Category Archives: fall

White Beans and Kale with Parm, Nutmeg and Walnuts

Remember when you thought the only thing you could make with kale was some variation of a kale, sausage and bean soup? Oh, just me?  It’s true, but what a difference a couple years makes. I use kale all the time now, and it’s such a great base for sides, quiches, smoothies and – okay, soups. You could throw this together in about 15 minutes and it’s a perfect little snacky dish or a substantial side for whatever else you’re making for dinner. The nutmeg is perfect in this, adding a little sweetness, and the beans get kind of crunchy on the outside while still remaining soft and creamy on the inside. Serve this with some good bread or just on its own.
 
WHITE BEANS AND KALE WITH PARM, NUTMEG AND WALNUTS (serves 3-4 as a side)
– 1 can large beans – butter beans are really good for this
– 3 cups kale, stems removed, washed and chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– couple grinds of nutmeg
– 1/4 c. freshly grated parm
– 1/4 c. toasted chopped walnuts
– kosher salt & pepper, to taste
 
1. In a large pan, warm the EVOO over medium-low heat until shimmery. Add chopped garlic and stir for approx. 30 seconds, until fragrant.
 
2. Add the beans (drained and rinsed). Let these kind of sit on one side for a little bit before flipping to the other side. You want the outsides to get a little golden brown color.

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Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Bulgar, Sausage and Feta

One of the things that entertains me the most about dating Brendan is his ridiculous appetite. The boy can EAT. He’s the best taste tester ever, and  I don’t think he’s ever met a meal he didn’t like. As a Colorado guy, he’s used to more meat-based meals, but sometimes I’ll make something totally vegetarian, and healthy too, and I swear he doesn’t even miss a beat. These portabellos have a pretty meaty flavor, anyway, so maybe that was the middle ground? I added some sausage just for a little more substance and flavor, but you can leave this out if you want.

 
PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH BULGAR, SAUSAGE & FETA (makes 4)
 
– 4 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
– 3 sausage links, uncooked
– 3 scallions, chopped
– 1/3 c. crumbled feta
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/4 C. EVOO
– Italian herbs
– 1 cup bulgar
– 2 cups water
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tbsp. butter
 
1. Clean the mushrooms, scrape out the “gills”. Take off the stems and set aside (don’t throw these away).
 
2. In a bag, marinate the mushrooms with the lemon juice, 1/4 c. EVOO & the Italian herbs for at least an hour.
 
3. Boil 2 cups of water. Place 1 cup of dry bulgar in a bowl, add the 2 cups boiling water, cover. Let this steam for about 30 minutes.

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Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower with Thyme

I cook with cauliflower so much that I finally looked up its health benefits, just so I could mentally pat myself on the back for making good eating decisions. So here you go: it’s a great source of fiber, vitamin C, provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, and on top of all of that, it’s basically the tofu of vegetables since you can make it taste like just about anything. This was a really quick and tasty side dish, the onions make it a little more hearty, the thyme adds some dimension, plus: parmesan. Enjoy.

PARMESAN-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH THYME
– 1 head cauliflower, cut into slices and florets
– 1 onion, sliced
– 4 sprigs thyme
– 6 garlic cloves, skin still on
– 3 tbsp. EVOO
– fresh parmesan
– Kosher salt & pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. Slice the cauliflower into pieces and florets, add to a big bowl.

 
3. Do the same with the onion, then add the garlic cloves (these will roast and be amazing) and the thyme.


4. Add the EVOO, kosher salt & pepper. Shake everything up so that the cauliflower and onions are coated. Continue reading

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Crispy Sage

Seriously, I just can’t stop making things with squash this fall. They’re so delicious, need almost nothing for flavor and can be used in a ton of different meals. This butternut squash pasta is a great way to get at least one serving of veggies in with your dinner, and it’s amazingly rich for how healthy it is. Plus: crispy sage. Mmmmmm.
 
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH PASTA WITH CRISPY SAGE (serves 4-6)
– 1 lb. pasta
– 1/2 a large butternut squash
– 1 carrots, peeled
– about 10 sage leaves
– 1/2 small vidalia onion, diced
– 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
– 1/4 C. freshly grated parm
– 1.5 C. chicken (or vegetable) broth
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tbsp. butter
– kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
 
1. Roast your butternut squash, then add the 2 peeled, oiled carrots to the tray about 30 minutes into the roasting process. When roasted, peel the squash & roughly chop it, and chop the roasted carrots.

