Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ellie Krieger's Layered Farro Salad with Kale, Feta, and Grapes

Winter Storm Jonas brought a good eight to ten inches of snow to central Kentucky, shutting down the schools for pretty much the whole week. We weren't quite getting the hang of this go-to-school-and-work-all-week business, so this was a good thing. Within 5 minutes of the first snowflake we were right back to our regular holiday schedule of pajama wearing, indulging in comfort food, and watching back-to-back episodes of our favorite show. We are getting pretty good at hibernating.

The odds of going back to school Monday are about 50/50 right now, but we will definitely be back to school by Tuesday. This transition will be a real struggle, so preparation is needed. Therefore, today will consist of things like wearing pants that button, combing our hair, and practicing basic conversation skills.

Getting your head in the game is a little easier when you know you have something delicious packed in your lunch.  For this reason, I'm loving Ellie Krieger's newest cookbook, You Have It Made. It is filled with healthy and delicious make-ahead meals, like this pretty Layered Farro Salad with Kale, Feta, and Grapes served up and made in easy-to-grab mason jars.

Farro is an ancient grain that is high in fiber and protein.  In years past it was rather hard to find, but I located some in the rice section of my local supermarket.  You cook farro much like rice, by bringing it to a boil with water and then covering and simmering for about 20 minutes. Easy peasy. Of course, if you wanted to substitute the farro for another grain, such as wild rice, feel free to do so.  Next, the kale is sliced and mixed with some diced red onion and a lemony vinaigrette that is rather fresh and delicious. Grab some walnuts, slice some red grapes, and get out the feta cheese.

You are now ready to build a beautiful and nutritious salad.  Serve it layered in a bowl or in some mason jars, you can't go wrong either way! I loved the combination of the hearty farro, the lemony fresh kale, the tangy and salty feta, the sweet burst of the grapes and the crunch of the walnuts. This salad hits all your taste buds and also delivers in the texture department. It is light but manages to be extremely satisfying at the same time. I would definitely make this again!

Layered Farro Salad with Kale, Feta, and Grapes
Adapted from You Have It Made
by Ellie Krieger
Makes 6 - 500ml jars or
Serves 8 in a bowl

1 cup farro
1-1/4 walnut pieces*
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups shredded kale leaves
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
1-1/4 crumbled feta cheese
2 cups quartered red or black grapes

Notes: I used a bag of candied glazed walnuts in lieu of toasting regular walnuts.

Cook the farro according to the directions on the package.  Drain well, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, then chop.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Place the kale in a medium bowl, add half of the dressing, and toss to combine. Add the onion, parsley, and remaining dressing to the farro and toss to combine.

To assemble the salad, place the farro in the bottom of a large glass bowl, patting down slightly. Add the kale on top. Sprinkle with the feta cheese. Then layer with the grapes and finally the walnuts. Alternatively, make individual salads by layering the ingredients in wide-mouthed (500 ml) jars.

The salad will keep in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 3 days.

Serving Size: 1-1/4 cups; Calories: 370; Total Fat: 24g; Sat Fat: 5.6g; Protein: 11g; Carb: 30g; Fiber: 5g; Cholesterol20mg; Sodium: 300mg

Theme: You Have It Made!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Jamie Oliver's Nasi Goreng

It's really hard to find soul-soothing, warm-you-up, comfort food that is healthy. Let's face it...comfort food is usually ultimately satisfying because it's full of all the no no's: cheese, cream, butter, pasta, and all the other good stuff. The challenge is trying to find something that is just as comforting, but healthy.  This Nasi Goreng is just the thing!

Loaded up with lots of veggies, this Nasi Goreng is the perfect way to start your day. The heart of the dish is basmati rice mixed with onion, garlic, ginger, red hot chiles, cilantro, sugar snap peas and broccoli.  A couple splashes of soy sauce and fish sauce and your rice is ready to go! Make a quick cucumber pickle for a garnish and fry up some bubbly eggs and you're ready for one amazing dish!

The veggies and chiles give the rice a beautiful complex flavor.  The end result is one heavenly mixture of colorful and flavorful veggies with just the right amount of heat from the chilies. The fried egg placed atop the rice is a welcome invitation to dig in. This dish strikes a perfect balance of healthy and comforting.

To me the best thing about this dish is that it keeps beautifully. In fact, the rice is even better the next day! Make a double batch of the rice and keep it on hand in the fridge for a quick breakfast. Everyone always has a few minutes to fry up an egg in the morning! This way you can indulge in a special breakfast before rushing out the door!

This recipe is sure to stay in my rotation! Happy days, indeed!

Nasi Goreng
Recipe from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food
Serves 4

For the Rice:
1 cup of basmati rice
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 - 2 bird's eye chiles
1 cup of sugar snap peas
1 cup broccoli*
canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
splash of fish sauce
hot chili sauce

For the Cucumber Pickle
 1 large English cucumber
1 bunch of fresh cilantro 
rice wine vinegar
1 lime

Bubbly Eggs
4 scallions
1-2 fresh bird's eye chilies
4 large eggs

Put 1 cup of rice into a pan with a pinch of sea salt, cover with 2 cups of boiling water and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Tip onto a large tray and spread out into a thin layer to steam and cool completely. Of course, you can simply use up leftover rice from the day before, which is even better.

Meanwhile, make the pickle. Peel the cucumber, then slice it 1/4 inch thick (with a crinkle-cut knife if you have one) and place in a bowl. Finely chop half the cilantro stalks (reserving the leaves)and add to the bowl with a few good swigs of vinegar.  Add the lime zest and juice and sugar, then season and toss together well.

Peel the onion, garlic, ginger, seed the chiles, then finely chop it all with the remaining cilantro stalks.  Finely slice the sugar snap peas at an angle, and cut the broccoli* into bite-sized pieces. Place a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or wok onto high heat, add a lug of oil, then go in with theonion, garlic, ginger, chile, cilantro stalks, and sugar. Stir fry for a few minutes, then add the sugar snaps, broccoli, and cooked rice and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the rice is heated through, tossing regularly. Stir in the soy sauce and a few shakes of fish sauce to season, then turn the heat off.  Place a quater of the rice in a small bowl, push down to compact, then turn out onto a serving plate - think sandcastles! Repeat with the remaining rice.

For the bubbly eggs, trim the scallions and finely slice the chilies.  Places a large nonstick frying pan on high heat and add 1/4 inch of oil. Once hot, crack in the eggs and fry so the whites really bubble up and get crispy around the edges - by angling the pan so you can spoon hot oil over the yolks as they cook to your liking. Remove to paper towels and pat off the excess oil, then use the eggs to tope ach portion of rice. Scatter over the scallions, chilies, and reserved cilantro leaves, drizzle with some hot chili sauce for a bit of a kick, and serve with the cucumber pickle. Happy days!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ellie Krieger's Superfood Blueberry Chia Overnight Oats In Jars

These overnight oats are packed with lots of healthy superfoods: Greek yogurt, blueberries, almonds, oats, and chia seeds. Even better they are like eating an ice cream sundae for breakfast! Each bite is full of texture: creamy from the yogurt, crunchy from the toasted almonds, not to mention the fresh pop of the blueberries. These oats feel very decadent and are a great way to ease the pain of alarm clocks and busy schedules. The very best can make it the night before and it's portable so you can just grab and go on those busy mornings!

Worth mentioning is this jar of Smucker's Fruit & Honey Fruit Spread. I searched and searched for the blueberry jam called for in this recipe and this was the closest thing I could find. It seemed like a healthy option and I do love honey so I decided to give it a go and I absolutely loved it! I think it was absolutely perfect for these overnight oats and would be equally great served over yogurt with some granola, on any kind of breakfast bread, or perhaps stirred into oatmeal. It is lovely!

*I purchased the fruit spread with my own money and was not paid or compensated in any way to review it. Just felt the need to share it's deliciousness!

Blueberry Chia Overnight Oats in Jars
Adapted from You Have It Made
by Ellie Krieger
Serves 4

2/3 cup whole natural almonds, divided
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup all-fruit blueberry jam*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cups blueberries, divided

 Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then chop them coarsely.

In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, yogurt, jam, and vanilla. Stir in the oats, chia seeds, and half of the almonds.  Then stir in 1 cup of the blueberries.

Divide the mixture evenly among four 12-ounce (1-1/2 cup) jars. Top each with the remaining blueberries and almonds. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (Note: the nuts on top will soften a bit in the refrigerator. If you want them extra-crunchy, sprinkle them on right before serving.)

Will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Serving Size: 1 jar containing about1 cup oat mixture and 1/4 cup topping
Per Serving: Calories 410; Total Fat 15g (Mono 8.2g, Poly Fat 4.8g, Sat Fat 1.5g)  Protein 15g; Carb 57g; Fiber 9g; Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 90mg
Excellent Source of: Calcium, Fiber, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Protein, Riboflavin, & Vitamin E
Theme: Fresh Starts!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ellie Krieger's Broiled Buffalo Wings

My husband and I have been off work since December 18th.  Same with the kids. We've pretty much spent our Christmas break in pajamas binge watching Netflix and eating. Scratch that. Eating is an understatement. Let's keep it real. I'll just go ahead and say we've spent our break in pajamas binging...period. Back to back episodes meets queso and ice cream sundaes. It's been heaven!

