Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin

Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin
My little man graduated from preschool on Saturday. And I kept it together through the whole ceremony. Mostly. Both of those facts are incredibly hard for me to believe. You know the saying, “the days are long but the years are short.” I’m pretty sure there is nothing more true. It’s seriously mind boggling how this has happened. Where did my baby go? Well, I’ll always call him my baby especially when he’s an obnoxious teenager and his friends are over.
Preschool Graduation
I noticed today that he’s getting hair on his legs. What? Slow down time.

We had lots of family and friends come to his graduation and help us celebrate. After the ceremony we went to Noah’s favorite restaurant, HuHot. I gave him the choice of me cooking whatever he wanted or going out to lunch. He chose out. Major burn for a food blogger but how can you compete with food being cooked with giant sticks? In a 4 year olds mind, you’re never going to win against that.

I did make these cute graduation hat cupcakes, roasted strawberry ice cream (with lemon Oreos mixed in) and raspberry white chocolate chunk ice cream and they were all big hits. It was a wonderful celebration with amazing family and delicious food. Which brings me to today’s post.
Graduation Cupcakes
After all that decadence this weekend, I feel the need to lighten things up. This Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin is a great meal after over indulging on the weekend and the perfect Meatless Monday dish.

It comes together quickly and is really hearty and filling. I’m new to farro and this was only the 3rd time I’ve cooked it and has definitely been my favorite version. Farro has a nutty flavor that goes particularly well with the creamy parmesan sauce that it’s coated in for this dish. I mean, a cheesy sauce that’s still healthy? You’re sold right?

When cooking the farro, be careful not to let it absorb all of the liquid otherwise you won’t yield a creamy sauce. I’m speaking from experience here so trust me. The first time I made this, I wasn’t keeping a close eye on it and it got dry quickly. It was still yummy but didn’t have the smooth, sauciness that you look for in a gratin.
Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin 2
The navy beans add a dose of protein to the dish and help plump it up as a main dish.

I am always looking for new ideas to add to my arsenal of meatless Monday meals and this one is definitely going into the rotation. It uses a few different ingredients than our usual meatless meals but still has that cheese to bring it home for the boys. Win, win.

Farro, White Bean and Broccoli Gratin
recipe adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups farro
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper
1 lb. broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Add one teaspoon olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the farro and cook until it’s lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in stock and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce to low heat and continue simmering, stirring often, until the remaining liquid has thickened into a creamy sauce and farro is tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, lightly steam the broccoli, about 3-4 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, add the remaining oil (1 tablespoon) and garlic, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the navy beans and cooked farro.

3. Pour mixture into a baking dish and top with shredded cheddar. Place under the broiler until browned and bubbly, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Cinco de Mayo Taco Tuesday Party

Whole Wheat Tortillas 3
Cinco de Mayo falls on Tuesday this year…coincidence? I think not. It would be a travesty not to participate in Taco Tuesday this week. So to help you out, I searched around the internets for some of the most delicious looking tacos that will totally do the holiday justice. I hope one of these inspires you for an all-out taco par-tay!

Carnitas = Best.Tacos.Ever.

Sweet Potato Tacos are skinny but still delicious and could do double duty on Meatless Monday.

The Quesarito isn’t quite a taco but I had to share this one with you. A cheese quesadilla is filled with toppings and rolled up burrito style. Dying.

Korean Tacos for a little Mexican Asian fusion.

Grilled Taco Lime Chicken is great for busy weeknight meals and one I have made over and over. Soo easy and delicious.

Loaded Carne Asada Tacos. Carne Asada + Fries + Guacamole + Cheese. Need I say more?

Smoky Shrimp Tacos with Chorizo Beans and Mango Salsa – smoky and sweet is always a winning combination.

Huevo Rancheros Tacos for something on the lighter side and another meatless option.

You all know I don’t really like fish but these Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce look incredible.

Chicken Fried Steak Tacos. Ummm, whaaaaat? Mexican and Southern, the fusion of my dreams.

Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Slaw and Avocado Cream are all about the texture. Oh, and they are vegan too.

Apple Pie Tacos, because what’s a Taco Tuesday Cinco de Mayo party without a dessert taco? I mean, at this point, do the calories really matter?

And wash ’em all down with Lime Sorbet Margaritas.

 

 

 

 

Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 3
I love a pulled pork sandwich covered in barbecue sauce but that takes a lot of effort. We have a smoker so that’s the only way we do pulled pork in our house. It’s quite a process though so it doesn’t happen too often. I was craving it like mad the other day so I decided to try something a little different that would be reminiscent of that delicious sandwich but take a lot less effort.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 5
In come these little beauties. Done in less than 30 minutes and totally comfort worthy. I made a simple, traditional meatball but switched out the ground beef for ground pork. Once they are done they are slathered in that delicious honey bbq sauce I shared on Monday.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 1
I served these alongside some oven baked fries but can you imagine them on a roll with a little coleslaw? Absolutely happening next time.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 4
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

1 lb. ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 batch Honey BBQ Sauce

1. Combine egg, panko, salt, pepper and parsley in a large bowl. Crumble ground pork over the mixture and mix until just combined. Form mixture into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs in a single layer, flipping after they have browned for 1-2 minutes. Cook until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and toss with honey bbq sauce.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 6

Recipe Updates

As I make recipes that I’ve shared in the past, I’ve been updating photos to help with the appeal of the posts. These are all great recipes but the photos definitely didn’t do them justice. I asked on Facebook if you all would be interested in seeing what I’ve updated lately and I got some positive reviews so here it is. I’m still learning a lot when it comes to food photography but I think I’ve definitely improved! I’ll randomly share these posts after a few recipes have been updated. For now, I have two yummy updates to share with you.

