Thursday, January 30, 2014

Little Will: 7 Months!

I am starting to think that once you become a parent, there is a special button that is pressed that causes life to happen faster. All the more reason to savor each moment and soak all of the goodness in. Every month has just gotten better and better. 

This little lovie is growing so fast and I just can't seem to slow it down. He is loving real food, rolling around all over and is sitting up on his own! And he loves Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. But only the version from the Johnson & Johnson Bedtime iPhone app. He's a particular little fella.

Will's seventh month was all things merry and bright and just filled with the magic of Christmas...including meeting the man in red!

It was the best Christmas of our lives and it was so special to have little Will to make the celebrations incredibly special. The most wonderful time of the year is made even more wonderful with a tiny one to share it with. I could go on and on, (and on and on and on...) but a December/Christmas picture dump will have to do. 

We stayed in Charlotte for Christmas this year and it was so nice to start some of our own traditions as a family of three! We are so thankful to live near our wonderful families.

We celebrated New Year's Eve with the McConnells! The baby besties were happy to be together and it was the best way to ring in the new year. 

Will LOVES his Aunt Andi and Aunt Nat! A trip to Charlotte's new Tupelo Honey Cafe was a must while Natalie was home from school and William gives it his stamp of approval.

This little glow worm brightens our days more than we could ever imagine. 

Happy 7 months, little one!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

12 Days of Salad Wrap Up!

Our 12 Days of Salad Challenge ended last week and we enjoyed every last bite. This was a great way for us to start the year off on the right foot and clean up our dinners after what seemed like a month-long foodfest that lasted from Thanksgiving through New Years. Our typical weeknight meals consist of healthy protein (chicken, pork, steak, fish) and a vegetable or salad on the side, so eating "dinner salads" wasn't too off course for us, but it certainly was fun. Each recipe was either 100% new, or incorporated something I have never made before- I love a good kitchen challenge! Many of these recipes will now be on heavy rotation on our future dinner menus. Mark's favorite was the vert first salad of the challenge, Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Andouille Sausage. Each night I asked him if he had a new favorite, and he always went back to that one. His other favorites were "any of them with bacon". Typical. I really loved them all, but my very favorite was the Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils, Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese + Italian Sausage. SO GOOD. 

12 salad recipes created and consumed! Here we go...

I hope that I was able to inspire some of you to clean up your eating in 2014 and try a few of these new recipes as well! 

If you're reading in Charlotte, don't forget, there are still TWO DAYS LEFT to receive a 15% discount on your next purchase at Pour Olive. Pop into the store and tell them you're a reader. This offer is good through Friday January 31, 2014. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Parmesan Chicken with Caesar Roasted Romaine

We love a simple Caesar salad. Whether it's alongside a grilled ribeye or my homemade pizza, it's always a favorite. This recipe is a surprising twist on a chicken Caesar salad. Romaine hearts are drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and then roasted for a quick 5 minutes. Easy parmesan chicken finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon is the perfect protein match.

I halved this recipe from Bon Appetit and it was perfect as a dinner for two. Swap out panko for almond meal to make this Paleo friendly.

...And if you're counting, this is salad number TWELVE. Enjoy!

Parmesan Chicken with Caesar Roasted Romaine
recipe from Bon Appetit

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (or almond meal)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided (Pour Olive's Gremolata is a good choice!)
2 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
1 heart of romaine, sliced lengthwise
2 anchovy filets (optional)
2 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine cheese, panko, 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil, parsley, half of the chopped garlic and salt and pepper. Season chicken with salt and pepper and top with panko mixture. Roast chicken until topping becomes golden, about 10-15 minutes. (the thicker your chicken breasts are, the longer you will need to roast) 

When the chicken is just about done, remove sheet from the oven and place romaine around the chicken.  Drizzle romaine with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper and the other half of the chopped garlic. Roast for no longer than 5 minutes.

Serve with a lemon wedge and an anchovy if you like!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Warm Bacon and Mushroom Kale Salad + A Poached Egg

We can go ahead and categorize this as one of the most interesting and unique things I have ever made. The recipe sparked my interest on Local Milk (via Pinterest) and when I read the recipe to Mark he was all for it! Kale stands up perfectly to the warm bacon and mushrooms and a warm bacon vinaigrette is icing on the cake! Things start to get a little crazy when you add a poached egg on top but it was actually quite surprising and quite delicious.

