I receive a lot of requests for recipes – more entrees, more low-carb, more “kid-friendly” (I don’t like that phrase, by the way), and the most popular, easy. The term easy means different things to different people. In my opinion, easy means not complicated, something that a cook of any skill level can successfully prepare. Or perhaps easy implies very few steps. But what I have deduced is that most of my students think that easy implies “quick,” as in quick to put together and minimal hands-on time.
Pasta has come a long way since I was a child, especially in the last few years. There used to be limited options beyond typical durum wheat pasta. Possibly you could find whole wheat, but that was about it. Now there are so many choices including spelt, quinoa, brown rice, gluten-free blends, corn and, miraculously, grain-free. I have had all of the above and whereas I think they are all good, Cappello’s grain-free pasta recently blew my mind. My daughter was home for spring break and she bought some for dinner one night. I’ll tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have even tried it because I would assume a grain-free pasta would be a mess plus it’s crazy expensive (I mean CRAZY.) But if you have to be grain-free, pasta is a food that you might kill for. Anyway, it was fantastic. Or maybe I just wanted to love it after I found out how much she spent.
I grew up eating pasta 3-4 times per week. Monday it was often in a soup, Tuesday or Thursday was baked ziti, Friday was linguine aglio e olio, and Sunday was either ravioli or my grandmother’s homemade pasta with her sauce. We are Italian, so no one ever complained or thought it was strange that we ate so much of it. But now I consider pasta an occasional treat because I believe it is a processed food with a significant amount of carbohydrates. There is nothing wrong with complex carbohydrates, i.e. those paired with fiber and/or protein. Complex carbs, as opposed to simple carbs, are good for you and we need them for energy. But it is quite easy to overeat pasta, especially if you consider that a serving size is 1 cup of cooked pasta. Overeating carbohydrates is what gets us into trouble. When our blood sugar spikes, insulin is released to scoop it all up and let me repeat myself, insulin is a pro-inflammatory, fat-storage hormone. What’s the moral of this story? Don’t go crazy with pasta. Eat a small portion, and even better, stretch it out with lots of nutrient-dense vegetables.
This is a lovely pasta recipe which utilizes the new spring produce coming out in the markets. I love the combination of asparagus, peas, mint and lemon. It’s so bright and fresh. According to Eating Well, asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Peas and grains make a complete protein, so if you wanted to serve this without any additional protein you could. My whole family, including the picky one, loves this pasta.
I think this would be nice for Easter lunch with poultry, lamb or ham. It’s easy enough though that you could whip this up for a weeknight dinner, too. For those of you not eating pasta, the vegetable mixture is terrific mixed with cooked brown rice or quinoa. I have also added a leek to this recipe. Just clean it really well, thinly slice it and sauté it before adding asparagus. A handful or two of spinach leaves would also be delicious. Adding dark green leafies is never wrong. And a few toasted pine nuts would add some nice crunch, if desired. Why didn’t I write all these suggestions into the recipe? Because I know people don’t like recipes with a lot of ingredients. This dish tastes excellent as is written, but feel free to improvise.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to save some pasta water before draining the pasta. That starchy, flavorful water is so valuable! It is the key ingredient to keep this from being dry, otherwise the inclination might be to add oil to the pasta to moisten it. If you are dairy-free, feel free to eliminate the cheese altogether, but do add a little extra salt. The pasta I used in these photos is Trader Joe’s gluten-free quinoa and brown rice fusilli. Check out this post here for how to perfectly cook gluten-free pasta!
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed, stalks cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces
zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
kosher salt for the pasta water
¾ pound pasta, such as penne
1 ½ cups peas (frozen is fine)
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or organic Earth Balance
⅓ cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the asparagus and sauté, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, garlic, red pepper, sea salt and pepper and sauté until garlic is fragrant to heat through, 1 minute. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until just before it reaches al dente. Remove 2 cups of the pasta water and set aside. Add the peas to the pasta pot and stir. Drain pasta and peas.
Return skillet to medium heat. Transfer pasta and peas to the skillet with the mint. Add 1 cup reserved pasta water and stir everything to combine well. You may need a little more with gluten-free pasta. Simmer until pasta is al dente, about 3-5 minutes. Add additional pasta water if desired. Stir in butter and cheese and taste for seasoning. If you don't add cheese, you may need a little extra salt.
