Recipe Review: Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon

creamy Linguini with Leeks and bacon

What carnivorous human doesn’t love bacon? Just add cheese and cream and who can resist? Sara Jenkins from Bon Appétit did just this. Searching for something fairly quick and satisfying, I decided to try this out. The first steps in this recipe are to heat the olive oil and add bacon. Sounds of sizzle and smoky flavors filled up our home with a warm welcome for my husband, who just walked in the door. I rarely cook with bacon, so it was a pleasant surprise for him. He swooned over the aroma as the leeks and seasonings were added in and warming up.

This dish kind of sounds like a ho-hum Alfredo sauce. The amount of fat in this recipe could make your heart stop as much as the actual dish if eaten in large quantities. Still we all love the combination of cream and bacon over a bed of grains soaking up all the yummy bits. The leeks here add a sweet twist on the pasta but do not come out in a strong powerful way. If you have never cooked with a leek and are slightly intimidated by it, don’t be. It doesn’t have a powerful destructive flavor nor is it difficult to use. You can play with it after you try a recipe. You will see what I mean. It is a savory sweet addition that adds a layer of warmth to this recipe. Mac n’ cheese may have new competition as a favorite comfort dish.

Needless to say, we enjoyed this dish. My husband, who tends to eat modestly, had 3 full servings! I had 2. My daughter enjoyed it so much that she rolled her sippy over to Bubby’s plate and stole his fork with one hand and grabbed a fistful of his pasta with the other. She is my foodie. At 20 months old, there is a lot of work to be done with her on table manners. My son tends to be pickier, but gobbled it right up. There is a feeling of complete fulfillment when your family enjoys the love you put on a plate.

Here is the link to the original recipe:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/creamy-pappardelle-with-leeks-and-bacon

The calories per serving of this dish, as the recipe prepared, was 580/serving with 6 servings. My version was only 263 calories/serving with 8 servings or 351/6 servings. Here are the changes I made to the dish:

1. I used 1 slice less of bacon

2. I used Dreamfield’s Linguine Pasta (because of my disorder I choose to use this for a lower-carb option.)

3. I opted out of the butter addition since the dish was pretty creamy and had lots of fat already.

4. I drained the bacon grease before adding the leeks.

5. I used 1 cup of 1% Milk and dash of cream (about 1 tbsp) instead of the 3/4 cup cream and 1/2 cup of water.

6. I added 1 shallot in with the leeks to add another layer of flavor.

7. I took half of the pasta and half of the sauce and saved it for another meal this week.

Mama Mia…It’s a Pizza!

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Pizza Dough- (1,12-inch pizza)
-3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour -3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour -Flour for dusting surface -1 ¼ tsp or ½ packet Active Dry Yeast – 1 tsp Salt -1 tbs Corn Meal or Grits *Optional -1/2 cup Warm Water -1/2 tbs Olive Oil or Cooking Spray (to grease bowl)

Beginning with the Pizza Dough, pour the Warm Water in the bowl and then sprinkle in the Yeast. I like to give it a swirl or two, ever-so-gently, as to get the two mixed without disturbing the process. When in doubt, leave it still. After 5 Minutes is up, slowly add the Flours and the Salt, using a wooden spoon to incorporate everything well. Once the dough has formed a ball- like form, sprinkle your surface with reserved dusting Flour, and put Dough on surface. Work the dough as a mass, pulling a bit and pushing with the heels of your hands, getting the dough nice and elastic. Fold over and continue to work the dough for 2-5 minutes. Coat the bowl with the Oil or Cooking Spray. Return dough to the bowl and cover with a clean towel. Place in a warm place for 30 minutes or dough doubles.

