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Kale Chips

28 Mar

Kale ChipsWhen I was in elementary school, I used to collect pens. Before you laugh and think I was all nerdy, I used to collect the cool ones. Gel, feather-tipped, pastels, fluorescent…you get the idea. I was pretty cool. I don’t know what it is about pens, but even though I don’t collect them anymore (I promise), I still have a strong affinity for them. Once you’ve loved pens, you’ll always appreciate them I guess.

I think that’s true for food as well. And ohmygosh, you guys. After making these kale chips, I’m converted: roasting veggies really does make them delicious! Remember my faaaavorite Roasted Broccoli I posted a while ago? Well these kale chips, my friend, are of that level. And I’d dare to say that it’s even easier and possibly better because I categorize this as a snack food.

And I love my snacks.

Don’t be dissuaded by the way this looks in a bowl. It may just look like a bowl of salad. Very deceiving. These chips are a finger food, no matter how confused you are when you see them in a bowl. They’re light and crispy and roasted to perfection.

Kale Chips

Spread the kale in a single layer on each cookie sheet.

Kale Chips

Bake to crispy, light perfection.

Kale Chips

 

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Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

6 Mar

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Did I ever tell you that I hate vegetables? Hopefully I haven’t, because I don’t hate them. But I used to. Oh, how I used to.

As a stubborn, indignant child, I would refuse to eat vegetables at all costs. This would start out as simply as me eating around my vegetables on my dinner plate. Then I would move the vegetables around my plate with my fork. (Because in child’s logic, when you spread them out, they look fewer and farther between, right?) I would sit at the table until everyone else was done and my vegetables were cold. Now cold, they probably did taste almost as gross as I imagined they did.

My utter loathing of vegetables mostly came from stubbornness. But. BUT. I also think there are loads more interesting ways to prepare vegetables than heating up a watery can of green beans (still ick).

Cauliflower is an easy vegetable for me. It’s not a crazy color or a crazy taste. It’s just cauliflower. I was quite pleased when I stumbled upon this recipe because Alfredo is a great addition to most vegetables, and it’s even better that this Alfredo is a healthier version than most out there.

Also, can we talk about roasting veggies for a minute? It makes them soooo good! I don’t know the science behind the roasting magic, but it really does do wonders for vegetables.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Chop a head of cauliflower, and sprinkle with olive oil. Prepare to roast.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Combine ingredients for Alfredo sauce in a small saucepan. Whisk until it thickens.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Heat up those silly frozen peas.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Combine it all in a nice, big bowl. Reserve some of the Alfredo sauce for topping individual portions.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Pat yourself on the back. I feel healthier just looking at this.

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Broccoli Casserole

14 Nov

Food has a sentimental effect on me. I just celebrated my wedding anniversary this week, and you better believe I can’t think of my wedding day without thinking about food.

The night before my wedding day, I stayed up late making batch after bath of homemade butter caramels to give out as favors to my wedding guests. Thankfully I had a troupe of workers (a.k.a. select family and friends) to cut and individually wrap them in parchment paper and fold cute, little favor boxes. Needless to say, it was stressful.

And yet, I look back with so much pride and the utmost sentimentality when I think of all those caramels that I made with love.

What do you make that’s chock-full of memories and love?

This is a casserole recipe, and, by golly, casseroles always feel sentimental and homey to me. In honor of Thanksgiving coming up next week, I wanted to share an alternative to that green bean casserole. It’s very similar—but made with broccoli instead of green beans and incredibly easy. It even has those tasty french fried onions on top! Happy casserole baking!

Start by gently steaming or cooking your broccoli.

Mix together the soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, 2/3-cup onions, and 1/2 cup cheese. OK, so it doesn’t look the most appetizing yet. Just give it time!

Combine the cooked broccoli and soup mixture in a casserole dish.

Bake for 25 minutes, then top with remaining cheese and french fried onions. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts. (more…)

Roasted Broccoli

8 Aug

I love watching the Olympics. Watching the Olympics has myriad benefits. For one thing, watching muscly, toned, healthy people compete starts to motivate me to workout and get fit. (“Starts” is the key word here.) Then as I watch eight of the best swimmers in the world compete for a gold medal by swimming as fast as they can, my heart beats faster in anticipation and a sort of nervous empathy. (Then, I think that since I’ve elevated my heart rate, that counts as a workout, and I can comfortably continue to sit and watch the Olympics for three more hours.)

