Veggie Drawer Pasta

A big part of cooking for two is planning your meals so that you can use leftover ingredients before they go bad. For the most part, I’d say that the Kiwi and I do pretty well on that front, but we certainly aren’t perfect. Veggies are the hardest for us. We always end up with random halves just hanging out on the veggie shelf.

It’s always handy to have a couple super flexible recipes up your sleeve so you can just use up anything that is about to go off. This is one of my favorites for using up leftover veggies. You can throw just about any veggie in this and it’s going to taste great.

Veggie Drawer Pasta

{heavily adapted for two from Goddess of Scrumptiousness}

The Marinade
2 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
zest from 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper

The Tomatoes
15 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

The Pasta
4 oz whole wheat pasta

The Veggies
1 Tbsp olive oil
whatever you have on hand {I’ve had success with zucchini and bell peppers, but spinach would be great too.}

The Garlic Sauce
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

First we need to put our chicken in to marinate. Cut your chicken breasts in to bite sized pieces. In a small bowl mix your marinade ingredients together and toss the chicken in. Coat well with the marinade and put it in the fridge until you’re ready for it.

Slice your cherry tomatoes lengthwise and scatter them on a lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss on your rosemary, salt, and pepper. Give it a stir so that all the tomatoes are covered and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Take a break. Have a nice glass of tea and peruse Pinterest for a bit.

When the tomatoes have about 20 minutes left start heating a large pan on medium high heat. Boil your jug and start heating a large pot on medium high heat too.

When the jug finishes boiling put your pasta on. Cook according to the directions in the package {usually 11-13 minutes for whole wheat}. When the pasta is finished drain the water and set it to the side.

Chop the veggies you’re using into bite sized pieces and grab your chicken from the fridge. When your pan is nice and hot, pour in the olive oil and add your chicken and veggies. Let cook them cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Now we’re going to get fancy with the sauce. Push the chicken and veggies to the edges of the pan making a whole in the middle like a donut. Drop in the butter and when it’s melted sprinkle with flour. Add your minced garlic. Slowly add your chicken stock whisking while you pour to avoid clumps. Stir your chicken and veggies in with the sauce and then let it simmer away for about 5 minutes our until the sauce is thick enough for your liking. Add the pasta to the pan and mix well. Plate up and top with the roasted tomatoes and some yummy parmesan cheese.

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Venice Food Guide

The Kiwi and I are getting so pumped about our Tour of Italy. {We leave in 4 days!} I cannot stop thinking about all the delicious, delicious food we are going to be eating. I’m just a little excited. Can you tell?

Since I have Italy and traditional Italian food on the brain today, I thought I’d share a few of my tips for where to eat in Venice. The Kiwi and I have both been to Venice pretty recently {him for the 2011 Biennale, me in April with my mom}, so we are not including it on the Tour. However, I do think that Venice is a must-see town if you’re in the area. Unfortunately, apart from the squid ink risotto, Venice is not necessarily known for great food, but I’m going to fill you in on a secret. Venetians love their cicchetti and they do it very, very well. This might as well be called “A Cicchetti Guide to Venice,” because every place on my list in a cicchetti bar.

Cicchetti bars were traditionally where folks stopped on the way home from work for a glass of wine and a bit of socializing. Here’s the rub though, folks didn’t want to be drinking all this wine on an empty stomach because they might end up in the canal before the dinner bell even rang. So cicchetti are small bites that you can have with your wine, but that won’t spoil the dinner that is waiting for you at home. Or you can do what we did–order several and make it your meal. {We saw Venetians doing this too. It’s kosher.} The best part about this is that they are generally pretty cheap and you get to try lots of different things!

