Monday, January 30, 2012

Peas, Chard and Gruyere Pie

This pie is a bit different than most pies, I used pizza dough for it. So basically, it would be a pizza pie. I modified the traditional dough by substituting half of the oil by butter to make it softer. It really works! The dough is light and soft and not so heavy like regular pie doughs are.

This recipe was inspired by these 3 little guys! When I saw them I said: I have to make something with peas so I can share this cuteness with all of you!








The other day we went to the Disney store and I couldn't resist myself when I opened the pod and those 3 little faces were smiling at me!!I had to get them! I also, decided to get one for my mom, my sister and my mother-in-law, their reactions were hilarious!






Back to the recipe!



Ingredients
 
 For the pizza dough (recipe adapted from The Bread Bible):
1 cup warm water ( 105-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2-2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella
 
 For the filling:
2 bunches of Chard ( green, Swiss or rainbow)
2 cups frozen peas
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cubed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon lemon juice3 oz Gruyere cheese, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg
 
 For the dough:
In a small bowl combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. 
Let it stand at room temperature until foamy, 10-15 minutes. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer pour the yeast mixture, butter, oil, salt and whole wheat flour. 
Stir to combine. 
Add the all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. 
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 2-3 minutes or until the dough is smooth and springy. 
If you don't have an electric mixer that makes dough, just mix it with a hand whisk and when
 it starts to get too stiff , continue with your hands. Knead by hand for 8-10 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with 
plastic wrap. 
Let rise at room temperature until tripled in bulk. About 2 hours.
 
 For the filling:
Wash and trim the stalks of the chard leaves. 
Chop them and combine with the peas, garlic, green pepper cubes, lemon juice and oregano. 
Cook until all the ingredients are tender. 
Add the Gruyere cheese and stir until melted. At this point you can add more cheese
 if you'd like. 
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Let it cool a few minutes, add the egg and transfer to a blender or food processor, blend until smooth. 
 
Assembly:
 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
Grease an 8" round springform pan.
Divide the dough in two, one piece slightly bigger than the other.
With a rolling pin, stretch the dough into a circle about 14" in diameter.
Place it in the pan. 
Spread the filling on the first layer of dough.
Roll the second piece of dough into a circle 9-10" in diameter. 
Place it on top of the filling. 
Roll the edges of dough together in sections to form a rope pattern. 
Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. 
Remove the springform sides.
Let it cool for 15 minutes and slice with a serrated knife. 
 
(I apologize for the weird spacing on the text, blogger does that to me sometimes)
 
UPDATE 2/1/2012
I forgot to put the nutritional info!! I calculated these numbers assuming you
use 1 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour and 3 cups of cooked chard. These results can vary
depending on how big the bunch of chard is and how much flour you need to form the dough. 
 Sorry guys, here it goes:
 
Serving size: 1/8 recipe 
 
Total Fat: 10.7 g
Protein: 15.5g
Sugar: 4.3g
Carbs: 41.6g
Calories: 325 
 
 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Liebster Award! and more...


Last Sunday, I had a wonderful day, we went to the gym and had a very good workout. By the time we got home we were starving! So we decided to order pizza from Vinnie's, a local Italian restaurant and pizzeria that makes the best white pizza! (sorry no pictures). I had a beautiful time with my siblings and my husband.

At the end of the day, I checked my e-mail and, Oh Surprise! Anna from Crunchy Creamy Sweet had given me a Liebster Blog Award!
A perfect closing for a perfect day.  I am so happy, first award ever for Spring of a Curiouseed :-)
Thank you so much Anna for this award and for encouraging me to keep writing and creating!
You must visit her blog, she is really a talented baker (I promise you will drool during the length of your stay!)

And to keep spreading happiness, I want to give the Liebster Award to these 5 wonderful bloggers!

Marina @ Cowboy Country Vegetarian
Leanne @ Around the Table: Loving Food in RI & Beyond...
Chris @ Sweet Mornings
Gursahiba @ Exquisite Niche
Soni @ Soni's Food for Thought



