Archive for the ‘What Gemma Eats’ Category

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Asparagus, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

So yeah. I haven’t been here in a while. Life is a strange thing that often gets in the way of a lot of other things. We went on a West Coast vacation in July, Gemma started preschool in August, I started teaching two Zumba classes a week at our Y, Jake has worked on two Mark Wahlberg movies and is now back on the final season of Breaking Bad, there were debates and an election that merited wine-filled viewing (and victory!) parties, and I’ve been doing freelance language work while working steadily on getting my freelance translation business up and running. These are all good and happy things, but it’s been a busy few months chez nous. The blog (as well as my creativity in the kitchen) has definitely suffered, but I’m back. Because of Jake’s long hours, I’m back to working on dishes that can be put together in advance and popped in the oven or slow cooker when the time is right. I’ve made the dish that follows several times in the past few months, and I haven’t gotten tired of it! I usually make it with chopped spinach, but I didn’t have any the other night. I did, however, have a beautiful bunch of asparagus, so into the mix it went. Remember:  this whole thing can be put together well in advance (I think I’ve even done it the day before) and refrigerated until it’s time to get it in the oven!

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Asparagus, and Sun Dried Tomatoes
adapted from Pink Parsley

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 1 bag/12 oz baby spinach finely chopped)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1.5-2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 lb pasta shapes, such as rotini or medium shells
  • 1 small log (4-5 ounces) of goat cheese
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 cup)

*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

*Toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper.

*Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet, and roast for 6 minutes.

*Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water, until just shy of al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

*Soften the goat cheese in a large bowl (microwave for 30 seconds if needed) and season with salt and pepper

*Stir in the roasted asparagus until it is all incorporated. If you’re using spinach, use the heat from the cheese to wilt the greens.

*Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, and transfer the pasta to the cheese mixture.

*Mix the pasta with the cheese until melted.

*Add the cooking water, just a bit at a time, until the sauce has thinned, but it’s not watery.

*Stir in the sun dried tomatoes, and check seasonings.

*Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish, add the pasta mixture, then top with the grated Parmesan.

*Bake 20 minutes, until the pasta is golden and bubbly.

photo (1)

This is one of our new go-to meals. The goat cheese feels decadent without adding the unwanted fat and calories of a cream sauce, and you can feel good about yourself with all of the veggies that are stuffed in there. I plan on trying it with artichoke hearts in the near future!


French Lentil Salad

I’m not sure I have a whimsical anecdote to go along with this post, but lets see what I can manage…

I’m tired in the evenings when we get home from the gym, and if Jake isn’t around to wrangle Gemma while I cook something up, my dinnertime ends up being somewhere around 9:30pm.  That’s usually about the time I decide that a bowl of cheese puffs and a big glass of wine will do because who the hell wants to cook right before they go to bed??  Not me.  It has been getting warmer here in the ABQ, which makes cooking even less palatable.  (Jake made a pizza on Monday night and having the oven on made me feel like I was back in my Bikram Yoga days.  Seriously.  Sweating.  To.  Death.)  I’ve been playing around with different kinds of cold salads that I can prepare earlier in the day (hopefully during a 3 hour nap) and have waiting for me in the fridge after the gym and after I’ve gotten my Schizophrenic Toddler Terrorist down for the night.  This is one of those salads.

French Lentil Salad

Adapted from French Vegetarian Cooking:  A Step By Step Guide


*1 1/2 cups Le Puy lentils (you can always use another brown or green lentil, but the Le Puy have a great flavor!)

*2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (still essentially whole)

*Champagne Vinaigrette (Combine 1 heaping tbsp of mustard with about 3 tbsp champagne vinegar.  Stream 1/4 of olive oil into the mixture while whisking steadily.  Salt and pepper to taste.)

*Several sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, minced

To Make:

*Simmer the lentils and the garlic cloves in a large, uncovered pot of water for 25-35 minutes (until the lentils are tender).

*Remove the garlic cloves after about 15 minutes.

*Prepare the Champagne Vinaigrette in a large serving bowl.

*Add the parsley to the vinaigrette.

*When the lentils are ready, drain off the liquid and add them to the vinaigrette.

*Gently incorporate the lentils with the vinaigrette and parsley and adjust seasonings to your taste.

*Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Survey Says:

This is incredibly easy and incredibly good!  Gemma ate it for dinner last night with her beloved tomatoes (the dish pictured above is hers) and loved it.  Just give it a try.  You’ll like it.  I promise.  There’s something about the vinaigrette with the lentils that is just so perfect!  It’s definitely hearty enough to stand on its own as the main part of your meal, but could also be a great side!

