Massaged Kale Caesar Salad

massaged kale caesar salad

Do you ever find a recipe that you just absolutely fall in love with?  So much in love that you feel the need to make every.single.week?  Because, if you don’t have it, you find yourself dreaming of it and craving it.  Or maybe I am weird and only do that.

Well, this was one of those meals.  Who the heck would have thought it would be a salad?  Not me!  I’m a sweet lover all the way.  But, this salad knocked my socks off.  (Speaking of which, I wish it were warm enough to wear flip flops again!)  Funny, because this salad is so simple.  I mean really.  All you do is massage the salad for a few minutes with your fingers, then you throw in some homemade croutons (that is a must, they are SO much better than store bought), the mix in some homemade caesar dressing and parmesan cheese. You have yourself a salad!

massaged kale caesar salad

My husband has been requesting this weekly, which is very unusual for him.  Even my daughter chows down on this.  Massaging the kale seems to magically break down the bitter taste, leaving it with wonderful flavor.  And kale is a superfood!  This makes a fabulous light lunch, or a wonderful side.  Go make it today and be happy.  Seriously.

Massaged Kale Caesar Salad

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the salad

  • 1 bunch curly kale, about 8-12 oz
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • croutons
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a large glass measuring cup or jar.  Whisk or shake until completely combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Rinse and towel dry the kale leaves.  Remove and discard the ribs from the leaves, and tear the curly green portions into bite size pieces.  Add the kale to a large salad bowl with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and toss briefly.  Massage the kale leaves for a few minutes until the leaves have become shiny and a deeper green color, about 2-3 minutes.  Add croutons to the salad as desired.  Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss lightly to coat.  Taste and add additional dressing as necessary, a little bit at a time.  Top with additional grated Parmesan and serve.

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Garlic Hummus

Garlic Hummus

Hummus is one of our favorite snacks. My husband requests it quite frequently.  It’s one of those satisfying dips that is very accommodating to many vessels.  It’s healthy, bursting with flavor, and filling. It makes a wonderful after school snack. Creamy, garlicky and delicious. The dip will last several days in the refrigerator.  In fact, it’s better to make ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. It’s the perfect dip for a healthy snack, or to make for a get together.

Garlic Hummus

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons dried parsley (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic cloves until minced. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Source: Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Fusilli Caesar Salad

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With all these crazy snow storms we have been having lately, I have been trying to stay prepared in case we lose power. With several feet of snow on the ground, high winds, and slippery roads, I am surprised that we haven’t lost it yet! (Knock on wood.) There was one big storm that they predicated to be huge and to be prepared for major power outages. (You know how they like to get excited about storms.) So, I spent the day before the storm running around, doing everything that required power. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, drawing off water, you name it! I made a big pot of soup that could be put on the stove to warm up if there wasn’t power. I also prepared this pasta salad to have ready in the fridge, if needed.

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Well, we never lost power. It may have flickered a few times, but nothing came of it. I am not disappointed though! It’s nice to lose power for a little time, but not for days. I like running water and refrigeration too much! I was more pleased about having lots of fresh, powdery snow to play in!

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Even though we didn’t lose power, we still got to enjoy this pasta salad. Caesar salad with pasta? Brilliant! This was a fabulous, light dinner. And it made an excellent lunch the next day. This would be a great dish to serve at a cookout (wait, what are those again?) in the summer. Or to mix up your typical caesar salad. Either way, you’ll love it!

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Fusilli Caesar Salad

Yield: About 7-10 servings

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the salad

  • 1 pound fusilli or rotini pasta, cooked to al dente then cooled
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped (I used a romaine mix because that is all the store had at the time, and it was just fine!)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

For the dressing, pulse the garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth. With the motor running, add the oil until incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse until mostly smooth. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked and cooled pasta and the romaine together until combined. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the Parmesan and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Source: Dressing adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook, salad from Taste and Tell

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

A few days ago, my sister and I did a cheese night. Now that she is settled in their epic winter residence, we decided it was time to do another cheese night. We did one last year where the baked brie with blueberry compote was the highlight of the evening. It is a nice time to catch up without my kids, over excellent food. This year though, baby had to tag along since I am still exclusively breastfeeding. She just played on a blanket on the floor. She is only just rolling around, not mobile at all yet. I am fine with that! I like knowing that I can set her down and she’ll still be there if I leave the room for a minute. And she can’t talk yet, so there is no interrupting our conversation.

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

When I saw this recipe on my blogroll, I knew that I had to make it for our cheese night. With homemade caramel sauce, of course. This was so amazing. Definitely on the sweet side, but still so good. I ate more than my share of it.

Let me break this cheese down for you; first you bake the brie to make it warm and gooey-delicious. Then, you sauté some apples to make them soft and sweet. To serve, you spoon the apples over the baked brie then drizzle caramel over the top. We devoured the cheese with some lightly flavored fennel crackers. Need I say more?

