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Triple Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

Triple Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

Triple mushroom and truffle risotto is my contribution to Final FantaFeast February, being hosted by Pixelated Provisions.  This month’s Fandom Foodies theme is all about the Final Fantasy video game.  So full disclosure here – I haven’t actually played Final Fantasy.  However, my husband is hooked on Final Fantasy XV, which is the most recent of the Final Fantasy series.  I watch sometimes as he plays, peeking over my I-Pad as I watch the latest episode of Top Chef, and have thought it looks interesting.  But not interesting enough for me to put down the I-Pad or the latest book I’m reading.

I am, however, fascinated by the role food plays in the game.  One of the characters, Ignis, is the chef for the group and throughout the game, players can unlock various recipes, as well as go to the market, and forage for food.  Uh yeah – that’s an awesome part of the game as far as I’m concerned. When Fandom Foodies put out the schedule of themes for this year and I saw Final FantaFeast February, I immediately started looking for the foods that Ignis cooks in the game.  And when I saw Triple Truffle Risotto, there was no going back.

So the top image is from the game and the bottom is my triple mushroom and truffle recipe.  Since I didn’t have access to funguar, alstrooms, and Saxham rice (all the ingredients to make the dish in the game), I opted to go with a mix of mushrooms for the triple part, as well as some truffle oil and truffle cheese.  I would have gone full out triple truffle, but $21 for truffle salt at Trader Joe’s was a bit out of even my this-food-is-for-my-blog-cost comfort zone.  I love the combination of mushrooms though – some maitakes, some oyster mushrooms, and some creminis.  Feel free to substitute out any combination of mushrooms here – this would be lovely with chanterelles when they are in season, as well as morels, and so on.

Risotto takes a bit of time to make – I usually schedule about an hour from start to finish, as I like to baby it along.  A long slow simmer of the rice and stock is the key to a lush creamy risotto.  I also tossed in a cipollini onion – and honestly, if you can find these in your market, I encourage you to use one to make this dish.  Cipollinis become caramel rich when they are cooked (and even better – when they are cooked in butter), making them a perfect complement to the mushrooms.

triple mushroom truffle risotto

triple mushroom truffle risotto

triple mushroom truffle risotto

I think my triple mushroom and truffle recipe would do Ignis proud.

Triple Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

Ingredients

    For the mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 types of mushrooms, chopped. (About 2 cups of mushrooms, total)
  • 1/4 cup white wine or dry Vermouth
  • For the risotto
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine or dry Vermouth
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup truffle cheese, grated (or Parmesan or Asiago cheese)
  • Truffle oil to finish

Instructions

    For the mushrooms
  1. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the diced onion and saute until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute for a minute. Add the white wine or dry Vermouth and salt, and saute until all the liquid has cooked off. Set aside.
  2. For the risotto
  3. In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable or chicken stock to a simmer. Leave simmering.
  4. Meanwhile, melt two tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent. Add the Arborio rice and cook for a minute, stirring frequently. Add the white wine or dry Vermouth and stir until it is incorporated in the rice/onion mixture.
  5. Add the simmering stock, 1 cup at a time. Cook on a low simmer between each addition until the stock is mostly absorbed. This will take anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes. Continue to do this until all the stock is used and the risotto is al dente. Take off the heat and add the cheese and salt. Stir to incorporate. Add a dash of truffle oil.
  6. Portion into bowls and top each bowl with the mushroom mix. Enjoy!
  7. Serves 4
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This recipe is linked to Meatless Monday, hosted by Deborah (Confessions of a Mother Runner) and Sarah (A Whisk and Two Wands).  Take a look at the great recipes being linked!

Confessions of a Mother Runner

 

 

 

 

 

It’s also hanging out with some other really wonderful recipes on #CookBlogShare at EasyPeasieFoodie.

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Baby Kale Salad with Bitter Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Baby Kale Salad with Bitter Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Did I promise no more blood orange recipes?  I hope not – though I really do think this baby kale salad with bitter blood orange vinaigrette is my absolute last recipe with blood oranges until next year.  Maybe.

