Shrimp in Alfredo Sauce over Crispy Polenta with Greens

DSC_0030(Becky, the Mama.)

I love it when a plan comes together, when a dish in your imagination turns out as delicious as the actual experiment.  This is one such meal.

Last night I  put a little gourmet Italian twist on southern-style Shrimp n’ Grits, then added a serving of smoky-garlicky greens as a side. The results?  Not only was the presentation gorgeous, it tasted heavenly.  As in I would absolutely put a this recipe in the category of “the perfect bite” and serve it up in a spoon to Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain on the show “The Taste”.  Then step back and wait for them to swoon and hand me the prize without further debate.

In place of  the traditional grits, I pan-fried thin slices of ready-made polenta, often used in Italian recipes.  I used Trader Joe’s brand, which comes in package shelf (not refrigerated), usually near the Italian section of the store.  It looks like moist, cooked cornmeal made into a log and wrapped in plastic.  That is because, well, it is.   It is not the most appetizing looking food when you open it up for slicing. (Think yellow corn grits that may have been left too long in a pan.) However, once you’ve pan-fried them in olive oil and butter, with a little salt and pepper…. Look out, Louise.   They turn into crispy-edged, buttery disks of corny decadence.

tj polenta

 

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polenta skilletI made a quick n’ easy, creamy Alfredo sauce for the shrimp and paired it side dish of greens–  a mixture of kale and some wonderful fresh greens, a gift from our neighbor’s garden.

I can’t wait for you to try this recipe, a Taste of Tuscany meets South in Your Mouth.

Bon appetito, Ya’ll!

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Shrimp Alfredo with Crispy Polenta and Greens

Serve’s 2

Ingredients

For Polenta:

½ log of pre-made polenta

1 T. butter

1T. olive oil

Dash salt and pepper

 

For Shrimp and Alfredo:

20 pieces of raw medium shrimp, cleaned, peeled, tails removed

1 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup cream

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Dash salt

 

For Greens:

1 T. Olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced,

½ red onion, diced fine

2 slices pork or turkey bacon diced fine

4 cups loosely packed, rough chopped  kale and/or other greens,  thick stems mostly removed

½ cup water

1 t. smoked paprika

1 T. vinegar, your favorite

1 T. brown sugar

Salt and Pepper (or Grill Seasoning or Cajun Seasoning) to taste

Tabasco or Frank’s Red Sauce or Red Chili Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Start the greens first, so they can simmer on the back burner.  In your largest deepest skillet, saute olive oil, garlic, red onion and bacon, until bacon crisps. Pile the greens on top of this mixture in the skillet, cover with ½ cup of water, cover, and let the greens cook down about 5 minutes over medium heat. Take lid off and stir in paprika, vinegar and brown sugar, add salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste.  Cover again and simmer while you make the shrimp and sauce.  (Adding water if needed to keep from scorching, but no more than necessary.)

In another skillet (I like my iron skillet) let oil and butter melt and get hot while you slice the polenta into ¼ inch or so rounds.  Place the rounds in the skillet and turn heat up to medium high so that the polenta starts to pan fry.  When it is golden brown in places, turn it over and brown the other side.  Sprinkle the tops very lightly with salt and pepper.  Remove to a paper towel to drain any excess grease, then cover with another paper town to keep warm.

Wipe out the iron skillet with a paper towel, and then put in oil and garlic and shrimp.  Cook for just a minute or two until shrimp just turns pink on both sides.  (You can add a little water to the pan if the shrimp starts to stick.)  Add cream and parmesan cheese.  Stir and heat until cheese is melted and the shrimp and sauce is heated through.  Season lightly with salt to taste, if needed.

Put about 5 or 6  rounds of polenta on each plate.  Pile with shrimp and sauce.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika.  Serve with a side of the greens.


Kale “Popcorn” (or Leprechaun Food)

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(Becky the Mama)

As Kermit the Frog would say, “It’s not easy being green.” Only around here, the saying goes, “It is not easy to get my family to eat green things.” If, God forbid, a stray piece of “green stuff” – from chopped basil to green onions or kale – should land on my husband’s plate, he looks at me as though I’ve betrayed him…. with malice and forethought.

