Not Your Mama’s Spinach

I’m talking to you Popeye!

Unless you’re Italian, than it could be your Mama’s spinach. I mean when your girl’s name is Olive Oyl there’s gotta be some Italian connection there.

I guess she could be Greek, though. Olive Oyl isn’t exclusively Italian.

This Spinaci Saltati recipe comes from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen and is another healthy and simple recipe fit for any beloved sailor that needs to beat up some hooligans.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 1/4 pounds fresh spinach
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oyl
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper to taste

The first step is to remove any tough stems from the spinach, unless you went with frozen spinach. No need to do anything but thaw for that.

Popeye recommends that you do use fresh spinach. He understands most people see him eating out of a can, but that’s for emergencies. The best bang for your buck if you want to bang someone up is to cross train with fresh spinach and not roid out with canned spinach.

If you use fresh spinach, fill a large saucepan with water and salt to bring to a boil. Once it’s boiled, you will add the spinach and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the water once the minutes are up.

Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oyl in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic to the oyl to allow the two sensations to join together.

Next add the spinach and toss the mixture over medium heat until the spinach is nice and warm. This should take about two minutes. Add the dash of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

You are almost ready to serve and to do so, remove the garlic, place the spinach on a plate, and then drizzle it with oyl.

The final result is a fresh, healthy side dish for a family meal. The taste of garlic fused with oil and spinach makes this healthy green leaf taste velvety and comforting. The dash of nutmeg gives it a slight edge that Popeye would approve of.

Popeye and Olive Oyl. They do good together.

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Chicken added for scale and for extra taste

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Noodle Nuggets with Cheese Sauce

Have you ever had a noodle nugget? Well, I have and it’s all thanks to laziness.

So how do you create a noodle nugget? First step is to try to make your own pasta with a recipe from Classic Pasta at Home after your 9-5 job by yourself, get tired, and end up with pasta that’s 10 times thicker than water. Then you bring leftovers for your friends to enjoy who don them noodle nuggets.

Let me quickly add that my friends actually liked the noodle nuggets, but we all like to tease and have quirky senses of humor, thus noodle nuggets were born.

What you’ll need for noodle nuggets

  • 2 1/4 cups of un-bleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

What you’ll need for noodle nugget cheese sauce

  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 3 ounces of fontina cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley

Our first step will be to make the noodle nuggets. By the way, feel free to not make noodle nuggets and buy fettuccine instead. You’ll be missing out though.

Place flour in a mound on a flat clean surface. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs. Using a fork, gradually mix the sides of the wall into the egg. Do this carefully so your wall doesn’t breach.

Continue this process until you can safely mix all the flour in and the dough is no longer wet.

You are no ready to knead the dough. Prepare your hands by dusting flour on them and then press your knuckles into the dough in a semi-circular motion until the dough is no longer sticky.

Divide the dough in half and roll out your divided half until smooth and flat. If you have a pasta machine, make it flat enough so it can go through the machine at the widest setting. Fold into thirds to make a rectangle and then flatten the dough again. Pass the dough into the machine again and repeat 9 times. Fold the dough into thirds after each pass through as well.

Set the machine to it’s second widest setting and pass the dough through. Continue this process but with each pass change the setting one notch lower.

Repeat this process with your other half and then cut the dough into strips. This will give you fettucine.

If you want noodle nuggets, do this same process until you’re like, “Eh, that’s good enough, I’m getting tired.”

Whichever pasta you choose to make, you’re now ready to boil water to cook the pasta. Do that. If you don’t know how to do that, just put water in a pot and then heat it until the water boils.

While that’s happening, combine cream and broth in a large skillet. Let it simmer over medium heat until it thickens. Reduce the heat to low once it’s thick and then stir in the cheeses. Let them melt and then add pepper and salt.

Allow the sauce to thin out and once it has thinned, keep it warm over low heat.

The water should be boiling at this point, which means you can cook your pasta. Allow the pasta to only cook for about a minute. Drain the water and then add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high and let it cook, stirring constantly until the pasta has absorbed the sauce and seems fully cooked.

The pasta should now be ready for serving and eating. Do so and touch it up a bit with some sprinkled parsley and pepper.

As I mentioned, my pasta came out very thick, but it was still tasty. The cheese sauce is rich, comforting, and flavorful. You could serve it with just about any variation of pasta, but I do think a thinner type would be best since the sauce is also thin and will easily absorb into the pasta.

I had to make new sauce for my leftovers, because the noodle nuggets absorbed practically all of the sauce. They had also congealed together, which made it difficult to get indivual pasta strands.

Making more sauce over corrected the problem so my friend added some spaghetti to it as well. The combo of spaghetti and noodle nuggets was interesting and it made the meal into a game where we felt like we won something if we got a big chunk of noodle nugget.

