Spinach, Mushroom, and Feta Muffin Frittatas

Three of my current obsessions include food in muffin form, feta cheese, and dishes that are quick and easy to make.  Making anything in the form of a “muffin” automatically makes it more fun to eat, feta cheese adds a delicious bite to almost anything, and lately, I just don’t have the time or energy to cook elaborate meals.

Breakfast for dinner is pretty much the best lazy girl’s way of cooking and eating a healthy, filling, and varied meal.  And these spinach, mushroom and feta frittatas are clearly a manifestation of my three current obsessions.

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The inspiration for these came from Pinterest- yet another recent obsession.  I think I officially have an obsessive personality.  That’s ok- there are worse things to be addicted to than Pinterest and feta cheese, right!?

These frittatas are so simple to make.  The feta/spinach/mushroom combo was fabulous, but so many other mix-ins could work as well.  Sun dried tomato and feta or broccoli and cheddar cheese would be great twists.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Feta Muffin Frittatas

Yield: 9-10 muffins

Adapted from: The Manila Spoon’s Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package (8 oz) baby bella mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 Package (5 oz) baby spinach
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 4 Lage eggs
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Clean mushrooms by wiping them with a damp paper towel, then finely dice them.

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3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and add mushrooms.  Cook mushrooms for about 5-6 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

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4.  In the same skillet the mushrooms were in, add the spinach and a few TBS of water.  Allow the spinach to wilt over medium/low heat for a minutes until it is all shriveled an wilted.

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5.  Remove spinach from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Then, gently blot spinach with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

6.  In a large bowel, whisk the eggs, then add the mushrooms (not including any liquid they released during cooking), feta cheese, and spinach.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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7. Spoon mixture into a non-greased muffin tray.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool in tin for a few minutes, then enjoy :)

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These stay  fresh for a few days wrapped and refrigerated, so they also make the perfect grab-and-heat breakfast or light snack.  A weeknight meal that is easy, fun, and healthy?  Yes, please!

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What are your favorite ways to enjoy breakfast for dinner?

What are your favorite foods to make in fun forms?

Food Fail: Mustard Herb Salmon Gone Wrong

Hello again blog peeps.

I am saddened to report that tonight was a night of failures; on both the food and fitness front.  For now, let’s discuss food failures.

Inspired by awesome success with last weeks dijon crusted halibut, I decided to try a new salmon recipe for once.  I turned to my super reliable and trusty friend Giada de Laurentiis who rarely lets me down, and chose her herb and mustard broiled salmon.

This was the first time I used my broiler in this particular oven, and I have a feeling that it wasn’t fully heated when I put the salmon in.  The result was that the top of the salmon cooked way faster than the rest; the top was already cooked while the middle was still raw.  Ultimately, the salmon turned out EXTREMELY dried out, right down to the mustardy spread on top.  The mustard practically browned in the same way cheese would while baking in the oven (good for pizza, not for fish).  In all fairness, the actual flavor of the topping was very good.

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Random side note: how in the world is one supposed to chop fresh thyme without the sprigs getting in the way?  The thyme was not like rosemary where the herbs just fell right off.  This step was beyond frustrating for an already doomed meal.

To make matters even worse, I made this with lemon green beans and shallots (idea from Two Peas & Their Pod blog).  Seriously, this side includes three ingredients- how did I screw this up?  I’ll tell you how:  I used the amount of lemon called for in cooking the whole recipe even though I reduced the serving size drastically.  The result was overly lemony, under shallot-ed green beans.  Fail.

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The best part of this meal was contributed by good ol’ Uncle Ben.  Seriously, Uncle Bens instant brown rice and quiona mix with garlic is very tasty.  I highly recommed it for a healthy grain dish in a pinch.

And that is the sad truth- the best I can offer you from this meal is a thumbs up to Uncle Ben’s brown rice and quinoa mix.

