Bruschetta with Tomato, Parsley, and Fontina

These pictures are terrible.  I am really sorry.  Next week I am back at school with my nice camera and this can actually look like a somewhat reputable food blog again.  Anyhoo, the food.  Let’s talk about food.

I really like bruschetta.  I serve it a lot at dinners because it’s quick to put together and nice to nosh on when I am predictably running fifteen minutes behind.  I went through a large pureed topping streak – think eggplant and cannelinis or chickpeas with sundered tomatoes – but there really is nothing better than the traditional chopped tomato version.  There’s a reason it’s a classic.

My go-to is tomato, cucumber, and basil but I was working out of my pantry and only had the tomatoes.  Luckily, I had some other odds and ends in my refrigerator from other recipes, and ended up coming up with something pretty delicious.  I paired the chopped tomatoes with parsley, fontina cheese, and a tart balsamic vinaigrette.  They’re still traditional Italian flavors, but a step away from what I usually make.  I liked this so much that I may actually swap it out for my usual bruschetta!

Bruschetta with Tomato, Parsley, and Fontina

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Ingredients

8 slices of a french baguette

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 ounce fontina cheese, diced

parsley, minced

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt/pepper

Directions

Turn the broiler on.  Lay the bread out on a baking dish and brush with oil.  Broil until the bread has turned golden, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.  Taste the vinaigrette and add more salt/pepper as needed.  Toss the tomatoes, parsley, and fontina with the vinaigrette.

Carefully top the bread slices with the tomato mixture and serve.

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Source:  Loosely adapted from The Tucci Kitchen

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Lemon Turkey Soup with Spaghetti

We made a large turkey dinner for New Years, and afterwards we were left with a good portion of the seventeen pound bird.  In an effort to help my family eat lighter, I offered to repurpose some of the turkey into healthy dinners.  My first inkling was for a turkey salad (like a chicken salad!) with toasted almonds and dried cranberries, but my dad probably would have considered that “woman food” so I went the soup route instead.

I won’t go into soup talk, because we all know how much I love it, but I WILL say that this was a rousing success.  People had seconds, which is pretty much the best compliment a cook can get.  The cool thing about this soup is the cheese gives the broth an almost creamy consistency.  To make this healthier, feel free to cut back on the cheese.  Honestly, I wasn’t measuring and I think I used less than a cup but it still created a really nice consistency.  Also, I’d recommend reduced sodium broth.  And, of course, always feel free to add more green stuff to the soup!  I think some spinach would have gone really nicely with this.

Lemon Turkey Soup with Spaghetti

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Ingredients

6 cups of turkey broth

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

2 cups of white turkey meat, diced

1/2 cup broken spaghetti, other small pasta

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

1 cup romano cheese

salt/pepper

Directions

Bring the lemon juice and broth to a boil.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, around 8-10 minutes.  Add the broken spaghetti and cook according to package instructions.  In the last two minutes of the spaghetti cooking time, add the turkey and heat through.

Add the romano cheese and parsley, and stir.  Season to taste with salt/pepper.

Source:  Giada’s Weeknight Meals

Kale Salad with Orange-Maple Vinaigrette

This was one of those salads where I threw a bunch of stuff together from my refrigerator and magic happened.  I mean it.  Magic.  Because that is the only way to describe how so many different ingredients come together to make such a perfect dish.

The tart kale is tempered by the almost buttery vinaigrette and sweet creamy sweet potatoes.  Roasted brussels sprouts lend a necessary crunch.  Diced turkey gives you a protein fix.  Magic, I tell you.

My Hogwarts letter is probably on its way.

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A quick note for kale.  Most of you are probably super kale-experienced, but for any of my readers who have steered clear from the leafy green for whatever reason, make sure you massage the kale in the vinaigrette long enough.  Again, for kale neophytes, that probably sounds super weird.  But massaging the kale helps the tough leaves break down and make it less like garnish and more like the delicious badass super food it is.  So, massage the crap out of that kale!

Kale Salad with Orange-Maple Vinaigrette

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Ingredients

For the greens

1 bunch of kale, destemmed and torn into bite size pieces

1/4 lb brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered

Turkey breast or turkey lunch meat, diced (use however much you like, I tend to err on less)

For the sweet potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

4 tbsp butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp maple syrup

squeeze of fresh orange juice

For the vinaigrette

3 tbsp cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp grated orange zest

2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp maple syrup

salt/pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

Directions

For the sweet potatoes

Simmer the sweet potatoes until tender.  Drain the water.  In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Add the sweet potatoes and toss to combine.  Remove from heat.

For the brussels sprouts

Use the roasting instructions in my pan-seared brussels sprouts with bacon.

