Grapefruit, Kale, and Avocado Salad

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Let’s talk about my new obsession: grapefruit.

It was a fruit I never used to give much attention-I found it too bitter and tart on its own and the whole idea of cutting it in half, slathering it with sugar, and eating it with a spoon for breakfast simply never appealed to me. And those grapefruit diets? Bizarre.

Until we were in Texas last weekend and I had the most amazing salad with grapefruit in it at a restaurant that changed my mind. So fresh, so juicy, the tart flavor combining perfectly with the other flavors, including kale and lemon.

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I started to notice the Texas grapefruit on display in the grocery stores everywhere, as they are in the height of their season right now, and ever since getting back, have had it on my mind to buy some and incorporate it in some way into a dish. Yesterday I had it with some Greek yogurt and a banana and it was delicious.

Today, I made a simple salad with just kale, avocado, and grapefruit, topped with some lemon olive oil dressing. So simple, fresh, and in season.

I’ve been loving bright citrus lately in these bitter cold winter days. Something about the bright, cheerful colors and juiciness….maybe it’s one of those biological signals that points to a Vitamin C deficiency? Who knows. A doctor I am not.

This kale salad is the perfect light lunch or side dish that only takes minutes to make, as only a handful of ingredients are required.  The avocado gives it a nice protein boost but feel free to make it heartier by adding nuts, sunflower seeds, or even a protein such as chicken or shrimp. Whatever you do, just make it soon. I’m craving it again already.

Grapefruit, Kale, and Avocado Kale Salad with Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

  • 1 cup Tuscan Kale, stems removed
  • ½ red grapefruit, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ avocado, cut into bite size pieces

For the Lemon Olive Oil Dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add kale to a bowl, add dressing, mix, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add grapefruit and avocado and stir to combine. Eat!

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I hope this bright, colorful salad brings you some cheer during these bitter cold days.

Life, Lately.

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Since I haven’t been on here as regularly, I figured it’d be a good time to share what I’ve been up to! Between crazy work. Seriously, it’s relentless, and when I come home, unfortunately the last thing I feel like doing is staring at a computer for another couple hours.

We finally took a trip to Houston to see our new niece-Jose’s sister’s daughter- who is now two months old. Too adorable for words.

Texas Junk Company was a pretty cool second hand store literally filled with junk and also thousands of pairs of cowboy boots. They’re all used and authentic and cheap as well. Sadly I did not find any. Suppose that just means I’ll need to go back.

Shishito peppers and the most amazing kale salad (recipe variation coming soon!) on two separate lunch dates with my husband. Love our little Houston dates.

After a nice few days of getting away, I returned to Kansas City and Jose stayed in Texas to drive to his last interview in San Antonio. After some long travels of driving through an ice storm to get back to Kansas City, we celebrated the end of his interviews and crazy travel schedule by going out to dinner for the KC restaurant week. It’s become a fun yearly tradition, and this year went to Westport Cafe. I had escargot for the first time-which was amazingly good. Also pictured is the braised short rib with polenta and croissant bread pudding. So, so good. An expensive treat but totally worth it. Weekends + trips+ family time always goes by too fast……

Chocolate Coconut Date Balls

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With New Year’s resolution time in full force during the month of January, many of us have committed to a new year of healthy eating, or at least a period of detox as we strive to work off all of the extra indulgences we enjoyed during the holiday season. Or maybe it’s to stop buying clothes at Lululemon or new boots…..but I digress. I definitely fit into the latter category in terms of needing a “detox” of some sort; while I regularly try to make healthy choices, I also balance that with a treat or two. However, I think I enjoyed at least a few more treats than usual during this particular holiday season, and have actually not been in the mood for an indulgent dessert lately, which is highly unusual for me!

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Accordingly, these chocolate coconut date balls-or “bites” as I sometimes like to call them instead since I am secretly a 5th grade boy- are perfect. They taste rich and have almost a fudge like consistency, yet they are very healthy, consisting only of dates, cocoa powder, almonds, shredded coconut, and coconut oil. They also come together in minutes and make an effortless dessert for any occasion or are a good healthy snack to have on hand to curb chocolate cravings in a healthier way.  I recently made them for a dinner party and everybody loved them, and could not believe that they only have a few ingredients. Dates are awesome. These keep in the fridge for up to a month so feel free to double or even triple the batch. I do this often.

Chocolate Coconut Date Balls

  • 25 dates
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and “pulse” until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should still look chunky and should just barely come together. If mixture is still too crumbly add more dates and/or coconut oil.

Roll into balls and place into fridge until ready to serve.

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New Year’s resolutions seem much more manageable with treats like this.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Why, hello. I’ve been away from this little blog an unexpectedly longer amount of time than planned. Between extended traveling for Christmas and then New Year’s, returning to one of the busiest times of the year at work, and battling some miserable colds (first me, now Jose), there was simply not enough time for writing and blogging.

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I definitely missed it, though. I know I have not been at this for very long, but it’s been very good for me to begin to write again. I used to (and still do) love to write,  and often would write creatively when there was simply more time. It’s been said that writing is like a muscle; you have to work at it in order to improve and refine the skill, and I am definitely seeing the truth in this. With that, I thank you for continuing to read as I continue to find my own groove.

I realize that the last time I posted (which was nearly a month ago-I know everyone says this, but I really do not know where the time went!), it was a recipe for soup. However, between the intense cold spells involving that polar vortex that I really thought must be a made up term until I walked outside this past Monday as well as having a miserable head cold, the only meal that sounded good this past week was some homemade chicken noodle soup. It’s been said that chicken noodle soup has healing powers and I believe it. Whenever I am feeling under the weather, there is simply nothing better.

This recipe is based on a family chicken noodle soup recipe, which was a staple comfort food meal growing up. I made some adjustments due to the ingredients we had on hand, and really liked how it came out.

So, whether you’re feeling under the weather as well as we get further into “flu” season, or if you just need a bowl of comfort, this chicken noodle soup will not fail you. Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 6 stalks of celery, diced
  • 6 carrots, finely sliced
  • 3 leeks, sliced (I used frozen leeks from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. of salt (add more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1-2 tsp. chicken bouillian
  • 8 oz. noodles of choice (I use whatever I have on hand-this time it was brown rice fusilli noodles)

Place chicken in large stockpot and fill with water, just enough to fully cover chicken. Bring to boil, then reduce to medium heat, skimming fat off chicken as it cooks.

When chicken is nearly cooked and fat is skimmed, add celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, and chicken bouillian to pot. Bring to boil then simmer until vegetables are tender. It is also a good idea to remove chicken, shred and remove bones, then place back into pot.

After vegetables are added to soup, cook noodles according to package directions.

When soup is done, serve over noodles with a few squirts of lemon juice and ginger if desired. Toast or crusty bread never hurts either.

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Caldo de Res

My husband does not cook very much, but the few meals that he makes are excellent.

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One of them is Caldo de Res (Beef Soup) a delicious, colorful Mexican soup that is the perfect cozy winter meal, full of vegetables and bright flavors. I had been craving caldo and begging him to make it for quite some time. It finally happened so I had to document it.

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I love Mexican style soups because of the fresh and bright lime flavors found in them that is not typically found in other traditional types of stews/soups. Though this is a hearty soup, it doesn’t feel as “heavy” and is a pretty healthy, yet comforting meal.

And of course, you have to have the sides. Fresh tortillas, salsa, additional limes, maybe tortilla chips? Whatever your heart desires.

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Caldo de Res

  • 2 lbs beef shank
  • 2-3 lbs beef short ribs
  • 3 chayote (Mexican squash)
  • 4 ears of corn, cut into thirds
  • 1/2  yellow onion, chopped
  • 6-8 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 head green cabbage, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add meat to large stockpot with garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Fill pot halfway with water and cook on medium low heat until meat begins to cook, about one hour.

Add corn and cook until boiling. Then, add potatoes and carrots until carrots are softened, about 10-15 minutes.

Add cabbage, tomato, and chayote, squash, zucchini, and cilantro. Cook until soft but not overdone.

Serve over Mexican rice!

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Kamut Hot Cereal with Honey, Banana, and Walnuts

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I have to confess that I am a serious “routine” person. My daily meals are pretty repetitive and well, boring. I usually go through a long phase of eating almost the same meals over and over until out of nowhere, I get tired of it and have to switch it up.

That’s sort of like me and oatmeal these days. I love oatmeal and I’ve probably had some variation of it for breakfast at least 4-5 times per week since maybe…August?

Needless to say, I needed a change. I decided to give this Kamut cereal (that I actually accidentally bought!) a try. I had thought I was buying the Kamut grain, which is similar to rice, but I actually bought the more finely chopped hot cereal. I cooked it similarly to oatmeal.

