Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creamy Spinach & Avocado Pasta

 I can't tell if it's just my pregnant state that makes my love affair with meals even better, or if I'm just on a lucky streak with new recipes lately. Usually there are a few duds between every successful recipe, but I've genuinely loved the past few recipes we've tried. I'd been wanting to try this recipe from Giada (which is essentially the same thing swapping arugula for spinach) but, saw this recipe recently and decided to try it first since we always have an abundance of spinach in our fridge. Truthfully, I was a little nervous because I do not especially like the taste of cooked spinach. I try to sneak in it meals here and there, but I very much prefer it raw. I told Nick that this would either be awesome or disgusting, luckily it was the former. Nick said his only complaint was, "That {I} didn't put more on {his} plate." Siena devoured hers and wanted seconds, even when I told her it was a spinach and avocado sauce. Since we each ate a hefty serving of spinach and I was too lazy, this pasta plus fresh pineapple was dinner. Needless to say, we did not have any left overs. We used basil from our garden and since we have spinach starting to grow as well, hopefully in a few more weeks we can try it again with our own bounty. {P.S. We just got lots of organic whole wheat spaghetti from Costco- it ends up being about $1.00/lb which is a pretty great price since normal Barilla is $1.00-$1.40 around here-the whole wheat varieties significantly more.} I've been waiting to go to the store and get another small Greek yogurt so we can enjoy this again! (It just so happens that the amount of yogurt I used in the Chicken burgers + this recipe = exactly one yogurt cup.)

Creamy Spinach & Avocado Pasta


6-8 ounces of pasta
2 Tbsp. butter (next time I'll try 1 Tbsp.)
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of salt, more to taste
3-4 big handfuls of spinach (about 8-10 oz)
fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup grated fresh Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, reserving some of the pasta water.

2. While pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the spinach to the saucepan (Yes, the pan will be full. Just stuff it all in.) Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Let the mixture cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted. *Add some of the basil at this time, and save a bit for garnish at the end.

3. Add the yogurt, avocado, and 2-3 Tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the spinach mixture. Stir it a bit, then buzz it up with an immersion blender. (If you don't have one, transfer to a food processor or a blender. Blend well, and return sauce to the pot.) Stir in the cheese, and add more pasta water if it seems too thick.

4. If your pasta is still hot, simply toss the pasta and sauce together in a large serving bowl. If it's not, then combine the pasta and sauce in one of the pots (preferably the larger one) and cook over medium low until everything is hot. Add salt and pepper, to taste and serve with the remaining basil as well as a sprinkle of grated cheese.

from Perry's Plate

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Salad with Versatile Vinaigrette

   We had a similar version of this at our Easter dinner and I just had to get the dressing recipe from Nick's cousin (in-law). It's a great base and really versatile, which is a good thing since as the weather warms my cravings turn to all things fruit and salad (and maybe some ice cream in there as well...). I've used this dressing all week and switched out some ingredients in the salad. I would put sesame sticks in every salad if it were up to me (and I hadn't run out already). If you haven't tried them, you really must. I scooped a small bag in bulk at Sprouts and was sad I didn't get more-you can get a decent sized bag at Trader Joe's, I just need to do some price comparing first or just continue to get small scoops so I don't eat them all at once.

Spring Salad

greens of choice, I had romaine and spring mix on hand
avocado, diced
strawberries, sliced
cucumbers, diced
red onion, diced
little sprinkling of feta
sesame sticks

Versatile Vinaigrette

1/2 cup. oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar
1/2 t. salt
2 Tbsp. all-fruit raspberry jam

Mix all together until well blended.
Other suggestions: peach jam, switching it up with different flavored vinegars (the Easter salad was make with a pomegranate vinegar)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Squares

  These are a tasty treat that are perfect for me right now: only one saucepan, no oven required, ingredients in my pantry, easy for little hands to help, and something we'll all love to nibble on. The original recipe calls them 'granola bars,' but they tasted far too much like a dessert to have that label. Granola implies (though is rarely true) healthy, and these are not exactly a health food. That being said, at least in these 'granola bars' you can pronounce and identify every ingredient. Despite the peanut butter, these have a predominately chocolate and coconut taste. I cut them into smaller pieces so they were easy to enjoy a little bit at a time-especially for little hands.


