A tour of Normandy

My dad and a decided to rent a car last weekend and start driving Northwest. With a general idea of somehow getting to Mont Saint Michel by the end of the day, we took a very long and leisurely ride through the French countryside ending up at the coast around 4 o’clock.

MONT SAINT MIICHEL

Mont Saint Michel is really one of those places that you have to get to at least once in your lifetime. Even though it was pouring rain as we drove up, there is something so majestical about the way it rises up out of the ocean. A little town has been created on the mainland for tourists to stay that you pass through first and then you drive across a causeway that somehow manages to not get washed away by the tides. On the day we were there, the tides were not changing that much, but apparently that tides can change up to 50 feet. For the road up to the island still manages not to get washed away every time this happens is beyond me, but I guess they have they figured out. 

Since we arrived a little later than anticipated, we rushed up to the top of the island where the famous abbey is located to do a tour before it closed for the day. How something so large was built atop a little island like that is still beyond me. Apparently the draw up building something so high up was so that the monks could be as close to heaven as possible.  The history of the island is endless, having been built in the 6th century. You have the Norman Conquest, the 100 Years War, the Reaffirmation, the French Revolution and finally up to today when it has been turned in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At one point it was even used for a prison right after the Revolution. No getting of this island! With its rich history, the island has been a pilgrimage site for hundreds of years with most of the pilgrims today being tourists. 

During our stay at in the little town they’ve constructed next to the island, I think it was safe to say that my dad and I were the only non-Asians. I’m serious – there had to have been at least 20 tour bus loads of Japanese and Korean tourists. Luckily for us, it wasn’t quite peak tourist season so while there were certainly a lot of people, it was nothing compared to what I’ve heard it can be like in the summer when you have to wait for hours to even drive up to the island. The island lit up at night is almost just as beautiful as it is during the day. In the evening, my dad and I started to drive up to the island and all along the road were bright lights shining back at us. Apparently since it’s so dark, the hotels recommend that you wear reflective vests while walking so that the cars can see you. It was pretty hilarious seeing the whole cause way lit up by people walking in reflective vests.

While Mont Saint Michel has once again turned into a tourist hub for all those who come to France, it was still a fascinating and beautiful place to visit. It was unfortunate that it was raining we arrived, but luckily it cleared up by the evening and in the morning before we left, we got one most look at the island through the morning haze. I’m sure it has lost some of its allure and mystique from years past but it was still an amazing place to visit. 

NORMANDY BEACHES (Special guest blogging by my dad on this section!) 

The image of thousands of young men facing their ultimate sacrifice willingly as they waded onto the beaches of Normandy  is one of the standard icons of the last century, brought to life palpably in the excruciating first 40 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. These allied troops won the “good war”.  Breaking Hitler’s back on the Atlantic, they enabled our Communist allies to move in from the East, ending combat in the European theater (what sort of performance, one wonders) 10 months later. And yet, it cannot be that simple. Visiting Normandy forces one to grapple with hard questions. Is it possible to move beyond the myths of the event and consider the meaning of its success in hastening the liberation of Europe? Would it have been possible to invade sooner, as Stalin was begging? Was the resulting Cold War inevitable? Was it even necessary given the collapsing situation on the Eastern Front? Standing physically on the site of the battles cannot answer these questions, only bring them to mind. The museums and exhibits saturate the senses with images of the battles, the uniforms and weapons, the soldiers daily ephemera–comics and cigarettes, letters and photos, from both sides. Images of French life in the occupation, and the geography the allies confronted after pushing the Germans back from their original perches high above the waterfront. The beaches and surrounding cliffs are quiet today, and quite lovely. Omaha Beach is a tourist community in the summer for folks who keep beach houses there. And pieces of the invasion are continually being discovered, a barnacle encrusted helmet in the waters near the shore, guns and other military items in the surrounding landscape. 