For the vinaigrette

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, orange zest, orange juice, and maple syrup.  Slowly pour the olive oil in, mixing continuously.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the salad

Massage the kale with the vinaigrette for a few minutes, until the kale has broken down a bit.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss!

Note:  Other really delicious mix-ins here would be dried cranberries, chopped apples, chopped pears, toasted nuts, quinoa, or farro.  Don’t be afraid to use your imagination!

Source:  Vinaigrette from Ina Garten.

Crispy Salt & Pepper Brussels Sprouts

I know.  Another brussels sprouts recipe.  You guys are probably wondering if I have a deal with those tiny cabbages or something.  The truth is that I just really, really love them.  Except for the whole cleaning them part.  I’m not into that.

But, really.  If cooking them in bacon grease didn’t do it for you last week, then maybe crisping them up like potato chips is more your game.  I don’t know about you, but analogize anything to a potato chip and I AM THERE.

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The key to these is slicing them thinly.  It helps them crisp up really nicely.  And, for the love of Ryan Gosling, PLEASE use sea salt or kosher salt.  Those larger granules are clutch.

FRANCE-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-GOSLING PEOPLE

 

These were great on their own, but they also are nice tossed in salads.  Or noshed on straight from the tupperware.  No judgment over here.

Crispy Salt & Pepper Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients

1 lb brussels sprouts, cleaned

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt, preferably sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Thinly slice the brussels sprouts into about three or four slices per sprout.  Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the brussels sprouts and try your best to get them in a single layer.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the bottoms are browned and crispy.  Flip the sports over and do the same on the other side.  After, flip over any that you may have missed, and cook until crispy.  Season with the salt and pepper.

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Source:  How Sweet Eats cookbook

Sweet Potatoes With Sage Butter Crumb Topping

Yesterday, was a big day for my household.  We all finally finished Breaking Bad – I finished it last year, but now my family is caught up – and I had perhaps one of the more amusing allergic reactions to a food.

We watch Breaking Bad on my Netflix account, and because our TV is from the 90s, it doesn’t have those fancy plugins.  This means we – ALL FOUR OF US – sit on the couch and watch it on my computer.  It’s nice family time but also a little crowded because FOUR PEOPLE.

Anyhoo, my dad cut up some meat and cheeses for us to nibble on while we watched the last few episodes.  Because this is my family, we didn’t have normal pepperoni or lunch meat, but Hungarian sausage.

You can probably guess what caused the allergic reaction.

I went to the bathroom during one of the episodes and saw that my cheeks were really, really flushed.  It looked like I had a nice slap on each side of my face.

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C. Aguilera, did you eat some Hungarian sausage, too???

I waited until we finished the episodes to tell my dad – PRIORITIES – and then he immediately gave me some antihistamines.

Moral of the story – do not eat Hungarian sausage.

Eat this sweet potato casserole instead.  Remember that stuffing I posted on Monday that I hated?  This is the exact opposite.  I also made this for Thanksgiving and could not stop eating it.  I had about eight hundred helpings, and each bite was better than the last.  The sage in this really makes the dish.  The herb permeates the entire casserole and gives it this really warm and wintery flavor.  Although I made this for a holiday, I think it definitely can fit into a regular weeknight meal!

Sweet Potatoes with Sage Butter Crumb Topping

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Ingredients:

2 lbs of sweet potatoes, cubed

1 lb yukon potatoes, cubed

10 tbsp of butter, divided

1 – 2 tbsp sage, minced

1 1/2 cups warm milk

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

salt/pepper

Directions

Boil the potatoes and drain.  Mash with a potato masher until the potatoes are mixed and uniform.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan cook the butter until it browns.  The butter will turn amber in color and have a nice nutty aroma.  Make sure to watch the butter because it burns quickly.

In a bowl, mix together the mashed potatoes, browned butter, 1 1/2 tbsp of sage, warm milk, and salt and pepper.  Scrape the potatoes into a 2 quart casserole dish.  This part can be made up to two days before you plan to serve the potatoes.

In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and 1/2 tbsp sage.  Spread over the potato mixture.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until warm and bubbling.  If the breadcrumbs brown too much you can add tinfoil on the top.

Source:  Annie’s Eats

Sausage and Kale Stuffing

The weather has been beautiful and sunny for the past month or so, but naturally it decides to turn when I have to drive two and a half hours for a wedding.  It’s not just snow, either, it’s freezing rain which in my opinion in worse.  At least you can see snow, but icy streets are less easy to pick up on.  (Black ice, anyone?)  I decided to stay home partially because I’m skittish driving in winter weather (especially on expressways) but also because my parents strongly suggested I stay back, which means if I got into any sort of accident I would never hear the end of it.  Also, you know, I didn’t want to end 2015 in a ditch.

