Veggie Pizza Pasta

That sounds gross, reading it now, but it's the best way to describe it... It's all veggie - vegan, even, if you don't do dairy - but it tastes like delicious pizza.

It's sort-of a ripoff of Nopa's baked runner beans but super fast & easy. Still, you should go to Nopa and have the baked runner beans (or whichever beans they might be using). It's ah-MAY-zing.

  • 1 can drained & rinsed cannellini beans
  • 1/2 package of brown rice penne pasta (or whole wheat - but I think the brown rice is better)
  • Bag o' washed spinach or whatever greens you like
  • 1/2 jar (or small jar) tomato sauce of your choice (enough to be saucy, but not soupy)
  • A chopped orange or yellow bell pepper (or green, if you like - I can't stand the green ones)
  • 1-2 cloves crushed garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder if that's all you have handy)
  • A shit ton of oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Scant salt & pepper
  • 1 tbs canola or other veggie oil
  • Wee drizzle of olive oil

Git yerself a good, seasoned cast iron pan - seriously - so much better. But any good-sized skillet will do. Heat that sucker on medium for a few minutes til it's nice & hot. On another burner, set up a pasta pot full of water to cook the pasta.

Add the canola oil to the skillet then throw in the cannellini beans. Hopefully the pasta water is boiling by this point so you can cook the pasta at the same time while toasting the beans. Toast the beans for 8-10 minutes - enough to get some color. The pasta should take 7-8 minutes but check the package.

When the beans are toasted , add the spinach to the skillet - it will wilt very quickly - then throw in the onion powder and the garlic til it just starts to become fragrant (if using garlic powder, throw that in now). If using kale or other hearty greens, it'll need about 7-10 minutes to wilt, so you'll want to start the skillet before the pasta... Once the greens are wilted, add the tomato sauce, peppers and oregano. Let all that simmer together for a few minutes.

If the pasta finishes before the skillet stuff, drain it and reserve the cooking water and set aside. If it's done at about the same time, use a Joyce Chen strainer to ladle/drain the pasta & dump directly from pot to skillet - love this tool & use it all the time.

After the skillet stuff has simmered together for a few minutes, add the pasta to the skillet and if it's not saucy enough, add some of the cooking water - the starch in the water from the pasta will help tighten up the whole thing.

Turn off the heat, add a little more oregano, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the top & season to taste. Serves at least two - probably four if we're watching our portions. ;)

If you eat cheese, add about a 1/2 cup grated mozzarella off heat and enjoy.

Oatmeal Walnut CC Cookies

Ingredients: (for 12-14 cookies) [tsp = teaspoon, Tbs = tablespoon]
  • 1/2 c oat flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c whole oats, partially food-processed
  • 1/4 c ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/c cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (or xylitol, if you have it)
    (if using xylitol, add a bit more molasses)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 generous Tbs molasses
  • 1 healthy tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c toasted walnuts (or pecans)
  • 1/2-1 c chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks (however much you like)
  • 1/2 c chopped toffee (or butterscotch chips, though the butterscotch can be a little too sweet - OK to leave out toffee/butterscotch altogether)
Preheat oven to 375 (350 for convection)

If you don't have oat flour handy, throw about a cup of whole oats into a blender or food processor & process til it's flour - may take a few minutes and some stirring (in the blender) to get all the oats evenly obliterated.

Process another half cup or so of whole oats only enough to break up the large oats so they'll blend into the batter a little easier - just a few pulses or so. When left whole they can make the cookies a bit too crumbly.

When the oven is preheated, spread about 1/2 - 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans, or both - whatever you like) onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes - careful to not let them burn.

When they're done, slide the whole pan into the freezer (if it'll fit) for 5-10 minutes to cool.

Chop up a cup of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips - chopping a bar or chips will make irregular chunks and lots of little shavings that'll distribute throughout the batter.

Chop up a half cup of toffee pieces or butterscotch chips. The butterscotch tastes good when they're fresh out of the oven, but when the cookies are cool, it can be too sweet - toffee might be better, or just leave it out altogether.

