Category Archives: winter

Cheesy Scalloped Potato, Broccoli and Ham Casserole




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I know that “Healthy” and “Cheesy” don’t usually go together, but trust me, these do. Plus, veggies, which I’ve been trying to eat in some capacity at every meal. This winter has been unbelievably cold and snowy, and we’ve made some stick-to-your-ribs meals that come together pretty easily, warm you up really well and leave enough for lunch the next day, too. Here’s one of them.

  • 2 cups fully cooked, diced ham
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced very thin (a mandoline helps a lot – just be careful!)
  • 2 heads broccoli, washed and cut into florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper

1. Heat the oven to 375.

2. In a French oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir, then cook until translucent, approx. 4-5 minutes.

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Polenta Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Lemon-Dill “Hollandaise” Sauce

Weekend breakfasts have been out of this world lately. Just about every Sunday we sleep in, then cook up a great brunch and listen to our motown playlist while reading the paper. It makes me feel like my life is grown-up in the way I used to think about adults on tv shows as a kid, like Denise Huxtable or most of the cast of ThirtySomething. Anyway, for this, we skipped the traditional english muffin base and used polenta baked with butter and sage, which was incredible. Then, of course, Wild for Salmon’s unbeatable Hickory Smoked Salmon (and seriously, I don’t know if I can ever go back to salmon other than wild-caught like this – night and day difference between the two), gently poached eggies and the lemon-dill sauce. It’s December. Make this then snuggle up with somebody you love this weekend.

POLENTA EGGS BENEDICT WITH SMOKED SALMON AND LEMON-DILL SAUCE (makes breakfast for 2 very lucky guests)
– 4 eggs
Lemon-Dill sauce
– 4 precooked polenta circles
– chopped fresh sage, approx. 8 leaves
– 4 tbsp. butter
Wild for Salmon’s Hickory Smoked Salmon 

1. Get the polenta ready. You want to get a package of it precooked, then cut it into 1/2 inch slices.


2. Next, cut circles out of those slices with either a cookie cutter or a measuring cup (Kitchen hacks. You’re welcome). 


3. Melt the butter, chop up the sage, and combine.


4. Brush the polenta on both sides with the butter and sage mixture. Bake at 400 for approx. 30 minutes, or until firmer (crispy-ish) and golden. Set aside to cool while you make the eggs.

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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

Detox Herb & Romaine Salad

This is just about the most detoxifyingly delicious salad I can think of. It’s perfect for winter and feeling like it won’t be snowing forever. There’s an equal mix of lettuce and herbs, and a light lemon dressing is, as always, my fav. Thanks for Colly Doll for the recipe – enjoy!

HERB & ROMAINE SALAD (makes as much or as little as you want)
Equal parts:
– Romaine (the freshest you can find)
– Parsley
– Mint
– Green onions
– Dill
– Juice of 1 lemon
– Splash of EVOO
– Good quality Kosher Salt

1. Pull apart (don’t chop, this will be prettier) the herbs into equal amounts.




2. Add everything to a big bowl, then add romaine – torn, if you want.


3. Juice a lemon over the salad, then add EVOO. Top with Kosher salt and gently mix all together.



Cheesy Cauliflower-Potato Soup

Oh weird, it’s snowing again. Let’s make some soup to warm things up!  I love cauliflower in just about  every form imaginable, and this soup was no exception. It was the perfect thickness, completely delicious for how little went into it, and any time I get to add cheese to anything is just fine by me. As with most soups, this was even better the next day, and someone liked it so much that they basically stopped breathing in order to spoon this in as fast as possible. So you know it’s good.

CHEESY CAULIFLOWER-POTATO SOUP (makes an enormous pot of soup)
– 1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
– 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
– 5 cups chicken broth (I thought this made the perfect soup consistency, but if you like a thinner soup, add another cup or two)
– 1 vidalia onion, diced
– 2 cups freshly-shredded cheddar cheese
– 1 tbsp. nutmeg
– 1/4 c. heavy cream
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt – about a tablespoon to start, then as needed
– Chives, for topping

1. In a French oven, melt the butter and EVOO over medium heat.

2. Add the diced onion, add a pinch or two of kosher salt, and “sweat” the onion until soft, approx. 10 minutes.


3. When soft, add the cauliflower florets and potato pieces. Mix it all up.  Don’t panic when you see all of this basically filling the pot to the top. Think of all the delicious soup you’re going to have!

4. Add chicken broth. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for approx. 30 minutes. You’ll see that the florets and potato pieces get soft and fork-tender.

5. With an immersion blender, blend the soup to your desired consistency. Taste, then add the cheddar (it was great to find DiBruno Brothers cheese in a store around here, but any cheddar you can find that you like is good, too). Stir it in so that it melts, then taste it. 


6. Add nutmeg, heavy cream and kosher salt to taste.

7. Serve a bowl topped with a little more shredded cheese and chives.  Snuggle up and enjoy.

Brrrrr

Happiness – winter edition

 Bright pink manicures in December

 How cute my mom is with packaging little snacks for me

 My amazing Dad’s last day in the office and a surprise champagne celebration for him by his girls.  <3

 NYE with 2 of my favorite California guys

 Gift exchange party with my girlfriends

 Finding Maggie’s incredible peanut butter cup cheesecake bites in my purse the day after the gift exchange party

 ORGANIC EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. It was honestly ridiculous how happy looking at everything in this cart kept making me.

