Tag Archives: spinach

Spinach “Meat” Balls and Spaghetti (Squash)

spinach "meat" ball Spaghetti and Meatballs… a classic. When I was a kid, this was one of my favorites. Before I converted to vegetarianism as a defiant 11 year old, I was all about Sunday Night Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs. The smells of a simmering pot of sauce gently cooking little orbs of deliciousness are deeply ingrained in my mind. So last Sunday, when I asked Mark if he wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner he looked at me with disbelief. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made him spaghetti and meatballs in the past 4 years. Since I no longer eat meat, I go lighter on the pasta and I’m lactose intolerant, this recipe differs from that of my childhood. The spinach balls sit atop spaghetti squash, a vegetable Mark and I have been obsessed with for the last 6 months.spaghetti squash with roasted veggies and cauliflower tomato sauce

Top those squash noodles with some balls of spinach and I’m in vegetable heaven! The “meat” balls are made of spinach, a bit of bread crumbs (gf if need be), quinoa, a binder (egg or flax egg,) onions, garlic and spices… you won’t even miss the meat. But because I’m a nice girlfriend I made Mark some pork and turkey meatballs.

Spinach “Meat” Balls over Spaghetti Squash

makes about 10-12 balls and enough spaghetti for 2-3 people

Quinoa

1 teaspoon of oil

1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa

1 1/4 cups of water

Spinach Dumplings (makes about 10)

1 tablespoon of oil

1 12 oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted and all excess water squeezed out with an old kitchen towel

1/4 cup of bread crumbs (gf if need be)

1 egg or flax egg (1 tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and allowed to sit in the fridge for 15 minutes.)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 of an onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like spice)

1/4 cup of cooked quinoa (from above)

1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce

1/2 cup of water

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise

Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the oil to the bottom of a small pot. Let it heat up for a minute over medium high heat then add in the quinoa and water, stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

While the quinoa is cooking, start to prepare the spinach balls…take a medium sized bowl and add in the spinach, bread crumbs, egg, spices, garlic and onion. When the quinoa is cooked add 1/4 cup to the spinach mixture, and stir it to combine all of the ingredients. Heat a mediums size pan over medium heat and add in about a tablespoon of olive oil. This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 375 F for your squash.

Form the spinach mixture into 10-12 balls with your hands. Place the spinach balls in the pan and brown on all sides. Once nicely browned, add in the sauce and water and cover the pan with a lid, let it simmer gently for at least 45 minutes, but I think the longer the better. Stir it around occasionally

While the spinach balls are bubbling away, line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the spaghetti squash, cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. The squash is ready when the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork. When it is done let it cool a little bit, then scrape a fork along the inside, from stem to stern. The squash should come apart in strings that resemble spaghetti (hence the name). Plate up your squash and top with spinach balls and sauce.

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Spinach, Mushroom and Egg Bake

spinach, mushroom and egg bake

Sometimes around the holidays, with the parties, the cookies, the excess alcohol, and the comfort foods, you start to feel like you need a reboot. I’m at that point… gimme a plate of kale and a large glass of lemon water, please!

Nothing sets me back on track like heaps of vegetables and a few Nalgene’s of water, and maybe a multi-vitamin. My 7 mile dreadmill treadmill run yesterday couldn’t hurt either, right?

This egg bake is just the thing… it’s loaded with spinach and packs some serious protein. Top with some spicy sriracha to speed up your metabolism and you’ll be better in no time.

spicy, healthy breakfast

Spinach, Mushroom and Egg Bake

Serves 1

1 cup of frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water squeezed out with an old dish towel.

2-3 baby portabella mushrooms or white button mushrooms, washed and cut into a small dice

2/3 cup of egg whites, about the white of 3 eggs

Black Pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350. Liberally grease a ramekin. Defrost spinach; I nuked mine in the microwave for about a minute and thirty seconds. Let the spinach cool slightly, Gather it in an old dish towel or some paper towels and wring it over the sink to squeeze out the excess water. Wash and chop your mushrooms into a small dice. Add the spinach and mushrooms to the ramekin and pour the egg whites over the top and top with freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the eggs have set up and air firm. Finish with a minute under the broiler. Remove from the oven and to with your favorite condiment… mines sriracha!

