Veggie Lunch Bowl

When reading an article on Bon Appetit’s website about ways to have a better lunch at your desk, I was introduced to the idea of the “lunch bowl”.  They’re sort of like a salad, but not.  Whatever you want to call them, they’re very versatile and healthy.Veggie Lunch Bowl | A Nerd Cooks

This lunch was inspired by Feisty Veggies.  This isn’t really a recipe as much as it is a method, or an “eat whatever you want” sort of thing.  Mix things up according to your liking.  Here’s what I ate:

  • Baby spinach and baby kale
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Feta cheese
  • White rice/wild rice mixture
  • Hummus

You can arrange it in a pretty way, like in the picture, or just toss everything together.  This is officially my new favorite way to eat lunch at my desk.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Clams and White Wine Sauce

Clams were on sale at our grocery store this week, and I couldn’t resist.  This is an easy, delicious dinner that can be put on the table quickly.Spaghetti with Clams | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

  • 50 count littleneck clams, cleaned (see this post on The Kitchn)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 box thin spaghetti
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes, more if you want more heat
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese

Clean the clams and set aside.  If any are open, tap them gently on the counter top.  Any that do not close right away should be discarded.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

While the past is cooking, heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium.  Add the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the onions are softened, then add the red pepper flakes, cooking for about 30 more seconds.

Add the wine, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and clams.  Cover the skillet for 10 minutes, or until all of the clams have opened.  Discard any clams that do not open.

Toss the cooked pasta with the clams and sauce.  Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!  This serves 3-4 people.

White Bean Stew with Greens

I know what you’re all thinking.  This has to be some April Fool’s Day prank since I never post anymore, right?  Fortunately, it’s not.  I’m just a slacker.  This stew, however?  Delicious.  The recipe is adapted a little bit based on the ingredients I had on hand and my level of laziness the day I made it (i.e., I didn’t feel like going to the trouble of thawing bacon).
White Bean Stew with Greens | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from How Sweet It Is.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb uncooked white beans, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • lots of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 bunch baby spinach
  • 2 cups arugula, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • more shredded parmesan for topping

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the anchovies and red pepper flakes and sauté until the anchovies melt into the oil. Add in the onion, salt, pepper, and garlic and toss to coat. Cook until the onion begins to soften.

Add the soaked beans, water, stock, and cheese. Bring everything to a boil then reduce it to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are falling apart, most of the water is absorbed, and the stew is thick and creamy. I did this for about 1.5 hours, then took the lid off for the remaining time. Add more water or stock if it ever looks like things are drying out too much.

Use a potato masher and mash some of the beans to thicken the stew. If it seems too thick, you can some water or stock. Play around until you achieve the desired texture.  Stir in the kale, spinach and arugula. Cook over low heat, stirring until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Taste and season as desired, adding more salt and pepper if you’d like.

Top with lots of parmesan cheese and serve immediately with bread.  You won’t be sorry.

Guinness Brownies w/ Caramel Fudge Frosting

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  I’m not Irish, but I’m not letting that stop me from celebrating with some Guinness Brownies w/ Caramel Fudge Frosting.  Guinness Brownies w/ Caramel Fudge Frosting | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe for Guinness Brownies on The Chic Site.

You’ll need:

For the brownies - 

  • 5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup Guinness beer (or other stout)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the frosting - 

  • 8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a 9×13-inch pan by lining it with foil, using enough foil so that some drapes over the sides (you will use these as handles to life the brownies out of the pan).  Set the pan aside.

In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate chips together, stirring regularly.  Once everything is melted, take the bowl off of the heat.  Add the sugars and mix well.

Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well between eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, and salt together.  A little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, alternating with the Guinness.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the brownies.  Let the brownies cool a bit while you make the fudge frosting.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir to combine.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix.  Do not boil the mixture.  You only want to heat it up enough so that it will melt the white chocolate chips.

Add the white chocolate and a pinch of salt.  Remove the sauce pan from the heat and stir until they melt completely.  Pour the mixture over the brownies and spread into an even layer.

Let the fudge frosting set up at room temperature for at least an hour (ideally overnight). If you’d like, top the brownies with melted chocolate or chocolate chips.  Whenever it comes time to slice the brownies, it might be helpful to stick them in the fridge for a couple of hours so that they firm up before slicing.  Enjoy!

Joy’s Greek Pasta Salad

I know that people probably associated pasta salads with summer time – and summer time in Maryland it is not, especially since we just had another snow storm earlier this week.  But why limit pasta salads to the warmer months?

We enjoyed this alongside some salmon baked in foil.  Admittedly, I’ve also been snacking on this straight out of the bowl while standing at the kitchen counter.  No shame.

 Joy's Greek Pasta Salad | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe was adapted from Joy the Baker’s “It’s Not Summer Yet Greek Pasta Salad”.

You’ll need:

For the pasta salad - 

  • 16 oz. orzo pasta, cooked
  • 2 cups cucumber, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the dressing - 

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs minced shallot
  • 2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the salad.  Toss together to evenly distribute everything.

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients for the dressing together.  Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad and toss everything together again.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Rainbow Chicken Salad w/ Almond Honey Mustard Dressing

Apologies for the long absence.  I’m… in a funk.  Or something.  Anyway, I have a few draft posts queued up, so I should be at least a little bit better about posting semi-regularly (hopefully, hah).

I rarely get excited about salads, but this one is pretty delicious.  I actually look forward to eating it at lunch time.

Rainbow Chicken Salad w/ Almond Honey Mustard Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

 

This recipe was adapted slightly from Pinch of Yum.

You’ll need:

For the salad (makes 1 salad)-

  • 2 oz. cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used a rotisserie chicken, cut it all up and portioned it out for the week, getting about 4 salads-worth out of it)
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 1/4 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
  • lettuces/greens of your choice (I used a mix of baby spinach, baby arugula, and baby kales)

For the dressing (makes enough for 3-4ish salads)-

  • 3 tbs almond butter (peanut butter is delicious here too)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1 tbs stoneground mustard
  • 1/2 tbs honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 large garlic clove

In a large bowl, assemble the salad.  You can arrange the toppings by ingredient on top of the greens like I did, or just mix it all together from the start, since that’s how it’s probably going to end up anyway.  Set aside.

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing.  Puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Pour the dressing over the salad and serve.

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

Sean and I don’t really make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, but I used the holiday as an excuse to buy an expensive piece of salmon, and made this (and an awesome risotto, which can be found here) for dinner on Friday night.

The pictures don’t do it justice, but this was very tasty, and a pretty fool-proof method for cooking fish.

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles | A Nerd Cooks Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles | A Nerd Cooks

I saw this recipe in the January issue of Bon Appétit magazine.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 blood (or navel) orange, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 1 Meyer (or regular) lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper with seeds, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill, plus more for serving
  • 2 lb. skinless salmon fillet
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Toss the sliced fennel, orange, lemon, pepper, and dill sprigs in a shallow baking dish.  Season them with salt and pepper

Set salmon fillet on top of the fennel mixture and season with kosher salt.  Pour the oil over.

Roast salmon until it is just cooked through (30-40 minutes).