It’s getting cooler around these parts and we’re starting to crave all those rich, braised, cheesy recipes that have been tucked away since last winter. I have a small dusty box of casserole, pasta, soup and braised recipes I keep on hand for just this occasion, but to be honest, I’m growing tired of them. Sometimes there just isn’t enough cheese in the world to be satisfied by the same bowl of macaroni and cheese for 5 years running.
When Turkey Farmers of Canada approached me for a Comfort Food Makeover campaign they were working on, I thought it the perfect excuse to revamp some of my old standbys. This Brussels sprout and turkey casserole dish has officially been added to the recipe box and will be filling our gobs as often as we can take it this winter. It’s got everything you’re pining after in one bowl: bitingly sharp aged cheddar that’s melted and gooey, caramelized autumn veggies, big rigatoni noodles to hang on to all that creamy sauce, protein-packed turkey breast, some sweet apple to cut through the richness and bright lemon to wake everything up.
Head on over to their website to get the recipe!
"You always have the best dinners! I wish I had the time."
I hear this so many times. So, so many times. People tend to think I eat like a king most nights of the week. Big, extravagant meals that I’ve been pouring over for hours and planned for days. Get real, guys! I don’t have the time for that, either.
The truth is, if I’m not blogging it or making it for a group of friends or family, I’m eating whatever is fast and satisfying. Many times that means eggs and toast or tabbouleh with hummus and pita. If I can find the time to make a big pot of soup over the weekend, that’s what I’m feeding on every day until it’s gone.
When Hillshire Farm approached me about creating a 15-minute meal with their sausage, I was jazzed at the task. This is, afterall, about as much time as I have on most weeknights to make myself and Allan a meal - and I jam as much flavour, colour and texture into these meals as possible so they stay interesting, nutritious and satisfying. The soup I chose to make with Hillshire’s Smoked Sausage is hearty and perfect for the season change we’re going through right now. Having a few of their sausages in the fridge has been such a treat the last few weeks - meals just come together when you’re starting with something that’s flavourful and spiced to perfection already. I’m used to adding chicken to most soups but this is way faster and convenient when you’re stretched for time.
Smokey Sausage, Kale & Sweet Potato Soup
makes 4 servings with lunch leftovers
This soup is so flexible that it works with whatever you have on hand. If you don’t love chickpeas, use cannellini, black or kidney beans. Or, take them out altogether. If you don’t like kale add swiss chard or spinach. Feel free to switch up the spices if you prefer something a bit tamer.
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 large sweet potato, diced small (skin on or off)
3 cups Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage, sliced into 1” rounds or cubes
1 (19oz) can chickpeas (optional)
1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt (more if needed)
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
4 cups kale or spinach
feta or goat cheese, to garnish (optional)
fresh ground pepper, to garnish
Drizzle a large pot with a few glugs of olive oil and turn the heat on to medium. Add the diced onion and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sweet potato, sausage, chickpeas, spices & salt and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 10-15 minutes or until sweet potato has softened. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Add the greens and stir for 1 minute. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, if using, and fresh ground pepper.
This is a sponsored post. Hillshire Farm sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
I’ve been struggling through the last few weeks. Struggling to find sense and purpose in some days, feeling angry that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, crushing under the [self-induced] pressure of my late 20s (which, I know, is still very young and leaves plenty of time for change). It seems everyone is on a path these days, travelling towards their light at the end of the tunnel. Some days it feels like I’m a hamster running in a wheel. Constantly spinning, exhausted, but not going anywhere. It’s hard to remember that despite this feeling, I am on a path even if it’s not the one I intended to be on. I struggle constantly with the decision to start over. To take a giant leap into the unknown not knowing where my feet will land and what will be there to cushion my fall, if anything. Life can be so scary sometimes. But through all the nerves and anxiety, I can still hear that meager voice challenging “…but isn’t it better to be happy?” and I’m starting to feel like, yes, it probably is. To be happy and terrified, or comfortable and miserable. It’s a question that’s not so uncommon with my age group, it seems. And though the answer appears so simple, it just isn’t that easy.
