Sweet Potato, Kale and Cranberry Citrus Salad

Guys, it’s cold outside. I mean really, really cold.  Hello January!

But just because it’s cold outside does NOT mean salad isn’t worth your time. This salad is very much worth your time. It’s adapted from Gimmie Some Oven because I didn’t have all the ingredients (and I’m taking it easy on grains) to make their Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Cranberry Couscous Salad.  With just a few tweaks for what I did have on hand and the omission of the couscous, this was a perfect addition to our main course tonight.

……And I can’t wait to have it for lunch tomorrow!

kale salad pic

Sweet Potato, Kale and Cranberry Citrus Salad

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, boiled whole until tender, cooled, cubed
  • 4 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 ounces plain goat cheese, crumbled
  • easy orange vinaigrette (recipe below)

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • pinch of salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE SALAD:

  1. Prepare the sweet potatoes. I chose to boil mine whole because it’s just easy to do while I prep everything else. The skin comes off very easy this way too. Once they are fully cooked, set them aside to cool. Peel and cube the flesh. (I could not wait for this step. So I went ahead and prepared them while still warm. Therefore, they fell apart. STILL GOOD!)
  2. In a small bowl, combine cranberries with just enough water to cover the tops. This plumps them up a bit.
  3. Place chopped kale, cranberries (drain the water off them and spoon into the bowl), cooled sweet potatoes, almonds, goat cheese, vinaigrette, and toss to combine.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

TO MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together until combined.  Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

 

 

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Meals Plan Ideas for 9/22-10/3

While I can’t say I do this every week/two-weeks without fail, I usually sit down on Sunday afternoons and peruse my Pinterest boards to inspire my menu planning. Today was a lovely Indian Summer day to do just that. I usually cook 3/4 times per 7 days and sometimes I reinvent leftovers, so here is my Pin-spiration for our bi-weekly menu. I hope it inspires you too!

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Dijon Chicken Linguini with mushrooms-A little on the heavy side, I’ll have to save this for a day I work out!

Indonesian Pork with rice- I have a 4-pack of boneless pork shoulders I picked up from Costco. They are so versatile I really enjoy having them around for a change. I’ll be subbing one for the tenderloin in this recipe. I also do not have mango chutney, but what I do have is a lovely preserve that is Orange, Mango and Apricot (also from Costco). It should be yummy in the crock pot!

Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes-I’ll be using the crock pot for this recipe too. I’m intrigued by the olives….

Chili with Cornbread-ok, I don’t follow a specific recipe for this. In fact, my chili probably tastes a little different every time I make it. I brown 1-lb of ground turkey breast, dump it in my crock pot with the big cans (28-oz) of diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, 1 can of red kidney beans, 1 can of Bushs best chili magic chili starter AND an envelope of generic chili starter/seasonings.  Sometimes I add onions, sometimes I add tomato paste, sometimes I toss in other beans/extra beans.

Pork with Peppers-this is PW’s skirt steak recipe but I will be subbing pork and serving it over rice instead of noodles.

Turkey Meatballs-these are nice because I can make a lot of them and if there are leftovers, I’ll freeze them, then put them in my tortellini soup for nights I don’t feel like making dinner.

Crunch Broccoli Bake-a yummy new side idea I think I’ll make with something like fish

Roasted Yellow Squash with onions-my kids will moan and wail and whine but it’s ok with me 🙂

Sweet Potato Coins-What a smart idea!

Buffalo Wing Pretzel Sticks-I am so excited to make these for a Saturday football snack!

Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms-another fun Saturday football snack item I can’t wait to try

The obligatory breakfast-for-dinner, ground turkey tacos, random pasta toss together (with tortellini), and various soups will be in the mix too if I need a quick fill in! What have you been pin-spired by lately?

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

This is one of my most favorite side dishes I’ve found via Pinterest. It gives you that potato casserole taste and feel but it’s squash! So yummy and fallish. Try it!

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin
Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup light sour cream
½ cup light shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Poke the whole squash all over with a sharp knife, then place the squash on a plate and put it in the microwave for 10-12 minutes. Remove the squash from the microwave and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds, then remove the squash from the shell using a fork to scrape the insides.  Transfer to a small bowl.  (*If you do not own a microwave, you can absolutely bake this in the oven for one hour at 350 degrees.  It will take significantly longer so I recommend making it the day before or early in the morning. You can cut the squash in half and bake or bake whole.)