Giada’s salmon may be worth a shot if you are confident in your broilers ability to work.  After tonight’s experience though, I think I will stick to grilling and baking my salmon instead.  While the mustard sauce was really good, it didn’t measure up to the simple blackening mix I usually use, which happens to be way less complicated.

Tonights adventures were a disappointment on all fronts.  I am sure the problem rests with me and/or my appliances so if any of you try out these recipes and have success, please let me know!

Since this post is filled with enough negativity already, I will save my rant about what happens when you try out a new workout and hate it for another day.  Also, to lighten up the mood a little, I have included a picture of my incredibly cute dog, Macy.  I always say she looks like a little burrito when she’s nestled in my covers like this, so technically she does belong in a blog post about food :)

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Skeptical and Surprised: Chickpea Curry

You know those recipes that you are so skeptical of as you are cooking it because something just doesn’t look right?  Why is the food that color?  What is that smell?  I’m really supposed to add that much red pepper flakes?

Those types of meals are often anxiety inducing because many times, they can very well turn out to be duds.  But sometimes, everything ends up coming together perfectly and all your doubts wash away.  (Very similar to other things in life, actually!)

I was SO skeptical of this recipe right up until the time I took my first bite.  Honestly, it did not look that good, and I was certain I was going to be disappointed.  Well, I was totally wrong!

Quick Chickpea Curry

Quick Chickpea Curry

My meatless monday recipe this week came from a completely random post I read on my WordPress Reader as I was browsing the food tag.  What caught my eye was the bloggers comment that even her boyfriend said ‘yum’.  And no joke, my boyfriend said the same thing when he ate it.

It is a Martha Stewart recipe for a chickpea curry, and man was it delicious.  I really wanted to share this insanely easy, cheap, and delicious recipe with you guys.

Quick Chickpea Curry

Adapted from this Martha Stewart Recipe

Yields: 4

You will Need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

  1.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 6-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, curry, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chickpeas, ketchup, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and 2 cups of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for about 20 minutes.
  6. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 5-8 minutes.
  7. For best results, refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to come together.  *Do not drain any excess liquid, despite how much you may have.  This will reduce during storage and provide a great flavored sauce that is necessary.
  8. Reheat, and right before eating, drizzle some fresh lemon juice and stir well.

I had this chickpea curry mixed with brown rice for a complete, healthy meal.  It would also be great in a warm pita!  Or, simply served by itself  as a light meal or side dish.

Do not, and I repeat do not, skip the fresh lemon at the end.  I forgot this part during one plate of leftovers and I completely tasted the difference!

Now, go enjoy this recipe.  With the money you save on ingredients and the calories you save on your waistline, you are entitled to a nice fancy dessert ;)

Creamy Tomato Soup with Focaccia Croutons

The other night was just one of those days: rainy, cold, and dismal outside.  The weather was perfect for wearing pajamas at 5pm, cuddling with pets &/ significant others, and of course: making soup!

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I noticed on the Two Peas & Their Pod blog a recipe was posted for a healthier creamy tomato orzo soup, and I was immediately intrigued.  Especially because we had 1/2 loaf tomato basil focaccia bread left over that was way past its prime and destined to be made into croutons.

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I made this soup, with only two changes, and I was very impressed.  The creaminess comes from greek yogurt so it is actually a very healthy soup.  I highly encourage anyone who loves creamy tomato soup but hates the idea of slurping up 50% saturated fat in one bowel to try this recipe!

Creamy Tomato Soup with Focaccia Croutons

From: Two Peas and Their Pod Blog

Yield: 4 bowls

You Will Need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-15 ounce cans diced tomatoes *
  • 1-15 ounce can vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil *
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (we use Chobani)
  • 1 cup cooked Orzo pasta *
  • 1/2 loaf of stale focaccia bread for croutons (my addition, HIGHLY recommended)

* I used no salt added diced tomatoes and added my salt per our taste.  I did need to add a lot of salt to achieve a good flavor, but I still feel I added less than what would be in the regular sodium cans.

