Breakfast Bake: Egg, Baby Kale, & Feta

Baby kale!  Who knew? I was so excited when I saw this in the grocery store.  Kale is great for you, but traditionally it’s really hearty and kind of tough.  Baby kale is so much more delicate, doesn’t require any prep work, and can be used in place of spinach leaves for just about anything, so I started with this. Throw this “breakfast bake” together in 15 minutes, bake it for 30-35, and you have a super filling breakfast that gives you the added benefit of another serving of veggies for the day.  We ate this over the next 2 days, and it was still delicious.

BREAKFAST BAKE: EGG, BABY KALE, & FETA (makes 6 servings)
– 1/2 a container of baby kale (I used Olivia’s Organics, so approx. 6 oz.), or regular-leaf kale, “ribs” removed, and chopped roughly
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 3 shallots, thinly sliced
– 1/2 – 1/3 C. crumbled feta
– 8 eggs – 4 with yolk, 4 egg whites only
– 1/4 c. milk
– 1 tsp. Herbamare, which is the greatest seasoning ever, or just regular salt & pepper if you can’t find it
– 1/2 tsp. fresh chopped dill (optional)
– Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Rub a little olive oil in an 8 x 8 (or similar) casserole dish.

3. In a large sautee pan, heat the 1 tbsp. EVOO, then add the shallots and cook until they soften, approx. 2 minutes.  Add the baby kale and sautee until wilted, which shouldn’t take longer than a minute.  If you’re using regular kale, it’ll take about 2 minutes until it’s just wilted.  Add the tsp. Herbamare and the dill, and stir to combine everything.

4. Remove from heat and spread the kale/shallot mixture in the casserole dish. Top with the crumbled feta.

5. Lightly beat the eggs and milk.  Add however much salt & pepper you would typically add for scrambled eggs.

6. Pour the egg mixture over the kale/shallots/feta.  Use a fork to gently sort of poke the egg mixture down into the kale & shallots, so that the eggs get evenly distributed.

7.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the eggs are set.  Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes.

8. Cut into servings and enjoy, then save your leftovers (if there are any!) for a quick breakfast over the next day or two.

Mediterranean Shrimp & Feta Bake

Not only is most Mediterranean cuisine amazing for you & your health, it’s also awesome. There’s an emphasis on fresh cooking, olive oil instead of butter, foods with flavors of their own so you don’t need a bunch of add-ons, and then flavors like dill, lemon, olives, feta, etc. The “Mediterranean diet” practices eating habits that the U.S. recommends for us, and just think of how much better off we all would be if we lived like this all the time! Plus, I’m a fan of any eating plan that encourages drinking red wine.  So pour yourself a glass and get this Shrimp & Feta bake started.  It’ll be ready in 30 minutes, tops.

– 1 lb. frozen, uncooked shrimp
– 1 vidalia onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 28-oz. can chunky crushed tomatoes
– 1 tbsp. chopped dill
– 1/4 c. fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/3 c. crumbled feta
– Kosher salt & fresh-cracked pepper to taste
– Orzo, or pasta, or rice, to top with the Shrimp & Feta bake

1. Quickly defrost your shrimp.  Fill a bowl with cold water, add the shrimp, and change the water twice over the next 20 minutes.  You’ll be able to throw the rest of this together by the time they’re de-thawed.

2. Preheat the oven to 425.  

3. In a saucepan (or better, to make this a one-pot meal, a Le Creuset Dutch Oven), heat 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, approx. 5 minutes.

4. Add the chopped garlic and stir until fragrant, approx. 60 seconds.

5. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and let heat until it starts to shimmer (approx. 2 minutes).  Then, lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the juices start to thicken.

6. Remove from the heat. and stir in the dill & parsley, juice of 1 lemon, feta, shrimp, and salt & pepper.

7. Place pan on the middle rack in the oven and bake, uncovered, until shrimp are cooked through, approx. 10-12 minutes.

8. Serve over cooked orzo, pasta, rice, etc.  – or eat it on its own for a fully gluten-free meal.

Black Bean Soup with Lime & Cumin-Infused Sour Cream

There are a ton of recipes for making a black bean soup with dried beans that you soak overnight, turning an hour-long process into at least a 12-hour one.  I love black bean soup, but I really love the fact that you can throw this recipe together using canned black beans, and have a great, flavorful, one-pot meal in almost no time at all.  Red bell peppers, red onions, cilantro, lime & garlic combine with the canned black beans & chicken broth, then are finished by roughly blending it all together. A dollop of lime & cumin-infused sour cream adds the perfect amount of creaminess to this, too.  Don’t be scared by the 4 tablespoons (!!! I know) of cumin in this soup as a flavoring.  Cumin is great for you – tons of health benefits from liver detoxification to metabolism acceleration.  If you’re not a fan of the spice, though, I’d probably cut this back to 2 tablespoons for a less noticeable flavor.