In a small bowl combine the oat & whole wheat flours, then add the semi-processed whole oats, flax seed and baking soda - set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

When the butter and sugar are well blended, beat in one egg and a generous Tbs of dark molasses and a healthy tsp of vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture and blend thoroughly. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate & toffee chips.

You can fridge the dough for 30-60 min at this point or bake directly.

Place generous globs onto the cookie sheet (about 1/8-1/4 cup each) and bake for 8-9 minutes. OK if they look a wee bit undone in the center - leave on the pan for 5-10 minutes after pulling from the oven, then remove & cool on wire rack.

Consume with your favorite beverage and watch your cholesterol go down. Or up. Who cares, cookies are good.

Orzo Chicken Salad

  • 1 lg or 2 small chicken breasts
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta (makes 1.5/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 Tbs sesame, canola or peanut oil (for sautéing the chicken)
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • spicy red & yellow peppers
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbs water
  • freshly chopped basil (chop it at the end)
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs capers
  • salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat a pot of salted water for the orzo.
2. When the water is boiling, throw in a cup of orzo to cook.
3. Season the chicken w/ salt & pepper, then sauté.
4. Chop up tomatoes and spicy peppers, put in a large bowl & set aside.
5. When the orzo is done, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking - set aside.
6. When the chicken is done, take the chicken out of the pan to rest.
7. Deglaze the pan with a little white balsamic vinegar (or white wine) and water - about a 1/4 cup total liquid at the most - add any juice from the resting chicken.
8. Reduce liquid to about half, then set aside.
9. Add the orzo to the bowl of veggies and toss.
10. Shred the chicken breast and add to the orzo/veggies.
11. Add the pan juices and a few tablespoons of olive oil and toss.
12. Add freshly chopped basil and capers & toss again.

Makes two generous servings

To make it vegetarian/vegan, leave out the chicken & replace with drained, rinsed cannellini beans. You can toast the cannellini beans & dress with vinegar & olive oil instead of pan juices.

Chicken & Penne

All cooked together in the same pan - about 20 min start to finish.

Ingredients: [tsp = teaspoon, Tbs = tablespoon]
  • 2 frozen Costco or fresh chicken breasts
  • 1-2 Tbs sesame, canola or peanut oil
  • 1-2 Tbs fresh-ground pepper (or however much you like)
  • 1-2 Tbs thyme
  • 1/2-1c water
  • 1/4-1/2c white wine (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1-1 1/2 cups penne pasta, or as much as will fit around the chicken, level in the pan - it shouldn't pile over/above the chicken.
  • 1 Tbs reduced chicken stock or 1/2 bouillon cube
  • 1-2 Tbs capers
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
1. Get a large skillet w/ a lid - preheat for a few minutes on med/med-high. When the pan is hot, use 1-2Tbs high-smoke-point oil like sesame, canola or peanut (olive oil burns too easily, add it at the end).
2. Brown the chicken, about 3 min per side or long enough to get some color - cook until almost done (season however you like - I used pepper & thyme - salt came from added stock later but if not using stock or bouillon, season chicken with salt).
3. Add a small amt. of liquid to the pan if it's starting to burn (lemon juice, water, and/or white wine or combo of all three) - just enough to keep the pan from burning but not too much to inhibit caramelization.
4. Before chicken is fully cooked, add about 1 cup water, 1/2 c white wine and if you like, 1Tb concentrated chicken stock or a half cube of non-MSG bouillon - it adds good flavah.
5. Bring liquid to boil.
6. Add a few handfuls of penne to surround chicken in the pan - not too much, making sure pasta is just covered (or almost) by liquid in the pan.
7. Pop on the lid & turn it down to low & simmer for as long as the package says to cook the penne (it won't be enough - read on).
8. When the timer goes off, check the penne - it should still be slightly undone. Using forks, shred the chicken in the pan then give it all a good stir. Check the amount of liquid - add a little water if the pan's looking dry (about 1/4 cup or so). If you want to add in vegetables, now's the time to do it - chopped asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, red & yellow peppers - whatever you like. (David hates vegetables, so I cook/add mine separately.)
9. Pop the lid back on for about 5 minutes.
10. When the penne's done, take off heat & finish with capers & 1-2Tb olive oil and a pinch of the fresh herbs you started with. Taste for seasoning & add salt at the end if necessary.