Thankfully children are more easily tricked… er… uh… persuaded. I told my grandson George that, together, we were going to make Green Popcorn. He was all in, as he loves to participate in any kind of “cooking with Nonny.” I had him tear the leaves off a bunch of kale into bite-sized pieces, then we rinsed them lightly and I let him spin the salad spinner, which one of his favorite kitchen tools. We then tossed the leaves in a bowl of olive oil and melted butter (butter helps give it the popcorn-taste) spread them on cookie sheets, sprinklee them with just a tiny bit of sea salt and baked until they were light as a feather. In fact, kale will almost fly off the cookie sheet after baking.

For extra fun I put them in popcorn bags, and sure enough, George LOVED them and asked for more. He ate almost a whole bunch of kale in one sitting. With this success behind me, I went after my husband in Sam-I-Am style. “You know that a lie I cannot tell, you will SO love green popcorn kale… “ He was willing to sample them and before he knew it he’d eaten the whole bowl.

“What do you think?”

“It really does taste like popcorn. I could eat this as a snack now and again quite happily.”

Eureka! Dr. Furhman, author of many books and PBS health guru, lists kale as the #1 food to help boost immunity and fight cancer.  It’s got more iron than beef, lots of Vitamin C and K, is high in fiber and full of antioxidants.  I’m posting this blog on St. Patty’s day, so you could tell you children that you are going to make some Leprechaun treats! Hey, whatever it takes to get your family to eat their greens and come back to report that they were “magically delicious”.
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P.S.  As long as we are nourishing our body with green things,  here’s another lovely green thing you can acquire to nourish your heart, mind and soul! 

 

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Kale “Popcorn” (or “Leprechaun Food”)

1 bunch fresh kale, leaves torn off of stem into chip-sized pieces
1 T. olive oil
1 t. butter, melted
Sea Salt

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
Rinse the torn up kale leaves then dry them very well in a salad spinner or blotting them on with clean tea towel. Toss them with clean hands in a bowl with the olive oil and butter. Spread the leaves out on a big flat cookie sheet, so they are just barely touching. Use two cookie sheets if needed.

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Sprinkle VERY LIGHTLY with sea salt. (Just a pinch for the whole pan. Because the kale shrinks up it is easy to over-salt them.) Bake about 8 -10 minutes. Stay near the oven and check them often. When they are light as a feather and starting to brown and get crispy, remove them and let them cool to the touch. We like them still warm and fragrant, served in popcorn bowls or bags as a snack. They also make nice crispy toppings for soups or pasta dishes.

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Apple, Sausage and Kale Stuffing in Golden Squash “Bowls”

Edible arrangements.

(Rachel, the daughter)

Every year around this time I make one of my favorite fall recipes with the pretty squash I’ve used to decorate my house. The centerpiece takes center stage in one magnificent dish with all the flavors of Thanksgiving–sage, apples, pecans, cranberries, squash, toasty bread stuffing. Sometimes I make it on Thanksgiving day, but we are traveling to my mom’s this year, so we had our annual stuffed squash fall celebration this weekend.

It has quite a few steps and takes a little longer than most of my recipes, but it’s totally worth it. To make a quicker but equally delicious version, you could roast pre-cut butternut squash and add it to the stuffing and just serve it in bowls.

I used Field Roast Apple Sage sausage, Earth Balance, and veggie stock to make this an all vegan dish. Of course, you can sub these with any sausage, butter, or stock you have on hand. If you have any vegetarians dining with you for Thanksgiving, this dish will totally wow them and it makes a beautiful presentation all of your guests will love.

***

A little note to you from us.

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of laughter and love and joy and happy tears and delicious food. We are incredibly grateful for each one of our readers and all the love and support you’ve shown us as we’ve opened up our kitchens and our lives to you this year. We’ll be thinking of you as we tie on our aprons and make a great big Thanksgiving feast (and a monumental mess of Becky’s kitchen) in Denver together.

Love and gratitude,

Becky & Rachel

All the flavors of Thanksgiving in one beautiful bowl.

