Portuguese caldo verde with cauliflower & kale

Today will be the 4th time I’ve made this soup since Fall arrived. Can’t get enough of it!! It’s incredibly flavorful and guilt free at 380 calories per serving.

Sometimes I puree it completely and sometimes I leave some cauliflower bits in the soup. It’s perfect either way. The vinegar on top should not be skipped :).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds cauliflower (from 1 medium head)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for roasting)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/2 is nice & spicy)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound smoked turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1/2 bag Tuscan Kale, shredded (I like more so I use 3/4 of the bag)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Sherry Vinegar, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 F. Slice the cauliflower into large slices and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season cauliflower with cumin, smoked paprika, and liberal amounts of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Set aside once cooked.

Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-medium high heat until tender and translucent and beginning to brown. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Remove from heat and purée.

In a skillet, brown sliced kielbasa and set aside.

Return the puréed soup to low heat. Add the kale and sausage and simmer another 10 – 15 minutes until the greens soften a bit. Remove from a drizzle of olive oil & sherry vinegar.

Shrimp pad thai

I can’t seem to satisfy my cravings for Asian food!! One of my favorites is Pad Thai with just about anything in it and on the spicy side. This recipe is fabulous and not nearly as oily as most restaurant versions.

Preparing this dish moves pretty quickly. Get everything prepped while your noodles are soaking.

A few tips on ingredients:

  • If you don’t have Thai chilies – use a jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Use good fish sauce – it makes a big difference. My favorite brands are Tiparos (Kroger, $2) & Red Boat 40°N (Asian store, $5)
  • Palm sugar can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Light brown sugar is a great substitute.
  • Try chicken or tofu if you don’t have shrimp!
  • Don’t oversoak the noodles – you want them to have bite so they can absorb the sauce when cooked.

Recipe adapted from Food52.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 8 ounces dried wide rice noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 thai chilies whole
  • 6 green onions, sliced 1 inch long
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • small handful peanuts, chopped
  • small handful cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and tamarind concentrate. Stir until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  2. Soak the rice noodles in hot tap water for about 20 minutes, or until they start to soften but not fully tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil under high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp start to turn pink with browned edges. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet. Add garlic, shallot and thai chilies. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute. Add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled, about 30 seconds. Add the rice noodles and green onions and toss with tongs to combine. Pour the tamarind/fish sauce mixture over the noodles and increase the heat to high, continuing to toss the ingredients with the sauce.
  6. Add 1/2 of the chopped peanuts and cooked shrimp. Toss noodles for about 2 more minutes. Add bean sprouts and cook for 30 seconds. Dish out onto hot plates and top with remaining peanuts and garnish with cilantro.

Key lime cheesecake pie

Two of my favorites rolled into one. You can’t go wrong with this one!

 INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake layer

  • 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Key Lime layer

  • 1 – 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 oz key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joe’s)
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature

DIRECTIONS

For the crust, mix ingredients and press into 9 inch pie plate (spray with a little non-stick spray).

Mix cream cheese, sugar, 1 egg and vanilla well. Pour into uncooked pie crust. Put in refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Beat 4 egg yolks and condensed milk. Slowly add key lime juice. Pour on top of cheesecake layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Top with whipped cream.

Red quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato & arugula

I haven’t exactly been “burger free” since my last post… but this salad is satisfying, packed with nutrition & proves healthy food can taste almost better than a burger. It’s also gluten free & vegetarian.

I’ve never made a quinoa salad but I’ve tasted plenty. The good ones seem to have very flavorful dressings, texture and the right balance of savory and sweet. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair and minus the olives is very similar to a greek salad. I threw in some dried sour cherries but feel free to use any dried cherry, cranberry or craisin.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (or any citrus fruit you have)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (or cranberries, craisins, etc)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup pistachios

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with lime juice, vinegar & agave nectar. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients, except for the feta & pistachio. Add cooled quinoa. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Top with crumbled feta & pistachios before serving.

Sesame chicken & kale salad

I should start labeling recipes as “Trader Joe’s Recipe”. Since they’ve opened a store near me I’m there every Sunday & I can’t get enough of their produce (and their prices).

Kale is a weird green. I put it in green smoothies and cover it up with lots of fruit. Outside of smoothies & soups, I think it’s pretty awful. Until now! I had this salad at a local Dallas eatery & paid 12.99/lb. It’s so simple… no need to pay more than I’d pay for a steak!

Use whatever vinegar you like (rice wine would be great) as it really breaks the kale down. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange & muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the salad

  • 1/2 bag tuscan kale, cut, washed & tough stems removed
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut in half & sliced into half moons (or 1 english cucumber)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed

DIRECTIONS

Mix the vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl. Add all of the other ingredients – toss, cover & let sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. It’s best the next day, but stays great for several days.

Butternut squash, short ribs & black bean chili

This experiment turned out WAY better than I thought it would. The complex flavors from the cocoa powder and ancho chili powder are a perfect balance with the rich short ribs. The nutty butternut squash is a winner to balance the heat.It makes a ton so call some friends!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 pounds short ribs, bone in
  • 1 leek, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T ancho chili powder
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ T cumin
  • 1 can Rotel (I used hot with habanero)
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (pulverized with your fingers)
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 14 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt & pepper and add to pan. Cook about 8-10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and leeks and cook another 8-10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder, cocoa, and cumin and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the rotel, tomatoes, beef broth & water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add butternut squash and simmer for another hour, until beef and squash are tender. Remove the ribs from the pot & shred the meat. Discard the bones. Add the shredded meat back to the pot with the black beans and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serve with cornbread & garnish with cilantro!