I’m trying to take each day as it comes. To enjoy and embrace all the little things, as fleeting as they can sometimes feel. I’m lucky, selfish as it sounds, to have friends who are dealing with the same fears and struggles. It’s comforting to talk to someone that understands what it’s all about, how irrational and weighing those feelings can be.
Oh, the dramatics of it all. I hope I’m not the only one moaning and groaning over this – surely you’ve been (or are currently) there, too. I choose to believe you have and it brings us closer together as a result. See! That’s a nice way to look at it. You’ve always been so understanding. And to thank you for listening, I’ve prepared some Chickpea Melts. That’s right. Chickpea. Melts. A creamy, dill-pickley, slightly spicy chickpea salad schmeared over a piece of grainy bread and topped with greens, tomatoes and lots of gooey mozzarella. If that doesn’t solve all the world’s problems, or at least whatever you’re struggling with today, I don’t know what will. So go ahead, feed your problems away and smile. It could always be worse.
Spicy Chickpea Salad Melts
inspired by Madison at Mad Faux Cheese
makes 4 open-faced sandwiches
1 1/2 cups (approx. a small can) canned chickpeas
1 celery stalk, diced
1/4 red onions, diced very fine
2 tbsp Greek yogurt OR mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large dill pickle, diced
1/2 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp fresh minced basil
juice form 1/2 lemon (or a whole lemon if you like it tangy!)
1 tbsp sriracha (+/- depending on heat tolerance) OR 1/2 tsp (+/-) cayenne pepper
6 slices crusty multigrain bread
greens of your choice (I like torn kale)
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella (or fresh, torn mozzarella)
fresh ground pepper
Pour rinsed chickpeas into a flat, high sided dish, drizzle with a few glugs of olive oil and mash with a fork or potato masher until mixture starts to stick together. No need to be fussy, it’s even tastier when you get a whole chickpea in a bite.
Add in the celery, red onion, mayo, Dijon, pickle, garlic, basil, lemon juice, sriracha or cayenne and a good pinch of salt. Mix and taste for seasoning. Add more lemon, salt or cayenne if needed.
Preheat oven to 400.
Slice your bread, lay on a baking sheet and top each with 1/4 of the mixture. It may seem like a lot but trust me. Just trust me. Top the chickpea salad layer with some greens, a layer of tomatoes and mozzarella. Sprinkle with pepper and pop in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. If necessary, turn the oven on to broil to brown the cheese in the last minute or two.
There is something ominous lurking around.
A dirty, nasty cold/flu that seems to be knocking my friends and family out one by one. I woke yesterday with a sandpaper throat and what felt like two corks in my sinus’. Immediately I started trying to knock it out before it did me in.
Water (a lot of water), raw garlic (mashed into yogurt), oil of oregano and two full glasses of Green Juice later, and I seem to have come out victorious. I had plans to share a galette today, but in the spirit of health, I thought I’d share the recipe for the green juice that I’m adamant saved my ass from this TKO cold.
Spicy Kale Ginger Lemonade
based on Café My House's version
The ingredients are pretty rough here. Taste and adjust based on what you like best. This method is for those not lucky enough (like myself!) to have a juicer. It takes a little more time but it’s well worth it.
1 bunch kale (curly or lacinato), rough chopped
1 large apple (2 small), skin on, cored and rough chopped
Juice from 2 lemons
1/2 english cucumber, rough chopped
large handful flat-leaf parsley
2” ginger, peeled and rough chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 cup water
Place all ingredients in a blender with the 1/2 cup of water. Blend until everything is combined in a sludgy mess. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. Using a spoon or a potato masher (I have the best success with the masher, but it’s whatever works for you) and work the juice out of the pulp until it’s fairly dry. Taste and add more lemon if needed. Chill the juice or pour over ice and serve.
There are few things I wouldn’t do for an egg in the morning.
