Friday, June 28, 2013

Pasta with Zucchini Wine Sauce


For someone who likes to cook I eat out a lot. I go to breakfast twice a week on average and one of the things this means in a small town is it's a bit like Cheers. Everybody knows your name, and you know theirs.

I wrote about really wanting a quilt for this new baby a while ago. I wrote how I wanted every special person in my life to pick a fabric for a square that I could use. I really wanted not only my family and friends, but the people I interact with on a weekly basis at my favorite restaurants to be represented on this quilt. I knew it was a long shot. It's quite the undertaking to start such things. Someone would have to care very much. And besides, it's quite awkward to ask businesses for quilting fabric, yes?

For whatever reason (maybe because she's the sweetest woman on earth) Kristy Fox who owns Freshies restaurant here in Steamboat decided to kick this off for me. Soon, I showed up at Winona's for breakfast and was greeted with a gift bag of fabric from the owner...Kristy had spread the word. The next week Creekside sent Jeremy home with fabric for me as well. You guys. I seriously cried that people who were not in my immediate family or circle of close friends cared. And because of Kristy starting it -bless that woman-, word got around and at my baby shower on Sunday (it was mostly family who was visiting from out of town who were here for my sisters wedding and a few friends...I kept it small since my family is so big!), I received several swatches of fabric and I've been told there are a few more in the mail! I'm thrilled and blessed and so excited to have this quilt made. I sat on the deck eating perfectly grilled wild salmon that my grandfather had brought and my new brother Patrick (the chef) had cooked (and I learned how to get grill marks on the flesh side of fish! While it's cooking skin side down spray the top with a bit of oil so it won't stick and flip over. Make sure the grill is perfectly clean before you begin.) There was also kale salad, Asian pasta salad, caprese salad, watermelon, guacamole, punch, beer -not for me- peach crostada, cupcakes, vegan gingersnaps...I mean it was awesome to just be able to relax and talk over great food.


Special thanks to Cindy my Mother-In-Law for hosting my shower. I am 39+ weeks pregnant and full in every sense of the a good way. I had my doctors appointment today and I'm still at zero station and have been for two weeks, but I'm also 1 1/2 cm dilated and 70% effaced! I'm so excited because I've never dilated before I actually went into labor. Any. Day. Now. Let's just let the reality of that statement settle in a minute.

It feels like I haven't been in my kitchen in forever. With the wedding and family and events we've just been eating out, but yesterday we stocked our fridge once again and I'll be playing with a few new recipes this week unless I have a baby, I guess. I made this zucchini and wine pasta right before it started to get crazy around here, and I've been really excited to share it with you. It's so good. The zucchini gets cut small and cooked in wine. Everything reduces and the zucchini melts a bit and becomes a sauce. Fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, a bit of butter and pasta water to thicken at the end just seals the deal. I made this with 100% whole wheat pasta to up the health factor. This one is easy but decadent. We sat outside one night with a coolish breeze and slurped down our bowls. I was asked multiple times to make this again. Oh, I will, probably next week.


Pasta with Zucchini and Wine Sauce
adapted from Nigellissima, by Nigella Lawson via Health Magazine

serves 4

Salt and Pepper
16 oz penne pasta
8 scallions, thinly sliced 
4 Tablespoons garlic-flavored oil (I just added 3 cloves of garlic to the oil and cooked for a minute)
2 lbs zucchini, finely diced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring a pot of water to a boil; add salt generously. Add penne and cook per package directions. Before draining, remove a cup of cooking water.

In a heavy-base pan that has a lid, cook scallions and oil over medium heat, stirring for 1 minute. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add wine letting it bubble up. Add a handful of parsley. Season generously with salt, lower heat, cover with a lid and cook until zucchini is gorgeously tender, about 10 minutes longer. Taste and season with salt again (this dish needs quite a bit of salt because of how many vegetables are used).

