Down and Dirty Frittata

Okay so it’s literally May 2nd, a Tuesday, and my week has already been too hectic, but I will prevail on the blogging front.

Yesterday I whipped up a very simple frittata, and then forgot to take pictures until the very end … probably because I was starving and just wanted to get that food IN. MY. BELLY. #summerbod

What I Used (just trust me without the pictures)

  • Purple potatoes
  • Clarified butter
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 bunch of spring onion
  • Cherry tomatoes (maybe 2/3-1 cup?)
  • 8 eggs
  • Half and half
  • Feta
  • Dill
  • Salt
  • Pepper

“First things first I’m a realist” … pause … just went to quote some Iggy Azalea shit right there and drop some lyrics into this blog post only to find out that I totally don’t know the words.  Thank you, Google …SMH. I am obviously not “the realest” after this faux pas …. But you know who is? Barack Obama. Again … thank you, Google.

Okay so back to how I’m a realist or the realest … whatever. It was Monday, I was tired; I was hungry.  Because L-I-F-E. So let’s get real about kitchen gadgets.  As mentioned in my blog about radishes, GO BUY A MANDALOLIN.  If that seemed like I was screaming, it’s because I was … trust me, you need one. And then after you buy one, go buy some purple potatoes, and then slice them on the mandolin because #Monday and you don’t have time to be thinly slicing purple potatoes because the only time you do have needs to be spent slow cooking them into perfect, purple hash browns.

Heat a large pan with some clarified butter. Add potatoes. Then reduce the heat to medium low to cook the potatoes. Patience is a virtue on this one.  Slow and steady; keep flipping them.  You’ll thank me later.

In a separate pan, preferably oven safe so you don’t need to transfer to another dish, you’ll start cooking the vegetables.  I used a cast iron pan because it fits in our Breville oven perfectly.  If you’re making a list of things to buy at Bed Bath & Beyond with that next coupon <did you know they don’t expire?>, you should add the Breville Smart Oven to the list.  Seriously … do it.  You’ll initially say, “No” because it is expensive.  Trust in the process … It is worth every penny.

So vegetables … I cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces, diced up the spring onion, and halved the tomatoes.  Toss those into the pan with some clarified butter or olive oil … whatever you have handy is fine.

While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together 8 eggs with a splash of half and half (or milk, or cream, etc.).  It’s a secret egg weapon. It will make your eggs fluffier than you can imagine.

Side note … what is great about this recipe is 1) it makes great left overs and 2) you could size it up or down so easily.  You could make a single serving frittata or a brunch size frittata. I recommend two eggs per person per serving.  We made ours with 8 eggs because #breakfast. Aka 4 servings.

Okay so vegetables are cooked, right?  Now add the eggs to the pan.  Stir the eggs to equally distribute with the vegetables. Add some dill, salt, and pepper; then let it set in the pan briefly (read: stop stirring for like 2 minutes).  Oh, I should have told you to preheat your oven to 350* already … whoops.  Go do that now. Then, top the egg and vegetable mixture some feta or goat cheese. Toss the oven safe pan into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from oven, slice the frittata and serve with a side of hash browns. It’s really that simple.  You could truly put whatever vegetables you had on hand into this recipe.  Enjoy! And then enjoy again for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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The S.S. Murphy

So it’s been a few days since I actually made this recipe, but we’ve had a busy weekend.  Today’s recipe comes from my good friend Jenny, aka Murphy. And the recipe, which was was mentioned to me in passing, was intriguing enough, but I didn’t exactly have a recipe to follow.  I suppose I could have asked, but as previously mentioned, I hate following recipes … Unless I’m baking … No one wants crappy cookies, right?

Okay so today’s “recipe” is zucchini boats.  I think Jenny used kale and maybe butternut squash, but I didn’t have any of the things she used, so I cooked with what I had!

Okay so here’s what I used:

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  • Two Zucchini (what’s the plural of zucchini? Anyone know?)
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Marinara Sauce (particularly from The Red Lion Inn … more on that later)
  • Parmesan Cheese

So we received spinach again in our From the Farmer delivery last week, and I’m still at a loss with what to do with it.  I thought about making pasta, but I’m trying to find new ways to use ingredients.  That’s when I remembered that Jenny puts kale in her zucchini boats … so why not use spinach? This worked out great because we also got zuccs (short for zucchini, right) in our CSA this week.

