KALE SALAD WITH CREAMY GARLIC DRESSING

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Well….the cruise is upon is. I am trying to use everything in the fridge that is perishable. This one was inspired by a party we were recently invited to. A local restaurant catered the event. I fell in love with their Kale Caesar. My daughter has had it before and raved about it. Now I know why!

I used the same salad ingredients but came up with my own dressing. Fresh kale, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, black beans, candied pecans, and grated parmesan cheese. My husband used an adjective that I can not repeat…..LOL; followed by the word “great”! After he had two helpings I was convinced blogging it would be a great idea.

Kale has gained popularity over the past few years in restaurants and particularly as salads. I have loved kale since I was a child. I still love the cooked version and we have it in our house quite a bit.

It looks like a lot of ingredients and instructions, but it is well worth it. Make the candied pecans ahead of time. Make the dressing ahead of time. The hardest part is not eating too much. Seriously, it is very simple to make.

I have included instructions for the candied pecans, creamy garlic dressing, and the salad ingredients. Kale is at it’s best this time of year and very easy to find. I hope you give it a try.

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Kale Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 8-10 C of kale, washed well, and chopped into ribbons
  • 1 C of grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 C of fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 C freshly grated Parmigiano / Reggiano cheese

Dressing

  • 1/4 C sour cream (I use light)
  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper

Candied Pecans

  • 1 C pecan halves
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 T packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

For the pecans:

  1. Combine the sugar, water, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and set aside near by.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the pecans and toast until just fragrant and hot.
  3. Quickly pour the sugar mixture over the nuts and toss to coat, cook for about 15-20 seconds. Do not walk away, they will burn very quickly if not watched.
  4. Pour onto a parchment or waxed sheet lined pan and allow to cool. They will harden as they cool down.
  5. Once cooled break apart if needed. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for later use. * You may want to make a double batch. They will disappear quickly.)

For the dressing:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients and with an immersion blender mix and slowly add the olive oil. You can also use a blender for this step.
  2. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Set aside while putting the salad together.

For the salad:

  1. Put the kale into a large bowl and massage with your hands to help break it down. Immediately add half of the dressing to help soften it and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. While that is sitting cook the corn kernels with a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat until the sugars produce a nice charred look. Place on top of the salad.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans, and cheese, and pecans. (I used a full cup of pecans)
  4. Add the rest of the dressing and toss all together until everything is coated.
  5. Garnish with additional shaved cheese if desired.

Nothing left to do but eat and enjoy.

See you after the cruise. Hopefully I will come home with some new taste sensations or at least some great stories.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TURKEY & STUFFING MEATLOAF

Halloween is here and all the goblins and ghouls will be out tonight. My handsome grandson is going as Indiana Jones. Bullwhip and all! Shame we couldn’t find a monkey to perch on his shoulder.

As soon as October is over I start getting ready for Thanksgiving. I happened to run across this recipe, posted by “12 Tomatoes”. When I read the ingredients I knew I had to try it. My husbands exact comment was “why bother cooking a turkey, this is fantastic.” I could not agree more.

The only thing I changed were some of the seasonings. I have some leftover and I have a vision. I don’t know what you do with turkey after Thanksgiving. As for us it’s turkey sandwiches with the works. I am going to do the same with this meatloaf. A nice slab of meatloaf, topped with cranberry sauce, between two great slices of bread and maybe a little mayo. Can you taste it??

Please forgive the photo. I really wanted to take a picture of it with sides. Sorry folks, it didn’t make it. I served it with cauliflower puree and a baked sweet potato. Seriously, it smelled like Thanksgiving in here.

Thank you “12 Tomatoes”. This one is a keeper. I will be making this over and over again. I guarantee if you try this one, you too will make it again and again.

TURKEY & STUFFING MEATLOAF

SERVES: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of ground turkey
  • 1 (6oz) box Stove-Top herb seasoned stuffing
  • 1 C jarred Turkey Gravy
  • 1/2 C carrots, diced
  • 1/2 C onion, diced
  • 1/2 C celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 t ground sage
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T milk
  • Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet, saute’ the carrot, onion, and celery til softened.  Add the garlic and continue to cook until just fragrant.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, stir in 3 T of gravy, cooking for 2 minutes more, remove from heat and let it cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, stuffing mix, eggs, and milk. Fold in the cooled vegetable mixture, add the poultry seasoning and sage, and season all with a more salt and pepper. (Using a large serving fork to mix this with keeps it from becoming to dense and compressed)
  5. Turn the mixture out into your greased pan, shape so the sides are uniform and it appears to be in loaf form.
  6. Top with the remaining C of gravy.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Serve hot topped with additional gravy if desired.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

BUBBLE UP CHICKEN POT PIE

Hi there! Have I got a quick and easy recipe for you to try. Quick and easy being the key words here. It’s an adaptation from a Weight Watchers recipe. I added a few seasonings to add flavors that I like.

