November 24, 2014

Pomegranate and Grapefruit Green Salad

5 oz Dole Sweet Baby Lettuces
1 cup pomegranate arils
1 ruby red grapefruit, supremed and diced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta

for the dressing:
1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice*
1 oz olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon honey
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss together the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk together the salad ingredients (or shake them in a dressing shaker) until well-combined. Drizzle over the salad. Toss and serve immediately.

*Squeezed out of the bits leftover from supreming the grapefruit.

My thoughts:
Dole approached me to create a recipe for a healthier Thanksgiving side dish. I was excited because it was the excuse I needed to make the grapefruit-pomegranate salad I had thought of last year but never got around to making. I thought the sweet baby greens would be a good choice because I didn't want them to overpower the grapefruit and pomegranate but to complement it. Supreming the grapefruit and peeling the pomegranate was a bit of work but the rest of the salad is so easy! What I would do is prepare the grapefruit, pomegranate and salad dressing the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerate them. Then you just have to toss it all together and serve in the big day! The perfect light, festive yet flavorful side for Thanksgiving!

Check out more healthy Thanksgiving dishes by Dole. My favorites are the Butternut Squash with Eggplant-Pomegranate Sauce because I can't get enough of pomegranate and Vegetable and Kale Au Gratin because it uses up a lot of the vegetables I always have on hand and baby kale is kale even I like!

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November 21, 2014

Turkey Kale Salad with Creamy Dijon Dressing

1 lb sliced turkey breast
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 stalk celery, sliced

for the dressing:
1/2 cup Hellman's mayonnaise (Best Foods on the West Coast)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon Dijon
1/2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan

Toss the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle over salad. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:

Every year, I enjoy sharing Thanksgiving leftovers recipes with you all! They are some of my favorite recipes to create. This year Lunchbox approached about me about developing a leftovers recipe using Hellman's mayonnaise (which I use anyway!) I was happy to do so. I used leftover turkey, carrots and celery from my faux Thanksgiving dinner and some kale I received in my veggie box. It ended up being a very hearty salad, perfect for lunch the day after Thanksgiving.

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November 19, 2014

Leek and Mushroom "Scalloped" Oysters

1 tablespoon butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced (white parts only!)
5 oz shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 pint oysters, drained and liquid reserved
1/3 cup half and half
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 sleeve saltines, crushed (about 1 cup) and toasted*

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter in a skillet. Saute the leeks and mushrooms until the leeks are soft and translucent. Scrape into a medium bowl and toss with oysters, parsley and bacon. Stir in spices, half and half, and 1/4 cup oyster liquid. Pour into a buttered, shallow 2 qt baking dish.

Top with toasted saltines. Bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and the oysters are cooked through.

*I toasted them in a dry skillet for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally

My thoughts:
I love oysters! To keep with the Maryland theme this year it only made sense to to make an oyster dish. It is creamy but not rich and and tastes of the sea.

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November 17, 2014

Maryland Stuffed Ham Stuffing Balls

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cups cubed cabbage
3 cups cubed ham, lightly browned
1 bunch lacinato kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
18 oz sliced potato bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cups turkey, ham or chicken stock
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt

In a large pan, saute onions in butter and olive oil over very low heat until the onions are translucent. Do not brown. Add the cabbage, kale and stock and cook until the vegetables have softened. Scrape into a large bowl and add the bread cubes and the spices. Combine with egg. Form medium-sized balls. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to overnight.

Place balls in the bottom of the roasting pan under the rack and around the turkey on the rack for the last 1/2 hour of roasting and cook until cooked through.

My thoughts:
This year I wanted to stay close at home for Thanksgiving so I went with a vaguely Maryland themed menu. I made an Old Bay-rubbed turkey and arranged these stuffing balls around it. In Southern Maryland the specialty is stuffed ham. A large ham is stuffed with kale, spices, cabbage and onion and then boiled (often in a flannel shirt or pillowcase!). It is tricky to find a stuffed ham all the way up here in Baltimore so I compromised and came up with this stuffed ham-inspired "stuffing". I used smoked ham and the same ingredients I'd stuff a ham with and added slightly sweet potato bread. It was so good! A little different but not so wacky anyone would turn their nose up at it.

