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.

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.

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 1
It seems like people fall into two categories when it comes to soup, love it or hate it. My boys both moan and groan when they find out we’re having soup for dinner. It doesn’t matter what kind, they still complain. The grown one says it’s not filling enough. The little says it’s too hot (even when I ladle it out 15 minutes before everyone else’s).

Hannah and myself on the other hand love soup. But Hannah will eat anything so I guess that’s not too much of a feat. Seriously, anything. She was begging for a snitch when I was preparing this so I gave her a bit of raw onion to see what she would do. She ate it and opened her mouth for more. Do you guys know what “snitch” means when in the kitchen? It’s a little bite or sample of something while you’re cooking. I was talking to one of the babysitters where I work out and was telling her how if we ask Hannah if she wants a snitch she comes running to the kitchen with her mouth open. She’s really starting to understand what we’re telling her and reacting so I thought it was really funny that one of the first things she truly understands is related to eating. She just looked at me, confused. I thought this was a common thing but maybe it just was in my family. I don’t know, it should totally be a thing if it’s not.
Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 2
Broccoli cheese soup and potato soup are my two favorites and this recipe combines the two into perfection. Cheese, broccoli, potatoes, bacon, can’t get much better than that. This soup is loaded with veggies which makes it super filling but if your people are still complaining, give them a pretzel stick to carb load. They are pretty heavenly when dipped in this soup.

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup
recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots, diced small
3 cups potatoes, diced small
1/2 cup finely minced onion
4-5 cups broccoli crowns, diced small (about 2 heads of broccoli)
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk (I used half Vitamin D, half skim)
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard

1. In a dutch oven, combine the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are starting to soften. Add the broccoli and cook another 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan, melt the butter then sprinkle in the flour. Stir and cook for a minute then slowly add in the milk, whisking the whole time. Simmer until it thickens. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Season with salt, pepper and dried mustard.

3. Slowly stir and incorporate the cheese sauce into the broth/veggie mixture. Make sure it is combined well then stir in the bacon. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may stir in a bit more broth or milk until you reach the desired consistency.
Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 3

Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Potato Frittata

Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Potato Frittata 3
I always have an ongoing list of cookbooks I want to add to my “collection.” I haven’t counted but I’m sure I already have close to 30 and have officially run out of space to store them in my kitchen. So rather than get rid of some, or stop buying more, I add this Ikea cart to my dining room for storage #cookbookproblems. It’s research and inspiration I tell you…or at least that’s what I tell Joel. I’m not sure he’s falling for it though.
Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Potato Frittata 1
This year, my cookbook wish list consisted of all food blogger cookbooks recently released and I got them all, yay! I’m very excited to cook out of all them but I was especially motivated by The Skinnytaste Cookbook with the new year and eating healthy and all that. Don’t worry Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant (have you seen her baby, so stinkin’ cute), Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker and The Girl Who Ate Everything by Christy Denney will get plenty of use too!
Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Potato Frittata 2
Do you sit and read cookbooks or is it just me? I spent hours perusing through them, flagging recipes and making a grocery list so that all the deliciousness could come to my kitchen. We love brinner around here (breakfast for dinner) so I decided to try this Chicken Sausage Frittata first. The original recipe calls for kale but the kale didn’t look so great at the store so I decided to add in some broccoli instead. Spinach would be a great alternative but I knew broccoli would go over better in my house.
Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Potato Frittata 4
This frittata is lightened up with egg whites, chicken sausage and a healthy dose of veggies. It would be a great way to start off your day or a filling way to end it.

Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Potato Frittata
recipe adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook

5 large eggs
3 large egg whites
2 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. fully cooked Italian chicken sausage, cut into half moons
1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
10 oz. Yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. paprika
Grape seed oil spray*

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk eggs, egg whites, Romano cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat (ensure that it is oven safe). Add a spritz of grape seed oil then add the sausage and broccoli. Cook for a few minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add another spritz of grape seed oil then place potatoes in pan in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes with the lid on then carefully flip, cover and cook another 5 minutes or until brown and crispy. Add the sausage and broccoli and stir to combine everything. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for about 6 minutes, or until edges are set.

4. Transfer pan to oven and bake until the frittata is set, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the frittata onto a plate. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.

*Located with the nonstick cooking sprays. If you can’t find it, you can use 2 tsp. olive or grape seed oil instead.