 

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Spinach and Cannelloni Bean Dip

This past weekend, Mark and I went to my parents for the weekend. They were throwing a graduation party for my brother and all my relatives, neighbors and friends were invited. I actually had some employment last week, working as a research specialist at UVM for a week and I had to work Friday night. After getting out around 8, I met Mark for dinner at Bluebird Tavern. I got an arugula salad and ratatouille. The ratatouille was delicious and chocked full of roasted local veggies… yum!

We headed down to my parents on Saturday morning. We arrived in time to help set up and prep some of the last minute food… like a killer fruit salad (blueberries, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, peaches, and pineapple). Look, there was a heart in one of the strawberries… strawberry to my heart?!?

I spent most of the party running around fetching things like serving spoons and more napkins, but I also got to see all of the people that are important to me. And the night ended with a spectacular firework show put on by my dad and his friends. Somehow I didn’t take a single picture.

On Sunday, Mark and I went to Cohen’s to get the best bagels ever and we ate them down at the beach. It was nice to have the sand between my toes and the salt breeze in my hair. I’m a total beach kid at heart… and boy oh boy had I been missing the ocean.

I made this dip for the party on Saturday, its super healthy and flavorful and it can be served with pita chips, endive spears or veggie crudité.

Spinach and Cannelloni Bean Dip

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

12 oz of spinach

1 15 oz can of cannelloni beans

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Black pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute then add in the spinach and let it wilt for 2 minutes, tossing occasionally. Let the mixture cool. Then place the spinach in a clean (old/not cared for) dish towel, squeeze out the excess water over the sink. Place the spinach in the food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve with pita chips, endive spears or veggie crudité.

I served mine with Stacy’s Italian Harvest Pita Chips to rave reviews

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the Seneca 7 and Spring Rolls

Since I last blogged, in mid April, a lot has happened and life has been a little crazy.

I went on a field trip to the heart of coaltown, PA for a depressing Geochemistry Fieldtrip to study acid mine drainage… their water runs orange from all of the pollution.

It was my birthday so Mark took me to the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, one of the oldest vegetarian restaurants around, and the Ithaca Farmers Market… I was a happy birthday girl!

Then yesterday, Team Lava Tigers took on the Seneca 7, a 77.7 mile relay race around Seneca Lake. How it works is you get 7 runners and each runner has 3 legs of the race to run and you rotate through your roster, passing off an “official” slap bracelet. The 7 of us held strong at 7:59/mile pace and finished in 10 hours and 21 minutes, putting us in 41st place out of 150 teams… not too shabby!

Stephen, Katie, Emma, Me, Mark, Amil and Will

We did however go through 4 cars… 1st mine, which didn’t start when we climbed in at 6:30 am. So we switched to my teammate, Emma’s, which got us to mile 45, before black smoke erupted from under the hood. So the next two runners, Mark and Katie bummed rides to their exchange points while Emma’s parents drove to our rescue. They got Amil, our next runner, to the next exchange point just as Katie crested the hill… perfect timing. Then they drove us ahead to our next two exchange points. Then Will’s girlfriend Rachel met us to transport us to the final 3 exchange points while Emma’s parents went back to meet the tow truck.

Even with all the craziness, we had a blast and ended our senior year on a great note. I am also super proud of what I accomplished. I ran 11 miles, crested a 350 ft vertical climb coming out of Watkins Glen and showed real mental toughness. This means so much more to me because I have very severe asthma and was born with underdeveloped lungs… every year since I can remember I have failed the lung functioning test, which measures the amount and speed or flow of air that can be inhaled and exhaled. Doctors are shocked when the find out I can run more than half a mile. Training meant not only building up my leg strength but my lung strength as well. I’ll admit it was hard when my lungs gave out before my legs some training days but I kept my asthma in check all day yesterday. This race showed me that I do not have to be defined by my asthma. Some days, I can’t help but wonder what kind of athlete of would be if I was blessed with fully functioning lungs… but after yesterday I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve wanted to make spring rolls for the past few years. So I bought some rice paper the other day at the store. I did some reading about making spring rolls and learned a few tips and tricks. First things first, prep all your veggies. Another key thing is to use cold water to soak the rice paper and to only leave it in the water for about 5 seconds. It’s also best if you wrap a cutting board in a clean dish towel and use that to do your rolling. I also made a little assembly line for the whole process. You could add cooked shrimp or meat if you want to.

