Mango Coconut Oatmeal

IMG_6357 (1)I had planned on preparing this post on Sunday evening to go live on Monday morning. However, life had different plans and I’m just now feeling like I can, or at least should, get around to doing it. If you know me personally, you know that while I don’t have kids, I have cats and I that love them as my family. Our Tres was diagnosed with a terminal illness this past March and passed away peacefully yesterday while I held him on my lap. It became clear this weekend that his health was failing and I couldn’t bear to write something false and peppy. I truthfully couldn’t bear to do anything at all. Instead I focused on what was important.We just spent long hours together with Tres and PB, relishing each others’ company. I would’t change anything, aside from asking for more time.

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My Tres♥

We cook for our families because we love them. We want to nourish them, give them enjoyment and show them that we care. On special occasions that may mean an impressive layered cake or a roast turkey with all the fixings. But on a daily basis, it’s the heart we draw in peanut butter on a PB&J sandwich. It’s the cup of coffee we set next to our spouse’s keys before they head out the door. It’s even the chicken nuggets at the drive-thru that, while maybe not ideal, are always well received. This oatmeal is an every day recipe with a special touch. Old fashioned rolled oats are cooked in spiced, sweetened coconut milk and mixed with juicy mango and nutty coconut. It comes together in 10 minutes, which means that it’s a do-able weekday breakfast as school resumes and mornings become more hectic. So you can focus on the things that really matter, like a little more time with your family, whether they stand on four legs or two.

 

 

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Mango Coconut Oatmeal 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups coconut milk beverage (I used unsweetened SO Delicious Coconut Milk)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup mango
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp honey, plus more to serve
  • 1/3 cup coconut shreds (I used unsweetened, but you can also use sweetened coconut)

Instructions: 

In medium saucepan, add oats, coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Bring ingredients to a boil. Once boiling, add about ¾ of the mango and coconut. Reduce heat to a simmer and add egg white, vanilla, salt and honey. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and divide into bowls. Top each serving with remaining coconut and mango. Add additional honey to each serving if desired.

Serves 2 generously or 3-4 smaller appetites.

 

If anyone is ever in the same situation with a pet, I highly recommend Lap of Love. A veterinarian came to our house and allowed Tres to pass in the peace and comfort in his own home as I held him. While I’d rather not need their services at all, I’m grateful that they helped our family handle this time with grace and dignity. 

Veggie Breakfast Hash

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Confession time. For all the fancy recipes I like to make and heavy-duty cooking I like to do, breakfast-for-dinner is my favorite dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Basically I could eat all breakfast all the time. What’s not to love? The staples are delicious and uncomplicated. Cleanup is usually pretty easy. And eggs are so yummy and versatile. On a busy weeknight, I’m perfectly happy to have an avocado toast with egg and call it a night. The only problem with breakfast food for dinner is the lack of vegetables. The usual suspects are all pretty light on the veg, unless you count potatoes. I like for my dinner to have something green. This veggie breakfast hash is a perfect solution. On the table within 20 minutes, veggies a-plenty and only 1 pan to clean. Oh, and it’s really, really good, too.

There are a couple of easy techniques that help ensure this hash is brown and crispy, like a traditional potato based hash, instead of a soggy mess. First, zucchini is tossed with salt and allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes. This enables the salt to draw moisture from the zucchini, which in turn helps the zucchini  brown and stay intact. Second, the veggies are cooked on high heat, which sears the edges and encourages browning. The mushrooms, especially, get brown, meaty and slightly crisp, which means you really don’t miss the potatoes. Red bell pepper adds a mellow sweetness and beautiful color, and diced shallot adds a slight oniony bite. I like to serve this with sunny side up eggs and hearty whole grain toast. If you’re trying to cut back on carbs, leave out the toast. If you’re feeling indulgent, add a side of bacon. Whatever you decide, and whenever you decide to serve this, you’ll walk away feeling healthy and satisfied. And you’ll have plenty of time to move on with the rest of your day.

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Veggie Breakfast Hash 

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 7 large mushrooms (baby bellas or white button), cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 eggs, cooked as desired
  • 2 slices hearty whole grain bread, toasted

Instructions: 

Start by drawing moisture from zucchini. Toss zucchini with some salt (about ¼ to ½ tsp). Allow zucchini to sit for 5-10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

In large, heavy bottomed skillet, such as cast iron, heat butter and olive oil over high heat. Add vegetables and cook about 2 minutes undisturbed to allow browning. Toss vegetables and continue to cook, stirring periodically, until browned- about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle basil over vegetables. Serve with eggs and toast.

