Take Back the Kitchen: Spinach with Chick Peas

I just spent a week in Seville, Spain and spent a good deal of that week at my friend Antonio’s bar. He made the best Spinach with Chick Peas or Espinacas con Garbanzos. Although I have eaten this dish every time I have visited Seville, I never thought to make it. Until now. It doesn’t compare to Antonio’s but it is still pretty darn delicious. I combined a bunch of recipes I found online and ended up with this tasty version. Enjoy!
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Espinacas con Garbanzos
1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
2 15 oz cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
8 oz tomato sauce (I just pureed diced tomatoes)
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp blanched almonds, preferably Marcona almonds
Steps:
In a medium sized frying pan, heat up two tbsp olive oil.
When hot and starting to smoke, add in the spinach and stir until fully coated with the oil.
Remove the spinach from the pan.
In the same pan wiped out with a paper towel, add in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and let it heat up again.
Add in the minced garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes until wilted.
Remove the garlic and onions and puree in a food processor with the almonds, vinegar and the tomato sauce.
\When it is pureed, add it to the pan again with the cooked spinach and mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Add in the cumin, paprika and salt and stir.
Add in the chick peas and stir gently so all the ingredients are combined.
Stir in the remaining olive oil.
Adjust seasonings to your liking and serve hot.
For more of Alma Schneider’s amazing recipes, visit www.TakeBacktheKitchen.net.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider: Healthy Raw Cocoa Balls

IMG_1385.JPGWant a healthy treat that is also a crafty project for you and your kids? I made these yesterday when I was starving but wanted to remain healthy. They only took about 5 minutes to make. Try freezing them as well!
1/2 cup raw oats
1 1/2 tsp chia seeds (optional but adds a nice crunch)
1 tbsp raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 ripe banana
2/3 cup cashew butter (or almond butter or peanut butter)
Pinch kosher salt
Steps:
Mush all the ingredients together and roll into balls with 1 tsp of batter for each ball.
If the balls are too runny, add a bit more of the oats.
Makes 12-15 balls
For more great recipes, visit Alma at Take Back the Kitchen

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Fried Polenta with Olive oil and Parmesan

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I forgot all about polenta until I saw it in Trader Joe’s yesterday! I was looking for gluten free dinner ideas to make a special dinner for my niece who is going out of town and I saw the prepared tube of polenta on the shelf. These tubes are so user friendly and can be fried up and embellished to become a delicious side dish or appetizer in just a few minutes. Try the following recipe and let me know what you think!
Fried Polenta with Olive oil and Parmesan:

One tube prepared Polenta, sliced into 1/4″ round slices (should make about 20 slices)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Steps:
Heat up a medium to large size non-stick skillet over medium heat (I like the eco friendly ceramic skillets) and add a tsp of the olive oil until hot.
When the oil is smoking a bit, add as many slices as you can to the pan, leaving a little room around them so that you will easily be able to flip them with a spatula.
Wait a few minutes and check with a spatula to see if the underside is getting golden brown. When it does, flip it over and cook until that side is golden brown.
While you’re waiting for the second side to get brown, place a little of the cheese on top.
When the cheese is melted and the second side is golden brown, remove from the pan and loosely cover with aluminum.
Start making the second batch and when they are all done, serve immediately. Enjoy!
For more great recipes please visit: takebackthekitchen.com
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Just Desserts: What’s Cooking with American Baking Competition’s Paul Hollywood