So I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really know exactly what Kamut was and had to google it. Kamut is a grain closely related to wheat, and while it is technically not gluten-free, most people with gluten allergies/sensitivities can tolerate it. It is high in protein and high in vitamins and nutrients.

It also has a unique and delicious taste and texture. It tastes almost buttery and creamy, and the texture is chewier as compared to oatmeal.  Of course, with it being the holiday season, it never hurts to find a healthy breakfast option to start a day that may likely include seasonal treats later on.

So, try something new and give Kamut a try. It is just as customizable as oatmeal, so try it with your favorite oatmeal mix-ins, or try different options, like dried fruits, as a natural sweetener. I kept it simple with minimal toppings, but next time I think I’ll add some dried dates for something different. Enjoy!

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Kamut Hot Cereal with Honey, Banana, and Walnuts

  • 1/3 cup Kamut
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 banana, halved, sliced thinly.
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ cup walnuts

Combine milk and water in small sauce pan and bring to boil. Add Kamut, half banana sliced thinly, cinnamon, and stir. Reduce heat to simmer, covering. Let cook about 10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally.

Let sit for 1 minute, then put in bowl and top with remaining banana, honey, and walnuts.

Life, Lately.

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Life, lately, has been busy! I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday, but I am not complaining.

This weekend was freezing cold but lots of fun.

Made biscuits for the first time (and second time, not pictured). Turns out they’re easy yet take some technique and I’m still working toward perfecting them. Jose is completely cool with this trial and error period.

Impulse Target buy. It is actually very surprising that I did not yet own this movie, considering the amount of times I quote this movie.

On Saturday we ran an Ugly Sweater 5k…in single digit temperatures. It was freezing cold but so hilarious and fun-a 5k with hot chocolate stops can’t be all that bad! After that, we went out for some beers at a new to us microbrewery, Cinder Block.

Sunday evening we saw the Hunger Games and came home to crock pot chicken noodle soup and (more) biscuits.

Happy Tuesday to you all. I’m trying very hard not to slip into holiday/vacation mode yet!

Cornbread + Cornbread Stuffing

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I never used to be a big cornbread fan when I was younger. Since then, I’ve learned that what I am really not a fan of is the dry, crumbly cornbread. It seems that there are two main schools of thought on how cornbread “should” be: dry, crumbly, and meant for eating with soups and chili, and then the moist, sweet, dense, buttery cornbread, that can be eaten that same way but, let’s face it, is also a borderline dessert.

Turns out I didn’t know what I was missing until I tried the latter.

This is the perfect, plain old buttery cornbread recipe that can be used as a base to dress up, dress down, or leave as is. I made this cornbread a few days ahead of time to use for the cornbread stuffing I made for Thanksgiving and it worked beautifully. I also snuck a piece (or a few) right after it came out of the oven and it was exactly the way I liked my cornbread-almost a dessert but it’s called bread which makes it a perfectly reasonable accompaniment to a meal.

I’m keeping this recipe on file as a go-to cornbread recipe and I think you should too.

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Cornbread

Adapted from this recipe

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 2/3 cups milk (I used almond milk and it worked wonderfully)
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add 2-3 tablespoons butter to an 11×7 baking pan (can use 9×13 or 8×8 but will need to adjust cooking times accordingly) and place in oven for 5 minutes, until melted. Swirl butter in pan until bottom and sides are coated. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs, and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

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Moving on to the cornbread stuffing……to make this, I used my grandmother’s classic stuffing recipe, which, in her true fashion, is not really much of a recipe at all. I actually e-mailed my mother a few days before Thanksgiving to ask for the recipe, which launched an e-mail thread between her and my aunts on how to make it, and everyone had different versions and modifications! So, I used some of those suggestions as a starting point and put my own twist on it, and it came out so good. I’m not usually huge of stuffing at Thanksgiving, but we couldn’t stop eating this.

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Cornbread Stuffing with Fresh Sage

  • 1 batch cornbread chopped into 1 inch squares
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh sage

Add water to large saucepan and add celery. Bring to boil and cook until celery is softened.

While celery is cooking, heat medium skillet on medium heat and add olive oil and onion. Saute until onion is softened.  If you have a cast iron skillet, you can use this and then add all other ingredients to skillet (that is how I made this). If not, proceed with the directions below.

