Super Food Your Super Bowl

Super Food Your Super Bowl

Hey, hey, hey, today’s the big game! Are you watching? Hosting? Is your team playing? Our team got knocked out, so we are not as invested, but we will likely watch some anyway, if only for the commercials. And…it’s a good excuse to hang around with good eats!

If you were with me last Sunday, you read about how I am taking Sundays to talk about Super foods. To review, a super food is one that packs a serious nutritional punch into the calories it carries. Walnuts? Super food. Brownies? Not so much (guessing you knew that already). However – I am all about enjoying the foods you love, so to get more out of a favorite that might be nutritionally lacking, you just have to super food it. It’s really that simple. So, what are some ways to do this on Super Bowl Sunday? Read on!

Who is doing nachos? It is probably the one dish that will show up on every Super Bowl Party spread out there. Cheesy, gooey, crunchy, spicy – what’s not to love? Want to love it more, though? Knowing you are adding some good for your body will do that. I love to make these veggie laden nachos. Trust me, they are just as delicious as traditional!

Turkey and Veggie Nachos

Fries are great snacking party finger food. Salty, hearty, yum. If you make them with sweet potatoes, though, you have boosted your vitamin A, a great anti-oxidant. Leave the skin on and you get a good dose of fiber!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Are you planning on serving pizza at your gathering? One of my favorite things to eat, and it can so easily be super food-ed. Do you know watercress is considered a super food? I long relegated it in my mind as an after thought, something only for dainty tea sandwiches. However, it is a knock out source of vitamins a and c, as well as folate, magnesium, and potassium. Watercress, as well as other fresh veggies, turns this pizza from just a delicious treat into a nutritious treat.

Spring Fling Pizza

I hope this helps you give your party chow a good nutritional boost! Enjoy your gathering, and Go (your) Team!

Hey, Hey, It’s Superfood Sunday!

Hey, Hey, It’s Superfood Sunday!

Hello and Happy Sunday! Glad you are here because I have something to talk about. It’s superfoods. I am guessing you have heard this term – it’s been a bit of a buzz word in recent years. In a nutshell, a superfood is a food that packs a lot of nutrition into its calories. Blueberries, salmon, walnuts, broccoli – superfoods. Brie and ice cream – sorry, no. But here is my point of this post today – if you love brie and ice cream, EAT THE BRIE AND ICE CREAM. Or the mac and cheese. Or the bread, or whatever other food that we think we should not ever have anywhere near us, unless we are using it to deliver 40 lashes to ourselves.

Just Superfood It.

What do I mean by superfood it? I mean have that thing that you enjoy, that brings you pleasure, that makes your tummy and taste buds go YAAAAAAYYY!!!. Just add in some extra nutrition. If you are consuming calories anyway, might as well make them do some good work for you. Let me lay out some examples:

Let’s talk about that brie. One of my favorites, actually. Yes, it is divine slathered thickly onto a baguette, which you could do, but you could also put it onto a seeded dark, sour Scandinavian bread. You can sprinkle it with crushed flax seeds. You could spread the bread with kale pesto. Add the nutrition.

Here’s another one. Do you know how easy it is to make homemade flatbread? It is really easy. So, if you make it at home you can sub some of the white flour for whole wheat. Add psyllium husk for fiber, seeds for omega-3, finely chopped spinach for folate, vitamin A, vitamin K. Delicious. Eat the bread. It’s good for you (unless it isn’t, of course, due to a medical condition – then don’t – it’s not good for you),

Now, let’s get to that ice cream. This is an easy one. Pile on the blueberries, walnuts, ginger. Try some dark chocolate, pomegranate seeds, almonds. Add the good, don’t worry about denying what you love.

I will be talking plenty more about superfooding your life. Check back!

