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Cheesy Farro-Broccoli Bake

April 14, 2014

Cheesy Farro Broccoli Bake 2 | Espresso and Cream

Let’s be honest, the amount of cooking that’s been going on in our house lately has been minimal. But as life slowly transitions back to “normal” (and no, it still doesn’t feel normal if you really want to know) it feels good to do things that come naturally, to create something out of raw ingredients and nourish the body. Plus, eating take-out and snack-y type foods can only keep you going for a certain amount of time. Sometimes you just have to get in the kitchen and cook.

I didn’t grow up in a house where we ate a lot of casseroles, and consequently I don’t cook a lot of casseroles to this day. However, there is something about being able to toss all your ingredients together and throw it in the oven when hunger strikes that I find so comforting. Dinner is ready when you need it to be, cheesy and comforting and semi-healthy, too, minus the cheese part. The cheese is absolutely not healthy, but makes this dish taste amazing.

My favorite use for a casserole is to make it on Sunday and have lunches for Joe to take to work for the rest of the week. I grilled up a package of chicken breasts and made this casserole, then divided the chicken and casserole among four containers, a complete meal ready to be tossed into a lunch container when we’re busy and running out the door in the morning.

Cheesy Farro Broccoli Bake 1 | Espresso and Cream

Cheesy Farro-Broccoli Bake
Recipe type: Side Dish/Vegetarian Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Make this dish a meal by topping with grilled or baked chicken breasts.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup farro, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, blanched
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese, divided
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup 2% or full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate or square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the all the ingredients until well-combined. Spoon mixture into baking dish.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.
  4. Alternate method: If you're looking for a more traditional casserole-type dish, I would suggest substituting the Greek yogurt for a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.

Chopped Green Salad Wrap

January 26, 2012
I’ve received a lot of questions from readers about what I pack for lunches and snacks when I go to work each day. I’m not going to lie, I struggle just as much as the next person. But since I would much rather spend money going out to eat with my husband on date nights, taking a packed lunch and snacks is the norm. 
A few of my favorite snacks being:
          *Lara Bars (cashew cookie, peanut butter cookie, apple pie, and pb&j being my favorites)
          *Cliff Bars (peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia and carrot cake being my favorites)
          *Greek yogurt and canned pumpkin with a dollop of peanut butter
          *Apples or pears with a few slices of cheese
          *Sugar-free applesauce with granola 
Lunch, on the other hand, is much less predictable. Sometimes I’ll tote along leftovers from dinner the night before. Other times I’ll make a quick salad with quinoa and veggies or a salad topped with lentils and feta cheese. 
This week I was looking through my fridge, trying to get inspired, and saw we had whole wheat tortillas, lettuce, pesto, feta cheese and broccoli. Never one to be a fan of raw broccoli, I found that chopping the broccoli into small pieces and tossing it with the other ingredients helped to ward off the raw flavor that I typically dislike. 
The wrap was super tasty and satisfying. So if you’re looking for a new addition to your workday meals, I would totally give this a try.
Chopped Green Salad Wrap 
Ingredients
*1/2 cup Romaine lettuce, chopped 
*1/4 to 1/3 cup raw broccoli florets, finely chopped
*1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
*1 1/2 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette or other fruit vinaigrette of your choice
*1 tablespoon purchased pesto 
*Cracked black pepper 
*1 whole wheat tortilla 
Instructions
*In a small bowl, combine the lettuce, broccoli, feta cheese, vinaigrette, pesto and black pepper. Toss to combine all ingredients evenly. Spoon mixture onto tortilla. Enjoy!
Happy Cooking!
Madison

Everyday Broccoli

April 7, 2011

Alright, I’ll admit it. I don’t eat broccoli every single day, but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a week in the past year that I didn’t eat broccoli at least once. Call me crazy, but aside from fresh green beans, broccoli is my absolute favorite veggie.

So much so that I ate the entire four cups of Everyday Broccoli for dinner last night.

And if you are reading this thinking about how much you dislike broccoli, I will make you a bet that if you try broccoli my way, you’ll change your mind.

Give it a try. I dare you.

Everyday Broccoli

*4 cups broccoli florets
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*Kosher salt
*1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese
*Cracked black pepper

Instructions
*Preheat oven to 425°F. Place broccoli on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss slightly to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
*Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking. During the last two minutes of cooking, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm.

Happy Cooking!