William James, the great philosopher, wrote a short essay toward the end of his life entitled, The Moral Equivalent of War. In 1910, prior to the horrific carnage of the wars of the last century, James channeled a lifetime of research on human behavior into the question of what would it take to end combat. Knowing its devastating costs, why did men relentlessly heed the call to fight? Could there any activity that did not involve killing which could bring out the heroism that warfare elicits, James wondered. Is there any equivalent theater of self transcendence that can replace battle, that gruesome contest where the victor withstands deadly force and out kills and out injures the enemy?

Visiting the beaches at Normandy brought much of James’ writing to mind. Here we were, my daughter and I, standing in Omaha Beach and facing the bluff where the Nazis fired into the invading troops from on high. Tens of thousands of allied soldiers, teenagers many of them, walked off special landing vehicles into almost certain death, and then another ten thousand. Their commitment to each other which hastened their self sacrifice is nearly impossible to comprehend for those of us not familiar with combat. (Note: even though the carnage of the European invasion was enormous, BY AMERICAN STANDARDS, in the overall statistics of military and civilian deaths in Europe and Asia during the period, it was minimal, perhaps no more than 3,000.)

Visiting the cemetery at the end of the trip helped to still some of the questions. Walking through the manicured lawns where soldiers from many nations rest brought a useful closure to the day. 


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Off to Champagne Country!

How would you pronounce the word Reims? Like anyone else who reads Latin character, I would think it’s something along the lines of ReeMs, no? Well, little to my knowledge, but this town in Northeast France, at the heart of the champagne country, is actually pronounced more like Raynnce. Now how you get from M to N, is beyond me, but apparently that is the proper way to pronounce it, as I was told over and over again when we got there.

In addition to being the Champagne capital of the world, Reims is also home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen in Europe, and believe me, I have seen a lot. And perhaps the most intriguing fact I learned during my visit was that this was church that all the Kings of France were coroneted in. Must have had some good bubbly at those ceremonies 😉

Reims Cathedral:

The outside of the building is covered in hundred of statues of varying sizes, depicting different characters from biblical stories. The Rockfellers actually contributed to the restoration of the cathedral after parts of it were destroyed in World War I. The organ inside is a little small, but that is made up for in the beautiful stained glass throughout the building. There is the traditional stained glass that you see in almost any cathedral you walk by, but here in Reims, they have stained glass by the famed artist Marc Chagall. I was very surprised to learn that he would have created artwork for a cathedral, but apparently he made stained glass pieces for a handful of churches throughout Europe. They were absolutely stunning and added a jolt of excitement to the trip!

The Chagall windows: 

Our next stop of the day was the G.H. Martel Champagne cellar. I have never done a wine tour before, but I think all vacations should include them now. Who can say no to free wine tastings? After watching a brief video about how champagne is made – you need certain grapes, they are processed a certain way and only wine from this region of France can authentically be called champagne – we headed into the bowels of the grounds to see how champagne used to be made before technology took over.

Today, almost all champagne is made in machines but it was still pretty cool to see how it used to be made all by hand just 30 years ago. These cellars in Northeast France are known for being incredibly cold, which is why champagne can ferment so perfectly in them. It would have been awesome to see them hard at work in these caves still making the champagne today, but alas, most production has been moved out of town to bigger facilities where they can shoot off thousands of bottles at a time.

Different devices that were used for making champagne: 

I don’t recall all the details of how the champagne was made before it was mechanized but I do remember the guide saying that all the labels were individually painted and glued onto the bottles and that every bottle had to be rotated by hand over the course of a few months. Talk about some carpel-tunnel! Of course, after the tour was over, we got to try some champagne! My favorite by far was the rosé. You can certainly tell a difference in the bubbles and intensity of different grapes after trying three in a row. Most champagnes have different varieties of grapes in them to create the perfect taste. A vintage champagne is one that has grapes from only one harvest, which is incredibly rare. No wonder they’re so expensive!