Apple, Sausage and Kale Stuffing
in Golden Squash “Bowls”

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 c. of cubed bread
1/2 – 1 T. olive oil (just enough to lightly coat the bread)
1/4 t. sage
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. oregano

——————

2 small winter squash (acorn, golden nugget, sugar pumpkin, kabocha, delicata)
water
2 t. Earth Balance
salt

——————

~ 1 T. Olive Oil
2 links of Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage (or your choice of sausage), sliced into bite size pieces

——————

2 stalks of celery, chopped into half moons
1/2 of white or yellow onion, diced
1 apple, diced
3 stalks of kale, leaves removed and torn into small chunks
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup of craisins soaked in 2 cups of warm water
juice of 1 clementine or 1 T of orange juice
1/4 t. Salt
1/4 t. Pepper

——————

1 T. fresh parsley
1 c. veggie stock

Directions

Step 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a pan, toss bread cubes with olive oil, sage, garlic powder and oregano. Heat in oven until crispy and brown. Set aside to cool.

I used a mix of stale white bread and Ezekiel bread to make the croutons.

Step 2. Carefully cut the squash in half to make two “bowls”. You can cut it around the middle or from the stem to the bottom (the easiest way), depending on the shape. If you just want two bigger servings instead of four small ones, you can even just slice the top off of the squash for a pretty bowl presentation. (Search “stuffed squash” on google images to see lots of presentation options.) If needed, cut a little piece off of the bottom of your squash “bowl” to make a flat surface.

Remove the seeds from the squash. (Save the seeds for later and bake them with a little Earth Balance and seasonings for an hour at 300 degrees for a delicious snack.) In a large baking dish, put all the halves cut side down and add about 1/2 inch of water. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is nice and tender (you should be able to easily slice through the flesh with a spoon).

Step 3. While the squash is baking, heat a skillet to medium to medium high. Coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil. Add sausage and brown on all sides, add more oil if it sticks to the pan. Set sausage aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Field Roast Apple Sage sausage works beautifully in this dish. It is soy & gmo free and has passed the taste test with my omnivore friends.

Step 4. In the same hot skillet, lower heat to medium and add a little more olive oil. Add the onions and celery and a pinch of salt.  Stir occassionally until onions and celery are soft. Add the apples and kale. Saute until they are soft. Lower heat and stir in sausage, pecans, drained cranberries, clementine or orange juice, and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Onions, celery, apples, kale, pecans, craisins, and apple sage sausage. Mmmmm. 

Step 5. Drain the water from the squash pan and flip the squash cut side up. Put 1/2 a teaspoon of Earth Balance, butter or olive oil and a sprinkle of salt into each squash half.

Step 6. In a large bowl, combine croutons, sausage veggie mixture, and veggie stock. Spoon mixture into each squash half, letting any extras fill in the bottom of the pan.

I used 2 1/2 squash, but the stuffing is really the best part, so I reduced the recipe to just 2 squash. You and your guests will want to refill your squash bowls with a little extra stuffing. Trust me!

Cover with foil and heat for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and heat for 10 more minutes.

Serve with a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving.

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Super Healthy Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing

(Becky, the Mama. )

Greg and I just spent two days on a road trip, driving from snow-covered Denver to the blue skies, hot air balloons, rusty-red mountains, green grass, gorgeous flowers and warm sun of Arizona.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my bathing suit from the suitcase (still in the car) ran into the condo and threw it on, then dashed to the swimming pool. The sun was still in the sky, but sinking, so I arranged my lounge chair just so, where I could get the maximum rays, then sat down and basked and beamed with happiness. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a sun and a water baby. I wore my dark hair in two braids, as a little girl, and by summer’s end I always looked like Pocahontas, my skin as “brown as a berry,” my mother said.

To this day, I wonder if I am part Indian, as I disdain shoes and socks, preferring to be bare foot, even in the winter. I seek out sun like a lizard, anywhere I can find it. I do know that my grandmother Nonny and her family came to Sweetwater, Texas from New Mexico. Her eyes were a twinkling blue, her hair a stunning natural silver, and her skin turned a deep olive every summer.  She loved being outside in her garden, always in a flower print dress (I never saw her in slacks), and if we grandkids were lucky, she’d see and catch a baby horned toad, which us we loved to hold and play with more than any store-bought toy.

