Monday, January 31, 2011

Broccoli Besto ~ A Twist on Pesto

I can still remember it so vividly - one day my 18 month old daughter was eating everything from black beans and rice to peas and spinach and then, seemingly overnight, some magical I-don't-eat-vegetables-breadcrusts-or-anything-resembling-a-vegetable switch was flipped. That precious girl is now 7 and things are starting to turn back around, but I am continually dreaming up new ways to make green things look good and taste even better.

I will admit to you that dinner, the once favorite, most anticipated and well thought out meal of the day, is frequently the bane of my existance-- except on days when I get an idea like this one!

We love pesto around here - it is one of the green things that my kids love with pasta. Because of this, I thought hey - why couldn't I substitute broccoli for basil and see what happens?! I gave it a whirl and happy to report it was a hit! I can assure you the whole family will love this!

NOTE: You can toss this with your favorite pasta or enjoy on it's own (kind of like you would creamed spinach). I used it as a side dish with grilled chicken breasts and mixed it with Dittalini pasta to make it more appealing to the kids.


1-2 small heads broccoli
1/2 1lb. box Dittalini or other small pasta
2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. butter (Yes people, BUTTER! Live it up and get yourself some Plugra!)
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesean Cheese
Kosher/Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

OPTIONAL ADD INS: Red Pepper flakes, Toasted Pine Nuts


Food processor or blender
Bowl of ice water


Put medium pot of salted water on to boil while you rinse and chop broccoli.
Once water is boiling, add broccoli and let cook for 5-6 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to bowl of ice water to stop cooking and retain color. Save boiling water and add pasta! Add broccoli to food processor and pulse/grind until finely chopped. Set aside.

In deep saucepan over medium heat saute olive oil, butter and garlic - careful the oil is not too hot or the garlic will burn and be bitter. Stir in broccoli and saute for 1-2minutes before adding half and half, parmesean, salt and pepper. When pasta is done, drain and fold in with broccoli.

This goes really well with grilled chicken and my whole family gave it two thumbs up. You could also make this with linguine and add in shredded roasted chicken for an almost one-pot meal.

Took a pic of the kid plate as I didn't have time to plate a pretty grown-up one. Added unsweetened applesauce to the little heart for a very well balanced meal!

Ready, set, enjoy!

Hope you'll try this recipe and let me know what you think!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Love is... Cheese Beoreg!

I am a very proud one-quarter Armenian. My grandfather on my mother's side is 100% and his sister, my great Auntie Ruth has told me some incredible stories over the years. Her husband, my great Uncle Vee, was loved by all -- the sweetest kindest soul. I have so many fond memories of him from when I was a little girl playing with my cousins at their house for Christmas. I learned from my Auntie, who is now ninety "something" and making it look like the new seventy, that Uncle Vee's mother was pregnant with him when she and her family were sent on a death march during the First Genocide of the 20th Century. It is nothing short of miraculous they survived, but that is another story...

Some of the best memories of growing up with my grandmother and getting to spend a lot of time with my cousins, aunts and uncles were the holidays. Thanksgiving or Christmas at Auntie Ruth's meant overflowing platters of hand rolled Sarma (beautiful grape leaves stuffed with rice and raisins with lots of lemon squeezed over the top), fancy Rice Pilaf with date and nut topping... and Cheese Beoreg!

These heavenly cheese filled rectangles were so popular that when my cousin Deneen was an adult, there suddenly appeared a custom painted platter for the Beoregs that had been sectioned off with her section being giant and "everyone elses" being the tiny little corner. I wish I had a picture of that platter to share here! Anyway - you get the idea.

The great thing about this is that you can make as many as you want ahead of time and freeze them. The following recipe makes 36 Beoregs.


2 boxes Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
1 lb. Jack Cheese, shredded
8 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 egg
Few rounds of fresh ground Black Pepper
*2 tbs. Fresh Parsley, finely chopped (optional)*


Note for assembly: You will need cutting board, flour, knife, fork, spoon and little dish of water. Also, freezer bags if you plan on making ahead.

Thaw puff pastry sheets at room temp.
In mixing bowl combine cheeses, egg, pepper and parsley*
Sprinkle cutting board with a bit of flour and give just a couple of rolls each way to the pastry sheet (don't stretch too much).
I place the pastry sheet so that the lines from folds are horizontal and I can cut nice squares. Like this:

Each sheet of pastry will yeild 9 beoregs.
Using a tablespoon, place a small amount on pastry (as shown), then use a knife to cut down and across twice to separate. Dipping your finger in the water, dampen the outer edge of the pastry, then fold over and seal around the three edges with fork.

I have always prepared mine ahead so these baking instructions are for frozen Beoregs.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place Beoregs on baking sheet (non-stick or sprayed with PAM), brush with egg wash and bake on middle rack for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Keep an eye on them!

Hope you'll try them and let me know what you think!

Love and Big Bachik (kiss!)