Even though I am not currently dating someone special… I still like to cook something nice, even if it’s just for myself.
After all, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE and there are many ways to express and celebrate love – love towards your parents, love towards your kids, love towards your siblings, love towards your pets, love towards your partner, love towards your neighbors, your family in general, your co-workers, your friends and most of all, LOVE TOWARDS YOURSELF. Because, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you too???
Here are a few ideas I have cooked in the past to impress a few loved ones… hope you choose to make one to impress YOURSELF!!!
Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti
Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Pasta
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake
Korean Seasoned Tofu
Chame’s Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese
Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline
Last week we had our 2nd KarmaFree Cooking class and our theme was Loving ourselves first thru our Food. Sometimes, we only cook nice things when we’re cooking for others. But why not cook something nice even if it’s just us in the house??
The recipes we shared are old and new KarmaFree Cooking recipes that work well made just for one person, for two or for a crowd. These are simple, quick and delicious recipes that work well to make just for you on a solo movie night at home and just the same are not much more effort making for a large dinner party.
Here was our class menu:
Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes over Brown Rice Pasta
Quinoa Pasta with Fresh Baby Spinach and Lemon Vinaigrette
Spinach Salad with Macerated Strawberries
Baked Sweet Plantains with Cinnamon and Vanilla
Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline
Even though these were all recipes we had shared in the blog before, it’s never the same reading and making them on your own as seeing how I make them, after I have made them over and over and over again. Your words… not mine.
The class is not only about sharing recipes and techniques. We also talked about alternative pastas… we talked about my favorite olive oils and vinegars. We also talked about microplanes and rasps to grate lemon zest and how I do not like to rinse pasta after I drain it. We also shared how the same ingredients for the Marinated Tomates can be used in a bruschetta as an appetizer or skewered to make for a fancier passed hors d’oeuvre.
I am so grateful for all of those who attended… we had a larger class this time around. Some repeats and some new students. I want to give a great shout out to Adriana from Great Food 360 who attended once again and contributed with the wonderful pictures. She rocks!!!
Again to my lovely assistants Angie and Mom… who help me with the little things that keep the class rolling smoothly.
Hope you can join us for the next installment… Late April. Mark your calendars – Recipes to celebrate Mom. I am already planning the menu.
After I came back from Peru, I decided to make some new potato recipes to celebrate my love for potatoes. Peru boasts to have over 1,000 potato varieties and had the chance to eat some of them. Something we noticed from the potatoes we had in Peru is the Peruvian potatoes seem to be denser and drier than potatoes in our neck of the woods.
We might not have such a wide variety, but we sure have available some tasty spuds – the russet being the most popular or ubiquitous of them all.
Ever since the trip I was brainstorming potato ideas and this one was a particular one I wanted to try… a combination of scalloped potatoes and creamed spinach. Two very rich traditionally considered side dishes, blended together to make one killer vegetarian main entrée.
POTATO SPINACH GRATIN WITH GOAT CHEESE
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ bag of baby spinach
1 cup heavy cream, divided
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbs butter, to grease baking dish
2 large russet potatoes
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Butter the inside of a 8-by-6-by-2-inch (6-cup) baking dish.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the fresh baby spinach in batches of about 2 handfuls. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet for about a minute to help the spinach wilt and smother itself. Continue adding spinach in increments and smother it so it wilts. Season with salt and pepper after adding each batch of spinach.
- Add ½ cup of heavy cream and stir together with the onion and spinach mixture. Season with grated nutmeg and allow the cream to bubble and reduce to a creamy consistency. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool off a bit while you work with the potatoes.
- Wash the potatoes well and slice using a mandolin… please be careful and use the guard whenever you use a mandolin to slice anything. Place in a large bowl.
- Mix together the sliced potatoes with the creamed spinach, the ½ cup left of heavy cream, most of the crumbled goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the potato/spinach mixture to the buttered baking dish. It can be messy, but go in batches so you can accommodate the potatoes as flat as possible. Press down to smooth the potatoes and pour all the heavy cream left in the bowl. Place the remaining goat cheese crumbled over the top.
8. Bake for approximately 90 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly.
9. Allow to set for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
I make this in my toaster oven. It makes enough for 2 people or for me to eat twice. If you wish to double the recipe, use a 10 x 15 baking dish, same cooking time…
I love pastas… and when trying to do gluten-free for a few weeks, I crave it more and more each day.
We found this new pasta over at Costco – QUINOA PASTA!! I was skeptical at first, but it’s awesome! Cooks just the same and even better, I might add, than Tinkyada Rice Pasta, which for years has been my gluten-free pasta of choice. It withstands being left in hot water better than rice pasta.
This is a great recipe that combines pasta and salad all rolled into one… it’s basically pasta, salad and vinaigrette. It’s easy to make, delicious to eat, fast as it takes as long as the pasta takes cooking and even works great for company. I am planning to make this for someone new I’ve been seeing lately. Shhhhhh!!!! But, that’s just between you and me, OK??
QUINOA PASTA WITH BABY SPINACH
2 heaping cups of dry quinoa pasta
4-5 large handful baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2-3 tbs of olive oil
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of ½ of that same lemon
¼ cup parmesan cheese, optional
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to the package directions. I usually boil the pasta for about 7-8 minutes, kill the heat, cover the pot and allow the pasta to continue cooking in the hot water.
- In a skillet over mdium-low heat, add about 2tbs of olive oil and the 2 garlic cloves. The garlic will infuse the oil with its taste. Allow the garlic to cook a bit in the hot oil, but don’t fry it, cook it just until it starts to change colors. Take the garlic pieces out and discard them. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest, the juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and keep in hold until the pasta is done.
- Drain the pasta and return to the same pot. Add the baby spinach and the olive oil/lemon mixture. Toss well to combine. The heat of the pot and the pasta will start to wilt a bit the spinach. It’s possible you may need to add the spinach in batches, but that’s ok. I like that some of the spinach wilts more than others.
- Add an additional drizzle of olive oil and the parmesan cheese, if using. Toss one last time to combine and serve immediately.