And because today I am inspired to write, let me explain what I'll be adding to my recipes from now on. In March of last year I got pretty sick with the flu, and I don't know about you but for me, those moments tend to be pretty revealing. I grabbed my You Can Heal Your Life (Louise Hay) book and I randomly, opened it in the excessive eating page, nothing to do with the flu but the information I read was something I had been needing for a while. I had been battling with excessive eating for a while and with the guilt that accompanies it. The book basically said that we eat excessively because we try to block feelings away to protect ourselves from them. The phrase she recommends repeating (to convince the mind of a new pattern to follow), is "My feelings are normal and acceptable and I allow myself to FEEL" (I translated it from the Spanish edition so it might be a bit different in the English version). For all of you who are emotional eaters, you can probably relate to this and I will give you some of my examples. Often times, I would eat out of frustration, especially when cooking. When something did not come out as I expected it, I would want to try it infinite times to see what I did wrong and then I would  want to eat it just because I was upset that I had eaten so much. I was punishing myself for the initial reaction by eating more! This vicious cycle would have been prevented if I had accepted my feelings of frustration as totally natural and normal and not trying to cover them up with the good feelings food gave me (even if not very yummy, I liked eating), I was cheating myself.   It is a little complicated, the human mind can get so tangled!. Other times, I would eat when I had an argument with my husband, I would cover up my feelings of anger with food. I know a lot of people do that. Allowing oneself to feel is no easy task, I had been working on that all last year and I still do. As a result, I gained 15 lbs and I said this can be no more! So I started counting calories a few days ago. I've done it before and it got pretty obsessive so hopefully this time I will be able to conquer that flaw and be able to live peacefully. I figured that if I limit myself with actual numbers instead of with an abstract idea somewhere up in the air, I will be forced to deal with my emotions in a healthier way (I'm open to suggestions!), observe them, accept them and move on. So from now on, I will include nutritional information for all my recipes and little by little, add this info to my previous ones.

 Live the present moment and accept yourself and your feelings as totally healthy and normal! We are perfect with all of our imperfections :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Creamy Mushroom Macaroni with Roasted Green Beans

Yes, winter is finally here. Temperatures are below 30 degrees and Saturday, we had the first
 snow storm (not counting October's). What better way to celebrate the season but with a 
delicious, creamy and comforting baked macaroni dish! 
Enjoy and stay warm!!
Serves 4
 
Ingredients
1 lb green beans
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon oil
Coarse salt, to taste
1 can (10 3/4 oz) Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup ( I used 98% fat free)
4 oz firm tofu 
5 cloves roasted garlic ***(see note on step 5) 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional) 
Salt to taste
3 cups of macaroni, uncooked
Parmesan Cheese

 
Preparation

1-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

2-Wash, trim the ends of the green beans and cut into bite size pieces.
 
3-In a medium bowl, toss together the sliced onion, green beans and the oil.
 
4-Spread them flat on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt.
 
5-***If you do not have roasted garlic, you can roast it with the green beans:
          Cut the end of a garlic bulb, exposing the tip of the raw cloves, 
          drizzle some oil on top and wrap it in aluminum foil. Place it on 
          the baking sheet with the green beans. 
For pictures and more details about roasted garlic, you can visit Cravings
of a Lunatic  !!
 
6-Roast for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. 
(The garlic bulb might have to stay a bit longer, depending on the size.
 Do not turn off the oven. 
 
7- Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook the 
pasta according to the package directions. 
 
8- In a food processor or blender, puree the tofu, cream of mushroom, 
roasted garlic cloves, onion powder, lemon juice and chipotle pepper. 
 
9- Add salt if necessary.
 
10-Mix in the roasted green beans, onion slices and pasta.
 
11- Grease a medium casserole dish ( I used a rectangular 4"x8" dish) 
 
12-Pour the mixture into the dish and sprinkle with abundant Parmesan cheese.
 
13-Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. 

 
 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Celery Orange Bread

I am not what you call, a celery lover. A few days ago, I found myself in the possession of two bags of celery. After discarding the option of making salad I decided to try something crazy new. My taste buds indicate me that celery belongs to the family of fragrant vegetables like anise and fennel. I said, hey, they make cookies out of those, maybe I can try to make something sweet with these stalks. After going through my old recipes, I found one I copied from a book I read at the library 5 years ago. The book was called "Quick Breads", unfortunately, at the time I did not pay attention to the name of the author. It was an excellent book, all the recipes were very easy to follow. This Celery Orange Bread was inspired in the Stollen recipe in that book. I substituted celery purée for the milk, orange zest for lemon zest and cream sherry for the cognac. It came out fantastic! The celery flavor is very subtle but adds an interesting and I could say, elegance to this fruit bread. I urge you to be curious, you won't be disappointed!


Ingredients



6 large stalks celery
1/2 cup dried cranberries
½ cup raisins
¼ cup cream sherry
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup sugar

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix the cranberries and raisins with the cream sherry and let them soak for 1 hour.

Cut the celery stalks in pieces, cover them with water in a medium sauce pan and cook until tender.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a blender or food processor, puree the celery stalks until very smooth.

Add the egg, oil, orange zest and vanilla extract.

Blend until well mixed.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and sugar. Mix well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Drain the cranberries and raisins, discarding the cream sherry, and add them to the batter, mixing well. 