Regardless, if you happen to have blood oranges on hand that need a purpose, one of the easiest things to do with them is to salt preserve them.  Blood oranges impart the salt brine with a lovely rose hue.  The salted blood oranges themselves are more subtle than a lemon and infuse a salty-citrus flavor to a dish.  Just a quick salted citrus tutorial: take your blood orange (or lemon or other citrus) and make cuts to quarter the orange.  Don’t cut all the way through – you’ll want to leave the orange attached at the bottom.  Fan your orange out and add salt.  Gather the orange up around the salt.  In a pint jar, layer about 1/2 inch of salt at the bottom.  Add your salted orange and push down with the end of a wooden spoon.  Add another layer of salt and then do the same with another orange.  Add another layer of salt and another orange if you can.  Layer with salt at the top.  If you don’t have quite enough salt/juice to cover the top blood orange, you can add a bit of filtered water to top off.   Let the salted blood oranges hang out in the fridge for about a month, shaking occasionally to distribute the salt.

Isn’t it pretty?  Once you have your salted citrus, you can make baby kale salad with bitter blood orange vinaigrette.  The bitter part comes from the use of bitters.  If you happen to have even more blood oranges on hand and have about two weeks to wait, Kelly Bakes has a beautiful recipe for bitter orange bitters.  I used some of the blood oranges from the windfall at the start of January to make these bitters – they aren’t fully infused yet, but I used just a bit of them for baby kale salad with bitter blood orange vinaigrette and it was heavenly!  The vinaigrette is both salty and tangy – a perfect counterpoint for baby kale.  You can most definitely use store bought orange bitters to achieve the same effect.

baby kale salad with bitter blood orange vinaigrette

baby kale salad with bitter blood orange vinaigrette

Baby Kale Salad with Bitter Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped salt preserved blood orange
  • 1 teaspoon orange or blood orange bitters
  • 1 package baby kale

Instructions

  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt preserved blood orange, and bitters in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Tighten the lid and shake vigorously to combine.
  2. Dress the baby kale with the vinaigrette and enjoy!
  3. Serves four - six
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Adobo Sweet Potato Soup

Adobo Sweet Potato Soup

Adobo Sweet Potato soup is my answer to the in-between time of winter and spring.  The end of January and the start of February are such awkward times of the year.  In the PNW in particular, it’s not quite winter, but it’s not quite spring, either – it’s still raining, but there are those occasional days of sunshine that suggest that maybe, just maybe, spring is around the corner.  In terms of seasonal foods, it’s a good time to do some pantry and fridge clearing, as well as explore what root veggies have been hanging out for too long underneath the onions.  It’s definitely the time of year when sweet potatoes and potatoes get some love.

I tend not to cook sweet potatoes around the traditional times of year, like Thanksgiving.  I wait, instead, until I’m back to work post-holiday, and looking for lunches that can be frozen easily.  I never know quite what each week is going to bring, so it’s good to have a guaranteed good lunch waiting for me in the freezer.  This adobo sweet potato soup definitely fits the bill.  It’s easy to make, so didn’t consume my entire Sunday to prep.  It freezes beautifully, and I’m already looking forward to eating it at lunch this week.

Canned adobo chilies lend the adobo sweet potato soup a super smokey flavor.  I also used some smoked paprika, which is arguably one of my all time favorite spices.  As part of the fridge/pantry clean up effort, I gathered up all the celery I could find, leaves and all, and tossed those in too.  The end result is a silky, smokey, soup with a bit of sweet and just the slightest kick from the peppers.

If you checked out my post from last week with the black lentil and poached egg bowls, you know that I’m a bit mirepoix obsessed here of late.  The adobo sweet potato soup has a modified mirepoix: adobo chili, celery, and onion.  It’s just so colorful in the pan:

Once the smoked paprika and salt go in, the mirepoix takes on a deep red shade

And then the sweet potatoes go in.

adobo sweet potato soup

All of this beauty becomes a gorgeous adobo sweet potato soup (after the addition of some veggie stock and some pureeing).

adobo sweet potato soup

I added a dollop of Greek yogurt to cut the heat a bit.  Greek yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche would all be a lovely addition to this soup.

adobo sweet potato soup

Adobo Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 adobo chili, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, preferably with leaves, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Greek yogurt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the adobo chili, the celery, and the onion and saute until the celery and onion become soft. Add the sweet potatoes, smoked paprika, and salt and stir a few times. Add the veggie stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  2. Use an immersion blender or blender and puree to desired smoothness. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Enjoy!
  3. Serves 4
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This recipe is getting around.  It’s linked up this week to

Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen

and at Meatless Monday on Confessions of a Mother Runner (co-hosted by Sarah at A Whisk and Two Wands).

