Posts tagged: asparagus

Breakfast Casserole with Mushrooms and Asparagus

By Katie, 5:01 am

As I’ve mentioned before, I usually opt for sweet breakfasts over savory ones. Truth be told, I usually opt for sweet anything over savory anything. ;-) But I’ve discovered that sometimes a savory breakfast is better because it often involves more protein, and hence keeps me feeling full longer. It also helps me get in a serving or two of veggies, which is rare in my standard, sweet morning meals.

While this breakfast casserole is very simple to make, it’s not the fastest meal to whip up…probably more of a lazy-weekend-morning breakfast than an out-the-door-workday kind of thing. But it does keep well in the refrigerator – not to mention it makes six hearty servings – so you could always make it on the weekend and then just give it a quick spin in the microwave throughout the week.

To make this breakfast casserole, I simply sauteed some asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach in a little bit of olive oil. Then I layered the veggies in a prepared cassrole dish and topped them with mozzarella cheese. On top of that I poured a mixture of beaten eggs, egg whites, and milk, then popped it in the oven until the eggs were set and the top was beginning to brown – about 45 minutes.

Perhaps the best thing about this recipe is that it’s basically an (almost) blank canvas; it’s the foundation upon which you can build all sorts of delicious variations. Don’t like mushrooms? (GASP! 8-O ) You can easily sub in another veggie. Want something more fancy? Swap the mozzarella for goat cheese. Love bacon as much as this lady? Cook some up and throw it in! (Next time I’ll add a few chopped Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patties, which I’m currently loving.)

Breakfast Casserole with Mushrooms and Asparagus
Adapted from In Good Taste
Makes 6 hearty portions

Ingredients
1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
6 eggs
6 egg whites (I used the equivalent of liquid whites from a carton)
2 tbsp milk
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375º. Spray a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish with nonstick spray.

2. Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high, then add the asparagus and saute about 5 minutes. Spread the asparagus pieces into a single layer in the casserole dish.

3. Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Saute the mushrooms for 5 minutes or so, then add the spinach and cook until wilted, about a minute more.

4. Layer mushrooms and spinach on top of asparagus in the casserole dish, then top with shredded mozzarella.

5. In a medium bowl, beat 6 eggs, then add egg whites and milk and whisk until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour over vegetables and cheese.

6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until eggs are set and the top of the casserole is beginning to brown.

What’s your favorite savory breakfast?

AND

Do you ever prepare your upcoming breakfasts over the weekend, so during the week it’s just grab-and-go? I’ve heard of people making a whole batch of oatmeal or muffins, which sounds like a good idea to me!

Pasta with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

By Katie, 10:05 am

Now is the time for fresh, local asparagus, so those lovely spears are making their way into my meals and into my mouth as often as possible. That’s the thing about eating locally and seasonally – you end up glutting yourself with a certain fruit or vegetable until you’re absolutely sick of it, which is the exact moment it’s gone. By the time it’s back you’re longing for it once again.  :-)

I started jumping for joy when I came across this recipe for Pasta with Asparagus and Goat Cheese for many reasons, one of which was that it calls for chicken sausage. I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s many varieties of pre-cooked chicken sausage. When someone who is not familiar with the store asks me what I recommend from there, I always say chicken sausage.

(You could of course omit this if you’re a vegetarian; the recipe would still be rockin’!)

Pasta with Asparagus and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Pink Parsley
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 large bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
sea salt and black pepper
2 links pre-cooked chicken sausage (I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic variety)
4 oz. whole wheat pasta
2 oz. fresh goat cheese, softened
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tbsp fresh chives

1. Preheat oven to 450º.

2. Toss asparagus with a splash of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Cut chicken sausage into 1-inch rounds. Roast asparagus and chicken sausage on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta.

4. Whisk together the goat cheese, Parmesan, butter, and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add a touch of salt and pepper, and stir until smooth.

5. Toss the pasta with the cheese mixture, asparagus, and chicken sausage. Add the rest of the pasta water, a little bit at a time, until the pasta is coated with a thin sauce.

6. Divide into two bowls and garnish with chives. Enjoy!

Have you been enjoying any local asparagus?

AND

If you are near a Trader Joe’s, have you ever tried the chicken sausage?

Asparagus Quiche

By Katie, 10:02 am

Is anyone else very excited about local asparagus???

I debated posting this recipe for Asparagus Quiche because I’m not quite sure it turned out properly. But it tasted quite good, and I figured that if I shared the original recipe and how I modified it, some other cooks out there might be able to explain where I went astray.

This Asparagus Quiche was the joint venture of mother and daughter. I love that I took up an interest in cooking because it allows us to have some fun together in the kitchen. Wearing cute aprons, no less! ;-)

The problem, however, was that this was the first time either of us worked with puff pastry. The recipe said to roll out one sheet of puff pastry dough and fit it into a large pan without stretching it. We got the dough as thin as we could, but there was no way it was spanning the pan. So we ended up using two puff pastry sheets, overlapping them a bit, which seemed like a fine solution until we took our first bites and realized the bottom of the quiche was still a bit doughy. :-(

So I guess my question is, when using puff pastry sheets, are you supposed to roll them out until they are really really thin?