But I digress.  Back to the pool.  When I could see the sun dipping in the sky, I jumped out of the lounge chair, hurried back to the condo, grabbing this and that from boxes of food stuffs and ice chest we brought from home – kale, dried cherries, hemp seed,  sliced almonds, Clementine oranges – quickly creating the world’s fastest salad. Then photographing it while there was still natural light on the patio overlooking an emerald green golf course. After two days of road trip food burgers and fries, my body was craving something green and healthy.  This is truly a Super Salad, loaded with nutrition – and it was soo yummy, I know I’ll be making it again and again.  The nice thing about using kale in salads is that the salad still has lots of chew and crunch the next day, and in fact,  it seems to get even better as it has time to sit and soften a bit in the dressing.

Super Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine Maple Dressing

Ingredients for salad:

2 to 3 cups of chopped kale, leaves only – no stems (I was able to find it pre-chopped and mixed with some shredded carrots in the grocery produce aisle)

2 Clementine oranges, peeled and pulled apart in sections

2 T. dried cherries or cranberries

1 T. hemp, flax, or chia seeds

2 T. sliced or slivered almonds

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

Ingredients for Dressing:

¼ cup red wine or rice wine vinegar

Juice from 1 Clementine orange

1 T. pure maple syrup

1 t. soy sauce

2 t. good mustard

¼ cup olive oil

dash garlic powder or about 1/4 of a fresh garlic clove, grated

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Put kale in a large  bowl and knead and massage it with clean hands for a minute. This will break down the fibers and make the kale tender enough to eat raw.  (Sometimes I run hot water over it in a colander to soften the kale first, knead it, and then rinse again in cold water.)  Add all the rest of the ingredients for a salad and serve in a pretty flat platter.   Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle over the salad.  Serve and enjoy.

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The Title: Fruit and Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


“Healing” Panang Curry 2 Ways — Traditional and Soup

Panang Curry Soup

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Traditional Panang Curry with Shrimp

(Becky, the Mama.)

A sure-fire way to humble yourself is to announce: “I never (fill-in-the-blank)” publically.  (Or worse, “My child will never…..”)   And so when I declared, on Facebook that I almost never get sick, I should have known I was in for it.

For some unknown reason, for nearly a week, day after day, I  forgot to take my daily regime of immune-boosting supplements (fish oil, odorless garlic, probiotics, super green food powder) and woke up one morning feeling as though I was swallowing razor blades.

I went on the attack with liberal doses of all my regular supplements above  plus a couple of more exotic-sounding ones: olive leaf extract and astragalus.  By mid-afternoon my throat had calmed considerably and by nightfall it did not hurt at all.  (I did, however, get the standard stuffy head, runny nose bit – though, thankfully, without fever and it seems to be running its course fairly quickly.)

My husband was also out of town, so I had no choice but to practice good self-care and nourish my body as best I could, all by my lonesome.

In addition to honey-sweetened white tea (more nutrition-packed than green tea) laced with fresh grated ginger, and sips of Feel Good Blueberry Smoothie, I made two pots of healing soup.

First, I made a classic home-style chicken soup, a super quick and easy recipe I’ll share in coming weeks.  The other, is my new favorite “healing soup” – a Thai Panang Curry soup, rich with cancer-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants from the ginger and spices, cruciferous veggies, shitake mushrooms (which contain a compound called lentinan, shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease) and vitamin & mineral rich kale. Coconut milk, too, has healing properties.  It  contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Afriend introduced me to my first good Thai Panang curry , when she bought us both take-out containers of it during a working writer’s lunch.  It was love at first bite.  It hit all the strong flavor notes I crave: spice from the curry and ginger, slightly sweet and creamy from the coconut milk, a touch of tang from fresh lime, and salty-savory-earthy from the mushrooms, veggies and broth.