Mushroom and Greens with a Shallot and White Wine Sauce.
Pizza Topping:
– 3 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms – 1 shallot -1/2 tbs Olive Oil/Canola Oil -2 tbs White Wine – ¼ cup Baby Spinach, Chard, Kale, and Mizuma mix (Just baby spinach could work here too). -1/4 cup Parmesan, grated -4 ounces Fresh Mozz -1 tbs Fresh Rosemary -Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

While the Dough is rising in a warm cozy spot, we can work on prepping the toppings. In a small bowl (sometimes I just use a toddler snack bowl if it is handy) mix the Oil and White Wine. Set aside. Using a wet paper towel, wipe the Baby Bella Shrooms and then slice them thinly. Set aside in a medium bowl. Take your washed Greens (Spinach and Kale mix) and wind then in a bunch tightly. (Occasionally I Use a leaf of one of the greens to hold the bunch in place.) Take a sharp knife through the bunch perpendicularly, slicing it thinly. If you have toddlers, you may want to also want to cut down the center of the bunch. Add the greens to the bowl with the Shrooms. Still waiting on the dough to rise, peel your Shallot and put the shallot on the cutting board on its flattest side. Run you knife perpendicularly from tip to hairy end, discarding that hairy end. Put your shallots in the bowl with the veggie mixture as well. Lastly in prep, you can chop your Rosemary and sprinkle it in the bowl of veg. Mix the bowl so that each veg is incorporated.

Once the dough has risen, uncover and place dough on a floured counter or on lightly greased (if necessary) baking surface. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Dust the rolling pin with a touch of flour. Roll out the dough to desired form. Flip over the crust to the side you want to be the bottom. Sprinkle the Cornmeal or Grits over the surface evenly, if you opted to use this. Turn it back over and onto the baking surface. First sprinkle an even layer of Parmesan cheese. Next toss your Veg Mix over the Dough and then drizzle the top of that with you Oil and Wine mixture. Tear apart the Fresh Mozz and scatter evenly. Finish it off with Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for 9-13 minutes. Cheese should be melty and golden to your liking when done.

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Pepperoni and Fresh Mozz Pizza with a Bite:
Pizza Toppings-
– 1/4cup Parmesan, grated -1/2 Red Bell Pepper or 1 -2 whole Peperoncino peppers (for more heat), – 4 ounces Fresh Mozz -2 tbs Fresh Basil, chopped – ¼ cup diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (Add pinch of sugar if you use regular diced tomatoes or tomato sauce) -Pinch of Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste -1/2 tbs Olive oil/Canola Oil -18 slices of Turkey Pepperoni

Now that the Dough is rising, let’s do some prep work for the toppings. First we will work on the Red Pepper. Cut the top and bottom tips of the Red Pepper off. Slice the Pepper in half and place it on the cutting board insides up. Use the knife to carefully remove the white bits on the inside and the seeds. Discard. Thinly slice the Red Pepper working your way from one side to the other. Set aside on a plate or small bowl. Next chop your Fresh Basil into thin strips or tear into pieces. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled, roll it out onto the floured surface. Transfer to baking surface. Preheat your oven to the highest setting. Flip to the rear side to sprinkle Cornmeal or Grits if you opted to do this step. Flip back over. Layer the pizza evenly in this order: Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Red Peppers, and Turkey Pepperoni. Tear Fresh Mozz over the pizza and drizzle the Oil to finish. Sprinkle on the Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste. Bake for 9-13 minutes depending on what your oven is like and preference on doneness.

Cheese Clafoutis Recipe Review

So as I mentioned we recently returned from Disney World. I was on a culinary quest to broaden my taste buds and rekindle my passion for food. I had not lost it, but being a stay at home mom on a budget can sometimes cause the fire to dwindle a bit. Then I walked into Epcot’s World Showcase section of the park and my heart soared feeling immersed in the cultures and smells coming from kitchens preparing for the dinner rush to come.  I waltzed into a small shop in “France” and found an adorable cookbook for just $9 and it had some wonderful staples I wanted to try. I love trying new recipes, if for nothing else but to try a new cooking technique that broadens my creativity in the kitchen.

