta cheese

kalamata olives

spices/salt/pepper (remember if using feta, the cheese adds a lot of salty flavor already)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients for the crust together, flatten out with your hands in a full-sized tart pan (grease first if necessary). Bake for around 10 to 15 mins, you want it to be lightly brown on the outside and the edges crispy. In a medium pot sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes then add the spinach and cook till the onion is translucent. Take off the heat and mix in eggs, seasonings, and as much or little feta as desired. Pour into the cooked crust, flatten the top of the mixture for a smooth appearance and top with kalamata olives. Bake for 15-20 minutes, times will vary but when the cheese on top begins to brown your tart should be ready.

*(note, when working with frozen spinach their can be a bit of unwanted water in the pot when you are cooking it…I poured or spooned out what I could but did not worry about it to much and the tart still turned out amazing. Feel free also to use all almond flour if you are not a fan of hazelnut, I found the hazelnut to add more of a nutty flavor and texture to the crust).

Have a lovely Holiday Weekend ~

Mother’s Orzo

From my mothers table

Everyone is always extra excited for dinner when we know my mother is making her orzo. A very simple and refreshing dish suitable for all varieties of taste-buds.

It is such a comfort to take my favorites from home and enjoy them up here…And to know nobody else will finish leftovers before I get to them myself doesn’t hurt either.

Combining the flavors of sharp salty feta, with crunchy seeds and tart lemon.

I enjoy my orzo topped with hot sauce and this dish is meant to be served warm to chilled.

Mothers Orzo

1lb Orzo cooked in vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)

 1 cup chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts and sunflower seeds are also very good)

1 bunch green onion, diced

1 bunch chopped fresh spinach (adjust amount to your preference)

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (can add more if needed)

1/4 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions in vegetable broth with a little olive oil. Once orzo is ready, drain, then return to pot. Toss with basil, feta, nuts/seeds, green onion, and spinach. In a seperate bowl whisk together olive oil and lemon juice then toss with orzo mixture and season to taste. I end up using a little less oil at times.

Would be a great side dish with Salmon and is also perfect for warmer weather when you’re looking for a chilled dish ~

Here’s to the Squash

Here’s to the Squash…

The yellow squash. Not as decadent as its fellow butternut, acorn, or spaghetti variety but still perfect for a winters night.

For the first time in a long time I have only a mere three days as opposed to three months in-between my posts. An outstanding accomplishment I feel and hopefully will be the first of many future kitchen adventures now that I am a bit more settled.

Next week I embark on a journey back home for the holidays! A phrase I am using for the first time, ‘home for the holidays.’ I can’t wan’t to be worry and fancy free with good food and family.

With a longing for all I have been missing at home lately I decided to make one of my moms dish’s for squash caserole. Strolling over to the nearest market I bought all needed ingredients … then when looking for the yellow squash was pointed to a shelf where one package lay left. YES – package, of yellow squash. There is no way I will ever eat vegetables out of a plastic wrapped container of my own free will. They just look so sad in there……So after stopping by TWO more markets I finally found some yellow squash that looked quite happy to jump into my bag and come home with me.

So here we go: Yellow Squash Casserole {for 2}

Wash and thickly chop two large yellow squash, half a red onion, and 10-15 small carrots (or one large).

Fill a large pot with all of the chopped vegetables and water then bring to a boil.

Boil vegetables until the are just tender enough to mash up. The squash skins will still be a little tough which is alright.

I used a small casserole dish, close to the shape of a bread pan. Drain the all the water then transfer the veggies into your dish. Since a masher was not on hand I used a large fork.

Once you have a good mash going, you may be able to drain a bit more excess water out.

The next part is up to your liking….I added around 1/4 cup cottage cheese a decent handful of bread crumbs and a little seasoning.

Then came the cheese……

I had picked up a block of white chedder from trader joes labeled: The Unexpected White Chedder. Deliciously sharp and with hints of parmesan this cheese gets two thumbs up. Hands down Amazing. Any cheese will do, but the salty nutty flavor of the ‘Unexpected’ rendered all other seasonings useless.

With cheese, cottage cheese, bread crumbs, and desired seasonings added, mix then top casserole with a bit of extra shredded cheese and bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for around 25-30 minutes or until bubbling hot on top.

Once given a moment to cool serve with a spinach salad and crusty baguette….. Or however you please…

Especially as a meal for two, or one, on a cold winters night there is nothing more pleasing then a hot plate of squash.

In the middle of this Heat Wave…

Waiting and waiting for summer…

and then you live one day in a heat index of 117 degrees. A small part of me was day dreaming of the cute scarves and light jackets of fall, uh oh…So to stay in the cool zone I’ve been taking my spinach smoothies to the next level with an abundance of fresh and chilly fruit 🙂

With as much spinach as I can fit in the blender, lots of cinnamon, ground flax, half a frozen banana, frozen strawberries, peaches, pineapple, and finished off with almond milk and a drop or two of pure vanilla extract. BLENDddddd. to cool creamy nutrient packed goodness!