Tuscan Bean Soup with Chicken, Sausage & Kale

I’m always inspired by food when I travel and Tuscany has been my focus since I’ve been home. This soup is my combination of 2 memorable dishes in Tuscany… Dario’s beans & a bowl of ribollita for lunch on the street in Florence.

Dinner with Dario Cecchini in Panzano was the most memorable experience. He’s impressive being an 8th generation butcher with a big personality. His restaurants are fun & they are an experience… not just a meal. Surprisingly it wasn’t the 5 courses of meat I couldn’t forget … it was the beans! Here’s how it starts:

– Small bowl with some Tuscan salt & herbs (his blend**)
– Generous drizzle of olive oil
– Splash of red wine vinegar

This is the dipping vehicle for your carrots & raw vegetables. Then you find the bowl of bread and decide what the hell – dip it! Just when you think your bowl can do no more… a big ladle of white beans & broth are ladled into the remaining oil/vinegar/salt bowl.

Divine. That’s all the inspiration I need!

Buon appetito!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 stalks celery – diced
  • 4 carrots – peeled & diced
  • 2 leeks – cleaned, rinsed and cut into ½ moons
  • ½ yellow onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage – casings removed
  • 4 chicken thighs – skin-on & bone-in
  • 1 cup Pinot Grigio wine
  • 8 -10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bag Tuscan kale – washed
  • 2 cans cannellini beans – rinsed
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Remove the sausage from its casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 4- or 5-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

In the same pot, add the chicken thighs and sear until brown on all sides. Transfer to the same plate as the sausage. Set aside for later.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high, and add the onion, celery, carrot, leeks, onion, crushed red pepper and garlic . Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the sausage & chicken along with any collected juices. Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and pull the meat from the bone. Discard the skin & bones. Add the chicken meat back to the pot with the drained & rinsed beans.

Stir in the kale, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper & add the vinegar.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil & a splash of red wine vinegar. Crusty bread is a must!

Vietnamese lime chicken wings

The kaffir lime leaves are the star of this dish… so much aroma in such a little leaf. You will find them flavoring many Asian dishes. One of my favs is Thai Tom Yum soup. I order mine online and keep them in the freezer. If you can’t find them don’t worry – they will be perfectly delicious using lime zest (see directions on substitutions below).

Alternatively, you could grill these if you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

Enjoy & WOO PIG SOOIE!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1/4 cup chicken bouillon powder
  • 2/3 cup Sriracha sauce (asian aisle at grocery)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pureed red onion or shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Asian pear (optional)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 24 whole jumbo chicken wings
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and lime leaves. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half – about 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Set aside. If you don’t have kaffir lime leaves, use the zest of 3 regular limes and ½ cup honey as a replacement.

In a food processor, add the bouillon, ½ cup of the lime syrup, Sriracha, oil, onion, pear and vinegar. Blitz together to form a paste. Reserve some paste for brushing, and place the rest in a resealable plastic bag. Toss the chicken wings in the paste in the bag and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or overnight.

Set a wire rack inside each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Divide wings between prepared racks and spread out in a single layer.

Bake for 35 minutes. Brush the wings with the remaining sauce and turn wings over so the other side can crisp up. Bake for another 10 -15 minutes. Turn the broiler on and leave the oven cracked and finish for another 3 minutes. Be sure to watch and make sure you don’t burn them!

Transfer to a platter and top with cilantro leaves and peanuts.

Spiced chickpeas & fresh vegetable salad

Lots of chopping I know… but lots of satisfaction at the end. I promise. Try a little greek yogurt drizzled on top – it’s delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 small cucumbers (10 oz)
  • 2 large tomatoes (10.5oz)
  • 8-1/2 ounces radishes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and 1/4″ dice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into 2/3-inch dice; cut the onion into 1/4-inch dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly. (Take care when dressing the salad. I found I only needed about half of the dressing).

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread on a plate. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Serve this salad on a plate, in a large circle with the warm spiced chickpeas on top. You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.

Sweet potatoes with maple curry yogurt

The new Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, Jerusalem, is stunning. I’ve made it through the first few sections and love the history of the recipes and family influence that permeates his meaningful food.

On my last visit to his restaurant in London I had an amazing salad with curried yogurt. I can’t even remember what the yogurt was on top of… but I’ve not forgotten the delicious combination. The cold & fragrant yogurt on top of the warm sweet potatoes will not disappoint.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sweet potatoes, skin on, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 shallots, sliced lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the sweet potatoes and shallots with enough olive oil to coat and put on a baking sheet. Spread out evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. When warm, sprinkle with a little salt. Set aside.

Mix the yogurt, curry powder and maple syrup all together in a bowl.

To serve, place the sweet potatoes on a plate and spoon some of the yogurt in the middle. Top with chives and pistachios. Serve room temperature or slightly warm.

Serves 4.