Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

What comes to mind when you see or hear the word “Orzo.”

Could it be the 6 Orzo families who were living in New York City (USA) in the 1920’s.

Or could it be Caffè d’orzo – a type of hot drink, originating in Italy.

Caffè d’orzo or Barley Coffee

Most of us though think of the small, rice-shaped pasta that is traditionally used in soups or salads. 

Orzo is a very versatile pasta that has been widely adapted by chefs in Italy and America for both main courses, as well as side dishes, including soups and pasta salads.

Though it originated in Italy – Orzo has been used in multiple cuisines such as Greek, Turkish and Spanish for centuries.

Isn’t Orzo Actually a Form of Rice

Simply put, Rice is rice, while orzo is rice-shaped pasta.

Rice and orzo share characteristics, but the two foods are not identical or the same.

Both rice and orzo are versatile and interchangeable.

Orzo can be used in place of rice to make a Pilaf or orzo can be a replacement to make a Risotto.

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups dried orzo pasta

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups whole milk

2 cups packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Next, add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and orzo, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Next, stir in the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.

If the orzo isn’t completely cooked once this has happened, you can add another splash or two of broth to the pot and continue to simmer until it has.

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

Next add the spinach and Parmesan and stir in until the spinach has just wilted and the cheese melts, about 1 minute.

Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with additional cheese if desired.

Spicy Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Spicy Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are compact rounded leaves tightly bound into individual spherical-shaped heads ranging in diameter of one to two inches when mature.

Human hand  filled with Brussels  Sprouts

The younger the Brussels sprouts, the sweeter and more palatable flavor they contain.

The vegetable is available year-round.


Read More Here About Brussels Sprouts and Their Nutritional Value – Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Preparing Brussels Sprouts


Classic cooking of Brussels sprouts include roasting, braising or pan frying them. You can use butter with savory spices such as garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary and sage.

Culinarily companions include pork belly, cheese, cream, duck fat, eggs, ham, grapefruit, olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon, hollandaise, maple, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, pepper, pistachios and pancetta.


Try This Recipe – Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Spicy Grilled Brussels Sprouts

1 lb burssels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice, more for later

1/2tsp. garlic powder

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 tsp. Moroccan inspired Harissa spice mix

pinch crushed red pepper, to your liking

grated Parmesan cheese, to your liking

In a large bowl add prepared Brussels sprouts. Next add oil, lemon juice, and spices. Mix well and set aside.

Place aluminum sheets on bbq grill. Heat bbq grill then add prepared Brussels sprouts and grill until slightly charred, about 15 minutes.

Remove from grill. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice and 2 – 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, or your liking. Mix in well.

Plate with your favorite protein and a salad.

Platted grilled Brussels sprouts with chicken and salad

Pumpkin Pecan Risotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese

Despite its appearance, risotto is not a type of rice but rather an Italian dish made with a special high-starch short-grain rice.

Which includes the Arborio, Carnaroli and the Vialone Nano rice.

The Rices Used To Make A Risotto

This special type of rice can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.

A basic risotto is particularly prepared with Arborio rice, bone broth, shallots, butter and salt.

Once you have the basics, you can add just about any other food that you would like.

This risotto includes dried cranberries, pecans, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, goat cheese, and Italian parsley.

The History Of Risotto

The history of how Risotto became an Italian dish is quit simple.

The story of risotto begins in the 14th century B.C. with the Arabs bringing rice to Sicily and Spain during their rule.

Rice Fields In Northern Italy

Italy was the ideal place to grow short-grain rice due to the humid weather and abundant flat land.

Till today, the Po Valley (Italy) is one of the largest rice producers in Europe and rice is eaten extensively throughout northern Italy.

Making A Risotto Is Not Time Consuming

Making a risotto with any of the rices we noted at the start of reading this article, takes as long as cooking an Asian rice or Mexican rice.

But the difference is, it is hands on from start to finish. Which is about 20 to 25 minutes. And I will say, It is worth it.

If you prepare a risotto the right way, or in other words, follow the recipe, you will have a creamy delicious risotto.

Pumpkin Pecan Risotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese

• 4 cups bone broth (or vegetable stock)

• 1 cup canned pumpkin puree

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

• 1 shallot (minced)

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

• 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar red

• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

• Fresh ground black pepper

• 1 cup crumbled goat cheese

• 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the stock and pumpkin over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the shallot and salt.

Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme and rice and cook for one minute longer.

Add the white wine vinegar and a ladle of warm stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Add another ladle of stock, and continue cooking until evaporated again.

Continue cooking, adding a ladle of stock at a time, and allowing to evaporate in between each addition. Cook until the rice is done, but has a bite to it, it should be creamy in texture, and will take about 20-25 minutes.