In the summer, you can substitute chopped zucchini for half the asparagus. Halved cherry tomatoes are also nice sautéed with the vegetables. See my notes in the blog for other ways to change up this recipe.
There was a time when I would watch those cooking competitions on Food Network and criticize anyone who used bacon in a recipe. “Well, yeah it’s going to be good now!” I would shout at the tv. I could have done that. Try making something awesome without bacon. That’s talent! I also feel this way about feta. Just makes everything so delicious. Well if they can do it on “Chopped,” little ole me can do it here. And so can you! We’re going to take simple peas, like the kind you have in your freezer that no one gets all that excited about, and we’re going to liven them up with some turkey bacon, or regular bacon if you eat pork. And everyone will fall in love with peas again.
And this is a good thing because peas are actually quite nutritious and many people always have them on hand. Peas contain a healthy dose of protein (about 9 grams/cup). I love peas mixed with rice for a complete protein. Yum! Peas are also loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and manganese! And they’re a good source of iron, folate, vitamin B1, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and fiber. The only thing I did read about peas that is not great is that they contain an anti-fertility compound, m-xylohydroquinone, so it might be a good avoid to avoid them if you’re trying to get pregnant.
For now, we’re going to stick with either fresh peas (unfortunately, kind of a pain in the neck to shell them and only sweet if they’re super fresh) or frozen ones. I think there is an undeserved stigma attached to frozen vegetables, but there shouldn’t be. Fortunately, freezing vegetables (and fruits) does not destroy their vitamins and minerals. Maybe 10-15% of vitamin content is damaged, and Vitamin C is the biggest loser there. But pretty much every fruit and vegetable has a good amount of Vitamin C so you’ll make up for it. Canned vegetables, on the other hand, are a sad, depressing lot which always seems overcooked, in my opinion. Beyond that, you’re also getting BPA with your veggies because of the can liners and BPA leaches. Not cool.
My entire family loves this incredibly simple side dish. And it’s perfect for a busy family because you can make it in less than 10 minutes. In the winter, I make it with all green peas. But in the spring, I love using a mix of green peas, sugar snap peas (my favorites), and snow peas. Green peas have the most protein and are eaten shelled. Sugar Snap Peas, which are plump and crisp, are a cross between regular peas and Snow Peas which are flat. Both these types of peas are sweeter than garden peas, but a little less nutrient-dense. Sugar Snaps and Snow Peas are both not shelled — you eat the whole thing. I love to mix them together because I love all the different textures most of all, but believe me when I say it’s delicious with one type of pea if that’s what you’ve got. For you veg heads, I’ve got you covered. Omit the turkey bacon and season with smoked salt or a pinch of smoked paprika and sea salt. Serve with poultry, lamb or fish, roasted vegetables or sautéed greens, or cauliflower mashed potatoes. If you have ham leftover on Easter, dice it up and use that instead of the bacon. Remember, St. Patrick’s day is coming up and your family will not be weirded out if you make an entirely green meal! Peas anyone??
We made it to Barcelona! Neither my husband, the kids , nor I has ever been to Barcelona before, and hubby and I haven’t been to Spain in 17 years! We are very excited to start our European vacation here. So much to see and do in a short amount of time!
As you would imagine, I am fairly obsessed with what people eat around the world. As much as I love visiting landmarks and museums and churches (I am actually also obsessed with churches), local markets and restaurants are high on my list of places to experience. I am fairly open-minded when it comes to trying new foods, although I am not a huge fan of meat, game and pork. I know, my options will be limited in Barcelona since every other menu item contains some sort of the above mentioned. Moderation is my mantra.
I am for sure on the lookout for excellent paella, which is basically like the national rice dish of Spain. I L-O-V-E rice in any way, shape or form. Paella is particularly delicious because it is typically cooked with lots of seafood, chicken, pork and some other tidbits like olives and roasted peppers all mixed together in the same saffron-infused dish. It’s so tasty. And it’s basically Mr. Picky’s nightmare since he would eat all of those things PLAIN, and “why did they have to mess this up by cooking it all together?!” I already gave Mr. Picky a pep talk before we left about being open-minded about food, otherwise he might ended up starving, or worse, really cranky. I’ll keep you posted, friends. Wish me luck.