Besides that, though, the quiche was delicious!

This would be a fun recipe for a brunch get-together!

Asparagus Quiche
From USA Weekend (with my changes in italics)
Serves 8 as a side, 6 as a main dish

Ingredients
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-in pieces
5 green onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (we used two)
3 eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream (we used plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1.5 cups grated Swiss cheese (you could cut this back if you wanted)

1. Preheat oven to 400º.

2. Toss asparagus and green onions with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

3. Roll pastry on a lightly floured surface into an 11-x-16 inch rectangle (we couldn’t get it this thin; I was too afraid it would just rip!). Fit into a 10-x-15 inch jellyroll pan, making sure the pastry is not stretched.

4. Evenly distribute asparagus/onion mixture over pastry. Bake on lowest oven rack 12-15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk, sour cream or Greek yogurt, tarragon, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.

6. Remove pastry from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300º. Pour egg mixture evenly over asparagus. Sprinkle with cheese.

7. Put quiche back into the oven on the upper-middle rack. Bake until filling is just set, 20-25 minutes.

8. Turn on broiler; broil until cheese bubbles, about 2 minutes. (We skipped this step; it seemed unnecessary.)

9. Remove quiche from oven and let rest a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Have you worked with puff pastry before? Do you know what we did wrong?

AND

Do you like asparagus? What’s your favorite way to eat it? I absolutely love it, despite the fact that it gives my pee a distinct smell. (Sorry if that was “too much information,” but if you’ve ever eaten asparagus you know what I’m talking about! ;-) )

Thai-Inspired Dinner! And Other Eats

By Katie, 7:59 pm

I must say, I am not the biggest fan of coconut. Which might surprise you, since I’ve blogged several recipes containing the ingredient. The truth is that it’s not really my thing, but Dave happens to love it! And since I cook plenty of dinners based on my personal preferences, it’s only fair to make some that are more catered to his taste buds. :-)

Take, for instance, this Thai-inspired Coconut Soup.

If you’re like Dave and love coconut, then you’ll appreciate this light soup! It’s based off of this Healthy Eats 5-Ingredient Coconut Soup with Noodles and Mushrooms recipe. My soup actually had 6 ingredients because I added snap peas; I also used shiitake mushrooms, which I highly recommend.

If I were to make this again I would definitely add lemongrass to give it an even greater Thai-inspired flavor!

Another (somewhat) noteworthy dinner:

Annie’s Whole Wheat Shells and White Cheddar, doctored up with some broccoli and canned Alaskan salmon. For some reason I don’t mind eating dinner from a box quite so much when I add a little somethin’ somethin’ of my own. ;-)

Let’s check out some other times of the day, shall we?

Breakfasts

Nothing too thrilling – plain bite-sized Shredded Wheat (TJ’s brand) with banana in almond milk.

I also wanted to show you this awesome bowl of oatmeal.

This is actually Dave’s concoction, not mine. I have to say, he is quite talented when it comes to interesting oatmeal bowls!

In his mix:

  • steel cut oats cooked in milk
  • cinnamon
  • dried blueberries
  • chopped dates
  • shredded unsweetened coconut

Lunches

This sammie was awesome!

Whole wheat bread, Applegate Farms roasted turkey breast, lettuce, asparagus, pickles, and spicy brown mustard.

I want to say that the asparagus made this sandwich, but then I would be lying…the rockstar was definitely the PICKLES! For some reason I always forget to add pickles to my sammies, and then I randomly remember and am in heaven!

There are also some mega-salad action.

In the bowl:

  • red and green leaf lettuce
  • cucumber
  • grape tomatoes
  • artichoke hearts
  • some tiny radishes from Dave’s back porch garden
  • mung bean sprouts
  • a chopped medjool date for sweetness
  • big dollop of hummus

Plus a side of some locally-made plain yogurt topped with a pinch of Post Great Grains cereal.

And finally, on a rushed day, a frozen Amy’s meal.

Snackage

Not surprisingly, I’ve eaten a couple of bars.

The usual suspect. ;-)

A whopping THREE ingredients!

Fruit leather thingys.

Greek yogurt topped with a crumbled Vita Muffin. (Love this!)

Maple-roasted butternut squash cubes (yes, I eat squash as a snack! :-D )

And half of a cantaloupe filled with cottage cheese. Delicious!

Those are all of the food photos I’ve taken of late…time to start snapping some more! ;-)

If you cook for your significant other, do you ever make meals that you don’t like too much because he/she does?

AND

For those days when convenience is king, do you have a favorite brand of frozen meal that you turn to?

Smoked Salmon Asparagus Wrap

By Katie, 10:11 am

After reading about Andrea’s love for smoked salmon, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I’m so glad I did; I think I’ve found a new obsession!