It sounds so exotic, but I do not make complicated recipes, especially when I’m fighting a cold, so trust me – this is quick and easy. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand, or enjoy, in this basic recipe.   I’ve included instructions for both tradition curry with rice and also the soup, in the recipe below.

 

Panang Curry with Shrimp

Panang Curry with Shrimp

“Healing” Panang Curry Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk (I prefer whole fat as it makes a creamier soup).

1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth)  — use 3/4 c  if you prefer to make the thicker curry version

½ small jar Thai red curry (about 3 T – less if you prefer less spice) (This jar of curry is found in Asian section of most groceries now and is small, about the size of a baby food jar.)

1 t. fresh grated ginger (pinch of dried ginger if you don’t have fresh)

1 t. brown sugar

Soy sauce or sea salt  to taste

1 c. rainbow slaw (or broccoli slaw)

1 large clove garlic

1 T. olive or coconut oil

1 T. butter

2/3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)

1 c. loosely packed, torn kale

1 fresh chopped tomato

2 sliced green onions

Slice of lime

Cilantro (sprig or chopped) and/or basil for garnish

Protein of your choice:  grilled diced tofu, diced or shredded chicken; or cooked shrimp, 1/2  to 1 cup depending on preference.  I use a small amount of chicken in the soup — as I  like the veggies taking center stage in this soup.  You could also sprinkle in toasted peanuts for added protein.  For the curry and rice version I prefer shrimp, about 5 medium shrimp per person.)

Instructions:

Saute garlic with mushrooms, slaw and kale in oil and butter in a deep large skillet until just tender. Dump all the ingredients except the last three (green onions, lime, cilantro or fresh basil ) into a large skillet and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy. Add chopped fresh tomato last, and stir to heat through.  Ladle veggies and broth into each bowl, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro or basil (or chop it up and sprinkle), some green onions, and a slice of lime to squeeze over and stir in right before eating.

Variation:  To make a more traditional curry instead of soup, use half the broth and put a scoop of jasmine rice in the middle of the bowl before garnishes.  Sauteed shrimp is beautiful, artfully arranged around the rice and on top of the curry.  You can use any veggies you like in place of slaw, mushrooms or kale.  Add slices of cooked sweet potato and pineapple for a creamy pineapple curry.  To add heat, use a few drop of siracha sauce or thai chili paste.

Panang Curry Soup

 

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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Stewed Summer Veggies

Stewed garden vegetables with white beans. Great for curling up with a good book and a blanket on a rainy day.

I’m packing up my suitcase (or three) for a tropical island vacation south of Tampa, but it looks like the most tropical thing about the trip may be Tropical Storm Debby. Our family that’s already there spent last night without water or power and hasn’t seen the sun in days. Much of the island is covered in water. Getting three suitcases, a diaper bag, groceries, and a one-year old onto the ferry (no cars on this island) and down the 1/4 mile rocky path to the condos without Jared, who will be joining us two days later, is going to be harder than I expected if this doesn’t clear up soon.

I had a menu in mind for the week, including lots of fresh, crisp fruits and veggies to cool us down as we came in from the hot sandy beach. But, this summer stew might be a better fit if it turns out to be a rainy vacation. Actually, curling up on the lanai (that’s a fancy word Floridians use for a screened in porch) with a good book and a bowl of these warm summer veggies, while the rain falls around me and and waves crash against the shell-lined beach, sounds like paradise to me.

Fresh potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and squash from our uncle’s garden were the base of this savory satisfying stew, finished off with white beans for a mild-flavored protein, and kale of course. No dish is complete without it! Smoked paprika, one of my favorite spices to add depth of flavor to beans and vegetables, makes it taste almost like it was cooked with a hunk of ham.

Rain or shine, cool salads or warm stews, I’ll be enjoying our little tropical paradise very soon. And I’ll finally be reuniting with my husband when he gets done with his week long out of state baseball tournament…just in time to celebrate our anniversary on the same island where we said “I Do” five years ago!

