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Kale Salad

When we were in Hollywood this weekend, we ate at a fancy restaurant before watching “Wicked.”  The rest of my meal was so-so, but I had a kale salad that was divine! I’ve recently fallen in love with kale, putting it in everything from soups to burritos, to roasting it into chips as a salty afternoon snack to munch on. I was happy to discover that it tastes amazing raw as well – the secret is to toss it thoroughly with a salad dressing that contains lemon juice, and then let it sit for about 15 minutes, which will soften it and cut the bitterness (according to a recipe I saw online). I adapted this recipe from this video and tried to replicate the restaurant salad I had had as much as possible. David really liked it as well and thought it would taste great with dried cranberries. Carmelized nuts would also be a fabulous addition. I think I love this even more than romaine, baby lettuce or spinach! The best part – we each got a huge helping of a staggeringly healthy raw superfood!

Kale Salad

3-4 TBSP Olive Oil

scant 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

juice of 1/2 of a lemon

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar or honey

Kale (I use Trader Joe’s bagged kale – it’s already chopped and washed)

1/2 of a shallot, thinly sliced, or a thinly sliced yellow onion

goat cheese, crumbled

pita chips, crushed

 

Whisk together the ingredients up to the kale until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Place enough kale for each person in a separate bowl (it will shrink up a little bit as it steeps in the dressing) and toss with some of the salad dressing.  Using your hands, make sure each leaf is covered in salad dressing on both sides – kind of massaging the dressing into the kale.  Add more dressing if needed, but don’t drench it.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.  Before serving, add the shallot, crumbled goat cheese, and crumbled pita chips.  Enjoy!

Roasted Summer Vegetables

I wanted roasted veggies to go along with dinner tonight, as I’ve been trying to eat way more veggies.  This turned out delicious; David liked it but the zucchini was a little soggy for him – I sliced them into about 1/2″ rounds, so perhaps next time slicing them thicker might keep them more al dente?  Super easy and yet very flavorful and healthy.  The perfect side dish!

Roasted Summer Vegetables

Serves 4

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1″ chunks

1 onion, cut into wedges

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ half rounds

1 cob of white corn

Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons

 

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Toss the peppers, onion and zucchini in olive oil in a  glass baking dish.  Salt and pepper and sprinkle with some garlic salt.  Roast for about 10 minutes.  While veggies are roasting, shave the corn off the cob and toss in a little butter.  Add the corn to the baking dish after ten minutes and continue roasting for about 15-20 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure all sides of the veggies get roasted.

 

Berry Crisp

Delicious with fresh raspberries, blackberries picked by Doris in Oregon, and blueberries picked by her in Washington.  Crunchy, sweet, tart, gooey yumminess.  We had a friend over for dinner tonight and enjoyed this with vanilla ice cream as a dessert.  David loves this!

From Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

3-5 cups berries

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup regular rolled oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Place berries in bottom of 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle with white sugar.

Combine remaining dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle topping over fruit and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Delicious!

These are yuuuuuuuuuuuuummy!

12 corn tortillas
2 large chicken breasts, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
3 cans diced green chiles
1 can cream of chicken
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1+ cup shredded cheese

Sautee onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add cumin, salt, and pepper, stir together, and sautee for a few minutes. Add green chiles, allowing them to cook for a few moments. Add cream of chicken and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add sour cream, cilantro, and cheese.
Spread a small amount of filling mixture in bottom of 9×13 pan. Add chicken to filling and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Layer four corn tortillas on bottom of pan. Spread 1/3 of mixture over tortillas and repeat twice, ending with filling.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

For our retreat to Mala Duba, we decided to make a few casseroles ahead of time and cook them once in Mala Duba.  This was a yummy, comforting casserole that did great being frozen and then baked a few days later.  I combined a few different recipes to create this dish.  The ground turkey was an unexpected and delicious change from the normal ground beef, and it’s less expensive here than beef is. 

Tamale Pie with Cornbread Crust

Adapted from this and this recipe

500 g ground turkey                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 28 oz can tomatoes, chopped
1 pkg. taco seasoning, plus additional cumin, chili powder, and salt to taste                                                                                                                                                                                                    
1 can kidney beans (rinsed)
1 small can green chilis
1 can corn
2-3 cups shredded cheese
1 box jiffy corn bread mix or one recipe cornbread crust (below)

– In large pot, brown turkey with chopped onions. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. – Add all other ingredients up to cheese. Simmer for a few minutes, adjusting seasonings as needed. Meanwhile, prepare cornbread crust.  Pour meat filling into 9×13 pan. Top with shredded cheese.  Spread cornbread onto top of casserole. Bake at 375 uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until cornbread is browned and filling is bubbly, or cover with foil and freeze.  To freeze frozen casserole, defrost for 30 minutes at room temperature, bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until crust is done, about 30-45 minutes.

Cornbread Crust

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk

1 egg

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and stir to mix.