103041_D01551b.jpgAs we gear up for the finale of the CBS reality series, “The American Baking Competition,” all eyes are on Francine, Darlene and Brian – the three finalists who are about to hit the baking stratosphere as long as they impress judges Marcela Valladolid and Paul Hollywood.
We recently got the chance to chat with celebrity judge Paul Hollywood who shares the ins and outs of the competition and even discloses his favorite desserts. And we’ve even got one of Paul’s spectacular recipes that was featured on the show last week.
Take a look…
Question: How do the American bakers differ from the ones he encountered on the UK show?
Paul: I can’t help remembering how he looked when Francine presented him with the chocolate and bacon pie… and his surprise that it tasted great. The flavour combinations that they used were very different. The standard was the same and overall I was very impressed but the flavours were often those I hadn’t come across together before.
Question: Have the Americans have inspired him to try different flavors in his own baking?
Paul: Yes. I was going to use bacon in a tart the other day which is something I’ve never done before
Question: Out of all the desserts that we’ve seen so far on the show, which ones have been some of his favorites?
Paul: The technical challenge of the large chocolate soufflĂ© was incredible. As was Effie’s millefeuille – really delicious
Question: What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?
Paul: Baking powder contains baking soda combined with a packing agent
Question: Can you substitute oil for butter or margarine when baking?
Paul: Absolutely. You can use flavoured oils too to give your pastry and bread different and interest flavours. It’s fun to experiment
Question: What cake do you wish for on your birthday?
Paul: A sacatorte
Question: What trends do you see emerging in the dessert world? Is it similar in the US and the UK?
Paul: I think the macaron has been and will continue to be a strong market. You can change the flavours so much that you can keep them interesting. It’s the same in the US and the UK
Question: What do you feel was the most challenging aspect of the competition for the contestants?
Paul: I think that the technical challenges will always be the hardest as we are asking the bakers to make something that they potentially have never made before, which is a touch ask. We deliberately chose obscure bakes to make sure there was a genuine challenge
Question: What ingredients should a baker always have in their pantry?
Paul: Flour!
Question: What is your favorite flavor?
Paul: Lime
Question: In which contestants, do you see a bit of yourself? Why?
Paul: James. He was very inventive and creative most of the time and had some great flavour combinations. Where we differ is in the execution as he messed up a few times. Practice, practice, practice is the key.
Question: What is your advice to future contestants applying to the show?
Paul: Again, it would be to practice. And to listen to advice. Don’t think that you’re the best when you enter and be prepared for constructive criticism.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to tackle a celebrity recipe, then try out the dessert the contestants attempted to master during the semi final round:
Paul Hollywood’s Napoleons Courtesy The American Baking Competition
napoleon (3) (1).jpgYield: 4 completed Napoleons
Rough Puff Pastry
INGREDIENTS
250 g all purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
250 g butter, room temperature
150 ml cold water
DIRECTIONS
Sift the flour and salt into a large metal bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely to coat the butter.
Drizzle two thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Cover dough and refrigerate for 20 mins.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
Fold the top third down to the center, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for another 20 minutes.
Using a ruler, roll out and cut into 2.5″ x 3×5″ rectangles. You should have 12 pieces. You may control the rise of the puff by making small slits on top of each piece.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

FILLINGS:

WHIPPED GANACHE
Ingredients:
8 OZ Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 OZ Heavy Cream
4 OZ Frangelico
Heat the cream until it just starts to boil.
Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate.
Let the mixture stand for at least 10 minutes then add flavoring.
Whisk until smooth
Refrigerate until mixture firms.
Whip ganache in the stand mixer until it reaches a soft, whipped consistency and is lighter in colour.
Pipe dots onto cooled layers of pastry followed by a piped layer of whipped cream.
WATER ICING
Ingredients:
1 cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons Water
2 oz dark chocolate
Whisk powdered sugar and water until combined.
Spread over assembled Napoleons
Melt chocolate over a double boiler
Pipe lines of chocolate on top of the water icing.
Using a toothpick pull the chocolate through the white icing.
Make sure you tune into the finale of The American Baking Competition at 9pm ET on CBS. And if you’d like to tweet along with us, just follow @BakeOnCBS #GetYourBakeOn @ChefMarcela @FoxOutdoors @HollywoodBaker and use these hashtags for the baker you want to see win it all: #TeamDarlene #TeamBrian and #TeamFrancine.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

IMG_4245.JPG Who knew carrots could be so beautiful, so healthy, so easy and so delicious? Here’s a recipe that even children might like!