 


2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt 1 tbsp. butter over low heat. When it starts to brown and bubble, add the sage leaves. Let the leaves get crispy, then remove and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

 

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Black Bean, Acorn Squash, Kale & Cheddar Jack Quesadillas

Let’s say that you and your boyfriend are going to a city council meeting one night, and you’re both working basically right up to the time it starts. Do you A. Go to the grocery store and buy things for dinner which would probably consist of pasta, and a jar of sauce B. Pick up something on the way to the meeting or C. Think about the hodgepodge of ingredients in your refrigerator on your drive home from work, throw this together in 45 minutes and then watch your boyfriend inhale an entire quesadilla in the 5 minutes he’s home before you both have to leave for the council meeting, knowing that it’s made of almost completely healthy things? 
 
C. If this town could run itself as efficiently as this recipe came together, it would be a whole new world. 
 
BLACK BEAN, ACORN SQUASH, KALE & CHEDDAR JACK QUESADILLAS (serves 2-4)
– 1/2 an acorn squash, sliced
– 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
– 2 cups kale, ribs removed, torn into pieces
– 1/2 vidalia onion, really thinly sliced
– 1/3 shredded jack cheese
– 4 flour tortillas
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt & pepper
 
1. Preheat the oven to 400. 
 
2. Carefully (these are really hard), with a serrated knife, cut the acorn squash into strips. Rub the cut sides with a little olive oil.
 
3. Place acorn squash on a baking sheet, roast for about 30 minutes, flipping sides around halfway through.



4. Thinly slice an onion, then cook it over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp. EVOO until it soften and starts to caramelize. Continue reading

How to Roast a Butternut Squash

 Ohhhhh, there is just nothing better than butternut squash from the farmer’s market. You roast this, you can make a million different things from soups to salads to breakfast sandwiches to burritos and even pasta (but that’s our next post). I’m 100% of the mindset that it’s one of the world’s most perfect foods – super flavorful, chock full of nutrients, plus a really pretty color that sounds like something J.Crew would name the orangey version of one of their wool pencil skirts. 


Sometimes I buy a squash and roast it sections at a time, especially when I’m just making something for Brendan and me. You can do that or roast this all at once – either way, get that oven up to 425.

HOW TO ROAST A BUTTERNUT SQUASH
– 1 butternut squash
– EVOO

1. If you’re roasting the whole squash, poke a couple holes in it with a fork and throw the entire thing in the pre-heating oven. Continue reading

Fall Breakfast Sandwich – Roasted Butternut Squash, Fried Egg, Bacon, Crispy Sage

The first Sunday brunch in the new place really made it feel like home. Bren and I woke up, got a ridiculous grocery order to stock the fridge, and then put together this incredible breakfast sammie. Roasted butternut squash serves as a savory base, bacon crisped within an inch of its life added the crunch and saltiness, fried egg made it breakfast-y, and the browned-butter crispy sage was the perfect topping. We made some Zummo’s coffee, halved a grapefruit and brought everything out to our awesome sun porch to have breakfast while listening to a Sunday morning Motown playlist and reading the Sunday edition of the Scranton Times, which Brendan dominated today.

I’m writing this from the porch and currently 100% content with life. Make this breakfast sandwich and enjoy your Sunday!

FALL BREAKFAST SANDWICH – ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, FRIED EGG, BACON & CRISPY SAGE (makes 2)
– 2 whole-wheat english muffins, halved and toasted
– 1.5 cups of butternut squash
– 4 eggs
– 4 slices of bacon
– 8 sage leaves
– 3 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt & fresh black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Cut off probably 3 inches of the top of a butternut squash (so you don’t waste the rest of it), then rub the cut side with a little bit of EVOO.

3. Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet, roast for approx. 40 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool while you put everything else together.

4. In a larger pan, add the bacon over medium-high heat. Flip when the underside starts to get crispy, pushing the bacon around the pan to make sure it gets cooked and crispy.  Remove and drain on paper towels.


5. Meanwhile, in a non-stick or enamel skillet, melt 1.5 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium heat.


6. Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a ramekin. Add to the skillet when the butter/oil mixture starts to be shimmery and have tiny bubbles. 

7. I cooked 2 eggs at a time. Gently add each one to the pan, let them set a bit, and then cover with a lid to steam it all together. This takes about 5 minutes – in about 3, uncover the pan and add a little kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to the eggs.  When finished (you can cook them as long as you want for yolk consistency – I cooked the yolks all the way through, but might try this again with the yolks a little runnier), remove with a spatula to a plate and cook the other 2 eggs the same way.

8. In a different, smaller pan, melt the butter slowly over medium low heat while the eggs are cooking. When it starts to get a little brown (brown – not black, otherwise throw it out and start over), add the sage leaves and shake the pan while the butter coats them and they get crispy.

9. Remove the skin from the butternut squash, cut into chunks and add to a bowl. Mash. This needs nothing as apparently butternut squash is the world’s perfect, most tasty food when roasted.


10. Toast the english muffin halves, then assemble – a spread of the butternut squash, then the bacon, the fried egg and top it all with a couple of crispy sage leaves.

 

11. Serve and watch your boyfriend be completely impressed by how you’re changing his entire opinion of squash. Happy Sunday.