Spring Rolls (makes 6)

6 rice paper rounds

20 baby carrots, cut into match sticks

3/4 of a bell pepper, cut into match sticks

3 cups of spinach (or butter lettuce or whatever you like)

1/2 and avocado, sliced thin

Set up you station and assembly line. I put the rice paper next to a plate of cold water, then the cutting board wrapped in a towel and the plate of fillings. Then I cleared a place to put the finished rolls. Dip one rice paper round into the water for 4-5 seconds, then remove it and let the excess water drain back onto the plate. Place it on the towel and place 3/4 of a cup worth of filling in the center, but slightly more towards the bottom of the rice paper circle. Fold in the sides and roll the roll away from you making sure to tuck the paper in snuggly as you go, and press it lightly to seal. Move it to the side and repeat. It helps if you line the filling up neatly, parallel to the long side of the roll before you roll it up.

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We served ours with a sauce made of peanut butter, coconut milk, hosin, soy sauce, garlic and chinese five spice… but plain old soy sauce works too.

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Guacamole

I find as it gets towards the end of winter, I am so ready for some fresh produce that doesn’t include parsnips and squash (not that I don’t love those veggies). I made a few impulse buys at the store, namely 2 avocados and 1 pineapple, significantly increasing my carbon footprint. They were shipped all the way from Chile (I know, bad environmentalist, I do feel really bad) but I needed some fruit and veggies to pick me up out of my winter blues. I try to buy greenhouse grown veggies from the US, or Mexico if I have to, but I have been craving pineapple for weeks… and next thing I knew, it was in the cart, along with avocados and some yummy veggie sushi! The sushi had brown rice, asparagus, cucumber, roasted red peppers and avocado wrapped in carrot instead of nori.

On another note about the environment, I have seriously cut back on using my car, it’s not worth the gas (I’m still working on a tank of gas from mid January!) or the detriment to the environment. I’ve been walking everywhere, including the 2.5 mile round trip trek to campus. So, I climbed in my car to go to hockey practice the other night (I cannot carry my bag to the rink, it’s too far to carry all my gear and too dark) and my battery was dead… 3 jump attempts later and a drive to recharge my battery.. it’s now functioning again. Is this what I get for trying to be more environmentally friendly?

In addition to all the walking, I have ramped up my training for the Seneca 7… I ran 5 miles on Wednesday and felt fantastic.

Now on to the avocados… I obviously made guacamole, but I changed it up by adding spinach and cannelloni beans to increase the protein, fiber and iron and cut down on the fat. My guacamole has 28 calories in 2 tablespoons versus 43 in regular guacamole. I also shaved off 1.5 grams of fat and you won’t even notice the difference. So load up your plate …

Lightened-Up Guacamole

16 2 tablespoon servings

1 avocado, scooped out of skin and seed removed

1 cup of cannelloni bean (white kidney)

2 cups of spinach

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

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Anniversary Dinner

Wednesday was Mark and my 3 year anniversary. Hard to believe we’ve been together for that long. Even though it was also our first day of classes of our last semester, we still wanted to make our anniversary a little bit special.

For our first anniversary, I made Mark a Carrot Cake and we made Asian dumplings

For our second Anniversary, we were driving back to school, so we spent the night at a cabin in the mountains and I made pumpkin cheesecakes (which did not appreciate the bumpy drive up into the mountains… hence the cracks)

For this anniversary, we cooked in… I made Lebanese dumplings and we had some classy Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert Americone Dream. The dumplings might not be 100% authentic Lebanese, but they were tasty.

Lebanese Dumplings

Quinoa

1 tablespoon of oil

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

2/3 cup of uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups of water

Spinach Dumplings (makes about 10)

2 tablespoons of oil

1 12 oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted and all excess water squeezed out with a kitchen towel

1/4 cup of bread crumbs

2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 of an onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

dash of cinnamon

1/4 cup of cooked quinoa

Meat Dumplings (makes about 8-10 dumplings)

2 tablespoons of oil

6 oz of ground meat (beef or lamb, we used beef)

1/4 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

dash of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of bread crumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup of cooked quinoa

Yogurt Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup of  Greek yogurt

1/4-1/2 cup of water

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 clove of garlic minced

2 tablespoons of minced parsley

***read the whole thing through first… this recipe involves some multi-tasking

Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the oil to the bottom of a small pot, and then add in the cumin. Let it heat up for a minute over medium high heat then add in the quinoa and water, stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

While the quinoa is cooking, start to prepare the spinach dumplings…take a medium sized bowl and add in the spinach, bread crumbs, parm, egg, spices, garlic and onion. In another medium bowl start the meat dumplings… add in the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, spices, garlic, and onion.

Then make the dipping sauce by combining the yogurt water, garlic, oil and parsley in a bowl with a whisk, then set aside. At this point the quinoa should be almost done so heat up two large skillets over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil to each and preheat the oven to 350. When the quinoa is done, add 1/4 cup of quinoa to the spinach and 1/4 cup to the meat. Mix the meat mixture together and form it into 8-10 meat balls, place them in one of the frying pans. Wash your hands well, then mix together the spinach mixture and form into 10-12 balls and place in the other frying pan.

Turn all of the balls, meat or veggie, so they can brown on each side. Once browned on all sides, transfer them to two sheet trays or pans (I used a pie pan and an 8×8) making sure to keep the meat separate from the veggie. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes until they finish cooking through. Remove from the oven when the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, or until they reach your desired done-ness. Spoon quinoa into the bottom of a bowl, top with dumplings of your choice and spoons some of the yogurt sauce over the top.

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Roasted Root Vegetables

I hope every one had a good holiday.

Mine was a cooks dream:

I got an immersion blender

It came with a wire whisk attachment, a chopping bowl that chops nuts, cheese, etc. and a blending jug to measure ingredients and make smoothies etc. I’m so excited for all of the Soup Sunday’s to come!

 

A 16 piece set of ceramic bakeware

(my aunt has the same set and I fell in love with at Thanksgiving)

A tripod for my trusty Canon

I think it makes him look like a robot. I shot this with my Dad’s Nikon D40X… maybe one day I’ll be able to afford a SLR like that. Not that I don’t love my Canon, he has 14x optical zoom, 14.1 megapixels and a manual setting

and… $100 to Wegman’s, our grocery store back in Geneva… yay free food!

Christmas dinner was great, I got to use all my new cooking gadgets and it was pretty tasty too.  I was responsible for veggies and salad. I roasted a bunch of root veggies in my new bakeware and threw together a fancy looking and sounding salad (but it was super easy to make). I also made some broccoli rabe, which  I though could have been better, it was a tad bitter. I blanched it, but I guess not long enough, I think part of the issue was that it wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked.

I’ll pass along the salad and roasted root veggies recipes and keep working on the broccoli rabe.

Roasted Root Vegetables

5 carrots, peeled and cubed (big carrots, not 5 baby carrots)

3 parsnips, peeled and cubed

2 turnips, peeled and cubed

4 red potatoes, cubed (not peeled)

1 medium onion, cut in half, ends removed and sliced thinly

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoons thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Placed prepared veggies on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish, top with oil, garlic and spices. Toss to coat, and bake in 400 degree oven for 30ish minutes, stirring occasionally,  until veggies are tender, and can be pierced though with a fork.

Spinach and Radicchio Salad with Pears and Parmesan

4 cups of spinach

1/2 head of radicchio, cored and sliced thinly

2 oz of parmesan, shaved (I used a vegetable peeler to do this)

1/2 a bosh pear cored and sliced thinly

Balsamic-Maple-Dijon Dressing

1 mason jar with lid (or other seal-able container)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

black pepper

 

Add all ingredients to mason jar, close lid and shake to combine. Shake each time before serving.

Stores in fridge or on counter for up to 2 weeks

 

For Dessert, we had Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls, cheesecake and my Aunt’s famous Chocolate Cake… check out that frosting

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