So here is how it works. You walk into the bar and give the folks behind the counter your best ‘Salve!’ Most cicchetti bars are family run and the person you see behind the counter has probably been there since 5am. Smiles are nice. There will be a glass case full of cicchetti. Have a look at what they have to offer and get to pointing. “Uno {point}, due {point},” you get the gist. They will hand you your food and wine, and then you can find a spot to eat standing up with all of the other locals. I’m not going to lie, this is not for the faint of heart. You probably won’t have a clue what you are eating and it might not look like something you want to put in your mouth, but do it anyway. I never had a bad cicchetti. Not once.

Enoteca Al Volto
Calle Cavalli, San Marco

This was our first cicchetti experience and the owners were so incredibly sweet helping us figure out what to do/order. There is a restaurant part as well, but I can’t vouch for it as we just had cicchetti. The food was delicious {try the marinated artichokes, or the crostini with a big hunk of blue cheese drizzled with balsamic} and the atmosphere cozy. The whole ceiling is covered in wine bottle labels. A great first experience.

ProntoPesce
opposite the Fish Market, San Polo

Right opposite the fish market, the offerings change daily based on the catch of the day. It is pretty much a one man show. The owner gets the fish from the market fresh each morning. Then he cooks up some incredibly tasty bites and when it’s gone it’s gone. I think it’s safe to say that the bites here are a bit more of a modern take on traditional cicchetti recipes. I am not a I know little and less about wine pairings and usually defer to the Kiwi on that front. That said, I can remember that white wines go well with fish. This place has some great local whites that were just perfect with our little bites of brioche with smoked swordfish, mascarpone, and cherry tomatoes and a lemon marinated anchovy couscous that tasted like no anchovy dish I’ve ever had before {meaning that it was good and not crap}.

Cantina do Mori
just off Calle Arco, San Polo

This is said to be the oldest cicchetti bar in Venice. It used to be where people would go to refill their bottles of wine from these huge ‘kegs.’ {That’s not what they are really called. I can’t for the life of me remember their proper name, so I’m going with keg.} Anyway, it is now a bar that offers some heavier cicchetti. There were lots of sliced meats on crostini and fried veggies. Along with these bites they have some great wines that are still served from the ‘kegs.’

Another anecdote… In each square in Venice there is a old well. Each well is different. Way back when, if folks needed water they’d go to the well and fill their copper pots with water to take home. The walls and ceiling at Cantina do Mori are completely covered with those old copper pots.

All’Arco
also just off Calle Arco, San Polo

This is family run cicchetti bar is part of the slow food movement. I found it really interesting because they cook and prepare your food right in front of you when you order. The cook in me really enjoyed seeing how all of these spreads and bites are made. It takes a bit more time, but it’s definitely worth the stop. This is a lunch place and closes at 2.30, so get there early.

{Other Venice Advice}

I am not usually a big fan of organized tours. {My exception is bike tours, but we can talk about that another day.} However, I wholeheartedly recommend the Cicchetti Tour. Our guide, Cecelia, was a local whose knowledge of food culture and slow food blew me away. Plus it’s nice to be told what you’re eating one in a while, yea? Cantina do Mori and ProntoPesce were on our tour, but, as we were there the week after Easter, we apparently were not going to the usual places because they were closed for the holiday. So they may or may not be on yours.

If you’ve had enough of cicchetti bars and want to actually sit down to eat your food, Lauren over at Aspiring Kennedy has some great restaurant recommendations too.

Stay in one of the residential areas {the Dosoduro, the Cannaregio, or the Castello neighborhoods}. We stayed in an apartment in the Dosoduro and it was great! Nothing is really that far of a walk in Venice, but if it is, hop on a vaporetto.

Put down your map, get off the main route, and get lost. You see so much more that way!

Linked with Travel Tuesday

Chicken Pesto Pizza

When I was growing up, Friday night was pizza night. My earliest memories of Friday Pizza Night was scarfing down Pizza Hut while glued to Boy Meets World on TGIF. This later evolved into scarfing down Dominoes on my way to football games, but I think we can see the trend.

