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Warm Kale Salad (avec Bacon, Dates, Crispy Onions and Feta)

21 Jul

I first encountered this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats. Bacon wrapped dates are one of those iconic appetizer combos – yet rarely do you see them combined in anything else, right? I’ve modified Kristen’s version a tad, but still adhereing to the flavor profiles.The kale is massaged to allow it to soften and wilt, making it less bitter. This only takes 30-60 seconds.  You could play around with different cheeses (e..g, Parm, goat, feta, gorgonzola, blue), based on whatever you like or have on hand. This is especially helpful during the so-called kale revolution, during which people are looking for innovative ways to use this super-green. This could be served with a poached egg for a more protein-rich dish.

This versatile, easy recipe offers bold flavors that will have you making it over and over.




Warm Kale Salad 

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into thin rings
3 slices bacon
1 bunch kale (about 8 cups) removed from ribs then torn into bite-sized pieces
4 pitted Medjool dates, chopped
1 recipe Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)
2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and fry until golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Turn heat down to medium then add bacon to skillet and cook until browned and crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain then set aside. Remove all but 2 teaspoons bacon grease from the skillet.
  3. Add kale and dates, then saute for 30 seconds. Add vinaigrette and then toss until just coated. Divide kale between two plates then top with reserved bacon, crispy shallots, and feta cheese.
  4. Serve immediately!

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
1 clove garlic, mashed

Whisk oil and vinegar together with garlic. Slowly add maple syrup, while continuing to whisk. Serve or store in fridge for up to 7 days.


{Recipe Redux} Arugula, Bacon, Onion and Ricotta Pizza

21 Jan


I know that the title is long and cumbersome, but I felt like I had to get your attention! This month’s Recipe Redux‘s task was to blog a pizza recipe ~ everyone’s favorite! This comes at perfect timing during award-show season, and of course, football. This recipe was born from my love of pizza and salad, together. I absolutely love the bacon, ricotta, herb pizza from OTTO Pizzeria, so that was the inspiration for this! It’s a nice break from regular ‘ol margherita pizza.


Arugula, Bacon, Onion and Ricotta Pizza

For the pizza dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour (Note: you can replace up to 1.5 cups whole wheat flour)
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 cup warm water (100 degrees F/45 degrees C)

For the topping:
1 large white or yellow onion, sliced thinly
5-6 slices bacon, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt to taste

For the arugula salad:
1 6-oz bag arugula
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Crisp bacon in saute pan. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper-towel lined plate. In the same pan, saute onion in the bacon fat for 10-15 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Season with salt, to taste. Add fresh thyme. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile make the crust: Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and warm water until combined. Spread out on a large pizza stone or baking sheet. Pierce with a fork. Pre-bake crust for 5 minutes.

Assemble pizza by topping pre-baked crust with onions and bacon. Scatter shredded mozzarella cheese. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until desired crispness. Cut into slices.

While the pizza is baking, make the salad. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice (or vinegar), salt and pepper in a salad bowl. Add arugula and toss well.

To serve: top slices of pizza with handful of arugula.

The Guided Bite on the Road: Maine

18 Jul

As the heat-filled the sun-drenched Boston the week of the Fourth of July, we headed north to Maine for the weekend, in search of a breeze and some fresh air. The heat followed us, but so did a lovely, fun, and relaxing adventure. In short, we drove up and down the Maine coast, and hit all of the little towns in between. On our way back, I clutched the Boston Globe with the winner of “Best Lobster Roll in New England”: The Clam Shack in Kennebunk, ME. By this point on Sunday, all of my meals had involved lobster: I couldn’t get enough. So, we were lucky enough to find a parking spot down the street from the famous Clam Shack, and waited in line. If you go, it’s cash only! Their lobster roll was very unlike any other – it’s all meat, fresh, sweet and succulent – piled high on a simple bun. Add your own lemon and mayo, if you like, and settle in. Adjacent to the Clam Shack is their sister shop, which features fresh seafood to take home. If We splurged on lobster meat, packed on ice, to take home. Out of just over 1/2lb of lobster meat, we got 2 lobster rolls, and lobster risotto. The recipe is below.



