Last Friday (8/13) we had some special guests at the Kenmore Studio – some of the top mommy and food bloggers in Chicago! But they weren’t there just to watch.
No, there was serious business afoot. They were there to compete for the honor of their fellow bloggers and provide an answer to a question that has vexed the world since the dawn of the internet – what type of blogger is the best cook?
We assembled two crack teams of bloggers. Representing the moms we had Amy Clark, Kris Cain and Stephanie Precourt. Representing the foodies we brought out the big guns – David Grotto, Heather Lalley and Jen Luby. Each blogger was paired with one blogger from the opposing team and had to come up with healthy recipes to get kids to eat specific veggies – ie: cauliflower in round one, spinach in round two and carrots in round three.
The mommy bloggers put up a valiant fight, taking the first round handily with Amy’s “Trees In Your Ears” cauliflower pasta, but in the end, the food bloggers’ spinach braid and carrot & banana soup in rounds two and three proved to be too much culinary expertise to overcome, no matter how tasty the vittles the mom prepared. And mark my words – those were some tasty vittles.
In the end, everyone went home happy, and full, thanks to all the delicious recipes our competitors prepared – all of which are listed below!
Trees in Your Ears Pasta (Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Arugula & Prosciutto)
(courtesy of Amy Clark)
- Kosher salt
- One-half medium head cauliflower, cored and cut into 3/4-inch florets (3-1/2 cups)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 9 large fresh sage leaves
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 oz.)
- 12 oz. dried orecchiette
- 5 oz. baby arugula (5 lightly packed cups)
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Toss the cauliflower, tomatoes, oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper on a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower begins to turn golden and tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pulse the sage and garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the prosciutto and pulse until coarsely chopped. Once the cauliflower is golden, toss the herb mixture into the vegetables and continue to roast until fragrant and the cauliflower is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Boil the orecchiette until al dente, 9 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the roasted cauliflower mixture, arugula, cheese, and enough pasta water to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
“Stoplight” Cauliflower Tacos
(courtesy of Jen Luby)
- 8 large cauliflower florets
- 4 corn taco shells
- 1 TBS chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- chihuahua cheese, thinly sliced
- shredded romaine lettuce
- chopped yellow and red tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350F
Finely chop florets in a food processor. Spread on a foil-lined pan and toss with olive oil, salt, and taco seasoning. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and add cheese. Put back in oven about 3 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Remove pan from oven and mix cheese and cauliflower thoroughly.
Build tacos with cauliflower-cheese, yellow and red tomatoes, and lettuce. Serve with black beans and rice.
Spinach, lemon, & pine nut pasta
(courtesy of Stephanie Precourt)
- 1 package Pasta (penne, bowtie, etc)
- 2 C fresh spinach
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 lemon (for juice)
- about 1-2 T pine nuts
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T red pepper flakes
- fresh Parmesan for garnish
Boil pasta according to directions. Just before pasta is finished, toast the pine nuts in a small pan (with oil, or without). Warm the olive oil in a large skillet, Add spinach & garlic and cook, tossing until just wilted. Add lemon.
Combine spinach mixture to drained pasta and toss. Top with red pepper flakes and fresh Parmsan.
(I like this extra lemon-y, so I might add more lemon to taste.) Also, delicious with lemon chicken but I kind of wanted to offer a vegetarian dish for Friday night. This is the kind of meal I make quite often for my kids.
Spinach Braid with Bacon, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Provolone
(Courtesy of Heather Lalley)
- 1 pound pizza dough, either homemade or store-bought
- 5 slices bacon, roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound fresh spinach, well-washed
- 4 ounces provolone, thinly sliced or grated
- 2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, preferably not packed in oil, julienned
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 ½ cups marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a pizza stone or an inverted baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven while it is heating.
On a piece of parchment, roll out the dough into a 12-inch-by-15-inch rectangle. Take care to lift the dough occasionally to make sure it is not sticking. If the dough is very sticky, dust the parchment with a little flour or cornmeal. Cover the rolled-out dough with plastic and let it rest while you prepare the filling.
In the biggest skillet you own, over medium-high heat, sautee the chopped bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon onto a paper-towel lined plate and reserve.
Pour the rendered bacon fat into a bowl. Turn down the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of fat back into the pan. Add in as much spinach as you can fit (you’ll likely need to do this in two batches) and begin tossing it in the fat, using tongs, until it is wilted. Repeat until you’ve used all of the bacon, adding more fat if necessary. Cook until the spinach is thoroughly wilted and much of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the spinach to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
With the short side of the dough facing you, sprinkle the cheese in a 3-inch-wide vertical stripe down the middle of the dough, leaving an empty strip on either side. Cover the cheese with the wilted spinach. Top with the sun-dried tomatoes and the crisped bacon.
With a pizza cutter, make horizontal cuts along the right side of the dough, at 1/2-inch intervals, from the filling to the outer edge. Repeat on the left side of the dough, trying to keep the cuts level with each other.
Begin folding these strips over the filling, alternating sides. Do not tug on the dough. Fold it gently, working as neatly as possible. This creates the illusion of the braid.
With a pastry brush, brush the braid with beaten egg. Using the parchment to carry the braid, place it in the oven (along with the parchment), either on the baking stone or on the inverted sheet pan.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. For a richer-brown crust, turn up the oven to 375 degrees and bake an additional five minutes.
Let cool at least 10 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife. Slice into thin sections and serve with warmed marinara for dipping.
Saucy Carrot and Asparagus Casserole
(courtesy of Kris Cain)
- 2 cups peeled/sliced carrots
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus
- 2 cloves thinly sliced garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup
Layer vegetable ingredients in an oven safe casserole dish. Season with salt & pepper. Pour can of over mushroom soup evenly over veggies.
Bake until veggies are tender.
Serve with cooked white or brown rice.
Curried Carrot, Banana Chicken Soup
(Courtesy of David Grotto)
Servings: 10 – 1 cup servings
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 pounds of Amish or organic chicken pieces (legs, thighs, breasts – skin on) or substitute 1 cooked rotisserie chicken
- 1 small leek, sliced thin
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 (14.5 ounce) diced canned tomatoes (not drained)
- ½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 6 cups of low sodium chicken stock
- 2 ½ cups carrots, peeled and diced small
- 4 ounces fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 medium bananas, diced into large bits
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Uncle Ben’s whole grain white rice, 2 – 4.4 ounce boxes
1. In a thick bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sear the chicken pieces in the hot oil until browned on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside (If substituting precooked rotisserie chicken, skip to step two.)
2. Turn the heat to medium and add the leek and onion. Sweat for a minute then add the garlic, jalapeño and ginger for another minute.
3. Add the curry powder and red pepper. Stir and toast spices for a minute.
4. Add the tomatoes, coconut, chicken stock, and chicken pieces (or pull apart rotisserie chicken into pieces and add in). Stir to combine and bring this mixture to a rapid boil.
5. Stir in the carrots and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and falling off the bone and carrots are tender.
6. Remove soup from heat and pull out the chicken pieces. Let it cool a bit, and then shred the meat off the bone. Discard the skin and bones.
7. Add chicken meat, banana, cilantro, and honey into the pot and stir. Put back on the heat. Cover and simmer 8-10 more minutes. Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Prepare Uncle Ben’s whole grain white rice as directed. Add ½ cup cooked rice to bowl. Ladle 1 cup of soup over rice. Garnish with cilantro sprig and serve.