Roast Chicken & Kale Salad with Buttermilk Dressing & Challah Croutons

_MG_4493As you may have noticed, we've been pretty into kale lately. Unfortunately, this may be conforming to many stereotypes about Brooklyn residents, but I guess at this point, I've lived here for almost three years so there's nothing to be done. In any case, apart from being the latest vegetable trend, kale really is very good for you, and quite tasty in a variety of preparations. I happen to like it for salad, since you can mix it ahead of time and you don't need to worry about the leaves wilting. This salad makes a great lunch or light dinner, and you could certainly mix in other vegetables -- I just happen to be of the belief that avocados make everything better. (No really, they do.)_MG_4498 _MG_4494

Roast Chicken & Kale Salad with Buttermilk Dressing & Challah Croutons (Dressing adapted from Food & Wine, serves 4 as a main course)

10 stalks kale, center ribs discarded and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (I used about half the chicken and saved the rest for leftovers)

1 avocado, diced

2 cups challah or other bread, cut into 1-inch pieces

Olive oil

1 tablespoon thyme

Dressing:

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons buttermilk

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread with olive oil and thyme in a large roasting dish until well coated, then roast until golden-brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

For dressing: combine first 5 ingredients in a blender with salt and pepper until well blended. Keeping blender on, add olive oil in a slow stream until well incorporated.

Add croutons to salad, then dressing. Toss well to coat, and serve immediately.

Mango, Banana, & Kale Smoothie

_MG_4118In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, I have been trying to up my intake of vegetables. A really easy (and relatively painless) way to do this is just to add some greens to a smoothie. This has become my go-to breakfast lately, and I think it's more filling than a mix of just fruit -- plus, you get lots of your vitamins for the day in before 9 am. Kind of a win-win situation, I would say. You can also substitute spinach or another leafy green for the kale if you prefer._MG_4122 Mango, Banana, & Kale Smoothie (serves 2)

1 cup fresh or frozen mango, cut into 1-inch pieces (if you use fresh, add a handful of ice)

1 banana, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup almond milk

1 1/2 cups fresh kale, cut into small pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée on high until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately, adding ice if necessary.

Zucchini Carpaccio

I know, I know. Two zucchini posts in a row. But this carpaccio is so simple and delicious that I had to post it for you all. There might still be some zucchini left at the farmer's markets, even though it's now been pretty much taken over by apples and squash. I made this for a quick and easy lunch last weekend, but it would also make an excellent first course for a dinner party. Be sure to use a mandolin (if you have one) to make the slices of zucchini as thin as possible; otherwise, use a very sharp knife so that they are almost transparent. ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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Zucchini Carpaccio (adapted from Tyler's Ultimate by Tyler Florence)

1 zucchini, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as basil, mint, and parsley

2 teaspoons capers

Zest and juice of one lemon

1/4 - 1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Layer zucchini in overlapping slices on a plate. Sprinkle herbs and lemon zest over, then drizzle lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle cheese over, then season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for ten minutes or so to let the flavors blend. Serve immediately.

Farmer's Market Quinoa Sauté

I actually can't take any credit for this recipe, and have to give it all to the lovely Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats -- a really great and healthy blog that my dear friend Greta introduced me to. It's always nice to find some new and interesting ways to use quinoa, and the lemon-honey dressing on this recipe is wonderful. The only changes I made to Kristin's recipe were using carrots in place of zucchini and goat cheese instead of feta (my personal preference). It made an excellent dinner (and lunch the next day), and is incredibly healthy to boot. You can find the recipe here

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Guys, it's been a rough week. And it's only Tuesday! Actually, I'm just being a baby, but I haven't had coffee since Sunday and it's been really hard. I decided to give it up (at least for a little while) since I had been getting bad stomachaches. Anyways. Lack of caffeine aside, Ari and I have made these chicken lettuce wraps a few times -- particularly as we have been trying to eat less gluten. They are pretty much as easy as it gets, and make a great quick dinner during the week.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 store-bought rotisserie chicken

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Sriracha (or less)

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon mustard

1 avocado

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup peanuts

1 head butter or Boston bibb lettuce

Shred chicken into bite-size pieces. In a small bowl, combine mayo, Sriracha, honey, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with chicken in a large bowl. Set aside (can be made two days ahead and refrigerated).

Place a spoonful of chicken onto a lettuce leaf, and top with a slice of avocado, scallions, and peanuts. Serve immediately. 

Challah French Toast

On a Sunday morning, it doesn't get much better than a stack of French toast, a glass of iced coffee, and a good book (currently, I'm re-reading The Shadow of the Wind for the 50th time). French toast was one of the first things I ever learned to make, as it was a great favorite of mine starting around age 4. This recipe is my variation on the one my mom taught me -- which isn't even written down, rather memorized by proportion. My parents generally use any type of bread, like leftover baguette or cinnamon-raisin bread, but I think that the challah brings it over the top. Challah French Toast (serves 4)

1 loaf challah or brioche, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

3-4 tablespoons butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup cream

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Maple syrup

In a large shallow bowl, whisk eggs, cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla until incorporated. Melt 1/2 - 1 tablespoon butter in a griddle or cast iron pan on medium-low. Dip one piece of challah into egg mixture, coating both sides well. Fry until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup......................................................................................................................................................................................