Tasting time: After our tour was over, we had lunch and ventured around town some more. Reims is a fairly large city that has a bustling downtown and the crowds were out on mass on a Saturday afternoon. I sometimes feel that everything outside of Paris must be small town French country side, even though I know this is obviously not true having been to my fair share of French towns and cities now. In fact, the public transportation in a town the size of Reims basically puts all America to shame. They had so many buses and trams all with easily marked maps and directions that we had no problem hopping onto a bus without even having to ask for directions. Reims is absolutely worth a trip, especially on the TGV, which whips you up their in all of 45 minutes. I love the TGV! I wish all trains were that fast 🙂

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Two years ago I was in Panama drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. Last year I was in the Alps hanging out with this guy…

And this year I imagine I shall be celebrating somewhere out in France. Funny how this has turned into such an international holiday for me! Being over in Paris, I know a lot of my friends are planning on heading over to Dublin for the weekend. I cannot wait to hear the crazy stories that I’m sure will come out of those adventures!

With St. Patrick’s Day in the air, I figured a cookie with a beer reduction added to it seemed quite appropriate. These are some super delicious cookies – they have 3 types of chocolate in them! I might not be the most authoritative figure on beer tasting, but I couldn’t really taste the beer. It’s definitely in there though, so if you want to make something with alcohol in for this beer drinking holiday, I promise you, this has beer in it!!

I know some people don’t really like white chocolate, but it’s the perfect compliment to this chocolate cookie. The beer reduction certainly gives the cookies their deep brown color even if the taste doesn’t shine through. I’m really missing my mix master a lot these days, as I know these cookies would have been that much better if I could have whipped the butter just a little more than my poor arm, which was trying as hard as it could with a simple little whisk. Of course, these was almost a whole sheet pan of these that didn’t even make it to the cooling rack before they found their way into my mouth 🙂

ST. PATRICK’S DAY CHOCOLATE BEER COOKIES

(Adapted from The Galley Gourmet)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 (12-ounce) bottles of Guinness extra stout or draught
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 extra large egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1) In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce the Guinness and the brown sugar, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until thick and syrupy and measures 1/3 cup, about 30-45 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (OR WITH YOUR OWN ARM!), cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

4) With the mixer on low, gradually add the cooled beer syrup, mixing until combined.  Gradually add the dry mixture until no flour is visible.

5) Fold in both the white and milk chocolate chips.

6) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours, preferably overnight.

7) Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), scoop out portions of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet spaced 3 inches apart.

8) Bake the cookies until the edges are set, about 15-17 minutes.

9)  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

10) Enjoy!

The Palace of the Sun King

Living in Paris, I think it’s just an assumed part of life that you will at one point or another make your way to Versailles, especially when you have visitors in town. It’s like New Yorkers going to the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. You live in New York, so it seems instinctive that you would have been to these major landmarks, but don’t tell anyone – I’ve never been to the Empire State Building. I shall add it to my to-do list when I get back to New York in the fall.

I actually went to Versailles when I was in France in high school, but the day of our visit, the workers were on strike and we couldn’t even go inside. It happened to be a beautiful June summer day, so we couldn’t really complain that we had the afternoon to walk around the gardens, as the gardens garner a whole day visit themselves. The thing I probably remember the most about my trip in high school though was the amount of tour buses I saw. I genuinely don’t think I had ever seen so many buses all converged in one place in my life. That in itself was pretty awe-inducing. This past weekend during my visit, it was no where near as crowded and while we had to wait about 20 minutes in line to get in, I can only imagine the wait during peak tourist season in the summer!

So we all know the history of Versailles, right? You have Louis XIV (the Sun King), Marie Antoinette, The French Revolution, Napoleon, etc… It’s a place steeped full in not only French, but world history – the peace treaty ending World War I was signed in the famous hall of mirrors. Perhaps it’s the cynic inside me, or my general lack of interest during our tour, but I was struck with how fake everything seemed. Completely gilded in gold, gawked over by millions of tourists, was this really a place that the French nobility lived?

The famous hall of mirrors: 

I guess this gold and extravagance is an obvious sign that nobility did indeed live here and it’s no surprise why the French Revolution happened if this was how the rich were spending money. At the same time, it all seems so lavish that it’s hard to imagine this was an actual palace inhabited by real people. But then again, I guess that’s what the rich back in the 18th century did, right? Spend lots of money on gaudy and kitschy decorations. I had always heard the Versailles actually smelled awful, as there were no working toilets and people would empty their chamber pots right outside their windows. Not quite the idea of luxury and splendor. Even the door handles are covered in gold! 