I am getting ready for a cruise. I have never been on one so I am getting a lot of feed back from my friends. I am also doing a lot of on-line research. Stuff like, what to pack, do’s and don’ts kind of things. I am told that cruises are great! Lord I hope so; because neither my husband or myself are thinking we are cruise type people. The one positive,  we are going with a group of good friends. It will definitely be a party!!

My time has been consumed with work and what to pack. I have been trying to keep meals simple and also low in points values. If you have been following me you know I am a firm believer in the Weight Watchers program. This recipe delivers great flavor, and it’s done in no time at all.  You can use my quick cook chicken method, CROCK POT CHICKEN FOR THE WEEK, or a rotisserie chicken. Best of all it’s very satisfying and a one dish meal.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. Send me a photo or a comment when you try it!

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BUBBLE UP CHICKEN POT PIE
SERVES 6
10 SP per serving

Ingredients:
• 2 C chopped cooked chicken
• 1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
• 1 C light sour cream
• 1 C shredded 2% cheddar cheese
• 1 ½ C frozen mixed vegetables
• Sherry, a splash or to taste
• 1 T poultry seasoning
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 (7.5 oz) can of biscuits

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly spray an 11×7 glass casserole dish with cooking spray
3. In a large bowl, stir together the chicken, soup, sour cream, cheese, frozen vegetables, sherry, salt and pepper.
4. Remove and separate the biscuits from the can and cut each into 4 pieces. Toss with the chicken mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Make sure the biscuits are evenly spaced throughout the mixture.
6. Bake for 35 minutes.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

NEAR PERFECT PIE CRUST

My black bean soup recipe, (BLACK BEAN SOUP) , went over extremely well. I acquired some new followers that I have never met, or know. What a fantastic feeling that is! I actually let out a little squeal every time that happens. It’s the best!

It’s popularity did reach someone I know. I like to call Josh our friend, our painter, and a fine musician. He recently became engaged to Anna, also a musician and a songbird. I quickly learned when he was here that he, she, and her son Ethan, love to eat. Both of them also like to cook.

After he saw the black bean soup recipe he said, “you should post a really good pie crust recipe. It’s getting to be that time of year for pot pies.” So, you can thank Josh for this one.

Pie crust, in my opinion, has to be light, flaky, and flavorful. Trust me when I tell you it isn’t hard to make. Believe me when I tell you, just like bread, (EGG BREAD or CHALLAH)   it may take some practice. Look at it this way. If you want to make your own, take the time to learn. If you don’t, Pillsbury makes a mighty fine crust. I don’t deny that I use it when faced with a time crunch.

So, put the butter in the freezer. (I’m not kidding.) Put about a half cup of water in the fridge with ice in it. Assemble the rest of the ingredients and prep your work surface. We are going to make pie crust!!!!!

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NEAR PERFECT PIE CRUST

(makes 2 pie crusts)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 C of all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling out (try “King Arthur” flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, placed in the freezer
  • 1/2 C of water with ice placed in the fridge til ready to use

Directions:

  1. Grate the butter, using the large holes, onto a plate, and place back in the refrigerator.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. With a whisk, mix all together until light and combined. Set aside
  4. Remove the butter and put into the flour mixture, using a fork until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  5. Starting with 2 Tbsp of the ice water, pour it over the dough and continue to gently combine until the dough holds together. Add more ice water a Tbsp at a time. You should be able to pinch a piece of dough and it will hold together.
  6. Divide the dough in half in the bowl.
  7. At this point pat into a disk. Either roll it out immediately or place each half in a zip lock bag, and place in the fridge for future use, no more than 2 days. If saving for much later, freeze it up to 2 months. Make sure to leave the dough out for a bit when you are ready to use it so it is pliable and doesn’t fight back.
  8. On a large floured surface, (I like to use a wooden board) sprinkle all-purpose flour over the area and place one half of the dough on top of it turning it over once to get flour on both sides.
  9. With a wooden rolling-pin that has been floured (use your hands and pick up some flour and rub over the rolling-pin) roll out into a circle, rolling away from you and turning a quarter turn each time until you reach the desired size. Add additional flour to keep the dough from sticking, but only as needed. *(DO NOT roll out for too long or too many times, it will cause your dough to be tough. The less handled the flakier it’s going to be).
  10. Now fill or use to top your pie, sweet or savory.

Once you get the hang of this you will wonder why you never did it before. Pillsbury ain’t got nothing on you!!!!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

BLACK BEAN SOUP

Do you like soups? I absolutely love them! I am a particular fan of bean soups. Maybe because both my Grandmother’s made them all the time. They were economical and made a lot to pass around. They are also filling. Add a side salad and some hot bread and your eating like Kings and Queens in my opinion.

