Kitchen Creations

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

.....and we all said YUM!

Okay, so I was feeling in a rut and decided to go on-line and find some new inspiration for meatless meals this week.  This in addition to starting back to work this week has been interesting.  It is always nice to get kind of lost in the world of creating my art, food.  This was the perfect recipe for that.  I discovered it on a great site, A Couple Cooks.  This is by far one of my newest favorite sites to visit.  Vibrant food, taste-wise and visually!  Anyway, I digress. This recipe..... it was perfect.  I took the suggestion within the directions given by the "couple cooks" and turned on some music and just enjoyed.  There is some chopping involved, but nothing is hard about this and it is one of those meals that feels good to make.  Good ingredients, great smell, visually stunning.  I gathered everything, chopped with my favorite tunes and then put it all together and fell in love with my counter full of ingredients.  I guess I'm weird that way.
Well, the love just grew and grew as the ingredients combined to create amazing aromas throughout my kitchen and home.  I think I'm going to rename this dish, For the Love of Paella because we all fell in love it, even my little Mr. Picky!

Fall in love with some great food tonight!

For the Love Of Paella a.k.a. "Simple Vegetable Paella"
***Adapted from A Couple Cooks website   
4 cloves garlic
One large sweet onion
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms
One or two small bunches chard (enough to make two cups chopped)
1 can quartered artichoke hearts (in water, not oil)
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup chickpeas (canned or cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

1.  Gather all your ingredients.
2.  Mince your garlic, chop your onion, slice your mushrooms, wash & chop your chard and drain your artichokes!
3.  Measure out the rest of the ingredients and open any cans.  Bring it all to where your large skillet is.
4.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Saute onions, garlic and mushrooms until tender (about 5 minutes)
5.)  Add the 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and the rice.  Stir together in skills for about 1 minute. 

6.)  Add the can of fire-roasted tomatoes, Swiss chard and chickpeas, salt & loads of ground pepper!

7.)  Pour in the vegetable broth, enough to fully cover the vegetables and rice.  Make sure it totally covers the rice or you'll end up with crunchy bits of rice here and there.  Arrange the artichoke heart quarters over the top.

8.)  The broth should be brought to a boil.  Once it boils turn down to a simmer and let it all hang out for about 40 minutes. 
9.)  Once the liquid has absorbed or cooked out, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.  More liquid absorbs in these minutes.  Do not let it cook too long or it can burn.


Click here for printable recipe

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tasty, healthy & EASY!

I have a Rachael Ray cookbook that I love, it's called Express Lane Meals.  It's got three different sections; "Meals for the exhausted", "Meals for the not too tired" and "Bring it on! (but, be gentle).  This recipe comes from the "meals for the exhausted" section, so that should clue you in to the difficulty level.  She calls it "Cacio e Pepe (Cheese & Pepper Pasta) and Spinach with White Beans.  I call it just plain GREAT!!  The ingredients are simple and the method is easy.  On top of simple and easy, it tastes fantastic.  I have a picky eater in my house.  He'd be happy if I made him nachos or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every night.  This pains me, to say the least.  He is not usually very excited about the new dishes I make.  He has to take his "no thank you" bite though.  (You must take a bite and try it before you can say "No thank you" to it.)  Last night he was excited about the "noodles" and his excitement turned to joy, his and mine, when he returned for 2 extra helpings of this meal!  My other boy loves just about anything and eats heartily.  He went for 3 rounds as well.  This meal will now be in the weekly rotation.  It's tasty, healthy and above all, EASY!!

Enjoy some of this simple goodness tonight with your family!

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta) and Spinach  with White Beans 
*From Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals cookbook
1 pound thin spaghetti noodles
3 Tbsp. butter
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 10-ounce box of chopped frozen spinach
4 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg


  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water and add pasta to boil (according to package directions - about 6 minutes).
  • ***You'll want to save 2 ladles-ful of the pasta water before you drain it!!!  Don't forget
  • While pasta is boiling, place a large skillet over low heat and place butter and 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and pepper into it.  Let this slowly melt until the pasta is done.

  • Also while pasta is boiling, defrost the spinach in the microwave for 6 minutes on high. 
  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, then the garlic, cook garlic for 2 minutes.
  • Now add the beans to garlic. 
  • Next add the spinach to the beans, breaking it up as you drop it into the pan.

  • Season the spinach and beans with nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • When the pasta is done remember to reserve 2 ladles-ful of the pasta water and add 1 ladle to your melted butter-pepper mixture.
  • Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the butter, pepper, pasta water sauce.
  • Turn off the heat and add the cheese in small handfuls, tossing with tongs until all the cheese in incorporated.  It will form a creamy sauce to coat the pasta.

  • Add another ladle of cooking water if needed (I add the 2nd ladle every time).
  • Now season the pasta to taste with salt and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.
  • Serve the pasta and spinach-bean mixture side by side (although, mixing them also tastes great!!)       

Click here for printable recipe.