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This weekend we celebrated my lovely mother’s birthday with a little family brunch. I broke out my savory french toast recipe and revamped the crustless quiche with new flavors. I think it’s my favorite version yet. The sausage made it a super hearty version, while the bell peppers added just the right sweetness to balance the salty bite.  Happy brunching!

crustless quiche part 2 italian

Crustless Quiche Part 2, Italian Style
via mrs. harding cooks

10 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. shredded cheese (I used white cheddar this time)
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 green onions, chopped
1 lb sweet italian sausage
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 small onion, finely diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined and no lumps remain. With a wooden spoon, stir in cottage cheese, 3/4 of the shredded cheese, melted butter, and green onions.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and break into small crumbles. Remove to a paper towel and let cool slightly before adding to egg mixture. Leave the grease in the pan over heat, add bell pepper and onion, and saute a few minutes until soft and tender. Add the garlic and saute a minute or so more. Add chopped spinach and cook a few minutes, until wilted. Add cooked vegetable and spinach to egg mixture and stir to combine.
Pour into a 9×13 pan, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until browned around the edges and lightly browned in the middle. Serve hot! Or not – this reheats well.

It snowed last night here in Seattle. And the answer to snow is always a hearty soup. We made this a little while back on a cold, cold night and it really hit the spot. Packed with veggies and greens and sausage and lentils, this is definitely a meal in a bowl. The sizzlling garlic oil addition at the end adds just the right kick of flavor. Definitely satisfies all my winter desires.

lentil soup with sausage chard and garlic

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard & Garlic
via smitten kitchen

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch fo salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water (6 cups is, conveniently, a little less than 2 empty 28-ounce cans, so you can get any tomato pulp you missed), more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though we preferred ours on the thick side). When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.
To finish, divide soup among bowls, then add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Drizzle this over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

Trying to get back on the paleo wagon this week with a hearty stew to start us off. Fresh, meaty and bright! The lemon added just the right amount of acid to this hearty, delicious dish.

chicken-meatballs-with-braised-lemon-and-kale

Chicken Meatballs with Braised Lemon and Kale
via bon appétit

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium shallots, minced, divided
1 scallion, minced (all parts), plus thinly sliced green tops for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken meat (or turkey)
1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more
1 lemon, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch curly kale, destemmed

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallot, scallion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until softened and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1/3 of ground chicken and cook just until cooked through, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add remaining chicken meat, salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Mix just to combine. Wipe out the pot and add the remaining tbsp oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Form meat mixture into 8 meatballs each about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and add to pot (mixture will be soft). Cook until light golden brown on all sides, 6-8 minutes total. Remove meatballs to a plate; set aside.
Add remaining shallot and lemon slices and cook until lemon slices are tender and starting to turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and return meatballs to pot. Bring to simmer, lower heat and cover. Cook meatballs until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Add kale to pot, and cook until tender and bright green, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Divide kale and sauce among 4 shallow bowls, topping with meatballs and lemon slices. Garnish with sliced scallion tops and serve.

 

And now for the main course! Lamb and a spicy twist on gorgeous classic sprouts for our New Year’s Eve dinner party. Alas, my dear friend winged it on this amazing lamb that paired so perfectly with these curried brussel sprouts. Fortunately, I’m a sucker for rules and always have all the steps laid out for every dish I make. Voila! Simple steps for quite the side.

spiced lemony brussels sprouts with lamb

Spiced Lemony Brussels Sprouts
via martha stewart

2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon hot or regular curry powder
Coarse salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in middle and lower third. Divide brussels sprouts between two rimmed baking sheets and toss each with oil and curry powder. Season with salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, stirring and rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a serving dish and top with lemon zest and lemon juice.

I’m pretty proud of the job I did cooking this year! I pushed myself and my tastebuds (and my husband’s!). I had some wins and some losses, but overall it was definitely a success!
Here are my favorites meals from the year:

Comforting and Warm:

best of 2013 comforting and warm
The Best Ever Turkey Chili / Sweet Onions with Lentil Stew

Quick and Chicken-y:

best of 2013 quick and chicken
Roasted Chicken & Beets with Couscous and Yogurt SauceOne Pot Lemon Chicken & Zucchini

Summer Magic:

best 2013 summer magic
Grilled Poblano & Corn Quinoa with LimeGrilled Chicken & Asparagus Salad with Parsley Pesto

Meatless: 

best of 2013 meatless
One Pan Farro with TomatoesAsparagus Carbonara

For the slow cooker:

best of 2013 slow cooker
Sunday Night Italian Meatballs / Slow Cook Corned Beef & Cabbage

Yum! What were your favorite things you made this year? I’d love to hear your best recipes.
Here’s to new flavors and challenges in the new year!

A protein plus a vegetable and a sauce equals the perfect easy dinner for any night. And pesto is always a pleaser. It’s been so long since I had green beans, and pesto was a wonderful and unexpected pairing. This spinach version has such a lovely flavor, I had to smear it all over the pork chops too. The best part? Husband did all the prep and I just had to throw the chops on when I walked in the door. Just lovely.