The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, ME



Lobster Risotto (Makes 4, entree portions)

2 Tbs butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cups arborio, carnaroli or other short-grained white rice
1/2 lb lobster meat, chopped
2 tablespoons minced basil
1/2 c frozen peas
½ cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

In a medium pot, heat the stock and keep warm. In a large, wide saucepan, melt the butter in the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add a large pinch of salt, then add the rice and stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth and simmer, stirring until the broth is almost absorbed. Add more broth, a cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. Stir often. Cook until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the lobster meat and peas until heated through, then add the basil and ¼ cup of the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with remaining Parmesan.

{Recipe Redux} Salmon Cakes with Black Sesame Seeds

21 Jun

It’s that time again – Recipe Redux time! This month’s theme was “Sowing Seeds”, meaning incorporating seeds in an original recipe. I had been hankering for perfecting salmon cakes, because how many times can you have Roasted Asian Salmon? I felt the need to mix it up a little. I figured black sesame seeds would be the little punch that the basic salmon cake needed.  If you haven’t ventured into salmon-cake territory, I urge you to – especially if you like crab cakes! (Feel free to make these cakes ahead of time and refridge for up to 1 day.)



Salmon Cakes (makes 8 cakes)

1 pound fresh salmon
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp black sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion,  hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into 10 (3-ounce) cakes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot with lemon wedges.


An easy weeknight staple

19 Feb

Every home cook needs a go-to staple dish that can be whipped up in a flash, with (ideally) very simple ingredients. As I was scratching my head for topics to write about, I thought that writing a little ditty in honor of my weeknight staple was long overdue. At least once a week, I rely on this simple lightened up Fettucini Alfredo from Cooking Light circa January 2010. It was cookbook binder-worthy at first glance. Of course, the straight-forward recipe is delicious as is, but I take advantage of it’s “blank-slate” nature by add my own twists. Such twists involve whatever vegetables – fresh or frozen – that I happen to have or want to include. That is what I love so much about this one-pot wonder (well, two if you count the pasta pot): you can make it seem like a really robust dish by adding bulk from the vegetables. As a rule of thumb, I add frozen vegetables just before adding the pasta to the sauce. Fresh greens like kale and spinach wilt quickly in the sauce once the pasta has been added. You can play around with it and, oh, and that’s the other thing: you can use ANY pasta shape of your choice – short or long. I have even tried this with brown rice pasta. And, if you are vegetarian or do not eat pork, the bacon can be omitted. This, like most pasta dishes, tastes even better the next day for lunchtime leftovers.

Some of my favorite add-ins: fresh baby spinach (see recipe below); frozen whole spinach; thyme-roasted butternut squash; fresh kale; frozen green peas; fresh or frozen broccoli; frozen artichokes; cherry tomatoes

Rigatoni Alfredo with Wilted Spinach and Bacon (adapted from Cookling Light, January 2010) 

Serves 6-8



1lb box of pasta (rigatoni, fettucini, linguine, penne)
4 slices bacon, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 7-ounce bag fresh baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

While pasta cooks, add bacon to a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and cream, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt and reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Add baby spinach in 3 batches, cover pan with lid to promote wilting. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, pepper and additional cheese if desired. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Dear friends and a Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

18 Dec

20121216_122526As I sit down to write this, the news in the background continues to report the events in Newtown, CT, which has captivated my attention since Friday. These events make this post ever so meaningful, because it is during this time of year – this season – that we need to be thankful for what we do have and not take it for granted. Last weekend, on a chilly December night, I shared an absolutely fabulous dinner date with three close friends (who all happen to be dietitians!). Over food and laughter, I didn’t want the night to end. I am thankful for having the opportunity to open my home and kitchen to those I care about, and that is one of life’s greatest gifts that we can share.