 

The perfect pumpkin bread – dense, sweet, slightly tangy, and perfectly pumpkiny.  I adapted it from this recipe.  I baked it the day before our team retreat to Mala Duba, and when it had cooled, removed it from the pan and wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap.  Four days later, it’s still perfectly moist and delicious.

Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
3/4 c. dried cranberries
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare loaf pan (or mini loaf pans).  Chop dried cranberries, place in a small bowl and submerge in boiling water to soften for a few minutes.  In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, powder, salt, spices and whisk to combine.
In large bowl beat oil, butter and sugars until creamy until lightened in color and texture, about 3 minutes.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add pumpkin puree and beat until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until combined.
With mixer on lowest setting, add flour mixture just until barely combined.
Drain cranberries and fold cranberries and walnuts into batter.  Pour into greased loaf pan.
Bake about until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour for regular loaf and 35-40 minutes for mini loaf.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes.
Turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.

“Mouthwatering” and “lentil” in the same soup? I wouldn’t have thought so until this week. I’ve come to realize that brown lentils taste and look a little too much like dirt to be palatable to me. Red lentils, however, are a different beast. These tiny salmon-colored disks cook down into lovely, soft golden layers of mellow goodness. The red lentil soup I made previously was delicious. But this soup – this last lentil soup was divine. And really, really filling. And would have been really frugal, if not for the rich, creamy coconut milk the recipe called for. It wasn’t too bad for me this go-around: I used up another 1/3 of a can of coconut milk I had bought in Austria for only a euro…so about 50 cents for the coconut? Not bad. However, it would be a little more decadent if the coconut had been purchased here, as the only store I know of that carries it charges about 35 kn ($7) for a can. Now I know what to stock up on when I visit Austria again! I’m also interested in trying to make coconut milk…one option I saw called for equal parts unsweetened dried coconut and boiling water, allowing them to steep for 20 minutes and then straining the pulp out.

Garam Masala Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk
adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
4 cups water
1 carrot
1/2 cup coconut milk

Tadka
3 tbsp coconut oil
3/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

Saute onions and turmeric in coconut oil until soft and translucent; add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the water, lentils and rice. Grate the carrot with a fine grater into the soup, and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, on a low simmer until the lentils and rice are soft.
Add the coconut milk and cook for a few minutes. Blend to desired consistency using an immersion blender.
In another pan, melt the coconut oil on medium heat. Add the spices and stir, cooking until fragrant. Stir into the soup, and season with salt and additional pepper as desired.

Makes 3 servings. Serve with fresh naan bread for a delicious and fragrant meal!

Two Keepers

The past two evenings we’ve enjoyed quick and comforting meals for dinner – beef stroganoff and chicken paprikash. They definitely weren’t the most exotic dishes I’ve ever created, but they were really simple, came together quickly, and required a minimum of ingredients. Budget-wise, they were fairly frugal, especially since the little meat I used in them went pretty far and I felt satisfied for hours after eating them. Each recipe made enough for three full servings – I would have had a lot more leftovers, too, if I had served some side dishes with them. Although I probably won’t be craving these dishes anytime soon, they were yummy. Yummy, quick, cheap and filling? I’d say they’re keepers!

Beef Stroganoff

1/4 kilo ground beef (17kn)
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped (.50 kn)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 packet (3 servings) cream of mushroom soup (8 kn)
1 cup sour cream (3 kn)
1/2 bag of bowtie pasta (3.50 kn)
Salt to taste

Set a pot of water on to boil, salting the water with about a teaspoon of salt, and cook pasta.
Brown ground beef; remove meat from pan but retain juices. Saute onions in butter and meat juices until translucent; add garlic clove and saute for another minute. Return meat to the pan. Prepare cream of mushroom soup with boiling water and add to meat and onion mixture. Add Worchestershire sauce and salt to taste and simmer for several minutes. Temper sour cream with pan juices and then add sour cream to pan. Adjust seasonings to taste. If necessary, add a tablespoon of flour (mixed in a little water to prevent lumps) to mixture and simmer until thickened.
Total cost: 32 kn / $6.40 / $2.13 per serving

Chicken Paprikash with Gnocchi

1 b/s chicken breast (6 kn), cut into strips
1 onion, chopped (.50 kn)
1 large red pepper, cut into strips (2 kn)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1/4+ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, broken up into chunks (4 kn)
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream (.50 kn)
300-400 grams frozen or fresh gnocchi (5 kn)

Set a pot of water (with 1/2 teaspoon salt) on to boil.
Salt and cook chicken in oil on high-ish heat until starting to become golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. In same pan on medium heat, saute the onion and pepper (with a little more oil) for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, paprika, and cayenne and saute for another minute. Return chicken to pan and stir to coat with paprika. Add tomatoes and salt and reduce heat to simmer until mixture becomes thickened but peppers are still on the crunchy, rather than mushy, side. Temper sour cream with pan juices and add to pan. Adjust seasonings to taste. Reduce heat to lowest setting while gnocchi cooks.
Cook gnocchi in boiling water just until all gnocchi float to the surface. Do not overcook gnocchi, as it will become mushy and fall apart if overcooked.
Serve paprikash over gnocchi.
Total: 18 kn / $3.60 / $1.20 per serving

BBQ-Ranch Chicken Wraps

YUM, YUM, YUM!!! I concocted the idea for these wraps while sitting on the beach yesterday, and couldn’t wait to try them once I had the idea in my head. And I wasn’t disappointed! They were delicious, although I couldn’t help but think while making the wraps and bbq sauce how much quicker they’d be to make if I lived in the States and could just buy the ingredients already prepared. But we were blessed to have received some Ranch dressing in a package from the States, so at least I didn’t worry about having to create my own dressing!

