Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

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With the Super Bowl behind us, and the excuse to make ridiculously fattening foods acceptable now just a faded memory, it is difficult to get one particular snack out of our nostalgic thoughts – hot spinach & artichoke dip.  Cheesy, rich, and textured with moist bits of artichoke hearts swirled in a glorious green bed of spinach and garlic, we at the Pleasant Pantry would like to honor the memory of this party-crowd pleaser. We won’t promote eating this decadent dish regularly, but if you didn’t get a chance to make it this past weekend, we are completely okay with you breaking out the ingredients and finding out for yourself what true happiness is all about… 

I literally count down the days before every holiday because it signals the time when I can make this dip… well being honest, any particular reason to make Spinach & Artichoke dip I will willingly oblige to get in the kitchen and whip up a batch.  It reminds me of family, good friends, happy times and home. – Jenet

Here is the process…

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This is the recipe… 

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Romano cheese

1/4 cup fat free sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

8 ounce fat free cream cheese, softened

14 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 garlic gloves minced

10 ounce package chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbs salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup romano cheeses with all other ingredients in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or celery.

Indulge and enjoy!

Quinoa Crusted Herb Chicken

IMG_7149_2We all know anything breaded can be detrimental to our waistline if consumed on a regular basis. Yet just because we know it is bad for us doesn’t lessen the craving.  So on our quest to find a healthy alternative, we created this little gem of an idea: quinoa crusted chicken.  Not only do you get the nutrients of our most prized superfood, but you get a crunchy exterior that also pleasantly keeps your chicken moist.  Hooray!  Guilt-free and satisfying.  Now that is something we like!

Here is a look into the process…

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This is our recipe… 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa

3-4 chicken breasts

1/4 cup flour

1 egg

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Salt

Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Place quinoa into pot of water (roughly 3 cups) and  let boil down until all water is evaporated and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Chop parsley and combine with 1 cup flour. In separate bowl, beat one egg and set aside.

Once quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes, mix together parsley-flour combination with cooled quinoa. In a glass baking dish, arrange the chicken breasts after they have been coated in the egg (dip front and back). Add dash of salt to chicken, if desired.   Sprinkle quinoa herb mixture over chicken breasts making sure to cover both top and bottom. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until chicken breasts are cooked through and quinoa is crispy.

Serve. Enjoy!

Kale Pesto on Whole Grain Pasta

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In an effort to bring health and wellness into your life we present another kale recipe to super charge your body with vitamins and nutrients that are particularly well sourced from this curly-leafed cabbage cousin. Not to brag about its fabulous benefits, but Kale is rich in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium and the most impressive of all, an anti-cancer chemical called sulforaphane.  When chopped or minced, kale is at its most potent nutritional state.  

Lucky for you, this recipe is diced, sliced and ground down, releasing the very elements that make this have the greatest health impact.  So not only is this pesto tasty but unbelievably good for you. If we haven’t made it obvious that we adore Kale, this is our official vow to the beloved green leaf; we love you.

Here is the process for making Kale Pesto Pasta…

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Here is what you need…

INGREDIENTS

8 cups fresh kale, roughly chopped

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup walnuts

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Whole grain penne pasta

Pecorino (garnish)

Grape tomatoes halved (optional)

RECIPE

Combine kale, lemon juice, walnuts and salt in a food processor and process until kale is finely ground. Slowly drizzle in olive oil as machine is running. Chill for one hour.

In a separate pot, bring 3 cups water to boil.  Add in whole grain penne pasta and cook for 15 minutes or until firm. Drain and combine pesto with pasta. Add pecorino and tomatoes, if desired.

Serve. Enjoy.

Acorn Squash with Black-eyed Peas

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For the love of squash, why are certain types of these winter varietals so darn tasty?  Take the acorn squash… buttery, hearty goodness, in this case, baked with salt, pepper and rich olive oil.  After heated to a crispy exterior, it is filled with deliciously simple black-eyed peas, and the combination forms such a magical coexistence, you will be making this recipe whenever you have a free range and oven handy. Let us present you with a very healthy and satisfying side dish (or meal). 

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All you need is:

Acorn Squash

Black-eyed Peas

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Take the acorn squash and remove the center seeds.  Cover in salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place face down on a tin foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife can easily be inserted into the squash. Place black-eyed peas in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until soft, about fifteen minutes.

After squash is crisp on edges, remove from oven and turn over squash onto a plate.  Strain black-eyed peas and salt to taste.  Place inside interior of squash. Serve and enjoy.

Arugula, Feta & Quinoa with Pine Nuts

IMG_6461What is Quinoa…is it even English? Let’s be honest, most things in our daily vocabulary don’t start with Q, but this noun is something you should be familiar with on a very personal basis.  Not only is this food an amalgam of mostly vowels, but also a complete protein that is high in calcium.  So not only are you benefiting from its nutritional value, anyone that may need to be gluten-free can indulge in this fibrous sprout.  It is fluffy, delicious and is so simple to make, it may be a go-to side for your dinner table menu.  Here we give you a recipe using our favorite pseudo-cereal with other tasty accompaniments. 

