Pan-toasted Gnocchi with Bacon

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Good news: I have officially completed my first week of P90X3 (yes, 3!)! I work out in spurts. Do you? I’ll go full throttle for a month or two and then do absolutely nothing for the next few months. To be fair, working out is hard. Like, not the actual working out itself (which most definitely can be), but the making time and sticking to it. For a while I was taking barre classes, which I actually do love, but, all told, it takes up about 1.5 hours of my day to drive there, work out, and drive home. That was really difficult to fit into my schedule, so when I heard that P90X3, unlike it’s 1.5 hour-long older siblings, is only 30 minutes a day, at home, and with minimal equipment, I was sold. For my first week, I woke up 45 minutes earlier before work to exercise, and this week I’ll be trying out the evenings to see which schedule I prefer. But either way, I’m already feeling pretty great! I can actually do like 20 normal pushups! And like a bajillion girl pushups.  

Anywho, let’s talk bacon. Unlike most people on the Paleo train, Mr. Little Fish and I are regular-eaters of turkey bacon, so I kinda feel like we already have our go-to breakfast protein.  But every once in a while we decide to “splurge” and get normal bacon, and every time, I remember how good bacon is.  Particularly now that I’ve taken to cooking it in the oven.  350 degrees + 15 minutes=perfectly and evenly crispy bacon.  Plus, my arms and clothes get to remain bacon grease and burn free!

For this recipe, though, it’s worth risking (life and) limbs to cook the bacon on the stovetop. Because doesn’t every one want more bacon outside of breakfast time?  Especially when you get to combine it with the wonderful spring colors of wilted spinach and juicy just-popped cherry tomatoes? And gnocchi?? This meal is both a comfort food and a wonderful summer dish.  And since gnocchi is made from potato, you can make it totally gluten-free, like I did here.

Pan-toasted Gnocchi with Bacon
Adapted from Simply Scratch
Serves 4

Gluten free gnocchi

Gluten free gnocchi

Ingredients:

4 strips bacon, diced
1 pound gnocchi, gluten-free if desired
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for gnocchi. Once the water boils, drop in the gnocchi and cook according to the package, or until the gnocchi start to float to the top. Drain the gnocchi once done and set aside to be added to the veggies.
2.  While the water is boiling, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.

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3. Once crispy, remove the bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon and onto a plate lined with paper towels.
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4. In the skillet with the bacon fat, add in the diced onions and cook until they start to get soft.  Add in the wilted spinach, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until just wilted. Remove the veggies to the plate with the bacon on it, after you throw away the paper towels.
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5. Drizzle the olive oil into the skillet, and add the drained gnocchi to it. Cook them for a few minutes, stirring them around, until you start to see some brown color on the gnocchi.
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6.  Add back in the cooked spinach, onion, and bacon.  Add in the sliced cherry tomatoes and some black pepper.  Cook until the cherry tomatoes are just starting to pop.
IMG_69457. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top!
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Pan-toasted Gnocchi with Bacon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 strips of uncured bacon, diced
  • 1 pound gnocchi, gluten-free if desired
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for topping
Directions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for gnocchi. Once the water boils, drop in the gnocchi and cook according to the package, or until the gnocchi start to float to the top. Drain the gnocchi once done and set aside to be added to the veggies.
  2. While the water is boiling, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.
  3. Once crispy, remove the bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon and onto a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. In the skillet with the bacon fat, add in the diced onions and cook until they start to get soft.  Add in the wilted spinach, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until just wilted. Remove the veggies to the plate with the bacon on it, after you throw away the paper towels.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil into the skillet, and add the drained gnocchi to it. Cook them for a few minutes, stirring them around, until you start to see some brown color on the gnocchi.
  6. Add back in the cooked spinach, onion, and bacon.  Add in the sliced cherry tomatoes and some black pepper.  Cook until the  the cherry tomatoes are just starting to pop.
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top!

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I am pretty darn proud of myself for actually following this Cooking Cure thing!  It is now Day 10, whose assignment is to shop for and cook your chosen recipe from your list, and I have officially completed every challenge of this Cure so far!  I’m gonna go ahead and unofficially add this to the list of things to celebrate at my super duper fancy birthday dinner tonight (P.S. doesn’t that place look amazing??  I’m probably gonna be That Girl and take pictures of all of my meals tonight, you know, for posterity. And for you guys!)!

Anywho, it’s very convenient for me that the cooking assignments are always on Fridays because I’m always off on Fridays, so that means that I get to choose something from my list that I can leisurely enjoy making.  For the lunch challenge, I choose to make the Carrot Coconut Soup.