Tip drained pasta back into it's pot. Add zucchini sauce, the rest of the parsley, the grated cheese, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Combine throughly and taste, adding pepper, and more cheese, salt or cooking liquid to get the consistency you want. I only needed a bit of salt for mine. Stir in the butter until melted and divide between 4 bowls.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Artichoke and Mushroom Quiche

artichoke and mushroom quiche

Fun things happening around here lately so that's why I've been a little MIA. Sorry, friends, although I do plan on posting regularly, I may not be on my twice a week schedule like usual for a little bit.

Artichoke and mushroom quiche

My sister came up two weekends ago had her hair and make-up run through for the wedding. Then, I hosted her Breakfast at Tiffany's themed wedding shower the next day for brunch. I usually make most of the food I serve at my parties from scratch but being that I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time I decided to cut myself some slack. I ordered the Meadows salad from Freshies, one of our favorite breakfast spots, and some biscuits and gravy from Creekside, one of our other favorites. My sister loves biscuits and gravy. Loves. Then I picked up some cake donuts from Milk Run in lieu of a cake. The only thing left to do was assemble a fruit platter and mimosa bar and bake up a few of these delicious artichoke and mushroom quiches.

artichoke and mushroom quiche

artichoke and mushroom quiche

artichoke and mushroom quiche

artichoke and mushroom quiche

I've been doing a lot of things I love lately which makes me happy. It's a celebratory time here with the wedding and maid of honor duties, plus the upcoming arrival of our baby girl. All this while the flowers are blooming, the weather is warming and the sun is out in full force marking the arrival of summer in just a few days. But to top it all off? I am huge. Officially now. Even I'll say it. Jeremy took this picture of me the other night and I thought Oh, I actually don't look that big. Maybe it's all in my head. 


But then this picture was taken the same night and I'm pretty sure I look like my stomach is photoshopped to be bigger than it actually is. I assure you it is not. It looks like I'm holding an enormous pillow or all-white beach ball or something. Just keeping it real.


Luckily, I wore black to my sisters shower, which was entirely appropriate being Breakfast at Tiffany's theme and all. Black is much more forgiving. She on the other hand wore white lace. Stunning white lace. Isn't she the prettiest?

artichoke and mushroom quiche

artichoke and mushroom quiche

This quiche is packed with ingredients which is how I like it. The egg part just sort of holds everything together. It's not the cleanest slicing quiche in history, just because of the chunks of artichoke and onions, but it's guaranteed super delicious.

Artichoke and Mushroom Quiche
adapted from The Pioneer Woman by Ree Drummond

makes two quiches
  • 3/4 pounds Thick Cut, Peppered Bacon
  •  5 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Onion, Very Thinly Sliced
  • 2 boxes (4 Oz. Each) White Mushrooms, Washed And Sliced
  • 1 can (14 Oz.) Quartered Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 pie crusts ( I used Marie Calenders brand from the frozen section)
  • 7 whole Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 cups Grated Swiss Cheese
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Fresh Parsley, Fresh Chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside. Pour out excess grease but don’t clean the pan.
Melt butter in the same skillet. Add onions and cook for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and artichokes and cook for a few more minutes. Salt mixture to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with cream. Add grated cheese, salt and pepper, and set aside. (Add cayenne pepper if you’d like a little kick.)
With a slotted spoon, add mushroom mixture into egg/cream mixture. Use your judgement with this. If it seems like it's way too much vegetable mixture for the amount of eggs, don't use it all. I know this is a vague instruction, so for reference, I ended up not using about a whole cup of the veggie mixture and reserved it for an omlette the next day. It's just that you can't half the ingredients or you won't have enough filling, so just make the whole batch. Stir together. Add bacon and stir. Add parsley or chives, if desired.
Pour into pie crust and press to submerge ingredients. Cover loosely with foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 45min-1 hour. Bake for slightly longer if quiche is overly jiggly.
Remove from oven and allow to set for ten minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blackberry + Swiss Chard Smoothie

Blackberry + Swiss Chard Smoothie

I may have a slight obsession with green smoothies. I love them. I can't get enough of them as long as they taste good. I have been in a great habit of making them most days with lunch. I have an arsenal of different Spinach smoothies, and refreshing blended Kale green drinks, but Swiss Chard is not one of those greens you see blended up everyday, and probably for good reason. It tastes dirty. Sorry, chard, but it is what it is. I wanted to make this one even though because it had enough "stuff" in it to overtake the dirtiness. Plus when else do I consume such a large amount of swiss chard along with a whole apple, and tons of good for you blackberries? We need more blackberries in our diets, plus the vitamin C in the berries helps the body to properly absorb all the iron in the greens. Win-win!