Don't knock it until you try it.

Bacon and Mushroom Kale Salad + A Poached Egg

1 bunch of kale, washed and torn
small carton of Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
6 slices thick bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Pour Olive Mushroom + Sage Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other good olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt + pepper, to season
eggs, poached

In a medium saute pan on medium heat, cook bacon until nice and crisp. Do not remove grease from pan. While the pan is still hot, add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Make sure the stove is below medium-low heat so that you don't burn the garlic. Once the garlic is soft and fragrant, set aside.

In another saute pan, add 2 Tbsp. or so of olive oil (I used Pour Olive's Wild Mushroom + Sage). Add pepper to season and saute mushrooms until nice and caramelized. When they are done, finish with a little bit of salt. (Did you know that you should never add salt to your mushrooms until after they are done cooking? Sauteing them sans salt helps to bring out a rich mushroom flavor, something you won't get if you have already salted them).

Transfer garlic to a small bowl, and add a few shakes of red wine vinegar to taste. I also added a tiny bit more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Combine kale, mushrooms, bacon and vinaigrette in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

Serve with a poached egg on top! Method found HERE

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

I'm absolutely, positively in love with this Asian inspired salad! Apparently, California Pizza Kitchen's version has a cult following with an extensive list of copy-cat recipes in blogland. I haven't had CPK's version, but Asian flavors are ones I crave often and a salad like this is hard to beat. I read through recipe after recipe, but in the end, I combined bits and pieces of what I found to develop something of my own. 

A creamy peanut dressing was a must, but I wanted to be sure to keep the ingredients simple and cut out the junk. The end result was fantastic! 

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad 

1 head napa cabbage, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
6 green onions, finely sliced
2-3 large carrots, shredded (a vegetable peeler works great!)
1 cup edamame, steamed and shelled
Rotisserie chicken, shredded
handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Creamy Peanut Dressing-
1/4 creamy peanut (or almond) butter
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
one lime, juiced
3 Tbsp. Pour Olive Toasted Sesame Oil 
1 Tbsp. Tamari
1 tsp. honey
1 garlic clove, chopped
a few shakes of ginger
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
salt, to taste

In a blender or small food processor, combine all dressing ingredients, except for the cilantro and salt. Blend until combined. Once smooth, add cilantro and salt to taste.

In a large salad bowl, combine all fresh ingredients and toss. Top with chicken, cilantro and a drizzle of creamy peanut dressing.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dijon Dill Salmon Salad

The inspiration for this recipe is courtesy of my blonde sister, Sophie. She loves a similar salad from Dean & Deluca and learned how to re-create it at home! A friend of ours made it for a party recently and it was a HUGE hit. 

My new favorite way to cook salmon is by brushing it with Grey Poupon and topping with a sprinkle of toasted panko breadcrumbs. It comes out perfect every time. Toasting the panko prior to putting it on top of the salmon is key, as is Grey Poupon. I don't know what I have been doing all this time using generic dijon mustard, but I will never stray again. 

Dijon Dill Salmon Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Dijon Dill Salmon- serves 4
1 lb. wild salmon filet
Grey poupon
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 yellow onion
handful fresh dill, chopped
olive oil

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette- 
4 Tbs. Pour Olive Picholine Extra Virgin Olive Oil (my current PO favorite) or other good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. Pour Olive Aged Dark Balsamic or other good quality Dark Balsamic
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
salt, pepper + thyme to taste

Fresh Arugula or Spinach
Grape tomatoes, quartered
Red onion, slivered
Kalamata olives
English cucumber, sliced into thick rounds and then quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a small saute pan, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add onions and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add panko and toss with the onions. Season with a tiny bit of salt and lightly toast, about 5 minutes. Add fresh dill and remove from burner.

Prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Brush a thin layer of mustard on top of the salmon. Sprinkle toasted panko evenly across the filet. Bake for 20 minutes. Fish should be flaky.