* I believe you could up the fresh basil a tad, maybe add in an extra  1 TBS.

* I substituted ALPHABET pasta instead of of orzo.  No, I don’t have a five year old.  I am just a kid at heart and the sight of this in the grocery store pretty much made my day.

Lastly, my own addition that pretty much MADE this soup amazing was the hommemade focaccia croutons.  See below for how to make these.

Now for the recipe:

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves.

2. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth. Stir in the brown sugar and fresh basil. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, to taste. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup (or blend the soup in a standing blender and return to the pot). Stir in the Greek yogurt until well combined. Stir in the orzo pasta (or alphabets). Serve warm.

And for the highly encouraged, totally worth it, absolutely delicious add in….

Tomato Basil Focaccia Croutons

Like I mentioned, I had an extra 1/2 loaf of focaccia bread left over from making my roasted eggplant and tomato sandwiches, and it was getting very stale.  I made croutons out of the bread by simply cutting it up into thick cubes, combining with 1 TBS + 1 tsp olive oil, and sprinkling with a little salt (about 1/2 tsp).

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I then baked these beauties for about 10 minutes until they were nice and crispy.  I stored them in an air-tight container until dinner time when they met their fate by drowning in a bowel of creamy tomato soup.

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The next time you are craving a creamy, healthy, comforting soup, I definitely recommend you give this recipe a try.  I highly encourage the use of alphabets instead of orzo, because let’s face it: childhood favorite > random pasta that looks like rice ;)

And if you have a little extra time, whip up some homemade croutons for dunking.  You can never go wrong by adding more carbs!

What are your favorite healthy soup recipes?

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sandwich on Focaccia Bread- A Meatless Monday Recipe

Roasted eggplant.  Roasted tomatos.  Fresh mozzarella.   Smothered in pesto and rosemary infused olive oil on focaccia bread.  Not missing the meat as much as you thought, huh?

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This recipe was adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe (I was unable to find it online- it’s from one of her cookbooks), but I added some of my own twists to it.  The simplicity of ingredients and the ease of the recipe enticed me to make this easy weeknight meal.  I wanted to share the recipe with you guys as well as my ideas for perfecting it.

Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Sandwich

Adapted from Rachel Ray’s “Look and Cook” Cookbook

Yield: 3-4 sandwiches

You will need:

  • One large eggplant, skin on, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2-3 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into thick pieces
  • One ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • One loaf focaccia bread, or 3-4 hoagie rolls
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Rosemary (fresh preferred, dried fine as well), 1 tsp
  • 3-4 TBS pre-made pesto (bonus points to make your own)
  • 1 can low-fat tomato soup (optional side, highly recommend Amy’s brand)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Put 2 TBS olive oil in a pan and heat over low-medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes, crushed garlic, & rosemary and allow the flavors to infuse on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.  IMG_0623
  4. Arrange the sliced eggplant on one baking sheet and the sliced tomatoes on the other.  Season both the eggplant and the tomato with salt and pepper on both sides.  Set the baking sheet with the tomatoes aside.
  5. Using a pastry brush or a spoon, lightly coat the eggplant slices with the infused olive oil on both sides.
  6. Place the eggplant in the oven and allow to roast for 10-15 min minutes, until lightly brown and just beginning to shrivel.  About half way into the cooking time, add the baking sheet with the sliced tomatoes.  [Note: when I originally made this, I added the eggplant and the tomatoes at the same time and the tomatoes were overcooked, so I highly recommend separating them and baking them half way in]

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7.  While the vegetables roast, slice up the fresh mozzarella and cut the bread (if in loaf form).  At this point feel free to toast the bread by sticking it in the hot oven or in a toaster, if this is your preference.  We did not do this for the focaccia bread and wish we had.