5 medium sized carrots, washed and peeled if not organic
Olive oil
Flavor infused Balsamic Vinegar or just balsamic vinegar (I like Chocolate vinegar from Olive That and More out of Montclair, NJ)
Kosher salt
Place a rack in upper third of the oven
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Slice the carrots into 1/4 inch thick discs and place in a bowl
Drizzle enough olive oil all over them until they are coated, about 2 tsp.
Massage oil into carrots if you like
Lay carrots on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer, place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes
Check with a fork for tenderness
Remove from the oven when tender and drizzle with vinegar.
Sprinkle with Kosher salt. YUM!!!
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

Here’s a banana bread with a sweet and salty twist, perfect for cold wintery days ahead!
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Banana Bread with Salted Caramel Topping :

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup White Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (if you don’t have , just use 1/2 cup white flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Mix together in a large bowl
Wet Ingredients:
3 very ripened bananas, mashed
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup safflower oil or canola oil
3 beaten eggs
Mix together in a large bowl
Combine wet and dry ingredients until fully combined
Pour mixture into buttered loaf pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake bread for 50 minutes to an hour on the middle rack of the oven or until a knife comes out clean in the center
Let cool and then spread caramel topping all over the top and sprinkle with sea salt or Kosher salt
Caramel Topping:
1/4 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
pinch of salt
Combine ingredients and stir over a low flame until thickened
Set aside
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Alma’s Easy Goat Cheese Souffle

P1060088 (1).jpgSometimes a quiche needs a makeover. This crustless quiche-like-casserole-souffle is simple to prepare and exceptionally delicious. The goat cheese keeps it light, just in time for scary bikini season (or shorts and a tank ini top which is what I’ll be wearing in the pool:-))
Enjoy!!
Mushroom Goat Cheese Easy Souffle
1 chopped leek
2 TBS butter
1 cup chopped mushrooms
6 eggs
2 cups milk
salt
pepper
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
chopped crust of 4 pieces bread (whole wheat)
In a medium sized saute pan, heat up butter.
Sautee up the leeks until wilted, a few minutes, and add the mushrooms. Stir until mushrooms start to wilt- a few more minutes.
Throw in the bread crusts and stir for a minute or so. Set aside and cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whip together eggs and milk until combined fully. Add the cooled bread and veggies.
Ina 9″X13″ casserole dish, pour in the egg and vegetable mixture and stir in the goat cheese.
Place in the center rack of a preheated 350 degree oven and bake, covered with tin foil, for 1/2 hour. Test with a fork in the center and remove from oven when fork comes out clean.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Win a $10,000 Kitchen Makeover!

KitchenAfter.jpegI don’t know about you, but my kitchen is in desperate need of a facelift. Between the hardwood floors that need to be sanded and refinished; the laminate countertop that I would one day love to replace with granite; the 11 year old stove whose knobs become scorching hot every time you turn on the oven and the stainless steel sink that’s been through the ringer and back; I would so love to have a budget to replace all those eyesores that have been bugging me lately. Don’t even get me started on my fridge with all the broken shelves and drawers. Incidentally, the photo above is a shot of the kitchen I dream I’ll have one day – not our current work in progress.
Lucky for me, I just found out about a contest from the folks at Jif that might put me in the running for the chance to win a kitchen makeover. Here’s the dealeo…
The makers of Jif® Peanut Butter are asking creative cooks to share the innovative ways they incorporated peanut butter into their holiday spread this season.
Consumers have until January 17 (its last call!) to log on to www.jif.com to enter The Jif Holiday Spread Recipe Contest. There they can share their favorite recipes with fresh twists on holiday favorites, all for the chance to win one of two $10,000 prizes for a kitchen makeover!
I don’t know about you, but Jif Peanut Butter is definitely a must have item in our pantry and I’m pretty psyched to see the creations people came up with for their peanut butter recipes. Better head on over to the website and enter my peanut butter fondue recipe stat!
For recipe ideas, inspiration, complete details and the Official Rules, visit www.jif.com.

