Spinach Gnocchi With Kale-Basil Pesto

Main Dishes | March 13, 2014 | By

Spinach Gnocchi

So many things nowadays are associated with “green.” Green energy, green cars, going green, eating green, green with envy, given the green light, a green thumb … the list goes on. Hailey and I seem to be on a green kick too, more specifically, a green kale kick. A couple weeks ago after the gym, Hailey turned to me and invited me over to try her new kale pesto recipe. Now I love pesto and love love love pesto pastas, but usually avoid eating them due to the excess in carbs and oils. (Gone are the days where happily attended carb loading parties before the big swim meet. *sigh*).

This pesto is better than any other pestos because: 1) it’s homemade (you can’t beat that) 2) kale is packed with nutrients, 3) you control how much oil you use and therefore the fat content, and 4) it’s incredibly simple to make and store!

Sometimes a sauce is so good that you want to eat it  and nothing else. Sometimes, that doesn’t cut it. With such a great sauce, we didn’t think it was fair to serve it on anything but homemade pasta. Thus, we present our spinach-potato gnocchi recipe!

Cheers!

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Spinach Gnocchi (adapted slightly from De Standaard)

10 Potatoes, skinned

1 Clove of Garlic, minced

6 Oz Bag of Spinach

5-6 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

2 Eggs

¼ Cup Grated Parmesan

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Directions:

Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to just cover the potatoes. Set on a stove to boil for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Meanwhile using a hot medium-sized pan, saute the spinach with olive oil, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Once finished, let cool then squeeze the residual moisture from the spinach and chop into fine pieces. Set aside. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and place them in a large bowl. Now it’s time to mash. Mash your potatoes with the spinach, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Sounds like a delicious mashed potato recipe to me…. keep reading.

Once the potatoes are  cool (this is important!), add eggs and stir vigorously. Add one cup of flour at a time until the potato mixture starts to resemble a wet dough. (*Tip: You should continue adding the flour ½ cup at a time until you can take some dough in your hands and roll it into a strand. Keep the flour handy to dust your hands every time the dough gets sticky). Taking a bit of the dough at a time, roll into into ½ inch in diameter strands and cut into 1 inch segments. Lay the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet and press down with a fork to create a design.

Kale Pesto

Kale-Basil Pesto

1 Cup Fresh Basil

1 Cup Rainbow Kale

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Shaved Parmesan Cheese

3 Cloves Garlic, peeled

Directions:

 Place all ingredients in a food processor (we used a NutriBullet) and blend until paste consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container.

Pasta Assembly:

Set a large pot half-full of water on the stove. Once boiling, place the gnocchi in the water (they will sink to the bottom). Once they rise to the water’s surface, they are done. Drain and toss with pesto and extra parmesan.

Serves 8-10.

Spinach Gnocchi 2

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Kale Shamrock Protein Smoothie

Drinks | March 11, 2014 | By

Kale-Smoothie

It’s not easy being green…or eating green, that is. Except when it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and when these green smoothies taste so good! Cathy and I both have an unfortunate sweet tooth (our latest addiction is authentic Spanish churros, but you will hear more about that later). At the same time, we both lead pretty active lifestyles. I find that the cleaner I eat, the better I perform, both in terms of my fitness goals and overall energy throughout the day. I’m currently in week 5 of a 12-week training program leading up to my half marathon in April (eek!). I ran 10 miles on Saturday, (from my apartment to the beach and back), 6 of which were part of the LA Marathon course that took place over the weekend (I didn’t run in the marathon, but it felt good to get my fix just the same). After a long run like that, I’m not usually super hungry, but I know I need to get some protein into my body to recover. This all-natural protein-filled smoothie certainly helps me replenish my body quickly, and it’s so delicious; it tastes like a green milk shake!

This smoothie has so many benefits: the banana adds potassium, the kale gives you a boost of vitamins and minerals, the chia seeds give you omega-3 fatty acids and the peanut butter adds a much needed protein boost (and a delicious creamy flavor). To make it even better, I have actually started making my own peanut butter every few weeks in my NutriBullet and keeping it in the fridge! While you’ll need to stay tuned for DIY peanut butter, the machine at Whole Foods that crushes the nuts in front of you into peanut (or almond) butter is a great alternative. I highly recommend it (the honey roasted peanut variety is my favorite). Before I started making my own, I would bring by own mason jar to Whole Foods and refill it to save on packaging! Anyway, whatever nut butter you choose, try our green smoothie as you celebrate St. Patty’s Day; green is the new dessert this March.