Confessions of a Mother Runner

 

 

 

 

and at Tinned Tomatoes Meat Free Mondays where it was featured for the week of February 6 (check out the great menu ideas for the week!).

Hijacked By Twins
Hijacked By Twins

 

 

 

 

 

 

and at #CookBlogShare hosted by Hijacked by Twins as well as at #SimplySeasonal hosted by Hijacked by Twins. 

Black Lentil Bowl with a Poached Egg

Black Lentil Bowl with a Poached Egg

I’m at that stage of winter when a black lentil bowl with a poached egg sounds like a perfectly light lunch for the week.  I’m also at the point at which I’m itching to do some spring cleaning, including making an effort to use up what’s been lurking at the back of the pantry.  It helps motivate me that we might be moving and I really don’t want to drag a half-eaten bag of black lentils with me.  As it is, I still have jars of home canned jam and pickles that we moved last year that will need to be packaged and moved again (because I’m not letting those pickles go to waste).

Black lentils just lend themselves to a simple meal.  The black lentil bowl with a poached egg takes just seven ingredients (counting salt and olive oil).  This recipe took so little time to make – I prepped my mirepoix first, cooked that and the lentils and then poached the eggs.  I’ve been obsessing a bit about mirepoix here of late.  The combination of onion, celery, and carrot adds such a deep flavor to dishes and it’s so, so simple.  With this dish, I understood the full complexity of the flavor – initially, I thought that the black lentil bowl with a poached egg would need a dressing of some sort, but when I tasted the lentils, that idea went out the window.

A note on the poached eggs: back in December, I tried my hand at poaching an egg in the traditional way in a saucepan.  It came out a flimsy mess.  Recently, I ran across a video of a chef poaching eggs in the oven, so that’s what I did.  The eggs came out beautifully!  The best part was I didn’t have to swirl the water, baby the eggs, watch the temperature, etc.  Eggs went into muffin cups with a tablespoon of water each, hung out in the oven for 9 minutes, and came out perfectly poached.

The full technique is included in the recipe below.  The best part is that poached eggs can be prepped in advance, so I poached my eggs on Sunday and will have an egg a day each day at lunch with my lentils.  I love super easy lunch prep!

black lentil bowl with poached egg

black lentil bowl with poached egg

Black Lentil Bowl with a Poached Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup black beluga lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 eggs

Instructions

  1. Chop the onion, celery, and carrots finely. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onion, celery, and carrot mix until the vegetables start to soften (about 10 minutes). Add the salt and the dried lentils. Stir a few times and then add the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft.
  2. To oven poach the eggs: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In each muffin cup, add one tablespoon water. Break each egg directly into the muffin cup. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Bake for 9 minutes or until the white is set and the yolk is still runny. Use a slotted spoon to remove each poached egg and drain on a paper towel. Eggs can be prepared up to five days in advance.
  3. Recipe makes 4 servings. Enjoy!
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This post is linked to My Legume Love Affair #103, hosted by The Big Sweet Tooth (conceptualized by Susan and hosted by Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen).  I’ll be hosting in April – can’t wait!

It’s also linked up to #CookBlogShare, which is hosted this week by Sneaky Veg.  Check out all the great posts!

Hijacked By Twins

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you can find it linked up on Tinned Tomatoes Meat Free Monday.

This recipe is getting around!

 

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

This month’s Food ‘n Flix pick resulted in honeymoon nostalgia and these baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches.  French Kiss is a lighthearted comedy from 1995, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.  The basic plot of the movie is woman (Meg Ryan) loses boyfriend to another woman, goes to Paris to track him down, meets a jewel thief (Kevin Kline) along the way, and then falls in love with the jewel thief.  It’s a cute romantic comedy – the kind of thing that my husband plays video games through and mixes up with another cute romantic comedy (namely Runaway Bride) which we watched a few weeks after.