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November 14, 2014

Spiced Kuri Squash Pie

2 1/2 cups roasted Kuri squash*, cooled
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs
3 tablespoons spiced, dark rum (like Kracken)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust

Preheat oven to 350. Place the pulp of the squash in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular bowl if you have a hand mixer) and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, rum and spices. Beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust**. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through and set. Cool on a wire rack and slice.

*I cut mine in half, scooped out the seeds and roasted it for 40 minutes. I recommend roasting cut-side-down and on parchment-lined baking sheets.
**If you have any leftover filling, bake it in a buttered ramekin and call it a souffle.

My thoughts:

Everyone who knows me knows I hate pumpkin pie. The fact that pumpkin pie flavored things has become so popular chills me.

I do like actual pumpkin and other winter squash so I thought I'd try this riff on the traditional pumpkin pie with new spices and a different squash. I added a Kuri squash to my regular produce box order because I heard it had a "chestnut" like flavor and I've only very rarely seen it at the store. It sounded like the perfect squash for a pie so I roasted it up and it was so much better than pumpkin pie could hope to be.
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Ostkaka (Swedish Cheesecake)

2 1/4 cup whole milk, small or large curd cottage cheese*
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray with cooking spray a 9-10 inch spring form pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cottage cheese until the curds break down, about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and milk and beat for 2 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and beat until well combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until lightly browned, slightly puffy and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack. Cool slightly. Run a thin knife around the end of the pan then unmold. Serve warm with fruit compote or better yet, lingonberries.

*If your cottage cheese is wet, drain 20-30 minutes prior to beginning the recipe.

My thoughts:
Ostkaka is so popular in Sweden it has its own national day, today, Novemeber 14th. I love Swedish desserts so I though it was a perfect excuse to make this cheesecake. Ostkaka literally means "cheese cake" and while that certianly is what it is, it is not like American cheesecake, it is denser and much less sweet. In Sweden, it is tradtional to make the cheesecake by starting with fresh milk and curdling it with rennet (which you can do, rennet tablets are available in most grocery stores) but that is a lot of work for a simple dessert. Even in Sweden, most people start with cottage cheese-like farmers cheese. To make it easier to make here in the United States, I started with good quality cottage cheese which is readily available and yield a texture that is very similar. Some recipes call for almond extract, some for slivered almonds, some for grinding your own almonds; all if which are great but I think that almond meal (almond flour) yields the best, natural almond flavor and the most even, consistant results.

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November 12, 2014

Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs red potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch lacinato kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons milk

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the kale, onion, garlic and potatoes. Boil until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain, mash in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Are you ready for another side dish? Do you have your Thanksgiving menu down? If not, give these a try! I'm slowly learning to like kale (lacinato kale, anyway) and this is a new favorite was to make it. I boil it all up together and since kale is pretty hearty, it keeps its shape and texture while the garlic and potatoes become meltingly mashable. It is a great way to make mashed potatoes seem like a healthier option! Anything with kale has to be healthy, right? Right? Plus, if you are pinched for time, it can do double duty and be your only side dish.

I served this with roasted Brussels sprouts and tangerines and No Ordinary Pot Roast in case you are wondering what else is in the picture.

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November 10, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Tangerines

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
1 onion, cut into half moon slices
juice and zest of 1 tangerine
2 tangerines*, peeled and quartered
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the onion, Brussels sprouts and tangerines in a single layer. Drizzle with tangerine juice and olive oil, sprinkle with zest, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sprouts are crispy and browned and the tangerines are slightly caramelized.

*I used juicy Fall Glo tangerines but any variety would work!

