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.

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

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

(Photos updated October 1, 2015)

I would have to say that caramel is one of my biggest weaknesses. Besides ice cream. Something about that sweet, gooey deliciousness, I just cannot resist. Caramel sauce over ice cream? I just died and went to heaven. Homemade caramel sauce is a total must. It tastes a million times better than anything store bought. And it is so much more than just an ice cream topper.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

My favorite treat after lunch lately has been homemade applesauce with a spoonful of caramel mixed in. Delish! This sauce is so good I seriously want to eat it with a spoon. (Maybe I have a little, don’t judge.) Mixed in with my coffee for a little extra kick in the morning? Yes please! Stay tuned for some recipes using this caramel sauce.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.  When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center.  Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted.

Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream.  Set aside.

Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat.  Carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds.  The mixture will steam and bubble violently.  Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and the vanilla.  If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Basil Pesto

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This pregnancy, I have been totally having out of the norm cravings. With my first two, I didn’t crave a whole lot. Maybe just peppermint patties. But this time around, I have had these sudden urges to eat this or create that. So, a lot of the time I have been acting on these urges. This pesto was a spur of the moment craving. I wanted something green and tasty that I could add to a few dishes. (Those dishes will be coming soon, and trust me, you won’t want to miss them!)

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I haven’t ever really been a pesto person, maybe because no one in my household really cares for it. I now realize what an amazing addition it is to so many dishes. It can make something drab and boring become beautiful and delicious! This pesto is very simple and it can be thrown together in minutes. If you have a lot left over that you don’t know what to do with, you can spoon it into an ice cube tray and freeze! Once frozen, store in a ziplock bag and it will last for months in the freezer. Anything easy to freeze makes me happy!

Basil Pesto

Yield: about 3/4 cup

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

In a food processor, combine the walnuts, basil, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until finely chopped. With the machine running, pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Process until smooth. If the pesto looks a little dry, add more olive oil. Taste the pesto and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Use immediately, or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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This weekend has been incredibly warm, and I am loving it. It has been in the 40’s and the sun has been so warm. There is still a lot of snow on the ground, but I will take it! After it being in the single digits most of the winter, any warmth makes me happy. The kids love being outside without their jackets. We have all been outside as much as possible this weekend, soaking up the sun. Some of my family has been around wood cutting, so the kids and I have been helping lug brush to the burn pile. They always think it’s a blast!

Because of the warm weather, it has me dreaming of Spring/Summer food. I know it will probably get cold and snow again before winter is officially over. (hey, I was born in a blizzard at the end of march!) I have been craving sweet potatoes a lot for the past month or so. So, I thought this salad would be perfect to satisfy my cravings and to celebrate the warm weather. It is a wonderful addition to any meal, or it makes a great light lunch. The only thing I wish I had done was keep the sweet potatoes separate from the salad so I could heat them up the next day. Go make this and you will be glad.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Place the diced sweet potatoes on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the sweet potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender when poked with a fork.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the spinach in a large salad bowl and add the sweet potatoes, cranberries, walnuts, and the grated parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Source: Heavily adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, by Ina Garten

Peach Jam

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Lately, I have been hoarding the last of summer fruit as much as I can. My favorite way to preserve summer fruit (other than consuming immediately), is to can it. Preferably as jam. We use a lot of jam in our house (mainly several sandwiches a day for my husband’s lunch). My favorite type of lunch is good ol’ PB&J with a large slather of jam.

Moving onto this jam. It is delicious, spoon-licking good. Like, I could seriously eat an entire jar of jam with a spoon. It is that good. Peaches are something I don’t particularly like to eat, but this jam was out of this world. Even my husband, who claims to not like peaches, loved this jam. It goes with everything! I have made sandwiches with it, smeared it on croissants, mixed it in with vanilla ice cream…you name it!

This recipe is probably one of the easiest canning recipes I have ever used. This would be great for beginners.

Peach Jam

  • 1 quart (about 5-6 large) peaches (yellow or white flesh colored) peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 7 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin

Directions

Prepare canner and sterilize 7 half-pint jars with rings and lids. Keep jars hot in canner until ready to use.

In a large saucepan, combine the fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. When the mixture comes to a boil, stir in the liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.

Ladle the hot jam into the prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims clean with a damp cloth. Place the tops on the jars and lightly screw on the rings. Place the jars back in the canner, cover, bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the canner and place on a wire rack or cloth. Let sit until completely cool. Test the seal of each jar by very gently pulling on the tops. If they don’t come off, then they are sealed! Label and store in a cool, dry place for 1-2 years.

Source: Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving