“Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.” ~ Andrew Jackson

I found another delicious salad that allows me to use my new favorite ingredient.

Quinoa.

Whats great about quinoa is that it’s very filling and pretty much takes on the flavor of the other ingredients with which it has been paired. Because of this, you can add it or serve it with most any salad or as a bed for a sauce in place of rice. It has been called the “perfect food”.

I am always finding new ways to try quinoa. I have a new recipe for a breakfast bowl that calls for it and I am dying to give it a try.

Stay tuned.

Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

(adapted from Damn Delicious)

Salad

  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup blueberry craisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Toss salad ingredients in large bowl, top with vinaigrette, toss again. Serve immediately.

** This can be made with any mixed green salad but I highly recommend keeping all other ingredients. **

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.

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“I make it a rule always to believe compliments implicitly for five minutes, and to simmer gently for twenty more.” ~ Alice James

The cold is back.

Luckily, we will not be having the horrible weather expected in the Northeast but nonetheless, you have no idea how ready I am for spring to get here.

But since that is still quite a ways off, I might as well enjoy one of the things that comes with cold weather.

A nice warm stew. One that cooks all day and makes the house smell wonderful!

Today, I have nothing on the calendar so I will luckily stay in my comfy knit pants and sweatshirt, go outside only to get the mail,  do some laundry and start this stew.

My kind of day.

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

  • 1 lb stew meat or beef tips
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cans (15 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can greens beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen Lima beans
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ frozen diced potatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Season beef with salt and pepper, brown on all sides in large pot. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent.

Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, beans, bouillon, broth and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 1-2 hours. After it has simmered for at least an hour, add in potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Best served with cornbread!

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“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” ~ Martina Navratilova

I got a HUGE compliment from my husband!

He told me that the ham I baked for Christmas dinner was the best ham he had ever had!

BTW – he turned 50 this month, so that means the best ham in FIFTY years!

(Happy Birthday REP!)

It was a good Ham – for the first time ever, we ended up eating the whole whopping thing.

We had ham sandwiches, fried ham in biscuits and chopped ham in farmer omelets, etc.

Made me feel very frugal. 🙂

So if you have a hankering for a good ham (would be great for Sunday dinner) or just a great compliment from your hubby (or wife). You need to give this very delicious but very easy ham a try.

Best Ham Ever

(adapted from South Your Mouth)

  • 6-8 lb. bone-in, cured ham
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup prepared dijon mustard
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1½ cup of coke
  • 1 Large turkey baking bag

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Score the Ham 1/4 inches down in a diamond patter.

Place the ham in the baking bag on it’s bottom (cut side out). Place bag on a roasting pan.

Mix mustard and sugar together in a small bowl until combined. Spread mixture over the whole ham (in the bag).

Place orange wedges around the base of the ham and pour coke around the bottom on the ham (not over the top – you do not want to wash your sugar mixture up.

With a puff of air into the bag, close the opening tightly and with a sharp knife, cut 3, 1 inch slits on the top of the bag.

Cook for 1.5 – 2 hours.

Let ham rest for 30 minutes before serving.

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“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” ~ Pablo Picasso

One of my latest food obsession is Zoe’s Chicken Protein Plate. Actually, I’m pretty obsessed with anything Zoe’s – I’m sure you have noticed that I use their seasoning in most anything I cook that calls for seasoning.  If you don’t have a Zoe’s near you – I am truly sorry. 😦

Luckily, I have one practically in my back yard!

Back to the Protein plate. I’m a carb girl, so this is pretty impressive that I love it so. My mom and I usually get one and split it for lunch a couple times a week. The plate has Zoe’s signature slaw and their grilled chicken and onions.  The chicken and onions is pretty self explanatory but I had to Google the copy cat recipe of the slaw. Both SUPER easy.

The ease of picking it up really can not be beat but I wanted to make it for dinner one night and when making it for more than 2 – it is more cost efficient.

Zoe’s Slaw

(copycat recipe)

  • 1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6 ounce) package crumbled feta
  • 6 -7 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used a splash of white vinegar along with this)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
Mix all ingredients except for feta cheese in a large bowl. When well combined, stir in the cheese.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

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“Life has got all those twists and turns. You’ve got to hold on tight and off you go.”~ Nicole Kidman

I’m always looking for simple side dishes (that pretty much cook themselves). Because of this, as I have mentioned before – I love roasted vegetables of any kind! With Brussels Sprouts and asparagus right up top of my list.

I was happy to run across a recipe that adds a little different twist to normal roasted asparagus due to the addition of mushrooms and a little soy sauce.

Great way to switch it up!

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 ounces shiitake (or any mushroom blend besides white button) mushroom caps, sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine olive oil, pepper, asparagus, and mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet; toss to coat. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Drizzle with soy sauce.

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“Cooking is like love, it should be entered with abandon or not at all.” ~ Julia Child

This is definitely not a recipe that I could be enjoying due to my healthy eating diet I’m on at the moment but if I could eat something that was not so great for me – this would be it!

It’s my most favorite party dip!

I have probably been making this for 15+ years.

It’s one of the very first things that I ever mastered. One reason I remember that is because my Mammaw – the cook of all cooks – loved it! I remember taking this the first time I ever contributed to a family Holiday gathering. She asked for it again the next year.

That made an impression on me.