Last night, a dear friend was in town and we had an impromptu French-themed night. We watched Ratatouille and made cheese clafoutis. This was chosen for the short list of ingredients and relatively easy on the budget. We were able to cut the recipe in half since it was just the two of us eating it. My husband was really enjoying some time to himself, and the kids had already been put down for the night. Of course the smell from the kitchen woke my son up (or maybe the fact that I grabbed the movie from his room) and we shared a few moments with him. He ooed and awed at the sight of Paris first on the screen, as my friend and I did the same over this delicious dish!  It really felt like a special moment of living in good taste for little cost. 

The Recipe:

Cheese Clafoutis from “The French Kitchen Cookbook: Everday cuisine from the French country kitchen”

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Serves 4-6   Prep Time:15 minutes    Cook time: 50-55 minutes (35-40 if halved) 

Ingredients:

-Olive oil for greasing    -3 cups Cherry Tomatoes      -3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled     -2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves    -1/2 cup all-purpose flour  – 4 extra-large eggs    -1 1/4 cup whole milk    -pinch of salt    -pinch of sugar

Directions:

One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Arrange the Tomatoes in a single layer in the dish, then scatter the Cheese and Thyme over them and set aside.

Two: Sift the Flour, Sugar, and Salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Break Eggs into the well and use a whisk or fork to blend them together. Add half of the Milk and stir, gradually incorporating the Flour from the side of the bowl until blended. Stir in the remaining Milk until a smooth batter forms. 

Three: Gently pour the batter over the Tomatoes, shaking the dish slightly to distribute the Cheese and Thyme. Place in preheated oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the batter is puffed, golden, and set and the Tomatoes are tender.

Four: Remove Clafoutis from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

 

This was absolutely delicious!

A few tips to tweak it for healthier eating:

-Use 2% milk instead of whole

-Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose

-Limit your serving size. 

Food Snob rating: 9/10

Help! Leftovers Are Taking Over!

easter leftovers!

Do you have leftovers from Easter lurking in your fridge or freezer? When I host a dinner I tend to make too much food, because the worry of not having enough haunts me. Besides, who wants to waste? When I think about all the time and energy spent making each dish, I feel obligated to use them. I also hate eating the same things over and over. Here is what I am doing with my leftovers. Hopefully you will be inspired to do something with yours.

Leftover: Hard-boiled eggs and Ham (maybe a green veggie)

Fix: Ham, Egg, and Cheddar Gratin (Inspired by Williams-Sonoma Casual Entertaining)

Ingredients:

-6 Hard-boiled Eggs (split in length-wise halves)     -1/2 cup low-fat Cheddar or Velveeta if you prefer     – 2 cups of trimmed & diced Ham    -3Teaspoons Tarragon       -1/4 cup Onion, diced       -1 stalk Celery (or other leftover green veggie), diced     -3 cups reduced-fat Milk (room temperature)       -1/4teaspoon Nutmeg               -dash of Hot Sauce    – 3 tablespoons Cornstarch  -3 tablespoons water or broth    -1/4 cup low-fat Shredded Cheddar       -1 Tablespoon Butter (or substitute)       -Salt  – Pepper

Directions:

1.Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.

2.Heat Butter in saucepan over medium heat. Once melted add the Onions and Celery until translucent. Add the Ham and heat through.

3.Once mixture is warmed, add 1 teaspoon Tarragon and stir. Pour Ham mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased baking dish.

4. In the same suacepan, pour Water and Cornstarch and wisk quickly. Cook over medium-low heat until boils and then pull it off the heat and turn stove off.

5. One cup at a time add the Milk, whisking in. Over medium heat whisk until thickened. Once the sauce thickens, add the 1/2 cup of Cheddar. Stir so that the Cheddar melts smoothly.

6. Take 6 halves of the Hard-boiled Eggs and dice them up. Add them to the Cheddar Sauce. Add the Nutmeg, Hot Sauce, and Tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Pour Cheddar sauce into the baking dish.

7.Place remaining Hard-boiled Egg halves yolk-side up in the pan, distributing them evenly. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top.

