Pasta with Creamy Greens and Chicken Sausage

I’ve been making a real effort to find creative and tasty ways to eat more greens.  Smoothies only satisfy once a day, so it was time to get serious about incorporating more leafy greens into things other than a salad or juices.

Pasta is one of my favorite canvases.  I took a look inside my pantry and refrigerator last night and went to work.

Get out a food processor, and put on a pot of water.  This dish will satisfy served piping hot for dinner…or cold or room temp for lunch or a side dish.


Pasta with Creamy Greens and Chicken Sausage

2 Large clove garlic

4 c.  Loosely packed fresh spinach

4 c.  Loosely packed fresh kale, chopped

8 oz. (or 1/2 c.) cream cheese, softened

4 oz. (or 1/4 c.) goat cheese, softened

Salt and pepper to taste (1 t. Salt, 1/2 t. Pepper)

16 oz. Short pasta (like penne, rigatoni or rotini)

4 links chicken sausage (I used Parmesan Chicken Sausage from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market)

1/4 c. Grated Parmesean

1 tomato, sliced and 1 T. Chopped parsley (for garnish)

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta al dente.  Heat a grill pan or frying pan and prepare the sausage until it’s browned on the outside and cooked through.  Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for grated cheese, tomatoes and parsley) in a food processor or a blender, like a Vitamix. Blend until smooth, then taste to adjust seasoning.  Drain pasta and reserve about a 1/2 cup of the pasta water to loosen the sauce later, if necessary.  Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces.  Transfer pasta to a serving bowl and add greens mixture and sliced sausage.  Stir until until everything is combined.  Top with tomatoes, grated cheese and parsley.

Serves four.  If you’re using the new Vitamix Ascent, your should double the recipe for the volume minimum.  Sauce will keep for about a week  or your can freeze the extra.

I am always looking for better ways to eat, or drink, my greens.  I’ve shared my newest secret…what are yours? 

 

Back to School Power Breakfasts

I know it’s easy to sleepwalk through breakfast, especially for busy moms or teenagers.  But c’mon, people.  With a little planning, and very little effort, you can have a power packed breakfast, full of “good brain food.”  My friend, Natalie, of Life Success For Teens and I combined on this effort, to help teenagers get out the door well-prepared for a productive day.

Cinnamon Cocoa Overnight Oats

My inspiration here are those “tall mocha, extra whip” type drinks with TONS of sugar and too much caffeine.  This recipe will fuel you just the same, and scratches that itch, without all the unnecessary sugar. SUPER FOOD: almonds

Cinnamon Cocoa Overnight Oats

1/2 c. rolled oats, 1 c. almond milk, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 T. cocoa mix, 1 T. chopped almonds.  Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, stir.  Refrigerate overnight.

Power Pancakes:  

It’s hard to believe there is cottage cheese in this recipe, packing these pancakes with protein.  And you don’t miss syrup if you want to just grab them and go. SUPER FOOD: blueberries.

power pancakes

I use the Blender pancake recipe from Katie Lee and add blueberries.  Combine 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup rolled oats, and 2 eggs in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Heat skillet (or griddle), and add butter.  Pour batter onto skillet (about 1/2 cup) and drop a hand full of blueberries onto the pancakes.  Cook until you see bubbles forming on the sides.  Flip and cook another minute or so.  Top with syrup, or powdered sugar.  (But it might be sweet enough for you with the blueberries alone) You can also sub smashed bananas for the cottage cheese (and add peanut butter). 

Go Bites:

These are portable and popable, perfect for the bus ride to school or the carpool.  Don’t make them too big, or they’ll melt in your hands. For an afternoon snack instead of breakfast, use trail mix instead of cereal. SUPER FOODS: cranberries and almonds.

go bites

1/2 c. peanut butter. 1 T. honey, granola,  raisins, craisins, and leftover cereal.

Mix the peanut butter and honey, then freeze for about 20 minutes.  Remove from freezer and roll into balls (a small spoonful each) Pop them back in the freezer for a few more minutes, as they’ll get warm from your hands.  While those firm up, combine granola, raisins, craisins and any leftover cereal you’ve got in the house, like Cheerios, Rice Krispies, etc.  Roll the peanut butter balls in the mixture to coat completely.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.  