Serve with fresh ground pepper and parmigiano-reggianoif you eat that sort of dairy.

Can be made & refrigerated for a cold chicken pasta salad. For cold salad, add fresh seasonal vegetables & a little extra olive oil when tossing to serve.

One-Pot Dinner & Rice

It cooks while you play games! Or work out! Or dance for the cats!

Ingredients: [tsp = teaspoon, Tbs = tablespoon]
  • 2 frozen Costco chicken breasts (or fresh - whatever you have)
  • 1-2 stalks celery
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 3-4 sm/med potatoes
  • spray oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp pepper (or however much you like)
  • 1-2 Tbs thyme
  • 1-2 Tbs rosemary
  • 1 Tbs turmeric
  • 1/4-1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 1-2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tbs reduced chicken stock or 1 bouillon cube
First, get a pot. Seriously. Get an oven-ready, dutch oven type pot. I use a Le Creuset oven-lovin pot. The oven does all the work. Prep time is about 15-20 min.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray oil on the bottom & sides of the pot.
3. Put the pot on the stove, large burner, set to High. Let it preheat 3-5 minutes - careful to not let it burn.
4. Grab the frozen chicken, celery, carrots and potatoes.
5. While the pot is heating up, wash/scrub the vegetables.
6. When the pot is hot, throw in two frozen chicken breasts, flat side down.
7. While the chicken is getting some color, roughly chop up the carrots, celery & potatoes. The frozen chicken will be thawing as it cooks, creating some liquid in the pot that should keep the pot from burning too quickly, but don't let it get away from you.
8. Turn the chicken breasts over and keep an eye on the bottom of the pot - you want some color in there, but don't let it burn. If it's starting to burn, pour in a little water, lemon juice or white wine (or a blend of all three).
9. While the chicken is browning on the other side, turn on the kettle to boil some water or use hot tap water and unwrap the bouillon cube - crumble up the bouillon cube and leave it on the wrapper on the counter.
10. With the chicken browned a little & some color in the pot, pour in the wine and lemon juice and turn off the stove.
11. Using tongs, pick up the chicken and scatter the carrots & celery underneath, onto the bottom of the pot. Pour in enough hot water to cover the vegetables.
12. Into the liquid, add the crumbled bouillon and turmeric.
13. Sprinkle the herbs and pepper onto the chicken.
14. Put the chopped potatoes on top of the chicken, sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Spray the potatoes with spray oil and put the lid on.
15 Put the pot in the oven and let it do its thing for 40-45 minutes.

When it's done, use two large forks to shred the chicken, or you can stab it with a fork and eat it like a chickencicle - your call. Serve with the potatoes, carrots & celery, and spoon the juice from the pot over the chicken. Can be served over jasmine rice, too.

Jasmin rice, ifin you want that...
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed well
  • 1 & 1/2 cups water
  • heavy duty saucepan, lubed with spray oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp butter
1. Rinse the rice in the colander until the water runs clear.
2. Put the rinsed rice and water into the saucepan.
3. Put the saucepan on the stove, small burner, set to High.
4. Add the salt and butter.
5. When the water just starts to boil - 3-5 minutes later - give it all a good stir to blend the salt & butter with the rice - put the lid on the pot, turn the burner to Low and set the timer for 20 minutes.
6. When 20 minutes is up, take the rice off the heat and let it sit another 15-20 minutes - don't take off the lid - just take it off heat and let it finish steaming.
7. To serve, use a large fork to gently pull the rice out of the pot & into the dish.
8. Store any leftovers in the fridge - reheat by adding a scant bit of water to the dish, heat for about 1 minute in the nuker.