Roasted Chickpeas

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These roasted chickpeas are such a great and easy little snack. They’re prefect when you want something salty, but you want to avoid opening a bag of chips. I like just the tiniest bit of spice in mine, so I add a bit of cayenne pepper. However, if you’re more of a spice lover, feel free to add a little more or some red pepper flakes as well. This recipe double or triples very easily, so it’s a great appetizer for a crowd!

Roasted Chickpeas
1 can of chickpeas
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the chickpeas and pat them dry. Toss the chickpeas in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add them to a basking sheet and spread them out evenly. Bake them for about 45-50 minutes, stirring them every 15 minutes. They should be hard enough to crunch down on when you bite, but not too dark in color. Enjoy!

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Kale, Pesto and Red Onion Flatbread

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Last week, for the first time since I’ve lived in the DC area, we actually got some real snow! Nothing crazy, probably just about 3 inches in my area but I was excited none the less. To make it even better, the snow allowed me to work from home for a day, extending the already long weekend! I really enjoy days when I work from home because I have extra time to make lunch and dinner.

Given the chilly temperatures and the lack of quick snow removal in this area, instead of finding a new recipe to try and going out to buy all the ingredients, I rummaged through the cupboards and fridge to see what I could develop with what I had on hand. I always have ingredients for dough, I had kale and these adorable red pearl onions (sorry if adorable is a weird word for onions, but these really were) from my week’s farm basket and a jar of pesto my friend brought me from Italy that I’ve been excited to try. I put it all together and came up with this flatbread. If you don’t want to make dough, you can use frozen pizza dough as a shortcut.

Kale, Pesto and Onion Flatbread
Dough:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup warm waterflatbread2
2 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon
pepper

Topping:
1 bunch kale, stems removed and washed
1/2 cup red pearl onions peeled and chopped (or 1 small red onion)
3 Tablespoons pesto
1 Tablespoon  plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
salt
pepper
a few shavings of parmesan cheese

Begin by making your dough. Add the water and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and let sit for ten minutes. Then combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl and add them to the water and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook, begin to combine and slowly add 1 tablespoon of olive oil while it’s all mixing. Continue mixing until a ball of dough had formed. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for an hour.

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After the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (if you have a pizza stone it really helps to bake these on a hot pizza stone). Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into an oblong shape. Drizzle the additional olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper on top of the rolled out dough. When the oven is ready, place the dough on your pizza stone or on a baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the dough just starts to get a little brown.

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To make the topping add the olive oil and onions to a pan on medium-low heat. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes then add your kale to the pan. Add your desired amount of salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the kale has wilted.

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Remove your dough from the oven and spread a a layer of pesto over it. Top with your kale and onions. Add a few shavings of parmesan cheese, enjoy!

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Gnocchi with meat sauce

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Gnocchi are easily one of my absolute my favorite foods.  No matter where we are, if I see gnocchi on the menu I have to order them.  I’m not sure where this obsession came from, but I just can not pass them up.  The troubling thing is, I’ve never been able to made a good batch of gnocchi at home.   I’ve tried multiple times, only to be met with disappointment.

The first time I tried to make them I was making dinner for my husband (then boyfriend).  It was one of the first times I had cooked for him and I was so excited to share my favorite dish.  After taking all the time to mash the potatoes, make the dough and form the gnocchi, I placed them into the boiling water and they disintegrated almost immediately.  Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed and embarrassed.

It took awhile for me to build up the confidence to try making gnocchi again, and my next attempt was not much better.  The dough still wasn’t right, and, even worse, I ended up accidentally dropping a whole potato down the sink drain.  In my ignorance, I figured “no big deal, just run the disposal.”  Well, lesson learned that an entire potato will NOT go down the disposal.  I ended up clogging the sink and eventually overflowing it.

I had all but given up on homemade gnocchi when I was reading through a book my husband gave me for Christmas this year.  The Geometry of Pasta called gnocchi “perhaps the easiest pasta to make.”  Well, I beg to differ, but I certainly couldn’t give up such an “easy” pasta.  So, this weekend I entered the kitchen, mentally prepared for a complete disaster, only to surprise myself with my first successful batch of homemade gnocchi.

Through all of these attempts I’ve learned that one very important aspect of this recipe is to test one or two of the gnocchi before dumping the whole batch in the water.   It’s best to do this before you’ve started forming each individual gnocchi.  If you test one and it disintegrates, add more flour to your dough.  Trust me, this can save you from a lot of disappointment.

Gnocchi with meat sauce
For the gnocchi dough:
2 cups flour
3 eggs, lightly beatengnocchi8
3 large russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black better
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Make the gnocchi:
Add your potatoes to boiling water and cook under tender (until you can easily poke them with a knife or fork). Drain the potatoes and let them cool enough to touch them. Once the potatoes have cooled, remove the skins and mash them really well.