  

 How in love my Mom and Dad still are after 36 years together

 Saturday celebrations that begin at 3 pm

 My favorite girl’s 4th birthday and her awesome approach to cake-eating.

Wine Club dinner at the Westmoreland Club – at least 2 things on that menu that I’d never had before.

New TV. Comprehensive installation directions. Somebody who actually knew how to assemble it.
Snowstorms (although, okay, I’m just about over them at this point).

I love you, winter! Looking forward to missing you when you go away real soon.  xo

My Dad’s “Better than Any Other You’ll Ever Have” French Onion Soup

For years I tried – and failed – to find a french onion soup that rivaled my Dad’s. It’s not just that he makes it and it’s so comforting it makes me feel like home, but it’s just hands-down delicious: perfect balance of onions and broth, flavor and cheese. There is nobody – no restaurant, no chef, no person – who makes this better than he does. It’s been FREEZING with this polar vortex lately – this is a perfect time to try one of the best soups you’ll ever have.

As a side note – I can’t stand soggy bread, so I just dump some shredded swiss in this and it melts on contact, but this soup does look so pretty with that little island of bread and melted cheese!

FRENCH ONION SOUP (serves at least 6)
— By the way. This is not exactly a recipe you’d file under “healthy”.  Enjoy.
– 1 stick butter (yup, I said it)
– 2-3 red onions and 2-3 vidalia onions, sliced into thinner half moons
– 3 cans beef broth
– 2 cans beef consomme
– 3 bay leaves
– 1/4 C. red wine
– 1.5 C. shredded swiss cheese
– rounds of toasted baguettes 

1. In the largest pan you have, melt the butter over medium heat. 


2. Slice the onions into thin half moons, then add to the melted butter. You don’t want to sweat them, you just want them to soften a little. So no salt needed.

3. When onions are softened but still have some bite to them (that’s the master at work, right there!), open up the cans of beef broth and beef consomme and add to the pan.


 4. Add the bay leaves, then the red wine.

5. Bring the whole mix up to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Simmah.

6. Shred the swiss, cut and toast the french baguette rounds in the oven.  Turn the oven to broil.

7. Scoop some of the soup into an oven-proof bowl. If you don’t like the soggy (but pretty) island of bread and cheese, you can just mix the cheese right into the bowl. If you do, though, place a round of bread on top of the soup, then top with shredded cheese. 

8. My Dad swears the key to melting, not burning, the cheese is to leave the oven door open. I’m taking his word for it.


 



9. When cheese is melted, let cool a bit (it’ll be super hot) and enjoy!!!  You’ll never go back to restaurant french onion soup again.


Mom <3
If you get the bay leaf, it’s good luck!

Chili with Chipotle and Lime (Homemade Chili Seasoning, too!)

There are few better comfort foods during the winter months than a bowl of chili.  It feels like it’s been snowing for weeks here, so I yesterday I made a big pot of this, and let it simmer for hours. I also made my own chili seasoning for 2 reasons: 1. I’m not a huge fan of spice, so this lets me control the amount of heat that goes into it (although I think this mix was a good middle ground for both Brad and me); and 2. Pre-packaged seasonings are full of preservatives and other gross stuff, and it’s so much easier, and healthier, to throw a “seasoning packet” together using whatever’s in your pantry.

I’ve made this a couple of times with a few tweaks, but this is going up on the site now because last night, after a couple of bites, I asked Brad what he would change about it. He answered: “I would eat this faster, and with a bigger spoon.”  So…I think we’ve found the recipe.

CHILI WITH CHIPOTLE AND LIME (and homemade chili seasoning, too!) Serves 7-10
– 1.25 lbs. ground beef
– 14.5 oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
– 14.5 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
– 14.5 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
– 14.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
– 14.5 oz can petite cut tomatoes with chipotle chilis (chipotle salsa will also work – use 2 cups of this)
– 6 oz. can tomato paste
– 5 stalks celery, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
– 1 green pepper, diced
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 1 tsp. chili powder
– 1 tsp. cumin
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– 1 1/2 C. water
– sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, avocado for garnish

HOMEMADE CHILI SEASONING
– 1/2 tsp. cumin
– 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
– 1/2 tsp. coriander
– 1 tsp. chili powder
– 1/2 tsp. oregano
– 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
– dash paprika

1. In a large skillet, brown the beef.  If it’s lean, you won’t need to drain it, but if it isn’t, drain the excess fat that collects.

2. In a large pot (I used one of my trusty Le Creusets – I really don’t think I’d be able to cook as well without these), heat 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium high heat. Add the diced celery, green pepper, and onion, add a heavy pinch of kosher salt, and let them sweat for approx. 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

 

3. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste, stir to combine, cook another 5 minutes.

4. Combine all the ingredients for the chili seasoning.

 


5. Add the beans (if you can find them, Eden Organics make one of the best canned products on the market – they are truly organic, their cans are BPA-free, etc.) and meat to the pot with the veggies and tomatoes, mix all of this together. Next, add the chili seasonings. Stir well.

 


6. Add 1.5 cups water, then stir this all together, cover, and let simmer for approx. 4-6 hours.


7. Just before taking this off the stove, stir in the lime juice, then let sit to combine.  Taste, adjust seasonings (I’m a huge fan of adding Herbamare to this – it’s a great, natural blend of sea salt and herbs/minerals – and usually I add about another tablespoon of this to bring everything together), then pour yourself a bowl.  Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado chunks, scallions, etc.


A small confession – I ate this again for breakfast this morning.  So delicious!