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes
You know what’s weird? Having to tell your child that he’s eating mashed broccoli because if he knew there was potatoes involved he would have nothing to do with them. Yep, a four year old that doesn’t eat potatoes…not even fries. Sometimes I wonder if he’s really my child.
Broccoli Mashed Potatoes
These broccoli mashed potatoes are light yet flavorful. The sour cream adds a nice tang and the onions bring flavor to a dish that would otherwise be bland. I added a bit of parmesan to help sell these to the oldest member of the family, yes the almost 30 year old.
Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

I served these alongside some crispy baked pork chops (I’ll share that recipe later this week) for the perfect, healthy fall meal.

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes
recipe adapted from Everyday Light Meals

1 1/2 lbs. small red potatoes, skin on and cubed
2 1/2 cups fresh broccoli
1/2 onion, shredded
2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop broccoli florets and some stem into small pieces. After 10 minutes, add broccoli to potatoes and cook another 10 minutes.

2. In a saute pan, melt butter and cook onion until soft and slightly browned. Drain potatoes and broccoli then put back in the pan. Add onions, sour cream, parmesan, salt and pepper and mash together until smooth.

Thai Sweet Chili Broccoli

Easter with my loves
Did you all have a wonderful Easter? We spent the weekend with my parents enjoying the gorgeous weather, partaking in Easter egg hunts, church and a big dinner with some of our favorite people.
Excited about her basket

He was most excited about the $1 jump rope…figures.
A $1 jump rope? Yesss!

Me and my favorite boy.
Easter Egg Hunt with my boy

Sweet little chickie in her Easter basket.
Hannah in her basket.
Because Easter marks the end of Lent, that meant I got to feast on all kinds of naughty things that I haven’t had in months. Like peanut butter bars, cucumber dip, mac-n-cheese, corn casserole and a cherry coke or two. Needless to say, I felt very sick afterward.

During my 40 days of eating clean, I found that I had more energy and generally felt so much better. So, the plan going forward is to eat clean 5 days a week and the other two to still eat healthy but not so restrictive. Since starting a healthier lifestyle at the New Year, I’ve lost 30 pounds and would love to continue on that path.
Stir-Fried Broccoli
The only problem with healthy eating is that there aren’t a ton of vegetables that I love so the routine can get old kind of fast. I’m pretty sure I’ve professed before that broccoli is one of my favorite foods and I eat it several times a week. Joel doesn’t enjoy it as much as me so I have been on the hunt for different ways to prepare it rather than just serving it steamed as I usually do. When I came across this recipe at Mel’s Kitchen Café I knew it would be a hit with everyone.

Tender crisp, charred broccoli tossed in a slightly thickened sweet Thai chili sauce is the perfect side dish to grilled chicken and a bit of brown rice. You have to try this! It’s quickly become a staple in our dinner routine.

Thai Sweet Chili Broccoli
recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 cups broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

For the sauce:
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 Tbsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the broccoli and cook until the broccoli starts to brown in spots and turns bright green, making sure to stir often (about 7-9 minutes). Meanwhile, stir together the sauce ingredients.

2. Add garlic to skillet and cook an additional minute. Pour in the sauce and cook an additional minute or two until it thickens and the broccoli is coated.

 

Cheesy Broccoli Bites

Cheesy Broccoli Bites
On our quest for healthier eating, I have been looking for recipes that are lighter but still have enough heft to fill us up and keep the boys happy. I personally love steamed broccoli and would eat it everyday but Joel thinks it tastes like dirt. He is totally for it though when slathered with cheese.

Speaking of cheese and healthy, I don’t know about you but I have never been and never will be down with low fat/fat free cheese. It’s just not right. I would rather have no cheese at all. I’m fine with other light products like sour cream, milk, mayo, even cream cheese or ricotta but cheddar…no way, won’t do it.
Cheesy Broccoli Bites
I’ve had my eye on these cheesy broccoli bites for quite awhile but just never got around to making them until now. And now I’m kicking myself for taking so long to try them. They are a fun, healthy and delicious way to eat your veggies. The cheese melts into gooey goodness and the outside gets crispy.

And they got the approval of both boys. I’m thinking of trying them with cauliflower next time. I have a feeling these will be gracing our table very often.
Cheesy Broccoli Bites
Cheesy Broccoli Bites
recipe adapted from Stacey Snacks
yields 9

8 oz. fresh broccoli, lightly steamed and chopped
1/2 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 egg white

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients and form patties, 1/4 cup each. Place on parchment.

2. Bake for 12 minutes, flip then bake another 12 minutes.
Cheesy Broccoli Bites