8. Place baking dish in oven for 10 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

9. Serve and enjoy.

Tips:

-If for some reason the sauce is a little soupy, add toast to soak up. It is still super yummy!

-You can make  a roux with equal parts flour and canola oil if desired, instead of the corstarch slurry for thickening.

 

Leftovers: Ham Hock and Carrots

Fix: Soup Beans

Ingredients:

– 1 Ham Hock          -3/4cup Carrots (diced)          -1/2 onion diced       -2 cloves garlic minced

-2 cups Great Northern or Pinto Beans          -4 cups low-sodium Broth or Water    – Black Pepper

Directions:

1. In a dutch oven (or pot)  heat Onions and Garlic over medium heat ntil translucent. Add the Carrots and Ham Hock. Cook until warmed. Pepper to taste.

2. Stir in Beans and cook until warm. Add the Broth and bring to a boil.

3. Once at a boil, simmer for at least an hour. Serve.

Tips:

-You could transfer the ingredients into a crock-pot on your way to work, and put it on a medium low setting and come home to some good eats!

-Serve with cornbread.

-Freeze leftovers for a cold, rainy day.

Happy Pi Day!

pie day Since today is about Pi and pizza happens to be a circle and refereed to as “pie” I thought it would be a great time to talk about the truth on pizza. When we think of pizza and its wonderfully round shape topped with ooey gooey goodness, a few key terms tend to come into mind. Words like grease, fat, calories, bad, and unbuttoned pants tend to accompany the food most of us crave at some point. The truth is that pizza does not have to be those descriptions. Pizza can be a very healthy meal if done properly.

    Crust things crust, we need to look at the base and foundation of this staple. The problem here lies in the grains. When you choose a crust with a white grain, you are giving your body empty calories. Only 100% whole grains give you a true source of fiber and nutrients that are stripped from the white and even wheat flours. They have to add in nutrients, but it isn’t absorbed as well into your body. The reason this matters is that while you are eating your pizza it takes more food for you to feel full. I understand if for texture and taste reasons you supplement with some white or wheat flour. Adding the 100% whole grain flour will boost your nutrient intake and help you feel fuller faster. Whole grains also help regulate blood sugar levels so you do not crash into a food coma. If you order out, at least see if the pizza place has a wheat option. If not, go thin, so you can fill up on toppings not empty carbohydrates.

 The next layer is the sauce. There are many sauces out there that contain different amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. Another incentive to make it fresh. When sauces are made sometimes sugar is added to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. If you can use Italian tomatoes in your sauces, because they need minimal sugar to do so. You can kick up flavor with a variety of spices. Crushed red pepper is always a nice way to kick up the heat a notch without being overpowering. Spice helps you feel fuller faster too.

Let’s look at the cheesy layer of love. Most people really like cheese on their pizza. Most cheeses however can contain a lot of grease and fat. Limit the amount of cheese you put on a pie. Add a little less and supplement with Parmesan. You still get the ooey gooey without the heart attack. If you make it at home, you can choose reduced fat cheeses. Please do not mistake that for fat-free!!! Those taste terrible, because that is not how cheese is supposed to taste. Or you can always sprinkle a specialty cheese like blue or fresh mozzarella to give quality to your flavor.

How many times have you seen a comic moment on TV or in a movie, where the cherry lands on top and everything just tumbles to the ground? The toppings of a pizza can really make or break the healthfulness of the pie. Sausage, pepperoni, and bacon can add a lot of fat to a pie if not limited. Load up on some veggies like peppers, a few olives, spinach, Roma tomatoes, pineapple, and mushrooms. You can get creative and see who can create the best flavor combination while keeping calorie count in mind. You can also choose leaner meats like grilled chicken, fish, and turkey sausage.

Don’t let the bad connotations of pizza keep you from enjoying a healthy bite of goodness. Your pie hole will thank you and so will the circumference of your waist. Who feels great an hour or so after overeating on greasy pizza anyhow? Eat well and be merry!