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Needless to say, I was unhappy about having to miss the wedding, so I did what any other disappointed, 24 year old food blogger would do.  I started menu planning.  Nothing cures disappointment and mild heartburn more than looking at pictures of delicious food.  Of course, eating said delicious food would have been better, but beggars can’t be choosers.  I ended up picking some pretty baller recipes that I can’t wait to share with you all!

In the meantime, I am bringing you a stuffing recipe that I absolutely hated but the rest of my family (and extended family) loved.  I made this for Thanksgiving, and while I couldn’t get past one or two forkfuls, the rest of my family was happily scooping up second and third helpings from the casserole dish.  Everything in it sounds good, so I think I’m just going chalk my dislike up to wonky tastebuds – i.e. taste buds after a glass or two of wine.  Based on my family’s stuffing-overtures, I would definitely recommend trying this for your next heartier meal.  It takes some time to prep, but once you get it in the oven it requires minimal attention.

Sausage and Kale Stuffing 

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Ingredients:

8 tbsp butter

1 1lb sausage, casing removed

4 celery ribs, diced

2 onions, diced

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 bunch of kale, stems removed

3 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 lbs day old bread, cubed

2 large eggs

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 ounces provolone cheese, cubed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large dutch oven brown the sausage in 6 tbsp of butter, breaking it up as you cook it.  Add the celery, onion, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are softened.  Add the kale and cook for another three minutes, until it softens.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and parsley.  In a large bowl, mix together the sausage mixture, whisked parsley-eggs, and the bread.  Fold in the cheese.  Pour into a prepared 3 quart baking dish.  Take the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and chop into small bits.  Dot the top of the casserole with the butter.  Bake for 30 minutes covered with tinfoil.  Remove the tinfoil and cook a remaining twenty minutes.

Source:  Food Network Magazine

Pan-seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I hope you all had a wonderful start to your new year!  I ended 2014 with the stomach flu, which you know, was great.  There’s nothing like calling your brother to pick you up from your NYE party because you’re dry heaving in a bathroom that is not your own.  I went home and stayed up until precisely 12:01, which was when I blissfully passed out in my own bed with flannel pajamas and a nice scrubbed face.  It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to ring in the new year, but I did wake up without a stitch of a hangover or raccoon eyes.  I mean, sure, I still had all those flu symptoms but at least they weren’t self imposed.

I’d like to ask all of you to bear with me for the next few weeks.  I left my nice camera at school, which means all my photos in the near future will be from my phone.  And, it appears I have a shaky hand because ALL OF THEM ARE BLURRY.

I promise you the food still tastes good.

These brussels sprouts, guys.  I don’t even have words.  You start with some fried bacon, which is like starting a movie’s cast with Meryl Streep.  You know good things are happening.  Then, you add some previously roasted brussels sprouts to the pan – which is gloriously coated with bacon fat – and, hello, gorgeous side dish.  Or main dish.  I’d happily eat a large dinner plate of these and nothing else.

Pan-seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

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Ingredients:

2 lb brussels sprouts

2 tbsp oil

salt/pepper

4 pieces of bacon, fried

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the ends off the brussels sprouts and quarter them.  Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast until the outsides are crispy and the insides tender – 30 minutes or so depending on your oven.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan fry the bacon until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel and then chop roughly.  Transfer the brussels sprouts to the pan where the bacon fried and toss in the bacon fat.  Remove the brussels sprouts to a serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped bacon.

Source:  Slightly adapted from Ina Garten and How Sweet Eats recipes.

Green Beans with Browned Butter and Almonds

I went to an ugly Christmas sweater party with friends recently and our ugly sweater game was ON POINT.

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The usual and definitely necessary “funny faces” photo.

I didn’t own an ugly Christmas sweater so I tasked my brother to find me one on a thrift store shopping trip.  He came home with a gem of a sweater.  I couldn’t have found an uglier one if I tried.

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I’d like to note I showed this picture to my grandma and she went, “Oh, what a cute sweater!”  It just shows, one person’s ugly sweater is another person’s, well, not ugly sweater.  The one thing I will say about this beauty is that it was nice and warm.  I think I’m so accustomed to wearing the light knits and cardigans that are popular these days that I forgot what it’s like to wear a proper sweater.   It was warm…and sometimes a little sweaty.

Anyhoo, I made these green beans for the dinner.  We all chose what we wanted to bring, and while I usually am the queen of desserts I wanted to try something different.  Of course, I still ended up using browned butter.  Because, it really does make everything taste better.  Green beans are paired here with browned butter and toasted almond slivers.  It’s a nice change from your run of the mill vegetable side!  I seem to remember this being a How Sweet Eats recipe, but when I tried to google it nothing came up.  So, at the least it is How Sweet Eats inspired!