Unfortunately this period of overindulgence has come to an end. School is back in session tomorrow and that means my husband and I are both back to work.  So this morning I had to get dressed in actual clothes, for like the first time in 6 days, and go to the grocery. I knew better than to even attempt wearing my jeans. Nobody needs that pain in their life! So, I much too happily reached for my stretchy yoga pants. Feeling rather confident I slid one leg in, and then another, and grew perplexed as I pulled them over my hips. Did I have the right pants? Were these my teenage daughter's yoga pants?  A quick glance revealed that I did indeed have my beloved "used-to-be-as-comfy-as-pajamas yoga pants" but they were now a little more snug than I'd like. This can only mean one thing.

You guessed it! Someone, probably one of those elves, shrunk my pants! Can you believe that? Goodness gracious. I knew those elves spelled trouble! Next year those elves are getting locked out of my laundry room, but for now I guess I'll have to be more careful of what I eat and actually get up off the couch and do some exercising.

In the meantime I have real cravings to satisfy!  Real cravings for things like these delicious chicken wings, which I'm totally able to enjoy because Ellie Krieger has found a way for them to be calorie-friendly, and also delicious!

This wings are first boiled, which cooks them through, and also makes them quite tender. Next, the wings are broiled on each side until slightly browned and crispy.  Then, the wings are coated with buffalo sauce made from three simple ingredients (hot sauce, chicken broth, and lemon juice) and returned to the oven to broil and become all glazed and delicious. Since the wings are neither breaded or fried, and the buffalo sauce contains no butter, these are as healthy as chicken wings can be. A handful of them, along with some carrots, celery, and dressing of your choice is really the perfect amount to satisfy any craving. We really loved them and found ourselves fighting over the last few.

Broiled Buffalo Wings
Recipe via
Serves 4

2 pounds chicken wings, split at the joint
1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce, preferably Frank's Red Hot
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
3 large ribs celery, cut into sticks
2 large carrots, cut into sticks
Ranch, Blue Cheese, and/or Hot Sauce for dipping

Preheat Broiler.

Place the wings in a large pot and fill the pot with water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then continue to boil for 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cayenne pepper sauce, lemon juice, and broth. Reserve.

Transfer the wings to a broiler pan and broil 5 to 6 inches from the flame, until the skin begins to blister and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the wings over and broil 4 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer the wings to a baking sheet, drizzle with the reserved sauce, and toss well to coat. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1 minutes to heat the wings and the sauce together.

Serve with extra hot sauce on the side, celery sticks, and the blue cheese dip.

Serving size: 4 to 5 pieces, 2 tablespoons dip, and 4 to 5 celery and/or carrot sticks

Per serving: Calories 240; Total Fat 12 g (Sat Fat 4 g, Mono Fat 3.6 g, Poly Fat 3 g); Protein 27 g; Carb 4g; Fiber 1 g; Cholesterol 95 mg; Sodium 710 mg

Theme: It's In Your Hands!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

{Christmas Party Favorites} Pomegrante and Cranberry Bellini Mocktail

There are usually a few people at every party who chose not to drink alcohol at all. There are also your responsible drinkers, people who will have one or two alcoholic beverages then switch over to something non-alcoholic. For these reasons it's always nice to have a well thought out drink menu that includes a mocktail or two. Just a little something to let the "non-drinkers" or "responsible drinkers" feel special. Now I will be the first to say that I don't fall into either of the above categories.  I always prefer a cocktail over a mocktail, especially at a party.

So there I am at my party, cocktail in hand as I pour my very responsible friend a glass of this Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellini Mocktail. I watch nervously as she takes a sip, scolding myself for not taking the time to taste it before the party, and am so relieved when she squeals in delight saying "This is the best mocktail ever." I thank her and feel convinced she is just being polite. There is no way it is THAT good, I think to myself.

As the evening goes on, my friend revisits the pitcher full of this mocktail several times, each time complimenting the drink. Ladies, who by now have grown curious, decide to taste the mocktail. I watch, mostly in shock, as people put their cocktail aside and pour themselves a mocktail. That's it, I decide, pouring a taste for myself. And...

I'll be darned if the ladies weren't right. This mocktail is total perfection! It's not only pretty as can be, but it succeeds in having that perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the sparkling water gives it that bubbly effervescence that makes it light and refreshing. Garnished with lime slices, mint, and/or pomegranate seeds, this is such a special drink for the holidays, or really any occasion. It was certainly the hit of my holiday party and I guarantee it would be a hit at your party as well!

Not having a party anytime soon? No worries. Make a pitcher to enjoy at home!

Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellini Mocktail
Serves 8

1 cup ice
1-1/2 cups simple syrup, chilled *recipe follows
1-1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice, chilled
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice,chilled
1 (25.3 fluid ounces) bottle sparkling water, chilled
2 limes, thinly sliced
Optional garnish: 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds or fresh mint

For The Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup water 1 cup sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and allow the syrup to cool. (Yields 1-1/2 cups)

For the Bellini: Place the ice in a pitcher. Add the simple syrup, pomegrante juice, and cranberry juice. Stir well. Slowly pour in the sparkling water. Add garnishes, if using, and serve!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

{Christmas Party Favorites} Cozy and Delicious Vanilla Hot Cocoa

It's always nice to serve a hot drink at your Christmas party, even if the weather is unseasonably warm. A hot drink always helps to make things feel a bit festive. So turn on the fireplace and grab a mug.  We are going to give it our all to make it feel like Christmas!

Whether you're wearing your flip flops, or your boots, you are sure to love this delicious Vanilla Hot Cocoa.  The addition of cinnamon and vanilla are subtle, yet help to bring out the rich chocolate flavor of the cocoa.  Whether you top your cocoa with marshmallows, chocolate shavings, or whipped cream this is sure to make you feel cozy, relaxed, and ready to celebrate the season!

Vanilla Hot Cocoa
Adapted from The Food You Crave
by Ellie Krieger
Makes 1 cup 

1 cup nonfat milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon shaved dark chocolate, optional*

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and cinnamon stick over medium-low heat until scalding hot (little bubbles will start forming around the edge of the pan), about 4 minutes. While the milk is warming, put the cocoa and sugar in a mug. Add the water to the mug and stir until it has the consistency of a paste. Remove the cinnamon stick from the milk, add the cocoa mixture and vanilla to the milk, and whisk until slightly frothy.  Pour into the mug, top with chocolate shavings (if desired), and enjoy!

Theme: Cinnamon & Sugar

Sunday, December 13, 2015

{Christmas Party Favorites} Giada's Festive and Fun Bellini Bar

It's been my experience that you need three things to throw a good party: a well thought out guest list, good music, and at least one good drink. With that in mind, I hosted a Christmas Paint Party Friday night. I invited eight ladies from the neighborhood. Some introductions had to be made, but since all the ladies had several things in common, it was a good mix. The music was a no brainer. Christmas parties need Christmas music. Now for the biggie. The drink. Christmas time is a special time so I wanted something bubbly and festive. Giada's Bellini Bar fit the bill perfectly.

A bellini is a mixture of sparkling Prosecco wine and fruit puree, peach being the most common. Giada's Bellini Bar features three flavors: homemade peach, strawberry, and blueberry puree. I wasn't sure how popular a blueberry puree would be so I elected to make peach, strawberry, and cherry purees.  Now for the Prosecco. The fella at the liquor store recommended  Riondo brand. I bought four bottles and immediately put them in the fridge to chill while I made the purees.
This is indeed a gorgeous and festive drink, but it IS NOT a drink you can put together quickly so be sure to allow enough time to make all the components. First you'll need to make a simple syrup and allow it to chill. Then you'll need to let your frozen fruit thaw before you proceed to make all three purees. Between the thawing, chilling, blending, and cleaning you will need at least an hour, if not more.  It will be worth your time! I promise.
To serve the bellini, have your guest choose which puree they'd like, spoon the desired amount in the bottom of each wine glass or champagne flute, pour the Prosecco, and stir. Garnish each glass with fruit, orange slices, etc. Drink and Be Merry! This drink is sure to be a hit at your party as it was at mine!  One bellini will likely loosen up the crowd and create a fun party atmosphere. Enjoy!

 Giada's Bellini Bar
Recipe from Food Network
by Giada DeLaurentiis
Serves 12

2 cups sugar 
1 cup water 
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen peaches, thawed 
1 teaspoon grated orange peel 
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen strawberries, thawed 
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen blueberries or blackberries, thawed 
4 to 6 (750-ml) bottles Prosecco or other sparkling wine, 
*For garnish: chilled fresh fruit, such as pomegranate arils,berries, citrus slices, etc.

Note: I replaced the blueberries with a 16 oz. bag of sweet cherries

For The Simple Syrup: Stir the sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.

For The Peach Puree:  Puree the peaches and orange peel in a blender with 1/2 cup of the sugar syrup until smooth. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer and into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate. 

For the Strawberry Puree: In a clean blender puree the strawberries with 1/3 cup of the sugar syrup until smooth. Strain through a clean fine-meshed strainer and into another bowl. Discard the seeds. 

For The Blueberry Puree: Puree the blueberries in a clean blender with 1/3 cup of the sugar syrup until smooth. Strain through a clean fine-meshed strainer and into a third bowl. Discard the seeds and solids. 

To Serve: Pour each of the purees into clear glass bowls or small pitchers. For each serving, pour 2 to 4 tablespoons of the desired fruit puree into a Champagne flute. Slowly pour enough Prosecco into the flute to fill. Gently stir to blend. Garnish with the whole berries, as desired, and serve. 

 Do-Ahead Tip: The fruit purees can each be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.