Hella “Good” Soup (chickpea, farro, spinach)

In the next few months, you might see the recipes at Butter Is My Jam take a slight turn. No worries, butter is, and always will be my true jam, but I started a fitness program with some friends (BodyBack – woo!) and the nutrition component is pretty major. I hate the term “diet” because it sounds like something temporary and dumb. The guidelines are pretty simple – eat more real food, eat less fake food, and don’t eat so much dang sugar. It hasn’t been too hard – I truly love vegetables and whole grains and the good stuff, my main issue is that I also really love hollandaise, pasta, and Reese’s peanut butter eggs. So basically, you might see a few less indulge-y desserts and a few more healthy, filling meals that your grandma would be proud of.

Speaking of that, my grandma is particularly fond of this soup – every time I make it she tells me how much she loves it and how good it must be for you. It’s probably not quite as healthy as her famous vegetable soup, but this one’s quick, easy, and really filling. This recipe usually serves about 5 adults, 2 kids, and leaves enough leftover for a lunch or two. It refrigerates well, but note that the longer it sits the more the vegetables and farro soak up the broth – you may end up with a really dense soup. It’s no big deal, add a little water or broth if you prefer things soupier. Also, if you’re dieting  making healthy lifestyle changes, it’s a filling, nutrient-dense, low-calorie meal.

Also, if you’ve never cooked with farro, you’re missing out! It boasts many of the same nurtitional stats as quinoa, but offers a great chewy, nutty texture. We love it! I use the Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro, but refer to your package details to see how long you need to simmer. I cook it directly in the soup, but if you’re worried you could always cook the farro according to package directions and add it already cooked. This soup is also vegan (dairy/meat free!).
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Chickpea, Farro, and Spinach Soup

1 swirl olive oil

1 medium onion

3-4 carrots

3-4 ribs of celery

3 garlic cloves

32+ oz vegetable broth

28 oz can diced tomatoes

15 oz can chickpeas

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 cup dried farro

2 cups fresh spinach (whatever you have, I’ve never actually measured, but like half a bag – 5-6 handfuls – follow your heart!)

S&P

  1. Dice the onion, peel and chop the carrots, chop the celery, and peel and mince the garlic cloves. In a large pot (I use a dutch oven) heat a swirl of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, stirring to soften all of the vegetables.  Once soft, add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
  2. Add the tomatoes with their juices, drain and add the chickpeas and pour in 32 oz of vegetable broth. Stir everything together and season with the basil, oregano, and a little salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add the farro and cook until they’re edible, but not quite done (usually about 10 minutes for me). At this point if things are looking a bit hearty, feel free to add a few cups of water or broth to loosen things up. Turn the stove down and add the spinach a little bit at a time, making sure to stir in each handful so it doesn’t make a big clumpy mess.
  4. Let the whole thing simmer for about 10 more minutes, taste and add seasoning as needed, and serve.

 

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie Cake

Baking cookies with kids is one of those things that sounds so wonderful when you’re pregnant. You picture yourself with your angel children carefully measuring and pouring ingredients in your well-stocked, immaculate kitchen all while wearing matching aprons with just a little dab of flour on your rosy cheeks. It’s a perfect Martha Stewart moment. You’ll do it every week!  It will be magical! Memories will be made!
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Then you actually have the baby and see how absolutely ridiculous this idea is because you don’t have time to even take a shower by yourself, much less go to the store, get ingredients, bake cookies, and clean up. I’ve always loved baking, but I’m definitely a control freak in the kitchen and just couldn’t see how to involve my kids without making it a miserable experience for all of us. I like baking – it brings me pleasure and relaxes me, so adding my kids to the mix seemed a little ridiculous so I avoided it for a long time.

But baking with your kids really can be awesome if you do it right. First, if you can manage to do it with one kid instead of 2 or 3, it’s much better. Second, I suggest starting when your kitchen is already a mess – because it will definitely be one by the time you’re finished. Finally, young kids don’t have much of an attention span. Make something fast and easy, or only involve them in a small part (trust me on this – if you’re going to make, cut out, bake, frost, and decorate 100 Christmas cookies, spread it out over a few days and only make 20). This skillet cookie cake is one that RG and I make together a lot. It’s one bowl, there’s plenty of fun measuring and pouring to do, you probably have all of the ingredients on hand, it’s forgiving, and it takes about 20 total minutes. No scooping our individual cookies, waiting for anything to rise, frosting – nothing. You mix, pour, and bake. It’s also absolutely heavenly.
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Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie Cake

2 sticks of butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup regular white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder

2 cups flour

2 cups chocolate chips (I use 1 cup of bittersweet and 1 cup of semisweet, both ghirardelli)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping the bowl between additions. Mix in the baking soda, espresso powder, and salt until everything is combined and smooth.  Add the flour  one cup at a time, making sure the first is fully incorporated before adding the second. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  2. Grease an 8″ cast iron skillet (I just spray a little vegetable oil on mine) and pour the batter/dough in, using a spatula to smooth out the top. Bake for 35+ minutes, until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cookie cake cool for 20 minutes, but then serve warm out of the skillet, preferably with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.