I had my friend Melissa over for a multiple course smoothie lunch the other day. Sounds fun right? Three different types, tons of vitamins and minerals and fiber and greens and antioxidants and good fats. It was so fun and awesome...until the great gut bomb of 2013 set in. Ever do that? Totally in the zone, thinking something is totally cool until you realize it's just so not...

Like when you are listening to Radiohead's song "Creep" in the kitchen when you realize -too late- that they say the F-word and your oldest kid totally heard it and you remind yourself what a stellar mother you are while rushing to press the pause button. Creep is a bad song to listen to with kids around even without the F-word, so double shame on me. Sometimes all judgement flies out the window and I just want to slowly jam and sway and sing "I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo, What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here" between sautéing and slicing. Suddenly I'm in 6th grade gym class in awful red shorts and Katie McCaron has shin splints and Scott Cannistraci is the cutest boy in school. 

Blackberry + Swiss Chard Smoothie

Just promise me you'll learn from our mistake. Combining that many foods in one sitting is not a good idea. Pick one smoothie and stick with it. Lesson learned. This chard and blackberry smoothie was not among the ones we made that day, so let me explain how we arrive here. The day after our smoothie blowout, Melissa reported that she made her usual savory green smoothie that morning and could not bring herself to drink it. She didn't know if she could ever eat spinach again. I felt similar and avoided anything green that day. However, the next day, because Melissa is one of the awesomest people on the planet, she arranged for me to leave with her to Denver for pedicures and tea at one of my favorite places in the world, The Brown Palace, to celebrate the new baby's impending arrival. It was my own special baby shower. She's a very good friend to me, you see. Our eating that day consisted of prime rib quesadillas, shrimp cocktail, Darjeeling black tea with milk and sugar, scones with devonshire cream and strawberry jam, tartlets of different variety, dainty tea sandwiches and a whole lot of nothing green.

Blackberry + Swiss Chard Smoothie

Blackberry + Swiss Chard Smoothie

And here, you have a prime example as to why you shouldn't be too extreme on either front. All that overload of sugary sweet, decadent food left me craving healthy green stuff again today. Melissa got a kale cucumber juice, and I picked the chard. I just went for it. And it was really, really good and light, even though it filled me right up. I usually steer clear of smoothies with grapes in them only because they are so high in sugar, but I figure a little natural sugar to get all that goodness in one glass is completely worth it.

Blackberry + Swiss Chard Smoothie
adapted from Green Smoothie Revolution via Higgins-McFarland Family Blog

1/2 head of Swiss Chard (I used rainbow chard, and 1/2 a head was two and a half monster sized leaves that filled up half my blender. I removed the tough rib down the center and discarded it)
1 sweet apple, chopped
1/2 cup green grapes
1 cup frozen blackberries
1/2 a banana
4 ice cubes
1/2 cup water

You'll want to use a powerful blender and blend on high until completely combined. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Arugula, Steak and Lemony Roasted Potato Salad

Arugula, Steak and Lemon Roasted Potato Salad

So, I eat meat now. I know, try and keep up, will you? I got a complete and elaborate blood work up a few weeks ago with a trusted "whole wellness" doctor and friend. I'd say holistic, but that's not quite right. He's a real doctor who gets whole body wellness, health, nutrition, and is an advocate of vegetarianism and veganism as well as some good ole meat eating, providing it is grass fed and not too often. He looked at my numbers and said:

Krysta, you look are low in iron, protein, B-12, and red blood cell count, all of which affect each other, all of which could be remedied by eating red meat twice a week until after the baby is born. Getting your levels up now will help with energy and stamina during labor and your bodies ability to bounce back after delivery and all that blood loss. 

