Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf, and a verrrryyy quiet weekend

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf with mushroomsI was totally lazy yesterday afternoon while The Bug was napping.  And all evening, after he went to sleep.  I should have been folding laundry.  Or cleaning up the kitchen.  But instead I started writing a blog post, perusing Facebook, and catching up on My Fair Wedding and Sweet Genius on my DVR.  And why was I feel totally OK with this?  Well, The Bug was napping.  My tummy was full from gobbling up some leftovers of Friday night’s dinner (after I had already had lunch.  And a cake pop.) while I was photographing it for this blog entry.  And The Hubby was away until Sunday afternoon, so I knew I had all night and a good portion of Sunday to do the piddly tasks.  Other than the sound of The Bug snoring over the monitor, the house was very quiet.  Almost unnerving how quiet it was.  Today, for some reason, the quiet is nice and appealing.  Maybe because now the chores are done, and it is a damp, dreary day, perfect for staying inside.

So anyway, dinner Friday night.  So good!  As I mentioned, I was picked at more of it straight out of the fridge.  And, since The Hubby wasn’t home, I just finished it off for dinner.  The Bug happily devoured a broccoli and cheese omelet (with ketchup naturally).  I’m wasn’t sharing my leftovers.

I love Jessica’s How Sweet It Is blog.  Her photos are amazing (something I aspire to), and she cracks me up regularly.  You would think by the name that her blog would be all about desserts.  Well, she does have some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  But oftentimes, it is her savory recipes that catch my attention.  Like this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad.  Mushrooms, asparagus…  mmmmm!!!!  My favorites.

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf from top

I scoured my grocery store and could not find the jasmine brown rice.  I guess I could have bought regular jasmine rice, but I bought a bag of millet on a whim awhile ago.  Millet is a grain that looks similar to couscous or maybe even kinda like barley, but it is gluten-free.  I have been trying to figure out a way to make it that wouldn’t freak out The Hubby.  Put a new dessert or a new meat dish in front of him, and he is all over it.  A new vegetable or grain – well, that is usually perceived as me trying to force “crunchy” health foods on him.  But this was good.  Real good.

Asparagus and mushroom miillet pilaf leftoversI used some dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries, and tweaked the amounts of other ingredients, since I was making a larger portion.  And I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  I’m sure either way would be great, but with the veggie broth, this is a nice vegan meal.  And if you aren’t vegan, try it with some shrimp, like we did on Friday night, or sprinkled with a little goat cheese, as I did on Saturday night.  Or eat it straight out of the fridge, cold.

The Hubby liked it, despite his lack of love for asparagus and mushrooms, and The Bug ate his portion.  Though honestly, he was more interested in devouring seven or eight shrimp – go figure, normally he won’t touch shrimp.  Ugh, the eating habits of toddlers!

I definitely want to try it with the brown jasmine rice, just as Jessica made it.  But I think that’ll require a drive to Whole Foods, which, sadly, is not too convenient.  And I still have that bag of millet, or I am thinking it would be good with quinoa, to, to amp up the protein.  Mom, can’t wait for you to try it – this is what I am making on Good Friday!

And since it is so quiet, I need some conversation, even if it is “virtual”.  So tell me what you think of this recipe, answer the questions below, or just say Hi.  I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading, so we can get to know each other!

Are you lazy or productive when your significant other is away?  What are you favorite spring vegetables or fruits?

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf (serves 4)

Adapted from Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad at How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

about 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems removed, cut into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Asparaugs and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Collage2 T olive oil, divided

1 c  millet

1 t kosher salt

2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Prepare the millet as per the package directions, using stock instead of water.  I cooked mine in my rice cooker.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add shallot and a little salt, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until nicely browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

6.  Add the garlic and dried cranberries, and cook for another minutes or so.

7.  Add the wine, and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

8.  Toss the mushroom mixture with the roasted asparagus and millet, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Close-up

This recipe was shared with:

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Lemony Chicken Foil Packets and Firing Up the Grill

The Bug at the Grill

It’s March, and I am grilling.  That never happens!  This has been the weirdest winter, and being somebody who is always cold and hates being cold, I am not complaining.  It would have been nice to have one good snowstorm, so that I could get a chance to play in the snow with The Bug, since he was not even walking last winter.  And since I spent good money on snow pants and boots, because if you don’t buy them in October, there will inevitably be a blizzard in December, at which time all of the snow pants and boots are gone, and you are left deciding on what swimsuit you want for the summer.  But that is neither here nor there.