Place the batter on a floured surface. 

 Flour the top of the batter, lightly, and flatten it with your palm forming a rectangle.


Fold,starting from the shorter side, placing the edge on the middle of the rectangle.

Fold the opposite edge overlapping the first fold.

With the help of a floured pastry scraper, transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Alternatively,the batter can be placed in a greased loaf pan, without shaping. 

Bake for 40minutes.

Let the loaf cool for at least 10 minutes and serve!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Most Important Lesson

As promised, I want to share with you what my last week of 2011 was like. I set the goal of making those last days unforgettable by gaining experiences and doing things I have never done before. Now, you are going to be surprised when you read some of my activities, I am was less normal than I thought! This year I am going to try to do something new each week, to juice what life has to offer! I am also going to keep a journal, my goal is to write every day so at the end of the year I can read how I have changed, last year was amazing and full of changes and new experiences, so this year, I want to record everything, not miss a moment of life.
Enjoy my week! 

My week started out with a show. As you may know my husband is a musician and singer and he has recently started singing in a new band. They had their first live show and I went to see them, it was fantastic! I am so proud of him and the other members of the band, they are amazing! They haven't uploaded the video yet but I will share it as soon as they do :)

The same night, I tried something else that was new to me, a beer!! Yes, apparently, I had no adolescence. To be honest, I've had 4 sips of beer in my entire life, before this. So I said, it is time I drink a whole beer! Did I like it?...I really don't care for its taste, but I felt a bit happier afterwards! :-P





The next thing I did, and it wasn't only new to me but to my parents as well, is to join a gym! We actually started the new year's resolution of fitness, a week earlier.  The best part of all, is that I am sharing this activity with all my family, including my husband and siblings, besides my parents.


On Wednesday night, after leaving the gym at 10pm, we were all starving so we decided to grab something to eat. We stopped by QuickCheck, I had never eaten there before. We ordered some sandwiches which were OK, but the most important thing was the situation: Wednesday night enjoying a great time with my sister, brother and husband and eating! What more could I ask for? Very unusual for me, as I go to bed relatively early, but not lately though, I am learning to enjoy my nights.




Before & After
On the last day of the year, I wanted to feel special so I got my first manicure. Twenty-six years without getting a professional manicure should be considered illegal! I loved it! Next up: a pedicure! How exciting! Lol :-)






Lastly, for New Year's Eve, we decided to dine in NYC. We chose an Italian restaurant named Aleo which had some vegetarian options and good ratings according to Yelp. We were very excited which made the disappointment even worse :( When we got there, we were greeted by a very nervous manager, we had made reservations but it looked like they were accepting walk-ins, luckily they had a table available when we arrived but others with reservations were having trouble finding one. The food arrived 1 1/2 hours after we ordered.

 Once the food arrived this is what we thought:
Insalata Tri-Colore
Arugula, endive, & radicchio with shaved Parmigiano & a lemon-garlic vinaigrette
This salad lacked flavor, no excitement at all. I did not taste it as I dislike bitter vegetables.
Vegetarian Green Pea
With truffle/parmesan potato chips
The soup was good, it was creamy and the potato chips gave it an interesting flavor.  
Penne
Sautéed eggplant, crimini mushrooms, light tomato cream sauce & ricotta topping
 The tomato sauce was very generic, the "highlight" was the ricotta as it cut the acidity of the sauce. Not a great dish, I do not recommend it.

Spaghetti con Salmone
Salmon strips with scallions, black olives, melted goat cheese in a fresh tomato sauce.
This is what my husband ordered. He said the salmon was decent but the tomato sauce was not good at all. I admit, he is picky with tomato sauces, they cannot be too sweet or acidic but if it was like mine, he was right about this one.
Quatro Formagio Ravioli
Homemade ravioli filled with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, & fontina, cheeses in a roasted red pepper & cream sauce topped with sautéed & julienne vegetables.
Three out of five ordered these ravioli. They said they were good but they were definitely not worth $20. The portion was very very small, which is OK if you are dining in a fine restaurant but not for here. My half portion of pasta was bigger than their full portion of ravioli. It makes no sense at all. 
We agreed to not order dessert, just pay and leave. Maybe on a regular day, this restaurant is decent but we had a very bad experience.

My last week of 2011 had its ups and downs but it was all new and I reached the goal of starting this year with new knowledge. But the most important lesson of all is what my sister told me on December 27, 2011:
Maybe what we have to learn from all of this is that no matter what we do, everything will be new because there is going to be only ONE December 27, 2011.

Every day is unique and it should be special just because it exists, just like every existing thing in the universe.



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