My thoughts:
I've been experimenting with a lot of side dishes this fall because, well, the holidays are coming up and I have a lot of produce at all times thanks to my vegetable box deliveries. This is one of the experiments I wasn't sure about but totally worked! Who knew roasted tangerines could be so good? They were juicy and slightly crisp. Brussels sprouts are always awesome roasted but this combination was particularly inspired. Some roasted Brussels sprouts recipes are so heavy, relying on lots of bacon or ham or tons of oil for flavor but these were super light and flavorful. Plus they are easy enough you can throw them together even if you have a ton of other dishes going on.

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November 07, 2014

Chipotle-Squash Lamb Tacos

1 medium onion, cut into rings
3 1/2 lbs boneless leg of lamb
2-3 large banana leaves*

for the sauce/marinade
1 (7-oz) canned chipotle peppers in adobo
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup roasted acorn squash (about 1/2 of a squash)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
shredded red cabbage
diced onion
shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
warm corn or flour tortillas

Blend all of the sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

Line the bottom of a 4 quart slow cooker with the onion rings.

Place the lamb in the middle of the banana leaves. Pour the sauce over the lamb, turning to coat.

Wrap the leaves around the lamb to form a package. Place on the onion rings.

Cover and cook on high 6 hours. Remove the lamb from the slow cooker and cube it. Divide among tortillas and top with desired toppings.

*I buy these frozen and defrost them overnight in the refrigerator.

My thoughts:

The American Lamb Board asked if I'd be willing do create a new recipe using lamb, I was happy to do so! I like lamb but rarely cook with it, it can be tricky to find. I thought I'd make tacos but with a fall-twist; the secret ingredient is acorn squash! It it added a subtle flavor and helped to temper the heat from the peppers. I've always wanted to cook something in banana leaves so when I saw them frozen at the grocery store, I picked them up. Cooking meat for tacos (in a pit!) is a traditional way in Mexico so I tweaked it to work in the slow cooker. It worked well, the meat stayed very moist. It really is a great recipe for someone who perhaps has never tried to cook with lamb before; simple yet yielding delish results.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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November 03, 2014

Jollof Rice

1 red bell pepper
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1 scotch bonnet (or habanero) pepper
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon madras curry powder
1 beef bouillon cube*
2 tablespoons Lawry's seasoning salt
2 tablespoons ground chipotle pepper
1 lb cubed beef
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, cut into half moon slices
3 cups beef broth
2 cups (uncooked) basmati rice
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 lb okra, diced
1/2 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
canola oil for cooking


Cut the bell pepper into slices, brush with oil and put under the broiler until charred. Put pepper slices in a blender with the crushed tomatoes, hot pepper, garlic, bouillon cube, curry powder and nutmeg and blend until it forms a thick sauce.

Cut the chicken thighs into small chunks, and cut the beef into small bite-sized cubes. Season both meats with Lawry's seasoning salt and chipotle pepper. In a hot dutch oven, add a tablespoon of oil and brown the chicken over a medium high heat. Remove the chicken from pot into a bowl and cover to keep warm. Add the beef cubes into the pan and brown well. Add the onion slices once the beef is browned and cook until the onions are soft and fragrant.

Return the chicken to the pot and add the tomato mixture, thyme and the broth. While this is cooking wash and drain the rice 2-3 times and set aside. Cook meat without a lid for 40 minutes over a medium-low heat stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice and cook for 20 minutes on low heat covered with foil and a lid to keep in steam. While this is cooking, sautee the mushrooms in a small amount of oil.

Open the pot and scatter the okra on top, re-cover and cook 10 more minutes. Stir in sauteed mushrooms and serve.

*I suggest Knorr's

My thoughts:
This rice dish is a staple in several areas in West Africa. It is so homey and filling! It does take a bit of time but it is very simple and the results are worth it, I promise! It made a great dinner (we served it with a side of fried plantains) and even the leftovers were good for lunches the next day.

What's funny is that my husband made this last week and then just a day or so later, a lot of controversy erupted over Jamie Oliver's recipe for Jollof Rice that was recently published. It was lambasted for using fresh tomatoes and other ingredients not common or authentic to the dish. I'd like to think we did a better job!

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