Serves 2

Olive Bar Pasta Salad

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My grandpa was a quiet man of simple tastes with a heart of gold. He was content to let my grandma, our family’s social butterfly and current queen bee at her assisted living home, do all the talking. During family gatherings, he would sit in the midst of the chaos created by his large family and calmly observe, the eye at the center of the Pisani storm. He noticed things about us that we didn’t realize. We would later hear from my grandma what he thought of a new haircut or boyfriend. He loved to be the center of attention, though he would never seek the spotlight. When he turned 90, all five of his sons gathered from across the country to celebrate. I remember as we sat at his 90th birthday dinner, how the happiness and pride he felt at being celebrated by his family shone through his smile. As was his way, he didn’t need to put it into words.

When it came to food and drink, Grandpa knew what he liked. Peanut brittle, red meat and his daily chili dog and beer from his club. The free lollipops from the bank that I’m pretty sure were meant for little kids. Like any true Italian, he loved his wine. At family dinners, a wine bottle somehow always came to rest near his spot. If my grandma caught him lifting the bottle to go in for a refill, he would defend himself by saying “I’m just reading the label!” Sure…me too, Grandpa, me too. He also loved olives from the olive bar at the grocery store. Any time we went to visit, my dad would bring a container of olives for Grandpa to enjoy. I’m pretty sure this Olive Bar Pasta Salad recipe would be a hit with him.

This pasta salad is a perfect summer potluck dish. You can pick up everything you need from the olive bar at the grocery store, meaning it comes together in a flash. Briny olives, creamy mozzarella and whatever other goodies you choose. I added artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and roasted red peppers. I also added in a diced cucumber for its’ crisp texture and freshness.The dressing is an update on the typical mayo-heavy pasta salad dressing, brightened up with white balsamic vinegar. And the end result? Divine. I’ve been sneaking bites of it every time I go into the fridge.

I’ll enjoy my next helping with a glass of wine to toast my grandpa.Then I’ll “read the label” and go back for more.IMG_6124 (1)

Olive Bar Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used Girelle– Farfalle, Orchiette or Rotini would also work well)
  • 3.5-4 cups assorted olives, tomatoes, artichokes, peppers, etc. from grocery store olive bar
  • 8 oz. mini fresh mozzarella balls (you can also use the mozzarella in the olive bar)
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil leaves
  • White Balsamic Pasta Salad Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp mayonaise (I used light)
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 4 roasted garlic cloves- from olive bar
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp oregano
    • 2 tsp honey
    • black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Cook pasta in boiling water, 1-2 minutes longer than package directions. Pasta should not be al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold running water until cool.

While pasta is cooking, chop olive bar ingredients. If mozzarella balls are on the large side, cut them in half. Place olive bar ingredients, cheese and chopped cucumber in large bowl.

In small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth.

When pasta is cool, add to large bowl with olive bar ingredients, cheese and cucumber. Toss with dressing until well incorporated. Add chopped basil. Chill at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Serves 8-10 as a side.

To serve as a main course, you could add chickpeas, grilled chicken or grilled shrimp.

Diane and Grandpa

Love you, Grandpa.

Simple Grilled Chicken with Pistachio Pesto

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Oh, Monday. Back to work, back to reality, back to making smart food choices to atone for weekend indulgences. Drinks and dessert are weekend fare. Mondays call for lean protein and healthy greens. But healthy doesn’t mean boring. Case in point: this chicken, made crave worthy by a bright and fresh pistachio pesto. This is a great recipe to have on hand as summer winds down (sad face) and crazy busy weeknights are once again on the horizon. I slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise to create quick cooking chicken cutlets. While the grill is heating, throw pistachios, parsley, parmesan cheese, lemon and olive oil in the food processor. The chicken cooks super fast on the grill. Let it rest, top with pesto and your main dish is done.

I served the chicken on top of baby arugula lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and garnished with some extra pistachios and shreds of parmesan. You could serve alongside grilled vegetables and rice. Or toss the pesto with some pasta and top with chicken. Or turn the chicken and pesto into a killer panini with some provolone and grilled veggies. The world is your oyster! Hopefully some actual oysters will also be your oyster, alongside a glass of rosè, sometime in the near future… There’s always next weekend!

PS- good news, the blog’s new address is http://www.wineandawoodenspoon.com now- much easier to remember. Thank you for your support and please stop by again soon!

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Simple Grilled Chicken with Pistachio Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into chicken cutlets
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 large bunch parsley, about 1 cup
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon

Instructions:

Preheat grill on high. Season chicken breast cutlets with salt and pepper. Once grill is hot, place chicken on grill and cook until done, about 2-3 minutes per side.

In food processor, combine parsley, parmesan cheese, pistachios, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse about 10 times, then run processor until mixture is somewhat smooth, but still has texture from the pistachios.

Spoon pesto over chicken breasts. Serve immediately.

To serve as pictured, lightly dress baby arugula with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with pistachios and shreds of parmesan cheese. Top with chicken and pesto.

Serves 4.