And maybe it’s because I’m equally a cynic, what I mostly thought about the movie after I finished watching it was – oh those simpler times in the 90s when a woman could safely run off with a man she barely knows after losing her passport and money to his family’s vineyard without fear of being murdered.  Just saying.  Still – what a vineyard!

My one challenge with watching movies for Food ‘n Flix is this – I watch them as a food blogger, which means I want them to slow down and focus on the food!  It’s Paris – it’s France – show me beautiful food!  There was beautiful food in this movie, just not enough of it that was up close and personal.  So my inspiration ended up being less of something in the actual movie and more of Paris itself.  What better way to celebrate Paris than with baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches?

A big part of my inspiration also came from all the memories that watching this movie brought up of Clay and my honeymoon nine years ago.  We did a two week Europe trip – starting in Paris, taking a train to Amsterdam, and then flying to Rome and then home.  My one regret, particularly from the Paris part of the trip, was that I was still a hard-core vegetarian, and even though I was drooling over every baguette with ham and cheese that Clay ate, I stuck to the baguettes with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  No – I wasn’t suffering that much.  But still, these baguettes and French Kiss sandwich are my attempt to recapture the days we spent in Paris and the glorious smells of the bakeries and the beautiful slow food that was everywhere around us.

The baguette recipe is adapted from a King Arthur recipe.  I reduced the rise time without any negative impact on the taste of the baguette.  I do use a starter, which I realize adds time and the need for advanced planning to make these, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  The actual hands on time with these is minimal – 15 minutes at the most.

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Ingredients

    Starter
  • ¼ teaspoon active yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 115 degrees)
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • All of the starter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • For the French Kiss Sandwiches (for two sandwiches)
  • 4 – 6 slices of Jamon Serrano (or prosciutto or thinly sliced ham)
  • 8 thin slices of brie cheese

Instructions

  1. Start the starter the night before. Combine all the ingredients for the starter in a medium bowl and stir. This should form a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight – about 14 hours will do it, though the starter is forgiving.
  2. To make the dough
  3. Combine the warm water, the yeast, and all of the starter. Mix until the starter is mostly incorporated. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Combine to make a shaggy dough and then knead the dough for 6 minutes on a floured surface. Add a bit of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to you. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
  4. First Rise
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
  6. Second Rise
  7. After 45 minutes, punch the dough down (deflate it). Cover it again and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Shaping the Dough and Preparing it for Baking
  9. After the second rise, deflate the dough again and cut it into four even sections. (You can also divide it into two sections or six sections – depending on how many baguettes you want to make). Roll the sections of dough into rectangles and fold them into baguette shapes, placing the seam-side down.
  10. Place the shaped baguettes on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  11. [The baguettes may spread a bit during the final rise– so if you want more classically shaped bread, you can place the baguettes on parchment paper or a clean dishtowel and pull up a bit of parchment paper or dishtowel between each baguette to help it keep its shape. If you do this, when it’s time to bake, you’ll need to gently roll the baguettes onto a greased baking sheet.]
  12. Cover the baguettes with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 20 minutes before the end of the final rise. To get a nice crispy baguette, it helps to have a very hot oven.
  13. Once the baguettes have completed the final rise, transfer them to the baking sheet (if you need to) and then place them in the oven. If you have a spray bottle with water handy, gently spray the baguettes, being careful not to spray your oven’s element. Bake for 20 minutes or until the baguettes are a golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and let the baguettes sit in the oven for 10 minutes after they are done. This helps get an even crispier texture on the outside.
  14. Let the baguettes cool for at least 30 minutes. When they are cool, to assemble a sandwich, slice the baguette in half and place the brie and jamon on the baguette. Enjoy!
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This post is also linked to to #CookBlogShare at the Easy Peasy Foodie’s site.  Check out all the great recipes!

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Penne with Burrata, Peas, and Preserved Lemons

Penne with Burrata, Peas, and Preserved Lemons

Sometimes, the only thing that helps is comfort food, like penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons.  We’ve had another epic cold weekend here in the PNW with snow and ice throughout most of the Oregon and Washington again.  We’ve becoming more accustomed to the concept of snowpocalypse: in other words, it’s best to get all shopping down before the first flakes because there’s no salt on the roads and everyone panics.  On the plus side, there was very little traffic in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.  It’s the little things that make life enjoyable.

Penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemon is also a dish I like to make when I start longing for spring.  It’s got all the right spring notes: peas, lemon, and lush burrata cheese.  I have just a very few daffodils poking their first sprouts out already, though I swear every time it gets icy, they retreat.  I can’t say I blame them – I retreat, too.

I used frozen peas for this, though am so eager for fresh peas to be available.  Bookmark or Pinterest this one and make it with fresh peas and pea shoots – trust me, you won’t regret it.  Grind a bit of fresh pepper over the penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons and dream about the sunshine.  It has to be right around the corner.

penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons

penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons

penne with burrata, peas, and preserved lemons

Penne with Burrata, Peas, and Preserved Lemons

Ingredients

  • 1/2 package dried penne pasta or similar pasta
  • 1 ball burrata cheese
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, sliced into thin slices

Instructions

  1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. At the end of cooking time for the pasta, add the frozen peas. Drain the pasta and peas. Distribute among four serving dishes. Garnish each dish with some of the preserved lemon. Tear the buratta cheese into pieces and add 1/4 of the buratta to each dish. Enjoy!
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This recipe is linked up to Tinned Tomatoes: Meatless Monday.  If you are looking for great vegetarian recipes, check it out!

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

The first week back to work after a long break feels like the perfect time for a blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad.  I think about food a lot (no surprise from a food blogger).  I thought about food a lot before I started blogging.  One of the things that I’m always curious about is the first time a human being thought to eat something.  This always comes to mind for me, for example, when I eat an artichoke or some other food that seems otherwise inedible until it is transformed into something we eat.  I also think a lot about food trends and how some foods aren’t regularly eaten anymore.

One of those foods features prominently in my blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad.  The bitter greens category includes arugula, chard, and endive, but also includes dandelion greens.  When I was growing up, dandelions were a weed.  My grandparents, my mother, neighbors all spent a lot of gardening time trying to eradicate dandelions from the lawn and the garden.  I did the same with my first house, digging them up and tossing them into the trash.  At some point along the way, however, I learned that dandelions are edible.  I would occasionally cultivate a few plants in my garden, harvesting the greens and sautéing them to toss over pasta.  As it turns out, all the parts of a dandelion are edible, but that’s a story for another blog post.

Knowing that dandelions are edible and were, in fact, first brought to the US as a food and that dandelions evolved 30 million years ago (Wikipedia), makes me sad to think that we have relegated them to the status of a noxious weed in our gardens.  Dandelion greens can be eaten raw in salads. The taste is a bit bitter, but also has a hint of taste that reminds me of the smell of a dandelion flower in the sun.  The greens evoke some pretty serious nostalgia for me of lying in the grass as a kid in the summer.  That memory makes this a perfect salad for a frigidly cold January day here in the PNW.  It raises my hope level that spring really is right around the corner.

For now, dandelion greens feature prominently in this blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad. I found my dandelion greens at Whole Foods.  Many natural grocers carry these greens in the winter.  You can also substitute other bitter greens for this salad – finely chopped chard would be lovely, as would arugula.  I also threw in a few strips of preserved lemon to brighten the salad and to add a bit of salt to cut the bitterness.

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

I prepared my salads for the week ahead of time.  Instead of drizzling the dressing over the whole salad, I put a couple of tablespoons at the bottom of each jar and then added the salad on top.  All I have to do is pour the salad out into a bowl once I’m at work.

Blood Orange, Walnut, and Bitter Greens Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 peeled and segmented blood oranges
  • 1 bunch bitter greens (dandelion greens, kale, or arugula or some combination of some or all)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 10 thin slices of preserved lemon
  • Blood Orange Dressing
  • Juice of one blood orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and close tightly. Shake to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and enjoy!
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This post is linked up to No Croutons Required.  Check out the hosts’ pages at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa’s Kitchen.

And is also linked to Kahakai Kitchen: Souper Sunday.  Check out all the great soups, sandwiches and salads!