Whether I find the perfect paella in Barcelona or not (and if you know where I should go, speak up!), I did teach this Vegetable Paella in my cooking classes this past spring. And I might admit, it was so flavorful and rich even without all the meat. You don’t normally find paella loaded with vegetables, and I find that true about a lot of the dishes in Spain – not very veggie-heavy, unless you count (fried) potatoes as a veg. Asparagus, peppers, artichokes (by all means, use frozen), tomatoes, mushrooms all go in here. I did make this several times for my vegetarian students with veggie stock, and it was very good, but I do prefer using chicken stock.
The one ingredient that is missing from this paella recipe that makes it an imposter and non-authentic is saffron, which gives the rice a beautiful gold color and imparts a unique flavor. Saffron is absurdly expensive and I have always had success substituting a bit of ground turmeric for saffron when I need that great yellow tint. If you have saffron however, by all means use it by crumbling it and dissolving it in some hot stock.
I love eating this paella with a green salad on the side and that’s it (although a pitcher of sangria wouldn’t hurt.) More from Barcleona to come, including my quest for the best paella!
2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup drained sliced jarred pimientos, chopped (one 4-ounce jar) or equivalent amount of roasted red pepper, diced
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped or ½ an 18-ounce jar of diced tomatoes, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt (or more if your stock is unsalted)
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika or sweet pimenton
1 ½ cups rice, preferably medium grain such as bomba or arborio
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
6 ounces artichoke hearts, either frozen and thawed or jarred and drained*
optional: serve with lemon wedges on the side
In a large skillet pan (between 12-14 inches,) heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pimientos, tomato and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
Stir in the salt, both paprikas, turmeric, and rice. Add the chicken stock and parsley and bring to a boil. Continue cooking over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the asparagus, peas, and artichokes. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
*to give the artichokes some extra flavor, pat them dry and sauté them in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
you can also add mushrooms to the paella to add a meatiness. Sauté with onion in Step 1.
I am 100% Italian and I absolutely love pasta, but I also looooooove rice. Love! I am crazy about all kinds of rice and it shows in my pantry. I have so many varieties of both white and brown rice and I never get tired of it. Overeating pasta doesn’t make me feel great and makes it very hard for me to maintain any semblance of an ideal weight. But I digest rice really well and I think it’s so versatile and really easy to pair with food from any cuisine, even Italian!
I know rice has gotten some bad media attention in the last year due to some scary reports about unsafe levels of arsenic found in many rice products. Please read this article I wrote last year so that you are informed and don’t get freaked out. There are ways you can significantly reduce any arsenic present in whole rice (not much you can do about arsenic in rice cakes or rice cereal, which is why I have reduced the kids’ exposure to rice-derived products.) Basmati rice, which I think has the best flavor and is my favorite variety, also seems to have the least amount of arsenic. Lucky me!
I have a beautiful and very healthful rice recipe I’d like to share and I don’t want you to get scared off by the unusual color or that I labeled it “Indian.” I know there are some of you out there who think you don’t like Indian food. And maybe you tried some from a not-so-great place and it was lousy. In that case, I don’t blame you. BUT. Let’s leave the past behind and look forward to something that IS delicious. Furthermore, this rice recipe is so basic and neutral. It’s not spicy nor doesn’t it have a flavor that is outside of most people’s comfort zone. It will go with that roast chicken you’re making later or my spice-rubbed salmon. And if you’re vegetarian, you can just eat this bowl of golden goodness with a green salad or some roasted vegetables (eggplant is nice right now) and you’ll be all set. Rice and peas together will give you plenty of protein, not to worry.
The crazy beautiful color of this rice comes from turmeric, the most talked about, most popular spice of the moment that is basically anti everything you don’t want. Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, etc. Someone just told me that there was a study done on Indians (people living in India) because they have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and it is attributed to their abundant intake of turmeric. I try to use fresh turmeric when I juice and I have been using it in place of saffron, as well (like in that vegetable paella I was talking about.) I have also included turmeric in my DIY taco seasoning and Chicken and Vegetable Curry. Just be forewarned, it stains like mad so use extra caution when serving anything with turmeric, even be careful of your countertops. (As a last resort, I have had success using a drop of Clorox Clean-up to get out a stubborn turmeric stain in my white marble countertops.)