Gosh, I miss her.

She would totally be surprised to know how much I love to cook now.

So – if you need a great appetizer to take to the Super Bowl later this month – here you go!

Kickin’ Baked Artichoke Dip

2 (21 oz.) jars marinated artichoke hearts
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies, drained
2 tsp. chopped jalapeno (or, to taste)
3 green onions, chopped
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain artichokes and roughly chop, combine with remaining ingredients.
Place in small baking dish and cook for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and slightly browned.
Serve with Triscuit Thin Crisps (my fav) or your favorite crunchy cracker.

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“People who say, ‘Let the chips fall where they may,’ usually figure they will not be hit by a chip.” ~ Bernard Williams

In my strive to eat better/healthier this year, today I attempted Kale Chips for the first time.

I always heard people talking about how great they were but never really thought about giving them a go.

I mean, there were Fritos in the pantry, so why bother?!

Ha. 🙂

Well, the Fritos are now gone and I am a salty/crunchy kind of gal.

So,  I now had a reason to try them.

They are really good!

Granted, do they taste like Fritos? No.

Seriously, you can’t say you didn’t already know that.

But they are a great alternative for satisfying that need for crunch and flavor. They are versatile too. You can season them many ways and can even add something on after they are cooked, i.e – hot sauce, a spritz of vinegar.

Don’t wait as long as I did to give them a try.

Baked Kale Chips

  • 2 lighty packed cups of large pieces of kale, stems removed
  • ½ Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of you favorite seasoning (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 300º

Wash and completely dry kale.

Toss kale with olive oil in a large bowl. “Massage” it in, so it gets in every little nook.

Place a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle with seasoning of choice (I used an all purpose Seasoning Salt but there are numerous ideas).

Bake for 10 minutes, rotate baking sheet and cook for another 10 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes.

**all ovens bake differently so you will want to keep a close eye on them the first time because they can go from not cooked to burnt real quick**

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“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” ~ Robert H. Schuller

I have been on a quest for interesting, great tasting salads.

On Facebook I talked about needing to get more salads (with some kind of protein) into my diet.

But they had to be good!

As I have mentioned before – everything I blog about comes from something I have cooked to eat with my family. I only wish my blog was impressive enough that I actually cooked full time for it. But sadly, not yet. A girl can dream, though!  🙂

So when the thought of a serious diet started, I questioned it with – “What in the world will I be able to blog?” I can’t write about a bagged salad with grilled chicken and a bottled lite vinaigrette every week!

I received lots of great feedback from my friends on Facebook and I foraged Pinterest, because of this, I am starting to get a pretty good list going.

The following is an example.

Apple Harvest Salad

(adapted from Life Made Simple)

Salad

  • 6 cups of lightly packed spinach, torn
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 large fugi apple
  • ½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ Craisins
  • ½ feta cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Add greens to a large dinner plate or salad bowl. Top with the cooked (and cooled) quinoa, apple chunks, pepitas and craisins.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallot and vinegar in a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil by pouring in a steady stream, whisking vigorously until emulsified. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.

Serve alone or with a protein.

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“Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.” ~ Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Wow.

That’s all I can say.

I just had the BEST diet food I have ever eaten.

No joke, I couldn’t stop eating it.

Which probably negates the whole diet thing when you eat 3 servings…….

Any-who.

If I could find 8-10 menu items that good, that are also good for shedding the pounds – this old girl might just pull it off.

I have to thank my sweet friend, Alexandra, for bringing this dish to our Christmas dinner. She shared the recipe she had found, I tweaked it just a bit and this family is happy!

It’s actually just a side dish but you can make it a meal easily, several different ways.

Tonight, I cooked a few seasoned fish filets in a skillet to go with it but you could easily add chopped chicken for a one bowl dish.

If you are looking to loose a few pounds or get a little healthier – this dish is for you.

If you are not worried about any of those things – this dish is for you!

I feel extremely “earthy” after this meal. 😉

Chopped Kale Salad

  • 6 cups of chopped Kale (chopped into small bites)
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • ½ cup Craisins®
  • 1½ cup cooked, whole grain quinoa
  • Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard (store bought is great)
  • 3 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Vinaigrette – Whisk together the mustard and the vinegar, slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Salad – In a large bowl, toss together the kale, almonds, craisins and quinoa. Stir in dressing.

Serve alone or with a protein of your choice.

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Yum!

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“The book is called opportunity and it’s first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I have another breakfast idea for you!

I had actually made the Sausage and Gravy Biscuit Casserole I posted last not too long before Christmas morning so I decided to try something else that morning.

It was so, so simple and delicious! I would highly recommend this for any morning that you are short on time or dragging about – especially if you were up late and not feeling up to doing much cooking. Would have been great for New Years Day morning but I was a slacker and didn’t get it up on the blog in time! 😉

Deep Dish Breakfast Bake

(adapted from Bran Appetit)

  • 1/2 lb sausage (mild or hot – your preference)
  • 1 package crescent rolls
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Brown sausage over medium high heat, breaking it up as it cooks.

Roll out crescent rolls into a 9×13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Press seams together as so to make a whole sheet of pastry.

Sprinkle cooked sausage over dough, followed by cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk and add in rosemary, salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture over the cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until eggs are set and the crust is a golden color.

***This can be made with bacon and diced ham in place of the sausage as well***

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