Broccoli, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pasta

Some nights I like to try new, exotic, fancy dinners with a million ingredients. Recipes that require me to watch a YouTube video or two, mess up every dish in the kitchen, and listen to pronunciations to make myself sound legitimate. I love to cook and I thrive on new challenges and techniques.

That said, sometimes at 6:30 it is just not possible.

Sometimes at 6:30 I’ve been up for too many hours with hyper, obnoxious children and am only running on leftover coffee fumes. Sometimes I come in from yard work or playing with kids in the yard and barely have time to wash my hands before jumping into cooking because all of my grannies come over for dinner on Tuesday. Sometimes I’ve been breaking up sibling fights and getting whacked with cars and have dried cheerios stuck to my pants and just need to make something so easy that I can do it AND send kids to the naughty chair at the same time. Sometimes the kitchen is already a disaster and I have a sink full of dirt, a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, and a barbie convention taking place on the counter. Tonight ALL of those things happened, and I made this pasta.

Also, it has 5 ingredients and they’re mostly in the title, so you can remember them even when a 4-year-old uses your grocery list to spit something gross into and you’re racing through the store with a screaming toddler who stuck his complimentary magic pop (sucker) in his hair and thus can’t lick it and you have to pee so bad because you quit drinking diet coke and replaced it with iced tea, which causes you to always need to pee.

So basically this dinner is cheap, easy, fast, requires only a few dishes and ingredients, and has vegetables in it so you can just serve it without any pesky sides or anything. It’s also vegetarian and grandma/kid friendly.

Broccoli, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pasta

Serves about 6

6ish cups of fresh broccoli (about 3 heads)

3-4 large cloves of garlic

1 lb dried orecchiette pasta (you could easily use bowties, too)

8 oz jarred sun-dried tomatoes (TJs makes an 8.5oz jar, I just use that)

6 oz goat cheese

Salt, pepper, olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, and bring a large, salted pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized florets and peel the garlic cloves. Toss the broccoli and whole garlic cloves with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, arrange onto a baking sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes.
  3. Cook the orecchiette according to package directions (10 minutes or so). When you drain the pasta, reserve about a cup of the pasta water. Chop up the sun-dried tomatoes if they are whole, if they come julienned just grab a glass of wine and pretend to be busy.
  4. When the broccoli and garlic are done, roughly chop the roasted garlic. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and pour in about a tablespoon of the sun-dried tomato oil. Cook the garlic in the oil for 30 seconds or so, then stir in the broccoli and the sun-dried tomatoes cooking it all together for about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir the cooked pasta and the broccoli mixture together in a large bowl. Crumble the goat cheese on top and stir to melt the cheese in. If the mixture is too dry, add in some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up (I typically add in 1/4 to 1/2 a cup). Season with S&P to taste.

Prosciutto Asparagus Hash with a fried egg

Lately, making a pan full of rich goodness and then frying an egg on top of it is kind of my thing. I love fried eggs – the runny yolk, the temperament, the way it oozes into everything – it’s perfection. This hash also contains only items I love. It takes about an hour, but the hour is really easy and cleanup is minor.

This meal does NOT serve more than 4. It is, in fact, ideal for 3.

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Prosciutto Asparagus Hash

4 ounces prosciutto

1.5lbs potatoes (I used yukon gold, but red would be fine here, too)

1 onion

1 bundle of asparagus (no idea how big these are, but they always come in a rubber band)

4 eggs

3-4 ounces goat cheese

3 green onions

S&P, olive oil

  1. Slice the prosciutto into small pieces and fry them in a large skillet over medium/high heat for a few minutes until crispy. Pull them out with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Hide the prosciutto somewhere so you don’t eat it all while cooking. Dice your potatoes into 1-inch pieces. I chose not to peel mine, because I like things rustic and lazy.
  2. In that same pan, add a little olive oil if needed, and toss in the potatoes.  Season them with salt and pepper and let them start to brown. Chop the onion while you’re waiting. After about 10 minutes, add the onion in and continue to brown until they’re not quite done, but close, about 15 minutes more. Keep turning them every few minutes so they don’t burn or stick.
  3. While you’re waiting on potatoes to brown, because it takes forever, cut off the woody ends of the asparagus and chop them up into 1-inch pieces. Crumble up the goat cheese and finely chop up the green onion.
  4. Toss the asparagus in and let it cook in for another 5 minutes with the lid on, then add the prosciutto back on and let it all get nice and hot.
  5. Crack the eggs on top and let them cook on top of the hash. It takes about 5 minutes, but I gauge doneness by when the egg whites are opaque.
  6. Serve with crumbled goat cheese and green onion. Make sure everyone gets an egg.