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INGREDIENTS

Two types of Quinoa (we used red & a black and white variation)

Arugula

Feta

Pine Nuts

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Sea Salt

Lemon Zest

DIRECTIONS

Mix two types of quinoa together in a bowl and pour into boiling pot of water (roughly 3 cups).  Let boil down until all water is evaporated and quinoa fluffs up. In separate pan, toast pine nuts until golden. Set aside. Once quinoa is cooked, place in separate bowl, toss in arugula, feta and toasted pine nuts.  Combine olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette with sea salt and lemon zest and pour over salad.  Enjoy.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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On dreary weather days there is nothing better to warm the spirit than with a hot cup of soup. Chicken noodle may sound trite to suggest, so we bring you  this spectacularly delicious, uniquely different, and hands down the most-flavor-you-can-pack-into-a-bowl recipe you have tasted. Ever.  Simply made, it is the perfect addition to your table this holiday.

Here is the process…

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INGREDIENTS

4 Tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
4 teaspoons curry powder
3 pounds butternut squash
2 green apples peeled, cored, and chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple juice
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Sautee onions in a large pot with butter and curry powder. Cook covered over low heat until onions are tender. About 20 minutes.

When the onions are tender, pour in the stock, add squash and apples, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer , partially covered, until squash and apples are very tender. About 20 minutes.

Puree the squash and apples until smooth. You can use an immersion blender in the cooking pot or put the solid pieces into a food processor to puree.

Once the soup is pureed, add the apple juice.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: You can garnish with an apple peel or sour cream. To make the soup richer, you can add 1/2-1 cup of heavy cream.

Amy’s Homemade Apple Cider

Fall is here, winter is coming, and what better to keep you warm and cozy through these chilly holiday months than a cup of lovely apple cider. The cinnamon aroma twirling through the air, the hot mug nestled in your hands, the taste of an orchard bursting from the porcelain…craving it yet? Don’t hold back, break out the spice sticks and the Red Delicious (this case, McIntosh apples) and brew up a batch of this delightful beverage.

YIELDS

6-8 Mcintosh apples

INGREDIENTS
4 cinnamon sticks bound together
1 tablespoon ground cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar

RECIPE
1.  Wash and roughly chop apples and orange-do not worry about removing peels, seeds, or stems. Toss into a large stock pot.
2.  Add sugar (you can always add more later if you like it sweeter).
3.  Add spices, and cover with water.
4.  Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for at least an hour.
5.  Cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow juice to simmer for at least two hours.
6.  Uncover and use a potato masher to roughly mash content of pot.
7.  When cider is ready allow to cool then strain apple pieces and whole spices into a clean pitcher or pot. If you feel like it you can strain everything through a cheesecloth and twist and squeeze to get every last drop.
8.  Serve hot. Store in the fridge and reheat as desired.

Enjoy.

(The Best) Apple Crumb Pie (Ever)

As we digress from our Thanksgiving’s Day and emerge from our turkey stuffing comas, there are very few things that sound appetizing the next day. Yes, we can slather mayo on toast and make ridiculous sandwiches filled with cranberry sauce and other leftover options.  But what about that apple pie you made tucked deeply in the fridge?  When does that EVER sound bad?  You didn’t make Apple Pie, you say?  Well you are just in luck!  Here is the best Apple Crumb Pie recipe (not an exaggeration) that graced our tables this year thanks to Ms. Martha Stewart.  Enjoy and make sure to save some for leftovers! You will be craving it!

The process went a little like this…

Recipe below… 

MARTHA’S SOUR CREAM CRUMB

PIE DOUGH
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 stick plus 3 tablespoon cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/4-1/3 cup ice water

CRUMB TOPPING
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

FILLING
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
16 ounces sour cream
2 eggs at room temperature lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 golden delicious or granny smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch wedges (We prefer granny smith)

RECIPE
1. Pie Dough: combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, and pulse to blend. Add butter until pea sized clumps form. with machine running, add water slowly as mixture just starts to come together. Shape the dough into a disc . wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
2. Roll out the dough into a 15 inch round on a floured surface. Fit the dough into a 10 inch pie plate. trim the edges as desired. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour.
3. Crumb Topping:whisk together sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and combine with your hands or pastry cutter. Add walnuts and press filling into large clumps with your hands; refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Preheat oven to 450
5. Filling: Whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until thourally combined. Add apples tossing to coat. Place apple mixture in crust.
6. Place an empty rimmed baking sheet under the pie plate to catch any overflow of the pie. Bake pie for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 and bake unto the apples turn golden brown, the juice is bubbling, and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
7. Remove topping from refrigerator and crumble over the hot filling. Bake until topping id browned and set, apples are tender, and bottom crust is thoroughly baked, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 3 to 4 hours.

Enjoy!