I wake up thinking of them, trying to recall what veg I have in the crisper, if I’ve any bread or cheese, onions or garlic, and deciding whether it’ll be fried in olive oil or scrambled low and slow until velvety and smooth. Something about an egg, so simple and pedestrian, really tugs at my heart. I adore them. And almost as much as I adore eating them, I get eager at the thought of shooting them. When the light catches a sunny yolk, it’s polished surface gleaming and flecked with pepper and salt, I can’t help but get all up in their business with a camera.
Today I bring you a very simple, incredibly nourishing breakfast (or lunch or dinner if you’re into that sort of thing - I bet you are!) that will satisfy and fill your tummy with goodness. Garlicky sauteed kale topped with sweet and slightly bitter charred shallots and a perfectly fried egg. If you added some crisp bacon or pancetta, it would be that much better.
Garlicky Purple Kale with Charred Shallots and a Fried Egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large handfuls (around 4-5 cups) curly kale
6 small shallots (4 large), sliced in half & peeled
salt and pepper
Clean and dry the kale and chop into bite-sized pieces. Heat a good few glugs of olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale and a pinch or two of salt. Toss until cooked through, about 5 minutes. It should be green and still a touch crunchy. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.
While kale cooks, heat a skillet (dry) over high heat until hot-hot! Add the shallots, cut side down, and let them cook until blackened on the bottom, 5-6 minutes. Turn shallots and remove from heat.
In another skillet (or the same, just remove the shallots and wipe it off) over med-high heat, add a thin layer of olive oil and let it get hot. Crack the eggs into the pan (they should immediately sizzle and sputter) and cover it lightly with a plate or pot-lid. Let cook until whites are set but yolks are runny, 3 minutes.
Pile the kale onto plates and top with shallots and fried egg. Sprinkle with some flaky salt and fresh ground pepper.
I wandered into the grocery store yesterday afternoon to pick up a few things for lunch; cheese, bread, tomatoes, greens. As usual, I left with about 10 extra items that I simply couldn’t leave behind (and that tugged mercilessly on my back muscles as I lugged them home, completely unprepared). One such item, a giant basket of glorious Ontario peaches. How could I leave them behind? Peach season is only just starting and it always seems it’s over before it’s even begun. The humble peach is one piece of produce that I can never get enough of, constantly wishing I’d sunk my teeth into just one more dribbley, juice-filled, fuzzy peach.
Sometimes it’s nice to let summer speak for itself, and this salad is one dish that does just that. The flavours of smokey, slightly bitter curly kale smoothed by creamy homemade ricotta and fragrant, juicy peaches drizzled with a sweet and tangy honey-balsamic vinaigrette. Can you feel the sides of your mouth starting to twitch and salivate? It’s totally deserving of that sort of reaction. Instead of eating the beautiful bowl I photographed, I stood hunched over the counter making tiny kale-leaf tacos stuffed with ricotta and peaches. If you want to do that, I’ll allow it, but it’s slightly more civilized, only slightly, to serve it in a dish. With utensils, even. But who am I to judge?
Grilled Kale Salad with Peaches and Ricotta
adapted from Bon Appetit
Bon Appetit used plums in their salad, but I had peaches on hand so I went that route. You can use whatever local stone-fruit is available.
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
fresh ground pepper
10-12 large curly kale leaves
4 medium peaches, halved, pitted and sliced
1 cup homemade ricotta (or high-quality store bought)
Whisk 3 tbsp olive oil, balsamic and honey together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the peaches and set aside.
Heat your grill or grill pan to high. Use remaining tbsp of olive oil to brush the kale leaves. When grill is hot, place the leaves on, turning once, until crispy and charred around the edged (about 2 minutes). Transfer to a cutting board to cool. When cool enough to handle, slice the large center stems away from the tender leaves and discard (or save for stock).
On a serving dish, place a few tbsp of ricotta, 2 kale leaves, and a spoonful or two of peaches. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette from the peach bowl on top of the salads. Season with a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper to serve.
Today is a quick post dedicated to breakfast. Simple, gratifying, nourishing breakfast.