And, you guys, this soup has to be one of the best smells that has ever graced my kitchen. And I’ve cooked a lot of delicious smelling things (this, for example).  I’ve never been to Thailand, but I imagine this is what it must smell like everywhere, which totally makes sense.

All you need for this recipe is butter, carrots, coconut milk, chicken broth (or vegetable if you want to make this vegan, in which case you should sub the butter for coconut oil), an onion, and Sriracha sauce (the original recipe called for sambal oelek, which I discovered is made by the same rooster company as Sriracha and supposed to be more simplified, buuuut I’m cheap so I used what I had).  That’s it!  In fact, I didn’t even bother peeling my carrots, since I’ve read a few times that most of the nutrition is in the peel, and I figured it was all gonna be blended anyway.  I did, however, scrub the hell out of them with my vegetable scrubber.

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The steps are even easier!  First, you chop up your carrots and dice your onion.  They don’t have to look pretty because they’re all gonna get blended, but you’ll want to chop everything fairly small so it cooks quickly.  Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, and throw the veggies in there with some salt and pepper.

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Then, once the carrots are soft enough to be pierced fairly easily with a fork, add in the coconut milk, the chicken broth, and 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce.  Yummy. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat a little bit, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are reeeeally soft.

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Remove the soup from the heat (and don’t forget to turn it off!).  If you are using a regular blender, then you’ll want to let the soup cool for a good bit before pouring it in to blend it.  I’m terrible at pouring things, so I used my fancy schmancy immersion blender to blend it right in the pan until there were no more chunks!

Then I topped it with MOAR Sriracha, and I ate it with a leftover cabbage roll.  It was all so delicious and I will definitely be making this soup again!

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After a few days of thinking about breakfast from a more global and philosophical perspective, the assignments for Days 4 & 5 were to put your ideas into practice–choose one recipe from the five you chose on Day 3, do your grocery shopping for it, and then actually make it!

I typically go grocery shopping 2-4 times a week, because that helps me manage waste better, so I had already been planning on going yesterday.  Since Fridays are my days off, I decided to be slightly ambitious and make TWO of the five recipes I chose: the avocado pudding and the pumpkin granola.  I did this mostly because I knew the granola would be a big batch and could be one of the “staples” I generally keep around the house, and I also knew that the avocado pudding recipe called for something crunchy on top, so birds, meet stone.

The upside to cooking so often is that I pretty much know exactly what I have on hand in my kitchen.   Every time I get a new recipe, I go down the ingredients list and mentally check off what I already have, including any substitutions I could make, and then add whatever I still need to the Out of Milk app that Mr. Little Fish and I share.  For the avocado recipe, all I needed was avocado, as I decided I would use my homemade almond milk instead of dairy milk, and for the granola, all I need to buy was sunflower seeds!  It’s one of my small pleasures in life when I already have most of the things on the list!

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Because I knew that I would have time this morning, I decided not to prep anything ahead of time, but if this had been a normal weeknight, I would have made the granola before bed.  The things I changed in the recipe were that I only used 1 tbsp of honey instead of 2 tbsp maple syrup, because a) I didn’t want to buy maple syrup and b) the pumpkin seeds I used were these praline ones from my Naturebox and so were already sweetened.  I also only had unsweetened coconut flakes, as opposed to shredded coconut, so I threw them into the food processor with the other ingredients to pulse.  Lastly, I didn’t have pumpkin pie spice so I used 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ginger.

IMG_6970I would make this granola again just for the smell of pumpkin pie wafting through my house!  Luckily, it tasted as good as it smelled, so I packaged it up in a glass container and now have homemade granola on hand!  Also the best part? It’s grain free and nut free (and could be vegan if you used the maple syrup as originally called for!)!

IMG_6976Of course, I did manage to throw some on my avocado pudding before putting it away, and I have to say that this was a very satisfying breakfast!  The avocado pudding is apparently a Brazilian-inspired dish, and it does indeed remind me of warm sand and palm trees.  The honey added just the right amount of sweet without overwhelming the avocado flavor.  Also, I always enjoy a recipe that allows me to use my immersion blender!  I am looking forward to making this breakfast again next week (or maybe even this weekend, as I feel like this is sort of thing I could find myself craving!).

Light yet filling!

Light yet filling!

How has your breakfast planning been going?  Will you be trying anything new this weekend?

In a cooking rut?  Need inspiration to start cooking?  Not sure how to actually implement home cooking on a day-to-day basis?