Happy first day of Spring!

BLACK BEAN SOUP WITH LIME & CUMIN-INFUSED SOUR CREAM (makes approx. 10-12 bowls of soup)
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 red bell pepper, diced
– 2 red onions, diced
– 3 cans black beans (I can’t recommend buying Eden Organic products enough, if you can find them.  They’re truly organic, use BPA-free cans, etc.  Totally worth the relatively minimal extra cost.), rinsed and drained
– 4 tbsp. ground cumin
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/3 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
– juice of 1 lime
– 1.5 – 2 C. chicken broth (depending on how thick or thin you like your soup)
– 1.5 – 2 C. water (same note as above)
– Kosher salt & pepper

– zest of 1/2 a lime
– 1/3 C. sour cream
– juice of 1/2 a lime
– 1 tbsp. cumin

1. Dice your onions & your bell pepper.

2. Over medium high heat in a Le Creuset French Oven, heat 1 tbsp. EVOO.  Add diced bell pepper & onions, and sautee until they start to brown, approx. 10 minutes.

3. Add 4 tbsp cumin & 3 minced garlic cloves, stir until fragrant.

4. Add 3 cans rinsed and drained black beans, stir everything to combine.

5. Add water just to cover – either 1.5 – 2 C, depending on how thick or thin you like your soup.  Then add 1.5 – 2 C. chicken broth, too. Pacific makes a great 4-pack of 1-cup servings of chicken and vegetable broth, and they too are “truly” organic, as well as supporters of regulations for GMO labeling (hurraugh).

6. Bring soup just to a boil, then cover and simmer for approx. 30 minutes. Uncover, then add 1 tbsp. salt, 15 grinds of black pepper, juice of 1 lime (I used our new Rosle Citrus Reamer/Juicer again, which is the greatest thing ever), and the chopped cilantro.  Stir & let simmer for another 10 minutes.


7. At this point, blend it with an Immersion Hand Blender.  You can taste it before you do, but I wouldn’t recommend it, because it’ll just taste like bean water (“hot ham water” – Lindsey Bluth). I roughly blend this, because I like the end result to be a little chunkier, but blend it to whatever consistency you’d like.  Taste, then adjust seasonings.  Cover again, leave on low heat, and make your lime & cumin-infused sour cream.

8. Easy-peasy: combine sour cream, cumin, lime juice, lime zest.  Taste and adjust.  This will keep well in the refrigerator over the next couple of days to top off your bowls of soup.

9. Ladle a bowl of soup, top with a dollop of sour cream, mix & enjoy.  Overnight, this will get thicker & blend the flavors together – like so many soups, it’s good today, but will be great tomorrow. So will the sour cream.

Creamy Avocado Dressing – No Olive Oil or Dairy!

This dressing was a happy accident.  Dinner was almost ready one night, and I realized we didn’t have any olive oil left to make a salad dressing.  So I searched the internet and found a couple basic recipes, combined a few of them, and came up with this.  It’s fantastic.  It’s like a salad on top of a salad, is one of the healthiest, most refreshing dressings I’ve ever put together, and will keep a couple of days, too.  We ended up using it for a dipping sauce for mexican summer rolls for dinner the next day. I really can’t express just how much I love avocados and how they seem to make just about every recipe better.

– 1 avocado, cut into chunks
– 1/2 english cucumber, chopped
– 1/4 C. cilantro, chopped
– juice of 1/2 lime
– zest of 1/2 lime
– juice of 1/2 lemon
– 1/4 C. water
– kosher salt to taste

1. Cut up the avocado, english cucumber, cilantro, and put into a Food Processor.  Add the lemon & lime juice, lime zest, water, & 1/2 tsp. kosher salt to start.

2. Blend everything really, really well.  Taste, then add more juice, water, salt, etc. to taste.

3. Serve on top of a nice green salad, use as a dipping sauce, etc.  This is a great way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies, too.

Lightened-up Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Bake


Last Saturday was such a tease – almost 60 degrees and sunny – perfect for Scranton’s Parade Day (the second largest parade in the country!). The Irish in this area apparently have some serious pull, because right after Parade Day, the cold came again – snow flurries, winds whipping, etc.  Perfect for some end-of-winter comfort food. This cheesy chicken & broccoli bake was an incredibly rich-tasting meal for how little actually went into it.  I know a lot of these recipes can use a ton of butter, heavy cream, or even a block of Velveeta, but here, butter is used sparingly, and making a little “roux” to start really thickens the sauce on its own. 2% milk and some organic chicken broth combine to make the cheese sauce really deep and flavorful. Also, this takes about fifteen minutes tops to throw together, so you can have a fresh, hot meal on the table in less than an hour. We had this over a little orzo, but pasta would also work, or even quinoa.  

