Friday, March 29, 2013

Pasta on the go

Finally a day without obligations. I decided to take it easy, watch a movie, but then I had too much energy and I started cooking. I love the idea of packaged lunches in a mason jar; first of all, mason jar are beautiful, second, the food is stored in glass and not plastic, and third it can be reheated in the microwave, beautifully portable for lunches and picnics, even for the little ones. I made one of my favorite pastas, placed a handful of baby spinach in the mason jar and the hot pasta on top. The hot pasta will wilt the spinach slightly but it keeps fresh until the pasta is reheated and mixed in. 

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Pasta in a Mason Jar
4 oz penne, cooked according to instructions
Sauce:
  • 3 TB ff cottage cheese
  • 2 TB part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 TB shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can  low-sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ts sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1  teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 TB grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 package baby spinach, fresh
  • 3 Mason jars
Cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain. Combine the cottage cheese, ricotta, and mozzarella in a bowl and stir with a fork and set aside.

Heat the oil in a larger saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, oregano, rosemary, chili flakes, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Return cheese mix and pasta to saute pan, and mix gently. Place baby spinach in mason jar, and 1/3 of the pasta on top. Close with lid. Refigerator at most for 1-2 days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring blossom fever

In January I bought a small Meyer Lemon tree with a single blossom. After a privileged position at the most sunny spot in the house, the bush turned into a fragrant, beautiful blossom fever. The flower smell wonderful. It might be a home-grown lemon summer.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring energy

The weekend was nice, I felt this lightness in me, the added hour of daylight, the gentle temperatures, the warm spring sun, the prospect that now things can only go towards summer and outdoor life, lifted my spirits and put a spring (!)  in my step. Anticipation, expectation, attitude is everything --- again. I am ready to shed layers, layers of clothes, layers of blankets, layers of transportation and breathe fresh air. The first spring greens will burst through the soil soon and in a few weeks, the beds of daffodils will confirm the change to my favorite seasons of the year. There are still bunches of frozen thyme in my freezer which I add liberally to my lunches, like this potato carrot edamame pan (peel and cube the potatoes and microwave with 1-2 TB of water for 5min, then add to the pan with frozen edamame and fresh carrots, salt, pepper and olive oil—and thyme). The fresh local produce is still rare, but like the spring flowers the plants will burst through the soil soon, too.

This year I managed for the first time to get a rosemary plant through the winter. It liked its cool but sunny place, sufficient water and regular feedings. Is that the secret? Sun light makes such a difference. For everyone.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Scarlet quinoa with lentil patties and spinach

It is snowing and raining and raining and raining, but who am I to complain, I am on spring break. Lousy weather or not it is great to be on my own schedule, and even cook something more elaborate. Yesterday’s flavorful lentils became individual lentil loaves, and to this I added scarlet quinoa salad and wilted spinach with roasted corn. Real lunch!

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Scarlet quinoa
  • 1 cup tri-colore quinoa (Trader Joes) (or any regular quinoa), washed and rinsed
  • 1/2 TB butter or clarified butter (ghee)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced (microplaned)
  • 1/2 sweet onion or shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine (pinot grigio or chardonnay)
  • 1.75 cup water
  • 1 medium sized red beet, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3-4 cloves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter (or ghee) and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (1min) on medium heat. Add the quinoa, mix all the ingredients and toast for about 1/2 min. Add the white wine, stir and cook it off (evaporated). Add the water, the beet and the cloves. Bring water to a simmer, and lower the heat, cover, and simmer on medium low for about 30min until the quinoa is cooked. Fluff it with a fork, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Flavorful lentils

Sundays are days to cook staples for the week, for example lentils! Typically, I prefer beluga lentils or French lentils, because of their looks, color, and flavor but I still had a whole jar with regular plain old gray lentils. How to make them a bit tastier? Aromatics to the rescue (this recipes works for all kinds of lentils). Spike a peeled, half medium-sized onion with cloves, add a bay leaf and 2 garlic cloves, and cook for 30min until soften. Discard the onion, bay leaf and garlic. Delicious!

cooking_Lentils