Avocado English Muffin:

I will eat just about anything if it has avocado in it.  But they’re not cheap.  So adding cream cheese will make them stretch, and feed a couple teens, or you.  And adding spinach will sneak in a vegetable serving before the bell rings. SUPER FOODS: avocado and spinach.

Avocado English Muffin

1 Whole Wheat English Muffin, 1 avocado, 1/2 c. fresh spinach leaves (finely chopped), 1-2 T. cream cheese, kosher salt to taste.

Toast the English muffin.  Slice the avocado and remove the fruit.  Combine the avocado with the cream cheese, a pinch of salt and spinach.  Spread over the muffin.  

If you really want your teen to be well-prepared this fall, check out Life Success for Teens.  Natalie has an upcoming workshop, boot camp style, that will help optimize a teenager’s performance at school.  Click here for information.

 

 

 

Pot Roast Dumplings

I was recently given a “Cheftovers Challenge” by a friend of mine: Do something interesting with leftover pot roast.  Challenge accepted.  She said most of the time she just breaks it up and loads it on a pile of egg noodles with the rest of the gravy for “round two.”  I call that unimaginative, and unexciting.  Gotta do better for your family and your guests. And I was ready to be adventurous and try something out of my comfort zone, Asian cuisine.  I was going to make dumplings with this!

leftover pot roast

This past week I made what was likely the most tender and flavorful pot roast I’ve ever prepared.  (Let me know if you want the recipe for that too)  It was very juicy and much too much for our family.  I blame it on the BOGO deal at the grocery story (only large ones left).  There was plenty left, that I tore apart easily with a pair of forks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t ALWAYS have EVERYTHING I need to execute the ideas I have for my leftovers.  In the same way it “takes money to make money” sometimes it takes food to make food, so to speak.  I finally ventured into to the Asian Food Mart just a couple blocks from my house to get what I needed to make my dumplings, won ton wrappers.  They were $1.99 for a frozen block of them.

leek filling

Next, I surveyed the fridge for more things that would complete the filling for my Pot Roast Dumplings.  I uncovered some sauteed organic leeks I had remaining from the Sunday morning quiche I made.  Hate to have any organic produce go to waste.  I added those to a small food processor and slowly poured in some heavy cream until it became the thick (slightly sticky) and creamy consistency I was going for.

green onions

Then, for variety, I grabbed the beautiful green and purple organic green onions I also had, beckoning to be utilized in an Asian dish.  For this filling, I thought I’d try cream cheese, and I had some chive and green onion…perfect!  I used the same food processor to blend those ingredients until it was enough to bind to the leftover pot roast.

green onion filling

Now it was assembly time.  I did refer to a couple of other dumpling recipes to see if I was on the right track on portion size, filling and assembly/cooking instructions.  I placed a half dozen won ton wrappers on a large cutting board and put about a tablespoon of one of the fillings, then an equal amount of the shredded pot roast.  I had enough to make about two dozen dumplings.

filling pot roast dumplings

Then, I moistened the wrappers around the filling with water and a small pastry brush, gathered the edges and pinched them together.

assembling pot roast dumplings

I put about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and placed the dumplings in batches in the hot oil to fry until the bottoms were brown.  Then I carefully added about 1/4-1/2 cup water in the frying pan and covered it until the dumplings were steamed and cooked through.

frying pot roast dumplings

For the dipping sauce, I first read through a handful of recipes, and worked on a soy ginger version, something that was hot and sweet.  I sauteed some garlic and ginger in a little vegetable oil.  Then I added soy sauce, brown sugar and a pinch of red pepper flakes until it thickened up.Now I was on to something!

beef pot roast dumplings

Challenge completed.  I’d taken some tasty pot roast, a few kitchen staples, some special organic produce, and a single “new buy” to make what was easily the best heavy appetizer/light dinner I’d made in a while.  My guests gobbled them up.  So, now that I’ve tackled pot roast, whatdayahave for me?  I’m ready for what you throw at me.