Mix in the parmesan, half of the parsley, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining parsley, goat cheese and dried cranberries. Serve immediately.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic Parmesan

These roasted red potatoes with garlic parmesan are simple and fast to make. A perfect side dish to any dinner and sure to please.

They are toasted with olive oil, minced garlic, along with a little Himalayan salt and black pepper.

You can also mix dried thyme, oregano, and basil if you wish.

Once they’re done let them cool a few minutes then toss them with more grated parmesan if desired and garnish with some chopped parsley (cilantro well work as well).

The History of Red Potatoes

The Red potato was first cultivated in the mountains of Peru.

Spanish explorers brought the potato with them on returning voyages and introduced them to Europe in the 1560s.

When the potato became popular and spread across Europe, they were also carried to the new world or North America.

Why Red Potatoes Are Red

The color in red potatoes is due to anthocyanains, a common pigment which is associated with being rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Antioxidants make the spuds more nutritious and a diet rich in antioxidants helps to lower your risk of cancer.

The Potatoes Nutrition

You will receive the most nutritional benefits from red potatoes by eating their skin along with the white flesh.

Red potato are a good source of vitamin-C, vitamin B-6, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

According to Harvard Medical School, your body needs vitamin-C to form collagen, which is an essential connective-tissue protein.

Vitamin-C also helps fight infections, maintain healthy bones, and helps with iron and copper absorption.

They are also fat, sodium and cholesterol free.

These potatoes have less of a starchy texture and more of a waxy one. This makes them excellent for use in salads, soups, roasted or boiled.

They also keep their color when cooked as well as their shape. Therefore, no need to peel them.

Roasted Red Potato’s with Garlic Parmesan

1 1/2 lbs red potatoes

2 tbsp. oil

2 cloves garlic minced (1 tsp.)

½ tsp. salt or to taste

¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper or to taste

¼ cup. freshly grated parmesan

2 tbsp. chopped parsley for topping

Optional

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. basil

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper and set aside.

• Rinse and scrub potatoes well. Cut each potato into bite sized chunks. Use a paper towel to pat potatoes dry.

• In a large bowl, toss potatoes with the oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper making sure they are fully coated (at this step optional to mix in other herbs).

• Spread potatoes evenly across baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring about halfway through.

• Remove potatoes from oven and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to blot off any excess oil. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

• Toss potatoes with the freshly grated parmesan cheese, garnish with parsley.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

Thanks to their distinctive smokey flavor, canned chipoltle peppers really bring this recipe to life, but they can be a little intimidating if you haven’t worked with them before.

map of MexicoThe chipotle pepper is not actually a pepper, but rather the process of smoking jalapeño peppers. Such process is said to have originated in the area surrounding Mexico City.

The chipotle pepper, once smoked and dried, tends to be brown and shriveled. It loses very little if any, of its heat or spiciness through the smoking process. It is enjoyed by many for its spiciness and the natural wood smoke taste that accompanies it.

You can remove some of the heat from a chipotle pepper by carefully cutting the pepper in half down the center and gently removing the seeds and membranes that hold the seeds to the inside of the pepper. There will still be a little heat, as the flesh of the fruit also contains capsaicin, the compound that makes chilies hot and spicy.

Be assured though, with the seeds removed, most of the heat is also removed.

A word of caution, if you choose to remove the seeds, be careful not to touch your eyes during the removal, as the pepper can be extremely irritating to the eyes and skin. If you want, just wear some gloves while removing the seeds.

Because of the chipotle pepper’s spiciness, only a small amount of the pepper needs to be used in a recipe, large or small to provide flavor without creating a dish that is too hot.

Freezing Canned Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce For Later Use

can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauceMost recipes call for a very small amount of the chipotle, which means you will end up with an almost full can when you finish. To get around this, remove the peppers from the can and pour all of the flavorful liquid into a food processor.

If you don’t have one, use a small glass bowl. Cut the peppers in half and scrape out and discard the seeds. The seeds pack a lot of heat, so keep some of them if you like extra spice.

Place the peppers in your food processor and pulse them until a paste is formed. If you don’t have a food processor, finely mince the peppers with a knife and add them to the bowl of reserved liquid. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Next, line a large plate with plastic wrap and scoop the pepper paste in 1 teaspoon measurements onto the plate, leaving enough space between them that they don’t run together. Place plate in the freezer to harden.

Once set, wrap the edges of the plastic wrap around the now-firm pepper paste portions and place in a freezer-safe bag and freeze. Pull out 1 or 2 teaspoon-sized portions and use in your favorite recipe that calls for a little heat.

Start small with the amount of chipoltle peppers you use. You can always add more if you like a little more heat.

Our featured recipe is Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings, and here is what you will need.