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

I had a lovely and very foodie indulgent vacation, so it’s definitely time to go back to healthy little lunches, including Kale Spinach Saag Paneer.  Saag Paneer is one of my favorite dishes.  I love using a blend of both spinach and kale.  I found a beautiful bunch of Redbor kale, which is a spectacular shade of purple and threw that in with a large handful of spinach.  The result is a spicy, fragrant mixture of greens.  I’m also feeling ahead of the game on the 2017 food trend for purple vegetables, since I cooked this on New Year’s Day.

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer is a fairly quick dish to put together.  The kale and spinach can be cooked while the rice is cooking.

Making Paneer

You can definitely substitute store bought paneer for the home made paneer in this recipe.  Fresh paneer takes just two ingredients, but is best made the day before and refrigerated overnight, so takes a little bit of planning.  That said, how impressive is it to be able to tell your workmates that you made your own cheese?

Homemade Paneer

I love how the paneer takes on the waffled texture of the cheesecloth.  I also am a big fan of the transformation of milk into whey and curds when an acid is added.  In this case, I use white vinegar to make my paneer.  I’ve tried lemon juice, but haven’t had the same success.  I also don’t salt it when I’m making this recipe, as the kale and spinach saag paneer is well salted from the kale and spinach.  I do, however, take the extra time to lightly brown the paneer.

The lightly browned paneer goes right into the kale and spinach.  This recipe freezes really well, so it’s a great candidate for lunch.  Kale spinach saag paneer is also a light meal and pairs well with a salad or some naan bread.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!  Hope everyone is having a great start to 2017!

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

 

Kale Saag Paneer

 

Kale Spinach Saag Paneer

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • Paneer cheese, chopped into squares
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • For the Paneer
  • 1/2 gallon milk - whole milk works best, but you can also make this with 1% or 2%
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar

Instructions

  1. If you are making paneer, start with this first. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir constantly so that the milk doesn't burn. When the milk reaches a full boil, take it off the heat and pour in the vinegar. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes so that the whey and curds have time to separate.
  2. When the curds and whey have separated, strain out the curds into a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can keep the whey and use it in place of water for other recipes. Let the curds drain for at least an hour, pressing them by putting a bowl over them with a heavy can in the bowl. Refrigerate the paneer overnight.
  3. Making the Kale Spinach Saag Paneer
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick saute pan or a cast iron skillet. Add the onions, and cook until they are soft and fragrant. Add in the kale and cook for 7 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another 7 - 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are wilted. Add the spices from the turmeric to the salt and stir well. Add the half and half and simmer for 7 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in another non-stick skillet. Add the paneer and cook for a few minute on each side until it is browned.
  6. Serve the kale spinach saag paneer over the rice, with the paneer evenly divided between each serving.
  7. Serves 3 - 4
  8. Enjoy!
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This post has been linked to Tinned Tomatoes: Meat Free Mondays.  Check out each week’s list of great recipes!

Top Five from 2016 and Five Goals for 2017

Top Five from 2016 and Five Goals for 2017

Like many, I’m glad to see the end of 2016.  I was doing pretty well avoiding whole scale resentment for the year, and then George Michael died.  And my reaction was, really 2016?  Bowie, Prince and George Michael, all in the same year?  And in case you are wondering if my musical tastes are primarily stuck in the 80’s, I’m incredibly sad about Ralph Stanley, Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen, and Sharon Jones, too.

On the other hand, I’ve cooked a lot of good food this year, including the five most popular recipes here on Fix Me a Little Lunch.

Eggnog Ricotta Pancakes were hands down the most popular recipe this year.  I can see why – who doesn’t love eggnog?  These pancakes were so fluffy and so very, very rich – I’m thinking I’ll be making them again for New Year’s Day brunch.

My Crockpot Posole was also quite popular this year.  It’s such a great slow-cooker recipe, I wasn’t surprised.  We made up a batch of this for Christmas Eve this year and froze several more nights worth.  One of my favorite things about this recipe was that it was the first time I participated in Cook the Books.  I’m really excited about all the inspiration that will come from next year’s book picks.

Greek Spaghetti Squash was a big hit this year, as well.  This was my last office lunch for the year, as we ended up with four snow days and then vacation right around the same time I made this.