In a salad bowl, combine arugula, kale, tomatoes, onion, olives and cucumber. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients, pour over salad and toss. Serve with a slice of salmon on top!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils, Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese + Italian Sausage

This salad is my very favorite of them all. The only way I can describe this is "a giant bowl of wholesome goodness". It's warm and comforting and full of hearty ingredients. I could eat a salad like this every single day.

The warm roasted vegetables slightly wilt the bed of arugula the perfect amount and no fancy vinaigrette is necessary. All it needs is a quick drizzle of your favorite balsamic vinegar- I used Pour Olive's Red Apple. These flavors lend themselves to Fall but if you are like me, you want to enjoy these flavors all. year. long.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with 
Lentils, Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese + Italian Sausage

1 butternut squash, peeled, diced and roasted
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and roasted
1 cup organic French green lentils, cooked
goat cheese, crumbled
Mild Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced (from behind the butcher's counter at the grocery store is best!)
Baby Arugula
Good extra virgin olive oil, for roasting
Pour Olive Red Apple Balsamic or other good quality Balsamic Vinegar
salt + pepper to season

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Toss squash and brussels sprouts in olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes.

Rinse 1 cup dry lentils and place in a small sauce pot and cover with cold water. Add a sprinkle of salt and cover. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are done. 

While the vegetables and lentils are cooking, cook your sausage.

To assemble your salads, start with a handful of arugula. Top with squash, brussels sprouts and lentils. Drizzle balsamic on top and finish with goat cheese crumbles and sausage.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cobb Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

This salad is, by my standards, perfect. Crisp arugula and lettuce topped with fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, creamy avocados and a bonus- crispy bacon. Tossed together with a light vinaigrette, it's a salad that leaves you feeling satisfied. 

Mark and I both LOVED this and agreed that it needs to make a regular appearance on our dinner menus! Chicken for me, bacon for him and everything else that we love all tossed together.

Here's a healthy salad recipe to start your week off in the best way!

Cobb Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
recipe from Against All Grain

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt + pepper

Basil Vinaigrette-
1/4 cup Pour Olive Aged Dark Balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/3 cup Pour Olive Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other good olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 basil leaves, chopped
salt + pepper

Romaine lettuce, chopped
tomato, chopped
avocado, chopped 
artichoke hearts, chopped
hard boiled eggs, sliced
avocado, diced
bacon, crumbled
grilled chicken, sliced

Marinate chicken for at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill on medium heat on a grill pan for 8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees on the thickest part.

For the dressing, place all ingredients in a bowl, minus the olive oil and mix together. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well incorporated.

Assemble salads individually. Serve sliced grilled chicken on the top and finish with a drizzle of dressing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

12 Days of Salads: Part 2

Well, we are cruising through our salad challenge and as I write this, we have consumed 8 out of 12. Due to a fun oyster roast celebrating a March baby and a Panthers playoff game, our weekend did not include eating dinner at home but we hopped right back into the green fields on Monday and officially finished off week 1. I hope that some of you have been enjoying these recipes as much as I'm loving making them.

Here is what week 2 looks like:

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad
Lemon Garlic Salmon + Arugula Salad

If you missed the recipes from part 1of this challenge, or if you are new here, below is a roundup of the first six tasty salads!

Starting from the top left, going clockwise:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Grilled Zucchini Ribbon and Kale Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette + Crispy Almond Chicken Tenders

Here we go with the kale again. I seriously love this stuff! This time, I paired it with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette and it was divine. Using a mandoline, I cut a small zucchini into thin slices, brushed them with some butter olive oil (my newest Pour Olive obsession) and grilled them for a few minutes on each side. To finish off our salad, the protein of choice was simple chicken tenders coated in almond meal and baked until nice and crispy! 

There is so much you can do with this zucchini and kale combo. For a salad on the sweeter side, add dried cherries and pecans and Pour Olive's dark cherry balsamic. 