Ingredients

3 pounds chicken wings
2 teaspoons himalayan salt
2 teaspoons frsh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3-4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teasapoons from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

spicy chicken wingsLine a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Next add chicken wings to baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure wings are not touching.

Season wings with salt and pepper, then place in oven. Bake until skin is crisp, approximately 45 – 50 minutes.

About 20 minutes before the wings are done, add garlic and butter to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until garlic becomes translucent.

Reduce heat to low and add ginger, chipoltle peppers, honey, soy sauce and vinegar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid becomes syrupy.

Transfer the sauce to a glass bowl and add the cooked wings. Toss until coated and either serve immediately, or place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place under broiler for two minutes or until brown and bubbly. Serve with a side salad.

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Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Blueberry White Chocolate Bread PuddingIf you like blueberries, white chocolate, real cream, and bread pudding, than this is the dessert recipe for you. We found this recipe about 7 or 8 years ago. Personally I would consider this our signature dessert recipe, as we sell desserts, and this is the most ordered dessert on our list.

Bread pudding is a dessert dish with very old roots. It evolved as a use for stale bread. Many cultures throughout history have seen starvation, and food shortages, and they seen no reason to waste food, not even stale bread. Many culinary dishes have been invented using stale bread, both savory and sweet.

Today making bread pudding is still a tradition, though current recipes are far more extravagant or splendid since the inception of making bread pudding.

Our featured recipe never goes without a word of, “this was so delicious”, and we think you will feel the same. It is fast and simple to put together, and here is what you will need.

3 eggs

4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt*

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

1 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

*With the presence of sugar in a recipe, using salt can reduce the amount of sugar used. The original recipe calls for 2 cups sugar but no salt. By adding the salt, less sugar is needed. The salt brings out the sweetness of the sugar, making it seem as though you put two cups.

Preheat oven to 350°

blueberries and white chocolate chips In a large mixing bowl, add eggs and sugar, then cream together. Next add the heavy cream and vanilla. Mix until combined. Next stir in blueberries, and white chocolate chips.

french bread added to egg battterMix in prepared bread cubes.

frechbread mixed with blueberry egg batterLet stand for 10-15 minutes or until bread is softened.

adding Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding to a glass baking dishTransfer to a 13×9 inch glass baking dish.

Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding - not cookedBake uncovered for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Blueberry White Chocolate Bread PuddingLet stand for 20 minutes before serving. Can plate and serve with white chocolate sauce, heavy cream, or a scoop of real vanilla ice cream.

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Baked Garlic and Broccoli

Baked Garlic and Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, capable of irradiating cells from your body that would otherwise become cancerous. It is a vegetable among others in its class that stimulates the lymphatic system to detox your body as well.

As for garlic, it’s your digestive aid, antibacterial, and anti-inflammation friend. If you don’t like garlic, maybe you should get to know it better, because it fights off cancer as well.

Let’s get started with our featured recipe: Baked Garlic and Broccoli. It’s a very simple and tasty recipe, as well as a nice way to enjoy broccoli with the pure flavor of fresh garlic.

Here are the few ingredients you will need.

Ingredients for - Baked Garlic Broccoli1 cup broccoli florets

6-8 garlic cloves

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe makes two (2) servings. Double it to serve four (4) servings or triple it to serve six (6).

Tenderizing the Broccoli Marinate the broccoli florets for 30 minutes with the olive oil and salt, so that they become tender.

Garlic and Broccoli on a baking sheetPreheat the oven to 350 F for 5 minutes. Spread out evenly the broccoli florets and garlic cloves onto a baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Toss the broccoli and garlic, then continue to bake for for another 10-15 minutes or until broccoli browned a little but not burnt.

Baked Garlic and BroccoliRemove from oven and let cool about 3 to 5 minutes. Place into a serving bowl, and make it a side with your favorite meat dish.

If you wish you can add other vegetables to the baking sheet, like carrots or zucchini. Enjoy!

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Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Remember when kale was only used as a garnish with an orange slice on your favorite plated food? Or even used to decorate a salad bar? Kale has come a long was in the whole foods movement.

Facts About Kale

During the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe, as it was easy to farm.

During World War II, the farming of kale in England was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The leafy green vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing (DailyMail).

The author of Taylor’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables, Benjamin Watso writes that Kale and collard greens freezes well and tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.

Two servings a week of kale or any of its cruciferous vegetable cousins can help prevent cancer. 

The Classification and Colors of Kale

Kale is classified by its leaf type:

  • Curly-leaved (Scots Kale – Blue Curled Kale)
  • Plain-leaved
  • Rape kale
  • Leaf and spear (a cross between curly-leaved and plain-leaved kale)
  • Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur kale)

The different colors of kale can range from green, light green, dark green, and violet-green to violet-brown.