Wraps
Adapted from Homesick Texan’s Flour Tortillas

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp veg oil
3/4 cup warm milk

Stir together all dry ingredients. Add milk and oil and stir to combine. Knead until just mixed, adding water a teaspoon at a time as needed for a supple dough. Divide into six piece, roll each into a ball, and let rest for a few minutes. Heat up a griddle on medium-high heat, and roll each ball into as thin a wrap as possible. Cook on the griddle until just forming golden spots on each side. Keep covered until ready to use.

*I really dislike these “tortillas” in Mexican food – they taste more like a pancake than a tortilla to me. However, because they’re a little thicker and chewier than tortillas, I think they work great as wraps. They take a little effort to roll out – try to get them as thin as possible, because they will puff up a bit when being cooked.

Barbeque Sauce
from Serious Eats’ Basic Barbeque Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoons molasses
1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

*A half of a tablespoon of Tabasco makes for a pretty spicy sauce. Yum!

BBQ-Ranch Chicken Wraps

1 b/s chicken breast
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Tomato, sliced into half moons
Whole lettuce leaves
Few tablespoons of chopped onion
Wraps
Ranch Dressing
BBQ Sauce

Coat chicken breast with bbq sauce, sprinkle with salt, and bake in 200C oven until done. Slice into 1/8 inch thick slices and let cool.

Spread bbq sauce on wrap. Lay down large leaf of lettuce and top with chicken, bacon, tomato, onion, and ranch dressing. Add more bbq sauce as needed, roll into wrap, and slice in half. Enjoy!

The last time I lived in Croatia, stir-fry was one of the only meals I knew how to make. Needless to say, I ended up eating a lot of stir-fry. A lot. Like, way, way too much. Especially considering I hated the way I made it, and that I’m not a big fan of white rice. So once I returned to the States and decided to learn how to cook more than just stir-fry and plain chicken breasts, this dish fell out of my cooking repertoire, and since then I’ve never looked back.

Until now.

Last night we were getting hungry and it was getting late, and although these aren’t usually the best circumstances in which to try a new recipe, I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather have than something with a peanut sauce. Weird, considering the fact that I’ve never actually eaten anything with peanut sauce. Thankfully, we had to go to the store anyways, so I was able to pick up all of the ingredients for the meal that I ended up creating. At least, I thought I had all of the ingredients.

Upon returning from the store, I threw on a pot of water to boil, chopped the chicken into small cubes and sauteed in olive oil, and set about to cut up the veggies. While those were sauteeing, I began to tackle my peanut sauce…until I looked in the fridge and realized that I had about a tablespoon of peanut butter. Peanut butter is a precious commodity in Croatia – I found out a few weeks ago that the health food store next door to my house carries a relatively yummy peanut butter for a reasonable price, but apparently I was so excited by this discovery that I ate nearly the whole jar. Oops. Thankfully, however, David had bought a huge bag of peanuts for a snack, so we quickly set to work shelling about a quarter of a cup of the peanuts. While the sauce wasn’t as creamy as it would have been with peanut butter, it still tasted delicious. The whole meal was finished in less than a half an hour, was inexpensive and filling, and most importantly, was delicious! My faith in stir-fries has been renewed, with the realization that they don’t have to contain rice (the whole wheat spaghetti was delicious and didn’t require nearly as much sauce as rice), the predominant flavor doesn’t have to be soy sauce, and the veggies don’t have to be overcooked and soggy.

Peanut Sauce
adapted from Cooking With Amy

1/4 cup natural (unsweetened) peanut butter, or shelled peanuts
2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
dash of ground ginger
1/4 cup water

Puree ingredients through water in mini food processor, gradually adding water until mixture is smooth. Add remaining water, place in a saucepan on medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until sauce is bubbling, adding up to 1/4 cup water as needed.

Stir-Fry
1 chicken breast, cubed
1 carrot, shaved into ribbons
1 zucchini, cut in to 1/2 inch thick half-moons
1/2 onion, cut into small strips
1 red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
Whole wheat spaghetti
Spicy Peanut Sauce

Cook spaghetti. On medium-high heat, cook chicken in a little olive oil until they begin to brown. Remove to a plate and saute the veggies until just softened but still al dente. Add the chicken and spaghetti to the pan, add the peanut sauce, and stir to combine all ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve!