Kale & Sausage Ribollita

14 Jan

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There is nothing better than a bone-warming soup or stew during the winter months. I had intended to make a sausage and kale WHITE BEAN ribollita. However, as I rifled through my pantry, only to find 2 cans of chickpeas. Side-note: I had about 30 cans of black beans. The beauty of stews is that you can kind of alter them to what you have, right? So I did just that.

The secret ingredient that I use for my soups, chilis and stews is a Parmesan-cheese rind. Don’t ever throw out the rind when you are done with the block, because it imparts the most fantastic flavor into soups and stews. The rind literally disintegrates into the liquid, so there’s nothing to fish out. This is delicious and satisfying –  it’s a great make-ahead, freezer-worthy staple.

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Kale & Sausage Ribollita Stew (Makes 6 servings)

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 Tablespoons garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano, chopped
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (preferably no-added salt)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 16-oz cans chickpeas (or other bean of choice)
2 cups water
1, 3″ Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb kale (preferably lacinato), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped

Garnish (optional):
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Lemon
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions
Heat large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and herbs; sauté until aromatic. Next, make a well and add in sausage, crumble; allow to brown for 5 minutes Add tomatoes and chicken stock; cook for 10 minutes. Add beans and water. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 60 minutes covered. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add kale and stir until combined (it will wilt). Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve with fresh parsley, freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and drizzle of fresh lemon juice.

Note: If using dried beans/legumes, replace canned beans with 1-lb dried. Rinse and soak them overnight. Increase water (in recipe) to 9 cups, adding the water and soaked beans with the tomatoes and chicken stock. Cook soup for at least 1 1/2 hours at on low heat.

Brunch-worthy Breakfast Scramble

2 Jan

Happy New Year! It always feels good to start the year out right by eating real, wholesome food. This all-star dish is easy enough for an unpretentious, leisurely weekend breakfast, but fancy enough to feel like you went the extra mile. It is full of color, and crosses off all the food groups that breakfast could ask for. And as you know, I love a dish that you don’t have to follow exactly – this one is no exception. Take the “recipe” as a guide, but feel free to add your own flair (aka whatever you happen to have in the fridge).

As I write this, the snow is cascading down, ushering in our first “blizzard” of 2014 – it’s going to be a lonnnnnng winter. I suspect it will be recipes like this one that help get us through these blustery days ahead.

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Breakfast Scramble (Serves 4)

5-6 slices bacon (8 oz), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium yukon gold or sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
5 ounces dry salami, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Zest of 1/2 medium orange
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a  nonstick skillet, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan juices. Cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the oil, onion, bell pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, salami (if using), nutmeg, orange zest, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the bacon and potatoes back in.

Make 4 wells in the hash and break an egg into each one. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook 5-6 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through. Serve immediately.

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{Recipe Redux} Lucky Ricotta Lemon Cornmeal Cake

21 Dec

Continue reading

Baked Apple Breakfast Crisp

10 Nov

Hi! I apologize for the radio silence over the past weeks – it has been very busy! I got married, for one!lesliejohn-185Anyway – I’m back with a fall recipe to shake up your mundane breakfasts. It’s getting colder, at least in the North East, thus many of us are reaching for our oatmeal containers (which had been pushed into the back of the cabinet). With the abundance of crisp apples this fall, I have been making several Baked Apple Crisps, which was an inspiration from Smitten Kitchen’s Breakfast Apricot Crisp. There is something indulgent about having warm, cinnamon-y apples with a healthful crunchy coating of oats in the morning – it makes getting out of bed easier. I top mine with plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. It is my favorite with apples, but this would work with any fruit you have. This is a savior for fruits that are bruised or that you can’t eat up fast enough before they go bad. Extra bonus? The fragrance that permeates your home as it bakes. Your morning will thank you…

Baked Apple Breakfast Crisp (6-8 servings)

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Fruit Base
5-6 medium-sized apples, peeled and diced (I used Macoun)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Crisp Topping
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) cold butter, diced into small cubes
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

Prepare fruit: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice. Set aside.

Make topping: Combine butter, sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt and almonds in a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on low speed until mixture is crumbly, and butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle mixture over the fruit.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature; top with plain Greek yogurt (optional).

{Recipe Redux Special Edition} Avocado Panzanella Salad

12 Aug

This month, the Recipe Redux bloggers were given an opportunity to boast about our favorite dishes featuring avocados. Just 1/5 of one of these nutritional powerhouses (and fruits) offers nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, as well as unique phytochemicals.  This recipe was born after inspiration from my friend, and fellow RD, Christina brought a panzanella salad to a BBQ. I couldn’t get enough! In this version, the delicate avocado goes well with the crusty bread, and crisp vegetables. The beautiful thing about a panzanella salad is that you can use whatever you have on hand – if you have peppers, go for it! If you have capers – go for it! Adding proteins like chicken or cheese elevates this humble salad into a meal, as it has for me many a nights this hot, summer!

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Avocado Panzanella Salad (Serves 4)

1 whole avocado, pitted and diced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 loaf cibatta bread, cubed into 1-inch pieces
pinch kosher salt
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh feta cheese (or mozzarella)

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Toss cubed bread with olive oil and toast in 400*F oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, and basil. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Lastly, add diced avocado and cheese (if using).  Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Disclosure: I received free samples of California Avocado mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Avocado and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

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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.

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The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, ME

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Lobster Risotto (Makes 4, entree portions)

2 Tbs butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
Salt
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.
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Homemade Granola with Fresh Berries & Greek Yogurt

26 Jun

It’s that time of year when it’s almost, dare I say, too hot to eat.  We all are searching for breakfasts that are quick, filling, versatile, and nutritionally adequate. Now, we have to add “cool” to that demanding list? I actually have been meaning to post my granola recipe – read: my mom’s granola recipe 🙂 – and now seems like a perfect opportunity. Treat this as a blank slate, and make it your own. I want to try making parfaits in mason jars, like Caroline did here on her blog. Once you make it yourself, you’ll never find yourself reaching for that over-priced, preservative-laden bag of ho-hum granola in the supermarket EVER again. It’s a great hostess gift (if you can manage to part with some of it!).

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Homemade Granola (makes about 7 cups)

4 c rolled oats (not quick or instant kind)
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1 1/2 c chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, sunflower)
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c coconut oil, olive oil, or canola oil
1/2 c honey (or maple syrup)
1/3 c water
2/3 c dried fruit (chopped apricots, cranberries, cherries, raisins, pineapple, papaya)
1 egg white

Heat the oven to 300*F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredient mixture, and add the oil, honey and water. Toss gently until ingredients are well combined, then toss with egg white. Finally, spread the mixture evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake granola for 40 minutes or until lightly brown, stirring every 10 minutes or so to keep the mixture from sticking. Let it cool completely, then stir in the dried fruit.

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