Artichokes- Easy and Delcious


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I have been eating artichokes since I spoke my first word. It is by far one of my favorite vegetables and I would chose to eat it over most meats and even dessert, they are so yummy! To most people in the U.S. (they are very popular in Italy and other countries) artichokes are considered gourmet and ordered at restaurants and so often when I buy them at the grocery store the cashier will say “What are these?” But what people don’t know is that artichoke are a cheap, healthy food that should be a staple part of everyone’s diet.

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They key with artichokes is buying the proper ones. They only grown in California and are only in season several times out of the year. They can be found at most grocery stores- should be $2-$4 a piece, more at whole foods and Wegmans but worth it if they are large in size. They key is to find ones with long leaves that are pear shaped, almost taper off at the bottom, not round like an apple as these are more bitter and don’t taste as good. Also, if they are really small they are better used for dips. This is how most people are familiar with artichokes- found in dips and sauces but those are just the hearts and made from canned artichokes, the real ones have a totally different flavor.

The easiest way to eat an artichoke is to prepare it by trimming the tips of the leaves (so they don’t cut you) then dipping the tips of the leaves in melted butter. You can boil the artichokes for about 50mins and melt the butter in the microwave. This is quick and easy and takes little effort. Ive also made garlic aioli and have heard of using olive oil with cracked pepper or ranch dressing as a dip. Greek tzatziki would also work ūüôā I’m going to give my recipe for my fav way to eat artichokes- stuffed. These make for a complete meal and are sooo yummy, my grandmothers recipe.

First, cut the tips off the ends of the leaves, these are sharp and cutting them off  makes for easier eating.

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Aritchoke after and before trimming leaves, note the ideal shape of these artichokes

Next, mix together the stuffing- For 4 aritchokes use 1 1/4 cup italian bread crumbs, 1/2 bunch finally chopped parsley, 2-3 garlic cloves chopped finely (more or less to taste), 1/4 grated parmesan and a pinch of black pepper. Take the mixture and stuff it in between all of the layers of leaves- I sometimes make a little extra which you will later add to the ‘broth’.

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Stuffing the artichoke

Once stuffed, place aritchokes into large pot or dutch oven dish. Fill 2/3 way with water, add 2-3 chicken or vegetable bullion cubes. If you have extra stuffing, pour this over aritchokes even if it flows over into the water- this makes a great broth afterwards. Add little pats of butter or oil to the top of each artichoke. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer 2-3 hours, basting each artichoke by scooping water over it to keep them from drying out. When finished, serve in a shallow bowl with a little scoop of broth. They are sure to lick the plate clean!

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Finished artichoke

 

 

 

August 12, 2011
Food

 
 

 
 

5 min frozen strawberry dessert


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I made this one one when I was craving dessert and had limited ingredients to make anything.

Ingredients:
-Frozen strawberries (I used this but you could substitute any frozen fruit like blueberries or raspberries)
-Milk, cream, or half and half. All I had was half and half but if you wanted creamier you could use whipping cream or Missy would use almond milk ūüôā
-Sugar

Using a food processor, add strawberries until finely chopped. Blend in sugar. Then, slowly add half and half or other cream until smooth and well blended. Dessert is done!

It’s best to put in freezer for a few minutes. If you have extra it would keep for a few days in the freezer in an airtight container. We couldn’t wait so ate as is and it was a little more like a milkshake consistency but that’s how I like my ice cream so it worked. I also garnished mine with low fat cool whip and a fresh strawberry. Vit doesn’t even like dessert and asked for seconds!

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April 29, 2011
Food, Recipe

 
 

Spinach Mac and Cheese and Chicken Sausage meatballs


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If there is a staple item that I loved as a picky little kid but have never grown out of even as my tastes have matured, it is mac and cheese. But with the high fat/low nutritional content ratio, it is usually not a good thing to make. I found this recipe on Rachael Rays cooking show- Meals in 30mins or less then added some tweeks of my own
Ingredients:
-One package of fresh or frozen spinach
-Cup or so of parmesan cheese
-Milk (I used regular but suppose you could subsititute)
-Bit of butter
-Pasta for the mac and cheese (I used veggie shells)
-Ground chicken or turkey can be subsituted
-Herbs for meatballs- rosemary, tarragon, thyme
-Onion or leek, chopped
-Bread crumbs- I used italian style but you can use regular and add your own herbs
-Two eggs
First, make the sauce. Saute a small pad of butter then add milk, you can use a dash of half and half or cream but of course that adds to fat content. Slowly pour in the parmesan cheese stirring on medium heat until it melts making a creamy sauce. The key to any good alfredo/cheese sauce is adding the cheese slowly. Once you have a good amount of sauce, add in the spinach. While fresh is best, I love frozen spinach because they pack sooo much into a little package so you are eating tons of greens. Stir the spinach into the sauce. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. I used multicolored shells that are veggie based.

The meatballs:
I use ground chicken because it is leaner and healthier than ground beef. With the right combo of herbs it tastes just like sausage, you won’t know the difference but is lower in fat and cholesterol. Also, by adding in bread crumbs etc you are making the meat (and your money) stretch.
Mix together herbs (onion, rosemary, thyme and fennel see are key to making it taste like sausage), a little parmesan cheese if you have some left, bread crumbs, two eggs and ground meat. Make into decent size balls then place in 350 degree preheated oven for ab out 15mins or until meat is brown, not pink.
Serve over mac and cheese and voila!- a grown up healthier veggie and protein packed version of your childhood fav!
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Food, Recipe