Grilled Kale, Quinoa and Cherry Salad

2 07 2014

Tonight we enjoyed this fabulous quinoa salad featuring Fresh Fork Market kale and cucumber. Pick your protein and enjoy it warm, at room temp or even cold – it’s that versatile. Serve it as a side dish, a salad or even an appetizer, making it perfect for summer potlucks too! I’ll be sharing this with friends and fam this holiday weekend! 🙂

Grilled Kale, Quinoa and Cherry Salad

The following serves 4-6 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat and A Beautiful Mess):

  • 1 bunch organic kale, large stems cut away, washed and dried
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • Reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dark cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 1 medium organic cucumber, cut in half, seeded and chopped
  • Chopped parsley
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sharp provolone cheese, shaved

Preheat grill to medium.

Drizzle kale with a little olive oil and season with salt to taste. Grill over medium heat, 1-2 minutes on each side until a little char starts to form. Remove from the grill and cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice or tear into small pieces. Discard stems.

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Mine called for 1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water. To add some extra flavor, I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water. I recommend using the pre-rinsed kind of quinoa to save yourself time. Once cooked, allow quinoa to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the grilled kale, cooked quinoa, cherries, cucumber and parsley. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and garnish with sunflower seeds and shaved provolone. You can enjoy this salad warm, at room temperature or even cold.

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Polenta Squares With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

15 06 2014

This is a unique, and tasty appetizer that I’m sure you won’t see at many parties! It’s perfect for summer picnics or potlucks because you serve it room temperature. You could also serve these polenta squares as a side dish, making this versatile too.

Polenta Squares with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

The following makes 12-16 squares (adapted from The Party Girl Cookbook):

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 6 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (Don’t waste the oil, save it to use in something else!)
  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pot over high heat. Add salt. Slowly add the cornmeal and whisk constantly. When the mixture boils (which will happen quickly and be careful, the mixture will be hot), reduce the heat to low and continue stirring (with a wooden spoon) until very thick, about 30 minutes.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil and stir well. Pour the polenta into a square 2.5 quart casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray, making sure to spread evenly. Chill in the fridge until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature and cut into squares. You can get more squares if you go for smaller, bite-size pieces.

You can make this a day or two ahead of time and store covered in the fridge. Just bring to room temperature before serving.





Italian-Deli Pasta Salad

28 05 2014

Wish I could take credit for this quick pasta salad, but it’s all Food Network Magazine on this one. Love the idea of using a jar of giardiniera (Italian relish of pickled veggies) – so tasty and such a fast ingredient to use. I just so happen to have an extra jar in the pantry. So when I saw this in my #FNMag, I knew I had to whip this up for our Memorial Day cookout!

Italian-Deli Pasta Salad

The following serves 8 (adapted from Food Network Magazine):

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (original recipe called for mayo)
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 16 oz jar of giardiniera, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup diced provolone (I suggest sharp provolone)
  • 1 cup diced salami (about 3/4 of a pound) – take some help from your deli, ask them to cut quarter-inch slices rather than giving you a large chunk of salami, this will make your chopping at home much easier!
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta under cold water to stop the cooking. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil and vinegar. Toss the dressing with the pasta, along with the chopped giardinera, provolone, salami, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This Girl’s time-saving prep tip: Save yourself time day-of, and make most of this salad a day in advance. Chop the giardiniera, cheese and salami and store in individual ziplock bags or containers in the fridge. Chop the parsley and basil and store together in a ziplock in the fridge. Finally, make the dressing and store that covered in the fridge. Then the next day, cook the pasta and mix everything together…now you’re good to go to your party in no time!





Buffalo Potato Salad

27 05 2014

Each summer I try to have at least one new, go-to cookout side dish recipe at my fingertips that I know will be a winner and great addition to any potluck I’m headed too. Let me introduce you to this summer’s go-to…buffalo potato salad.

This combo by Food Network Magazine is brilliant, which got me rave reviews this past Memorial Day weekend! I’m basically down for trying anything that resembles buffalo chicken dip – and this did not disappoint! So much flavor and so simple, yum!