Stay cool now ~

Pad Thai

It’s Thai Time…  Get your fish sauce ready ~

Pad Thai time in fact.

I worked for over two years in high school with a lady from Thailand who owned a local restaurant.  I never realized how good I had it.  I went from not knowing the first thing about the cuisine {I actually pronounced the name like the upper part of a human leg} you can go ahead and forget said previous statement, to showing up for an authentic meal almost everyday.  I learned way more then expected with a simple waitressing job about food pairings and the health benefits of Thai food.

To this day it is my favorite and I am always aspiring to consume as much Thai food as I did during my high-school days.

We begin with the rice noodle.  Cook according to directions on package and set aside.  I soaked mine for around eight minutes in hot water, drained, then set aside.

Mince 2 garlic cloves, 4 or 5 green onions, and cube firm tofu.

In a wok or large frying pan on high heat add 2 tbsp of oil {I used grapeseed} minced garlic, green onions, and tofu.  Stir fry everything until cooked through, 5 – 10 mins.  Set aside, I poured the tofu mixture into a large bowl and re-used the same pan, in which I added another tbsp of oil and two eggs.  Scramble eggs then reduce the heat to low and add the cooked noodles and sauce {recipe below}.  Mix well, add tofu mixture, mix, add fresh bean sprouts, and toss again.  Top with a large handful of crushed peanuts, cilantro, and a fat wedge of lime.

For the Sauce:

In a small bowl mix 4tbsp lime juice with 3 tbsp fish sauce.  If you are not up with converting x-amount of limes into 4tbsp juice or are in a hurry bottled lime juice will do the job nicely.  Mix in roughly 3 tbsp of sugar and a good sprinkling of pepper flakes or crushed chilies.  I like to mix in chopped cilantro into my sauce and fresh chopped Thai chilies if I have them on hand.  Makes a great dipping sauce for cold vegetable rolls as well.

I served everything on top of a bed of baby spinach.  Getting in those veggies 😉

Talk about all sorts of insane-deliciousness at once.

The sauce is very thin and light, not your average thick and sticky pad thai sauce, which was my favorite part.

Pad Thai Ingredients:

8 oz. rice noodles

3 tbsp oil of choice

2 garlic cloves

green onion

package of firm tofu

2 eggs

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

large handful of fresh cilantro

4 ounces crushed roasted peanuts {more or less depending on your personal preference}

1 lime cut into wedges

fresh spinach

Pad Thai Sauce:

4 tbsp lime juice {fresh or bottles}

3 tbsp fish sauce

2.5-3 tbsp sugar

crushed chilies or pepper flakes

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Vegetable Broccoli Soup

Of the best variety.  You know, the knock your socks off variety of vegetable soup.

During the past week, winter finally struck the south.  Down to 20 degrees, and in the teens in the early morning.  This is crazy cold to me.  crazycrazycrazy.

SO. I present to you:  Vegetable Broccoli Soup ~

about 2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 large yellow onion

2 large to medium potatoes

2 medium sized carrots

2 stalks of celery

1 can of corn {or frozen}

8 cups of broccoli

8 cups of broth of choice

2-4 cups fresh spinach

1/2 milk of choice

garlic powder to taste

salt and pepper to taste

cheese 🙂

Serves at least 8

First things first.  Chop up the onion, nothing neat…as long as it in in random sized chunks and pieces you are more then good {!}

Cover the bottom of a large {tall} pot with olive oil.  Roughly 2 tbsp.  Add onion and cook on low to med heat for about 5 -8 minutes.  Until onion is soft.

Example of large hearty soup pot

While the onion cooks go ahead and chop up the two potatoes.

And the celery and carrots.  I used a bunch of baby carrots for a lack of larger ones.

Add chopped potatoes, carrots, and celery to the pot.  Give a good stir.  With a rustic wooden spoon if you prefer.

Add garlic, the 8 cups of broth {I used chicken but would have normally used vegetable}, the corn, and the 8 cups of broccoli {I used frozen broccoli}.  Give a good stir.

Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for about ten minutes.  Potatoes and broccoli should be tender and cooked through.  Since I made this in the morning I turned the heat off after about 10 minutes and let the soup cool down a bit before blending.

Since this is a family sized recipe you can cut it in half for smaller portions.  A hand blender probably would have been a smarter option, but instead I blended it in my regular blender in three batches.  Pouring into a large metal bowl as I emptied the pot.  Yes.  I had a a lot of time on my hands on this cold winter morning.  OR I was avoiding having to brave the outdoors. . .

As I blended each bath I would leave room at the top and add a few handfuls of the spinach.  Do this all three times.  Blend completley.  Then put in fridge if your are serving later.  If you are serving immedietly, pour all the blended soup back in the pot and heat on low to medium heat.

Add the 1/2 cup of milk.  Stir.  Garlic powder to taste.  Salt and pepper to taste.  And a large handful or two of cheese if desired.  When hot everything is ready to serve.

Topped with cheese and a garlic hot sauce.

In all honesty.  Some of the BEST soup.  I.  Have.  Ever.  Ever.  Had.

Now GO.  Go and keep yourself warm and out of the cold with some soup<3