Swiss Chard with White Beans and Tomatoes…(and the Zombie Apocalypse)

I seem to have a neverending supply of Swiss chard in my garden. It didn’t die during the truly freezing temps this winter or during the freak Spring snowstorm that hit a few weeks ago after many days in the 70s and 80s. Yeah, so I can’t manage to grow tomatoes under perfect conditions, but chard?? Sure. Whatever. Good thing it’s so good and will obviously still be around to feed us all when the Zombie Apocalypse* finally rolls around.

Apocalypic chard: saving you from zombies since 2011.

Swiss Chard with White Beans and Tomatoes


*1 bunch of Swiss chard (or whatever other hearty green you might have)

*1 can (or equivalent) white beans

*7 oz grape tomatoes, halved

*2 tbsp olive oil

*5 cloves garlic, minced or grated

*Splash of white wine or vegetable broth

*Salt and pepper, to taste

To Make:

*Heat oil in a large pan & add garlic.

*When garlic is just barely fragrant, add the greens & saute until they cook down.

*Add beans & tomatoes, salt & pepper and incorporate thoroughly.

*Here’s where you can splash in your wine or stock to make sure the mixture isn’t too dry.

*Simmer until heated through & you’ve achieved your desired consistency. (I usually let mine go for at least 25-30 minutes while I work on getting Gemma to bed)

Survey Says:

This has turned out to be a fantastic way to use up the Swiss chard!  Gemma asks for seconds every time she has leftovers for lunch.


*Some people think that having boats or weapons or huge stashes of food or toothpaste or deodorant or gold or power washers is going to save them from zombies. I, however, believe Swiss chard is the key. You can thank me later by not tearing me to bits when you turn into a zombie.  Is it that obvious that I’ve been immersed in The Bloggess’ book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”?  Seriously.  We should probably just pretend that this blog post never happened.


When Pants Chooses Her Dinner

Because Gemma eats before we go to the gym in the evening, she often has leftovers of what Jake and I eat the night before. It’s still working out pretty well for us. Tonight I asked if she wanted pizza (homemade and leftover from last night). She said “No thank you Mom.” I asked if she wanted Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup. Same answer. When I asked if she wanted tortellini, she said “Yes, please Mom.” Here’s the meal she asked for.

Spinach tortellini, peas, feta cheese, and mini heirloom tomatoes.

Seems pretty happy with her choices, doesn't she?

Marinara con Lenticchie (because everything’s better in Italian)

So yeah…ummm…I haven’t been here for a while.  I started the new year full of grand plans and goals, and I’ve stuck with some of them.  I’ve been doing a Push-up Challenge where I started with 1 push-up on January 1st and I’m up to 65 as of today (March 5).  By Zumbaing (yes, it’s a verb) 5 days a week and being more mindful of what I eat (most of the time) I’ve managed to banish the last few pounds that were sticking around from France and Italy.  I’m using my yogurt maker to make yogurt and I haven’t bought canned beans since I figured out how to make them in the slow cooker.  The blog, however has been neglected as the cold weather sunk in around the ABQ and Jake, Gemma, and I craved our tried and true recipes rather than being more adventurous in the kitchen.  The unexpected death of a good friend on Valentine’s Day shook our little world, and I proceeded to eat and drink my feelings for several days in a row.  Fun fact:  did you know that my feelings happen to taste like red chile and white wine??  What do your feelings taste like?

But I’m back.  At least I’m trying to be back.  On Friday I willed myself to be motivated to cook something new, and you know what??  It worked!  The sauce that follows is another great way to break away from plain old marinara sauce.  I give you…

Marinara con Lenticchie (Lentil Marinara)

adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles


*1 tablespoon oil
*9 garlic cloves, minced or grated
*¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
*¼ cup red wine
*1 can (28 oz) tomato puree (or your favorite variety of tomato)
*8 ounces brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
*1 cup water (this was for a thicker sauce, but please add more to reach the consistency you want!)
*salt to taste

To Make:

*Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

*Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

*Add the wine to release (with scraping) any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

*Add the remaining ingredients and turn heat up to medium-high.

*Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low.

*Cook for 60-75 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the lentils are tender and the sauce is at your desired consistency.

Beacuse even movie stars have to eat dinner.

And let's all marvel once again at the TERRIBLE lighting in my house!