8.Spread bread with a nice helping of prepared pesto.  Remove vegetables from the oven, layer on the bread, top with fresh mozzarella slices, and enjoy!

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This recipe was very tasty!  Overall, I don’t think focaccia bread was the best choice- I think crusty rolls would have been more appropriate.  Not to throw anyone under the bus here, but the focaccia bread was my boyfriend’s idea ;)

The original recipe involves making a pistachio pesto with arugula, and topping the sammy with more arugala.  For times sake, we did not do this, but I do feel it could add a very interesting bite.

Also, I highly recommend more than just one layer of eggplant on the sandwich to make it more substantial.  Feel free to add more roasted veggies, as desired.  I think zucchini or roasted red peppers could add an interesting touch.

I am so proud of myself that for almost 2 months now I have been following meatless monday.  It’s such a fun twist on meals that I feel good about.

What are your favorite types of meals for Meatless Monday?

Boyfriend-Approved Meatless Monday Recipe: Emeril’s Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

The Challenge: introducing Meatless Monday to a meat-loving boyfriend.

I have recently been loving the idea of Meatless Monday, as it forces me to be creative in the kitchen.  My boyfriend, however, is a hard core meat lover.  I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the TV show Parks and Rec, but my boyfriend shares the same food attitude as Ron Swanson.  Anyway, the point being that Meatless Monday is something I kind of slowly snuck into his diet without him knowing.  I simply prepare a delicious meal on Mondays, don’t use the word meatless around him, and we are good to go.  The challenge here is that the meal has to be really tasty, otherwise my cover will be revealed!

Homemade sauces are an easy and healthy way to be meatless, which is boyfriend approved because the meal is so filling once combined with pasta.

I loved the caramelized onion and cherry tomato sauce I made last week, but I wanted to try something a little different.  I got this recipe from the Food Network website, and we really loved it.  So, I wanted to share the recipe and my thoughts/tidbits with you.

I apologize for the poor photo quality.  This sauce was not oily or glistening as the picture makes it seem.  I think it may be time to start saving money for a good camera…

Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

You Will Need:

1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole Italian plum tomatoes, with their juices
3 whole heads roasted garlic [see “How To” note below], cloves removed from peels

How To Roast Garlic

Roasting garlic is a very easy, albeit time consuming, cooking skill.  I had actually never done this before, but I was only one google search away from mastering the skill.

Rather than confuse you with a lengthy step-by-step, I highly recommend that you watch this video.

Emeril’s (Spicy) Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce Recipe:

[Yield: enough sauce to top about 3-4 pasta meals]

time: 1 hour 30 minutes + 30-40 minutes for roasting garlic

  1. In a large saucepan saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and lightly golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato paste, salt, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and basil, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you place them in the pan, and their juices. [Note: do not add the actual tomato juice that the tomatoes are canned in!]
  5. Stir to combine well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the roasted garlic cloves and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, or until the flavors have come together.
  7. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

My Thoughts & Tidbits

  • This sauce has kick to it!!  We were pretty surprised by how spicy it was, and we like spicy things.  I feel that the hotness of the red pepper flakes and the hot sauce overpowered the roasted garlic taste.  Next time I plan on reducing (or maybe even omitting) the red pepper flakes and adding 1-2 extra cloves of garlic.
  • The spiciness of the sauce did die down when it was re-heated for leftovers the next day.  The sauce was delicious this way, as all of the flavors came together perfectly.
  • This sauce pairs very nicely with whole wheat pasta.  I feel like some sauces are not powerful enough to mask the sometimes cardboard-y taste of WW pasta, but this one does the trick.  So go ahead, make it healthy and use the good-for-you stuff.
  • Note that the roasted garlic portion is 3 heads, not 3 cloves.  Yes, this is a lot of garlic!  Yes, you do need it all!
  • As previously noted, crush the tomatoes and their juices for the sauce, but do not add the actual juices that the tomatoes are canned in.
  • This sauce would taste amazing with some spicy chicken sausage in it.  Next time I make this without a vegetarian meal in mind, that is definitely what I will add!
  • This recipe is a bit time consuming between roasting the garlic and the steps in which the sauce simmers.  However, you are not actively engaged for much of this recipe.