Even the most well-intentioned of us hit a cooking wall every once in a while.  I know I do.  Lately, I’ve been eating out more because I’ve had a harder than usual time committing to cooking all the time.  After all, it takes time and planning and…time.  So, when TheKitchn, a blog I read on a daily basis, advertised a Cooking Cure program, I decided to sign up and share my experiences and adventures here with you all!  From their website:

This 4-week Cooking Cure is designed to get you cooking at home every day, starting with 5-minute baby steps and culminating in a week of 21 home-cooked meals. There will be plenty of flexibility for you to set your own goals and figure out what your breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be. Think of it as a guided Choose Your Own Adventure in cooking every day, your way, your style. We’ll provide 20 assignments, designed to break you out of your cooking rut and guide you into new meals and happier cooking every day.

Interested?  Sign up here and share your experiences with me!  Per this week’s “homework,” here is what I ate for breakfast this week:

Monday & Tuesday: Green smoothie consisting of pear, banana, fresh ginger, Greek yogurt, and romaine lettuce
Wednesday: Same as above but with 2 cups of spinach instead of romaine
Thursday: Vegan overnight oats  with chia seeds, rolled oats, banana, coconut milk, vanilla extract and topped with natural peanut butter and a few chocolate chips (this was delicious!)
Friday: homemade energy bar and a smoothie made with banana, uncooked rolled oats, cinnamon, vanilla, and coconut milk

Are you gonna do the Cure?  What did you have for breakfast this week?

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Just a normal Wednesday night dinner
Just a normal Wednesday night dinner

Is it weird that I am oddly proud that this is the longest I’ve gone between posts?  I think it’s because I’ve actually been super productive at the office, unlike my usual procrastinatrix self, and have been mentally exhausted when I get home. But anyway, I’m now looking at nice little break from deadlines, so hopefully I can kick the blog writing back into high gear.

On that note, I’ve mentioned before how I thought I was a member of the Salmon Hater Club for a while.  The only time I would consistently enjoy eating salmon was when it was raw  in my sushi, but even then, salmon would be one of my lesser favorites, falling behind tuna, torched escolar (try this at DK Sushi!), red snapper, and scallop.  Hell, if it came down to choosing just one, I’d probably choose a traditional Japanese veggie roll over the salmon.  I liked it; I just didn’t love it.

When it came to cooked salmon, however, I wasn’t even sure I liked it.  It was just…boring to me. I would always order it at restaurants, and I would always be underwhelmed.  It would be too dry or too fishy or too bland.  I would get tired of eating it about halfway through.  Unfortunately for me, Mr. Little Fish felt exactly the opposite, so he would nearly always order salmon (I harbor some suspicions that he did it so I wouldn’t try the food on his plate), and always proclaim how much he loved it, and always leave me wondering how on earth I could not be cooking something he so clearly enjoys.  

But, I remained vigilant in my salmon-hate, until one day when we had my in-laws over for a pool party and they made salmon.  It was so simple–a whole filet, topped with red pepper flakes and a little bit of oil, and with bits of onion stuck into the meat.  They baked it in a covered casserole dish and stuck it in the oven for a little while, and what came out was this wonderfully moist, flaky, flavorful fish.  I was intrigued.

After some experimentation, I finally settled on two go-to salmon recipes: this version, and a simple yet elegant teriyaki version.  This one cooks up in about 10 minutes, and is delightfully easy.  The original recipe called for pan frying it until done, but, in case it makes some of you new cooks feel any better, I started to get a little scared with the smoke and blackened-ness, so I decided to do the hybrid pan sear+oven method that I use for steaks and other meats. The upside is a wonderfully crunchy, blackened exterior with a tender interior.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon
Adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner
Serves 3-4

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 16 oz salmon filet, skin removed and cut into 3-4 smaller filets
1.5 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

1.  If you are using a traditional oven, preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix together the sugar, chili, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl.
2.  Lay out the salmon filets and sprinkle the spice mixture on all sides.
3.  Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the filets to the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes each side, until blackened.
4.  Transfer the filets to a foil covered pan, and either put in preheated oven or put directly into toaster oven for 10 minutes.
5.  Serve on salad (we once made one with pomegranate arils, celery, and mixed greens that complemented the fish very well!) or roasted veggies!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Fish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 16 oz salmon filet, skin removed and cut into 3-4 smaller filets
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
Directions
  1. If you are using a traditional oven, preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the sugar, chili, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl.
  2. Lay out the salmon filets and sprinkle the spice mixture on all sides.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the filets to the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes each side, until blackened.
  4. Transfer the filets to a foil covered pan, and either put in preheated oven or put directly into toaster oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve on salad (we once made one with pomegranate arils, celery, and mixed greens that complemented the fish very well!) or roasted veggies!