Tag Archive | broccoli

so snowed in

Hello from snowy Massachusetts and happy February! Once again, I didn’t have class yesterday due to another snowstorm, but after a very late Super Bowl celebration (yay, Patriots!), it was much appreciated.  Who else is snowed in? We got over 3 feet early last week, and yesterday another foot (at least) was added to the pile…yuck!
IMG_0080IMG_0094IMG_0098

Clearly, I’m not impressed. Even though I’ve lived through these snowy, frigid New England winters my whole life, it doesn’t mean I have to like them! Anyway, being snowed in has its perks…I’ve gotten a little extra sleep, had some time to catch-up on homework and wedding to-do’s, and have had some extra time in the kitchen, which I never mind at all. However, on the flipside, the freezing cold temperatures outside always lead me to crave comfort foods, so lately I’ve been on the search for a few lightened-up versions of my favorites.

Last week, we were craving soup, so I made this corn chowder from one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats (the only changes I made were substituting-in unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk, cutting the potatoes down to 3 cups, and using turkey bacon in place of regular). This did NOT disappoint. It’s gluten & dairy-free, but full-of flavor. The cauliflower-based broth is genius, and using bagged hash-browns helps cut down on the preparation time!
IMG_0032IMG_0035

After the soup was devoured (and we froze some!) we got even more snow. Naturally, more snow meant more comfort food cravings, so a bowl of pasta did the trick.
IMG_0110
Contrary to belief, pasta doesn’t have to be considered a “cheat meal” or a “bad option”. It’s all about portions and choices. I’m hooked on brown rice pasta; it’s a good source of protein, fiber, it’s wheat-free, comes in a bunch of different shapes, and lastly it’s not mushy at all. I’ve found it in nearly every grocery store (recently I bought Tinkyada brand and I’d recommend it), and I’d chose it over white pasta in a heartbeat. My favorite thing to do when I am craving pasta is to steam or roast a bunch of broccoli and/or cauliflower (or any vegetable you prefer) and add it to my bowl as my “base”. Then, once cooked, I add my pasta, parmesan, and sauce/toppings. Adding an ample amount of vegetables to the base of the bowl helps fill me up without having to go overboard on the pasta, yet I still end up feeling completely satisfied when the meal is done.
m1

Lastly, for the Superbowl, I made these mini-garlic monkey breads (I made them on New Year’s, too). They were a hit at both parties, and are incredibly addicting. If you need a simple party recipe, make these! I altered the recipe only by using a different method for cooking the dough: I cut each biscuit into quarters, and then added the dough into muffin tins by pressing 5-6 pieces into each tin and then placing one additional piece of dough in the middle on top. (I did this instead of tying them into knots). Either way will work!

IMG_1161IMG_1163IMG_1165IMG_1172

I’m off to class; I hope you all have a terrific start to February!

What’s your favorite comfort-food?
Anyone else snowed in?
What’s your favorite way to spend your day if you’re stuck inside?
I love lounging in pj’s and baking!

Lightened-up Fettucine With Broccoli

Hey there, how’s your week going? Anyone else excited for the long weekend? I am psyched for two extra days off from classes and more importantly, Easter!(Does anyone else think that the best part of Easter are the millions of chocolate bunnies sold everywhere, or is it just me? I may or may not have a slight obsession with Easter candy). Although this is my first Easter away from my family,  one of my best friends from home just sent me a giant package full of my favorite American Easter treats, so at the moment I don’t feel so far away. Thanks Sar! Just look at this package:
IMG_1675
I sure have eaten my fair share of m&m’s this week…yikes! Although I know I could happily survive  living off of  Easter candy, I have been eating and cooking other things to balance all of that chocolate out, and lightened-up fettuccine alfredo with broccoli  is one of them.

You might be thinking: light fettuccine? Not possible. Guess what? Possible! Thanks to my unbelievable  Mom, this recipe has been in our family for years now. I’ve been eating this for as long as I can remember, and it seems to get better every time. Its creamy consistency and rich flavor might make you think this dish is indulgent, but it’s truly light in both fat and calories, which is a win-win in my opinion. The best part is that you can customize this dish any way you like. I prefer broccoli in my pasta dishes, so that’s what I added to the pasta base. However, if you prefer cauliflower, peppers, peas, corn, zucchinis, or another vegetable, just steam them up and throw them in. It’s your pick!