2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4-1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup natural, smooth peanut butter
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4-1/3 cup chocolate chips


1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut oil, honey, and peanut butter. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

2. Stir in oats until well mixed. Add coconut and chocolate chips. Pour into a foil-lined 8x8 pan. Refrigerate until cooled. Once cooled, turn pan over onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

adapted from  The Marathon Mom

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicken Burgers with Garlic & Rosemary


A few months ago we got a sweet deal and went from no television stations to more than I can count. From February til the end of the year we get free cable (plus movie channels)- oh yes, and a DVR. (It's part of a trial for a new cable package or something. ) It has been heavenly. I don't consider myself to be a big TV watcher, but there are a few channels/shows I like. Unfortunately, the time I watch TV is after I've put Siena to bed and read for a while = late = makes me want to eat everything. Nick has even asked me not to watch too close to bed because it makes him starving too! (So I guess it's not just a pregnancy thing.) I saw this a while ago and was excited to try it out. It was super easy and flavorful, I think it will be on rotation a lot this summer!


3 Tbsp. olive oil mayo
3 Tbsp. low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lb ground chicken breast (could try turkey as well)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
whole wheat buns


1. In a small bowl combine mayo, yogurt, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl add ground chicken, salt, pepper, and mayo-yogurt mixture (optional:reserve a tiny bit of mixture to use later on buns). Gently combine ingredients and form patties (I formed 5 from 1.2 lbs). Mixture will be wet- place patties on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and put in freezer or refrigerator to help set.

3. On a preheated and sprayed grill, place chicken burgers over medium heat. Cook on each side for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. Serve on a whole wheat bun with some arugula.

adapted from Giada

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pesto alla Genovese with Gnocchi, Mozzarella, and Tomatoes

Ready for a super vague recipe? Don't worry, it's also super easy and incredibly adaptable. We have been on a pesto kick lately. We love pasta and eat it quite frequently, but we hadn't done pesto in a long time. Pesto can be pretty easy to make, but it is also quite affordable to buy a pre-made sauce. I'm sure Trader Joe's has something fantastic, but we opt for the bottle from Costco which is only like $8 and will last you a while (unless you stay on a pesto kick, like we have). Even my 1/4-Italian husband who is very picky about his Italian food approves of this brand. While you can definitely pair any traditional pasta with pesto- this one has a little something extra to it and looks so fancy with gnocchi. We used cherry tomatoes from our little garden, so naturally, it seemed extra delicious. The tomatoes get so sweet when they're hit with a little heat- " รจ buono," for sure.


tomatoes of choice- cherry or grape (halved), or Roma (in bite-sized pieces)
mozzarella, cubed


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large sauce pan, bring salted water to a boil. Cook gnocchi until they float- remove with slotted spoon.

2. While gnocchi is cooking, prep 8 x 8 (or any sized) dish by rubbing a bit of pesto  on the bottom and on the sides. Add tomatoes and mozzarella cubes. As gnocchi are done, add them to the prepared dish. Add spoonfuls of pesto and gently toss the gnocchi with the tomato and cheese, until all have a light covering of pesto.

3. Place dish in the oven and cook only until the mozzarella begins to brown and the tomatoes are juicy.

{Confession: I actually broiled this dish the first go around- but then found out apparently you're not supposed to broil Pyrex. Luckily, nothing happened (and maybe it's okay b/c it was broiling for such a short time period). So, if you have a dish that can withstand broiling, that is faster-but watch it carefully.}

Monday, April 9, 2012

Multi-Grain Waffles

These are my new favorite waffles. The oatmeal makes them so, so soft and fluffy. I was eating them straight out of the waffle iron (carefully, of course). I didn't add wheat germ as it isn't something I normally have in my pantry, but I do think it would add a nice nutty flavor. I actually don't think I've had wheat germ since I was younger and I used to put it on ice cream- is that normal? I also think buttermilk would be great, but again- not something I normally have in stock. I tried the substitute of regular milk plus cream of tartar and it seemed to work well. I am all about using what I have on hand!

 I paired this with a blueberry sauce similar to this one- but scaled down with less sugar and thinned out a bit more.


2 cups buttermilk, or 2 cups milk + 3 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose four
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ, or cornmeal (I had neither, so I added another 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. canola oil (I used applesauce)
2 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Mix buttermilk (milk) and oats in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ (or cornmeal), baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

3. Stir eggs, sugar, applesauce and vanilla into the oat mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.

4. Preheat a waffle iron and coat a waffle iron with cooking spray. Spoon in enough batter to cover three-fourths of the surface (about 2/3 cup for an 8-by-8-inch waffle iron). Cook until waffles are crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

*The original recipe states that it can also be used for pancakes.

adapted from Eating Well