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Creamy spinach pasta

avocado pasta

This creamy, flavorful pasta sauce is actually healthy. And I don’t mean “not quite as terrible for you as cheesy alfredo drenched in butter so we can call it healthy.” I mean it is actually healthy. And the creaminess comes from…

wait for it…

Avocado.

Avocado may not sound like it belongs in your pasta, and I was just as skeptical as you probably are right now. Well, maybe a little less skeptical. I’ve been known to enjoy some pretty random cuisine. But it really doesn’t taste like avocado.

I adapted the recipe from the Pink Parsley blog, who adapted it from the Perry’s Plate blog. I like to add a little extra zip of flavor.

Ingredients

Notice how healthy this ingredient list is! It’s the perfect excuse to load up on carb-heavy pasta.

  • 12 oz. pasta (I prefer whole wheat thin spaghetti)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2-3 Tbs white wine (I use a $3 chardonnay from Walmart because I’m so cultured.)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (I cannot live without my garlic press.)
  • 12 oz. fresh spinach (I’ve used thawed frozen spinach in a pinch. I’ve also used half spinach and half zucchini with great results.)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp dried basil (The original recipe calls for fresh basil, and I LOVE fresh basil, so I’m sure that tastes amazing. I, however, did not grow basil this year, so I am stuck with dried basil.)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

The cayenne pepper doesn’t make it spicy. It just adds flavor. Don’t skip it!

Directions

It’s actually pretty quick. And I don’t mean, “if you spent three hours chopping all your vegetables beforehand”-quick.

  1. Cook the pasta. You can make the sauce while it is boiling. Whenever the pasta is done, save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce, and drain the rest.
  2. Sauté the onion with the butter and white wine over medium heat in a large skillet until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic starts smelling really delicious. Do not wait until the garlic starts turning brown. (Though if you do, it will still taste great. It’s just not ideal.)
  3. Add the fresh spinach to the pan and cover the lid for a minute or two. Then stir the spinach around to coat it in all the lovely juices and replace the lid for a few more minutes until the spinach has wilted.
  4. Transfer the spinach onion mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt, avocado, basil, cayenne and a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Purée the mixture until smooth. Add the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times until blended.
  5. Toss the sauce with the drained pasta. It seems like a lot, but I use all the sauce at once. It is so flavorful and wonderful, and it’s not runny like regular pasta sauce.

When I make this pasta, I don’t bother making a vegetable dish on the side. I feel like I’m being OH, SO BAD, but with all the spinach, onion, garlic and avocado involved, you don’t even need it.

spinach avocado pesto

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Hello…?

…Anybody home? *cricket*

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. I miss sharing recipes with my faithful followers (Hi, Mom). If you’ll notice, my last post was in December. Coincidentally, that’s around the same time that this guy started crawling. Things got a little busier around here once he was mobile, especially since he started crawling, pulling up and “cruising” all on the same day. Here is a picture from December:

baby standing

And now he is a 14-month-old extrovert who will eat anything (and a lot of it) and loves being in a crowd and interacting with everyone (I wonder where he got that…).

baby outdoors

(The above picture was taken at my parents’ house, where he gets to borrow Papa’s hat, play with the “puh PEE!” and carry around all manner of rocks and branches.)

Anyway, all that to say… I have a recipe all typed up and ready to publish tomorrow. And hopefully many more after that. Is there anything you would like to see on the blog?

Basic cheese sauce

Velvety cheese sauce - bonjourHan

This velvety cheese sauce tastes so good, and it’s really quick to whip up. It can take a vegetable dish from boring to amazing in just a few minutes. And if you’re a good cheese-drizzler, your previously boring vegetables can even look elegant. When I went off to college, my mom made sure this essential sauce recipe went with me.

If you tell me my cheese sauce looks like “Easy Cheese,” you will suffer the wrath of a thousand scornful looks. I do not allow fake cheese into my house. I’ve made one recipe ever that called for Cheez Whiz, and I seriously could not buy the stuff. I made Cheez Whiz from scratch, y’all. “Processed cheese food” makes me cringe. (Seriously – go look at the Wikipedia page. It’s like reading about a frightening science experiment gone wrong.)

On that appetizing note, let’s move on to this yummy, real cheese sauce that actually is not remotely similar to processed cheese food! This versatile sauce recipe can also be transformed into a basic white sauce or even broccoli cheese soup.