Back to grilling.  The Hubby loves meat, especially grilled meat.  So sometimes, even in the coldest winters, he will go outside and grill a steak on a Saturday night.  He has even been known to dig a path through the snow to get to the grill.  Not me.  I wait until I can go outside in a tee shirt and flip flops before I am going to go outside of my nice, cozy kitchen to cook dinner.  Seventy degrees in March calls for cooking dinner on the grill.  So I threw together these tasty little packets, tossed them on the grill went inside to set the table, play with The Bug and say Hi to The Hubby.  Then 20 minutes later, dinner was on the table.

Lemony Chicken Packets Collage

If you don’t have a grill, don’t know how to use your grill, or, you know, live in North Dakota where it is too cold to grill, especially in March, you can always throw the packets in the oven.The Greek yogurt and lemon juice marinade give the chicken so much flavor, and help to create a little lemony sauce and some steam to cook the poatoes nice and soft, and the green beans still slightly crisp.

I didn’t get a picture, but The Bug was a fan!  Well, truthfully, he did not eat the beans.  Even when I put ketchup on them (yes, he is one of those kids who will eat anything with ketchup – but I do make my own.  I’ll get to that in another post).  For some reason, he will eat green beans at school, but at home, he won’t go near them.  Whatever.  Potatoes are always a hit, but he can be picky about meats.  And this chicken was so tender and flavorful that he devoured almost as much as I ate!  The Hubby isn’t the biggest fan of green beans, but he indulged me when I want them sometimes, and he thought they were pretty good.

IMG 4658

Don’t miss today’s Friday Fun!

Do you ever grill in cold weather?  What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?

Lemony Chicken Foil Packets with Parmesan Green Beans and Potatoes(serves 4)

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1/4 c Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)

1 lemon

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or some dried thyme, I’d say about 1/4 t)

1 clove of garlic

2 t kosher salt, divided

freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. red potatoes, slice about 1/4 in. thick

1 lb green beans

1 T olive oil

1/4 c parmesan cheese

4T water

Directions

1.  Before making the marinade, zest the lemon before you cut it and squeeze it for the juice.

2.  Make the marinade by combining the Greek yogurt, the juice of one lemon, thyme, garlic, 1 t salt , and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl or plastic bag.

3.  Add the chicken breasts and let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes, but the longer the better.

4. Toss the potatoes, green beans, olive oil, parmesan cheese, 1 t salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the reserved lemon zest.

5.  Take four squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil, or a double layer of regular aluminum foil, and spray the dull side with olive oil or coking spray.

6.  Divide the potatoes and beans evenly between the packets. Or you could be as meticulous as me, and start with a layer of potato slices, then put the green beans on top.

7.  Lay one chicken breast on top of the potatoes and beans in each packet.

8.  Fold up the foil into pouch, and before sealing, at 1 T water to each packet.

9.  Put on a medium to medium-high grill for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and chicken is cooked through. (Or you could put it in a 350F oven, probably for about 25-30 minutes).

10.  Open up your packets and serve.

Enjoy!

IMG 4660 with text

This recipe was shared with:

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

Addicted to Recipes’ Scrumptious Sunday Link Party #4


Granola that’s Kinda Nutty (to power through business trips that are also kinda nutty)

Maple Nutty Granola yogurt parfait up closeWhen I was working, I had to travel to Europe several times, and once for two weeks to China and India.  And seriously, the best thing about many foreign hotels is their insane breakfast buffets.  These spreads catered to the breakfast preferences of many different countries and cultures, from eggs and bacon and potatoes, to waffles and pancakes and french toast, to knockwursts and bratwursts and whatvever-wursts, to congee and sushi and dumplings.  Now granted, I was traveling for business, so I did stay at pretty decent hotels.  But even the smaller ones all seem to know how to do breakfast right.  And one thing that always seem to have it a bowl of plain, thick yogurt, another of fresh fruit preserves, and yet another filled with granola.  More often than not, even with all of the other choices, I went for that – a little dairy, a little protein, a little fruit – just what I needed to power through the insane schedule that I usually had while traveling (one time involving 7 airplane flights in 10 days).