What Do I Do With All These Bits?!? A Tale of Carrot Pudding, Smashed Pea Toasts and Refrigerator Soup

What Do I Do With All These Bits?!? A Tale of Carrot Pudding, Smashed Pea Toasts and Refrigerator Soup

So, I have have this meal plan, for subscribers. I also plan meals for my family. I try to have it make sense so that I don’t end up with too many random bits but, inevitably, there are some. Since I hate waste (so much), I refuse to let the bits die, but rather rework them into new (hopefully) exciting meals. Case in point: recently I needed to make dinner for my family of 7 and this is what I identified as being available:

plenty of eggs

about 1/2 of a pint of cream

1 sweet potato

1 onion

roughly 4 oz of kale

1 small bag of cauliflower

about 5 2 inch pieces of herbed chicken from 2 nights ago

roughly half a cup of shredded cheese

one cup-ish of cooked rice and a bit less of uncooked

somewhere between a cup and two of mashed potatoes

None of these components can be used as is for a meal. There isn’t even one piece of chicken per person, and are we all going to battle over the sweet potato? Of course not. It’s ok, though, these can all be reworked and transformed into an actual meal.

Watch this:

Oil the bottom of a baking pan. Spread those mashed potatoes in a thin layer along the bottom. Whisk 5 of the eggs with the cream. Chop up the chicken and sprinkle it over the potatoes. Salt and pepper the egg mixture, pour it over the chicken and potatoes. Sprinkle on the cheese. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

Chop up the sweet potato, onion, cauliflower. Toss with oil, salt and favorite spice mix (today it’s Justice from Penzey’s). Roast for 20 minutes, add in the kale and cook another 10/15.

Cook the bit of rice and add it to the already cooked. Toss with oil (we are even out of butter!) and more Justice blend.

Suddenly, I have chicken and cheese quiche with potato crust (bonus for my keto kid), roasted mixed veg, and flavored rice. An actual meal! From nothing! Triumph.

The thing is, though it can seem daunting, it’s really not that hard. There are so many ways to use the bits. There are blank canvases that can be painted on with whatever you have on hand. Quiche, soup, casserole, stir fry, “bowls” – these can all become your very own refrigerator masterpiece.

Alternately, there are those times that you have too much left of just one thing. Bag of carrots, for example, just needed one, no one in the house likes to munch on carrot sticks. My favorite way to use them up is making “carrot pudding” – basically boiled mashed carrots mixed with a few tablespoons of cashew butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, then whipped up to a light consistency. For a little more of a treat I will add a bit of maple syrup.

Another example: I have a bag of frozen peas, recipe only needs half the bag. What do I do with the other? I smash the warmed peas with good olive oil, salt and any left over fresh herbs that I have hanging around. Then I spread it on toast and dig out the last feta cheese crumbles left from that Greek salad. Drizzle of oil before I bite into it.

Think of having a handful or two of a few different things in your refrigerator and pantry as an opportunity for a new meal, not as lost waste that will go in the bin. After 4 or 5 nights of cooking, you likely will have a few things to easily make another meal that is both budget and effort friendly. It is also an opportunity to stretch your kitchen creativity and skills, so take advantage. Fear not the leftover bits – they are your friend!

To get you started, here are a few recipes that can have the ingredients swapped out easily for what you have lying around, or simply added to the basic recipe:

Quiche

Soup

Macaroni and Cheese

You can also check out this old post about the “clean out the fridge” meal:

My kids call it refrigerator soup, even if it’s not soup.

Go forth, fear not, transform and Eat those bits, It’s Good For You!

Shake off the Winter Doldrums With Spring On a Pizza

Shake off the Winter Doldrums With Spring On a Pizza

Welp, there it is. My first grass covered sneaker Saturday morning – the first of plenty. Cutting the grass is one of those chores that I not only don’t mind, but actually kind of enjoy, especially at the beginning of the season. I get so tired of the gray by the end of the winter. When all the green starts returning I kind of turn into this

(Just ignore the fact that these were taken in winter – dogs just get excited all the time – they don’t know any better.)

The spring air and the influx of color definitely give me an energy boost.

I feel the same way in the stores at this time of year. New green abundance shows up – asparagus, watercress, fiddleheads (here in the North East, anyway – idk about other parts of the country), artichokes, peas. So yum and inspiring! There are so many great ways to use these, in salads, pastas, dips, sandwiches. Today, though, calls for pizza. It’s a weekend afternoon, we’ve worked hard and now it is time for some tasty, healthy comforting spring on a plate. When you try this out, feel free to use your favorite pizza dough recipe,or alternative – cauli-crust, gluten free, etc – or use this one that I like. Hopefully you can eat it surrounded by green and flowers and with your grassy sneakered feet up.