For the menu, I chose a simple, rustic butternut squash galette featuring slow-caramelized onions from Smitten Kitchen. When I first sat down to pour over the gastronomic delight that is her cookbook, this recipe in particular caught my attention. It may have been her anecdotal story that prefaced the recipe, but nevertheless it caught my attention. In fact, I wasn’t even daunted by the homemade pie crust required. Though it was risky to make a recipe that I hadn’t ever trialed before, I put 100% of my faith in this recipe, as Deb Perelman had never failed me before. The result? A purely fantastic burst of flavor, filled with the flavors of fall. I assured them that I would share the recipe, so here it is. Now, I realize that the image of this galette is not ideal – it’s more of an isosceles triangle than a perfect circle. But cut me some slack, this was my first time!


Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette (Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which differs slightly from her blog version)

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into
1/2 cup sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1/3 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 small  or one large butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp sugar
2 cups fontina cheese (about 6 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
2 tsp fresh thyme

1 egg yoke beaten with 1 tsp water for glaze

Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, add olive oil to a heavy skillet and cook onions over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 16-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush the pastry boarder with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges (which is what I did) and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 8 heartily.

I wanted to share this easy appetizer with you as well. It only requires two ingredients for a decadent, delicious, crowd-pleasing item: goat-cheese stuffed dates.


Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

3 oz goat cheese, softened
3 tablespoons honey (optional)
16 pitted dates

Pitted dates usually have already have a slice through one side. If yours don’t, slice an opening in one side and fill each date with goat cheese. Broil 5-7 minutes and drizzle with honey if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

The last thing I want to share with you is a festive, easy gift for your dinner party guests (or anyone this season). I discovered this idea on, of course, Pinterest. Once you try this, you’ll find yourself making it over, and over, and over! As a side note, these cinnamon sugared almonds, done in the crock pot, fill your kitchen with the smells of the holiday season. Here in Boston, particularly downtown near Downtown Crossing, you’ll smell this scent up and down Washington Street coming from vendors selling warm nuts in paper cones. It’s nice to re-create this aroma with a few ingredients and no need to leave your home. Though this recipe calls for almonds, I think that any nut of choice can be substituted (e.g., cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pecans).

Crock Pot Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 egg white
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water + 2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it’s a little frothy. Add almonds. Make sure the almonds are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture. Add cinnamon mixture to the almonds and toss until coated. Spray crock pot with nonstick spray. Add the divine mixture of almonds and sugars to the crock pot and turn it to low.

Cook ( with the lid on) 3-4 hours stirring every 20 minutes. In the last hour, add the 1/4 C. of water and stir well. This ensures a crunchy yummy coating. (*make sure after you’ve added the water that you continue to cook the nuts for another 45min to an hour.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the almonds flat to cool (do not rush this part!). The almonds will be sticky at this point, so make sure you separate them a little and have no large mounds. When cool, dish into gift bags and tie with decorative bow.

Sugar Almonds

Black Bean & Chorizo Soup

28 Nov

Oh, how I adore a good bean soup. What is not to love about a one-pot wonder that keeps on giving meals for days? I am always on the hunt for a new soup recipe, although this is somewhere in limbo between soup and stew (given the viscosity). I first had black bean chorizo soup at my friend, and fellow RD, Christina’s home, where she served it with cornbread. Cornbread elevates anything, in my opinion, and is the perfect prescription for a cold fall or winter day. I can testify that coming home from a long day of work and finding a frozen tupperware full of soup is like hitting the jackpot.

I based my recipe off of this Epicurious recipe, however I made some changes. There’s no need to worry about having each ingredient listed, because that’s the beauty of a soup: you can add whatever you a) have on hand and/or b) want to include. It allows the cook some creativity and personalization. You can go hog wild with toppings if you wish, however I prefer a simple shaving of sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot’s 50% light cheddar). Try it, and you’ll keep coming back to this recipe…I promise.

Black Bean & Chorizo Soup (Makes about 8 cups)

8 ounces Spanish chorizo links (spicy cured pork sausage), sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 to 3 cups low sodium vegetable OR chicken broth

2 (15- to 19-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

Garnish: grated cheddar cheese, avocado, cilantro, sour cream or Greek yogurt

To prepare: Sautee sliced chorizo, onion, garlic, bell pepper, pepper flakes, and cinnamon in oil in a Dutch oven over moderate heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes and beans and simmer, partially covered, up to 45 minutes. Garnish and serve. Soup keeps up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Transfer to freezer for longer storage.

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