Spinach & Emmenthal (or Swiss) Frittata

With the coming of a new year, often we set new goals.  One that I would like to inspire you to set is eating a healthy breakfast.  Research shows that when we start our day with protein, rather than carbohydrates, it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aids in stopping the cravings. 

Typically a breakfast of cereal or toast means that you are getting fairly simple carbohydrates which break down quickly into sugar.  This sugar will affect insulin production and consequently you will start on the highs and lows of blood sugar.  In turn, this will cause you to want something sweet within a few hours of eating; hence the morning ‘donut’ break.  This of course starts you on a cycle that can last the entire day!

To avoid this, eat protein in the morning.  Protein not only will stabilize those blood sugar levels but will actually aid in increasing your metabolism.  A higher metabolism means you burn more calories!  How can you go wrong?

The recipe I am giving you is a fantastic way to get that protein and fill you up; satiating yourself for hours. Not only that but it is so FAST and EASY that you have no excuse!  Once you try this, play around with a variety of combinations of vegetables (I’ll give you a few at the end of the recipe that I like).

Ingredients:

1 TBSP               Butter

2 Cups               Fresh Spinach, washed and chopped or sliced

¼ -1/2 Cup      Emmenthal or Swiss Cheese, grated

2                          Eggs

1-2 TBSP           Milk, ½ & ½ or water

Celtic Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Turn on broiler.  In a small sauté pan that can be put in the oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Meanwhile scramble eggs with milk, celtic salt and pepper.  Mix the cheese into the eggs.  Set aside.  Place spinach in the pan with the melted butter, stir and cover until the spinach wilts.  This will only take a minute or so.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the egg mixture and immediately place under the broiler.  Broil until the eggs are just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes depending on your broiler.  Remove and eat!

Serves 1

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations on this.  Here are a couple of my other favorites.  Instead of the spinach, try these:

Sauté minced shallot and shiitake mushrooms.  This will take a few extra minutes to cook but worth the time!

Sauté minced garlic and swiss chard.  You can add some fresh rosemary if you have it.  This is as fast as the spinach!

Use whatever cheese you have in the house for a variety.  I especially like fresh grated parmesan.

Couscous Salad with Orange-Infused Chicken

My long time friend Jeff Berman is a fantastic cook.  Actually he and his wife Jan were the ones that inspired me to start exploring more gourmet cooking in the 80’s.  Jeff’s dishes are always delicious, easy to make and nutritious.  This dish is no exception.  I made it for a picnic on Saturday and it was a big hit!

In addition to Jeff being a creative cook, he is a creative guy when it comes to the home and gifts.  He just launched a web-based store dedicated to interesting and affordable gifts for the home and travel.  You might want to check out his store here!

Great for a picnic!

Ingredients

2 ½ C              Fresh Orange Juice[1], divided

2-4                  Garlic Cloves, crushed

1                      Shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp              Dried thyme[2]

1-1 ½ #          Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 whole

½ C                 Chicken Broth

1 ½ C              Couscous

2                      Green Onions, finely chopped

¼ – ½ C          Dried Cranberries

1                      Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

3 TBSP           Rice Wine Vinegar

3 TBSP           Olive Oil, good quality

S & P              To taste

Preparation

In a large sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, garlic, shallot and thyme to a boil.  Add the chicken and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken breasts.  Reserve the liquid.

In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup orange juice and the chicken broth to a boil.  Remove from heat and add couscous.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, fluff couscous with a fork and then add the green onion, cranberries and red bell pepper.  Mix well. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the couscous mixture.

Meanwhile take the reserved liquid (from the chicken) and boil until reduced to half.  Remove from heat and add the vinegar and olive oil.  Toss into the chicken/couscous mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Note:  The couscous portion can be made a day ahead.  The chicken is best if made the day you are serving.


[1] Jeff says fresh juice makes the dish much better than when using pasteurized.  If you are lucky enough to get it fresh it is worth the extra cost.  You could also try squeezing your own but that might take a lot longer.

[2] I used fresh as I have it growing in my garden.  I used about 1+ TBSP.

April Recipe – Swiss Chard Sauté with Toasted Walnuts and Feta Cheese

I made this recipe as a one dish vegetarian meal.  It could also be great as 4 side dishes without the tofu.

Serves 2 Main Course, 4 Side Dish

Ingredients:

2+       TBSP Butter or Olive Oil or a combination, divided

4          Garlic Cloves, minced

1          Small Red Onion, chopped

1          Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1 tsp  Celtic Salt

25+     Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on their size

1/3 C   White Wine

½ C     Currants

½ + C Walnuts, chopped and toasted

2          Swiss Chard batches, ribs removed and cut into 2” pieces

This is my favorite!