Grilled Zucchini Ribbon and Kale Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette + Crispy Almond Chicken Tenders
recipe inspiration found HERE  

1 bunch of kale, trimmed and chopped
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
Pour Olive Organic Butter Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other good olive oil), for brushing

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette-
1 clove garlic
2 roasted red peppers
3 Tbsp. good extra virgin olive oil (Pour Olive Picholine is my favorite right now!) 
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Toss with kale to coat and top with grilled zucchini and finish with chicken.

Crispy Almond Chicken Tenders-
6 chicken breast tenderloins
1/2 cup almond meal
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg
salt + pepper, to taste

Pregeat oven to 500 degrees. 

In a small dish (a pie plate works well) combine almond meal, lemon zest, a little salt and pepper. In another small bowl, lightly beat an egg. Make a dipping station and dip chicken tenders in egg, and then in the almond meal, making sure each tender is nicely coated. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The tenders will be nice and crispy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Greek Salsa Salad with Naked Basil Burgers

Sometimes, leaving the lettuce out of a salad is a fun way to mix it up. A lot of my favorite salads don't have any lettuce at all. This Greek Salsa Salad is a perfect example and one that I can almost always whip up in my kitchen because these ingredients are some of my kitchen staples. 

I originally had my eye on this Southern Living recipe, but I ended up using it as more of an inspiration and just went with my own little method. The Greek Country Salad at my favorite local restaurant, Ilios Noche is one of my favorite things to re-create at home. I chopped up my fresh ingredients a little smaller this time, making Salsa Salad the perfect new name. I served with Naked Greek Burgers on top, again, a little something I just came up with on my own. Using lean grass-fed beef, I mixed in garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and grilled them up on my trusty grill pan! 

Another salad success!

Greek Salsa Salad with Naked Burgers

1 cucumber, diced
2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped 
1/4 red onion, diced
fresh dill
4 oz. feta, crumbled
3 Tbsp. Pour Olive Organic Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other good quality olive oil
3 Tbsp. Pour Olive Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic or 3 Tbsp. lemon fresh lemon juice
salt + pepper, to taste 

1 lb. lean grass fed beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
handful fresh basil, chopped
salt + pepper, to taste

Chop all fresh ingredients for the salad and place in a salad bowl. Toss with olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Brush a grill pan with olive oil and place on medium heat. 

For the burgers, using your hands, mix in garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper with the beef. Make burgers the size of your liking, I normally do 3- 4 per pound.

Cook burgers 5-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked how you like! Serve on top of the salsa salad. I piled my salsa salad on top of a little pile of organic baby spinach.

Monday, January 13, 2014

BLT Chopped Salad with Corn, Feta + Avocado

Next to tomato, basil and mozzarella, bacon, lettuce and tomato is the next best savory trio. I craved BLT sandwiches something fierce when I was pregnant with Will and I kind of miss having a good excuse to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is just something about them that really hits the spot! 

This salad has all of the qualities of a great BLT, swapping out toasted bread for crunchy romaine and creamy avocado in place of mayo. There is something so simple and fresh about a BLT in salad form. We enjoyed our fresh chopped salads during one of the coldest nights on record here in Charlotte and for a moment, I thought it was Summer. Sweet corn gives added crunch and crumbled feta is the perfect finishing touch. Chopped salads are so much fun! I didn't use as much corn as the recipe called for only because I didn't have enough but I don't think the salad was missing anything at all. I also added some chopped green onions and fresh cilantro. Good call on both!

Chopped BLT Salad with Corn, Feta + Avocado
recipe adapted from How Sweet it is

2 romaine hearts, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
6 slices thick bacon, fried and chopped
1 cup sweet corn
1 avocado, chopped
4 ounces feta, crumbled

2 Tbsp. Pour Olive Persian Lime olive oil or other good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lime, juiced
salt + pepper, to season

Mix all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Drizzle on olive oil, lime juice and add salt and pepper to your liking. Toss to combine.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino + Roasted Chicken

Kale is my best food friend. I jumped on the train a few years ago and don't plan on hopping off anytime soon. Mark was not as enamored with this leafy green power food when I first started making kale chips but he is finally coming around. I've been using kale in our salads instead of the usual arugula, baby greens and romaine and it is a wonderful change! Kale leaves are much thicker than other lettuces and not only do you not need as much dressing, but there is no need to waste the extra because leftover kale salad is SO GOOD. Gone are the days of soggy, second day salad. 