Back at home, the store-bought granola always left something to be desired for me.  Many seem to have a lot more sugar and fat than I am really looking for, not enough nuts and fruit, and way too much “filler”.  Plus, with finding out about my wheat allergy, I have to steer clear from granola that contains things like wheat and barley flakes, or even wheat germ.  So that is why I came up with this recipe.  It has a pretty high ratio of nuts and seeds to oats, a good amount of dried fruit, and just the right amount of sweetness, but without adding any refined sugars.  The only grain is oatmeal, and while I don’t need to seek out the gluten-free oats, this can be gluten-free if you purchase the gluten-free oats.   And it has a lot of different kinds of nuts.  I love nuts, and each one seems to have at least on particular standout nutritional stat, like walnuts for Omega-3’s, cashews for minerals and B-vitamins, and almonds for Vitamin E.  Here is a great source for lots of nutritional information about many different nuts and seeds.

Nutty Granola yogurt parfait

I love to eat this granola over plain yogurt with some chopped berries (or you can get all fancy and make parfaits), and The Bug likes it in any of the many yogurt combos I make for him (like this one).  But it is also good simply with some warm or cold milk (my new favorite is Almond Breeze’s Coconut Almond Milk, maybe with a little chopped banana.  I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful.

It also makes a nice gift.

Maple Nutty Granola Gift

And the great thing about granola recipes is that they really are a guideline.  Feel free to switch it up based on the nuts and seeds and fruits you love or have around.

Maple Nutty Granola Yogurt parfait

What is your favorite breakfast food?  Is there something you beeline for when you are at a buffet?

Maple Mixed Nut Granola

Ingredients

3 c oats (I use Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)

Granola in bowl1 c raw cashews, chopped

1 c chopped walnuts

1 c chopped pecans

1/2 c sliced almonds

1/4 c flax seeds

1/4 c sesame seeds

1/2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 c unsweetened, flaked coconut

1/4 c water

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 c real maple syrup

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 c dried fruit (I like equal parts raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries)

Directions

Granola on pan1.  Preheat your oven to 250°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the water, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and toss until it is evenly distributed and moistened.

5.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes, or until dry and golden.

6.  Toss the dried fruits in with the granola mixture.

7.  Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Maple Nutty Granola closeup

This recipe was shared with:

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

I Heart Nap Time

What Makes You Say Mmmmm? Monday Linky

Nap-Time Creations

 

 

 

 

Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes – No More ‘Mallows!

I have lots of dreams.  Strange Weird Crazy Stupid Lame Awesome as it sounds, many of those dreams have to do with food.  Things like open a bed & breakfast, become a sommelier, own a cafe/wine bar/bakery, be a waitress at a really fancy restaurant, meet Giada or Tyler or Michael or Tom or Mario (DiLaurentiis, Florence, Symon, Collicchio, and Batali for those of you who aren’t on a first name basis with them, as I am), write a cookbook…

One of those dreams is to win a recipe contest.  Now I have always been an overachiever, so I have my sights set on the $1 Million Pillsbury Bake-Off.  But I figure I should probably start a little smaller.  So when I saw Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen post her entry for the No More ‘Mallows! recipe contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, I knew I had to enter.  I had just made a sweet potato recipe a couple of weeks ago that I thought would be perfect for this contest.

No More 'Mallows!

The black bean filling for my spin on baked stuffed potatoes is based on this Black Bean & Mango Taco recipe from my friend, Michelle, at Find Your Balance.  She is a health coach, and has some awesome, healthy recipes.  Pinapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with ForkAnything that gets my husband to eat and love a dinner that does not include meat must be good.  And The Bug loves Mexican.  So her recipe has become one of our family favorites.  But I have switched it up some, and instead of tacos, I thought it would be awesome stuffed into some sweet potatoes.  And, just to make Michelle happy, I added in some dark, leafy greens and Greek yogurt (though the leafy greens could be optional, if you are not a fan, and you could use sour cream, if you prefer).

So give this a try for your Meatless Monday, Lent Friday, or any day, really.  It’s that good.  No need to reserve it for your vegetarian days (unless all of your days are vegetarian days).  It has a lot of ingredients, but most are probably already in your pantry.  Oooh, and it would probably also be good with some of this.

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Limes and Avocado

Have you ever entered a recipe contest?  What are some of the random, seemingly silly goals you have?

Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes (serves 4)

Adapted from Black Bean & Mango Tacos from Find Your Balance

Ingredients

For Sweet Potatoes:

4 sweet potatoes

half of a lime

1/2 t kosher salt

1 T olive oil

For Monterey Jack Creamy Swiss Chard:

16 c Swiss chard (or other dark, leafy green of your choice) – I know this sounds like a lot, but it really cooks down

Monterey Jack Swiss Chard1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c milk (any kind will do, I used 1%)

1 c (about 4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

For Pineapple Black Beans:

1 T olive oil

half of a large sweet onion, chopped

Black Beans1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 red pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lime

2 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1/2 c water

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes on plate1 c chopped fresh or canned pineapple

2 T chopped cilantro

For garnish (optional):

1/2 c Greek yogurt (I like Chobani) or sour cream

1/2 lime

chopped avocado

cilantro

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.