I’ve been working on some essays for school and am very much in this mentality that Paris is so much of a spectacle, losing much of it’s original glory and splendor underneath all the gloss – Versailles being a perfect exampled as it is literally gilded over! I’ll try and get past all my cynicism for one moment and recognize that it is still a beautiful building. The hall of mirrors is something you have to see in your lifetime and reading about the excessive sleeping practices of the King was pretty funny. (Getting a chance to watch the King go to bed was a thought of as a great honor). There was some beautiful artwork not only framed and hung, but painted directly onto the walls and ceilings.

The Kings bed:
The top of the Queens bed: The Coronation of Napoleon: 

After we finished inside, which involved being hit in the back by more than a few backpacking toting Asian tourists, we took a tour around the gardens, but it’s still a little cold here in France, so most of the statues were covered and all the fountains were off. We did stop at Marie Antoinettes house, as she had her own housing unit on the other side of the compound, away from the main chateau. I guess her and Louis XVI really didn’t get along. Having already been to the gardens before, I wasn’t that disappointed that it was all green with no color, but I was reminded how nice it would be to just spend an afternoon sitting down by the canal in a few weeks when it starts to get sunny outside. I will definitely come back not for the palace, but to have a picnic in the park! 

Walking around with the ‘rents: 

One year ago today…

It’s been one year to the day since I heard some pesky nurses whispering about me as I sat in the waiting room at Dr. Krevitt’s office. One year since Charlotte assured me they were just whispering about my awesome vest. One year since I was seated in the doctors office to hear the fateful words – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I think I could tell you every single thing that happened to me on March 8th, 2011 except perhaps for the feeling I had the exact moment that the doctor told me my diagnosis.

After perhaps 30 seconds of what I guess was pure and complete shock, even having a moment of not knowing what Hodgkin’s was, I obviously burst into tears. My next thought was “Oh shit, I’m leaving the country on Thursday!” I think this might have actually been the first thing I said to Dr. Krevitt after I calmed down from my initial outburst of tears. He assured me not to worry and that I could probably still go as it didn’t seem I would have to start treatment right away. In retrospect, it was pretty pathetic that all I could think about in that moment was my ski trip to France and not the fact that I had just been diagnosed with cancer. But alas, clearly my mind works in strange ways.

By a stroke of luck, my Uncle Peter happened to be at a meeting in the neighborhood and was by my side in 20 minutes. Charlotte met me within the hour and by that evening, my dad had flown in from North Carolina to be with me. Another defining moment of that day – seeing perhaps one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life – The Adjustment Bureau. Even though I was clearly in a state of shock that day, I think I was lucid enough to recognize what an awful movie that was. Matt Damon, really? I thought you were better than that.

To say that it was a whirlwind week would be an understatement. Perhaps what I remember most about that week is that after being diagnosed on Tuesday afternoon, I had a surgical biopsy neck on Thursday morning and by Thursday evening I was on a plane to Geneva. I was so lucky to be able to go on my planned spring break, even though I was battling a stomach bug and the side-effects of the post-surgery drugs. Going to the Winter X Games in Europe for a few days erased any remnant of the fact that I was headed back to New York to start chemotherapy.

Chillin’ on the slopes: 

This is the most delicious steak that was never eaten because I was too nauseous: 

These past few days and weeks I have been thinking a lot about those initial weeks after my diagnosis. The scans, the doctors, the hospitals, the thought that I might have a ulceror or a hernia, the incessant questioning as to whether I was pregnant or not (no joke, I was tested more time than I can count!), the chopping off of 15 inches of hair, the surgical cleaning of our apartment to rid it all of germs, and most especially, the people who stood beside me the whole time. There are so many things that happened it’s hard to remember them all, but I do know that I couldn’t have done a single one of those things by myself.