Rachel’s Stewed Summer Veggies

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

~1 T. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 large onion, diced
4 small potatoes, chopped into bite size chunks
1 yellow squash (or zucchini)
3 cups of tomatoes (I used a combo of whole cherry tomatoes & chopped larger tomatoes)
1 T. white wine vinegar
3 stalks of kale, torn off the rib and into pieces
1 cup of water or veggie broth
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt & pepper
seasoning salt
smoked paprika

Directions

Pour evoo into a large tall-sided skillet or sauce pan and heat on medium heat. Add onions & a dash of salt and saute for about five minutes. Add potatoes, squash, tomatoes, water or broth, and vinegar. Reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in kale and gently mash the tomatoes so they release their juices. If it needs more liquid, you can add another cup of water or broth. Gently stir in the beans and season to taste with seasoning salt (like Lawry’s or Tony’s), smoked paprika (use just a pinch for a nice smokey flavor) and a little salt and pepper if it needs it.

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The Title: Stewed Summer Veggies
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Lentil Veggie Chili

Lentil & Veggie Chili over brown rice, a delicious, healthy, economical twist on an American favorite.

I think any of our regular readers know my affections for kale at this point. I do love that cruciferous veggie (in fact, this recipe sneaks in two cups of it), but I’ve been keeping quiet about another favorite food of mine. Possibly the the humblest legume out there, the lentil.

I don’t have a funny or inspiring story to tie into this recipe, so I’m just going to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, talking geeky about health food.

“What’s a lentil?” You ask. Well, I didn’t know either until about two years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet. I wish I had known about them when I was a college student trying to eat healthy on a tight budget. A pound of lentils costs less than $1.00 and will yield 5 cups of cooked lentils. Each cup boasts a whopping 17 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, folate (90% RDV), iron (35% RDV), magnesium, and much more, yet only has 1 gram of fat and 230 calories. All that, and they cook in 30 minutes (versus 4+ hours for most dry beans) with no soaking required.

Like most legumes, lentils aren’t a powerhouse of flavor on their own, but they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in nicely. I use them in soups and spaghetti sauce all the time. This week, I discovered a new use for them. Instead of using canned beans or slow cooking kidney and black beans for my usual veggie chili recipe, I used lentils.

I know it’s warming up and, for some, chili is a winter dish, but I love any quick one-pot meal in the summer that doesn’t require turning on the oven or hovering over the stove for long. You can make a lot at once, and then take the next night off or easily pack up the leftovers for lunch at the office. And if you top it with a hit of diced avocado, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime , it really brightens up the flavors and brings a bit of summer color to this warm dish.

What’s your favorite under-the-radar ingredient or food that you love to tell your friends about?

Lentil Chili served over brown rice and topped with avocado, cilantro, and lime.

Rachel’s Lentil Veggie Chili

Ingredients

1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1 t. salt
2 serrano chilies, whole
1 sweet potato, chopped
14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup (1/2 lb) dry green lentils, sorted for dirt & rocks* & rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups kale, removed from stem
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional for an extra spicy kick)

Other: Brown Rice and/or crackers, avocado, cilantro, & lime

Directions

In a large pot, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute onions and carrots with a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft.  Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add serrano chilies, sweet potato, tomatoes, lentil, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 30 minutes with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid. Add corn and kale & optional red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a thicker soup, continue to simmer uncovered until you reach the desired consistency.

Serve over brown rice or with crackers. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

*Before cooking any dried legumes, pour them onto a solid surface, like a paper towel and sort through them looking for sticks, little rocks, or clumps of dirt. Please don’t skip this step. I find something in probably 50% of my dried beans. You don’t want you or your guests to bite into a rock!

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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Spicy Hominy, Kale & Butter Bean Veggie Bowl

Spicy Hominy, Kale and Butter Bean Veggie Bowl

Last autumn my daughter Rachel and her baby, Jackson, then just 4 months old,  met us for a few days of fun and sun in Scottsdale.  What I adore about Arizona in early November is that it is still summertime there.  Apparently nobody informs the state that it is actually Fall.  I love this. The pools are open, the sun is shining and it is the perfect place to decompress before the holidays hit. I highly recommend a pre-holiday vacation if you can swing it. It helps you store up strength for the coming onslaught of perpetual goodwill and cheer, and the work that goes with it.

Jackson has it made in the shade

Before Rachel arrived,  I created what I thought would be a healthy vegan dish for her to enjoy with a few ingredients I’d packed and bought. As it turned out we both enjoyed this impromptu creation aLOT.  One afternoon we packed this yummy, super-healthy veggie concoction into a plastic tub and put it in the beach bag, along with a sack of tortilla chips and paper plates, carrying it all to the swimming pool for lunch. There we devoured it like a dip, scooping  up every last drop with the chips,  as we sipped our chilled fru-fru drinks and watched the baby snooze in the shade of his stroller.
Once I was back  home in Denver I realized, to my shock and surprise, “I’m craving that veggie bowl again.”  Do you know how wonderful it is when  you actually crave something healthy, instead of a Caramel Macchiato with a side of chocolate cupcake?
About once a month, since then, I get the hankering for this concoction and indulge my craving without a shred of guilt,  and a lot of smug self-satisfaction.  There’s also something about the smells  of this veggie mixture simmering on the stove that remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen, only with a South-of-the-Border kick.
The temperature in Colorado was in the 50s and rainy today, and this dish  hit the spot for something comforting, warm, nutritious and delicious.I ate a big bowl full and felt so good about myself that I went to bed at mid-day with a book, as the rain softly drizzled down the window, and indulged in an hour long nap.  After all, being so good to your body deserves a little reward.

Hominy, Kale and Butter Bean Veggie Bowl Simmering in the Skillet

Spicy Hominy, Kale & Butter Bean Veggie Bowl

Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
1 chopped  red onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 16 oz can butter beans (NOT lima beans), with juice from can
1 16 oz  can kidney beans, with juice from can
1/2 large tomato, diced
1 big bunch kale, ribs trimmed away and chopped in about 1 inch pieces
1 can hominy, drained
1 roasted green chili chopped (or a small can green chilis or 1/2 jalepano pepper that has been seeded)
1/2 t. grill or steak seasoning (or 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper)
2 t. brown sugar
1 t. smoked paprika (gives this dish a bacony flavor)
2 t. Tabasco or buffalo sauce to taste
1 t. cumin
Directions:
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are fragrant and tender crisp in your largest deepest skillet.  Add all the other ingredients, one by one, into the simmering pan.  Cover and simmer at medium heat for about 10 minutes or until kale is soft and not overly chewy.
Uncover, and let simmer until the liquid reduces and turns nice and creamy.  Test to see if it needs more salt and pepper.
Serve with crushed corn chips or cornbread.
Variations:  Add a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes to make this into a stew-like soup, rather than a veggie bowl.  (It may need more salt and pepper if you do this.)
Meat lovers can add sliced, sauteed Kielbasa sausage to create a one-bowl-meal.

Veggie Bowl with crushed tortilla chips. Mmmm… mmmm…


Cranberry Orange Kale Salad

The Condiment Queen, that’s what I call my mom. At any given moment she has no less than 100 condiments lining the door of her refrigerator. Growing up, we always had at least ten varieties of mustard, ample obscure relishes, and enough barbeque sauce to smother 50 pigs … yet (due to raising four teenagers & a revolving door of their hungry friends) we were almost always out of milk, bread, and other essentials.

She loves her condiments so much, she even travels with them. Last week I peeked into the back of my refrigerator to see a jar of orange marmalade. I didn’t buy that, I thought. My mom always has orange marmalade in her refrigerator though. She must have traveled all the way from Denver to Dallas with it the last time she visited, in fear, I’m sure, that there might be a shortage of condiments in my fridge.

In honor of my Condiment Queen mama and her beloved orange marmalade, I used the remainder of the jar to dress the salad at our Easter lunch. The sweet dressing went perfectly with the slightly bitter massaged kale greens, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds. It would be great on spinach or mixed greens too if we haven’t sold you on the delicious wonders of one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet yet (at least according to the Whole Foods Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.)