I highley recommed pursuing the noodle nugget, but don’t feel ashamed if you end up with fettucine or buy some pasta instead because this sauce is delicious and easy to make. There’s no reason to make it harder for yourself if you don’t feel like it.

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Noodle Nuggets

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Noodle Nuggets with sauce

Homemade Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa are a favorite eating pastime of mine. I’ve known how to make my own salsa for a few years now, but this was my first attempt to make my own chips.

The greatest news about this chip making recipe is that it comes from the Light and Healthy Cookbook, so you can feel a little less guilty about eating a giant bowl of chips and salsa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Not that I ever do that or anything.

What you’ll need for the salsa

  • 2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (5-6 medium), cored, seeded, and chopped medium
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup of minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder

What you need for the chips

  • 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 6 wedges
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

The fist step in making the salsa is to place the tomatoes in a strainer with a bowl underneath the strainer. Sprinkle salt on top of the tomatoes and let them drain for about 30 minutes. Discard the liquid once the 30 minutes are up.

While the tomatoes are being softened with salt, you can combine the onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and chili powder in a medium bowl.

Side note, if you like things hot like I do, don’t discard the jalapeno seeds. If you’re truly like me, you’ll add another jalapeno as well.

Put one-third of the drained tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Then add these tomatoes to your onion and chili bowl you created earlier. Then add the chunky tomatoes and mix it all together.

Cover this mixture and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

We are now ready to make our chips!

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 350. Place your chips as evenly as possible, spray with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake until they are slightly browned which should be around 8-12 minutes. Flip the chips when this occurs and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes. By this time the chips should be ready to eat, but if they aren’t just tackle on more time in the oven. You want to make sure they are nice and crisp.

Whether you need more time or not, they will need to cool before consumption which should work out with waiting on that delicious salsa you just made.

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Overall, I was happy with this recipe. I prefer salsa that isn’t quite as chunky most of the time, but I like how the chunky tomatoes sort of spritz juice in you mouth. It makes me feel light and refreshed.

My chips were not consistently crisp which was disappointing, but I blame myself. I didn’t bake them long enough and didn’t realize they weren’t really as crisp as they seemed. So be sure to really check those chips out before taking them out of the oven.

I’m sure if I made this again, I’d have more success and as much as I love greasy fried chips, it’s good to have heatlhy alternatives you can make yourself.

Historically Accurate Beef Fajitas

These beef fajitas come from I Love Spice and are actually called Classic Beef Fajitas, but doesn’t the word classic really just mean from the past?

So I decided to name it historically accurate, but it might not actually be historically accurate come to think of it. I mean I don’t know if this is an authentic recipe. However, it is a recipe from the past that millions of people enjoyed and that’s historically accurate.

At least here in the Americas this is the case.

I think now is a good time to say,

“Rachel assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness…”

Just covering my bases…

What you’ll need:

For the fajitas

  •  1 pound of beef skirt steak, cut into strips
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • large pinch of mild chili powder
  • large pinch of paprika
  • large pinch of ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1-2 avocados, pitted, chopped, and tossed in lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

For the pico de gallo salsa

  • 8 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 fresh green chilies, such as jalapeno or serrano, seeded and chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5-8 radishes, diced
  • ground cumin

The first step is to combine the beef with the garlic, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to your standards, mix, and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes outside the fridge or overnight in the fridge.

While this is happening, make the salsa by combining the tomatoes, scallions, chilies, cilantro, and radishes in a bowl. Then season with cumin, slat, and pepper.

The cookbook now recommends you warm the tortillas in a skillet and then wrap them in foil to keep warm while you continue to cook.

I recommend you make everyone warm their own tortilla in the skillet right before they eat. It doesn’t take that long and it’s guaranteed tortilla warmth.

Once the meat has been marinated to your liking, you can prepare to cook it by heating vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir fry the meat in this pan until browned and slightly tender.

You are  now ready to create your historically accurate and classic fajita masterpiece!

Do this by heating that tortilla, scooping in the meat, and topping with salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

Please note, that my fajita was not historically accurate because I left out the sour cream. I know it’s terrible, but forgive me history snobs.

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Not historically accurate, but good.

If you chose to be historically accurate or not, like all classics it goes without saying that this is an easy, satisfying meal that the whole family can enjoy.

A Fair Lady’s Plum Sorbet

How do I enlighten all of you of the majesty that is sorbet?

Sorbet is similar to froyo only it’s made with crème fraîche which is a classy type of sour cream. Crème fraîche is like Eliza Doolittle transformed into a fair lady and sorbet is the dessert she would consume.

Don’t let all this fancy talk scare you away, though, because this dessert from Cooking Light is actually incredibly easy to make. I do declare that ice cream is more difficult.