Buffalo Potato Salad

The following serves 8 (adapted from Food Network Magazine):

  • 2 and 1/2 lbs of potatoes, cubed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (original recipe called for mayo)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buffalo hot sauce (Frank’s)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cubed potatoes with olive oil and salt. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until softened and beginning to brown, turning occasionally (just be gentle). Remove and let cool.

Mix the yogurt, sour cream and hot sauce in a large bowl. Toss to combine with cooled potatoes and the carrots and celery. Gently fold in the blue cheese and green onions (or serve the blue cheese on the side if you have guests that don’t like blue cheese).

Taste, and season with salt if needed.

This Girl’s time-saving prep tip: Save yourself time day-of, and make this salad a day in advance. Roast the potatoes and store in a covered container in the fridge. Chop your veggies and store in a large ziplock bag or another container in the fridge. Finally, make the dressing and store that covered in the fridge. Then the next day, mix everything together with the blue cheese (or serve the cheese on the side) and you’re good to go to your party!





Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

21 05 2014

This rustic Tuscan bean side dish is deliciously creamy and loaded with both flavor and nutrition! It whips up pretty quickly too. Get some chicken or steak on the grill while you prepare this, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely weeknight meal ready to enjoy.

Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch kosher salt to taste
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium, reduced-fat beef stock
  • Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 2-3 oz fontina cheese, cubed (you want to use fontina because it melts really well)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat a few Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, a minute or so. Add rosemary, red pepper flakes and just a pinch of salt. Next add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, stock, olives and cheese. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cheese will melt nicely into the stock, creating a nice creamy dish.

Meanwhile in a large saute pan, heat some oil and saute kale until wilted and cooked, 5-10 minutes. You can make as much as you like, I filled the pan (remember it shrinks when it cooks). Transfer sautéed kale to the beans and finish cooking together the final 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dish out beans, top with parsley and enjoy alongside a protein of your choice. I served with grilled chicken breasts.





Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

3 02 2014

Reinventing the classic buffalo chicken dip never gets old because everyone loves it. Huddle up, kids…I turned the go-to party dip into a healthy mac-n-cheese for game day! Trust me, you’ll score a touchdown at your parties with this dish!

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

The following makes a 9×13 casserole (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 lb whole wheat macaroni
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 – 1 cup Frank’s original hot sauce (amount depends on your taste)
  • 2 (8 oz) bricks of reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbles
  • Chopped chives or green onion for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Strain pasta and set aside.

Shred or cube the chicken while the pasta cooks and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in the same pot you used to cook the pasta and saute celery for a few minutes. Remove from the pot, add to the chicken and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the same pot. When the oil is heated through, remove from the heat and whisk in the flour. Turn the heat back on to medium and add chicken stock, whisking constantly – stir until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Next add the cream cheese and just a pinch of salt to taste. Whisk the sauce until the cream cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Next add the hot sauce and mix well. Start with 1/2 cup and taste the sauce, adjust to your liking. I ended up adding a full cup because I wanted the buffalo taste to be more prominent.

Once you get the flavor of your sauce adjusted to your liking, remove from the heat and add the pasta, chicken and celery to the sauce and stir until well mixed. Add the mac-n-cheese mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the top with the blue cheese crumbles and bake uncovered a for about 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and browned on top.

You can either garnish with chopped chives or green onion for a pop of color, or serve them along the side for people to top themselves.





Turkey and Pesto Tortilla Pinwheels

18 12 2013

I was telling a friend about the multiple holiday parties we had this past weekend and how I was working on concocting what to bring to each. A day or so went by and she asked what I decided on, and I quickly said, “oh ya know, boring pinwheels”. She laughed at me and said I love those, everyone loves those…and you don’t always have to make something fancy! And, she was right! They seem boring to me because so many people make them, but I never had….until now. And I admit, these are a good go-to when you need to bring something to a party and are in a pinch for time!

Turkey and Pesto Tortilla Pinwheels

Turkey and Pesto Tortilla Pinwheels

The following is compliments of Home Cooking Memories:

  • 8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup pesto (I use homemade, but you could use store-bought)
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 3 large whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 lb turkey, thinly sliced

Combine the softened cream cheese, parmesan and pesto in a bowl until smooth. Spread pesto mixture evenly on open tortillas (basically from edge to edge). Next, add a layer of turkey on top of the pesto mixture. Roll up tightly and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator, unwrap, slice into rounds and serve.