This sauce was fantastic!  It is healthy, flavorful, versatile, and inexpensive.  This is a great base recipe for vegetarians, meat lovers, boyfriends, and even kids.  Next time you need an easy yet hearty meal, try this fresh, homemade tomato sauce!

Fresh and Easy: Tomato, Garlic, & Caramelized Onions Over Pasta

Monday night, despite an impending and untouched presentation I have due soon, I was in the mood to cook.  I wanted a meal that was 1) meatless (still loving meatless monday), 2) not complicated, and 3) healthy.

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Fresh cherry tomato, caramelized onions, and garlic sauce over pasta

Enter this recipe idea from Cristin’s RDealistic Diet Blog: a fresh cherry tomato, caramelized onion, and garlic sauce over pasta. I actually walked into the grocery store planning on making a different sauce recipe, but saw these gorgeous looking cherry tomatoes and knew I had to make use of them.

I followed her steps for the basic sauce and then spiced it up a little at the end.

What You Will Need

MIA: balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Missing in Action: balsamic vinegar and olive oil

  • Two containers of delicious, sweet cherry tomatoes
  • One large vidalia onion, cut into rings or slices
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
  • Chopped, fresh herbs (optional), I used thyme and rosemary
  • Cooked pasta, cooked according to package directions

Step 1:  Caramelize the onion

Cut one large Vidalia onion into rings or slices.  Place onion pieces into a pan that has been coated with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (or butter) and heated over low-medium heat.  Stir onions around pan to coat evenly with oil or butter.  Reduce heat to low and let onions simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until they are in a caramelized state. You can add about 1 tsp. brown sugar during the cooking process to help with the caramelizing but this step is not required.

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Finished

Finished

Note- this is the longest part of cooking this meal, but you do not have to stand over the stove the entire time the onions caramelize.  Check in on them every now and then, give them a nice stir, and go about your business.  You will know they are finished when they are extremely soft and browning.

Step 2: Simmer the tomatoes

In a large, deep saucepan (I used the one the onions were caramelizing in) heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  (Note- if using the same pan as the onions were in, it will already be very hot.  Heat your oil over low instead, otherwise it will spritz up as well as burn the tomatoes).  Add your two containers of washed cherry tomatoes, and turn so the oil coats them all evenly. Adjust the heat between low and medium.  They should be hot and cooking, but not sizzling too high.

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Step 3:  Adding in the Goodies

This sauce can cook for any from 15-25 minutes, depending on how chunky or cooked down  you want the tomatoes in the sauce.  Either way, after 10 minutes of cooking the tomatoes, add all your chopped, fresh garlic.  At this point,

  • If you want a chunkier, thicker sauce with more whole tomatoes: let the tomatoes and garlic cook on low/medium heat for 5 minutes, turning now and then.
  • If you want a thinner sauce with the tomatoes shed from their skins: cook the garlic/tomatoes for up to 25 minutes, or until it is at your desired consistency.  Stir the mixture every five minutes or so.

During the last 5 minutes of your determined cooking time, add your caramelized onions.  Then, some optional (highly recommended) add- ins include:

  • About 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp fresh, chopped thyme or basil
  • 1-2 tsp fresh, chopped rosemary
  • Chicken sausage

I went with balsamic vinegar, thyme and rosemary, and it was the perfect, fresh combination.

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Step 5: Scoop over pasta and enjoy

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I served this alongside some Alexia baked mushrooms and roasted brussel sprouts (both not pictured).  This dinner was a huge success!  The progress on my project due soon?  Not so much..

I am loving the idea of homemade sauces and would love to know your favorite recipes!