Massages are the ultimate way to relax and unwind. Kale responses similarly to the human body after a massage as its tough leaves chill out and become smooth and soft. It sounds a little silly to massage kale, but it is worth the extra work to transform this hardy vegetable into a more delicate leafy green.
A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar go a long way when massaging kale, but I like to serve it with extra oil and vinegar at the table to let family or guests drizzle more if desired. Cranberries, blue cheese and roasted sweet potatoes turn this salad into a meal that’s satisfying enough on its own. It also makes a nice side dish with roasted turkey or pork tenderloin.
Roasted Sweet Potato Ingredients: 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salad Ingredients: 1 bunch kale 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles ¼ cup dried cranberries ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and chop. Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Massage the leaves with clean hands for about two minutes, until well coated and kale begins to soften and wilt.
Add blue cheese, cranberries, salt, pepper and roasted sweet potatoes. Toss to combine and serve.
Summer is not over yet, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to some of my favorite seasonal produce. If you are like me and want to savor these flavors as long as you can, fire up the grill and celebrate these last couple of weeks before we welcome fall. Eggplant is a great match for summer squash stacked between layers of melted fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. Enjoy as an appetizer or pair with a simple salad and a glass of your favorite white wine for an easy dinner outdoors as you watch the sunset.
Ingredients: 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 2 small eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices 2 medium summer squash, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices 2 tablespoons pesto 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
In a small bowl, add garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, creating a grilling sauce for the produce.
Arrange eggplant and squash on a large plate or platter and brush both sides evenly with the grilling sauce.
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill vegetables until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and move produce to a working surface.
Create eggplant and summer squash stacks by spreading a thin layer of pesto on a slice of eggplant and topping with a slice of summer squash and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and top with an extra squash or eggplant slice.
Place eggplant and summer squash stacks back on the grill for a couple of minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from grill and serve.
Summer vegetables make the most delicious and light pizza toppings for warm weather days, while adding beautiful color to your plate. Dollops of ricotta and fresh mozzarella cheese compliment the slightly sweet roasted vegetables with shredded ribbons of fresh basil on top of my crispy thin pizza crust. Cheers to enjoying the flavors of summer as you savor the last few weeks of the season.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium summer squash, sliced ½ pint cherry tomatoes ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball (about the size of a grapefruit) ⅓ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese 1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese 8 to 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pace squash and cherry tomatoes on a medium backing sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
Roll and stretch pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom. Remove crust from the grill.
Evenly place squash and tomatoes on top of the cooked side of the pizza crust. Add dollops of Ricotta cheese and slices of mozzarella.
Return the pizza to the grill for about five minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bottom of the crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill and top with fresh basil before serving.
This salad tastes as splendid as a beautiful summer day feels, with sweet melon, refreshing cucumbers and juicy cherry tomatoes. Freshly chopped produce this time of year is delicious served uncooked and the combinations are endless. The addition of cantaloupe takes this salad from simple to spectacular. It is a great dish to pack for a picnic or enjoy at home along with grilled chicken on the patio.
Ingredients: ½ medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed 2 medium cucumbers, sliced 1 pint cherry tomatoes ½ small red onion, thinly sliced ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese basil, cut into thin strips salt and pepper olive oil balsamic vinegar
Combine equal amounts of cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and red onion onto small salad plates.
Top with feta cheese, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Cheese curds are delicious nuggets of freshly made cheddar cheese that actually squeak in your mouth, when you eat them soon after they are produced. There are cheese factories throughout Wisconsin where you can find warm cheese curds made daily. All cheddar cheeses actually begin as curds before they are formed into blocks or wheels and aged.
After a recent Wisconsin visit, I brought home some cheese curds and decided to explore cooking with them. I paired these with broccoli and eggs for individual frittatas with gooey gobs of fresh cheese in each one. If you cannot find cheese curds, you can substitute cubed cheddar.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small onion, peeled and diced 1 bunch broccoli, trimmed and chopped 1 cups cheese curds 8 eggs 1 cup skim or low-fat milk ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté a couple of minutes, until it starts to soften. Add broccoli and sauté until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to the skillet to prevent sticking.
Break large cheese curds into bite size pieces and place in a medium bowl. Stir vegetables in with cheese curds and fill the muffin tin with an equal amount of the mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli and cheese curds, filling each cup to the rim.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until frittata tops are lightly golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: An ice cream scoop is a great tool to use for adding the frittata mixture to the muffin tins. Fill each cup with one scoop and avoid messy spills.
You can skip the cheese plate and go straight for the salad, because these leafy greens are served with creamy and decadent baked Brie with a sweet and nutty bourbon glaze. This salad is elegant enough to delight your dinner guests, but quick and simple to prepare. Add grilled shrimp or chicken to turn this side salad into a main dish.
Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients: 2 tablespoons strawberry jam 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar ¼ cup olive oil pinch of salt pinch of pepper
Salad Ingredients: 1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place brie in a Brie baker or small baking dish. In a small bowl, combine pecans and brown sugar. Spread pecan and sugar mixture on top of cheese and drizzle with bourbon. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
In a mason jar or small container with a tight-fitting lid, combine strawberry jam, champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. With lid securely tightened, shake vinaigrette until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve lettuce and strawberries on salad plates and top with a wedge of baked Brie. Drizzle with strawberry champagne vinaigrette and serve.
Sautéed kale is not just for side dishes. Give it a try as a sandwich base and you will forget all about lunch meat. This Kale, Apple and Cheddar Panini with Strawberry Jam is a hearty vegetarian sandwich with seasonal farm-fresh favorites. It is comfort food that packs a nutritious punch and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.
Ingredients: 2 sub sandwich loaves (5 to 6 inches each), cut from a whole-wheat baguette 1 medium bunch kale 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons water ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 small apple, cored and thinly sliced 2 slices white cheddar cheese 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
Preheat a panini maker to medium-high. Slice sandwich loaves in half and set aside.
Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and cook or another minute, tossing to evenly coat.
Layer apple slices, kale and cheddar cheese on the bottom bread slices. Spread strawberry jam on the top bread slices. Stack together and place sandwiches in the panini maker, closing the top. Grill until the bread is crusty and golden and cheese has melted. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.
Note: If you do not have a panini maker, use a grill pan or skillet and flip the sandwich to grill both sides. Placing a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich will give you the panini effect.
Nothing says spring like fresh asparagus, and warmer days inspire me to fire up the grill. With sweet caramelized onions, earthy asparagus and creamy brie, this is a unique take on a vegetarian pizza that celebrates the season. Make this meal a quick one to prepare on a busy night by caramelizing the onions and roasting the asparagus the night before. You’ll have a homemade pizza on the table in around 15 minutes.
Caramelized Onion Ingredients: 2 teaspoons olive oil 2 teaspoons butter 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced ½ teaspoon sugar
Pizza Ingredients: 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 3 inch pieces 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese 4 ounces brie, sliced
To make the caramelized onions. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet, over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add onion slices and sprinkle with sugar. Stirring occasionally, let the onions cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over asparagus and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness, until slightly tender.
Roll or stretch (I do a combination) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel comes handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil, spreading evenly. Add mozzarella cheese and top with roasted asparagus, caramelized onions and brie.
Return pizza to the grill and cook for about five minutes, until mozzarella cheese has melted and bottom of crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill, slice into wedges and serve.
Make it a Meatless Monday with these hardy vegetarian tacos, stuffed with mildly spiced cauliflower and mushrooms and topped with sweet bell pepper sauce. This mostly hands-free meal is perfect for a busy week night, because you get 20 extra minutes to relax while dinner is roasting. Round out this meal with a side of pinto or black beans and Mexican hot chocolate for dessert. This is also a great make-ahead meal, especially if you are entertaining. Reheat the vegetables, make a pitcher of margaritas and you are ready to host book club.
Taco Ingredients: 1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces 8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons cumin 2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 8 soft flour tortillas
Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce: 2 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red), seeded and cut in half ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper ⅛ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower and mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add garlic to the tray. Season with cumin, chipotle chili pepper, salt and pepper, and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.
Place bell peppers on a baking tray, cut side down and roast for 20 minutes, until lightly charred. Place peppers in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached. Add cayenne pepper and salt, and pulse to chop until slightly smooth with fine chunks of pepper.
Serve cauliflower and mushroom filling in tortillas and top with roasted sweet pepper sauce and optional taco toppings if desired.
Say goodbye to the season on this last day of winter with my vegetarian tacos, featuring winter squash, a comfort food you can feel good about devouring. Butternut or kabocha squash make excellent choices, but any winter squash will work well paired with Tex-Mex spices and heart-healthy beans. Enjoy as a meal or serve as tapas for your next gathering. Leftovers are excellent the next day or could be transformed into a delicious salad served over your favorite leafy greens with a few crushed tortilla chips for a little crunch.
My slow and spicy pinto beans are a great option for these tacos if you make them in advance. If you are pressed for time, simply use no-salt-added canned pinto beans.
Taco Ingredients: 1 medium winter squash, peeled and cubed 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon salt 2½ cups cooked pinto beans 1 lime ¼ cup chopped cilantro 12 soft corn tortilla shells
Topping Ingredients: ¼ cup sour cream ½ cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 avocado, peeled and cubed 4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place squash cubes on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add chili powder, cumin and salt and toss to evenly coat. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through.
Meanwhile, make smoky cream sauce by combining sour cream and yogurt in a small mixing bowl. Add smoked paprika and garlic, stirring until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add beans to roasting pan with squash and toss to combine. Continue roasting for 5 more minutes, until beans are heated. Drizzle the juice of one lime and sprinkle cilantro over squash and bean mixture.
Warm a couple of taco shells at a time in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds per side. Fill corn tortillas with an equal amount of squash and bean mixture and top with smokey cream sauce, avocado and cotija cheese.