Spring Fling Pizza

Serves 4

Ingredients:

½ pizza dough recipe

12 oz ricotta cheese

About 10 thin or 8 large stalks of asparagus, woody ends cut or snapped off, stalks shaved or cut thinly

1 ½ cups watercress

2-3 oz prosciutto

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 scallion, sliced

Several tbsps chopped fresh dill

Olive oil

Pepper

Method:

Heat oven to 450.  Stretch and/or roll out the pizza dough into a circle or rectangle and place it onto a lined or oiled pan.  Brush some olive oil over the pizza then spread the ricotta over it. Crack some pepper all over the cheese.  Next, pile on the asparagus and watercress. Place the prosciutto around on top of the vegetables then sprinkle on the dill.  Cook for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned in spots. Remove from the oven and scatter the radishes and scallion over the top before serving.

Note: I have written this in a way that is meant to work in any kitchen with any supplies.  If you have a pizza stone and peel or backyard pizza oven or some other perfect set up, then by all means use your best available method.  This pizza (as any, imho) would be delicious on the grill.

Apples and Celery

Apples and Celery

Do you ever want something, but not really that thing, but kind of that thing, so you have to come up with a new thing? Like when it sounds good to be lounging on the beach in the warm sun with an over the top cocktail but it’s winter and vacation is months away so you sit under your strongest lamp with a rum and pineapple juice that has a crazy Lego thing cobbled together to approximate an umbrella? No? Just me? Ok, how about when you see an outfit combo that hits all your “THAT’S what I’m talking about” buttons but it comes with a price tag that hits your bank account’s “look away” alarms? You don’t give it up – you adjust and recreate. You take the spirit of the thing and drape it over your own interpretation. You work it for yourself. It was kind of like that when I came up with this recipe. I saw someone mention a smoothie with apples, lemon, celery, and parsley. That sounded intriguing, except for the smoothie part, so I tossed around the flavors until I hit on this non-chunky-liquid way to enjoy them. Bingo. Success. Those flavors, in the form I want. I am sure this salad would work well with your favorite fancy non-Lego-umbrella cocktail.

Apple Celery Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large apples, cored and thinly sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced (preferably on the diagonal)

¼ cup chopped parsley

2 tbsps olive oil

2 tbsps whole grain mustard

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt

Pepper

Method:

Mix together the oil, mustard and lemon juice with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Toss this with the apples, celery, and parsley. Taste to adjust salt and pepper.

Who Doesn’t Love a Sheet Pan of Chocolate Chip Bars?

Who Doesn’t Love a Sheet Pan of Chocolate Chip Bars?

Sometimes, you just need chocolate chips cookies, but sometimes, you need them to be in ooey gooey bar form. Then, sometimes, you need them to be in ooey gooey bar form for a lot of people because, really, isn’t it best to share the love? That’s where I was when I baked up with this mass of goodness. We have this wonderful organization in our town, http://www.arlingtoneats.org/

They provide food and meals and support for our neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity. I am lucky enough to have them allow me to be involved by providing desserts for their meals and some special occasions. One such occasion, their annual fundraising party, had me needing to bake up even more goodies than usual, thus my efforts turned to sheet pan baking. I have often made them my chocolate chip cookies, which are met with lip smacking appreciation, so decided to streamline the process by turning them into sheets of bars. While they are quite the same as the cookies, they are their own entity. While cookies are soft-crisp, the bars are mainly just soft and gooey – in the very best way, of course. I made up several of these sheet pans, but if you are treating a crowd but not a CROWD, one will do. I say that you get 60 servings, but those are fairly small squares. These could also make a nice base for a generous bar/ice cream concoction for 18 of your closest friends. Feel free to cut as it suits your need.

Serves 60 (or…)

Chocolate Chip Sheet Pan Bars

Ingredients:

3 sticks of butter, softened

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla

4 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 scant tsps salt

3 12 oz bags of semi sweet chocolate chips

Method:

Heat oven to 375. Beat the softened butter with the 2 sugars for a minute or two. Mix in the eggs and the vanilla. Next, mix in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined. Last, mix in the chocolate chips. Line an 18×13 baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Spread the cookie dough evenly into the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the middle is mostly but not totally set. I understand this next bit is hard but it is best to let them cool completely, or mostly so, before cutting.

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