For an additional punch of protein, I breaded and baked chicken breasts and then sliced the chicken on top of each portion. This is totally optional, but it added some additional staying power to the dish. Brandon ate the leftovers 3 days in a row…looks like a winner to me!

Lightened-up Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli
IMG_1743
Ingredients
1 T Margarine
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 T Flour
1 1/3 cup skim milk ( you may need more, but add gradually).
2T light cream cheese
1 ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups whole wheat pasta (this time, I used rotini)
1 –2 heads of broccoli, steamed(or your vegetable of choice)
2 baked & breaded chicken breasts (optional)

Directions:
1) Boil your water for the pasta in a large saucepan. If adding a vegetable, chop it up and steam, then set aside. Once the water is boiling, add pasta.

2) Next in a medium saucepan, melt the margarine, then add the garlic and sauté for one minute.
IMG_1729

3) Stir in flour, and gradually add milk a small portion at a time, waiting until it thickens each time, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. (As you can see, I got some help in the stirring department!)
IMG_1730IMG_1731IMG_1732IMG_1733
4) Cook this for 8 minutes, or until thick.
IMG_1734

5) Stir in cream cheese, and cook for 2 minutes.

6) Add 1 cup parmesan cheese, and stir it until melted and smooth.
IMG_1735IMG_1736
7) Once your pasta is cooked and drained, place it back into the large saucepan and pour the sauce over the hot pasta, tossing well to coat. Add your vegetable(s) to the mixture and stir. Portion into bowls or dinner plates, and top with remaining ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
IMG_1738IMG_1739IMG_1740
8) Lastly, if using chicken, slice and add it to each portion.
IMG_1744
This is one of those meals that made me want to keep eating, and eating, and eating. I forced myself to put the leftovers in a container and close the fridge after my second helping…it’s that good!

Do you have a favorite “lightened-up” pasta dish?

A rockin’ risotto

Happy weekend, all! Gosh, where does the time go? I for one was thrilled for Friday to come around. Not only did I finish my first week of classes, but I also completed my two massive final projects for my  health professionals research class. I can not even explain how excited I was to pass those in. In my four years at Bryant U., I don’t ever remember having such time consuming projects! I celebrated with a glass of well-deserved wine and a homemade pizza. It was just what I wanted!
IMG_1428IMG_1449

Know what else is perfect? Homemade risotto. Last Sunday, Brandon mentioned he had a craving for a cheesy risotto. Cheesy risotto? Yes please, he didn’t have to tell me twice! However, I prefer risotto with something other than just cheese, so we added vegetables, a source of protein, and cheese into our Sunday night risotto recipe. For vegetables,  we included broccoli, mushrooms and onion; for protein, grilled chicken; and for the star-of-the-show, parmesan cheese. I think the key to any creamy risotto is to be consistent with stirring, so make sure when you make this that you have the time to stay by the stove and stir, stir, stir! Trust me, it may seem tedious to stand over the stove for 20-25 minutes and stir, but it’s truly worth it once you take your first bite!

I adapted my all-time favorite Cooking Light Risotto recipe to include our ingredients of choice, and it turned out just as we hoped. You’ll notice that this recipe only uses one cup of rice, but believe me, you will have leftovers, and leftovers of risotto=bliss!
IMG_1407

Parmesan Chicken, Broccoli & Mushroom Risotto
Inspired by March 2010’s Cooking Light

Ingredients:
4 Cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 T butter
½ cup chopped onion
1.5 tsp. minced garlic, divided
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
2-3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms ( I used pre-cut white mushrooms)
1 large head of broccoli
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2 grilled or baked chicken breasts, chopped

Directions:
1) In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a simmer, then keep warm over low heat.
2) While your broth is simmering, prepare your vegetables by washing and chopping the broccoli, mushrooms, and onion, and then set them aside for the time being.  I steamed the broccoli in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and set it aside, so that step was complete!
3) Now in a separate skillet, melt your butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp. garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Now add the  rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
IMG_1396IMG_1397IMG_1399
4) Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in ½ cup broth; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes). Set aside. *Tip: I kept the broth right next to the simmering rice so that it was super simple to ladle the broth right into the mixture, and there’s less chance of spilling!*
IMG_1402IMG_1403
5) Now spray butter spray on a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, and sauté until tender. Add the remaining garlic.  
6)Lastly, stir the cooked mushrooms, broccoli, chicken, ¼ cup cheese, and pepper into risotto; cook for 3 minutes on low heat. Serve, and sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired.
IMG_1404IMG_1407

Doesn’t it look yummy? Brandon took the duty of cooking the chicken while I stirred the risotto, and I was grateful for the help!  I do think it would be easiest to have your chicken cooked before you start the risotto, but it’s not a requirement. This dish is filling, yet healthy; just a little cheese goes a long way! Only 1/4 cup in the entire batch, and you can taste it in every bite. We ate ours with a side salad, and it was the perfect Sunday meal. Hope you try this tonight! 

