Category Archives: Main Dish

More Peas Please…



music: Heatbeats by Jose Gonzalez

I feel really sad every time I think of this blog.  I wanted for so long to write a blog about eating healthy, fresh, and local food.  And finally, I actually got around to doing it, only to leave it behind when things got crazy!  The nice thing though is, this is how I normally strive eat, all of the time, so now that I have a little extra time to myself, I can start posting again!

I have been so glad that summer is here with tons and tons of fresh local produce! This past weekend I bought some really sweet fresh peas!  I have been wanting to try this recipe from one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks for months and with fresh peas finally available, I was able to!  And it was delicious!

I did make some changes to the pea recipe and added some spicy shrimp on the side.

Fresh Smashed Peas with Buffalo Mozzarella and Red Chili Shrimp

For the smashed peas…

1 1/2 pounds fresh peas in their pods

1 pound fresh fava beans in their pods

small bunch of freshly picked mint

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 ounces pecorino cheese

juice of 1 lemon

4 slices sour dough bread

1 clove garlic, cut in half

2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella cheese, torn in half

handful of pea shoots


Shell the peas and the fava beans and place in separate bowls.

Using a pestle and mortar (or pulsing in a food processor) mash up half the mint leaves with the peas and a pinch of salt.  Add the fava beans and crush into a thick green paste.

Mash in extra virgin olive oil to make the paste spreadable (about one to two tablespoons).  Next stir in the pecorino cheese.

Add the lemon juice.

Season with more salt,  pepper, or mint if needed.

Toast the bread and rub each slice with the cut side of the garlic.  Top with the smashed peas, torn mozzarella, pea shoots, and a fresh mint leaf.

For the Red Chili Shrimp…

2 pounds of shrimp, cleaned and peeled.

extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon red chili flakes (or less for a milder shrimp)

1 cup white wine

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Next add the garlic and red chili flakes and cook thirty seconds longer.  Add the shrimp and cook for about two minutes.   Next add the white wine and continue cooking until shrimp are cooked through.



Easier Than It Looks

music: To Be Alone With You” by Sufjan Stevens

I always thought roasting a turkey or a chicken was only for people who really knew how to cook, the professionals, like my mom and chef’s.  However, it turns out, it’s a lot simpler than I had always imagined.  Not only does roasting a chicken fill the house with an amazing aroma, but it provides lunches and dinners for a few days.

When it comes to something simple, like roasting a chicken or vegetables, I usually refer to Simple Food by Alice Waters.  I like to use a ton of herbs to flavor up the chicken, so I can avoid adding butter or oil to flavor it.

I used approximately:

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp pepper

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tb fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tb fresh sage, chopped

1 tsp thyme

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

1 lemon, halved

1 red onion sliced

First you have to remove that little bag inside that cavity and rinse the bird well.  Then you just rub all the herbs and spices underneath the skin onto the breast and inside the cavity of the bird.  Stuff the lemons and half of the onions inside the cavity.  Then sprinkle the rest of the onions on top of the bird.

The size of your bird will determine how long you cook it.  The package always gives guidelines on  cook times.  But here’s a good tip, which may be a little high matenance and certainly not necessary, but I think it makes a difference.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and roast the chicken for 20 minutes breast side up.  After 20 minutes flip the bird over.  Continue to flip the bird every twenty minutes until it is cooked through.  Once finished, let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Even though I don’t eat the skin, it’s always nice to have nice, golden brown, crispy skin.  As you can see, added butter and oil is not necessary!

I find it easiest to use the cooking time on the package as a general ballpark, but an instant read thermometer is really a good tool to have when cooking large cuts of meats.  Unless you have a really good eye, its quite easy to cook chicken much longer than actually necessary.  The chicken is finished when the breast meat has reached an internal temperature of 165 F.

I love to eat roasted chicken along with fresh roasted vegetables.

Just tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, then roasted.

The best part about this, is there will be plenty of chicken left over, sliced for sandwiches and salads, shredded for burritos, or anything your mind can come up with.  There might not be as much left over if you’re cooking for your whole family, but then at least there will be plenty of smiles at the dinner table!

Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup

Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space” by Spiritualized

A few weekends ago, I participated in a weekend retreat called Cornerstone.  Now, although I am not super religious myself, my mom has been actively involved in planning the weekend/retreat for a few years now.  She has asked me to attend the weekend before and this year I finally agreed.  It was a wonderful weekend for so many reasons.  But of course, I took away recipes and inspiration for recipes, which is why I decided to make this soup.

At the best possible moment, at an untimely hour, a group of welcoming and excited women handed me a bowl of Chicken Orzo Soup.  I immediately found my mom, who like I said helps to run the weekend, and said, “you can get me the recipe, right?”  She of course was able to, after a few days, but I am slighly impatient, and made this wonderful version out of an Ellie Krieger Cookbook the next day.

4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole wheat
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

note:  If you have leftovers, you will have to add broth when you reheat the soup, because the orzo absorbs the broth.

Makes 4 servings
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups

Per serving:
Calories 280; Total fat 10g (Sat fat 2g, Mono fat 6g, Poly fat 1g); Protein 26g; Carb 22g; Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 139mg; Sodium 291mg

Excellent source of:
niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C

Good source of:
copper, folate, iodine, iron, magnesium, molybdenum, pantothenic acid, thiamin, vitamin B12, vitamin K, zinc

The soup has the wonderful lemony flair, which works really well with the traditional chicken soup flavor.  I love how Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks give you the nutritional information, which is why I included it here.

White Chicken Chili

music: “Adventures in Solitude” by The New Pornographers

Things in my life have been super hectic, and unfortunately this blog has suffered.  Even though I haven’t been able to update it lately I am looking forward to devoting more time to Apples in Autumn as soon as I hand in my dietetic internship applications on the 15th!  It is all so nerve-racking.  But here’s a recipe that can help calm your nerves because it is so warm, soothing, and delicious!

