Broccoli, Mushroom, Onion and Cheddar Frittata

Just out of the ovenWith the new year comes the resolutions, and one of them is always to try and “lean up” a bit after normal eating goes by the wayside in the total decadence of the holidays.

I am one who always has, and always will, fight the good fight with my waistline. We hike every weekend that the weather will allow this time of year, and that’s not only a fun way to get exercise and destress after the work week, but also a healthy and happy penance to other weekend pursuits! Still, one cannot lose weight by exercise alone…and there’s the rub.

It won’t come as a shock to you that I love to eat and won’t be giving up that pleasure any time soon. But there are ways to eat what you want and not gain, or even better, actually lose some weight.

Enter the frittata. What’s not to love about a frittata? You can make one in a snap and you can use up leftovers in your fridge to do it. Frittatas can be made out of most anything as long as it goes with eggs. Frittata is my go-to dish for those nights where I don’t have a lot of time in the kitchen and I want something good, filling and comforting to eat.

My approach to frittata has changed over the years and if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve several versions posted. I began on one end of the spectrum with lots of egg and cheese, with only a few other ingredients added in. Then after reading some of Mark Bittman’s approaches to getting more vegetable and less animal into one’s diet, I switched to the other extreme, which was almost all vegetable and very little egg. Tasty and messy, but not quite as satisfying and “frittata-like” as where I’m landing now. Since eggs have been vindicated and are back in the “good for you” department, this frittata is filled with eggs. And vegetables. And just enough cheese to taste and enjoy. I think it’s perfect. I hope you will, too.

First I roast the broccoli and the mushrooms with no oil, just adding a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning. This results in concentrating the flavor of the vegetables and bringing out a nuttiness in the broccoli which only roasting can do. Then, I use a tablespoon of olive oil in my cast iron skillet to lightly caramelize the onion before adding the roasted broccoli and mushrooms to the party. Eggs are whisked in a bowl with salt, pepper and a goodly dash of freshly grated nutmeg. The nutmeg is really key here because it does two really wonderful things to the frittata. It brings out the natural sweetness of the eggs and the parmesan cheese, and boosts the flavor of the veggies. Lastly, I whisk in equal amounts of full fat shredded extra sharp cheddar and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheeses into the eggs, but only just enough for the taste…1/2 cup combined for the whole dish. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies, pop the skillet into the oven for about 12 minutes and you’ve got a healthy, filling dinner entree with very little fat, but lots of protein and veggies. It’s pure gold. Or at least it looks like that in these night time shots!

Another thing to love about frittata? Leftovers, if you have any, keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Love.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope yours has started off well. Here’s to your good health…and resolutions!

*****

Below is a little taste of an all too short hiking trip we took for our anniversary in November after Thanksgiving. This is the truly spectacular Falls Creek Falls State Park in the Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee. A gorgeous, 35,000 acre park with trails, a lake, boating, zipline, fishing, cabins and an inn with a small restaurant, horseback riding and more. Since this was off season and winter, it was rainy and only the trails and accommodations were open, along with the restaurant, but it was still so beautiful and I can imagine it would be any time of year. We will go back for sure!

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Broccoli, Mushroom, Onion and Cheddar Frittata
Serves 6

Two heads of broccoli crowns, washed and cut into small florets (about 4-5 cups)
8 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon of good quality olive oil
10 large eggs
1/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cabot)
1/4 very finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 generous teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
more salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then make an aluminum foil tray with sides to go into half of the sheet. Place the broccoli florets on the covered sheet and the mushrooms inside the tray. Season the broccoli and the mushrooms with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, dividing evenly. Place the sheet with tray into the oven and roast for approximately 15 minutes, stirring each side once halfway through, until the mushrooms are tender and the broccoli is cooked through and just starting to brown a little bit. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the nutmeg, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Add the two cheeses and whisk to combine.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Add the onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until they are translucent and just starting to caramelize a little bit. Add the roasted broccoli and the mushrooms and toss together, warming for about 2 more minutes. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the veggies, lifting the veggies gently to allow the egg to run underneath. Place the skillet into the 400 degree oven and cook for about 12 minutes, until the top is just barely set in the middle and firm on the edges. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for about 4 minutes. Cut into six wedges and serve.

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Rustic Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Corn Chowda!