Cranberry Orange Kale Salad

Serves ~ 6

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale, washed & dried

2 T. orange marmalade

3 T. olive oil

1 T. apple cider vinegar (or white wine or regular vinegar)

2 T. orange juice (I used one clementine)

Salt & pepper to taste

A handful of slivered almonds

A handful of dried cranberries

Directions

First, take your clean and dry kale and massage it with your hands for a few minutes until it looks like it has been lightly sauteed. It will significantly reduce in size and soften up quite a bit. Think deep tissue massage. Kale is tough and can take a nice firm touch.

(As is, kale is very fiberous and takes a long time to chew, but massaging kale breaks down the fibers and makes it nice and soft like sauteed kale with all the benefits of eating raw greens.)

Next, mix the marmalade, olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, and salt and pepper together. Taste for seasoning. Toss the kale with the dressing. Top with slivered almonds and dried cranberries.

Make this a main dish for 2-3 people by serving it on a bed of quinoa, or topping with grilled tofu, chicken (or vegan chick’n strips).

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Cranberry Orange Kale Salad
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/12/cranberry-orange-kale-salad

Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Curry — Easy Enough for Curry Cowards Like Me

I’m a curry coward. It’s exotic. It’s bright yellow. It has a long ingredient list.

So last night I decided to come up with a simple curry that even a curry coward like me can manage to make. I took the easy route and bought a can of curry powder instead of buying ten different spices and making my own. The first batch I made had lots of veggies and chickpeas, but I decided that three ingredients really stood out from the crowd — cauliflower, kale, and roasted garlic. So I made it again for breakfast this morning while the baby was napping. The life of a food blogging mama! This time I just used those two veggies and a whole bulb of roasted garlic. Much easier. Much better.

I don’t know if brown sugar is a classic addition, but I found it really balanced the strong curry flavors nicely. Curry powders can vary from brand to brand, so you may want to taste the seasoning as you go to see if it needs adjustments. Here’s the kind I used.

Roland Pure Indian Hot Madras Curry Powder (I didn't think it was spicy at all)

Are you intimidated about making your own curry too or was I the only curry coward?

What other dishes would you love to make but haven’t because they seem to complicated or overwhelming?

I watched Michael Symon on The Chew sharing tips on plating food and I thought I'd give it a try. Professional, eh?!

Rachel’s
Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 bunch of Kale, ribs removed, washed & dried well
1 head of Cauliflower, chopped into “trees”
1 bulb of Garlic
3 tbs Olive Oil, divided
~ 4 tbs Curry Powder, divided
4 tsp Brown Sugar, divided
1 tsp Salt, divided
1 can of Coconut Milk
16 oz  Lentils, prepared per package instructions

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top of the garlic to reveal the top of each clove. Put the bulb on a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil on top, and wrap the clove tight with the foil. Put in the oven (directly on the rack is fine until you get the cauliflower in).

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower “trees” with about 1 tbs olive oil. Tossing as you go, gradually add 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt until evenly coated. Place on a large baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray and put in the oven. (Move the garlic onto the baking sheet at this time.) Set the timer for 20 minutes.

In the same large bowl, toss the kale with 1 tbs olive oil, using your hands to massage it into the leaves. Tossing as you go, gradually add  2 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Put the kale on a large baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. It will be crowded, but that’s okay, we aren’t looking for crisp kale chips so it can be a little crowded. Add the kale to the oven, leaving the garlic and cauliflower in too. Cook everything for 20 more minutes. You might want to give the cauliflower and kale a shake every now and then.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1 tbs olive oil on medium heat and add 3 tbs of curry powder. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add 2 tbs brown sugar and 1 can of coconut milk. Stir.

When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and remove the garlic. You can leave the kale and cauliflower in the oven to stay warm while you finish up the sauce. Carefully (it will be really hot) take the garlic out of the foil and squeeze it into the curry sauce. You can just stir it in if the garlic is really oozy or put it into the blender for a few seconds to evenly incorporate it.

Serve veggies on a bed of lentils and top with curry sauce.

And just like that I’m over my fear of curry and you can be too!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Curry
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/29/roasted-cauliflower-and-kale-curry
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