If you have leftovers of this rice, definitely consider using it in lunchboxes the next day. Are we surviving making lunches?? See this post if you’re still at a loss. Back to rice — make this! Try something new! Let me know how it goes!
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, coconut oil or olive oil (I think butter tastes best.)
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric (you can use more, but you’ll taste it)
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup frozen peas
chopped cilantro to taste, if desired
Rinse your rice in a fine mesh sieve, if desired. Transfer rice to a medium saucepan and add all ingredients except peas and cilantro.
Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer. Cook white rice for 18-20 minutes, brown rice for 45-50 minutes, or until all water has evaporated.
Add frozen peas to rice and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.
If you are concerned about arsenic, you should soak your rice in water for 1-8 hours before using it. That process also makes brown rice more digestible. If you do soak the rice, you will cook it in less time and you can use a few Tablespoons less water, depending on how long you soaked it. Test brown rice for doneness after 35 minutes, and white rice after 15 minutes.
In as much as I promote buying and preparing fresh produce, I really have no problem with using frozen sometimes. Frozen vegetables are supposedly picked at their peak and frozen immediately, allowing less deterioration of nutrients. I can’t, however, say the same about canned. Thumbs down on that one. In general, I tend to use frozen vegetables more in cooked dishes than in raw. There are quite a few frozen vegetables which are staples in my kitchen including artichoke hearts, edamame, corn, chopped spinach and especially peas.
Believe me, I adore fresh peas. If they are picked off the vine and prepared right away, they can be so amazingly tender and sweet. But if they’ve been sitting around for too long, those sugars become a little starchy. Plus, they do take a bit of time to remove from the shell, which sadly I don’t have the leisure to do on a busy weeknight.
Peas are a great source of protein and fiber, so I love adding them to pastas, soups, stews and grain-based dishes for a complete protein. Peas also contain substantial amounts of many other vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C and K, as well as Folate and Manganese. I post the contents of my kids’ lunch boxes every Monday on Facebook, so I know many of you saw a lunch Mr. Picky made a month or so ago with frozen peas as the entrée and frozen corn as the side dish. (They defrost by lunchtime!) That was by far the quickest healthful lunch we’ve packed all year!
Although fresh peas come into season in the Spring, I use frozen the whole year long. I first taught this delicious dip in a December holiday hors d’oeuvres class, but I made it recently for a dinner and it really sang spring. This dip is a bit like hummus, the Mediterranean dip made from pureed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and garlic, although not quite as thick and rich.
Instead, this has such a lovely light, fresh flavor from the mint and lemon zest. It would be such a nice addition to your Easter festivities, whether you’re doing a brunch, lunch or dinner. Even if you have your whole menu planned, I bet you have almost all the ingredients to make this dip today. Best of all, it can be made in about 5 minutes or less. Seriously! You can definitely serve this dip with pita chips or toast points. But I love it with crudités like carrots or endive leaves or my favorite (and more indulgent), slices of grilled baguette. If you have some nice Pecorino-Romano cheese, shave a little sliver onto each crostini and you will be in heaven!
I wish you all a beautiful and joyous Easter. My husband and I were feeling brave enough to take the three kiddies to Europe again, so we’ll be in London for the next week. I hope to post some pictures of our adventures on Facebook! Always interested to hear about your faves and must-sees!
2 cups fresh (already shelled) or frozen green peas, defrosted (original recipe used 3 cups)
zest of one lemon
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 Tablespoons raw tahini
¼ teaspoon sea salt
French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)
If using defrosted frozen peas, skip to Step 2. If using fresh peas, fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add peas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Plunge them into the ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain well and pat dry.
Place all the dip ingredients in a food processor and puree. Serve with crostini and/or raw crudités. If you assemble the dip on crostini, you can also shave pecorino or parmesan on top of each hors d’oeuvre or sprinkle grated cheese on top and drizzle a good olive oil over all of them.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Brush each side of bread with olive oil and place on pan. Bake for 15 minutes, turning after 7 or 8 minutes. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for several days. Or preheat a grill over medium heat and grill the bread (brushed with a little olive oil) until slightly charred on both sides. This only takes a couple of minutes.