<PAUSE> Guy’s I’m trying to blog and cook dinner and now my laptop is covered in olive oil. SMH.

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Okay, back to the spinach.  As you may recall, spinach from the farm (read: not out of a bag) is a dirty MF.  See my rant post from a week or so ago about Alfredo … and remember to wash the spinach very well.

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Next I chopped some garlic … 3-4 cloves … but use what you want.  See what I meant about not begin good at following recipes?

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Then onto the onion. I prefer red onion, but when Joe and I went on our Friday night date to the grocery store, they were out of red onion. OMG. Damn it, Giant! So I settled for a yellow onion … but it sure does look white in this picture.  Just trust me, it was a yellow onion, and I had already chopped it for salads so you don’t get to see pictures of my Iron Chef chopping skills. I have no clue how much onion I used?

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Sauté garlic until golden brown.

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Add onion and cook until lightly caramelized.

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Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  This will be your zucc boat filling.

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So from what I could gather from Jenny, basically … the zucc becomes a vehicle for whatever you want. See random mixture of vegetables above. So cut the ends off your zucc, then cut it in half length wise.

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Take a teaspoon and scoop out the guts of the zucc.  I probably ended up with more zucc on the floor than on the cutting board.  Jenny … help!

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Then I took my sautéed spinach mixture and loaded it into the zucc boat.

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I thought topping the zucc boat with marinara would be a good call.  Note: the chicken is Joe’s … but if you want my easy recipe for panko ranch chicken, let me know.

Anyway, back to the marinara sauce … so hands down, my favorite restaurant, maybe ever, is The Red Lion Inn in Southampton, New Jersey. It’s this amazing, family run, Italian restaurant.  It basically never changes, which is great, because it shouldn’t change. My family goes for most holidays, including Christmas Eve every year for as long as I can remember. Now that we don’t live nearly as close, my mom picks up pints of sauce for me and freezes them; at some point, I hope that Red Lion will ship their sauces and pastas, but until then, my mom is my sauce mule.  So this sauce is the Holy Grail of sauces, and we squirrel it away for special occasions (read: every time we eat pasta).  It’s literally the best sauce ever, and I don’t share it … except with my husband … because I have to …. <Sigh> Just kidding. Love you, Joe! And ironically, one time I shared it with Jenny and Bobby who inspired this recipe. She gets me on this sauce thing!

So I’m loading up the first two boats with sauce, and I cannot wait for these damn things to cook, so I snuck a spoonful of sauce, and the worst thing ever happened.  I realized they’d given us meat sauce in this container, NOT marinara. I could have cried.  I’ve been holding onto this container until it was an emergency, and now I needed it … and there was meat in it. WAHHHH!!!

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Thankfully, Joe came to the rescue and reminded me we had some generic pasta sauce in the cabinet so I loaded up the other two with a meat free sauce. Then I baked them for about 30 minutes, topped with some Parmesan, and served with some leftover tortellini from the night before.

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Here is Joe’s version with chicken … in case there are any meat eaters reading my blog.

Jenny – thanks for the assist on dinner last week!

What’s a radish?

Two blogs, one week? I mentioned I had radishes to use, right?

Okay so one of the fun parts of my weekly CSA delivery from From the Farmer is that they send produce that I’m not used to buying. I feel like I’m flying blind when it comes to these damn radishes. My mom said I needed to give them a shot … she said they’re delicious and peppery and that my grandmother used to eat them raw, like an apple.  That said, Eleanor was a champ, and I’m not sure I can live up to the “eating raw radishes” tradition, so while I was out on my run this morning, I was brainstorming ideas for what the hell else I could do with these babies.

Today is our good friend Pedro’s birthday so we are headed across the Potomac for a birthday cook-out, and I just kept thinking about summer slaws.  One of those crisp, cool slaws that compliment a burger (read: veggie burger), sounded perfect … and maybe it would be a good use for those damn radishes. And if not, F it … I tried.

