Every morning, I fight against my breakfast vice: a bagel with cream cheese. Without a doubt, I could eat a bagel with cream cheese every single day of my life and never get tired of it. My metabolism, however, does not agree with this way of life. So on most mornings my breakfast consists of a toasted multigrain English muffin with either peanut butter, raisins, and a sprinkle of cinnamon or sweetened cottage cheese and for the most part, I’m truly satisfied with these options. But when I need a change of pace, I make myself a healthy egg sandwich like this spinach, feta, and sundried tomato version on my favorite multigrain English muffin. It’s a quick breakfast to throw together on busy mornings and I love the fact that it’s so filling that I don’t even think about anything else to eat until lunchtime. All in all, I never miss the bagel with cream cheese when I’ve got an egg sandwich like this one to look forward to in the morning!
2 English muffins (I love Thomas' Light Multigrain), toasted and buttered (optional)
Heat oil in a 10" or 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted; stir in the sundried tomatoes and heat through, about 2 minutes.
Stir the eggs into the spinach and sundried tomatoes and add the garlic powder, oregano, and a little black pepper. Using a spatula, stir the eggs until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the feta. Divide the eggs between the English muffins and serve hot.
There’s something intrinsic about lasagna that makes it such a wonderful winter meal. It’s more than likely that oodles of cheesiness has something to do with how a great lasagna can warm the soul on cold winter nights, very much like how soup has the same effect, but I think that the right recipe can do so much more. The right recipe creates memories. It evokes memories of crowded Sunday dinners at the grandparents’, of a hearty meal after a day of sledding or ice skating, of a full buffet table at a christening or anniversary party. This spinach lasagna recipe is that type of recipe.
Made with a creamy béchamel sauce, three types of cheese, fresh spinach, and no-boil noodles that you’ll soften with hot water before using, this lasagna is a big hit around here. It’s a fun recipe to make with a helper since there are a few steps, but the effort is well-worth the end result. Layer after layer goes in the baking dish and after 20 minutes of baking and a few minutes under the broiler to brown-up the cheesy top layer, you’ve got truly the best spinach lasagna ever. We’ve made this recipe a handful of times in the past year and always get the same reaction from whomever we serve it to: more please! This is definitely a recipe we keep in our book of favorites and don’t hesitate to serve time and time again.
4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (generous 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 oz grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
For the Cheeses and Pasta:
8 oz whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 tsp table salt
12 no-boil lasagna noodles from 1 box
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
8 oz Italian fontina cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
To prepare the spinach: Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat; add salt and spinach, stirring until spinach is just wilted, about 5 seconds. Using skimmer or fine-mesh strainer, transfer spinach to ice water and let stand until completely cool, about 1 minute, then drain spinach and transfer to clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel tightly around spinach to form ball and wring until dry. Chop spinach medium and set aside.
To make the béchamel: Melt 5 tbsp butter until foaming in medium saucepan over medium heat; add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Do not brown. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, whisk in bay leaves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in Parmesan and discard bay leaves. Transfer sauce to bowl, press plastic wrap directly against surface, and set aside.
To prepare the cheeses and pasta: Blend cottage cheese, egg, and salt in food processor or blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place noodles in 13- by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and grease with remaining 1 tbsp butter.
To assemble: Use rubber spatula to distribute 1/2 cup béchamel in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Stir spinach into remaining béchamel in bowl, mixing well to break up clumps of spinach (you should have about 4 cups spinach/béchamel mixture). Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with 1 cup fontina, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, followed by cottage cheese mixture. Finish with 3 noodles, remaining cup spinach mixture, and remaining cup of fontina. Lightly spray large sheet foil with cooking spray and cover the lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Remove the pan and adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Broil lasagna until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.
If there’s one recipe that I’ve been meaning to share with you guys over the past 3 years, it’s this one. And for the most part, it’s because as many bloggers know, the problem with blogging certain recipes is that sometimes the dish needs to be served hot, before there’s any time to snap a few photos. Take into account the time needed to adjust camera settings, fiddle with the light source, ensure all props are in place (none of these things are ever right even after test shots are taken when the food is still cooking), and essentially the dish starts getting cold by the time the photos are finished…every one of us is all too familiar with eating luke warm dinners. But this doesn’t fly when you’ve got a room full of hungry people eying the steaming and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip that’s just emerged from the oven – we all know that.
So in honor of the Northeast dominated Super Bowl next weekend, I decided to make the sacrifice (ha!) to remake this dip and blog about it for you because you NEED this dip at your party. Now, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually watched the Superbowl (for the record, I just don’t get football), but I’m definitely all about understanding the snacks that go with it. This old-standby dip is kicked up a few notches with a secret ingredient: alfredo sauce. I almost couldn’t believe it the first time my friend Andrea brought this to a party and revealed her secret but it’s true! The alfredo sauce adds to the creaminess of the dip without having to use mayonnaise and with few other ingredients and minimal effort, I can assure you that this dip will be gone in less time than a Super Bowl commercial break.
Need more Super Bowl snack ideas? Check out the sidebar for a bunch of winning snack ideas!
Restaurant Style Spinach and Artichoke Dip source: adapted from All Recipes
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14 oz or 15 oz ) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
12 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) jarred alfredo sauce (roasted garlic if you can find it; low fat works well too)
1 cup whole milk, part skim, or 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz (about 1 cup) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In an medium bowl, stir all of the ingredients together until very well-combined and the spinach is well-distributed throughout the mixture. Spread the mixture out evenly in an 8″x8″ baking dish.