It’s the first thing you put in your body each day, so it should be something your body can use. Something to fuel that big sexy brain of yours so you can come up with all those brilliant, life-changing ideas you have.
I’m a big, big (BIG!) fan of the breakfast salad. Greens, some fresh produce, cheese perhaps, and eggs. Maybe bacon if it’s an extra-special day. It’s healthy, it’s versatile, it feels good and most importantly, because I know how busy you all are, it’s quick and easy.
The Breakfast Salad;
[Baby Kale, Flavorino Tomatoes, Poached Eggs]
We’re lucky to have SunTech Greenhouses LTD nearby, which means we have some local tomatoes just starting to pop up on our shelves. If you don’t have any local tomatoes yet, you can simply leave them out, or you can swap them for some roasted asparagus, sliced radishes or quick roasted mushrooms.
This is a base recipe that is easily adaptable to what you have on hand or prefer.
1 or 2 poached egg per serving, recipe follows
Handful Baby Kale or Arugula, per serving
1/2 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 tbsp fruit vinegar (I use a pear/cranberry variety)*
2 tbsp best quality olive oil you can afford
fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Fresh Parmesan cheese, optional
On a plate, arrange a large handful of greens. Arrange tomatoes sliced evenly on the greens and top with poached egg(s).
In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Pour over the salad and top with fresh ground pepper. If using, sprinkle with a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese.
*You can find fruit vinegars at specialty food stores, but if you’re in a pinch, a 1/4 tsp of balsamic will do the trick.
A lot of people find themselves intimidated by poached eggs, but they are little more than technique and timing.
2 tsp white vinegar
Bring a medium sized pot filled about 5 inches with water to a boil. Add vinegar. Reduce heat to a rolling simmer (the top of the water should be rippling, not bubbling)
Crack one egg into a small bowl/ramekin. Rapidly whisk the simmering water in a circle creating a funnel in the center of the pot. Carefully pour your egg into the middle of the pot. It will swirl around in the pot and the goal is for the egg white strands to stay close to the egg yolk (you can help it along by using a spatula to CAREFULLY ease the whites closer to the yolk). Let it cook for 3 minutes (for runny yolk) and remove with a slotted spoon. You can do 2 eggs at a time but no more than that.
My dad has taught me a lot of things.
For instance; Sales are good. Sales in abundance - better.
While this lesson is certainly valuable, my dear father had a bit of an obsessive sale problem. Upon finding 15 cans of beans in the cupboard, he’d simply look up from his newspaper and explain, “They were on sale.” It was as if there was never going to be another can of beans for $0.89 instead of $0.99. Unfortunately, there never seemed to be any sales on Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Doritos. He’s smart, that father of mine.
Though I used to chuckle about it, my dad’s love of a good sale, I often find myself stocking up on random items for no reason other than the promise of 30 cents off. If it’s not a sale, I’m picking through every single piece of produce (the stuff that isn’t charged based on weight) for the largest one I can find. I won’t be had, Grocery Lords. I won’t.
As a result of this , I am now the proud owner of a bush-sized bundle of kale. I’ve been eating the stuff at least once a day. Steamed, braised, baked, raw… I don’t know how many more kale recipes I can make in one week. It’s a race against time to finish it before it starts to fade on me. Lucky for you, you’re probably not in the same predicament and might like a little kale dish.
I decided on a very simple pilaf using some quinoa I had in the cupboard, a little crumble of goat cheese, grape tomatoes and some toasty walnuts. It’s all pulled together and brightened with a little citrus. A definite winner if you’re looking to use up an extraordinarily large bush or kale, or if you simply want a bite to eat.
Kale & Quinoa Pilaf with Grape Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
This pilaf is easily adaptable to your liking. Change the greens, the grain, the cheese or the nuts to whatever your favourites may be.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water or stock
1 bunch kale (curly or lacinato), stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
two handfuls grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (or nut of your choice)
Salt and Pepper
In a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast the quinoa until it starts to pop, 10 minutes.