Okay so here’s what I used:

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  • Radishes
  • Cucumber
  • Red Onion
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Good Honey … emphasis on “good” … see rant below
  • Salt
  • Pepper

So if my mom taught be anything about cooking, it’s that recipes are merely a suggestion and good thing, because I didn’t have a recipe.

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We have this really handy mandolin that Joe really loves, and I’ve historically refused to use because I’m afraid I’ll cut my finger off.  I get distracted easily and that blade just seems like a bad idea. Anyway, it’s great. I wish I had tried it sooner.  It made slicing the cucumber, radish, and onion SO MUCH EASIER.

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So back to the slicing.  Slice however much cucumber, radish, and onion you want or have … remember: cook with what you have!  We happened to have two cucumbers, one onion, and one bunch of radishes (maybe 6) so I sliced those up using the thinnest setting on the mandolin. Don’t’ have one? Well, now I’m a fan, so I’d tell you to go buy one … but if that’s too much effort (read: you don’t have a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon readily available), then just slice them up very thinly.

Dump it all in a large mixing bowl and toss gently.

So now let’s talk about the dressing, marinade, sauce … whatever you want to call it.  This isn’t one of those super mayo-y (yes that’s a word) slaws. In fact, I used no mayo.  My plan this this recipe was to make something fresh, crunchy, with a little bit of tang, and a sweet finish.  This is where the rice vinegar and honey come in to play.

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Honey … honey is one of my favorite sweeteners to cook with at home. We use it in breads (for those of you curious … we haven’t bought store bought bread in 2.5 years.  If we want bread, we make it.  Gotta earn those carbs, right?), marinades, etc.  If you only buy cheap honey, you are MISS-ING-OUT.  Honey is one of the few ingredients we splurge on … good honey is well worth it. So is good flour #kingarthurflour

Today I used sourwood honey that we got in Asheville at the Asheville Bee Charmer.  Did I mention how awesome Asheville was? I really love raw honey because it preserves the nutritional value of the honey which is lost during typical pasteurization processes.  Why sourwood honey? I have no idea, but we tried a number of honey varieties at the Asheville Bee Charmer and fell in love with sourwood.  They also make this killer “Firecracker Honey” which is the shit.  It’s spicy honey and awesome as an addition to any cheeseboard, marinade, salmon, stir fry, etc.

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Okay so back to the sauce, dressing, whatever it is … did I mention I get distracted easily? So I didn’t measure any of this but for the amount of vegetables in my bowl, I used about 4 tablespoons of honey and maybe a quarter cup of rice vinegar?  Basically I just kept drizzling honey, splashing in the rice vinegar, and mixing until I managed the perfect balance of tangy and sweet.  I wanted this dish to have some bite to it but have a slightly sweet finish.  I added some salt and pepper which added some depth to the dish.

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Then let it marinate … because everything gets better with age, right? #alwaysthinkingaboutwine The salt will help pull the moisture out of the vegetables and within just a few minutes a lovely dressing will form in the bowl.

I cannot wait to dive into this later today as a side to veggie burger or veggie dog. Nom nom nom.

Are Americans the only people who put cream in Alfredo Sauce?

Three years?! Seriously? How has it been 3 years since my last blog?  Maybe my blogging is like a fine wine … it gets better with age?  So what happened? Who knows. Life happens, I guess.  We got engaged, bought a house, got married, got promoted, got busy, started traveling for work, started traveling for pleasure … you name it, it has happened.  My dear friend Laura B., affectionately known as Laura 1.0, asks me every time I see her, “Are you ever going to start blogging again?!” So dearest Laura, for you, and as a cure to three years of boredom in the kitchen, I will start blogging again!

So back to that whole wine analogy … go pour a glass … Why? Because Wednesday.  You did it.  Half way there.  Tonight I’m drinking a glass of Malbec from The Biltmore Winery in Asheville, NC.  Never been?  Let’s chat.  Asheville is foodie central.  I know, I know. Asheville was boring 10 years ago.  Now, Asheville has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the US … plus their restaurants and art galleries are on point.  Anyway, we can circle back on that topic another day.  But seriously … their wine is phenom.  You can only buy the limited release wines at the winery so you should plan your trip soon or call them direct and ask them to ship you a case.