These Broccoli and Four Cheese Calzones are pretty intense. I mean, four cheeses, you can’t really go wrong with that. I originally made this recipe in June 2011, only months into starting my blog. An oldie, but a goodie.
Broccoli and Four Cheese Calzones 4
If it was up to Noah, he would eat these Mini Corn Dogs all day, every day. This recipe was also written in 2011 and has stood the test of time. We don’t fry often but when we do we savor these little nuggets of goodness. The original photos were seriously awful. They were taken at night with my terrible kitchen lighting and the flash on my camera to illuminate them. Definitely not my greatest work! But now they are shining with natural light and have some fun props to add visual interest. Looks like I’ve learned a little something in four years.
Corn Dogs 3
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Let me know if you would like to see more of these types of posts.

Mini Bagel Bites

Mini Bagel Bites 4
Did you guys love Bagel Bites when you were a kid? I remember my brother and I always got so excited when my mom bought them for us. I don’t even know if they make them still but every time I think of them, it brings me back to my childhood. Whoever thought of turning a boring bagel into pizza is kind of a genius.
Mini Bagel Bites 7
I don’t know about you all but I really struggle with lunches for the kids. I don’t really want to cook a full meal but I also don’t want to do sandwiches every day. A lot of times, we have all the ingredients on hand for English muffin pizzas but recently we had some mini bagels lying around and I thought it would be a fun change. They were gobbled down within minutes and that’s saying a lot considering it often takes up to an hour to get Noah to eat a meal. The kid is just too busy for silly things like eating. He’s also a big snacker so he would rather eat like a bird all day then sit down and have 3 meals. I will be nice to have this one in my back pocket when I need him to focus and eat.
Mini Bagel Bites 5
I have to tell you too, they were equally well received by the 30 year old boy in my house too. Nice to know iconic kid food can span the decades.
Mini Bagel Bites 1
Mini Bagel Bites

4 mini bagels, split in half
8 Tbsp. pizza sauce
8 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella cheese
mini pepperoni, or desired toppings

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place bagel halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread each bagel half with 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce and top with 1 tablespoon each of mozzarella. Top with mini pepperoni or other desired toppings.

2. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
Mini Bagel Bites 2

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 3
This past summer we vacationed in the Dominican Republic and had a blast. The only thing I was disappointed with was the food. We stayed at a resort so it was nice that we didn’t have to figure out and agree on meals but we definitely didn’t get the authenticity that we usually seek out when traveling to new destinations. At the buffet one night they did have a Dominican night and the dish I enjoyed the most was the stewed beans over rice.
Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 2
I knew when we got home I had to try and recreate it for one of our meatless Monday’s. Well, we went on vacation in July and I just now got around to it. I wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long! I love the simplicity of this dish in the fact that it uses ordinary, staple ingredients and they come together to make something that conjures up memories. Nice, warm, relaxing memories of the beach are so nice today when school has been canceled because of extreme temperatures. Seriously people, wind chills near -25 degrees. That’s not supposed to happen in Nebraska. Noah has told me it’s so cold we will need to drink hot chocolate at every meal. Smart man.
Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice 1
Anyway, back to the beans. This dish is great for those on a budget too since it doesn’t get much cheaper than rice and beans. Plus, it’s vegan. Need I say more?

Dominican Stewed Beans with Rice
recipe adapted from Latina.com

8 oz. red kidney beans
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups brown rice, well rinsed

1. Soak beans overnight in a container big enough to generously cover the beans. Drain the water and add the beans to a large stock pot. Cover with 5 cups of fresh cold water. Bring beans to a boil then reduce to medium, cover partially and cook for an hour stirring occasionally. Add a cup of water then cook for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make a sofrito: In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, cilantro, and onion and process to a coarse paste. In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil then add the sofrito. Cook for 1 minute then add to the beans along with the tomato paste, salt, pepper and vinegar. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add in rice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring so that it doesn’t stick. Reduce temperature to low, add 1 cup of water, cover and cook for 55-65 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. You may have to add more water throughout the cooking time (I ended up adding about another cup).

Meatball Pizza

Meatball Pizza 1
So remember when I made spaghetti and meatballs for you last week? A big ‘ole delicious batch. But have I ever told you how much I dislike leftovers? They are ok for a day but after that no bueno. I just hate eating the same thing over and over. And Joel now has lunch provided for him at work so that means there are even more leftovers for me to eat. The smart thing here would have been to freeze half the batch for another time but alas, that didn’t happen so I got creative instead.
Meatball Pizza 4
I always have pizza dough in my freezer for quick weeknight meals. Lately I have been creating lots of delicious and non-traditional pizza’s so why not make one with leftovers for the ultimate quick and easy meal?
Meatball Pizza 3
And that’s exactly what I did after 2 days of spaghetti and meatballs for lunch and dinner. I’m pretty sure this was the first time I was thankful for leftovers because it turned out so tasty. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making extra meatballs from now on just so I can make this pizza.

Meatball Pizza

2 disks whole wheat pizza dough
Leftover meatballs and sauce
2-4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Preheat pizza stone for 30 minutes.

2. Roll pizza dough disks together into a 12-inch round then place on preheated pizza stone. Slather desired amount of pizza sauce over crust and top with cheeses. Thinly slice 4-5 meatballs and layer on top of cheese.

3. Bake pizza for 10-12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.