In addition to being delicious, kale is one of the healthiest plants you can eat. It's packed with tons of calcium, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K. Kale chips are an excellent snack! In addition to salads and chips, I also frequently saute kale in good olive oil with some fresh garlic, salt and pepper. So simple, tasty and melty in your mouth all kinds of green goodness. 

This salad is my new addiction. I have made some version of it for my lunches all this week and on Sunday, I may just make a giant batch of it for next week. The flavors are pure and simple, and you really could add anything you want. I originally planned on making a kale salad with lemon pepper chicken, but this New York Times recipe was calling my name. I added shredded roasted chicken thighs for a complete meal.

Kale, I love you.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino
recipe adapted from The New York Times

1 large bunch of Kale
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for garnish
3 Tablespoons Pour Olive Picholine Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other robust good quality Extra Virgin
Juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Trim bottom two inches off kale stems and discard. Slice kale, including ribs, into thin ribbons. This recipe says you should have 4-5 cups. I filled up a large salad bowl. 

Heat olive oil in a small pan. Add panko and cook until nice and toasted. 

In a small bowl, whisk pecorino, olive oil, lemon, salt, red pepper flakes and pepper. Pour over kale and toss to coat the kale. Let salad sit for a few minutes and serve with toasted panko and more pecorino. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pairing up with Pour Olive!

My favorite local shop, Pour Olive, is joining me for the 12 Days of Salad series! I'm teaming up with my Pour Olive family and will be incorporating their oils and vinegars into my salad recipes. Sophie and I have gone through each recipe to determine which oil and/or vinegar fits best. This will be a great way to find uses for those unique flavors and pairings. The possibilities are endless.

For those of you that are in Charlotte, there is also a bonus! If you go into Pour Olive and mention my blog, you will receive a one time discount of 15% off of your purchase. This offer is good through the month of January. 

For those of you who do not live in Charlotte, don't forget that you can call the store to place a mail in order. 

Check back on yesterday's post as well as this morning's to see which Pour Olive pairings we chose. 

Black & Blue Steak Salad

My favorite thing about making salads is that you can adapt and alter recipes based on what you have in your kitchen. I love tossing a bunch of fresh vegetables in a bowl, drizzled with some good olive oil and vinegar and making a meal out of it. Artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and kalamata olives are among some favorite salad additions that I always keep on hand in my kitchen. 

Salad number two is simple but has serious restaurant quality. Marinated flank steak on top of a simple salad with a small chunk of gorgonzola on the side is just so good. We love flank steak! It's super lean and soaks in tons of flavor when marinated. Cooking Light's Maple and Soy Glazed Flank Steak is my favorite way to cook flank steak. I have tried many other marinades and I always go back to this one. 

This flank steak is so delicious on its own, so I kept the base of the salad simple; romaine, baby spinach, grape tomatoes and artichoke hearts. I sauteed some mushrooms at the last minute and they made a perfect addition. A quick drizzle of dijon vinaigrette and some gorgonzola on the side, and we were good to go!

Salad number two in the books!

Black & Blue Steak Salad

One 1 lb. flank steak (trimmed)
3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. sake or dry sherry
2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

romaine, chopped
baby spinach
grape tomatoes, quartered
artichoke hearts, quartered
sweet onion, thinly sliced
mushrooms, sauteed
gorgonzola or blue cheese to garnish

1/4 cup Pour Olive Dark Sesame Oil or 1/4 cup good olive oil
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. Pour Olive Vermont Maple Balsamic or Balsamic Vinegar
salt + pepper, to taste

Pierce steak on both sides and place in a small baking dish. Place all marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes or up to 8 hours in the fridge.

Preheat broiler. Remove steak from marinade and place on a broiler pan lined with foil. Broil on high for 5 minutes on each side. Place steak on cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut thin on a diagonal, against the grain.