In a small skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper flakes and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color; remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and (1/4 cup) half the cheese together and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Place into a 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

**If you will be serving this to children who do not like heat/spicy foo,  omit the red pepper flakes in the dish and put them as a garnish on top of the adults serving of the dish. The red pepper flakes really make the dish!

Pumpkin Cream

I made this pumpkin goo today! It’s from Rachael Ray’s magazine this month. She recommends it on pastry shells, but I’m thinking waffles!

Pumpkin Cream:

1/2 Cup Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Confectioners’ sugar
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin Pie seasoning to taste

Blend it all until combined!

Black Bean Hummus

My BF makes this hummus that is so delish. I love it with carrots and pita chips. It is such an easy recipe because it is made with things that I almost always have on hand. I have no picture of it, but just imagine mushed black beans. The recipe hails from Melissa d’Arabian.

There is a slight change I’ve made from the linked recipe. I think she uses it as a dressing on salad. Since I like a little thicker texture for dipping veggies, I changed the amount of black beans. I’ve written the recipe here to reflect my change. If you want it thinner, click on the link and check out her portions. Either way, this is a great twist on a summer time snack. Especially if garbanzo beans bother your tummy…

Black Bean Hummus

1 can black beans (unseasoned, drained)
1 garlic clove
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small food processer, combine all ingredients. Blend until almost smooth. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

P.S. the garlic in this gives it a little kick. The longer you let it set, the more flavor it will have. It isn’t spicy, it just has a tiny bite to it.

“Smashed” New Potatoes

I got this from watching Rachel Ray one afternoon. The seasonings can be changed to your liking/what compliments your main entree. No matter what, these are a tasty and more healthy way to jazz up your potato side dish options. Thanks Rach!

Ingredients:
10 small, red new potatoes
EVOO
Garlic & Onion seasoning (by McCormick)
Lemon Pepper seasoning (by McCormick)

1. Wash the new potatoes and then cover them 3/4 with water in a pan.  Place on the stove top on medium-high heat and bring them to a boil. Allow to cook until done through; roughly 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

Boil the potatoes

2. Preheat the oven to 475. Drain the potatoes and pat dry. On a jelly roll/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or your Silpat) place the potatoes. Using the same pot you cooked the potatoes in (be careful if it is hot) you want to gently squash each potato individually. (Don’t try to do multiple potatoes at a time.) Be sure to apply gentle, even pressure; don’t be too rough!

Smash the potatoes

3. Ensure the potatoes are spaced out on the pan, then brush w/ EVOO and season with Garlic and Onion and the Lemon Pepper.  Place in the oven, top shelf for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy.

*Some other seasoning ideas would be rosemary and parmesean cheese, paprika and garlic, adobo, the list could really go on and on!

season the potatoes

Cook the potatoes

Spinach Dip with Crispy Pitas

This recipe was featured in Penzey’s Spice magazine a couple of years ago around the holidays. I made the dip thinking it might be fun to try something new, but the flavor was WAY better than the ingredients imply. Zesty and warm and creamy…it’s a great party hit!

Author: Penzey’s Spices
Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 10 minutes (baking time is 20 ish)

Ingredients:

1 10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
6 T milk
2 Cups tomatoes, seeded, chopped (=about 4 medium)
1/2 C onion, minced (=1 small onion)
2 t crushed jalapeno pepper, rehydrated in 1 T of water

Pitas:
4 large pitas, cut into 6ths
1 t ground cumin
1 t lemon pepper
2 T EVOO

1. Preheat oven to 400. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cream cheese, milk, tomatoes, onion, and crushed jalapeno pepper. Mix well to blend thoroughly. Spoon into an ovenproof quiche/small pie pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

2. While the dip is baking, cut the pitas into wedges. Mix the cumin and the lemon pepper together in a small bowl. Place the pitas on a nonstick baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or your silpat) and brush with the EVOO, sprinkling the spice mixture as you go.

3. When the dip is finished baking, broil the pitas until LIGHTLY browned, about 3 minutes. Let the dip cool briefly, then serve with the toasted pitas!