 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Elotes – Mexican Street Corn

I find myself so fascinated by shows like “Extreme Couponing” – coming up to the checkout with $500 worth of mayonnaise and antacids and slowly watching the total dwindle down to $6.75 must be a huge adrenaline rush and I applaud the thriftiness of these coupon mavens. Unfortunately, I find three problems with extreme couponing:

1. It takes time, which I don’t have.

2. I have neither the space nor the desire to store $500 worth of mayonnaise and antacids.

3. I take my food seriously and coupons for real foods (produce, protein, and dairy) don’t really exist.

So what’s a girl to do? I am pretty much bound to seasonal produce and often improvise a dish based on what’s on sale. I do prefer eating seasonal produce, but sometimes eating the same stuff for weeks on end becomes pretty lame. Thus was the case with corn. I just can’t pass up a good corn deal, and for the last 6-8 weeks it’s been 6-8 ears for $1. Insane – I can’t pass that up. Unfortunately, my family started getting really sick of corn (other than my daughter) – boiled, buttered corn is delicious, but it’s not a weekly staple. We had to revamp the corn. In came elotes – street corn! Grilled and sauced, it brings new life to lowly corn. You’ll start to think it SHOULD be a weekly dish – in fact, I might be sad when it becomes expensive again.

I’ve had elotes from restaurants that was boiled corn with the elotes sauce – it’s fine, and in a pinch is still good, but if at all possible, grill the corn. We’ve served it on and off of the cob, and while it’s good both ways, it’s less of a mess to eat if you cut it from the cob.

Elotes

8 ears fresh corn

1/2 cup mayonnaise (1 step closer to clearing the coupon stash!)

1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded cotija or queso fresco cheese

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic salt (regular salt is fine, too)

1 garlic clove

1 lime

handful of fresh cilantro

1. Shuck the corn, heat the grill. Stir together the mayonnaise and sour cream until well combined. Add in the chili powder, paprika, and garlic salt. Mince or press the garlic and add the garlic and cheese to the sauce. Chop the cilantro and cut the lime into small wedges.

2. Place the corn directly on the grill, turning frequently (8-10 minutes) until all sides are nicely charred. Cut the corn from the cob and serve with the sauce, a squeeze of lime, and a little cilantro.

Late Summer Gazpacho

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it isn’t summer anymore, feel free to file this away for use 7-8 months.  But if, like me, you’re still seeing 90 degree temperatures and you’re looking for a fresh tasting meal, then join me for some gazpacho.  If you haven’t made gazpacho before, you definitely should.  It’s quite possibly the easiest dinner ever, it will sufficiently increase your fruit and vegetable consumption for the day, and if you’ve ever thought it would be wise to eat salsa straight out of the bowl, but spice is a concern – you’ll be in heaven.

It’s great for a light lunch, but if you’re serving it for dinner you probably need to consider it as an appetizer or serve some heavy side dishes.

Gazpacho

adapted from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

3 garlic cloves

1/2 red onion

1 cucumber

1 zucchini

2 stalks of celery

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2T red wine vinegar

1 tsp tabasco or cholula

4 cups V8

salt and pepper

3 hardboiled eggs

1 avocado

1. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion and pulse in a food processor until liquefied.  Cut off the ends of the zucchini and cucumber and process until smooth.  Roughly chop the celery and tomatoes and add until the soup is about the consistency of salsa.

2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil, vinegar, hot sauce, and V8.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

3. Chop the avocado and eggs and serve the gazpacho cold with the eggs and avocado on top.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

So, you’re looking for the easiest dessert you could possibly make that also tastes incredible?  Here it is.  It’s not fancy, it’s not difficult, and it’s not really cheesecake, but it’s the ultimate potluck dessert.  I send it to work with Ross often and none of it ever comes home.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 cans crescent rolls

2 8oz. packages cream cheese (low fat is fine, fat free is not), softened

1 1/4 cup sugar, divided

1/2 stick of butter

1T cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Roll out one can of crescent rolls (don’t break apart) and press into the bottom of a glass 9×13 baking dish.  You may need to manipulate it a bit to cover the whole bottom.

2. Beat a cup of the sugar with the cream cheese until fluffy and combined.  Using a spatula, spread the mixture all over the layer of crescent rolls leaving about a half inch border around.

3. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and arrange to cover the top,  I press the edges together.  Melt the butter and pour over the top, stir the cinnamon and additional 1/4 cup of sugar together and sprinkle over the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.