If all of this has your saliva moving, then let’s move on to our featured recipe: Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes, and here is what you will need.

1 large sweet potato, grated (making about 2 cups)
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1 bag Fresh Baby Kale Mix
1 – 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce, no salt added
1/4 cup chipotle salsa
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (for a vegan dish use tofu or nutritional yeast)
4 corn tortillas cut into strips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Coat a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with butter or coconut oil (for a vegan or vegetarian dish)

Evenly spread the grated sweet potato in the baking dish, then layer the onion. Next sprinkle with the cumin seed, then layer on the kale and black beans (you can opt for adding 3/4th pound of cooked ground beef or chicken at this point).

Pour the tomato sauce over the dish, along with the chipotle salsa. Sprinkle with cheese, then spread the tortilla strips on top.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes. Plate and serve.

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Reaping the Benefits of Gardening Your Own Onions

Reaping the Benefits of Gardening Your Own Onions

Onions have great nutritional value and are a perfect addition to so many of your favorite lunch, dinner, salads, and side dish recipes. Onions can be stored in a cool dark area of the kitchen for several weeks, though they should not be stored with potatoes.

If you like vegetable gardening, then onions is a great addition as they are easy to grow.

Planting Onions

planting onionsYou can plant onions as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring, which for most areas  it can be late March or April (make sure the temperatures are not dropping below 20 degrees F).

Plant the onions sets 1 inch deep, with about 4 to 5 inches between each plant, depending on the size of the onion when mature, and in rows 12 to 18 inches apart.

Meet the Allium Family

The Allium family of vegetables includes the onions, scallions (green onions), chives, leeks, shallots, and garlic. The onion along with its cousin the garlic are grown and used both for medicinal properties and for cooking.

The Rainbow of Onions

There are many types and colors of onions. There are the smaller green onions, yellow onions, purple onions, red onions, white onions.

Depending on the color of the onion, they can have a sweet flavor or can have a spicy, pungent, and sharp flavor.

The Health Benefits

Onion bulb with green leaves and rootsOnions are so ubiquitous in cooking that it is hard to remember that they also have medicinal properties. The health benefits of onions include:

  • High in fiber, help with digestion and do not spike blood glucose
  • They have about 15 grams of plant carbohydrates per onion and no raw sugar.
  • Onions have no fat
  • Onions contain no cholesterol
  • Their mineral content includes iron, folate, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium
  • Onions are high in antioxidants, including sulfur and quercetin
  • Help to improve emotional wellbeing, and are healthy for your hair and skin
  • Reduce colon cancer risk
  • Onions can help fight obesity
  • Any onion because of its nutritional content can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes heart disease, and diabetes

Now let us examine in more detail some of the onions health benefits.

The Onion – Your Allie Against Cancer

It is the sulfur compounds of onions help reduce the risk of several different cancers. They inhibit cancer through several different methods. They can prevent oxygen free radical formation by being a potent antioxidant.

Animal and human studies have shown that all the Allium family of vegetables inhibit tumor growth and reduce the risk of stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, and prostate cancer.

The sulfur compounds can help block the growth of tumors and can prevent normal cells from mutating into cancer cells.

Antioxidants

Onions are rich in the antioxidant vitamin-C, which is important for cellular health as it can help stop the cascade of oxygen free radicals that are a by-product of cellular metabolism. Oxygen free radicals can damage or compromise the cell wall structure if they are not, neutralized by an antioxidant.

Your skin, bones, and ligaments, all rely on the vitamin-C, which helps to make collagen and maintain its health. Use vitamin-C rich onions in your salads or other dishes for the best in connective tissue health.

Folate for Mood and Sleep

Onions have a beneficial effect on your mood and sleep, as onions are rich in folate. This B-vitamin has shown to reduce the risk of depression by Eating fresh onions from your garden decreasing homocysteine levels in the body. High levels homocysteine has shown to conflict with the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, all of which are essential for emotional wellbeing.

Onions have the most nutrition in them, when freshly harvested, and you cannot really say that about the onions you purchase at the market.

This means it is best to start your own organic garden, incorporating a row of onions you can pick all season long.

 

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Purple Sweet Potato Cashew and Chicken Salad

Purple Sweet Potato Cashew and Chicken Salad

This recipe brings together flavors for an exciting salad as a main dinner selection. It features the sweet purple potato which roasts up very tasty, along with cashews, tender baby kale, chicken breast, and an all organic balsamic dressing purchased at the Whole Foods Market. It is a non-oil dressing that is gluten free, vegan friendly, and non-dairy. The main dressing ingredients includes blackberries, figs, and aged balsamic vinegar.

Let’s get to cooking and enjoy the video.

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