– 1 lb. chicken, diced into bite-sized pieces
– 12 oz. broccoli florets, steamed until bright green (or frozen, and totally unthawed)

– 2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
– 4 tbsp. butter
– 3 tsbp. flour
– 1 cup 2% milk
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 2 pinches nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt
– couple of grinds black pepper
– 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Rub a little olive oil around the base of a casserole dish.

3. Add broccoli & chopped chicken to the casserole dish, mix to combine.
4. Get your “roux” started.  A roux is a thickener for recipes, and also acts as a base for creating a deeper sort of flavor from whatever you’re adding to it. To start, melt 3 tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Then, whisk in 3 tbsp. flour, and continue to whisk while the mixture changes consistency, color, and smell.  It should start to become a golden color, almost a light brown, and smell kind of nutty.

5. At this point, whisk in the milk and chicken broth – Pacific makes a fantastic organic chicken broth in a convenient 4-pack of 1-cup boxes – and raise heat just to a boil, continuing to mix.  
6. Reduce heat to a low bubble, and whisk constantly – approx. 2 minutes.  The mixture will start to feel (and look) thicker.  When it reaches this point, remove from the heat and whisk in nutmeg, salt, & pepper.  

7. Whisk in the cheese.  For this recipe, I used 2 Laughing Cow Babybel  cheddar cheeses, and 3 of their Bonbel mini cheeses.  It’s up to you whatever cheese you’d like to use, though!
8. Pour cheese mixture over the chicken and broccoli mix in the casserole dish, stir well to combine and coat.

9. In a saucepan, melt the remaining tbsp. of butter.  When melted, add the cup of panko breadcrumbs, and stir to cover the breadcrumbs with the butter.
10. Evenly top the broccoli/chicken/cheddar mix with the breadcrumbs.   

11. Bake at 350 for approx. 30 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  (Optional) Ten minutes before this is done, top with a little more grated cheese, and let melt on top of the casserole.
12. Let cool a bit, serve over orzo/pasta/quinoa, and enjoy. 

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Is there any vegetable that roasting won’t make delicious?? Asparagus is great, but roasting it and adding a bit of lemon takes it to a whole other level. This is one of the quickest, tastiest side dishes you can make.  I would eat this for a snack.

– 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed – get thicker spears, if you can – these will hold up better during roasting
– zest of 1 lemon
– 1 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste (kosher is best here, or any other larger-grain salt)
– couple of grinds fresh black pepper
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– squeeze of lemon juice, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Trim the asparagus – you can kind of just bend them towards the bottom, and the “woodsy” part should snap off naturally.

3. In a large ziplock bag, combine the EVOO, lemon zest, and half of the salt & pepper.

4. Add asparagus spears to the bag, zip it, and roll the spears around inside the bag so they get covered with everything.

5. Add asparagus to a roasting pan in a single layer.  Top with the remaining kosher salt & pepper.

6. Roast for approx. 10 minutes, shaking the pan about halfway through to get them to roll around a bit and get all sides cooking.
7. Remove from the oven, squeeze a little lemon over them, and serve.

— Also, check out what some of my girlfriends and I did last night!  Indigo dyeing!!!  This was so much fun, and we got pretty creative, and I felt like I was back in summer camp, which was awesome.  There are some seriously talented people out there who do this “Shibori dyeing” (to clarify, we are not those people) – check out this blog for a little tutorial:  
After you dip these, even though the end color is indigo, the pieces come out kind of an acid green. So weird.
Some of our masterpieces!!  This was such a fun, and funny, craft project. Definitely worth the blue-stained fingernails today!

Avocado & Tomato Salad with Lemon Olive Oil

Ohhh, this is just the best thing ever.  There are 5 main ingredients in this recipe, and they all combine to create one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever had.  The creaminess of a whole avocado together with toasted, super thin slices of almonds is insanely good on its own.  Combine that with the peppery-ness of some arugula, the freshness of plum tomatoes, and a little dusting of parmesan cheese, dress it with a really simple lemon olive oil, good grief.  This seems like a really indulgent little lunch, but it’s so healthy, and pretty, too. The next time we have people over for dinner, I think I’m going to make a platter of this for the salad course. Any takers?

