Vegetarian Chili and Nachos

Here’s a few shots from a “how to” article I shot for Walgreens last week. It’s a super easy veggie chili with a healthy spin on traditional nachos. The nachos use baked pita chips in place of tortillas, topped with a homemade bean puree, crumbled feta, avocado and diced veggies. Initially, I thought nachos were no place for a cheese like feta, but I must admit, I was sorely wrong. These are awesome and hearty enough to make for a quick light meal.

a link to the full recipe will be posted later this week!

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Boardwalk Fries with Cheesy Spinach Sauce

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

This is nostalgia served with a swirl of spinach. Boardwalk fries are nothing short of a sharable paper cup of comfort.  Imagine your sand sprinkled toes propped up on a bench, watching all the colorful chaos scurry by as you sit back and savor a salty serving of crispy French fries.

boardwalk fries

I’ll take the beach frizzed hair; crispy sun burned shoulders and splintered toes to be back on the Boardwalk for a night, to feel the goose bump inducing evening ocean breeze and share a bucket of hot fries with good friends.

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

Only Mother Nature can bring us the ocean breeze, but I bring along a lighter, brighter version of this Boardwalk staple. These fries are not actually fried at all, but they do have a crispy oven baked exterior, and when drizzled with this sharp homemade cheddar cheese sauce and laced with fresh spinach, they are transformed into a wholesome savory snack, vegetarian lunch or versatile dinner side dish.

homemade french fries with homemade cheese sauce

Boardwalk Fries with Homemade Cheese Sauce and Spinach

I can see these being served as a non-traditional appetizer for a cozy casual New Year’s get together.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

4 baking potatoes, (skin on) washed and scrubbed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.5 cups milk

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

1.5 – 2 cups loosely packed spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Slice potatoes into long thin strips. Place in a colander and rinse with very cold water. Lay potatoes out onto a towel and pat dry. (*The cold water rinse helps maintain that crispy skin and soft potato center*

Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat all the fries and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Warm the milk in the microwave, just to take the chill off. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Whisk the mixture and cook over medium until it turns a medium –dark brown color. Add the warmed milk, a little at a time, and continue whisking until it starts to thicken and look saucy. Whisk in the mustard.

Remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese. The cheese will gradually melt. When cheese in melted, and the potatoes are ready to serve, warm the cheese sauce up slightly and drop in the spinach. Stir gently, until the spinach wilts into the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Any leftover cheddar sauce can be served over rice, broccoli or other veggies.

One Big Apple Walnut Pancake

Would you believe I am in my third decade of life on this great earth, and I just learned the story of Johnny Appleseed? We played the Disney cartoon on YouTube for the kids, and I wept like a baby. Walt Disney has a way of doing that, you know. Making people cry during cartoons.

But I was the only one in tears. I think it was something about Johnny traveling the country barefoot that got to me. I once camped in Lake Michigan for a week without shoes, and to this day I am never completely comfortable unless my feet can feel the ground.

 

So I know we are all ready for something cleansing and healthy after a night of candy collecting and sugar sampling.

So this Apple Pancake is just the ticket for a fresh start. October apples are so full of flavor, I always feel guilty hiding them under piles of sugar pies and butter crisps. So here things are kept straight and simple with just a sprinkle of sugar, a dotting of butter and just enough milk and flour to keep them together.

One Big Apple Walnut Pancake

Ingredients:

3-4 medium apples, cored and sliced

1 Tablespoon butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup milk or almond milk

1/3 cup applesauce

Pinch of salt

For the topping:

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Cast Iron Skillet Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, saute apple slices in butter until softened, about 5-7 minutes. While they are cooking, whisk together the flour, milk and applesauce in a bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. Pour the liquid batter directly onto the apples in the cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the sugar-walnut mixture on top. Transfer to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes.

Baking directions:

In an ovenproof dish, such as a pie plate or Quiche plate, arrange the apples in the dish and dot with the butter. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until softened. While the apples are baking, whisk together the flour, milk and applesauce in a bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.  Remove the apples from the oven and pour on the batter. Sprinkle the sugar-walnut mixture on top. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm.

There will be Kale… And White Bean Hummus

White Bean Hummus and Kale Crostini

I am convinced kale is the best vegetable on earth.

And not just on a nutritional standpoint.

It’s the vegetable that never gives up.  All the other vegetable plants come and go, but kale just keeps on keepin’ on. Other veggies might give up through heavy storms, cold spells and gangs of toddlers with large rocks.

But not kale.

There will be kale.

SO for the days that you feel like giving up.

For the days that just never seem to end. Like when your car gets towed. Or you burn dinner for the third time in a row. Or your kid drops your neighbor’s mail down a sewer grate. Or all of the above happens in the same week.

There will be kale.

Because it never gives up.

Just like you.

White Bean Hummus & Sauteed Kale Crostini

This can be served as an appetizer or paired with a salad for a perfectly light vegetarian lunch. The tahini is left out here, and the lemon and garlic are amped up a bit. And if its that kind of day, don’t be too shy to pair it with a glass of something crisp, white and Italian.

Crostini:

Baguette, cut in 1-2 inch slices and gently toasted

(Optional: flavor the crostini with a drizzle of olive oil, or rub a cut tomato or garlic clove on the toasted slices to add some extra flavor)

White bean hummus:

3 cups cooked white beans

2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, to taste

1-2 lemons

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil, as needed

In a food processor or blender, puree the white beans, garlic and lemon. While the food processor is running, stream in some olive oil until you get a nice, smooth consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sautéed Garlic Kale

1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup of  stock, white wine or water

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet and add the garlic. After about a minute, add the kale and cook on medium heat. Add the liquid and cook until the greens become wilted and bright green. About 5-8 minutes.

Layer the hummus on the crostini and top with kale.

Black Bean Hummus

If you live in th Philadelphia area, you may have tried the best hummus in the world. It’s called Bobbi’s Hummus and it is so amazing, it can be eaten out of the tub with a spoon. My 1-year-old son doesn’t even use a spoon, he just dips his little paws right in there, scoops it up and smears it all over his face. In fact, it is so good, that the rest of us eating it don’t even care that a toddler’s grubby hands were in there. We all still eat it anyway. This “bean gold” cost 6 bucks a tub and is licked clean within a half hour after purchase. Now, I don’t mind paying money for good quality. I appreciate quality craftsmanship, and I fully recognize that you get what you pay for. You pay 2$ for hummus, you get a mediocre hummus. You pay 6 bucks, and you get the cream of the crop hummus.

Regardless, I cannot keep up with my family’s hummus addiction, so this recipe clears a close second to the real Bobbi’s Black Bean Hummus.

Garlic Black Bean Dip

2 cups cooked black beans

3 cloves of garlic (start with 2 and add more to taste)

about  1/8 cup of olive oil, add more to thin out as needed

pinch of salt

juice of 1 lime

Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, to a blender and pulse. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Depending on your blender, this can be tricky, because you don’t want to add too much liquid and make it runny. Continue adding small amounts of olive oil and stirring it with a spoon until it is very smooth, almost the consistency of a greek yogurt. One of the defining characteristics of Bobbi’s hummus is it’s smooth and creamy consistency, which takes a little trial and error to get it just right.

The black bean hummus is great served up with veggies and pita’s, but it’s also great on any kind of burritos, taco, quesidilla’s, or any other Mexican type dish that ends in a vowel.