Survey Says:

Gemma and I really enjoyed this sauce (and she’s having leftovers for dinner tonight)!!!  The lentils add good texture, great taste, and awesome nutrition!  I made mine thicker so as to avoid any major sauce related accidents on Gemma’s part.  If you like a thinner sauce, by all means, use some extra water.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

We need to go to the grocery store.  Like bad.  Like probably three days ago.  Oh well.  We have tons of pasta and beans, as well as a fair supply of wine, but not much else.  We don’t even have yogurt right now because one of the little jars for the machine has mysteriously disappeared in our 1150 square foot mansion.  Good thing I ordered a whole new set of jars from Amazon (so I can make multiple batches) the other day and that set has an extra jar!!  I bet the cat stole it…she’s always out to get me.  There is no pizza dough (although there are two pieces of leftover green olive and garlic pizza that we ordered last night because neither Jake nor I wanted anything to do with cooking), there is very little cheese, and there is not a bit of romaine or spinach with which to make a salad.  I did notice this morning, however, that there was an unloved cauliflower and bag of broccoli florets languishing in our crisper.   What to do?  What to do?  And the answer is SOUP!!  My love for roasted cauliflower is no secret, but I’ve never roasted broccoli before.  I wanted something simple, easy, and that would highlight the flavors of these two vegetables.  I cobbled this soup together from two recipes that I found online (cited below–check them out…they look good) and my Roasted Curried Cauliflower Soup.  What follows is what came out of my need to feed my family and use up some very nearly past their prime vegetables!

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Inspired by The Vegan Yogi and The Italian Dish


*1 head (smallish) cauliflower

*1 12 oz bag (or 1 head) broccoli

*3 tablespoons olive oil

*6-8 cloves of garlic

*4 cups vegetable broth

*1 medium potato

*Salt and pepper to taste

(*2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast Seasoning–optional–adds a nutty and slightly cheesy flavor)

To Make:

*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

*Cut both the cauliflower and broccoli into manageable florets.

*Toss veggies and garlic in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

*Spread onto a baking sheet, and when oven is ready roast for 30-40 minutes. (I check them about 20 minutes in to toss them again and make sure that they are roasting as evenly as possible)

*While veggies are roasting, chop the potato and add it and the vegetable broth to a stockpot.

*Bring to a boil, and then let simmer.

*Once the vegetables are roasted and tender, add them to the pot with the broth and potato.

*Add the Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, if using.

*Cook like this for 10 minutes.

*After 10 minutes, blend with an immersion blender until you reach your desired texture.

*Cook on low for another 10 minutes and then serve.

Survey Says:

This is fantastic!  Super-filling and tasty!  Gemma gobbled up her bowl, as did Jake and I!  It’s definitely not pretty, but it is a main course kind of soup that would be great with a simple salad.  So there you have it.  I managed to feed the family without making a trip to the store.  But we seriously have to go tomorrow.  We’re out of coffee and coffee filters.  Coffee trumps food every time.

Baked Panettone French Toast

Panettone is one of those holiday items that pops up right around Thanksgiving every year!  I didn’t buy one for a long time because they traditionally have bits of candied fruit in them and that’s just something that I’m not a fan of.  A few years ago, however, I started seeing chocolate chip versions in the store and I couldn’t resist.  What does one do, however, with a big loaf of chocolate chip bread?  I don’t really have a sweet tooth, so it would sit around and get stale as I worked on it a little bit at a time.  This year I resolved to not let my panettone go unloved and went on a search for an easy casserole recipe that I could put together the night before.  I found it!  I assembled the casserole before our New Year’s Eve guests arrived so it would be ready to pop into the oven whenever we managed to crawl out of bed the next day!

Baked Panettone French Toast

adapted from Parents Need to Eat Too


*1 large loaf chocolate chip panettone, halved vertically and sliced about ¾” thin

*4 egg whites

*4 whole eggs

*2 cups milk

*2 splashes of vanilla extract

*pinch of salt, 2 dashes of cinnamon, and 3 pinches of unsweetened cocoa powder

To Make:

*Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray and layer the panettone slices into it. (Don’t be afraid to manhandle them a bit to get them in there!  My whole loaf fit into my 9×13 baking dish)

*In a large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

*Pour evenly over the panettone.

*Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the tray, oil-side down (the casserole puffs as it cooks so this will help keep it from sticking).

*Refrigerate overnight. About 90 minutes before you plan to eat, turn on the oven to 350.

*Remove tray from the fridge while the oven warms up and when it  reaches 350, put in the French toast (still covered with aluminum) and bake for 45 minutes.

*After 45 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Survey Says:

Delicious and so incredibly easy!!  I put a little bit of butter on mine, but I think (in my non-sweet tooth opinion) that syrup or powdered sugar would be complete overkill and mute the subtleties of the panettone.  I used the cocoa powder to complement the chocolate, but the original recipe calls for orange juice in conjunction with the candied fruit.  This would also be great with brioche or any dense bread.

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