Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quinoa with Kale

Looking for a healthy lunch that is quick and easy to prepare and will fill you up without any guilt? This quinoa with kale is it.

Quinoa is not only delicious and versatile, it has so many great health benefits. Check out this article on the 27 Surprising Health Benefits of Quinoa by The Cooking Detective.  Once you do you will be running to the kitchen to cook up some quinoa!!

I have made quinoa as side dishes, soup, and salads. For this dish I sautéed some onions, garlic and tomatoes before adding the quinoa and broth. Near the end of cooking I added in some kale, my new favorite leafy green, and let it wilt.

Once it cooled I packed it immediately in to some lunch containers so I'd be ready to go. I warmed this up to eat it but it would also make a great salad when the temps are a bit warmer.

Quinoa with Kale


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sm onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 sm bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste, if needed
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat
  • Add onions and garlic, sauté 2 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, sauté 1 minute
  • Add quinoa and stir before adding broth. Bring to a simmer and then lower heat to medium. Let simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Put the kale in the pan and let it wilt down for a minute or two. Once it starts to wilt, stir to mix it in to everything. Let the quinoa simmer until cooked through, about another 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper if needed

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Roasted Vegetables and Graziano Marinara Sauce over Creamy Polenta

Graziano Marinara Sauce is made by a local company using only the freshest ingredients and I was really excited to try it. And now that I have, I'm excited to use it in my kitchen again.

 Photo courtesy of Graziano Products

 About Graziano Products -
Over a century ago, the Graziano family immigrated from the small Italian town of Guardia Perticara in the province of Potenza. Establishing themselves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the young family was raised on the finest traditional Italian cooking. Over the years, friends and family alike have come to love the exceptional meals served from the Graziano kitchen. Graziano's founder, Thomas Graziano and his wife Jackie have continued the old world family tradition of enjoying home cooked meals every day of the week. They have maintained the classic integrity of the Graziano family recipes and they now look to share these delicacies with you. Chi mangia bene, Vive Bene!

When I got the sauce I fell in love with the packaging. The jar itself is rustic and screams home cooking, and the label is modern, bold, and perfectly simple. The two elements combine to make the perfect package.

Then you get a little closer to take a look at the sauce in the jar and you know how fresh it is. You can see the chunks of tomatoes and pieces of garlic and I could not wait to get it home and open it to smell and taste it.

I planned my menu for our Sunday family dinner using the sauce as my inspiration. I wanted something simple so the sauce could shine, yet comforting and rustic so I decided to roast vegetables and serve them in the sauce over creamy polenta (recipe follows at the end of this post). From looking at the jar I knew this sauce would give me the texture and consistency I wanted, and it did. And unlike every other jar of sauce I have ever tried, Graziano Marinara doesn't need any sort of "doctoring up."

This sauce is not your typical jarred sauce, but rather home cooking in a jar. The sauce looks and tastes of the freshest ingredients and it has the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. You can taste all of the ingredients with none of them dominating the tomato flavor. The texture is exactly what I want in a good marinara sauce - the chunks of tomato let you know those are real tomatoes!

If you are looking for the perfect jar of marinara sauce, try Graziano Marinara. If you want to make a quick Italian meal that will taste like you cooked all day, use Graziano Marinara sauce. And even if you like making your own sauce sometimes you just don't have the time, right? This sauce will be the one  you can turn to in those situations. I know that I will definitely be cooking with this again, and soon!

To buy Graziano Marinara sauce locally you can purchase it at these stores:
   Olive Oil Etc., Doylestown Food Co-op, Del Val Market and None Such Farms in Doylestown, PA
   Tredici Market in Wayne Pa 
   Luigi and Giovanni's Market in Newtown Square
Coming soon - Graziano's Fra Diavolo will be available at Suzies Hot Shope in New Hope, PA very shortly.

Additionally, you can buy it online at www.grazianoproducts.com and have it shipped to you. You can follow them on Facebook - Graziano Products, LLC - and Instagram - @GrazianoProducts.  Finally, to meet the people behind this brand, I suggest you check out a great event being held in Doylestown, PA on February 26 - the Locavore. Details here.

Roasted Vegetables and Graziano Marinara Sauce over Creamy Polenta

  • 1/2 red pepper cut into 3 slices
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic separated into cloves and gently crushed
  • 1 sm zucchini, halved
  • 1 sm yellow squash, halved
  • 1 sm eggplant, halved
  • Handful of sliced mushrooms (crimini or baby bella)
  • Olive oil (I like using my oil mister for spraying the veggies)
  • 1.5 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place veggies on a baking sheet and gently mist with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Slice everything into bite sized pieces.
  • Put sauce in an oven safe sauté pan and gently heat. Stir in the veggies.
  • Optional: top with freshly grated Parmesan and put the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
  • While the veggies are roasting, make the polenta: Add chicken broth and milk to a medium pot and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and very slowly stir in the cornmeal - take your time to add it slowly and continuously stir so you don't get lumps. Continue to stir until you have a thick and creamy polenta. Season with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Put polenta on a plate or in a flat bowl and top with the veggie-marinara mixture.  
Reviewers note: Graziano Products supplied me with a jar of sauce for the purpose of this recipe and review.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna in less than 45 minutes and only one pot to wash. I'm not kidding!
I love lasagna but there is definitely a lot of work that goes into it. Making the filling, making the sauce, mixing the cheese, boiling the noodles, putting it all together and then waiting at least an hour to eat it. If you have a lot of time it's definitely worth it to make lasagna because there's nothing as comforting as baked, cheesy pasta, right? And there are some days when I crave being in the kitchen - it's therapeutic - so lasagna is a great meal to make on days like that. But really, unless you can prep everything early, who has the time for that on a weeknight?

That's why this skillet lasagna is THE ANSWER.

Between getting all the ingredients out, chopping the onion and garlic, making the sauce, layering the lasagna and baking it in the oven, I had this on the table in just under 45 minutes. And of that time only about 18 minutes are spent actively doing something. Even better, my husband who isn't a big lasagna fan really liked this, and said he liked it even better than traditional lasagna! My 4 year old took the leftovers to school for lunch the next day and asked if we can have it for dinner every night. I'd say that's a success.

Skillet Lasagna
Original Recipe

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 8 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz tomato sauce (I used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara; if you use a sauce without herbs in it, add some dried oregano and basil to your meat mixture)'
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 c grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 no boil lasagna noodles broken into 4-5 pieces each
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Heat the olive oil in an oven safe sauté pan or cast iron pan
  • Add the onions and garlic; sauté 2 minutes
  • Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 7-8 minutes
  • Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, mix the ricotta, most of the mozzarella, half of the Parmesan, the dried parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Remove 2/3 of the meat sauce from your pan. Top the remaining sauce with half of the noodles, followed by a layer of the mixed cheese and then half of the reserved meat sauce. Repeat with a layer of noodles, cheese, and then the rest of the sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. (You want to make sure all of the noodles have sauce or cheese on them so they don't dry out)
  • Cover with foil and bake 22-25 minutes until the noodles are soft and the entire thing is hot and bubbly.
  • Let it sit for just a few minutes before serving.