Madison

Broccoli-Raisin Salad

May 27, 2010
After three days of blistering hot and humid weather, I’m convinced Iowans are a very discontent group of individuals. Weather here is hardly ever deemed pleasant or even satisfactory,which I believe is a combination of outlook and cold hard facts. It seems Iowa is a bit of an extremist state in matters of the weather. My two favorite seasons, spring and fall, get only slight acknowledgment because Iowa prefers to vacillate between the dead of winter and the peak of summer. Being half Floridian, I hardly mind the occasional humid day; in fact it makes me feel at home, but I have yet to find another Iowan who shares my enthusiasm for humidity. 

So even though the calendar is telling me it’s still weeks away the weather tells me summer is here to stay. The soup I was planning to make has been shelved and the recipes using winter squash but a distant memory. Instead my mind and my tastes have switched to lighter fare, summer food, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

Like many during the summer, my appetite changes when warm weather comes knocking at the door. I am not saying my appetite goes missing (I always want to eat!). It’s more the what of eating that changes. This salad, for example, is the epitome of summer eating Espresso and Cream style. Light and bright, sweet and salty. Served cold. With raisins for sweetness, broccoli and walnuts for crunch, and feta cheese for, well, overall deliciousness and salty contrast this salad hits the spot. I’ll leave it at that.

In case you need a reminder, mayonnaise and I have a bit of a strained relationship and for a long time I thought I didn’t like pasta or veggie salads – that is, until I started making them myself. Substituting Greek yogurt for what would normally be mayonnaise is an easy, healthy swap, measuring cup-for-cup like mayonnaise but with fewer calories and loads of protein. If, however, mayonnaise happens to be your thing, the bread-and-butter of your salad eating existence, then by all means use mayonnaise, because life is too short to not eat what you love.

Broccoli-Raisin Salad 
(Printable Recipe)
Ingredients:
*5 to 6 cups broccoli florets
*1 (7-oz.) container 2% Greek Yogurt (may substitute mayonnaise if desired)
*1/4 cup olive oil
*1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. regular table salt)
*1 tsp. cumin
*2 Tbsp. honey mustard
*2 Tbsp. lemon juice
*1/4 tsp. black pepper
*3/4 cup raisins
*1/2 cup chopped walnuts
*4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Instructions:
*Place broccoli in a large saucepan with 3 cups of salted water. Bring to boiling and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from stove top and strain. Run cold water over the broccoli and strain again to stop the cooking process. Transfer broccoli to a large bowl and set aside.
*Whisk together the Greek yogurt, olive oil, salt, cumin, honey mustard, lemon juice, and black pepper.
*Add the raisins, walnuts, and feta cheese to the bowl with the broccoli. Drizzle the dressing on top of the broccoli mixture and toss to coat evenly. Serve cold.

Happy Cooking!

Madison

Green Goddess Pasta

December 12, 2009


There’s something undeniably sexy about pasta of any and every sort. In my opinion, it’s the sexiest of all foods, far surpassing the usual suspects: oysters, caviar, champagne. Maybe it’s because for me pasta has always been a bit of a ‘forbidden’ food. But truly, pasta can be delicious and healthy. Case in point? Green Goddess Pasta.

The base of this dish is 100% whole wheat spinach pasta, but any pasta would work just fine. One of my favorite tricks for stretching pasta is adding a bit of zucchini to the mix. Long, thin strips of zucchini made with a vegetable peeler, then sauteed in a bit of olive oil and tossed in with the pasta adds a mix of textures and tastes, and is a great trick for getting picky eaters to consume some extra veggies.


But the real star of this dish is the sauce. I’ve posted before on pesto made with a broccoli base. Growing up in a small town where fresh herbs cost an arm and a leg meant pesto was more a luxury than a staple, so using broccoli as the base makes it affordable for everyone. This version of broccoli pesto is adapted for pasta with a creamier texture and a bit more milk added in, serving as a luxurious sauce disguising how truly healthy it is. The amount given in this recipe is enough to serve 4-6 plus leftovers – meaning I have a lot of broccoli pesto sitting in my fridge.

Ingredients
*2 heads broccoli florets, steamed
*2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
*1 tsp. salt
*1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
*2 cloves garlic, chopped
*1/4 cup slivered almonds
*1/2 tsp. black pepper
*2 Tbsp. olive oil
*1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

Instructions
*Combine all the above ingredients in a food processor 2-3 minutes, scraping sides twice. Pesto will be almost smooth, with slight texture.
*Toss pesto with 1 lb. of spinach pasta or other pasta of choice. Add additional milk of a creamier texture is desired.

Happy Cooking!

Madison

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