While quinoa is toasting, add the water to a large pot and season well with salt. Bring to a boil. Once quinoa is toasted, add to boiling water, turn heat down to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, add kale to the pot and cover. Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes or until kale is wilted and quinoa is cooked. While cooking, combine the orange, lemon (juices + zest) and olive oil together.
Once everything is cooked and delicious, add the citrus, goat cheese and toasted nuts. Have a taste and season to your liking.
I’ll see you again real soon for another kale related delicacy. I bet you’re pretty excited, and so you should be. Until then, dear friends.
I am a little neurotic. Have you noticed yet? You will.
There are days where I will be sitting at my desk, mid-conversation with a coworker, and decide I need to eat [insert food item] tonight. And if I don’t, life as I know it will cease to exist. I quickly end the conversation (because we all know that food thoughts trump real conversation), rummage through the files on my desk to find my designated ‘grocery pad’, and start scribbling down ingredients, mumbling to myself as I go.
This happened yesterday, on a day I had planned on having leftovers so I could tell you about the previous nights dinner, and disturbed my focus a little. It’s not the first time I’ve told myself to take a breath, relax for a night, and focus on the task at hand, which was sharing a lovely recipe for Chicken Provencal. Instead, I rushed to cram making dinner, walking the dog, doing the dishes and then sitting down to write out an entry (Oh,and seeing Mr. GL. He’s important, too. I like him.) into one night. This all resulted in an entry I wasn’t overly proud of. Which is annoying when you want to share a really nice recipe that deserves to be looked at.
But if dinner last night was the reason for a sub par entry, I had better make sure to at least tell you how good it was in hopes that it will make up for it. And it was quite good. I can attest to that.
There has been a big revival of peasant food in the last few years. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a large meal, often one-pot, made of easily accesible, inexpensive ingredients. Often making use of cheap cuts of meat, onions, garlic, vegetables and maybe a hunk of crusty bread if you’re lucky. These were the dishes often eaten out of necessity by the poor.
As someone who has lived alone plenty, I have a fondness for simple, one-pot, dishes. Especially when they are healthy. And even more when they are delicious. That is the most important part, after all. My neurotic episode yesterday came after glancing in the direction of some white beans and chipotle peppers, sitting completely impervious to each other on the counter. A match made in tastebud heaven. Especially when you stew them with a little kale, a touch of cinnamon, some sweet potatoes and a can of tomatoes.
This stew is simple, cheap, filling, healthy and delicious. And if you’re like me and often make more than you need for one, it reheats brilliantly. In case it wasn’t already delicious enough, I serve it on top of a hunk of bread with a poached egg perched on top. Then again, I would probably eat shards of glass if you topped them with a poached egg.
Chipotle White Bean Stew with Sweet Potato and Kale
If you don’t like beans, add rice or barley. If you don’t like kale, add swiss chard or spinach. If you don’t like sweet potatoes, then I can offer no help for you. Basically, feel free to change things up as much as you’d like to suit your tastes.
I used canned beans in this because, as usual, I hadn’t planned ahead. If you do have time, soak some white beans overnight until tender. They hold their shape well and have much better flavour.
Serves 1 multiple times, or 3-4 one time.
1 medium onion, sliced thin or diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 900ml can plum tomatoes
2-3 (for moderate heat) chipotle peppers in adobo, diced
1 900ml can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1” cubes
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 handfuls of kale, washed, dried and cut into bite sized chunks
salt and pepper to taste
Eggs, as many as you need. (See here for poaching egg instructions from Smitten Kitchen. This method works best for me.)
Bread of your choice, sliced thick
In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, add a good layer of oil and onions. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Pour in tomatoes and break them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add chipotle peppers, beans, sweet potatoes and cinnamon. Cover and simmer over medium-low until sweet potatoes beginning to soften, 15 minutes. Add kale and cook for another 5-10 minutes until kale softens. Taste for seasoning. Salt as needed.
Add a slice of bread to your bowl, ladle stew over bread, and gently place your poached egg on top.