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OK … focus, Kristy.

So we recently (read: two weeks ago), subscribed to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription.  We decided to try From the Farmer because they offer two different size deliveries, and they tell you what is coming in the basket (aka … I hate surprises). So every Saturday they send me a lovely email telling me what is fresh for the week, and then I get to customize the bag (a feature specific to using From the Farmer).

I’m sure you’ve all gone through cooking ruts, right?  Joe and I literally buy the same foods week over week. I prefer variety, and I prefer sustainable agriculture, but let’s face it, routine is easy and farmer’s markets can be overwhelming! Like, okay, do I buy peaches from Farmer X, Farmer Y, or Farmer Z?  So my CSA delivery shows up, and I don’t have to make any tough choices. Variety and simplicity. That is a win-win.

Okay so this week, as part of our delivery, we received this huge bunch of spinach.  I literally never buy spinach.  Why? Because when you buy bags of spinach for salads, it’s literally slimy in like 5 seconds. Gross.  Plus you always hear about spinach being recalled due to e. coli, salmonella, etc. So now I have all this spinach (and radishes … does anyone know what I’m supposed to do with radishes? HELP!”) to use, and I’m clueless. So I’m like okay … everything goes good with pasta, I’ll just saute the spinach, make some pasta and BAM … perfect meal.  Then I started thinking about Alfredo sauce (we literally never eat Alfredo sauce so this is just odd), and I was like, “How hard could that be?”

Do you know how much crap is in Alfredo sauce? I’ve spent the past year trying to lower my cholesterol (and yes, I did … by 40 points … pats self on back) … so all that heavy cream isn’t going to fly.  Then I tried to find some recipes for “healthy” Alfredo sauce.  They exist .. but Greek yogurt in my Alfredo sauce sounds gross. So Google for the win … did you know that traditionally, Alfredo sauce doesn’t contain heavy cream? Me either! All you need to make a good, traditional Alfredo sauce is cheese and butter.  Like I always say (read: like I used to say 3 years ago when I actually blogged on the reg.) … cook with what you have .. and let’s be serious … I always have cheese. #highcholesterolcentral #notanymore

Okay so here’s what I used:

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  • A shit ton of spinach (that sucker cooks down)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ~1-1 1/2 cups of Parmesan
  • garlic cloves
  • Linguine, Fettuccine, some basic form of pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Red Pepper Flakes

For starters … Boil some water … with salt … because that’s what any good Italian would do.

SO … spinach is dirty AF. This isn’t some out of the bag, baby spinach.  I used like real, straight from the farm, seriously dirty spinach.  Wash it, then wash it again. Then set it aside.

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Cook pasta to al dente. Set aside.

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Save a cup or two of pasta water for later.  It’s basically liquid gold. It’s all nice and starchy so your sauce will both thin out and stick to the pasta better.

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Next, chop up a few cloves of garlic.  I used 4 but a little more or less wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and while you are admiring the picture below, I need to give a shout out to my mom for the awesome new cutting board she gave us.  Thanks, Mom!

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Next, I cut the spinach up into tiny pieces because these spinach leaves were HUGE. On the left, is the “too big” leaf. On the right is the “just right” leaf.

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I used a knife to cut the spinach, mainly because this cutting board is huge just like these spinach leaves … but you could certainly just rip it into smaller pieces. #crossfit

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For giggles, I went into this thinking it would be a “one pot” meal … and then I managed to get pasta stuck to the bottom of my non-stick, enamel pot. SMH. #rookiemove

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So, let’s assume you were successful in cooking the pasta, return the pot to the stove and start cooking that garlic. In 30 seconds, your kitchen will smell like heaven. #hallelujah

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Next, add your spinach and a splash of pasta water.  Cook for a few minutes and the color will brighten, and the spinach will begin to wilt. It’s going to look like a lot at first, but it’s all a ruse.  That sucker will cook down in 30 seconds.