Mohonk Mountain House

Well, today wasn’t terrible.

I went on a work trip to the Mohonk Mountain House (less a “house”, more a “castle”) in the Catskills, and set up shop in probably the most relaxing, beautiful “office” that I’ve ever had. Working lakeside in a rocking chair on a wrap-around porch is something I definitely need to do more often. Also, so is taking a lunchtime hike with unbelievable views and strolling around a garden filled with flowers exploding in color. On top of all this, they served the best buffet I’ve ever experienced (and yes mom, I know “best buffet” is an oxymoron, but this really was fantastic – same food and chefs as the CIA, and a tomato soup that rivals The Kitchen’s).

I really want to come back here on a day off. But for the first day of fall, this was about as perfect as it could get.




















Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Parmesan Salad


This salad is all fall. The sweetness of roasted butternut squash and thin slices of apple blend perfectly with the kale dressed in a simple lemon vinaigrette, and topped with curls of parmesan. We had this alongside a tuna chickpea salad for a filling, healthy lunch. Kale is incredibly good for you on so many levels, and I try to work it into as many recipes as I can while it’s available in abundance at our Scranton Farmers’ Market (my favorite grocery place in town, BY FAR. Have you found your local farmers’ market yet?).

KALE, ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, APPLE & PARMESAN SALAD (serves 2-4)
– 1/2 head of kale, “ribs” cut out and discarded, leaves torn into pieces
– 1/2 butternut squash, roasted
– 1-2 apples (gala, macintosh, etc. Any sweeter apple will work)
– shaves of parmesan cheese (thin pieces of fresh cheddar would also work)

Lemon Viniagrette
– Juice of 1/2 lemon (approx. 1 tbsp)
– 2 Tbsp EVOO
– Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Get the squash roasting. The easiest way to do this is to punch a couple of small holes into a whole squash (with a fork, or similar) and throw the whole thing in an oven at 400 for about 20 minutes.  After this time, the squash should be soft enough that you can cut off the bottom without any trouble, then slice it in half and scoop out the seeds.

 


2. Rub a couple of drops of olive oil on each cut side of the squash, then place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 for approx.30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

3. Meanwhile, prep the kale. After washing thoroughly, cut out the “ribs” and discard, then roughly tear or cut the kale into similar-size pieces.



4. Wash the apples, then cut them into thin slices. Delicate slices as opposed to larger chunks will give this salad a refreshing little bite with every forkful.

5. When squash is finished roasting, remove from oven, peel the skin (this should come right off if the squash has been fully roasted), then cut squash into chunks.



6. Whisk together dressing, then add to the kale and massage into the kale pieces (kale can be kind of tough, so massaging the dressing into the leaves will make them a little more chewable). Add squash, apples, and gently stir to combine. Top with parmesan (or cheddar) and serve as either a side or a main dish.

Ground Chicken, Kale, and Sweet Potato Patties

Brad came home for lunch the other day as I was making these, and couldn’t believe how good the house smelled. I couldn’t believe that something with kale, almost zero flour, and sweet potatoes could be so delicious, and filling, too. I guess these were meant to be served as a burger, but I upped the kale and sweet potatoes, and made the patties a little bigger, so 2 plus a side salad were more than enough for a lunch (or, for that matter, a dinner).

CHICKEN, KALE, & SWEET POTATO PATTIES (makes 8-10 patties)

– 1.5lbs ground chicken (I got this at the farmers’ market, but apparently you can just grind up chicken breast in a Food Processor – which should then be cleaned really well, because, ew.)
– 2 shallots, chopped
– 2 green onions, chopped
– 1 sweet potato, cut into tiny cubes
– 3 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped roughly
– 4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp. paprika
– 1 tsp. garlic powder
– 2 tbspns dijon mustard
– kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
– EVOO

1. In a saucepan, heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Add shallots and green onions, heat until wilted. 


2. Add tiny cubes of sweet potatoes, saute until soft. These can take a little while, so just let them cook while you arrange the mixing ingredients for the chicken.


3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg, paprika, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

You can see me in this picture! My red shirt was a giveaway.

4. When sweet potato is fairly soft, chop up the kale, add to the sweet potato/shallot/green onion mixture, turn heat down to medium low, and combine until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Add ground chicken to the mixing bowl with the egg/paprika/mustard/garlic powder/salt/pepper. Combine with your hands, then add kale/sweet potato/shallot/onion mixture. Add flour one tablespoon at a time. This will be kind of sticky, but should start to pull together after a bit.



6. In a large skillet, heat approx. 1/4 inch olive oil over medium-high heat.

7. Form mixture into patties.

8. One at a time, add patties to heated olive oil, and cook through, approx. 5 minutes on each side. 


9. Check to make sure patties are cooked all the way through, then drain on paper towels and serve with a side salad.