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

Yield: About 8-10 servings

  • 1 (8 oz.) wheel of brie
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons caramel sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the wheel of brie on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the middle is soft.

While the brie is baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the chopped apples and brown sugar. Cook , stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 5 minutes.

Remove the brie from the oven and carefully move to a serving platter. Spoon the sautéed apples over the brie. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve immediately with plain or lightly seasoned crackers. (Carr crackers are an excellent choice.)

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

black bean, corn and avocado salad

I know, this is more like a summer dish, but I couldn’t resist. With all this crazy sweet consumption happening, I have been trying to make dinners particularly healthy. I have had this recipe bookmarked for ages, and it fit the bill for one meatless option for the weeks menu.  Even though vegetables are not in season right now, this was still bursting with flavor and so addicting. I may have sat down with the bowl for lunch the following two days and eaten it all by myself. With my favorite blue corn chips, of course.

black bean, corn and avocado salad

My husband is not a huge avocado fan, but he still really liked this. I served this over grilled chicken (yes, I still grill in the winter. Especially since there is no snow on the ground right now), and it was killer! I would definitely recommend doing that! Then of course, you can eat any leftovers with chips. This is a wonderful, healthy and quick option for any meal or snack!

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

Yield: about 8 servings

  • 1 (15 oz. can) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 avocados, pitted and cubed
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, or frozen and thawed corn
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the beans, red onion, avocado, corn, and tomatoes.  Add in the lime juice, olive oil, and salt, and gently toss to blend.  Gently mix in the parsley.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Butter Toffee Heath Popcorn

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What is it about caramel corn that is so addicting? I have made different popcorn recipes in the past, but this one definitely is in the top three. My son’s daycare had a Halloween party on Halloween, so of course I had to make something. I also had to make something for my daughter’s kindergarten party on the same day, so I wanted something that was reasonably easy and none time consuming. Especially since baby has decided that sleeping is overrated after a several month-long stretch of sleeping through the night.

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This popcorn is everything it should be, and then some. Sweet, addicting and delicious. Adding chopped candy bars to the mix? Brilliant, I say! As if the caramel and chocolate drizzle weren’t good enough. Psshtt! This is a great way to use up any Halloween candy laying around.. Wait, does that happen in other people’s houses?

On a different note- I finally am on Instagram! Head on over and follow me to see what kind of crazy things I am up to.

Butter Toffee Heath Popcorn

Yield: about 6 cups

  • 6 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped Heath candy bars

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place popcorn in a very large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture is a deep golden color. Remove from heat and carefully stir in baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will bubble.

Pour mixture over the popcorn in a thin stream. Stir to coat the popcorn. Place popcorn on a large baking sheet that has been lined with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

When the popcorn is cool, break into pieces. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Drizzle chocolate over the popcorn. Add the chopped Heath candy bars. Let the popcorn set until chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Pizza Swirl Bread

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So pizza is something that we have regularly in our house. My daughter especially loves it. “Pepper-oni” is what she always asks for. Sometimes we order from the store when I really don’t feel like cooking. Other times I like to make it, with help from the kiddos. (When I say “help”, I mean they sit there and eat the mozzarella cheese and occasionally put a piece of pepperoni on the dough.)

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This particular recipe is a favorite, but I don’t make it as often as I wish I did. Maybe because it’s a little more time consuming than other pizzas. And maybe because I want to eat the whole thing myself? Just maybe… It’s cheesy, pizza bread at its best! And well worth the extra effort.

(P.S- still no baby and I am now 11 days overdue! Eeeekk!)

Pizza Swirl Bread

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces grated parmesan cheese
  • 20-30 slices pepperoni
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce, or more if desired
  • 1 Tablespoon italian seasoning

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine milk and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Heat until bubbles appear on the sides then turn off heat and set aside.

Measure out 1/4 cup of warm water and combine it with yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Gently whisk the egg with the milk/butter mixture. In the bowl of an electric mixer (using dough hook attachment), combined flour and salt and lightly mix to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add in milk/butter mixture, then yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed until dough comes together, about 5-6 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and lightly flour your workspace, then knead by hand for a minute or two. Add a few more teaspoons of flour if dough is sticky until it becomes smooth.

Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Brush one tablespoon all over a bowl, then place dough in bowl and coat with butter. Cover the bowl and set in a warm place to double in size for about one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

After dough has risen, punch out the air bubbles, flour your workspace again, and roll into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread tomato sauce on first, then minced garlic and garlic powder, then mozzarella, then pepperoni, then parmesan, then italian seasoning. Starting at one of the short ends, tightly roll dough into a loaf. Place in loaf pan and brush with remaining melted butter, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Source: Adapted from How Sweet It Is, originally adapted from Martha Stewart