This creaminess of the salmon and the cheese in this wrap provide a perfect complement to the crunch of the asparagus and the red pepper strips. The only disappointment? My Trader Joe’s only sells Atlantic smoked salmon, which isn’t the most sustainable choice. :-? So I’ll be on the look-out for another provider to fuel this new obsession!

Smoked Salmon Asparagus Wrap
Adapted from Eat Better America
Serves 1

Ingredients
2 oz. asparagus spears
1 Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge (I used the Original Swiss flavor)
2 oz. smoked salmon
1/4 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 whole wheat wrap or tortilla
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp lemon juice
sea salt

1. Steam asparagus until it is cooked but still crunchy. (I steamed it in the microwave with about a tablespoon of water for a mere 2 minutes.)

2. Spread the cheese on the wrap; top with dried basil and a sprinkling of salt.

3. Top the cheese with the salmon, then the asparagus and the red pepper strips. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

4. Roll the wrap, securing with a toothpick if necessary.

Do you like smoked salmon? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it? I’m looking for more suggestions!

Red Pepper Love Note

By Katie, 2:47 pm

Bizarre title, no? It actually makes perfect sense! ;-)

First and foremost, I appreciate all of your supportive and insightful comments regarding my thoughts on photographing food and intuitive eating. I really loved reading the reasons why you do or do not photograph all of your food; I learned a lot!

Second, I wanted to share with you that the Creative Writing Group I attended last night was really great! It was a good sized group – about 10 people or so – from all different walks of life: a retired person, a stay-at-home mom, a few college students, etc. Some have experience with publishing, others don’t. Some write poetry, some write personal narratives like I do, and others are hard at work on their novels. I got a lot of great feedback on an essay I shared, and everyone was warm and friendly and even a few people said “oh, can you write my assignment? or give your feedback on it?”! I definitly will come back! :-)

When I got home at 9:00 p.m. I was more than ready for dinner! But who knew I was going to be getting such a lovely dinner?!?! I walked in to find some beautiful roses on the table.

And was then presented with a wonderful, satisfying meal, prepared by my favorite guy in the world. (No, not Hamilton!!! ;-) )

See the red pepper love note? Now that is some creative plating right there! ;-)

The meal consisted of whole wheat spaghetti with spinach, garlic, olive oil, grilled chicken, grilled red peppers, and tomatoes. Delicious!

Plus some grilled green and white asparagus. I’d never had white asparagus before! It was milder than green, so it would be great for those who don’t like a strong asparagus taste.

And a slice of homemade whole wheat bread.

It was a lovely meal! Dave, you’re awesome. :-D

Who does most of the cooking in your household? If it’s you, and if you have a significant other, does he/she ever surprise you with a meal?

P.S. Here’s a great giveaway for Gnu Bars! (Although I may not want you to enter because I really want to win them! ;-) )

Barley Risotto with Asparagus

By Katie, 9:32 pm

When it comes to grains, I feel like people fall into two categories: those who prefer chewier ones (think steel cut oats and wild rice) and those who prefer creamier ones (think oatbran and rice pudding).

In general, I fall into the creamy category. So it’s no surprise that I love a good, creamy risotto. :-)

But this was no ordinary risotto. Instead of the traditional short-grain rice, this recipe calls for barley.

If you’ve ever made risotto before, you know it’s not for the faint of heart. ;-) It requires a lot of patience and a lot of standing at the stove, slowing adding small amounts of liquid and waiting for it to be absorbed. Fortunately, I made this after a full day of sitting at my desk, so I welcomed the chance to straighten my legs for an hour. And when your hubby pulls up a chair in the kitchen to keep you company – like mine did – it’s not so bad! :-D

To make Barley Risotto with Asparagus, I first cooked some onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Then I added the barley and began the process of slowly adding broth – about 1/2 cup at a time – and waiting for it to be absorbed. I loved standing over the pot and watching the barley just get creamier and creamier!

I added the asparagus with the last batch of broth, and cooked it until it was tender. (I can’t wait to make this dish with fresh, local asparagus!) Added just a touch of salt and pepper, then topped the individual bowls with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.

At first I was worried that it would be bland because I barely seasoned it at all. But then I remembered how salty and flavorful Pecorino is; I made sure to get just a tiny shred of cheese with every bite, and the flavor was perfect! :-D

Barley Risotto with Asparagus
Adapted from Real Simple

Serves 4

Ingredients
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1.5 cups barley
1 cup dry white wine (could substitute more broth)
1 lb. asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
sea salt
black pepper
2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated Pecorino Romano

1. Warm the broth in a small sauce pan over low heat.

2. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the broth – 1/2 cup at a time – stirring occasionally and waiting until it is absorbed before adding more.

5. Add the asparagus with the last 1/2 cup of broth and cook until tender. It should take about 40 minutes for all of the broth to be absorbed.

6. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into individual bowls, and top with the grated Pecorino.

When it comes to grains, which texture do you prefer – chewy or creamy? And do you have the patience to cook a dish like risotto? ;-)

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