Five Ways to Lose Weight With Eggland’s Best Eggs

Thumbnail image for 6a00e54ee632ab88330133f4b6743b970b-320wi.jpgAs Thanksgiving and the holiday season sneaks up upon us, it’s time to batten down the hatches and attempt to lose a few extra pounds. I don’t know about you, but every time we hit November, I’m relegated to the stretchy pants section of my closet after I’ve inhaled turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and my personal favorite, sweet potato pudding with marshmallows.
Since I’m a member of Eggland’s Best Pink Dozen, I’m going to get back to basics by making eggs a daily part of my weight loss routine. Incidentally, while you might be concerned about your cholesterol intake, Eggland’s Best eggs contain 19% less cholesterol and 25% less saturated fat than ordinary eggs, and 115 mg of Omega 3, as compared to 37 mg in ordinary eggs. Even better, one Eggland’s Best egg has 175mg of cholesterol compared to 213mg in an ordinary egg. For more of Eggland’s Best health benefits, you can check them out on their website.
So back to the task at hand. Me losing weight before I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. When I’m in the weight loss zone, I typically start my day with a half grapefruit and eggs – so here are five ways to shed some lbs. by making Eggland’s Best eggs a part of your daily routine.
HardYolk.jpg1. Do not eat the yolk! I happen to love hard boiled eggs and for some reason, ever since I was a kid, I always ate the white part and discarded the yolk. Turns out my natural aversion to yolks gets a thumbs up with nutritionists – since the white part of the egg is great for you and incredibly low in calories!
2. Wrap it Up! – Rather than preparing a regular omelet, turn it into a wrap sandwich instead! I usually go for egg whites with tomato or I’ll add a little spinach and mushrooms too. Then for a little carb action, I roll up my creation in a whole wheat wrap. Add a little ketchup or tabasco sauce and you’ll be full for hours!
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3. Mayo on the Side – I am a huge egg salad fan but you know as well as I do that mayonaise may not be your best friend – unless of course you opt for a fat free version. Either way, if I’m on the run, I’ll take two hard boiled eggs with me, put them in a bowl and then use one packet of mayo (or take a container of the fat free version) and whip up my own egg salad sandwich on the spot. Sure, people might look at me strange, but I’d rather know how much mayo is in my egg salad and the only way to do that is to make it yourself! I happen to love my sandwich on whole wheat toast with tomato.
4. Breakfast for Dinner – If you find yourself eating too late at night – don’t grab sweets or make yourself a burger. Instead, opt for an Italian omelet. Add a little cheese (my personal fave is skim mozzarella, some tomato sauce, garlic and a few mushrooms, and voila! You’ve just made an incredibly healthy Italian style meal!
Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 8.35.17 AM.png5. And Now for Dessert Yes – even when you’re watching your weight, you can have some treats now and then. In fact, the Eggland’s Best site has tons of great recipes that you can prepare for the holidays. Since you’re already starting out with a healthy egg solution, why not substitute your additional ingredients with lower calorie options including skim milk, reduced fat butter or margarine and a sugar substitute.
So there you have it. Hope these tips help as you prepare for the busiest food fest of the season. As for me, all this talk of eggs is getting me hungry. Time to make breakfast!
For more information, head on over to Eggland’s Best where you can even find a wealth of material – from featured recipes (you can even share your own) to health and wellness tips and more. Plus, check out a few more incredible essays and blog posts from my fellow Eggland’s Best Pink Dozen member – including Sarah at Genesis Moments, Liz at This Full House and blogger Melissa Engel who lost more than 30 pounds by incorporating Eggland’s Best eggs into her diet!
Disclosure: This compensated post is sponsored by Eggland’s Best.

Smart Shopping

DSC08064-1.JPG What would you say if I told you less than 10 minutes in the kitchen could save over $150 on your grocery bill? That’s what I thought. All you need is few simple ingredients, some you probably have sitting in your refrigerator’s veggie drawer, and you’ll be ready to save big bucks on store-bought stock and have a key pantry staple to make soups, risottos, stews…you name it, really. Take a peek at my recipe for homemade bouillon and say goodbye to cans, packets and preservatives.