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In a separate bowl, combine your flour, salt and eggs. Add your mashed potatoes to the flour and eggs and mix until smooth and well combined. Note: it’s important that your potatoes are cooled before adding them to the mixture to avoid curdling the eggs.

Once it’s all combined take a small portion of the dough and roll it into a log about 1 centimeter thick. Cut the log into little squares and test one of the squares in boiling water. It should keep it’s shape and float to the surface in about 2 minutes. If it doesn’t, add more flour and try again. Once you’ve got the right consistency form the rest of your gnocchi, lightly pressing each one with your finger to create a little well for your sauce. Boil the gnocchi for about 3 minutes.

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Make the sauce:
In a saucepan on medium-low, heat add your olive oil and garlic. Let the garlic cook for about two minutes then add your chopped onion, salt and pepper. About five minutes after adding the onion add your ground beef, breaking it up into very small chunks. Let the beef cook until it’s browned, about 15 minutes. Next add your crushed tomatoes and the rest of your spices.

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Lower to a simmer and cook the sauce for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. All the flavors will cook slowly together to a perfect deliciousness. Serve on top of gnocchi with some pecorino romano and enjoy!

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Quick Broccoli and Feta Pasta

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I feel like I’m always coming up with quick pasta dinner ideas for weeknight meals.  The process usually involves rummaging through the fridge to see what vegetables I need to use up and then deciding what shape of pasta and which cheese to pair with them.  These quick pastas are perfect for days when I get home from work and I’m too tired and hungry to start cooking anything too involved.

I actually came up with this broccoli and feta combo in college, probably because they were the only two things in the fridge at the time.  However it began, it has definitely become one of my favorites.  You might think feta is an odd choice for this dish but it’s creaminess actually works really well.

Broccoli and Feta Pasta
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 head of broccoli
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 lb of pasta (I used spaghetti but I also love this with farfalle)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Chop the head of broccoli into florets.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pan on medium-low heat and add the garlic, after about 1 minute add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.

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3. Let your broccoli cook until it’s tender, about 6-8 minutes, lower the heat if it seems too hot. While your broccoli is cooking, boil a pot of salted water for your pasta.

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4. Once your water is boiling add your pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta.

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5. Turn off the heat on the broccoli and add your pasta, toss to combine. Then add the cheese and toss again. Top it with a bit more salt and pepper and another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil if needed. Enjoy!

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Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

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I have never liked mushrooms.  Sorry to any of you mushroom fans out there, but I have just never liked them.  I think it’s the slightly slimy texture that just completely turns me off.  I basically avoid them at all costs.

However, this week I got some in my farm basket and I realllly try not to let anything I get go to waste so I decided to give it my best try to make something I didn’t absolutely hate out of these mushrooms.  After scouring recipes and multiple Google searches for “mushroom dishes that don’t taste like mushrooms” I decided my best bet was to add bacon to them.  When in doubt, just add bacon, right?

So, I mixed up this quick bacon stuffing and gave these mushrooms my best shot. While these aren’t something I would make too often, I have to admit I didn’t hate them.  Also, when I shared them with people who actually enjoy mushrooms, they loved them. So, if you’re a mushroom-friendly individual I think you’ll like these.  The mushrooms I had were pretty small, so I think this recipe would work better with larger mushrooms (that way you can stuff more bacon into each one)!

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
20-30 white button mushrooms, cleaned with stems twisted off
5 slices of cooked bacon
1 cup of uncooked rice
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 yellow onion very finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumb
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
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2. Cook your rice according to the instructions on the package. I used brown rice in mine but any kind would work.

3. Chop up your cooked bacon and add to to a bowl with the parsley, chopped onion, garlic, breadcrumb, olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. When your rice has cooled, at it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine them all.
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5. Carefully spoon about 1/2-1 teaspoon (depending on the size of your mushrooms) of the filling into each mushroom.

6. Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes (again depending on the size), until the filling on top starts to brown, enjoy!
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Tomato Soup

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While I absolutely love over indulging myself during the holidays, there always comes a point where I hit a wall and need to stop constantly eating heavy foods and sweets. I was lucky to enjoy a full week home with my family this year and along with that comes lots and lots of great homemade food. On our first night back in DC I decided to make a simple and light tomato soup to help us adjust. There are few meals that have the simple deliciousness of a good tomato soup. With some great crusty bread or a nice grilled cheese sandwich, this is definitely the perfect winter meal.

Tomato Soup
1 can crushed tomatoes
16 oz vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
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1/2 cup grated mozzarella and a slice of good bread for garnish (optional)

1. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic to a saucepan on medium-low heat. Let the garlic cook for just about 2 minutes.

2. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley, oregano and pepper to the saucepan and stir. Let these all cook together for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

3. After cooking the tomatoes and spices for about 30 minutes add the vegetable stock and continue to cook until the soup begins to get bubbly.

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4. About 10 minutes after adding the stock add your heavy cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with cheese and crusty bread, enjoy!