Cover with a greased sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly. Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, or cut-up vegetables.
It’s no surprise to me that, when faced with a new pizza recipe, we wouldn’t be all over it. It’s also no surprise that my friend Annie has dreamed up another fabulous pizza recipe being that I know one of her favorite foods, like my own, is pizza. Annie’s Spinoccoli pizza lends a silly name to a drop dead amazing pizza, combining fresh baby spinach and itty pieces of broccoli with a luscious white sauce. All baked together, the pizza reminds me of a vegetable lasagna and that’s probably why I love it so much. I’ve actually got an unforgettable spinach lasagna recipe to share with you soon but in the meantime, you must try this pizza. The greatest thing about this spinach broccoli pizza, aside from how it tastes of course, is that you can use up all those leftover bits of vegetables in your fridge. I know I’m not the only one who chronically has half a bag of baby spinach in my fridge with nothing to do with it except to throw it in a salad – so bust it out for this pizza! The white sauce takes all of 10 minutes to make while you’re waiting for the oven to preheat and in 30 minutes (if you go with premade dough rather than homemade), Friday pizza night is done. It’s the perfect way to end the week, don’t ya think?
So just a little aside about the funky photo I took above…have you heard of Instagr.am? It’s a cool little [FREE!] app for iPhone used to snap photos, add some flair to them with different filters, and it gives you the ability to instantly upload them to Twitter, flickr, and even Facebook. It’s a ton of fun and after I picked this broccoli from our garden one morning earlier this week, I took a quick shot. You can also link your mobile Instagr.am app to Web.stagram where you can easily connect with friends and view and comment on all of their photos (and yours too) in a running feed. It’s not so much of “another social media thing to handle” as it is a digital photo book – check it out if you have a minute. And if you’re wondering about the broccoli…I’m insanely excited that this fresh bundle is going on my Spinoccoli pizza tonight!
3/4 cup milk (any kind), heavy cream, or half-and-half (I use skim milk)
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the pizza:
Olive oil, for brushing
1/2 cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup very small broccoli florets
2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz shredded cheddar cheese
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk/heavy cream/heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth. Discard the garlic clove. (Note: This will make a bit more sauce than you need for the pizza, but with a little extra cheese it makes a great dipping sauce for crust.)
To make the pizza, preheat the oven and a pizza stone at 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust. Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce. Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough. Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.
Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
White Pizza with Arugula…Except mine was with fresh spinach. We don’t do arugula in my house (or goat cheese for that matter) so I modified the recipe slightly. Thankfully it was one that could be easily modified while remaining true to the original recipe and one that was easy to make on top of that! My hearty thanks goes out to Andrea of Nummy Kitchen for choosing pizza for this month’s second recipe – any kind of pizza gets me excited!!
As mentioned, I subbed spinach for the arugula and ricotta cheese for the goat cheese. I considered using Boursin instead of ricotta but thought it might be too different for the sometimes unadventurous palate of my husband. It was enough to ask him to eat uncooked spinach on top of his pizza in the first place. I also played around with the dough recipe after having the desire to make whole wheat pizza dough for probably close to a year. You’ll see my modifications below (which is half of the original recipe) as well as the link to the original recipe.
Overall, this pizza was good. I’ve had spinach pizza with lemon slices before and loved it so I assumed I would love the vinaigrette on top of the spinach here but it was just ok. I did have some leftover garlic oil which I drizzled over a piece or two and much preferred that over the vinaigrette. So, the pizza didn’t blow us away and we’ll probably stick to our usual toppings of chicken, sautéed onion, and garlic but the dough however, was AWESOME!! I couldn’t believe how much the dough puffed up while cooking – way more than any 100% all-purpose flour dough has done for me – and it made the pizza so much less filling even with 4 types of cheese on top. I will definitely use this dough recipe again in the future but will probably pass on the toppings. Sorry Ina!
It’s time for my usual plug for the Barefoot Bloggers…head on over and check out the ever-growing group – we’re up to 130+ members now!
source: adapted from Ina Garten, Back to Basics, page 82
For the dough:
3/4 cup plus warm (100 to 110) water
1 package dry yeast (I did not use instant)
1/2 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1 1/4 cups 100% whole wheat flour
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (4 ounces)
3/4 cup grated fresh mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
6 ounces whole milk ricotta (part-skim will be too watery)
For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup good olive oil
juice of one lemon (about 2-3 tbsp)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh baby spinach
Make the dough: Combine the water and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until it is foamy. Mix in the honey and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the yeast is dissolved, add 1 cup of flour, then 1 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the additional 1/4 of flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
Knead by hand: When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.
Let it rise: Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes (or up to 60 if you plan to refrigerate later).
Make garlic oil: Place 1/4 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and preheat a pizza stone, if you have one. (Be sure your oven is clean!)
Portion the dough: Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 3 equal pieces or keep it as one large ball for a larger single pizza. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Alternatively, refrigerate the dough after the initial rise (of 30 – 60 minutes) for 4 to 8 hours and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before you start the next step.
Stretch the dough: Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a pizza stone. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)
Top the dough: Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and dollop on the ricotta cheese (about the size of a tablespoon for each dollop). Drizzle pizza(s) with a little more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.
Make the vinaigrette: Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Add the greens: When the pizza(s) are done, place the spinach on top of the pizza(s), cut the pizza(s) into slices, drizzle on the vinaigrette or the remaining garlic oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.
TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.
TIP To make sure yeast is still “alive,” or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it’s active.