Not all pizza is made for scarfing though. While granted Pizza Hut and Dominoes are not the kings of culinary sophistication, pizza can be so much more than just a “junk food.” It’s a blank canvas that you can fill with all your favorites in creative and tasty ways. It can even be…healthy.

The Kiwi and I can do some damage to this size of a pizza. I usually only end up with one piece for lunch the next day. However, if you were to have a nice side salad with it, I’m sure you could eke out a few extra slices to get you through lunches for a couple of days.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

The Base
pizza dough
½ cup pesto

The Toppings
½ of a red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken breast
pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup of grated cheese {I used gouda, but parmesan or mozzarella would be good too.}

Preheat your oven to 475°F/240°C. {The longer your oven preheats the better. You want a really hot oven!}

Start heating a pan on medium high heat. While it’s heating up, slice your onion. When it’s hot, melt the butter in the pan and add your onions and brown sugar. Give it a good stir and let them cook for about 5-8 minutes or until they are nice and caramelized, stirring frequently. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil.

While the onions are caramelizing whip up your pesto. Then get to work on the chicken. Cut it into bite sized pieces and sprinkle with some salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pop the chicken into the pan and cook on each side for about 3 minutes.

Spread a healthy layer of pesto on your rolled out pizza dough. Then layer on the caramelized onions and the chicken. Finally top with grated cheese, and pop it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a bit brown around the edges and the cheese is all melted. Slice it up and enjoy!

Friday Links

Happy Friday folks! What mischief are you getting into this weekend?

The Kiwi and I will be dividing up our baby tomato plants. We had no idea so many would actually live! We were a little late in getting them planted {since the weather had been so crap}, but I think we are getting the hang of this urban gardening stuff.

We will also be doing some last minute preparation for our 2 week Tour of Italy. {We leave in a week!} I am on the hunt for a hat {and maybe a few other treats} this weekend.  I’m not a hat wearer per se, but I think that I might need one to keep that hot Italian sun off my face.

Have a great weekend friends!

A great reflection about being present.

So many hat options. {No. 6 is my favorite!}

Travel snacks.

A hilarious BuzzFeed about Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.

Hipster hotels.

Peace of mind about that Chunky Monkey you’re eating.

5 ways to use almond meal

packing tip I’m thinking I’ll try for our Tour of Italy.

A lovely photography campaign.

Why bees are important.

A great travel prep tip.

And in case you’ve missed it… the Finnish baby box.

The Green

I’m going to fill y’all in on an embarrassing little secret. Up until about 2009, I ate everything in layers. By everything, I mean everything. Sandwiches obviously, but burritos and pizza too. My family has no idea where this little neurosis came from, but from the time I could feed myself that is how I ate. I’m sure it has something to do with them trying to trick me into eating carrots, but ever since I can remember I ate things ingredient by ingredient so that I knew exactly what I was putting in my mouth. {Hi. My name is Lauren, and I am a bit of a control freak.} Thankfully, I got that under control, and I can now can enjoy and appreciate all of these exciting ‘new’ flavor combinations with minimal angst.

That said… I am a big fan of open faced sandwiches. Why? Well first of all, you can fit twice as much yummy sandwich goodies on there so they are more filling. Secondly, much to no one’s dismay, I like it because I can see what all is happening on the bread, so I enjoy it angst free without fear of carrots. Needless to say, I make these a good bit. They are perfect for weekend lunches, but if you want to make it a meal, throw some roasted veggies on the side or whip up a salad.

I’m curious. Did you have any weird eating habits as a kid? The Kiwi swears he didn’t, but I question his recall.

Kiwi+Peach: The Green

The Green

4 slices of bread
1/4 cup pesto
4 large basil leaves {or spinach}
1/2 of an avocado
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Spread the pesto on each slice of bread and top with the basil leaves and avocado slices.  Grate the parmesan cheese and sprinkle a healthy bit on each slice.  Pop it in the oven on broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the leaves have wilted a bit.