What you’ll need

  • 4 1/2 cups chopped ripe plums (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of crème fraîche

Before we begin on how to make this delectable dessert, I have a note for you about purchasing crème fraîche. It’s one of those items that can be a 50/50 chance of whether or not it’s carried in major chain grocery stores. You know who does have it though? Trader Joe’s. I suggest you buy it there, but I would not suggest buying plums there.

Now that we’ve got that covered, the first step is to combine the plums and sugar in a bowl. Let the plums saturate themselves in the sweet nectar of sugar for about an hour.

Once saturated, place the mixture in a blender of your choice and process until smooth.

Cooking Light suggests you then press the mixture into a sieve, most likely to weed out the seeds. I bypassed this. I liked the slight crunchy texture, but feel free to go through this process.

The next step is to add the crème fraîche into the mix by whisking it in.

Here’s another detour that I took, but will mention. If you have an ice cream maker of some sort, you would place the mixture into the freezer can and follow that maker’s instructions.

I do not own an ice cream maker, so I just mixed up the mixture as well as I could and skipped to the final step which is placing the sorbet in a freezer safe container and freezing for an hour.

The ice cream maker would most likely make the sorbet smoother and creamier, but it’ll turn out fine without it. At least mine did.

Whatever the texture you ended up with, the taste should be the same which will be this tangy tart flavor that will make you murmur ms with every bite.

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Plum Sorbet 

Croûte de Fromage for the Distinguished Individual

This recipe is from French Farmhouse and it’s basically fancy grilled cheese.

The author of this cookbook describes this dish like a dating app profile,

Hearty yet sophisticated, it fits with the craggy mountains where hikers crowd the slopes in summer and winter brings cross-country and downhill skiers.

Don’t you get the feeling this dish is an outdoor adventure loving seeker who also enjoys long walks on the beach? I mean, I’d go out with it.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of light fruity wine or Riesling
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 3 long slices of Sourdough Bread cut in half crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of mild vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of grated Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley leaves

The first step is to whisk the eggs, wine, a fair amount of salt, and a touch of pepper together. Once whisked, transfer this mixture to a shallow bowl for dipping purposes.

Place the bread slices in this dish until it is thoroughly soaked. Flip sides if necessary for even soaking.

Next, heat butter and oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Place the soaked bread into this pan and add a generous amount of the grated cheese on top.

Cook the slices for a little over three minutes or until the cheese is half way melted. Then make these slices into full on sandwiches and flip sides until cheese is fully melted.

Once this is complete, remove from the skillet, cut crosswise and sprinkle with parsley.

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The final result is quite good, not that I’m surprised. Grilled cheese has always been a simple, yet effective comfort food. When you combine that simplicity with the best of cheeses it can only get better.

Soaking the bread in the Riesling also gives it a tangy taste which is toned down nicely with the parsley.

If you feel like stepping up your grilled cheese game or starting your own food truck, than this is a sandwich you should try.

Mozzarella Lasagna

I may have mentioned this before, but I don’t like ricotta cheese. It is not appeasing to me. To me it’s dry cottage cheese with little flavor. I’m not a fan and I don’t understand why people like it.

As a result, I haven’t been a big fan of lasagna either. I was pleased to see that this recipe from my hometown cookbook, Little Italy Festival Town is anti ricotta.

After a light bask in my pleased feelings, I started to wonder. Since this recipe is from an Italian lady, does that mean ricotta in lasagna is not authentic to Italian recipes? After some quick searching, it appears that adding ricotta was an American thing to do.

All this time, I felt odd for not being a fan of ricotta in my lasagna. Maybe my Italian side was trying to tell me something.

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of water
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 X 8 X 2-inch baking pan

The first step is boiling the lasagna by preparing 8 quarts of water, 1/4 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Side note. I have never heard of boiling pasta with olive oil before, but I imagine with thicker pasta it will more likely absorb the oil and add to the taste.

Boil the pasta for 15 minutes and strain the water when done.

Next, heat a skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the ground beef as well as the remaining ingredients. You will simmer this meat sauce for about 35 minutes. Add additional water as needed when it cooks down.

Once the pasta and sauce are ready, you can start layering it up by placing a layer of sauce on the bottom, followed by a layer of pasta, and then a 1/4 of a cup of Parmesan.

Continue this layering until all the pasta has been used and then top this with the sauce, followed by the Parmesan.

Bake this at 350 for 30 minutes. Once those minutes are up remove from oven and top with strips of mozzarella. Cover this with foil as soon as it covered in cheese and then set it aside for 20 minutes.

The final result is quite satisfying.

I’m always shocked how good simple recipes can be. It’s such a pleasant surprise. These days, everything is being made with bells and whistles. Sometimes that turns out well, but it’s so common place now that I forget simple can be good.

That being said, I do think it would be fun to layer this up with even more types of cheese, but if you want to keep it simple, it will turn out well.

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