Green Beans with Browned Butter and Almonds

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Ingredients:

2 lbs green beans

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup slivered almonds

salt

Directions

In a large soup pot, bring water to a boil.  Salt the water generously.  Add the green beans and cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Cook until the butter has browned, watching for an amber coloring and nutty smell.  Watch the butter – as it turns pretty quickly from browned to burned.  In a separate dry saucepan toast the almonds until lightly browned, around 5 minutes.

Mix together the green beans and browned butter.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds.

BBQ Chicken Chili

It’s been over a month. I’d like to say I’m surprised but it was finals, and then it was the holidays, and then of course I needed to go play with all of my new toys. Although, let’s be real, I’m too old for toys. This year I got a bunch of fancy candles like the old lady I am. I picked them out with my mom at the Bloomingdales Home store and she proved her sainthood yet again by humoring me as I proceeded to smell every candle in the store about eighteen times. I also got a 1936 Gone With The Wind that I’m sort of afraid to touch because MONEY.

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I feel the need to tell you about what I’ve been cooking in my time away from the interwebs. The answer is soup. So much soup. Living alone, I really love making soup because I can make a big pot on Sunday and literally have meals for two weeks. Of course, I don’t ACTUALLY eat it for two weeks straight, but I like having the option. I like knowing that I if I don’t want to cook there’s soup waiting for me in the refrigerator or freezer and odds are I’ll like it. Of course, when I don’t want to cook I usually end up in the Meatheads drive thru, but it feels like a more conscious (i.e. not giving up on life and pants sizes) decision with leftovers in my freezer.

Today, I bring you one of the soups that I have already made twice. It is from How Sweet Eat’s cookbook, which means it has to be good. Seriously, when has she put out a recipe that isn’t delicious?

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I love BBQ. I always have a bottle in my refrigerator – usually Sweet Baby Ray’s – and will dip just about anything in it. It’s probably all that brown sugar and salt, but everything tastes better drenched in barbecue sauce. What I love about this recipe is that once you have your chicken cooked and shredded (you do this beforehand) the soup takes about forty minutes from stove to bowl. I don’t know about you, but I have too much to do to slave away in front of the stove. I have people to see. Leftover Christmas cookies to shovel into my mouth. A FULL DVR to get through. So much to do, guys. Thank goodness for quick recipes like this!

BBQ Chicken Chili

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Please excuse this dark photo.  It has a lot going against it.  I took it at night, on my lap, with my phone, AND decided to play around with filters.  It’s a wonder it turned out at all!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup red onion, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

pinch red pepper flakes

12 oz shredded chicken

12 oz jar roasted red peppers in water, drained and chopped

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups low sodium chicken stock

28 oz diced tomatoes, with juices

1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I’d recommend a thinner sauce)

cheddar cheese, for topping

Directions

Begin by cooking your chicken.  I like to poach mine.  Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan.  Add the chicken, making sure it is submerged entirely, and simmer until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breast.  Let cool slightly and shred.

In a large stock pot add the olive oil, onion, jalapeño pepper, and garlic.  Cook until soft, around 5 minutes.  Next, add in your spices.  Stir and cook for about 5 minutes more.  The onion mixture should get nice and fragrant.

Add the chicken, red peppers, beans, chicken stock, tomatoes, and barbecue sauce.  Stir to combine.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover the pot and let cook for twenty minutes.  Remove the lid, adjust seasonings if needed.  Cook another 10 minutes.  This is a soupier chili than most.  If you want it thicker let it cook a little longer, some of the liquid should evaporate.

Source:  How Sweet Eats cookbook

Beef Minestrone

It should not be a surprise to any of you that I like soup.  It’s probably the most common dish that I post on here.  I love soup because there’s so much you can do with it.  You can have a really healthy soup with kale, some beans, and squeeze of lemon.  Or you can be a little bad and have a cream of chicken with heavy cream and a fistful of cheddar.

This soup is somewhere in the middle.  I typically try to stay away from beef because of its effect on heart health, but it works so perfectly in this soup.  I like the beef being ground as opposed to chunks.  You end up getting a bit in every spoonful, which is how I like it!

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Like most soups this one gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator.  So, make up a big pot on the weekend and enjoy delicious lunches and dinners for the rest of the week!

Beef Minestrone

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Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces lean ground beef

1 cans of diced tomatoes, with juices

1 quart beef broth

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

salt/pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the ground beef, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sauté until the meat is browned and the onion translucent, 8-10 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes with juices, broth, and chickpeas.  Cook for 20-25 minutes.

Source:  Giada’s Family Dinners