Green Monster Soup

Believe it or not I don’t eat chocolate cloud cookies bigger than my hand for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t loll around all day with half-eaten jars of marshmallow fluff at my feet. And I don’t eat peanut butter cup pie and Hostess cupcakes every single night for dessert.

OK. . . maybe that last one’s pushing the truth a little.

If on occasion you do happen to do one or more of those things and you wake up with a sugar hangover or just feel all around sluggish there’s nothing like a mug of this soup to fix you right up…. 

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Stuffed Squash with Brie, Cranberries and Greens

Fresh cranberries, brie and greens come together to make a festive and flavorful filling for kabocha or acorn squash.

The cranberries add a tangy pop of sweetness to the gooey brie, tender greens and mild-mannered squash.

The best bite is when you dig deep and not only get the creamy greens but some of the dense squash on your fork too! The difference in textures is just as important as the flavors in making this surprisingly delicious…. 

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Lemon Garlic Shrimp Scampi with Kale and Polenta

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Scampi with Kale and Polenta

Butter, lemon and garlic show-off the natural sweetness of shrimp in this simple but satisfying meal. The succulent shrimp is served on a bed of fresh kale and soft, creamy polenta spiked with salty Parmesan. It’s a meal that comes together pretty quickly and never fails to please.

I find a special kind of enjoyment in eating one-dish meals like this where the sum of all the parts equals a delicious symphony of flavors that only comes from scooping up a little bit of everything in each bite. It’s immensely fulfilling and completely comforting.

To soften the hearty kale leaves massage olive oil into them and allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking. It softens the tough leaves considerably and helps to take away some of the bitterness they might have. Fresh spinach leaves or another type of green can easily be used in place of the kale using the same technique (skip this step if using spinach).

If you can’t find polenta or have cornmeal on hand for making cornbread – use it! The two are exactly the same, the only difference being that ‘polenta’ is sometimes cut coarser. The end result will be the same. You can use grits too, if you like!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Scampi with Kale and Polenta

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Scampi with Kale and Polenta
(loosely adapted from Food Network Magazine)
4-5 cups fresh kale or spinach leaves
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus additional for serving
4 tablespoons butter, divided
sea or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus wedges for serving 
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped

1. Add the kale leaves to a large bowl, drizzle 1-2 tablespoon olive oil over top, using your hands massage the oil into each leaf. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

2. Cook polenta according to package directions, when cooked stir in parmesan and butter, season to taste with salt and pepper, put a lid on it to keep warm

2. Meanwhile heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the kale and saute until wilted and tender, remove kale and set aside, cover to keep warm.

3. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat, add the shrimp, garlic and cayenne, if using, and cook, tossing, until the shrimp are pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and parsley, toss to coat the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.

4. To serve layer with polenta on the bottom, followed by kale, then shrimp along with lemon wedges and extra Parmesan.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Kale and Polenta

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Kale with Garlic and Cranberries

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

My friend Heather of Girlichef is hosting this weeks BSI (blogger secret ingredient). Heather chose greens; a much overlooked source of stupendous veggie power. I did my shopping for the week and totally spaced out on this one. I came home without any greens. Shame on me. I was lucky to find a package of chopped kale in my freezer, the next best thing to fresh. I don’t have many recipes for greens, aside from adding them to soups my go-to is a saute of garlic and olive oil. I did a search and found some really good ideas like this one with dried cranberries. One of my loves. The heat really worked in plumping them up to bring out their sweetness and along with a little drizzle of honey the kale lost any bitterness it might have had. Hints of garlic are offset by the juicy berries and salty Parmesan. I imagine this as a perfect side-dish for Thanksgiving. Or anytime!

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

Kale w/ Garlic and Cranberries
(loosely adapted from Epicurious)

Frozen chopped Kale, 16 oz.
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1-2 teaspoons honey
sea salt and fresh pepper
Parmesan or Romano cheese, fresh grated, for serving

Steam the kale in a steamer basket pan for 10-12 minutes until thawed out and tender. Let cool slightly and using a large spoon press the water out of the kale so that it drips through the basket into the pan.

In a large skillet saute the garlic in the olive oil over low-medium heat until the garlic begins to turn light brown. Add the cranberries, kale and honey to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until kale is reheated through and cranberries are plump and warm. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

Printable Recipe

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries