Sometimes the best last-minute dinners are made by combining staples that have been gathering dust in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. In my case it was lots of vegetables and gnocchi and a few condiments that I tossed together for a fun dinner with friends.
Every month we participate in The Recipe Redux cooking challenge, and this month we were told to go through our pantries, cupboards, freezer, and fridge and pick an ingredient or condiment that has been hanging around for awhile. We were asked to give this ingredient the attention it deserves and create a healthy recipe.
Liz and I decided that I should tackle this month’s challenge because, well, I have a well-stocked pantry. This is a nice way of saying that I’m a bit of a hoarder. I’m also an overachieving dietitian so I decided to use a dozen pantry items to create a new recipe. Our latest intern, Katy, had done a nice job of organizing our food photography props, but the other side of the pantry had lots of food items to choose from.
My sister, Diane, was visiting from Oregon so I convinced her and my friends, Catherine and Maryellen, to join me in this cooking challenge. I showed them these pantry ingredients when they arrived and the consensus was that we would use the gnocchi, anchovy paste, and tomato paste.
The canned shrimp was a bit past the expiration date and I told my friends we had to use it, so Catherine whipped up these shrimp crostinis with shrimp mixed with cream cheese and hot sauce over crackers. These kept us fueled while we cooked the main meal.
We then dug deeper into the freezer and found a partial bag of peas, a bag of snap peas, and some garlic cubes. In the fridge we found half & half cream left over from Easter, a few scallions, some grape tomatoes, an orange bell pepper, and fresh parsley. We decided to use all of them to make a Gnocchi Primavera.
We totally made up this recipe as we went along, sipping on wine, and it turned out pretty well, especially for a Friday night throw-together dinner!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 frozen garlic cubes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 17.6-ounce package Italian gnocchi
- 1 12-ounce bag sugar snap peas
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup half & half cream
- Parmesan cheese, optional
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, anchovy paste, and tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- While the vegetables are cooking, boil the gnocchi; add the sugar snap peas and peas for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Drain and add to the cooked vegetable mixture, along with the broth and half & half. Stir and heat through for about 3 minutes.
- Top with Parmesan cheese as desired.
The best part of cooking with friends is sitting down and enjoying the meal afterward with good conversation. We were all pretty tired after a long week. Can you tell? Do you have a favorite throw-together meal using items from your pantry?!
Celebrate spring with the season’s freshest asparagus, and use it in this playful, savory pie that everyone at your table will love.
From late March to June, you’ll find fresh, local asparagus at the market. Asparagus contains folate, fiber, vitamin C, and iron, and it’s versatile too. Add it to omelets and quiche, grill it, or steam and then toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper for a simple side dish.
Slow cooked pulled pork is a favorite recipe here at The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. Made with lean pork, bell pepper, onion, carrot, and BBQ sauce, it’s delicious and nutritious … and the recipe always makes enough for leftovers, which can easily be turned into these Pork Soft Tacos.
Spain is known for many things including flamenco dancers, paella, tapas, seafood, and wine. I was lucky enough to attend a conference in Madrid recently and even luckier to have my daughter, Carolyn, fly over at the end of the conference to travel with me for several days. Here are some of the highlights from the trip.
I arrived in Madrid the day before the conference to explore the city with Kate Geagan and Chris Mohr, two fellow registered dietitian nutritionists. Our first stop was to a tapas bar called El Miajón de los Castúos where we enjoyed the first of many nibbles of fresh-sliced jamón and Manchego cheese. Amazing!
Next, we feasted on a six-course lunch, courtesy of Chris’ colleague, Luis, who lives in Madrid. I won’t even attempt to describe all these dishes, but the clams were the best I’d ever eaten. The octopus was, um, interesting!
Too cold to think about anything BUT a warming bowl of soup? Try my meatless yet oh-so hearty (and healthy) slow cooker Barley & Bean Soup.
It’s been a wild few days here in New England. With 20 inches of snow on the ground and more in the forecast, I’ve been cooking up some nutritious new soup recipes for my resident snow blowers, Tim (crazy dad removing snow from roof) and Simon (helpful teen making sure crazy dad doesn’t fall off ladder).
Just another day in the neighborhood … Read more
Eating for overall good health and diabetes prevention just got a whole lot easier with this family-pleasing recipe for Chicken Veggie Stir Fry.
Over 80 million Americans of all ages have prediabetes, which puts them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes—a disease that can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and blood vessel damage. Obesity, inactivity, a low fiber diet, and a high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages are common risk factors for diabetes.
To the rescue is registered dietitian, Hillary Wright, M.Ed, RD whose new book, The Pre-Diabetes Diet Plan outlines simple eating and exercise strategies aimed at reversing and preventing diabetes. She joins us this week on Cooking with the Moms Episode #260 to share a veggie filled, health-enhancing recipe along with invaluable advice for stopping prediabetes in its tracks.
As part of her pre-diabetes diet plan, Hillary recommends filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, 25% with a lean protein food, and the remaining 25% with a starchy veggie or whole grain. She’s not anti carb, but instead, she emphasizes the Two Qs: quality (whole grain) and quantity (not too much).
We served our stir fry with brown rice—a whole grain—and stuck to a 2/3 cup portion.
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Juice of 1 lime, divided
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
- 2 carrots, cut into very thin rounds (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups bite-size broccoli florets (from 1 small bunch)
- 1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into ¼-inch-thick half moons (about 2 cups)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions cut into ¼-inch pieces (white and green parts)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- ¼ cup sliced fresh basil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Brown rice, optional
- Place 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, ginger, juice of half a lime, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a large zip-top plastic bag or bowl. Add the chicken pieces, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
- When ready to make your stir fry, heat the oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and the marinade and stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add the carrots, broccoli, zucchini, garlic, green onions, and jalapeno pepper and stir fry 7 more minutes, or until the chicken is done and the vegetables are crisp tender.
- Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, remaining lime juice, and the remaining sesame oil. Before serving, stir in the basil and cilantro.
- Serve with brown rice as desired.
If you or someone you know has prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, this is the book for you. One blog reader or podcast listener can now enter to win a copy of The Pre-Diabetes Diet Plan (U.S. only please).
TO ENTER post a comment here and tell us your diabetes story and/or why you want to win the book.
We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
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Giveaway ends February 6, 2015 and our winner will be picked using Random.org. Good luck!
Family dinners don’t have to be bland or boring. Add a subtle smoky twist to your next make-your-own taco night by using my secret flavor booster: chili chipotle powder.
Sunday dinners at my house often revolve around some sort of fish taco recipe. This weekend Josh was home from college, so I wanted to make something satisfying, nourishing, and super flavorful before he headed back to school; the food he eats at school is none of the above. My new creation for Smoky Tacos with Greek Yogurt Sauce met all three criteria.
Tamales. I had enjoyed them in Mexican restaurants but never considered making homemade tamales for myself… until my friend, Catherine, invited me over for a tamale-making gathering at her house.
Tamales are packets of corn dough with a savory or sweet filling. They are usually wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed. Tamale making is often a community event, and we enjoyed our creations with a bowl of vegetarian posole soup and a side of guacamole. Comfort food at its best!
Red, orange, green, and yellow bell peppers remind us of colorful Christmas tree ornaments, so use that to your advantage this holiday season to introduce your family to nutrient-packed peppers.
Rich in vitamins C and A, peppers are versatile, crunchy, and filled with big flavors. You can slice them and serve with our Rainbow Veggie Dip, saute and add to pasta dishes, soups, and tacos and wraps …
… or use them as the foundation for these fun-to-eat Corny Bean Bell Pepper Boats.