Crack egg in small bowl and lightly beat with fork.

Drain celery but keep celery water. Set aside.

In 9×13 pan, combine cornbread, onions, celery, chicken broth, egg, salt, pepper, and sage. Mix until saturated. Add celery water as needed, if more liquid is needed. You want the cornbread mixture to be just covered with liquid. Don’t worry if it looks like too much; it will absorb in the oven.

Cover with aluminum foil and cook on 375 for 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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Not the greatest photo because I was pretty much running around in my kitchen during most of Thanksgiving day….but gives you an idea, right?

And if you need any help re-purposing leftovers, we got creative last week and simply had the cornbread stuffing with leftover sweet potato casserole topped with fried eggs. So simple and delicious.

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Roasted Carrots with Fresh Sage

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So if you’re like me, you did all kinds of cooking over Thanksgiving and don’t really want to cook anything that requires more than using your microwave for at least a few days (I mean, obviously we have to eat all of the leftovers, right?). And if you’re like me, your husband, while grateful for all of the cooking and baking that you love to do, is not quite as grateful for the trail of dishes it leaves behind as he begrudgingly washes them as you go.

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True story. The night before Thanksgiving, I was debating between making dinner rolls or buttermilk biscuits because I unexpectedly had some leftover buttermilk, and when I asked him what he preferred, his response was “Do either of them use the food processor? If so, I vote for whichever one doesn’t because I hate washing it!”

That’s just what I do for Thanksgiving. I cook and bake my heart out until I’m exhausted, my back hurts, and it’s time to eat and then do nothing. And I love it.

Our dinners as of late have consisted of variations of Thanksgiving leftovers and this was a last-minute side dish so that I could say that we ate at least one vegetable as part of the meal! However, these came out so delicious and….well, beautiful, that I had to share.

This is the perfect simple, yet pretty-looking dish that presents well as a side dish at dinner parties.

I actually bought these multi-colored carrots by mistake, thinking incorrectly that I needed them to make my grandmother’s stuffing. Turns out, she doesn’t use carrots for her stuffing and I completely got that wrong! I did, however, have some leftover fresh sage from the stuffing, which worked perfectly with these roasted carrots. Just to clarify, you can use regular orange carrots as well if you can’t find the multi-colored carrots (I found them at Trader Joe’s) but pink and yellow carrots are just so pretty.

As a side note, fresh sage is my new favorite herb….it tastes amazing on roasted turkey/chicken, potatoes, STUFFING, and roasted vegetables. The dried spice does not even compare. I know it can be annoying to buy fresh herbs when it’s easier to keep the dried stuff on hand, but if you are going to splurge to buy anything fresh, buy sage. It makes a world of difference.

And who knew I’d have this much to say about carrots.

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Roasted Carrots with Fresh Sage

Serves 2-3

  • 6 carrots, cut into 1-2 inch “bite size” pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss carrots in a bowl with sage, salt, and pepper. Spread onto baking sheet in single layer and bake for 20 minutes, turning them half way through.

Serve immediately!

Thanksgiving Weekend.

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Needless to say, it was a pretty great weekend of food + relaxation.

Thursday morning began with a Thanksgiving yoga class at the studio I attend. Yep, I opted for yoga instead of any turkey trotting and it was a good choice. It was a donation class and they were accepting canned goods for a local shelter, so that was very cool.

Thanksgiving dinner was spent with a good friend from work, her husband, and their young daughter. Our menu included turkey (of course!), cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, lemon garlic green beans, and homemade buttery dinner rolls. For dessert, we had apple pecan pie, chocolate buttermilk pie, and bambusa (?), a Middle Eastern inspired dessert which was basically sponge cake soaked with honey. So good. I need to get that recipe and re-create. All in all, everything was great…food and company. Jose and I always miss our respective families around Thanksgiving but it’s also become a special time to create our own traditions, or lack thereof. As we were talking about our plans for this year, we came to the realization that since moving to Kansas City, we have not done the same thing twice on Thanksgiving. And I think that’s kind of cool.

The rest of the weekend was mostly just relaxing and included watching the entire first season of Boardwalk Empire (so good-and so addicting!), seeing Thor, decorating for Christmas, and doing just a teeny tiny bit of shopping.

It’s always exceptionally difficult to return to work after an extended weekend, but at least we are only 3 weeks away from more time off at Christmas.

I hope you all had a wonderful (and relaxing!) Thanksgiving!