I could eat this every day.

I could eat this every day.

While our neighbors to the north are digging through snow, we’ve had warmer temps and rain, rain and more rain down here in the South. Not that I’m complaining because it’s so good for the garden. However, there’s enough of a chill in the air to make you want something warming and comforting for dinner…wintery comfort food, in other words.

Not much to harvest in the broccoli and chives category, but still nice to have something from the garden this time of year.

Not much to harvest in the broccoli and chives category, but still nice to have something from the garden this time of year.

The broccoli harvest from my little winter garden was almost laughable, it was so small. There are still some babies on the stalks so I may see more before it’s all said and done, but for the time being…about 3 or 4 bites worth! I wanted to combo it with something where we both could enjoy its flavor, even if there wasn’t enough for a side dish, and that’s how I came up with this lovely chowder. It’s rich without being too heavy, and you can easily omit the bacon for a vegetarian option, if you want or need to do so. You just can’t go wrong with anything that combines roasted potatoes, broccoli, sweet corn, onions, and a creamy base topped with a little sprinkle of bacon for good measure. You just can’t!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Roasting adds much depth to the flavor of the chowder.

Roasting the potatoes and broccoli adds a ton of depth and flavor to this chowder. Leaving the skins on the potatoes adds a rustic touch!

Rustic Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Corn Chowder
Serves 6

1 lb. red skinned potatoes, washed, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces, skin on
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, washed, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces, skin on
2 cups broccoli florets (I just used my smaller amount, but 2 cups is better!)
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon
Kosher salt and freshly black ground pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 large sweet onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons flour
4 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
(Optional) Garnish of 3 slices of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and set aside

Cover a cookie sheet in foil and grease it with a little olive oil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the cut potatoes on the foil and toss them with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, some kosher salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, then give them a stir, then roast them for about 8 more minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to become tender when pricked with a fork and beginning to brown. Toss the broccoli florets in 1 teaspoon of oil and add them to the potatoes, then roast another 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the potatoes and broccoli are roasting, melt the butter in the bottom of a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and onion and cook the flour, stirring constantly, for about a minute or two, then add the milk slowly, stirring, then the cream, chicken stock and corn. Add the roasted potatoes and broccoli to the pot, then the chives, remaining thyme, cayenne pepper and salt, and bring to a simmer. Allow the chowder to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, adding a few grinds of black pepper. Serve hot in bowls and crumble 1/2 slice of bacon on top of each serving, if desired.

Betsy, Betsy, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

broccoli spear 1

With broccoli spears and some chard ears, and carnival carrots in a row!

Hmmm. You know how you plan to post something wonderful that you baked or prepared and suddenly find that you can’t seem to get the simplest post worked out right? Has this ever happened to you? Well, this week it happened to me. And rather than let it be two weeks in between posts, I decided it was high time to take a little peek at my winter garden.

If you’ll remember, I do have a summer garden, but it doesn’t get very much sun. In fact, it’s actually the fall and well into winter when I get the most sun, so from now until early March I’ll have some interesting things popping up in the raised bed. No, it’s not a miracle. It’s just living in a climate that has a very mild winter…and no snow thus far!

Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy this wee tour of my garden today, and I promise I’ll be back with something tasty for you in just a few days. By the way, how is…or just plain “is” your garden growing in your part of the world? Tell me about it!

A row of Rainbow chard. Yes, my "pick up stick" technique is still keeping cats out of the garden.

A row of Rainbow chard. Yes, my “pick up stick” technique is still keeping cats out of the garden.

Cannot wait for the broccoli...fingers crossed that they'll keep growing and growing!

Cannot wait for the broccoli…fingers crossed that they’ll keep growing and growing!

carrots, kale chard

If you look closely in front of the back row of chard you can see little wisps of carnival carrot tops. Thus far my success with carrots has been laughable.

chard, broccoli, carrots1

Chard in foreground and background, then carrots Lacinato and Red Russion Kale, Collards and broccoli. Pine straw and pine cones are a constant this time of year, providing mulch (good) and rather painful and prickly encounters if your timing is bad!

chard, broccoli, parsley

Italian flat leaf parsley left from summer (freshly harvested), surrounded by broccoli and hopefully some arugula at some point. And oh yes, more chard…a good year for it!

chard, kale, collards

Chard harvesting time!

