Cheesy Spinach and Green Chile Enchiladas

Cheesy Spinach and Green Chile Enchiladas

Remember how I hatched a plot to eat greens at every meal?

Yeah…desserts kind of got in the way of that healthy plan. But you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I am still trying to focus on the greenery as much as possible!

So this month for the Secret Recipe Club challenge, I decided to take a recipe for green chile enchiladas—which sounded heavenly—and green them up!

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Broccolini Melts

Broccolini Melts

Have I mentioned my obsession with open-face sandwiches?

This broccolini melt is so amazing on so many levels. Not only is it full of bright green goodness, for which your body thanks you, but it is savory and cheesy and garlicky and a little lemony…in short, it is delicious. All delis should throw out their tuna melts and serve this instead.

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Debby’s Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust

Debby's Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust

The summer after I graduated from high school, my best friend and I started a weekly ritual we called “wife practice.”

We decided to learn how to cook, something our mothers had been trying to teach us for years. We spent hours making peanut pork with cellophane noodles and potato crust quiche and French silk pie. (Only the most practical dishes for our future husbands, let me tell you.)

I thought Debby walked on air because she had this brash disrespect for the recipes we were preparing. Unlike me, she had already mastered putting her own spin on a dish as she cooked. She knew when a coarse chop would do the trick, she didn’t measure her salt, she irreverently used ingredients that were less expensive, she had favorite chefs and favorite cheeses, she knew what a tomatillo was…

When I first ventured out on my own and began putting together a collection of meals I could make, 50% of them were Debby’s. Debby’s spindiforous chicken bundles, Debby’s verde burritos, Debby’s Mediterranean orzo, Debby’s focaccia bread. All these years later, I still leave her house thinking, “I have to go home and make that right away!” every time I eat with her.

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Mustard Greens on Toast

Mustard Greens on Toast

It may surprise you to learn that I don’t actually eat a lot of vegetables. I can go entire days without a vegetable, if you don’t count the tomato sauce in pizza.

The problem obviously isn’t that I don’t like vegetables…I love them! The real problem is that I am busy and tired, and preparing vegetables (plus, let’s get real: doing the subsequent dishes) takes more time than boiling an egg.

“But,” you protest, “you’re a vegetarian. How can it be that you don’t eat a lot of vegetables!?”

And that, my friends, is a beautiful question. As I have been trying to plot ways to actually model good health for my kiddos, I have made a resolution: I will make it a priority to eat greens at every meal. Seriously, even breakfast. I have been drinking green smoothies and tossing kale into scrambled eggs. I even made oatmeal with spinach in it. More on that later.

Greens are so good for you. Greens, and vegetables more broadly, are the one thing we never have to eat in moderation.

Jump on the greens train!

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Green Herb Falafel

Green Herb Falafel

Do you ever just have a really bad day? Like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

This has nothing to do with falafel, really. I’m just whining.

I have been sick for several days. Like the kind of sick when everything in your body suddenly revolts all at once, where you have a cold, plus a broken wrist, plus a headache that feels like it might possibly be a brain tumor, plus a fever blister, plus a few other unmentionable problems. So I woke up already feeling like I just wanted to camp out under the covers for another several hours. But I didn’t.

Dave and I had a rather tense discussion right before he left for work. The baby pulled my necklace right off my neck. And then my nephew came over for the day! Unfortunately, he and Jake spent the entire day screaming and snatching toys out of each others’ hands and smacking each other with wooden tools. And then they pulled the curtains off the wall in the playroom, leaving a thumb-size hole in the drywall above the window. After which I half-fell off a ladder onto a pile of Duplos (if you’re a parent, you know how much that hurts). And then one of the 3-year-olds peed directly on me.

I hollered uncle.

My sweet sister-in-law brought me a milkshake, and I put the kids in their rooms for nap time, intent on doing Sudoku and listening to Yes, Please and slurping my chocolate shake in peace.

But my daughter stood up in her crib and wailed for an hour instead. (Yes. I left her in there for an hour. I’m a monster.)

It’s not even dinner time, yet, friends.

I think I’ll move to Australia.

P.S., I had intended to save this recipe for when it’s Spring and sunny and you are excited about green stuff. But really I just needed some encouragement, like right now. I couldn’t wait for Spring.

Without further ado…go make falafel. And have a good day.

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Chana Masala

Chana MasalaI adore Indian food. I love the spices and the warmth. I love that Indian food is packed with things that are good for my body, and that it doesn’t taste like “health food.” Indian food is fantastic.

But I’ve got to admit that I don’t cook Indian food at home very often. True, I love going home and recreating every delicious food in my very own kitchen; but I just find that Indian food is always better when I order it out. (Or, ahem, when friends make it for me. Yeah, you know who you are.)