Oven Roasted Pork Chops and Green Beans with Spinach Pesto

Oven Roasted Pork Chops and Green Beans with Spinach Pesto
via paleo foodie kitchen

6 center cut boneless pork chops
1 lb green beans, trimmed
1 bag baby spinach
¼ cup sliced raw almonds
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp aleppo pepper (or 1 part cayenne, 4 parts paprika substitution)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350F on convect roast setting.
Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Place on a wire rack on top of a foil lined sheet and roast for 5-6 minutes depending on thickness. Remove from oven and set aside.
Make pesto by combining baby spinach, sliced raw almond, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, aleppo pepper, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
Steam green beans until just crisp and toss with pesto sauce.

Two pans, just a little mess, and a whole lot of chicken and veggie goodness. I love a perfectly roasted piece of chicken with crispy, peppery skin. The Brussels sprouts were perfect tossed with the lemon pieces. I skipped the potatoes for paleo (ok, maybe I tried one or two to make sure they were done coming out of the oven!), but my darling husband said they were just right with this dish. I did pretty much all the prep right on the baking pans, much to his relief, and voilà! One tenth the mess, but all the flavor.

Chicken with Lemony Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Chicken with Lemony Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
via real simple

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, or other cooking oil

Heat oven to 425° F, with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Combine the butter and mustard in a small bowl. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and loosen the skin, using your fingers. Spread the mustard butter under the skin of each thigh, dividing evenly. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, rosemary, lemon slices, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken on the top rack until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part (avoiding the bone) registers 165° F, 20 to 27 minutes. Roast the vegetables on the bottom rack at the same time as the chicken, tossing once, until tender, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve the chicken with the potatoes and Brussels sprouts on the side.

Chicken with Lemony Potatoes and  Brussels Sprouts

Ok, so I cheated on my paleo a bit with this one. I started out strong and then noticed a bottle of stout in the fridge and knew it would be the perfect additional to this hearty winter-y stew. Kale? Butternut Squash? Perfectly tender beef? Yes, please! Next time I swear I’ll get it right and stick to the plan, but the stout added this extra level of flavor that took this lovely stew to another level.

Butternut Squash and Kale Beef Stew

Butternut Squash & Kale Beef Stew
via girl meets paleo

2 tbsp olive oil or other cooking oil
2 lb stew beef, 1″ cubed
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 small butternut squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
1 bunch fresh kale, roughly chopped
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 cup stout beer (optional)
salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven heat 1 tbsp oil over medium high. Working in batches, brown the meat, making sure not to cook it through (it can turn tough). Set browned meat aside. Lower heat to medium and add the 2nd tbsp oil. Once it’s melted add the onions, garlic, smoked paprika, and sage to pot, along with a big pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Cook about 8 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Make sure to stir frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn.
Add the beef, butternut squash, and kale to the pot. Stir to combine, then add the stock and two cups of hot water (if using the beer, replace 1 cup water with the stout). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, for at least an hour. I recommend about 2 hours to get the beef nice and tender. Serve and enjoy. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

This dish had a really interesting and different flavor, packed with herbs and greens. We used collard greens, kale and rainbow chard and it turned out quite lovely. Husband’s was served over rice and mine was over a baked sweet potato (1 hr in the oven at 400 degrees!), since I’m trying the paleo thing this month. The original recipe called for 2 bay leaves, but the flavor was a bit sharp on this, so I’d recommend only using one. Uli’s is always our sausage of choice, and this andouille packed a nice amount of heat, it was a nice balance to the tangy-lemony greens.

Lemony Gumbo Z'herbes

Lemony Gumbo Z’herbes
via food52

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other cooking oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery, preferably the innermost ribs (reserve the leaves for later)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
2 pounds assorted greens: collards, turnip, beet, mustard, chard, kale, or spinach, coarsely chopped
All the celery leaves from your head of celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 bay leaf (preferably fresh)
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (leave out if you want this to be vegetarian)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 small links smoked andouille sausage, cut into small pieces (also optional)
Fruity olive oil, for serving
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
Cooked white or brown rice, for serving (or baked sweet potatoes)
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally until softened but not browned. Stir in garlic and let it sweat with the other vegetables for a minute or two. Add water or stock to the Dutch oven. Raise heat until it comes to just below boiling. Add greens and celery leaves a little at a time until they are all wilted into the soup. Add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Halve and juice a lemon, and put both lemon halves into the soup. Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, if using. Reduce heat to low and simmer soup, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. The vegetables will become mushy and the soup will be very green. This is what you’re going for. Taste and add salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more Worcestershire sauce to your taste. Fish out the bay leaf and the lemon halves and discard them. Stir in the andouille sausage if using. To serve, place a scoop of rice (or baked sweet potatoes) into a bowl, pour soup over the top, and add about a teaspoon of olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with scallions. Add hot sauce as desired.

Oy! It’s the flu. My darling husband suffered through over the weekend and this week it’s my turn. Now that I’m working on eating again, I’m ready to get a few more vitamins in me. While perusing Pinterest in bed, I stumbled across this kicked up ramen recipe and knew it was just the thing for me today. Thankfully, we had a moderate range of veggies on hand already and very little effort was involved to make this veggie-packed meal.

ramen upgrade

Ramen Upgrade (for one)
adapted from martha stewart

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced medium
1 small carrot, diced medium
1 small stalk celery, diced medium
3/4 cup chopped kale
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
1 package (3 ounces) ramen, broken into quarters (seasoning packet discarded)

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrots, and celery and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Season with pepper. Add broth, bring to a boil. Add ramen and kale, reduce heat, and simmer until noodles are tender and the kale is just wilted, 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve hot.