And of course perfect for a cold winter night, especially if your life has been completely taken over by snow and ice, like mine has!

White Chicken Chili adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Serves 4

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed

1 medium onion, small diced

drizzle of olive oil

2 cans cannellini beans

14.5 ounces chicken broth

2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup skim milk

8 ounce fat-free sour cream

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the chicken and chopped onion and saute for about six minutes, or until the chicken is seared and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another three minutes.

Add the beans, spices, chicken broth and green chilies and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the sour cream and skim milk. Serve with cheddar cheese and additional sour cream to top.


Quinoa with Roasted Mushrooms

music: “Snow Day” by Matt Pond PA

It really is interesting to try to use up different local vegetables. In this case I had a bunch of tatsoi, which is very similar to spinach.  This recipe has an awesome flavor due to the dijon mustard and the pear balsamic dressing.

Adapted from Whole Foods

Mushrooms roasted in a simple oil-free pear balsamic dressing are delicious tossed with quinoa, spinach, green onions and almonds. Serve this dish warm, room temperature or cold.


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small pear, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 garlic clove, halved
2 pounds shitake mushrooms, stemmed and gills scraped out (cremini work well also)
1 cup red quinoa
3 cups tightly packed tatsoi, chopped (substitute spinach for the tatsoi)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 475°F.

Put vinegar, mustard, pear and garlic in a blender with 1/3 cup water and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Cut mushrooms into chunks and combine in a large mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of the pear balsamic dressing. Spread mushrooms in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast mushrooms until tender, stirring occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

While mushrooms roast, prepare quinoa. In a medium pot, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil. Stir in quinoa, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, 10 minutes more. Uncover and fluff quinoa with a fork.

Combine mushrooms, quinoa, spinach, green onions, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup more pear balsamic dressing in a large, wide serving bowl. Stir to mix well.

Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

Polenta with Apple Chicken Sausage, Kale, and Beans

music: “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells

This time of year is so crazy!  I haven’t even had the time to enjoy the Christmas season and the snow because I have been to crazed with finishing up school.  Unfortunately, cooking gets sporadic at these crazy times for me.   Luckily, my school work actually encourages me a lot of the time to get back into the kitchen and make myself a healthy meal. Last week, I came across this recipe on Whole Foods’ website while doing research for a presentation I had to do for school.  It is so warm and yummy especially this time of year!

Polenta is a cold weather dish popular in Italy, especially Venice! The apple chardonnay chicken sausage (available at Whole Foods) adds a really nice taste to this dish. You should try it out!

Polenta with Apple Chicken Sausage, Kale, and Beans adapted from Whole Foods

4 cups chicken broth

Salt to taste

3 cloves garlic, peeled

4 sage leaves

1 (2-inch) sprig rosemary

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

Cheesecloth and kitchen twine (you could also use a loose tea holder)

3 cups  dinosaur kale, large stems removed, leaves chopped

3 yellow polenta

drizzle of  extra virgin olive oil

10 ounces Apple Chardonnay Chicken sausage, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (for a quick shortcut you can use a can)

1/4 c Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


In a large pot, bring the broth, 4 cups water, and salt to a boil. Meanwhile, wrap the garlic, sage, rosemary, and red chile flakes in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with a piece of twine to make a pouch. Reduce the heat to low, add the herb pouch and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and discard pouch, then add kale and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain kale, return liquid to the pot and return to a simmer. Set kale aside.  With the broth mixture at a simmer, pour the polenta into the pot in a slow, steady stream while stirring with a wooden spoon. Keeping the heat very low, stir slowly every few minutes for about 40 minutes. If some lumps form, press them against the side of the pot to dissolve them. The polenta should be thick and creamy.

While the polenta is cooking, heat drizzle of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until golden brown all over. Remove and reserve.

To finish the polenta, turn off the heat, cover pot and let rest, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir polenta, scraping the sides of the pot with the wooden spoon. Add reserved kale, beans, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the parsley and stir gently to incorporate all the ingredients into the polenta. Cook for another 2 minutes at a simmer, continuing to stir.

To serve, top the polenta with the sausage and sprinkle with remaining parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Pumpkin Pasta

music: “Lake Michigan” by Rogue Wave

When I saw this post, I knew I had to try a pumpkin sauce for pasta!  About two years ago I first made a pumpkin ravioli recipe I came across in Cooking Light.  That night at the dinner table, my little brother said nothing as he ate his serving of ravioli.  He had absolutely no expression on his face and he just made his way through his plate.  When he was finished he got up and opened his mouth.  I can remember sitting there thinking, ok here it comes, he hated it, he’s going to ask mom to stop letting me cook dinners for everyone and stop forcing him to eat new, strangely concocted dinners.  He opened his mouth and said, “This is by far the best thing you have ever made! If you had made more I’d eat it all and forget about making weight for wrestling.”  At that point, I knew pumpkin and pasta were a happy couple!

Pumpkin Pasta

Serves four

1 lb of gemelli pasta

drizzle of olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

15 oz of pumpkin (I roasted my own, but using a can is the next best thing)

2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon fat-free half and half (this is optional, also you could use milk)

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated (or more to taste)

sprinkle of cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/4 c fresh sage, chopped


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to the package instructions. Drain. DO NOT RINSE WITH WATER! You need that starch on the pasta to hold onto the sauce.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil  over medium heat.

Add the shallots and saute until tender (about five minutes).  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes, and then stir in the fat-free half and half (or milk or cream, anything to give it a bit of a creamy texture) and parmesan cheese.  Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes,  and then toss in the sage and cook for one minute longer.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss it up.

Serve with additional cheese if you like.