Ingredients

It really could not be simpler. Unless you actually entertained the thought of comparing it with Cheez Whiz, in which case you would just open a jar. And be sorely disappointed.

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I love extra-sharp cheddar)
  • Optional: A sprinkle of nutmeg or cayenne

You can use whatever cheese you want, and you can grate it yourself or buy it pre-shredded. It’s very versatile! This recipe is like a blank slate for whatever kind of cheese you want to use.

Directions

Watch it carefully, because milk can go from nothing to BOILINGOVERBIGMESS in 0.3 seconds.

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir the flour quickly into the melted butter. It helps to use a whisk or fork.
  3. Add the milk all at once and stir until thickened.
  4. Add the cheese and stir until melted.

It’s best when served immediately, though it does keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

VARIATIONS

White sauce: This sauce is elegant and tasty over anything from vegetables to eggs and toast. It’s the same recipe, simply leave out the shredded cheese.

Broccoli cheese soup: Add more milk and some chopped broccoli. Maybe toss in some black pepper and some parsley just for kicks. Done!

Basic Cheese Sauce - bonjourHan

Asian slaw

Asian Slaw Recipe - bonjourHan

This stuff is so good. I couldn’t get enough of it and kept eating it for the next 2 or 3 days until it was gone. It’s healthy, beautiful and delicious. And did I mention that I don’t think I left any leftovers for Stephen to eat?

Ingredients

Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients! It’s really not that much, and the hardest part is just chopping the vegetables. Most of the ingredients are for the dressing, which you just stir together.

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (you can leave this out if you don’t want the extra bite of flavor)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced (I used my garlic press)
  • 1 bag prepared shredded coleslaw
  • 2-3 cups shredded carrots (you can buy them pre-shredded in the refrigerated lettuce section of the grocery store, or you can shred them yourself with a cheese grater like I did)
  • 1 red bell pepper, slice thinly and cut into bite-sized pieces (but seriously… it doesn’t have to be red. Other bell pepper colors are invited to this party too.)
  • 1 cup cooked, shelled edamame (I got mine from the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store.)
  • 2-3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

It makes quite a bit, so if you don’t think you’ll be serving several people or addicted to eating it multiple times a day, you could half the recipe.

Directions

Chopping is really the only thing that might take some time.

  1. Combine the honey, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, salt, Sriracha, ginger and garlic, stirring until the peanut butter dissolves. This is the dressing. Set it aside for now.
  2. Toss the coleslaw, carrots, bell pepper, edamame, green onions, peanuts and cilantro in a large bowl.
  3. Add the dressing and mix well.
  4. Resist the urge to eat it for 10-15 minutes so the flavors can blend. Serve cold.

We ate it with the teriyaki tilapia. The bright colors and flavor went well with the mild fish.

(You can find the original recipe here.)

Teriyaki tilapia

Teriyaki Tilapia Recipe - bonjourHan

Today, because it’s the Christmas season, and because festive holiday food is showing up everywhere, and because I’ve been cooking an embarrassing amount of peppermint/gingerbread/pumpkin-themed desserts……

I’m going to give you a recipe for Asian fish.

Not everything in this life has to make sense. You didn’t think you were going to learn major life lessons on my blog today. You’re welcome.

This teriyaki tilapia fish had a very mild flavor, which went splendidly with the flavorful Asian slaw. The recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

Ingredients

The toasted sesame seeds were a big part of the flavor. You can buy a huge bag of toasted sesame seeds for cheap at an Asian market and just keep it in your freezer, but I think they sell smaller containers at your average grocery store for a much higher price per ounce.

  • 4 mild fish fillets
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey (I used my favorite local honey from Desert Creek Honey)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil (or any other cooking oil)
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

I used frozen tilapia fillets from Walmart and thawed them before cooking. I’m sure it tastes even better with nicer fish, but it still tasted good for us cheapos, too.

Directions

It’s really quick to throw together.

  1. Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the fish with pepper and set aside.
  2. Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey in a small saucepan for the glaze. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet and cook the fish while the glaze is simmering. It should take just a few minutes on each side until golden. It will flake apart with a fork when it’s done.
  4. Transfer fish to a plate or serving platter, drizzle with the glaze and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Tilapia Fish Teriyaki - bonjourHan.com

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