Corn and Tomato Salad

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After a lovely and relaxing few days spent on the North Fork of Long Island, I was lucky enough to return to temperatures topping 100 degrees back in Brooklyn. So much for escaping the heat -- and as someone without air conditioning, I'm sitting right in front of my fan while writing this, and will likely take my second shower of the day when I finish this post. Ah well. This salad just happens to be perfect for days like today, with minimal cooking times and quick assembly.

 

Corn and Tomato Salad

7 ears sweet corn

2 large tomatoes, diced, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/2 red onion, finely chopped, or 5 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

1/4 cup basil, julienned

1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

On a grill, roast sweet corn until slightly charred, about 4 minutes per side. (Alternatively, you can roast the corn in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or boil on the stove for 10 minutes). Cut corn kernels off into a large bowl. Mix with tomatoes, onions, chives, and basil. In a small bowl or glass, mix lime juice, olive oil, and vinegar, and pour over salad, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

 

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

I have to be honest. If I were to write down everything I ate, it would be kind of embarrassing. I would love to say that I eat a salad a day and eat my full 6 servings of fruit, but to be honest, sesame noodles would take up an unproportional amount of space. And living in New York, where amazing noodles of every kind are to be had at pretty much any hour of the day or night, doesn't really help this addiction. But usually I make my own, and this recipe, adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate cookbook (it REALLY is the ultimate -- I swear, everything I have ever made from this cookbook has been outstanding) is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. I added tofu for some protein, but you could easily substitute that for chicken or shrimp.The sauce would also make a great accompaniment to chicken satay...or raw vegetables. Or just eaten by the spoonful. (But then again, I can never have enough peanut sauce so you probably shouldn't trust me on this one.) Sesame Noodles with Tofu

8 oz. rice noodles

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated

4 green onions, very thinly sliced

2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you aren't a fan of spicy food)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

6 tablespoons hot water

1/4 cup crushed peanuts, to garnish

1 block tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 oz mixed vegetables, such as sliced carrots and sugar snap peas

Prepare rice noodles as directed on box. When ready, coat with sesame oil and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large sauté pan. Add tofu, and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add vegetables and cook until crisp, 5-7 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining vegetable oil over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and sauté until beginning to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water and whisk to combine. Add sauce to tofu and vegetables, then add noodles and mix well. Garnish with peanuts, and serve immediately or cold.

Simple Winter Salad

As an effort to be slightly healthier, I have been trying to eat more salad lately (and something needs to counteract all of the artichoke dip) Since I quickly become bored of the same old goat cheese-dried cranberries-walnuts salads of winter, I came up with this one to spice things up and add some more interesting fruits and vegetables to my diet. I am a huge fan of citrus, and since it is in its prime season right now, what better way to use it than in a healthy (but of course delicious) salad?

Simple Winter Salad (serves 6)

8 oz mixed greens

2 large oranges, such as blood or valencia, peeled and cut into thin sections

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

Toss first four ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small glass or bottle, whisk vinegar, mustard, and honey until well mixed. Add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly, until fully emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, and toss well with salad ingredients until well coated. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese if desired.

 

$10 Mondays: Brown Butter Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

I LOVE brussels sprouts. After going through the obligatory hating-all-vegetables (except corn) as a child, I finally realized somewhere around the age of 12 that these little green cabbages are in fact, delicious -- particularly when braised in butter and with chopped bacon (optional). I eat them about once a week in the winter, usually just roasting them for 15 minutes with a dash of olive oil and hot pepper flakes, but when I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I knew it would be something else. I actually made these a couple of months ago for the first time as a side dish, which was wonderful but quite rich, and so the other night I had the idea to make it into a main course by removing some of the brussels sprouts and substituting them for pasta. An excellent, and inexpensive dinner if I do say so myself. Brown Butter Pasta with Brussels Sprouts (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 lb brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed

8 oz pasta (such as fusilli or penne)

4 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot, finely sliced

3 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, hot

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and crushed

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch brussels sprouts until tender and bright green, 3-5 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until browning at the edges, about 5 minutes. Cook until butter begins to turn brown and gives off a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes more. Whisk in flour and cook until mixture is light brown. Whisk in stock and cook until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix in brussels sprouts, and transfer all to a large roasting pan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil water in a medium saucepan, and cook pasta until al dente, according to manufacturer's instructions. Drain and set aside.

Remove brussels sprouts from oven and mix in pasta. Serve immediately, garnishing with walnuts and parmesan cheese, if desired.