I had the best day on Saturday. Where did I go? Nowhere! What did I do? Nothing! When was the last time you said you had the best time doing nothing? I know! Sometimes I feel like my life is like a runaway train. And although I enjoy its active pace, I wish I took more time to sloooooow down. This past Saturday was going to be more of the same — squeezing in a workout, a big farmer’s market shop for my classes, watching Mr. Picky’s soccer and baseball games, and chauffeurring the girls here and there. But the universe gave me a big gift in the form of a torrential rain storm and everything was canceled. Thank you, thank you!
Mr. Picky stayed in his pajamas until 1:00 in the afternoon. I read more of the newspaper than just the front page. Daughter #1 and her adorable friend who spent the night would have normally met friends in town for breakfast, but hung around with us instead. They played as much One Direction music as we could take, baked a cake, and photographed every move for their 2,000 Facebook “friends” to enjoy. One thing for sure, I knew I would be making soup. I had an extra bunch of asparagus from Friday’s class, white beans and peas in the freezer, and a small bag of spinach. I had the makings of one of my favorites, Spring Green Minestrone. This is the soup I make whenever Spring rolls around. As much as I love hearty, chunky soups and stews, I like to leave those to the winter. Lighter, fresher soups appeal to me now, but ones which still have the ability to warm me up. And the combination of white beans and peas amounts to a complete protein, so I feel satisfied enough to eat this as a meal. But it’s all that GREEN that really makes me feel nourished.
The ingredients in this soup look like they couldn’t amount to anything special — there’s no secret ingredient, no flavor boosters. I’m even surprised when it turns out delicious. And the recipe is so dead simple, you have no excuse NOT to make your vegetable stock from scratch. This soup was one of the first cooked vegetable dishes that Mr. Picky actually ate a normal portion of. Saturday was no different. He dropped a piece of sourdough toast in his soup and ate every last pea. My husband poured the usual Pecorino in his. As for me, I embraced my bowl of springtime au naturel — perfect in its simplicity and which I ate really slooowly. I needed to make this special day last. Because although I heard it would rain again on Sunday, I knew that the chances of that happening were about as good as my kids getting a Coke with their lunch. And sure enough, Sunday’s sunshine came with places to be and things to do, but I got back on the train rejuvenated and restored and ready for it all.
2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, washed well, white and light green parts sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 cups vegetable stock or light chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 ½ cups cooked white beans, such as Cannellini or Great Northern, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons sea salt (more if your stock is unsalted)
4 ounces baby spinach leaves
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
Add the asparagus, peas and parsley and toss to coat with the oil, leeks and garlic. Pour in the stock, white beans, and sea salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the spinach leaves and taste for seasoning. Don't be disappointed, but that's all you have to do!
If you make your own stock, use the tops of your leeks and the woody ends from the asparagus that you might be inclined to compost or throw away.
Chicken pot pie is one of my family’s favorite meals and this recipe, adapted from The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook, is the best one I’ve ever tried. Pot pie falls in my “10%,” that is 90% of the time I try to eat as whole and clean as possible, and the other 10% is what it is. For the last 15 or so years, I have made pot pie once a year and when I do, my son always asks me, “is it a special occasion?” Many years ago, my younger daughter and I hosted a mother-daughter Valentine’s Day dinner at our home and we made a few of these pot pies with hearts cut out of the crust. Since then, we decided to make this our family’s Valentine’s Day tradition.
Chicken Pot Pie is really comfort food at it’s best. It’s a perfect winter dinner and I’ve never met a chicken-eating child (even Mr. Picky) or adult that didn’t think this particular recipe was just delicious. Most pot pies are a blend of chunks of chicken meat and vegetables in a savory, tasty mixture and topped with a crust of sorts. Usually I make a savory pastry crust, but in a pinch I have made a drop biscuit batter and topped the casserole with that. Even though this recipe is pretty perfect as is, I think you can have equal success with leftover turkey, adding in different vegetables such as parsnips or turnips, or using store-bought pastry crust or puff pastry.
Pot pie is definitely not something you can decide at 6:00 pm that you would like to make for dinner and expect to sit down at 6:30. But even if you are typically out of the house in the few hours before dinner, there is no reason to be discouraged from making this recipe on a weeknight. You just need to plan ahead and follow a few of these tips:
You can use pre-cooked chicken from a rostisserie or whole roasted chicken and shred the meat the day before.