Before:

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After:

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Once it is cooked down, add the pasta back to the pot.  Then add the stick of butter and toss until it’s all melted.  Start adding in the cheese, a little bit at a time, stirring until is all melty and creamy (no gooey, like mac and cheese).  If the sauce is too thick, just add more pasta water to thin it out.

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Just keep stirring and stirring for about 5-10 minutes. Add more pasta water as needed.

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Before you know it, you have a beautiful, traditional, Alfredo sauce.  Top with some red pepper flakes, refill that glass of wine, and enjoy a bowl (or two, or three).

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Ramen … Not Just For College Kids Anymore!

Okay, I know we’ve all been there … late nights in college, or let’s be serious, being broke in college. Hell, we’ve all be there even after college …. living in DC cities that cost too much and pay too little. Sometimes you just have to stock up on ramen … regardless of its sodium content.

Have you ever actually looked at the sodium content in a package of ramen? No? Don’t worry, I looked for you. Here it goes … wait for it … a package of ramen has 830mg of sodium … EIGHT HUNDRED AND THIRTY MILIGRAMS!!! That’s crazy. Now, in ramen’s defense, the package is two servings, but get real, when did you ever eat half a package of ramen?

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So I’ve realize two things: 1) It is exceptionally hard to find a vegetarian packaged ramen, and 2) I could totally make ramen myself.

What You Need
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
1 Onion, red or yellow — just cook with what you have!
2-3 Carrots
2-3 Celery stalks
1 Zucchini
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 Lime
4 Cups vegetable broth
1 Package ramen, broken into quarters (discard salt seasoning packet)
1-2 Tablespoons cilantro
Siracha to taste

And here is what it all looks like!

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First, heat EVOO in large soup pot.  Add garlic and brown slightly.  To the pot, add diced onions and sweat until translucent.  For some reason, I actually decided to finally slice the onion, but dicing would work just as well.

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Once onions are translucent, add chopped carrots, celery, and zucchini.  I truly do not think it is necessary to measure any of these ingredients … just cook with what you have!

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After 5-6 minutes, the vegetables should start to become tender.  To the vegetables, add one can of tomatoes and vegetable broth. Hopefully you remember my Avogolemono Soup post where I shared a great hack on how to juice a lemon … follow those same steps to add the juice of one lime to the soup pot.  Bring to a boil.

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After soup comes to a boil, add ramen and let cook for approximately 3 minutes, stirring continually.

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Top your bowl of ramen with a healthy dash of Siracha and voila! Easy, spicy, vegetarian, AND low sodium ramen.  To be honest, I added so much Siracha I was sweating, and loved every spoonful.  Be careful … its addicting!

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Enjoy!

Vegetarian Avgolemono Soup

More lemons? You bet! In keeping with last week’s theme of orzo and lemons … AND after my amazing cousin (Hi Caryn!) mentioned that my post on White Wine Lemon Orzo reminded her of it, I thought I’d share my vegetarian version of avgolemono soup!

For those of you unfamiliar with Greek food, avgolemono soup is a very common egg-based soup, typically containing chicken (aka Greek-style chicken soup with lemon). For this version, I’ll be swapping the chicken for extra leeks and additional vegetables. The soup is light, refreshing, and comforting at the same time. What’s not to love!

New to cooking with leeks? They are a hearty root vegetable, similar to an onion. However, a word to the wise … leeks are very dirty vegetables. Check out this article on how to properly clean leeks: CLICK HERE.

Now let’s get started, because, quite frankly, I’m getting hungry.

What You Need
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Medium leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
1 Small onion, finely chopped
2 Small carrots, diced
Splash of dry white wine
6 Cups vegetable broth
1/2 Cup orzo
1 Tablespoon oregano (fresh or dried)
2 Eggs
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (1 large lemon)
Chopped fresh parsley for topping
Salt & pepper to taste

Note: Rather than chop carrots and onions, I happened to have a container of mirepoix that I used instead, and the recipe turned out great.