3 oz    Feta or Goat Cheese

1 pgk Firm Tofu, chopped into 1” squares

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil).  Add garlic, onion, bell pepper and salt.  Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes adding white wine as liquid starts to evaporate.  Add in cherry tomatoes and currants cover and continue to cook over medium/low heat for an additional 5-8 minutes.  Add chard and cover until chard is wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile in separate sauté pan, heat 1 TBSP butter (or olive oil) over medium/high heat and sear tofu. 

Combine chard mixture and tofu together.  Place on plates and top with cheese and walnuts.  Serve immediately.

January Recipe – Veggie Bean Chili with Espresso

My friend Jeff Berman is an amazing cook.  So, when I started to think about who I could consult on vegetarian, easy, healthy meals, his name came to mind first.  He generously offered me his recipe for chili.  I just made it this weekend and love the complexities of tastes.  I do have one comment… it may have been the chili powder I used, but it was HOT!  So, depending on your personal tastes, you might want to decrease the amount you put in. 

Ingredients:

½ C     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3          Onions, chopped

1          Large Red Bell Pepper, diced

¼ C     Instant Espresso Coffee

¼ C     Ground Cumin

¼ C     Chili Powder

¼ C     Dried Oregano

2          Large Cans of Diced Tomatoes[1]

½ C     Honey

6          Large Garlic Cloves, minced

5          Cans of Beans – a mix is nice – kidney, black, red

½ C     Water

1½ C   Dry Red Wine

¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon (optional)

1          Chipotle Chili in Adobo Sauce, minced

            Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

Toppings (optional):

Sour Cream

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Preparation:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium/high heat.   Add the onions and red bell pepper and sauté 5-8 minutes, until they are softened.  Add the coffee, chili, cumin, oregano and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and honey.  Bring to a boil, reduce to medium/low heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the beans, water, wine, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chipotle.  Bring to boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes; stirring as needed.  Adjust seasonings as desired.

This is best if made the day before to enhance the flavors.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or some grated cheddar cheese.

Makes a big batch so great for a crowd or to freeze for additional meals.


[1] Muir Glen brand is organic and enamel coats their cans so the tomatoes does not give off BPA from the plastic!

December Recipe – Herbs de Provence Chicken with Baked Butternut Squash and Sautéed Chard w/ Cherries

Here is a Fast & Easy Weeknight Dinner…

Yesterday I worked all day and had a friend coming for dinner.  I wanted to make something healthy, tasty and fast.  From beginning of preparation to end of cooking this took about 50 minutes.   She loved it and asked me for the recipes. 

With everyone being so busy this time of year, I decided this would be the perfect recipe(s) for December.

Herbs de Provence Chicken:

Chicken – Use whatever pieces you prefer.  I used chicken thighs and got 6 so I would have some leftover.  If using breasts with bone in, you might need to cook them about 10-15 minutes longer.

2 T          Herbs de Provence

1              Lemon, juice only

2 T          Olive Oil

¼ C         White Wine, dry

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

In a baking dish, rub a bit of olive oil on the bottom so the chicken doesn’t stick.  Place chicken in dish, skin side up.  Drizzle lemon juice first then olive oil over chicken.  Put white wine in dish around chicken.  Sprinkle Herbs de Provence over chicken, then salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Baked Butternut Squash:

½             Small Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1” size pieces

1 T          Butter, melted

1 T          Olive Oil

1 clove  Garlic, minced

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

Place squash in a square baking dish.  Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to coat.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the squash in the oven and start baking.  After 10 minutes, place the chicken in the oven next to the squash.  Continue baking for 35 minutes.  Turn broiler on and broil for about 5-8 minutes until both squash and chicken are beginning to brown on top.  Remove from oven and serve.

Sautéed Chard w/ Cherries:

1 T          Butter

1+ tsp    Olive Oil

2 med   Shallots, minced

2 clove  Garlic, minced

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

2 T          Sherry, see kitchen list for my preference

½             Red Bell Pepper, cut into ½” pieces

1              Bunch of Swiss Chard, ribs removed and chopped coarsely  (I prefer rainbow)

¼ C         Tart Dried Cherries

1-2 T      Water

Directions:

While the squash and chicken are cooking, you can prepare the vegetables.  In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until they start to soften.  Add the bell pepper, salt, and sherry and reduce heat to med/low.  Continue to sauté until the squash and chicken are almost done.  (This will make the bell pepper really sweet!)  Note:  If the pan is starting to become dry, add a bit of water and turn heat to low.  A few minutes after you have put the oven on broil (for the squash and chicken) increase the heat on the pan to medium and add the cherries, water and chard.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Watch to make sure the chard doesn’t over cook!  You want it to be a nice vibrant green when done.  Serve.

The whole meal serves 2