You can chop your carrots and onions the day before or make the entire filling the day before and pour it into your casserole dish and refrigerate it, covered until you’re ready to bake.
You can make your pie crust a few days before. Allow it to sit out of the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before rolling it out. Or you can roll out the whole thing, lay it on parchment or plastic wrap and fold it in quarters to store it in the fridge.
Pot pie freezes very nicely, well wrapped. It is best to thaw it for 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking.
If you use store-bought crust, defrost the crust before laying it on the casserole.
Puff pastry is also an easy way to cover the casserole. Follow the directions on the box.
I actually debated whether or not to post Chicken Pot Pie at all since it is not completely consistent with both the way I eat and the kind of food I teach in my classes. But what I do try to encourage is cooking from scratch and with love and eating together as much as possible. And I think we can agree that there’s as much to gain from those habits as there is from vitamins and antioxidants.
Chicken Pot Pie not your thing? Here are some other ideas for making everyone feel a little extra love on Valentine’s Day:
Check out the recipe for Salmon with Roasted Beets and Blood Oranges. You can make the recipe as is, or you can slice the cooked beets into 1/4-inch slices and cut out hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Heart-shaped beets are an adorable addition to any salad. See next idea for what to do with the leftover beet scraps.
For a shocking, hot pink vinaigrette, place 1/4 cup of chopped, cooked beet pieces in a blender with your favorite vinaigrette ingredients and process until completely blended. Pick up some cooked beets from the supermarket salad bar to save time. In this picture I used Everyday Salad Dressing #2, but stirred in the shallots after the vinaigrette was completely blended with the beets. My kids freaked for it!
Chicken Noodle Soup with pasta hearts — cook lasagne noodles and cut out hearts with cookie cutter. Add to soup.
Raspberry Sauce — Make a simple syrup by combining 1/3 cup water and 1/4 cup sucanat, coconut palm sugar or natural cane sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture until sugar is dissolved. Place 5 ounces (about 1 cup) frozen raspberries and simple syrup in blender. Blend until smooth. Strain if you don’t like seeds. I like to serve the sauce with fresh raspberries on top of heart-shaped French toast, pancakes or ice cream. Heart-shaped pancakes are not realistic for more than two people. Heart-shaped French toast is great for a larger brood.
Cut a heart out of a piece of bread for sandwiches or toast. Toast the hearts and use as croutons.
Hot pink hummus with heart-shaped chips — check here for how to make baked tortilla chips, but use a heart-shaped cookie cutter instead of cutting the tortillas into wedges. Same basic steps to make pita chips.
Chocolate Fondue — Set a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add 12 ounces of chopped dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Whisk until chocolate is melted. Serve with fresh strawberries, apple wedges, or chunks of banana. Always a hit for minimal effort!
Author: Pamela, adapted from The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook (the original recipe called for 1½ sticks of butter and ¾ cup flour in the filling, but I reduced it and the filling isn't quite as thick as the original, but still excellent)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup ice water
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or equivalent amount of cooked chicken, shredded or chopped into bite-size pieces)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, pepper and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse 5 times. Add the lemon juice and water and turn on the machine for 3 seconds. Using your hands, scrape the dough onto a floured surface and work it together into a smooth ball. Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To cook chicken: bring a large pot of water to a boil and add chicken breasts. Simmer for 7-8 minutes. Drain. Save the pot for later use. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces and add back to pot. It is fine if the chicken is not cooked all the way through. Set aside.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the flour and sauté for 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Add the salt and paprika. Mix well. Add the chicken stock gradually while stirring and bring to a boil. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Taste the mixture for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper if needed.
Add peas, parsley and onion-carrot mixture to chicken in the pot and combine well. Transfer to a 13 x 9–inch casserole dish.
Roll out the pastry dough 1-inch larger than the area of the casserole dish. Cut hearts from the dough with cookie cutter, if desired, otherwise make a few small slits in the dough for steam to escape. Place the dough on top of the filling and crimp the edges.
Beat the egg yolk with the cream and brush the top of the pastry with the mixture. Place dish on top of a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.
You can cut this recipe in half and bake it in an 8 x 8-inch pan. You can also make individual pot pies in oven-proof bowls or large ramekins.