My oncologist – Dr. Moskowitz: A wig party never seemed more appropriate: 

Throughout the past year, I had 12 rounds of chemo, 3 surgeries, 4 PET/CT scans, 80 thousand viles of blood drawn and throughout it all, I always had someone with me. My dad, Charlotte, my uncles, my goofy roommates, my brothers, my step-mom, my friends from near and far, my aunts and cousins, etc… I am so thankful to all the people I had in my life. They helped me through all my fears, all my worries, all my sleepless nights and all my chemo cravings. Most especially to my best friend Charlotte, who was at more chemo treatments, doctors visits, and scans than anyone else. The few times that I showed up to see Dr. Moskowitz without her, he would always inquire as to where she was. I think she heard me complain about my hot flashes and red pee more than most people would like to know. Yes, if you must know, after each chemo treatment, you pee red from the adryamicin in the cocktail of drugs. I myself was always giddy at the prospect of knowing I would pee red 😉

First chemo: Charlotte’s 20th birthday party, a mere 24 hours after my first chemo: The night that eating half a cow was the only right thing to do: 

So what’s changed since last year? Well, quite honestly, so much and not so much all at the same time. I still got to go to France, although a semester late. I couldn’t eat sushi for 6 months, but now I can eat it anytime I want. I got to see Daniel Radcliffe in the flesh, not once but TWICE! I had more than my fair share of chemo brain moments, not even remembering what I’d had for dinner the night before. I can really only laugh at people who complain about nausea now because they really have no idea what true nausea is really like. I was radioactive a few times – ya, no big deal – and somehow managed not to turn green. I still have scar on my chest from where my port was that I like to play off as a shark bite sometimes.

No more hair!! 

Yes, Dan Rad and I had a moment 🙂 Charlotte says I baked this pie. I don’t even remember how I made a lattice top: 

Watch out!!!! 
I still try to live my life like I would have 366 days ago, but I will always have had this experience in my life now. Would I have wished it to have never happened? Obviously. But now that is has, I can’t imagine life any other way. It’s kind of this love hate relationship. On the outside I absolutely hated being a cancer patient, but I learned to accept it and now realize it will always be part of me, even if not outwardly visible. Sure, pulling the cancer card every now and then was nice (I always got the front seat) and somehow people tend to give you nice things when you’re sick (iPad anyone?), but it’s pretty nice to remember that right now, I’m really no different than anyone else. Maybe a few less lymph nodes in my body and this awful baby hair that is to damn soft, but then again, can one really complain about having soft hair?

It’s just so easy…

PS – In case you were wondering, yes, everything from last year was blogged in great detail. Where you might ask? HERE! Check it out if you feel like it 🙂

Marché Bastille

I’ve been meaning to write about this market from the first day I moved into my apartment. The day I arrived in Paris, the realtor said I was so lucky to be living in this neighborhood as one of the best open air markets in all of Paris was held right around the corner from me. At first I was hesitant to believe this, and after the first few weeks of gloomy weather in Paris, the market didn’t seem all that great to me. Then, these past few weeks, as spring has started to come out from behind the clouds and I’ve visited more markets around the city, I’ve come to realize just how truly amazing my corner marché really is.

I think what really amazes me the most is how much produce you can get for so little money. I will walk away with bags of apples, pears, cucumbers, carrots, onions, some spices and perhaps a baguette having only spent 10 euro max! I like to walk over to the market with only a limited supply of change to see how far I can stretch it. I usually do an entire circle of the markets before deciding on my purchases so that I can see what looks best and get the better deal.

The best part about walking through the markets, besides the obvious visual pleasing foods, is the sounds and smells. On one side of the market towards, towards the Bastille roundabout, there are many Middle Eastern vendors, hawking their wears at dirt cheap prices. The sounds of “UN EURO UN EURO POUR UN KILO” is heard often and they are always offering my slices of clementines. Seriously, I’m only ever offered clementines – what about an apple slice?

As you walk further north, you see the more mom and pop type stands that clearly have their regular customers. Lines at these places can often be quite long as each customer is given as much time as they need to pick out their foods. I don’t often buy so much from these vendors as they tend to be a lot more expensive. 