In the months since learning about Caitlin’s dairy intolerance, I’ve had to avoid eating a lot of my favorite things. Dairy is in almost everything! And since a lot of Indian food is cooked with ghee (clarified butter), I’ve been wary of ordering Indian food at a restaurant.

Enter glorious chana masala, a simple dish featuring chickpeas cooked in a rich, spicy tomato sauce full of grated ginger and pressed garlic. This version comes together very quickly, ready from start to finish in under an hour, thanks to the help of canned chickpeas. And it is delicious!

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Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts

I fell off the thankfulness train a little bit. And I’m going to climb back on.

But first, I have to tell you what happened to me last week:

The pediatrician told me I have to give up eating dairy, because Caitlin is most likely allergic to it.

Major sad face.

And just in time for the holidays! (Don’t worry, I still have lots of good treats planned for you, even if I can’t eat them all.)

I suddenly realize that I have not been as empathetic as I could have been toward friends and family who have dietary restrictions. Because even though I know a million ways to substitute and avoid dairy, it’s really sad to eat in a world where butter is off limits.

So here comes some thankfulness! I am thankful for all the wonderful people who have gone before me in feeling hungry and cranky after giving up something that they loved for the sake of their health or the health of a loved one. I am thankful for all the vegans in the world (seriously, thank you) for being delicious without dairy. I am thankful for all the friends who called me, texted me, and gave me hugs as I cried silly tears when I realized I couldn’t eat any of my favorite breakfast foods for the next several months. I am thankful for special friends who sent me recipe ideas after I whined about being hungry.

To round off this thankfulness, and in preparation for eating a *gulp* dairy-free Thanksgiving meal, I made some brussels sprouts. Because I just can’t get enough of brussels sprouts in the Fall.

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Cardamom-Scented Delicata Squash with Yogurt Sauce

Cardamom-Scented Delicata Squash

There is so much to be thankful for!

Day 7: Thankful for new friends and birthday parties. Thankful for family visiting from out of town, for cuddles with Caitlin and s’mores around the fire pit.

Day 8: Thankful that my brother is home from his adventures in Africa!

Day 9: Thankful for the cool weather of Fall and the opportunity to eat fresh food seasonally, a blessing I know not everyone has. Thankful for Fall squashes.

Like the lovely delicata!

This month for the Secret Recipe Club challenge, I had the pleasure to peruse Culinary Adventures with Camilla, written by the fearless leader of the group B exchange. Camilla cooks recipes from all over the world, which I love! But this month I really wanted to focus on Thanksgiving fare, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try delicata squash, which Camilla says she cooks almost weekly when it’s in season.

This recipe combines two of my favorite things: a hint of warm, spicy cardamom, and sweet, starchy Fall squash. The end result is simple and basic, a perfect complement to the rich and saucy dishes that will litter the Thanksgiving table.

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Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole

What is it about Thanksgiving that makes us gravitate toward casseroles and gratins? From the simple classics of green beans and candied yams, to some of my new favorites like kale gratin and scalloped potatoes, if it’s creamy and comes in a 9″x13″ baking dish, it’s sure to find a home on the Thanksgiving buffet.

People always ask me what I eat for Thanksgiving, since I don’t eat the turkey. But with a dish like this cheesy sweet potato and chard casserole on the table, how could anyone go hungry?

I hope it’s not too heretical to proclaim that this casserole would be my choice over candied yams any day! I have never been a fan of emphasizing the sweet character of sweet potatoes: it just seems like too much sweet in one place. I love hitting sweet potatoes with some savory and some spice, and this casserole, with the barely bitter greens and the mountain of Gruyère, does not disappoint!

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Butter-Glazed Carrots

Butter-Glazed Carrots

I am trying to grow in gratefulness in my life. My husband has pointed out that I spend a lot of time moping about things that went slightly wrong rather than taking joy in all the ways I am blessed.

So let’s rumble, November: 30 days of thankfulness.

Day 1: Thankful for sweet friends who share deeply from their hearts. Thankful for cool weather and autumn leaves.

Day 2: Thankful for the bright, contagious smiles of my children. Thankful for the way Jake fake giggles at Caitlin to try to make her laugh (it’s so weird but so sweet).

Also thankful for Jacques Pepin and his butter-glazed carrots. These carrots put all other carrots to shame. They are so good—I really can’t rave about them enough.

Don’t be fooled by the name “glazed carrots,” people, because these are not mushy or overwhelmingly sweet like so many carrots by that name. They have just the barest of buttery, gingery sauces, with a hint of fresh garlic and grassy parsley and a crisp but not crunchy bite. The word that comes to mind is luscious.

Bring these to Thanksgiving and they will definitely be a hit!

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