Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mediterranean Flank Steak & Lemony Pasta With Greens

This was successful meal. And it felt fancy, but it's pretty simple to make. The pasta dish is completely vegetarian, and can be made as the main dish for non-meat eaters. I just decided to grill up a steak to go with it. It was a great compliment to the pasta and greens.

I had seen the recipe for the pasta on Cookie and Kate, while browsing the site one day. It looked yummy and healthy and simple. So, when I received some beautiful swiss chard in my CSA box, I knew it was time to make it happen.

I've also been trying to clean out my freezer, and came across a frozen flank steak. With all the turkey we've been eating, a nice steak sounded wonderful. I pulled it out and let it defrost.

The pasta dish is sort of Mediterranean, with pine nuts and citrus, topped with parmesan cheese. I searched the internet for Mediterranean steak marinades, and gathered ideas to make my own. This is what I put in mine:

Salt, pepper, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 3-4 tablespoons of roughly chopped rosemary (from my garden), the juice of one large lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and about 1 cup of red wine.

I let it chill in the refrigerator while I prepped everything for the pasta.

I took the white stem/rib off of each chard leaf, stacked them up, rolled them up and then chopped them into long thin ribbons, about 1/2 inch thick.

Then, in a large, empty sautee pan, I toasted about 1/8 cup of pine nuts. When they were fragrant and a little brown, I removed them from the pan and set them aside for later.

Then I added 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan and sprinkled in a pinch of red chili flakes. This infuses the spicy flavor into the oil and flavors the greens perfectly!

My pasta water was boiling, so I added the thin whole wheat spaghetti to the pot, and the greens to the pan, letting them cook at the same time.

As soon as the pasta was al dente, I added it to the greens and let them "get happy" (as Emeril LaGasse would say).

Meanwhile, I got the meat on the grill pan, letting it sear on each side for about 5 minutes. When it was firm to the touch and seared on both sides, I removed it from the heat and wrapped it in aluminum foil to rest and let the juices redistribute throughout the steak.

To plate, take some pasta and greens and top it with the toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Slice the flank steak against the grain, and garnish with a lemon wedge.

You will not regret this meal. It's fresh, and light, but filling at the same time. You could serve it with chicken breast or sweet Italian sausage instead of steak. You can make the pasta with spinach or collards instead of chard. Use what you have and enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup. Is it traditionally served at weddings in Italy? No. It's just a funny translation for minestra maritata, vegetables "married" to meat in a soup. Celeb chefs always talk about "letting flavors marry." That's what this soup is talking about. Let the greens love on those meatballs. Oh yeah.

I looked at my stash of veggies and saw the makings of a good hearty soup. Carrots, Swiss chard, leeks (yes, more leeks), celery. More ground turkey and barley I've been wanting to use came out of the refrigerator. Homemade chicken stock defrosted overnight. Soup time was here.

All I needed was a little help with a recipe. I found Ina Garten's (a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa) {recipe} on It sounded perfect to me. I was not disappointed.

You start by making the meatballs and baking them in the oven.

Then you start the soup base. Olive oil in the pot...

...then add your chopped veggies (everything but the leafy greens). Notice I used leeks in place of onion again. That's all I had...

Cook those down and add the stock, bringing it all to a boil. Add the barley or rice or little pasta (whatever you like).

Finish it off by adding the greens. I used chard, but you could use the traditional spinach or even collards. Then don't forget the meatballs. This is assuming you haven't eaten all of them before the soup was ready. They are really very delicious on their own. Trust me. I know.

Ladel out a bowl for you and yours. Top it with grated parmesan cheese. Eat. Repeat.

Happy cookin'!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Okay, friends. Brace yourselves. It's another yogurt recipe. I just can't stop. I'm addicted to baking with yogurt. Is there a support group out there for folks like me?

Just look at it, though. Doesn't it look scrumptious? It was. Like, seriously, for reals. So moist. So chocolate-y. So bananalicious. So nom-nom.

And might I add, pretty healthy?!?

I found the {recipe} on the web at 

This is how it looks in a greased loaf pan before the oven...

And, after!

Here's the recipe:
Healthier Yogurt Banana Bread via Sharon123 on
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (I used egg substitute)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (you can use 100% all-purpose flour if you want)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 T wheat germ
1 T wheat or oat bran (I used another tablespoon of wheat germ, because I didn't have the bran)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 bananas)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan (5x9) with cooking spray. You can also double the recipe and use a bundt pan if you'd like. Cream margarine/butter, applesauce, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, then add bananas, yogurt or sour cream, and nuts and chocolate chips if you choose. Bake for 1 hour or if using mini loaf pans, 45 minutes or until a toothpick goes in and comes out clean. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

I love the crusty outside and the amazingly moist inside and melted chocolate bits. Yum. You gotta try this. Happy bakin'!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf With A Twist

It's been a busy week of travel and then catching up with work stuff. It feels good to be back in blogland to share this fun recipe with you!

I don't know about you, but I really love meatloaf. It's one of those meals that is comforting and reminds me of my dad. When we were little he used to make this awesome meatloaf with chunky fresh vegetables and bacon on the top. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Can you hear my stomach growling?

The other day I was craving a good meatloaf. And when I get thinking about something, I don't rest until I get it done. I wanted to use the ground turkey I had thawing in the refrigerator and I also had a huge package of firm tofu that needed to be used. I wondered if it was possible to combine the two in a loaf. I mean, I suppose anything is possible, but would it be yummy?

It never ceases to amaze me - all the things you can find on the internet. I searched for tofu and turkey meatloaf and more than one recipe popped up. Nice!

Here's the recipe with my notes:

Glazed Tofu Meatloaf, adapted from
1-14oz. package of firm tofu (I used a little more than that)
2 lbs ground turkey (I used about 1.25 lbs)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1-1oz. packet of dry onion soup mix (I didn't have this, so I used 1tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
1/4 cup diced green pepper (I used leeks...surprise!)
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard
*I also added about 1/4 cup ketchup to the glaze
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9 inch baking dish (or whatever you have that's close) with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the tofu with a potato masher or with a fork.

Then add the turkey, bread crumbs (I cut up some old bread), spice mix, green pepper (or leeks!), and eggs. Combine thoroughly, but don't over mix. Spread the meal mixture into the pan evenly or shape into a loaf (either is fine).

In a small bowl, add the ingredients for the glaze. Wisk together until smooth. This mixture is pretty wet, so don't worry if it seems runny. Pour the glaze over the meatloaf.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180F.

Slice and enjoy! I served mine with pureed cauliflower and boiled cabbage. My husband didn't even know there was tofu in it and the glaze adds a great sweetness to it. It was really tasty and healthy. Next time you are wondering what to do with tofu, remember this recipe. :)  Happy cookin'!