In regards to smell, huge chicken roasters are found on every aisle and as the weather gets warmer, the flowers are becoming more and more beautiful every week. While the market happens twice a week, once on Sundays and once on Thursdays, Sunday is definitely the better day to go. There are more vendors our in general on Sundays and there is just a bit more of a livelier atmosphere as more people have time to shop on the weekends. 

I love walking past the fish stands. Huge trays of ice sit out holding countless types of fish and sea creatures. Oysters and mussels are quite popular and many merchants just have huge baskets of them sitting right on their tables, all that much easier for picking through. I don’t eat oysters or mussels myself, but they’re quite interesting to look at.

I always try to grab a box of eggs as half a dozen organic eggs is half the price as at the supermarket. I’ve yet to get any cheese as I’m always intimidated to order as I never quite know what I want and I don’t know how much one orders.

 I do hoard nuts and dried fruits from the spice vendor. One of the guys there knows me now and always makes fun of me for taking so long as I never know what I want at first. I bought a few spices last week and forgot to label them right away, so I’m sitting with either curry or turmeric in my cabinet, can’t remember which.

La Marché Bastille takes place every Sunday and Thursday. This is the most amazing place to go and do some excellent people watching. All sorts of fascinating characters come out to the markets. You can buy just about anything you would ever need – fruit, veggies, meats, fish, bread, cheese, and of course…some socks!

Creamy Spinach & Tomato Pasta

Back in the States, I was very much an eat dinner around 7ish type of person. In high school I ate dinner with my family just about every night around the table (or counter I should really say) and in New York, I would either make a meal for myself or to share with my roommates. In Paris, I’ve found that eating anytime before 8 seems to be quite taboo. I walked into a pizza place on one of my first days in Paris around 7:15 and they said it was too early to order. How crazy is that? I guess eating later goes in line with the whole mentality of taking a much longer and enjoyable lunch here, so you’re satiated until an 8 o’clock dinner.

Trying to be the best Parisian I can while I’m here, I find that I’m falling into this pattern of eating later myself. Last night, after having a lunch around 1:00, I looked at my clock and saw that it was already 8:15 and I had yet to start making anything to eat. I had bought these tomatoes earlier in the week and didn’t want them to go bad, so even though it was late, I was still hungry and this was an easy, yet very delicious recipe to whip up in about 20 minutes. By 8:45 I was back at my computer watching some Breaking Bad. (Side note – everyone needs to watch this show. It’s so good!)

Cooking for myself if often challenging, which is why I love to bake, as baked goods are easy to transport the following day to give as gifts. Last year I at least had the option of giving my leftovers to my roommates. Now that I’m all by myself, I try to remember that whatever I’m going to make I’m probably going to have to eat for 3 or 4 days depending on how big the servings are. I guess in theory the answer to all this would be to make food in smaller quantities, but sometimes it’s easier to just use a whole onion or a whole pack of spinach instead of having small amounts of these ingredients left over, which I often find go bad before I get the chance to use again.
This is really simple pasta dish that I will not mind having in my fridge for a few days. I’ve been on a soy kick lately, as I was trying to limit my dairy intake a few weeks ago when I was feeling sick, so instead of half & half, I used soy and some ermante cheese I had in my fridge. I did notice that my cheese tended to clump up a bit, so using parmesan cheese (and possibly cows milk) the cheese mixture might combine with the pasta a little better. Cooked spinach is so delicious, especially when you add cheese. I still have some leftover, but it’s mostly pasta now, as I ate most of the spinach last night 😉 In the end, the leftovers somehow always manage to get eaten, but I can’t wait to have roommates again next year to eat it fresh!
Creamy Spinach & Tomato Pasta 

(Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 (5 oz) package baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth broth
  • 1/4 cup milk, half & half or soy milk
  • 1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) container grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:

1) Cook pasta according to package directions.

2) While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add your sliced shallot; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until translucent.

3) Add spinach and broth; cover and cook for 1 minute.

4) Add milk, 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese and the black pepper.  Stir to combine; cook for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
 
5) Combine spinach mixture, pasta and tomatoes in large bowl.  Garnish with parsley and remaining cheese.

6) Enjoy 🙂