Summertime Staple Granola

Now that summer has finally made its appearance here in Deutschland its time to switch up my breakfast routine. In the winter, I opt for hearty oats with a little bit of honey that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and prepare me to venture out in the frigid wasteland that is Munich.

But summer is here! {Rejoice people!} Bring on beer garden season, runs in the park, and the granola. My absolute favorite summertime breakfast is granola and yogurt sprinkled with fresh summer berries. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Except, maybe, if its homemade granola you’re sprinkling on your yogurt.

The Kiwi and I are a bit picky when it comes to our granola. We want it toasted, but we don’t like the hard clumps that feel like they are going to break your teeth. We weren’t really finding a granola here that was to our liking, so I thought I’d whip up some of my own. There is a ton of refined sugar in the supposedly healthy granola we buy at the shops {in Germany and in the States}. By making our own, I was able to eliminate the highly processed refined sugars and berries that don’t even resemble berries anymore and replace them with just the goodies we like best. The Kiwi says that there is no going back now.

The best thing about making it yourself is that it really is completely customizable to your taste {or to whatever you have in the pantry}. Not a fan of apricots? Try dried apples. Love crasins? Add extra. Go wild y’all, and share your granola combinations in the comments down below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Kiwi+Peach: Homemade Granola

Kiwi+Peach Homemade Granola

The Wet Stuff
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla

The Dry Stuff
5 cups spelt oats
1/2 cup dried berries {mix of cranberries, cherries, and blueberries}
10 dried apricots, quartered
1 cup seeds {pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower}
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C.

Over medium heat, mix your liquids together in a small pot and bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients. Add the boiling liquids and mix well.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola out. Bake for 20 minutes. Get the pan out, give it a stir, and then put it back on for 20 more minutes. Remove, stir and then return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.

Orange Chorizo Man Salad

A rule of thumb in nutrition is the more colorful your plate the larger variety of nutrients you’re getting from your food. Following that logic, this salad is the king of nutritional variety. With lots of dark leafy greens, bright red peppers, black olives, and juicy chunks of orange, its as full of nutrients as it is taste, and the chorizo adds that savoriness {and protein} that many salads lack. I lovingly call this the man salad because its salad that even your carnivore can get on board with. In fact, this was actually in the Kiwi’s rotation long before he met me. What good taste he has.

Orange Chorizo Man Salad

{adapted for two from the Company’s Coming 30 Minute Meals cookbook}

The Protein
1/2 of a large chorizo sausage {about 4 ounces/125 grams}
5 or 6 walnuts {or pecans}

The Goodies
8-10 leaves of romain lettuce
1 orange
1/2 of a small red onion
1/2 of a roasted red pepper
2 Tbsp olives

The Dressing
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
dash of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Shell your walnuts and pop them in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes.

While they are toasting start heating a pan on medium heat. Peel the casing off of your chorizo and slice it into 1/2 inch chunks. Toss it in the pan and cook for about 15 minutes or until the outside has crisped up. When it is finished cooking, transfer the chorizo to a paper towel and blot the grease off.

While the chorizo is cooking you can prepare the rest of the goodies for the salad and make your dressing.

Tear up your lettuce and put it in a large salad bowl. {For crispier lettuce, wash your lettuce the night before. Pat the leaves dry on paper towels and then layer them between the now damp paper towels. Put it back in the fridge over night in the crisper drawer.} Peel the orange and cut each wedge into thirds. Thinly slice the red onion and roasted red peppers. Rinse your olives. Then toss them all into the salad bowl with the lettuce. When the chorizo and walnuts are finished toss them in as well.

For the dressing, break out the food processor.  Toss in all of the ingredients and process until the garlic is in tiny pieces and its well mixed. {If you don’t have a food processor, mince your garlic and then you can just throw all the ingredients in a jar.  Pop the lid on and give it a shake.}

Pour the dressing in the salad bowl and toss the salad well. Serve it up and enjoy your colorful man salad.