A Better Broccoli Rice Casserole

Although this makes a lot, the two of us managed to inhale it with no problem!

Although this makes a lot, the two of us managed to inhale it with no problem!

Well, “better” is a relative term…but this is a very delicious and perhaps better-for-you broccoli rice casserole than the canned soup-based one we grew up with, I think. And one that I believe would appeal to young and old alike.

First off, this one is chocked full of fresh broccoli (in season right now!) and is paired with sweet onion and brown rice bound together with a nutmeg-scented parmesan cream sauce. Add a little Black Forest Ham if you like, or leave it out if you don’t. And while I did use some butter in the sauce, I also used 1% low fat milk instead of cream, which worked just fine and enhanced the natural sweetness of the ingredients.

The resulting dish has a lovely nutty flavor from the brown rice, broccoli and roux-based Parmesan cream sauce combo, with a nice salty-sweet hit from the ham, if you use it. And trust me ham or no, it’s a filling and comforting meal in one pot…my favorite kind in the winter, or anytime!

Now here’s the trick. This was so tasty that I never got a good picture of it before we inhaled it for dinners this week! So with my apologies for the flash picture, and only one view, at least you can see how colorful it is.

Hand Update: I’m almost back to speed in the kitchen. After exams, x-rays and some prescription meds this week, the good news is that it’s just a small tear in the tendon of the hand, and should be much better by next week. The moral of this story: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Broccoli and Brown Rice Casserole with Onions, Ham and Parmesan
Makes 6-8 generous servings

2 cups long grain brown rice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 lbs. fresh broccoli florets
water

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
3 Tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 cups low fat milk
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, or to taste
2 cups cubed (1/4″) Black Forest Ham (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized pot with a lid, bring the rice and the 4 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover until the rice is just tender and has absorbed the water, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork, set aside.

In another medium sized pot, bring some water to a boil and drop the broccoli into the water in batches, allowing each batch to cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain the broccoli in a colander and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

In a large deep sided skillet, heat the butter over medium low heat and add the onions. Cook the onions until they are tender and transparent, then add the flour and stir constantly, allowing the flour to cook and develop a light roux, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the milk while stirring constantly to incorporate the roux into the milk. Bring the mixture just back to a simmer, allowing it to thicken. Turn the heat off, then add 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper and the nutmeg and stir well to combine. Add in the cooked rice, the broccoli florets and the ham (if using) to the prepared parmesan cream sauce, and stir well to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a pinch more salt, pepper and nutmeg, if needed. Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish that has been buttered, and sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Place it in a 350 degree F oven and bake until it is heated through and bubbling, and the top is very lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes. Serve. Keeps well in the fridge and reheats beautifully.

*****

Lean, Mean and Green Broccoli Spinach Soup

Sometimes a bowl of warm, green soup is just what the doctor ordered. This beautiful soup is a lean, mean and green antioxidant machine...and it makes me happy!

It was the end of a very long, and emotionally exhausting week, and the thought of just staying home and making dinner was a pleasure. But what to make?

I didn’t feel like going to the store. It was getting cold outside. I knew my supplies were getting low, just some bits of things here and there. Here’s how the dialog goes in my head at these moments. Sound familiar? Continue reading

And now for something completely different…Kale Calzones with Spicy Marinara

It tastes as good as it looks, and is yet another dish you can't feel guilty about eating and enjoying!

Our CSA boxes have been pretty repetitive of late, but they happen to be featuring some of my favorite ingredients to work with and in particular, broccoli and kale. I made some of my Penne with Fresh Broccoli and Garlic last week—always a quick and tasty dish—but wanted to figure out something different to do with the kale other than my usual sauteed side dish or a main pasta dish. After casting about for a while looking for ideas from other recipes, I decided on calzones, and this dish was born: Kale Calzones with Spicy Marinara. Continue reading

Penne with Fresh Broccoli and Garlic

Dinner is served.

We’re on the final approach to the big T-day, and after that, a rapid succession of holiday festivities through the end of the year. At this juncture, our thoughts have turned to our waistlines and how to minimize the damage while enjoying all the fun, food and drink of the season. Simplicity in the form of all-veggie meals and stir-frying come to mind first, along with some tasty lean proteins and roasted roots. Continue reading