Toss fresh salad ingredients with vinaigrette. Serve with sliced steak on top and gorgonzola or blue cheese on the side. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad + Andouille Sausage

We kicked off our salad challenge with spicy andouille sausage atop a bed of thinly shaved brussels sprouts. I love, love, love using brussels sprouts instead of lettuce. When they are thinly shaved they are so light and crisp! Trader Joe's sells bags of brussels sprouts that are already trimmed and shaved. I just buy whole sprouts and cut thinly with a knife or my mandolin. 

When all was plated and done, this is more of a warm salad, but on one of the coldest nights on record here in Charlotte, we didn't mind one bit! You could certainly leave the brussels sprouts raw, but quickly sauteing a bit of white wine to deglaze the pan from the sausage gives the sprouts a little something extra.

One down, eleven to go!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad + Andouille Sausage
recipe adapted from Happily Wed, Happily Fed

3-4 links andouille sausage, sliced
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and shaved
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
quick pour of white wine
3 Tbsp. Pour Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil or olive oil
juice of 1/2 orange 
1 Tbsp. Pour Olive Vermont Maple Balsamic or 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
salt + pepper to season

In a heavy bottom pan (I used my French oven) on medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add sausage and cook until browned. Set aside.

In the same pan, add onions and a quick pour of white wine to deglaze the pan and get all of the brown bits up. Saute onions for 2-3 minutes or until slightly soft. Add brussels sprouts and a tiny bit more wine and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste. 

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, juice of 1/2 of an orange and 1 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup. Toss with the brussels sprouts and onions and serve with Andouille on top!

Monday, January 6, 2014

12 Days of Salads

Today is officially the last day of Christmas and as the decorations come down, we have a new 12 day theme going on around here. Our Christmas season was filled with all of the very best things; family, festive fun and food. Lots of it. Everything was delicious, but we are ready to get back into our normal eating routine, especially lightening up our dinners. Predictable? Yes. But why not start a fresh year with a fresh menu. 

I cannot take the credit for this idea, as it was Mark's genius idea last week, but I am on board and excited! For the next two weeks, 6 nights each week, we'll be eating salad for dinner. This allows for one off night per week. And to keep things fresh, I'm using new recipes. All of our salads will include fresh greens, veggies and some sort of protein. I am a lover of salads so this plan sounds heavenly to me. As long as there's meat involved, Mark is happy, so this is a win win! 

This week's menu looks something like this:

Greek Salsa Salad with Naked Greek Burgers
Lemon Pepper Chicken Kale Salad

In case you didn't catch it the first time, this kitchen challenge was alllll Mark's idea. Thanks, lovie.

I'll be posting these recipes as I make them. Start the year off right and eat your greens, everyone!

Friday, January 3, 2014

{What Will Ate} Peaches, Pears, Peas + Ricotta

This baby food business is quite fun! I love watching Will try new foods and the excitement in his entire body at even the sight of a spoon. Making my own baby food is so easy and I truly enjoy it. I know that Will is getting whole, unprocessed foods and that alone is worth the little bit of extra time it takes which really is nothing at all.

Will is proving to be a good little eater, just like I hoped he would be! We have still been incorporating a new food every 3-4 days. Here are a few things we can add to Will's menu:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Whipped Ricotta +Herbs

...yes, you read that right! I mixed up my favorite appetizer for a wine exchange party shortly before Christmas and I gave Will a few bites because I was curious. HE WAS IN LOVE. What a good little Italian boy. The Roasted Butternut Squash Soup was the first course to our Christmas dinner at my parents house so thanks to my mom, Will enjoyed a fancy little Christmas meal. I'm making a batch this weekend to add to his regular menu rotation.

Every new bite isn't always met with excitement. It seems to be the trend that the first few bites he is unsure and doesn't eat much of it. But on day two, he always gobbles it up. Right now, Will gets some fruit with whole grain oatmeal cereal in the morning and a vegetable at night. All of his fruits and vegetables are steamed and then pureed. Sometimes I add a little extra virgin olive oil to the veggies. I use as much fresh produce as I can but thankfully, Harris Teeter has a wonderful selection of organic frozen fruits and vegetables. 

If you are in the baby food making club as well, here's a great resource that my friend Sarah shared with me. This site has loads of information and recipes. 

Next on the menu? Zucchini, green beans and fuji apples!