And here is what it all looks like!
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First, heat EVOO over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add chopped leeks (bust out that mini food processor!), onions, and carrots. Or, just combine the leeks with a container of mirepoix. Add a pinch of salt. Cook vegetables 5-7 minutes or until tender. Though optional, I suggest de-glazing the pan with a splash of dry white wine. Try Frog’s Leap Winery Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. It is by far my favorite winery in Napa. Not heading to Napa any time soon? Whole Foods carries their wine as well!

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Once vegetables are cooked through, stir in vegetable broth. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Cover and reduce heat, bringing to a simmer for 10 minutes.
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Once the broth begins to simmer, add orzo and oregano. Follow directions and cook orzo as directed on package, approximately 9-11 minutes.
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While the orzo is cooking, lets move onto the eggs. As mentioned previously, avgolemono soup is an egg-based soup. In a small bowl, whisk together two eggs with the juice of one large lemon (approximately 3 tablespoons). Check out this kitchen hack … juice a lemon using kitchen tongs!
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Once orzo is cooked, add 3 ladles of soup broth to the egg mixture. Whisk for 1 minute to avoid curdling the egg.
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Whisk the egg mixture back into the soup, and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Once the soup begins to thicken, it is ready to serve.
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Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!
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White Wine Lemon Orzo

Due to yet another snow storm (Thanks Mother Nature!), I found myself working from home again today.  For those of you that know me well, I’m sure you can imagine that I spent the majority of my day thinking about food. I refused to give into the grocery store hype this weekend and was thus without many groceries. As I sat at my desk, I continued to think to myself that I need to ‘cook with what I have’ and use up items before venturing out to the store later this week.

I was trying to come up with a dish that would allow me to use up a carton of vegetable broth that had been sitting in the fridge since last week’s ‘easiest vegetable soup you will ever make … EVER.’ After much thought, I decided to try using orzo the same way I would use risotto. Now, let’s get real … risotto is amazing. Replacing it is impossible. But, I thought, why not! Let’s give it a shot, and the results were delicious!

What You Need
1 Tablespoon Kerrygold butter
1 Cup orzo
1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
1/2 Cup dry, white wine (PLUS 1 cup to enjoy while cooking!)
2 Cups vegetable broth
Juice from half a lemon
1 Teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 Teaspoon dried dill
Salt & Pepper to taste
Parmesan for topping (obviously)

Note: Normally I would insert a picture of all of the ingredients for you visual learners out there … but I forgot. Deal with it.

First, melt Kerrygold butter in a hot saute pan. Insert vegetarian banter: if you’ve never used Kerrygold butter before, give it a try. Kerrygold is an Irish butter. It is all natural and free of antibiotics and hormones that are often found in dairy and meat in America. Growth hormones used on cattle are band in Ireland, and Kerrygold is cautious when using antibiotics. Should a cow get sick and require antibiotics, Kerrygold will refrain using the cow’s milk until its system is cleared of antibiotics. Kerrygold grazes their cattle over 300 days a year, and the cattle do just that … literally stay outside, all day, living happy cow lives, unlike so many other farms where they are kept in confined quarters. And, as such, you’ll notice a richer, creamier flavor. Anyway, rant over. Go on … melt that butter!
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Next, add your orzo and toast it lightly, for about 5 minutes. See below for the before and after pictures. You’ll notice the color of the orzo become more golden. Once toasted, add garlic and saute for 2-3 more minutes.

Before …
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After …
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Next, add white wine. Be sure you are using a dry white wine, not a sweet wine. I used about a half cup, but a little less more never hurt anyone!
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Regardless of the amount of wine you use, you’ll want to add liquid only half of cup at a time. When the orzo absorbs all of the wine, it should look like this:
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Just as with risotto, you’ll add a bit of liquid, let the orzo absorb, then add more liquid. After the orzo has absorbed the wine, begin adding broth half a cup at a time. I used between 1 3/4 cups to 2 cups of broth. The orzo will begin to thicken and have a creamy sauce created from the pasta’s natural starch mixed with the wine and broth.

As the orzo was almost finished, I add the juice of half a lemon, along with fresh lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper to taste.
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Top the orzo with some fresh grated Parmesan and serve it with roasted vegetables. You’ll find this dish to be light and fresh! Enjoy!
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