Bon Appétit!

Kale-Smoothie

Kale Shamrock Protein Smoothie

2 Ripe Bananas

1/4 Cup Black Chia Seeds

3 Cups Kale

2 Tbsp Peanut Butter

1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend away!

Makes 2 large glasses.

Kale-Smoothie

Kale-Smoothie

Bi Bim Bap

Main Dishes | March 6, 2014 | By

Bi-Bim-Bap

I don’t know how i made it to my mid-twenties without a name… a Korean name that is. As the story goes, my grandfather was so excited for the birth of my older brother (the first grandbaby, first male, born in the Year of the Dragon, etc.), he decided to name my brother. When I pop up on the scene thirteen months later, the excitement for grandbabies seemed to have fizzled and I remained nameless. While in my teens, I even prodded once about my lack of a Korean name, only to receive a response from my mom like, “How about we name you after your (significantly) younger cousin. Her name is pretty.” … Thanks Mom.

Imagine how much easier Korean classes would have been with a “proper” Korean name.

“What’s your name?”

“Cathy.”

“Uhhhh….. How do you spell that?”

“C-A-T-H-Y”

“Uhhhh….Ermmmm …. spelled out ‘KAH-SHEE in Hangul.’”

There’s no hope.

Though I joke about being the nameless one in the family, my Mom recently made it up to me, choosing to name me after one of my aunts — a name that means goodness and beauty. Got to love Mom.

In a recent visit home, I got my mom to teach me how to make a Korean staple: Bi Bim Bap. Loosely (according to Mom, very loosely) translating to “things to mix with rice,” this dish is definitely one of my favorites. Even though it’s become quite popular in LA, I wanted to learn how to make the authentic, Korean version (as opposed to the “KAH-SHEE” version). Little did I know that it’s incredibly simple to make! We used ingredients we had on hand or could easily grab from the garden. The best part is that you can put almost any Korean side dish in your bowl, mix it in and it WILL STILL TASTE AMAZING. I hope you enjoy my adventures into authentic Korean cuisine.

Cheers!
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Bi Bim Bap

3-4 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

2 Cups of Brown Rice, cooked

1 Cup of Spinach, rinsed

1 Carrot

2 Eggs, separated

Sesame Seeds

Sesame Oil

Red Pepper Paste (gochujang)

Toasted Sea Weed (optional)

Salt and Pepper To Taste

Directions:

Pre-Preparation:

Place mushrooms in a glass of water and set aside to soak. Using a vegetable slicer (or a sharp knife), cut the carrot into strips and set aside. Separate the egg yokes from the whites and beat each with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. Divide cooked rice between your two bowls. Set aside.

Cooking and Assembly:

Meanwhile, place a medium-sized pot half-full of water on the stove. Once boiling, blanch the spinach. For those of you who don’t know what blanching means (me), you only want to dip the spinach in the boiling water until the leaves wilt. Set in a strainer and once cool, squeeze out the extra water. Season with 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Cut the spinach into 2 inch segments and add to your rice bowl.

By this time, your mushrooms should be re-hydrated.* Remove from water, squeeze to remove excess water and cut in slices. In a hot, oiled pan, saute mushrooms and add to your rice and spinach. Using the same pan, saute your carrots. I prefer my carrots slightly under-cooked to preserve the crunch factor. Add to your rice bowl.

In a clean pan, cook your egg whites just like a pancake.** Once cooked, slice and add to your rice bowl. Do the same with your egg yokes. Top with sea weed slices, extra sesame seeds and red pepper paste. Mix and enjoy!

Makes two servings.

*When I asked my mom if fresh mushrooms could be substituted, she answered with a flat-out no.

**Note that it is important that your pan is clean and extremely hot for your egg pancakes to cook properly.

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Bi-Bim-Bap

Homemade “Lara Bars”

Snacks | March 4, 2014 | By

Homemade-Lara-Bars

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of bars (both the edible and venue varieties, just to be clear). Working long hours, I definitely need a pick-me-up in the late afternoon so that I have enough energy to exercise after work and prevent myself from driving straight home and cooking dinner. I’m currently training for my second half marathon, and my go-to afternoon snack as of late has been Lara Bars. I love them because — first of all — the bar names are so appetizing (who doesn’t want Cherry Pie or Peanut Butter Cookie?) but also because they contain only raw ingredients: fruit and nuts. No preservatives. No grains that will leave you feeling tired an hour later. And they’re vegan and gluten-free. I love them so much that the first thing I asked my little brother upon finding out he got a job at General Mills was, “How many free Lara Bars can I get?” Hopefully there will be more to come on that, as he doesn’t start until after graduation in June.

