Quesadillas

Adapted from smitten kitchen‘s taco torte recipe

vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeno/habanero/serrano pepper, chopped small (optional)
ground cumin, chili powder to taste
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained, with 1/3 cup juice reserved
2 cans black, red and/or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can corn, drained
rough-chopped spinach leaves
6 flour tortillas (I like the corn ones, cause you can’t find them in Germany)
shredded cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice (only had lemon juice)
Chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream and/or salsa for garnish (optional)
2 radishes, sliced thin (didn’t have)
1 avocado, sliced (not ripe)

Saute onion, garlic, poblano pepper (and I threw in celery) in pan over medium heat until fragrant. Add the spices. Add the tomatoes and drained beans. Season with salt and pepper. Add the corn. I could have added mushrooms, but decided against it after having had mushroom risotto last night.

How to decide between authentic Mexican street foods (antojitos)? There are burritos, gringas, enchiladas, nachos, panuchos, salbutes, tacos, taquitos/flautas, tlayudas — all original Mexican dishes made with tortillas. Flour tortillas are often used for burritos and quesadillas, while corn tortillas are used for the rest. Lesson learned: Fajitas are Tex-Mex!

~Jessica

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Creamed spinach

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sorry it’s only in the background!

Adapted from Tyler Florence

2 bags of baby spinach
unsalted butter + extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
heavy cream
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
50 g freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper

Wash the spinach several times. Drain the spinach. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, then add the spinach, turning frequently, until the spinach has wilted down evenly. Remove the garlic and drain the spinach in a colander. Press out as much liquid as possible. Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat and add the cream and nutmeg; cook until it reduces a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is hot, about 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

~Jessica

Yam lentil curry

Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard, Adapted from smitten kitchen from The New York Times.

coconut oil + butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
fresh ginger root, grated
garam masala, curry powder, paprika
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (I had red pepper flakes)
1 L vegetable broth, or as needed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
300 g dried lentils
1 bay leaf
380 mL canned tomatoes
125 g frozen spinach
salt + black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime

Saute onions, garlic, and ginger in fat until fragrant. Add the pepper and spices. Add the broth and bay leaf. I added canned tomatoes here, cause I like a tomato-based curry. Boil lentils and potatoes in this for 20-30 minutes. Stir in greens if you have any, and lime juice. Taste. Add more water if lentils need more time. Season to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

~Jessica

Baked ziti, in a manner of speaking

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Glug of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, minced
125 g turkey strips
500 g can of crushed tomatoes
pinch of dried oregano
Red pepper flakes, to taste
450 g pasta, cooked al dente and drained
220 g mozzarella, coarsely grated
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
100 g frozen spinach
To serve: Dollops of your favorite ricotta and slivers of basil leaves =)

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I used fettuccine instead of ziti, and added a bit of chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms, for nutrition.

Preheat oven to 225 deg C. Cook pasta until al dente (at least 2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time). Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. Coat with glug of olive oil, and heat oil. Add the protein of your choice and cook with onion, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and salt over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes or until meat is browned; stir frequently. Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. If it’s become quite thick, stir in reserved pasta water. Add spinach and cook until wilted, ~1 minute.

You can either 1) layer or 2) mix the pasta together, casserole-like, before baking. If 1) coat drained pasta in a little olive oil so they don’t stick. Ladle sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, then layer of pasta, another layer sauce, then mozzarella and ricotta, another layer of pasta, add the remaining sauce, and top with remaining cheeses, including Parmigiano.

If 2) Stir in drained pasta and heat together for one minute. Pour half of pasta mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish, lasagna pan, or other 3-quart baking vessel (or divide among smaller ones, if you’d like to freeze some off). Sprinkle with half of each cheese. Pour remaining pasta and sauce over, and finish with remaining cheese. Bake in heated oven for 30 minutes.

~Jessica

P.S. Feel free to cook in some bell peppers, a la Simply Recipes.

Thanksgiving II

This was perfect for Thanksgiving. Be careful the potatoes have room to dry out (they release some moisture when cooked).

Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Celery
Adapted from smitten kitchen

2 big sweet potato, scrubbed, unpeeled, sliced in coins
glug of olive oil
handful of toasted walnuts
1 small shallot
2 stalks celery
some flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon dried cranberries or cherries (but I couldn’t get any)
150 g firmish goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard

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A perfect plate

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Adapted from Alton Brown

100 g chopped frozen spinach
jar of artichoke hearts
150 g cream cheese
100 g sour cream
50 g mayonnaise (not my favorite flavor in the dip)
a lot of grated Parmesan
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt
2 chopped garlic

~Jessica

Udon with tofu and Asian greens

Udon with Tofu and Asian Greens: Cooking Dinner

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In an effort to be healthier, I’ve been experimenting with more vegetarian dishes. The recipe I found seemed fairly easy, and I had all the ingredients on hand so it was a winner for the night. I loved how crispy the tofu turned out, though I did cook it longer than the recipe called for. I’m still getting used to the electric stove in our apartment (can’t wait until we have a house with a gas stove!) and so the pan wasn’t as hot as it should have been when I first put the tofu in. I was still able to capture a crispy consistency without it getting too chewy inside.

I made a few changes to the recipe that I think worked out in the end. I didn’t add the reserved pasta water to the dish as I didn’t want the sauce to get too thinned out. Also I used 16 oz of firm tofu since that was the only size I could find at Trader Joe’s. I should have compensated with more spinach as well, so I’ll keep that in mind for the future. In the end the dish smelled delicious, probably on account of the sesame seed oil, and Josh loved it, despite it being vegetarian. A little Sriracha on the side and you’re good to go!

~Jennifer