I also feel really patriotic watching the Olympics. I can’t help but yell, “Go USA!” and I dig the red, white, and blue uniforms.

I don’t know if this roasted broccoli will make you feel patriotic, but it sure does taste magnificent. After roasting broccoli for the first time, I decided that this is truly the best and only way to cook broccoli. If any of you angrily disagree, try this recipe, and then get back to me. I’d love to find another way to cook broccoli that is as delicious and simple as this.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Chop your head of broccoli into small florets and scatter over the cookie sheet.

Toss with a generous amount of olive oil and stir to coat.

Chop about 4 cloves of garlic, and sprinkle the pieces over the broccoli. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Roast in the oven at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know the broccoli is done because some of the tiny pieces will be completely brown and the larger pieces will be brown only on the tips.

Garnish with the grated lemon peel and the juice of one lemon. Serve immediately or keep warm an oven of 275 degrees F until ready to serve. Best when eaten on day 1. (more…)

Creamed Spinach

26 Jul

We have two adorable kittens. (OK, I guess they’re officially cats because they’re a year old, but I still think of them as my baby kittens.)

One of the cats is good and one is bad. One of them is mine and one of them is my husband’s. Can you guess which is which?

The best part about having two cats rather than one is that they are sisters and are incredibly affectionate with each other. Even though I love my good kitty more than my husband’s naughty one, it just fits having both of them.

Sometimes it’s genius to combine good and bad (a.k.a. in food-speak to combine “healthy” and “unhealthy”). Creamed spinach is one of those combinations. Obviously spinach is healthy and desirable, but what’s up with the delicious creamed part? Probably not so healthy.

Here’s my adapted version of creamed spinach. It’s not as unhealthy as you might guess—in fact, there’s no actual cream in this recipe (just whole milk). The onion, shallot, and garlic add some subtle flavor that take this up a notch.

Because spinach shrinks so much when cooked, don’t expect this to feed a crowd of people; plan on it feeding about two.

Wilt spinach in batches and cook until tender.

Heat milk just until it simmers.

Get your chopped onion, shallot, and garlic ready. Then add it to the pan with the melted butter.

Whisk in your flour.

Gradually pour in the heated milk and cook until thick and creamy.

Stir in the spinach and cook just until heated through.

Top with salt and pepper. (more…)

Plantain Tostones

12 Jul

Some people might say I was a picky eater as a kid. That would be putting it mildly. I was stubborn and unyielding. I refused to eat some of the most basic food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, and anything remotely healthy in appearance. What kid doesn’t like STRAWBERRIES or CORN? Well, me.

It’s a wonder I survived at all. I attribute my survival to my mother’s kindness. Most dinners would end with me sitting alone at the table until I “finished all of my food” (which, mind you, normally consisted of the tiniest portions of vegetables and meat you can picture). I would sit stubbornly at the table for at least an hour—sometimes more—until one of my parents would walk by, shake their head in disgust and resignation, and tell me to “just throw away your plate.”

Then I would head to my room and invariably get hungry before bedtime. My mom would save me by bringing me some toast and hot cocoa (something I actually loved to eat). This went on for years.

I look back now and have to wonder why I was so picky. I like to think that I have a sensitive, refined palate, and I was simply prepping myself for the gourmet, tasty foods I crave today. It’s probably that. Or I was just picky. We’ll never know.

This recipe for Puerto Rican plantain tostones is one I refused to eat as a kid. They are even fried, but I still refused to eat them. They are a salty snack (as good as American french fries). Enjoy!

Start with green plantains.

Slice them up and let them sit in salt water.

Fry them in your fat of choice.

Drain on paper towels and flatten them with the palm of your hands.

Fry a second time until golden brown and crispy.

Sprinkle with salt and serve hot. (more…)

Garlicky Squash, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

14 May

Not to generalize, but I love mechanics. They are really trustworthy, helpful, honest, and open. They just want what’s best for you and your car. They take extra, extra good care of women. If you’re a nice lady, you can bet that they’ll try to save you as much money as possible.

That’s my experience, anyway. I’m neither bitter nor scorned.

Here’s a little snack you can make after you’ve been to the mechanic. You’ll feel healthy and renewed as you’re chomping on these babies.

This makes a great side to steaks you cook on the grill. Now go eat your summer veggies.

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