My black bean soup has evolved over the years. I like Turkey Kielbasa in mine. My daughter likes to put shrimp in hers. Chorizo sausage is also killer in this. Whatever your addition is, the base is easy and will allow you to put whatever you want in it.

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This was a particular go to when the kids were younger and especially at Halloween. I could fill them up quickly and send them out the door to Trick of Treat. They left with a full and warm belly before the fun began. They all love it to this day.

This soup is big on the flavor, town, train.  We like to top ours with some grated cheese, sour cream, and a bit of chopped green onion. If you’re a bean soup fan this one is worth trying. As with all soups, if you have any left over, it’s better the next day. I hope you like it!

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BLACK BEAN SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, small chop
  • 3 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 8 cans of black beans
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb Kielbasa, cut in half and chopped into half moons

Directions:

  1. Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and continue to saute until it is fragrant, being careful not to let it burn.
  3. Add the cumin, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add 4 cans of beans and mash with a potato masher.
  5. Drain and rinse the other 4 cans of beans and add to the pot.
  6. Add the chicken stock.
  7. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir it frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
  8. Add the kielbasa and cont to cook until it is heated through. *(if using another meat cook it prior to adding)

Serve with your favorite grated cheese, sliced green onion, and sour cream. I also like to add a little hot sauce to mine for an added kick. This easily doubles for a larger crowd. It can also be halved for a smaller portion.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Skillet Scallops

Let me say this…….we LOVE scallops. Recently we found out that we/I had been overcooking them. That is, until we had them cooked properly. What a treat to have them cooked to perfection. I was cooking the love right out of them.

One of our local grocers had them on sale so I decided to try my hand at them again. Once cleaned and prepped it took seconds to turn those little pearls into tasty morsels. Moist, translucent, centers with a seared crust on the outside.

I made a caesar salad and served them on top. I ate every mouthful with a renewed feeling of accomplishment and joy. In my opinion there is no other way to cook them and I will forever continue to use this method.

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They would also be nice served over wild rice or pilaf.  Certainly, they are good on their own as well.

When you try this one, let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!

PAN SEARED SCALLOPS

  • 1/2 to 1/4 lb of sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T olive oil

Directions:

  1. Wash the scallops under cold water, make sure you remove the muscle on side of it. It peels off very easily and is very firm to the touch. Not all of them had one present.
  2. Pat dry and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. In a heavy skillet at high heat combine the olive oil and the butter making sure the butter is melted.
  4. Add your scallops to the pan, making sure you do not overcrowd them or they will not brown but steam instead. If they don’t sizzle immediately your pan is not hot enough.  *(cast iron works well here)
  5. Cook for 1 minute and 15 seconds, flip and do the same on the other side.
  6. Remove to a platter and bring to the table or plate them with a salad or over rice.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

 

INSTANT POT CHICKEN CATCH – A -TORI (cacciatore)

No big mystery with a last name like Del Grosso, my family is Italian. My husbands family that is! I am fortunate enough to be part of that family. Over the years my in laws have taught me their family recipes and how to accomplish them. This one however is mine!

I had Chicken Cacciatore in Baltimore some years ago. I fell in love with it and decided to come up with my own recipe. This one is named after my daughter, Tori! It can be done on the stove top, which is how I have always made it in the past. I recently saw a recipe from Skinny Taste and I thought, why not try my recipe. It turned out beautifully and done in 25 minutes.

I served ours over a single portion of spaghetti, which does add more points. You could easily use spaghetti squash. It would also work well over rice, or polenta. I also like to put crushed red peppers on mine and a dash of parmesan when it’s plated. Just remember to add the extra points for any additional add-ons.

So without further ado……..here it is. I hope you like it!

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INSTANT POT CHICKEN CATCH-A-TORI (cacciatore)
3 SP per serving / 4 servings

• 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
• Kosher salt and pepper to taste
• Olive oil spray
• 1 onion, large dice
• 2 bell peppers, sliced large slivers
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed, keep intact
• 8 oz package of sliced baby portabella mushrooms
• 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
• ¼ C chicken broth
• 2 T tomato puree
• 1 t dried Italian seasoning
• Chopped basil for garnish

Directions:
1. Liberally season thighs on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Using the saute’ feature on your Instant Pot, lightly spray with oil and brown chicken on both sides, set aside.
3. Spray the pot with a little more oil, add onions and peppers, and garlic. Sauté until softened and the onions are golden. About 7 minutes.
4. Add the chicken back to the pot.
5. Put the mushrooms and drained tomatoes on top of the chicken.
6. Mix the chicken broth, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and pour it on top of the chicken and vegetables and give it a quick stir and cover with the lid.
7. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, let the steam release naturally.
8. Plate and garnish with chopped basil.

You can top with grated parmesan and crushed red peppers to your taste.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo Continue reading

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