2.  Squeeze half of a lime into a bowl and add the salt.  Toss the sweet potatoes in the lime-salt mixture.

3.  Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until soft (alternatively, you could cook them in the microwave for about 10-15 minutes, but NOT with the aluminum foil)

4.  While the sweet potatoes are baking, prepare the fillings.  Start by spraying a large pan with olive oil or cooking spray, and putting over medium heat.

5.  Add the Swiss chard, salt and pepper, and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring every couple of minutes.

6.  Remove the lid and add the milk and cheese.  Cook until thickened slightly and cream.  Set aside.

7.  In the same pan or in a clean pan, heat the olive and add the onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook until starting to turn translucent.

8.  Add the red pepper and cook until the onions and peppers are soft.

9.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the black beans, juice of a lime, chili powder, cumin, and water, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.  You can keep covered over a low heat until the sweet potatoes are ready.

10.  Stir the pineapple and cilantro into the black bean mixture.

11.  Combine the Greek yogurt or sour cream and lime juice, and chop the avocado and cilantro, if using.

12.  Slice open the baked sweet potatoes, and fill with the swiss chard and black bean mixture.  Top with the desired garnishes.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes close up
This recipe was shared with:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’sReal Food Wednesday 3/21/12

These Chicks Cooked Recipe Swap #44

The Countertop Confections’ What’s Cooking Thursday 3/22/12

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday 3/22/12

Savannah’s Savory Bites Friday Feature Blog Hop 3/23/12

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

March Improv Challenge: Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

So I was perusing the foodie blogoshpere, and stumbled upon The Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  I thought the name of her blog was hysterical, and then I saw her Improv challenge.  This sounded like too much fun.  Basically a theme is given, which is two assigned ingredients, then it is up to the bloggers to let the creative juices flow, and see what they can come up with.  Then on the third Thursday of the month, we will all publish our new recipes based on the theme.  I decided I had to get in on the action.

Improv Challenge

So I will say, this recipe is really improv.  I had a sweet potato and some white potatoes laying around, and I was really in the mood for goat cheese.  So after digging around for some sort of scalloped, au gratin potato recipe idea for inspiration, I found Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.  I did a little tweaking, and this is what I threw together.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

It was yummy – a little sweet, a little salty, creamy, tangy.  We all ate the leftovers with dinner the next night, and I had the last little bit the following day for lunch.  The Bug was a fan, too.

Slice of Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Since I really did pull this together off the cuff (I didn’t have much time, since I only recently found out about the challenge), it could still use a tweak or two.  I think next time I would not put the goat cheese in the milk, and would instead just crumble it on top of each potato layer, in order to get pockets of the tangy goat cheese.  If I try this and update it (and get some better photos – I had two hungry boys and a steak getting cold, so was in a rush), I will let you know.  But it was really good as-is, especially with a steak perfectly grilled by The Hubby.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin with Steak and Asparagus

If you like what you see here, I’d love for you to subscribe to updates by email, “Like” me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  Also, make sure you check out the links below to see what the other Improvers came up with.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Based on Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.

Ingredients

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin vertical1 garlic clove, halved

4 ounces goat cheese

1 cup milk (I used 2% because that is what I had)

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

About 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs white potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (I used one large sweet potato, and the rest white potatoes), sliced 1/8 in. thick

1 1/2 T olive oil

3/4 t kosher salt

black pepper

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Spray a 9 inch round glass pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.  Rub with the cut sides of the garlic. Discard the garlic.

2.  In a pan, combine 2 oz. of the goat cheese, the milk and the thyme, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

3. While the milk is heating, layer one-third of the potato slices in the pie plate, drizzle with 1/2 T olive oil, 1/4 t. salt, and black pepper.  Repeat with two more layers of potatoes (I uses half of the white potatoes for my first layer, then the sweet potatoes, and finally another layer of white potatoes).

4.  Pour the milk mixture over the top of the potatoes, and lay the thyme sprigs on top.

5.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

6.  Uncover, crumble the remaining 2 oz. of goat cheese and sprinkle on the top.

7.  Bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese starts to brown.

Enjoy!

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin Closeup