Do you like risotto? If so, what are your favorite risotto ingredients?

BRAND NEW BROCCOLI

Happy Wednesday to all! This is my last week of “summer vacation” before I start in as a full-time student in Australia, so I’ve been trying to cook as much as possible this week. However, with temperatures consistently around 35 degrees Celsius (that is high 90’s Fahrenheit!), cooking has become somewhat of a challenge. I don’t particularly enjoy standing over a hot stove in those temperatures. It basically looks like I went for a run and can’t cool down…it isn’t pretty.  Thank the lord for air conditioning. It has been my savior this week for cooking because without it, I may have served up cereal bowls all week for dinner, with a dish of ice-cream on the side! Hmmm…that doesn’t sound so bad! Note to self…that goes on the dinner menu next week  : – )

Anyway, instead of succumbing to the heat, I sat in the AC and searched Pinterest for some meal inspiration incorporating broccoli. Broccoli was on sale this week, and while we had steamed broccoli one night, I wanted to mix it up later in the week. Mix-it up we did! Not surprisingly, I stumbled upon a Pinterest recipe that I fell in love with. I adapted it slightly from the original recipe found on this amazing blog: Smitten Kitchen.  I feel fortunate that, thanks to my Mom’s healthy habits, I’ve always been a vegetable lover.  I rarely get tired of eating vegetable options like carrot sticks and dip, steamed cauliflower, green beans, summer squash, etc. But sometimes, I want something a bit more exciting. Enter in: Broccoli Parmesan Fritter Cakes. All you’ll need is one bunch of broccoli, parmesan cheese, flour, one egg, and a few spices for this winning side dish. So much more exciting than plain old steamed broccoli!

Broccoli Parmesan Fritter Cakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
w.broc
Ingredients
1 medium bunch of fresh broccoli (about 3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 fresh garlic clove, minced)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Several grinds of black pepper
Olive oil for frying
Cooking Spray

Directions
1) Prepare your broccoli by washing it under running water, and then chopping it into 1-inch chunks. Don’t throw out the stem, you can use it if you want (I did). To prepare the stems,  slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total once you’re finished.
IMG_1133

2) Now steam the broccoli until tender, but not mushy. I boiled water on the stove and steamed mine for 5-6 minutes. Once steamed, drain the broccoli and set it aside to cool slightly.

3) While the broccoli is steaming, grab a large mixing bowl and lightly beat the egg with a fork or whisk. Add in the flour,  parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and stir it together.
IMG_1134IMG_1135

4) Then, add the semi-cooled broccoli and use a potato masher to mash the broccoli just a bit. You don’t want to completely mash it up, but the chunks should be small enough  so that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter formation in the pan. Once you’ve mashed the broccoli a bit, stir the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Add more salt/pepper if necessary.
IMG_1136IMG_1137

5) Now heat a large skillet over moderate heat on the stove. Spray with cooking spray, and add one TBSP of olive oil and swirl around. Once the oil is hot and your pan is greased, scoop up a mound of the batter (I used a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup to help me form the fritter cakes) and drop it into the pan.  Then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Each scoop of batter should be about 2-3 tablespoons in size (mine were a little too big, so it made less fritters. The smaller the mound of batter, the more fritters you’ll get!) Continue to repeat this method with the additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each mound in the pan. Let them cook on one side until they are browned underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip each fritter carefully and cook on the other side until equally cooked, for a few more minutes.
IMG_1140IMG_1142

6) Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain and cool, and then serve.
IMG_1145IMG_1148

We ate our fritters with ketchup as a dipping sauce, as a side dish with homemade pizza and salad, however, the sauce you use and whether you eat this as a side dish or main dish is up to you.  I bet a cheese sauce, ranch dressing, or even eating them plain would be delicious. The good news is, we had leftovers so I got to try these cold and on top of salad greens the next day. They were just as delicious. I hope you like this “brand new broccoli” as much as we did!

w.broc