– 1 ripe avocado, halved
– 1.5 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters (discard the middle part with the seeds)
– handful arugula leaves, or mixed greens
– handful thinly sliced almonds (you can find a bag of these in most grocery stores), toasted
– parmesan cheese, for topping
– juice of half a lemon
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– good-quality salt, for topping

1. In a small pan, toast the almonds over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently so they don’t burn.  They should toast up pretty quickly – maybe only 2-3 minutes.  Remove pan from the heat and set aside. 

2. Cut the avocado in half – run a knife through it, twist it open, then carefully whack the avocado pit with the knife blade and remove it. Then, run your knife around the perimeter of the avocado halves, and carefully squeeze out each avocado half.

3. Arrange arugula leaves in the center of a plate, then place the avocado halves on either side.  Add sliced tomatoes.

4. Combine the lemon juice and EVOO, stir to combine.  Drizzle over the avocado/tomato/arugula.

5. Top with the toasted almond slices, dust with a little parmesan cheese, then add a pinch of really good quality salt crystals over everything to bring it all together. 

I’m going to go make another one of these right now.  So good!

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos have to be one of the cutest foods out there.  They come in their own little leaf packaging, they’re a bright green which would be fabulous in a wedding color palette, and they’re perfectly, adorably, palm-sized. They also have a really unique flavor – kind of tart, kind of tangy – and are a great, fresh base for an incredibly flavorful salsa.  I used this as a topping to the fish tacos I made a couple of days ago, and it was terrific.

– 4-5 tomatillos, seeded and diced (approx. 2 cups)
– 1/3 red onion, diced
– 1 lime, juiced
– 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
– handful cilantro, chopped
– 1/2 tsp. cumin
– 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, couple of grinds fresh black pepper

1. Peel the “leafy” part away from the tomatillos.  This has a bonus of smelling like crumpling leaves in the fall!  Wash the whole tomatillo to remove any residue.

2. Cut the tomatillos into quarters, then with your fingers, kind of push out the whole middle part to “seed” them.  These seeds are teeny, so don’t worry if you don’t get all of them.  You also lose a lot of the bulk of the tomatillo in this process, but that’s ok too.

3. Dice a 1/3 of a red onion – make slits along the natural ridges of the onion, lengthwise, then flip it to the side and make horizontal cuts. The onion will dice itself naturally.

4. With a Citrus Reamer, juice a lime into a small prep bowl.  Add the cumin, garlic, salt & pepper, stir to combine.

5. Combine the diced tomatillos, onion, chopped cilantro in a bowl.  Add the dressing and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve as a topping to any mexican dish, or even on its own.

Fish Tacos spiked with Cilantro and Lime

When I first heard of fish tacos, I thought they sounded totally gross.  Fish tacos??  How would that work? Weren’t tacos just meat, salsa, lettuce and shredded cheese? Little did I know.  A couple of years later, these are one of my favorite things to make – they’re healthy, full of flavor, and are really adaptable to different ingredients.  This one infuses tilapia with cilantro and lime flavors, and is topped with avocado slices and a tomatillo salsa for a fresh, quick dinner.  A fresh, light creamy avocado dressing would also be really nice with this, too.

FISH TACOS SPIKED WITH CILANTRO AND LIME (serves 2 for dinner – approx. 4 tacos)
– 1 lb. tilapia
– handful cilantro, chopped
– small whole-wheat tortillas
– 1 lime, zested and juiced
– 1/2 tsp. cumin
– dash paprika
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– couple grinds of fresh black pepper
– sour cream, for topping
– tomatillo salsa, for topping
– avocado, for topping

1. Zest the lime (just the green, not the white – the “pith” is really bitter), then juice it.  This was the first time I got to use our new Rosle Citrus Reamer, and holy moly.  Game-changer.

2. Combine the lime juice with the lime zest, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper, stir to allow the spices to mix with the lime juice.  Add the olive oil & chopped cilantro, stir to combine.  

3. Add the fish to a ziplock bag, then pour the marinade over it. Ziplock the bag, shake it all up so that the marinade covers the fish, and let sit for approx. 20 minutes (I used this time to make a tomatillo salsa).

 4. If you have a Le Creuset Grill Pan (Le Creuset continues to be awesome), get it super hot (medium-high heat, no oil), then add the fish.  Cook until it’s flaky and cooked through, approx. 7 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the tilapia.

5. Warm the tortillas in a microwave – 4 at a time, in a paper towel, for approx. 45 seconds – then top with the fish.  Add avocado slices, tomatillo salsa, sour cream.  These are light and delicious, and a little different than our typical mexican fare, the turkey taco lettuce wraps.  Hope you like them as much as we do!

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

– 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!