Anyway, I thought to myself, if the ingredients are that simple, why can’t I make my own? And it turns out the answer is: You Can! And the best part is you can be creative and make any flavor combination you like. All you need is a nut or seed base, dates, and any other kind of dried fruit you desire. Chocolate (or other) chips are also an option, as are pastes such as peanut or almond butter, making for endless possibilities! Apricot is one of my favorite dried fruits, and I don’t believe Lara Bar currently makes an apricot flavor (although I could be wrong, they seem to have new flavors all the time). I also had dried cranberries laying around since I use them a lot in salads, so I threw in some of those too. I’m also super picky about nuts, almonds and peanuts are pretty much all I can do…so I went with almonds. They are so simple to make — it takes about 10 minutes tops — and the results were amazing! Lara Bar is going to have some tough competition in my house now that I can make my own.

Bon Appétit!

Lara Bar Ingredients 2 Homemade Lara Bars

2 Cups Roasted Almonds

8 Dates, pitted

1 1/4 Cup Dried Apricots

1/4 Cup Cranberries

Directions:

Place almonds into a food processor or blender fitted with a milling blade (I used my Nutribullet). Use the pulse setting to grind nuts into a crumb-like consistency. (Don’t be afraid of larger chunks, that is perfectly OK). Add the dates, apricots and cranberries and pulse until a sticky paste consistency has been reached. Note: you may need to continually stop and scrape the edges since the mixture is very thick. Remove the mixture from the food processor or blender and pat down flat into a parchment paper-lined 8×8 pan. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and cut into bars.

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A Taste Of LA: Our Cronut Story

A Taste Of | March 3, 2014 | By

Cronut

What would you do… for a Cronut? According to this post on the LAist, one person paid $60 for the original Cronut. We just waited in line for three hours.

Earlier last week, Hailey asked me if I would like to visit the Cronut pop-up shop at the Grove on Saturday. Sure! Dominique Ansel, the famed pastry chef and inventor of the Cronut, teamed up with Barney’s New York to bring the Cronut out of New York City for the very first time. I had previously only tasted knock-offs, and was curious to see if the original Cronut would live up to its hype. Half past eight in the morning, I picked up Hailey and another friend and we made our tasty trek, only to find out when we got there, we had arrived too late. With an hour and a half before the pop-up shop even opened and phrases such as, “we can’t guarantee you anything,” we were directed to the stand-by line. Hours passed, and we were ushered from one stand-by line into another, constantly being reminded that we still weren’t guaranteed a Cronut. We debated, was it even worth it to wait in line? Was it time for us to say “bye” to the stand-by line?

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With time running out, Hailey asked one of the early birds walking by us with her beautifully boxed Cronuts how many boxes were left and what she thought our chances were of grabbing a box for ourselves. By her response and facial expression, our chances seemed grim. We were about to give up and head home, when the same woman walked back to us. Our conversation went something like the following:

“Are you the girls who asked me how many boxes were left a few minutes ago?”

“Yes.”

“Well I work for the press and would like to give you my box. There’s only one left in there, but maybe you three can share.”

“Uhhhhh….Are you sure?”

(and simultaneously) “THANK YOU!”

We left the stand-by line in shock and immense gratitude. The woman, a journalist from Eater LA, made our Cronut dreams come true. We made a beeline to the nearest table and couches and split our Cronut in thirds.

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For those of you who don’t know about the Cronut, it’s a cross between a croissant and a donut, filled with cream and fried to perfection. The Grove’s pop-up shop only carried the milk and honey Cronut, topped with glaze and flakes of lavender. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of donuts (which might raise questions to why I was willing to wait in a line for three hours in the first place … a story for another time). But, oh, I wish words could do this justice. Flaky. Crispy. Sweet. Complex. Light. Buttery. Greasy. These words don’t suffice. One thing is for sure; the original Cronut is definitely worthy of the hype.

What a great way to to start off our rainy Saturday. Cheers!