I'm paraphrasing here, but coming from someone who knows me and my husband and and our diets, I completely trust him. Sure, he said I could raise my levels through eating mussels, oysters and wild salmon for my B-12 and spinach and beans (among other things) for my iron and protein...but the truth is it was going to be more work. I already eat those things. I need more, obviously, in higher quantities and I need to be taking vitamin C with it to ensure I get good absorption. In other words, it was going to require more work on my part...or I could just eat the meat and boost my spinach and call it good. I love red meat and my body feels good eating it. This choice was a no-brainer. I still take the vitamin C though, for good measure.

Springtime weather in the Mountains is perfect for roasted potato and steak salad
Arugula, Steak and Lemon Roasted Potato Salad

I am coming to believe the more I learn about health and wellness that there is no right way for everybody. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish and how you feel. Are you an ultra marathoner? You are going to need different types of food to fuel your body than a sedentary person. Do you need to loose a significant amount of weight? Yours is going to be a different story. I'm certain red meat would not be prescribed. And truthfully, I think some bodies can process certain foods better and more efficiently than others. So while I still believe animal protein is not good for the body for disease prevention in large quantities, it can be very beneficial for some in smaller quantities every so often. This is just personally what I think. You should explore and come to your own conclusions. It's like my doctor also said:

Your triglicerides are on the high side of normal. I'd tell you to watch that, but it depends on other factors as well. If your family history is one of heart disease and problems of that nature, I'd say we need to get that number down. On the other hand, if your family has a tendency to go crazy (dementia, etc) then I'd like that number to be higher because it's going to work for you and I'd tell you not to worry about it. Same thing with red wine. Red wine has many health benefits. I'm a big proponent of drinking a glass at night. However, if breast cancer runs in your family, it's not a good idea. The risk outweighs the benefit.  

Health is personal. I'm just trying to find the right things for me. I don't need to be defined as anything in particular. I believe in whole foods and lots of them. That's my statement as of now.

Arugula, Steak and Lemon Roasted Potato Salad

I got all giddy when I saw this recipe for a grilled steak salad because I could actually make it! And it was easily adaptable for Jeremy (who is not eating red meat) because I just added asparagus and he had a beautiful and simple filling salad, and I was free to just add the meat to mine. It's a hearty meal, but still light and bright for the season with the lemony-parsley filled dressing. I'll be making it again.

Arugula, Steak and Lemony Roasted Potato Salad
adapted from Women's Day Magazine, June 2013

For the Potatoes:
adapted from Dinner at My Place, by Tyler Florence

1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh rosemary sprig, leaves only
1 lemon, cut into quarters
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash potatoes and cut lengthwise. Toss potatoes with oil. Toss with rosemary and lemon wedges in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper, then roast potatoes for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown (sometimes, I crank the heat up to 375 for a few minutes if they are not browning as fast as I'd like). When done, toss the potatoes with the lemon wedges to make sure the juices get distributed evenly (the heat will release the oils from the skin and the juice from the inside). Season again with salt and pepper again and set aside to cool. 

For The Salad:
1 recipe lemony roasted potatoes (recipe above)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 1/2 lb skirt steak, cut crosswise into 6 pieces (I just grilled a grass fed ribeye and sliced it thin)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons capers
1 clove garlic
1 bunch arugula, thick stems discarded (I used a 5oz container)

Heat the broiler. Season the steak with salt and pepper and place on a broiler-proof baking sheet. Broil to desired doneness, 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

For the dressing, place the shallot, lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice, parsley, capers, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a mini food processor or magic bullet. Pulse until combined. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and blend until just combined. Ideally you want it to be a bit chunky (although I pulverized mine and it was still delicious). Arrange the arugula, steak and potatoes on a platter. Drizzle with the dressing.