Greek Spaghetti Squash

I had a great time this fall going out to Sauvie Island to get winter squash.  As always, I bought a few too many squash, but it wasn’t a problem, since my over indulgence inspired me to make Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Pesto.  If I had to pick a favorite of my own from this year, it might be this one – mostly because I love cheese, squash and pasta.

And last, but certainly not least, is my Mandarin Orange Mule.  I’m glad I finally got with the times and bought a copper mug for Moscow Mules, as they are now high on my list of favorite cocktails.

Mandarin Orange Mule

So there we are – the top five from 2016.

I’m looking forward to 2017.  I know there are likely to be some major changes on the way (more on that in future blog posts, I’m sure), but I’m hopeful they won’t impact my time working on my blog.  I like to spend a little time reflecting on the year before, as well as looking forward and setting goals moving forward.  So – in no particular order – here are my five goals for Fix Me a Little Lunch for 2017.

  1. Keep improving my photography.  I had one photo accepted by foodgawker this year for my Red Kuri Risotto recipe and would like to keep working on lighting, composition and so on in 2017.
  2. Create and mostly stick to an editorial calendar.  I started working on this in December and realized it wasn’t that hard to plan out December 2017’s blog posts.  Now let’s see if I can fill in all the other months of the year. Some of this is product dependent, of course, as I’m committed to keeping Fix Me a Little Lunch all about seasonal foods and recipes.
  3. Continue to be inspired by blog challenges – Cook the Books and Food n’ Flix were my favorite inspirations this year.  The books and movies kept me inspired, as did the community of other food bloggers who created some really fantastic recipes.
  4. Explore the whole affiliate/sponsored post thing.  I’m a little wary of ads – I’m not a huge fan of navigating them on others sites, so not sure I want to do this on my own blog.  On the other hand, I’d love to share some of the products that I love with my readers.
  5. Grow my email list to at least a 1,000 subscribers.  Right now, I have seven.  I love those seven people who are interested in reading my posts regularly – and would like to find some more.  To this end, I’ll be starting a monthly newsletter in January that will include a round up of my favorite recipes from the month before, a bonus recipe featuring a seasonal veggie or fruit, and a profile of a seasonal veggie or fruit.  Sign up to be on my email list and be on the lookout for my first newsletter.

Happy Near Year everyone!  Let’s hope that 2017 is prosperous and happy, and let’s keep eating good food!

Preserved Lemon Tuna Salad

Preserved Lemon Tuna Salad

I have just one day in the office this week before the holiday break, so decided to make preserved lemon tuna salad as a quick one-day only lunch.  I’ve had quite a bit of lemon going on these last few days.  I’m preparing to make a sparkly New Year’s Eve cocktail for Fix Me a Little Lunch, which I’ll post later this week.  To do this, though, I needed limoncello.  Limoncello is one of my favorite liqueurs, but I hesitate to pay the hefty $20 plus for a store bought bottle when it is so easy to make at home.  So – I stocked up on ten lemons, with the only purpose to peel them and saturate the peels with vodka.  But then, of course, I had ten naked lemons to contend with and couldn’t stand the thought of wasting them.  Naturally, this led to my hubby requesting a lemon meringue pie, which is something I’ve never, ever made.  As I’m writing this, it’s cooling and I’ll confess that I’m pretty afraid to cut into it.  I don’t fully trust that the meringue set quite like it should have, which will only make me determined to try again.  Good thing I still have plenty of lemon juice left from those ten naked lemons!

Good thing, too, that my preserved lemons are ready to use and could be chopped up for this preserved lemon tuna salad so I could have a quick and easy sandwich ready to go for lunch tomorrow.  I did make the baguettes in the photos for this lunch.  I opted for a more traditional baguette that required a starter and an overnight period of time for the starter to bubble and rise.  It’s safe to say that I’m ready for vacation and getting a head start on baking and cooking.  The recipe for the baguette, by the way, is on the King Arthur Flour site (here).  If you have the time, it’s definitely worth it to make fresh baguettes.  If you don’t – a store bought baguette will work fine, too, for a preserved lemon tuna salad sandwich.

preserved lemon tuna salad

preserved lemon tuna salad

Preserved Lemon Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 can water packed tuna
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve on a baguette or lettuce leaves. Enjoy!
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