Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

Oh kale, you're the best. Us dietitian folk love our leafy greens, and for good reason! Kale is a great source of B vitamins, folate, calcium and fiber and can be super tasty if prepared the right way. I recently found frozen kale in our HealthMarket section and got really excited to use it. Not only does it work well it soups, but it would also be wonderful in stir-fries, casseroles and pasta sauces. 

This soup combines my favorite chicken sausage with creamy white beans, lots and lots of veggies (of course) and a little cheese to amp of the flavor. Although perfectly delicious eaten the day you make it, this dish would also hold up well in the freezer if you want to make a double batch. Time to warm up!




1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add diced sausage and cook until golden and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.



2. In the same pot, cook the onion and carrot until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.


3. Pour in the chicken stock and cannellini beans and stir to combine. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, salt, pepper and cheese and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook for 15 minutes.




4. Stir in kale and cooked sausage and cook for 5 minutes longer. Serve garnished with more cheese, if desired.





Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup
Serves 8

All you need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package Alfresco sweet Italian chicken sausage, diced small
2 small yellow onions, peeled and diced
8 carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 (4 cup) container chicken stock
2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
1 (10 oz.) bag frozen chopped kale

All you do:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add diced sausage and cook until golden and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. In the same pot, cook the onion and carrot until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
3. Pour in the chicken stock and cannellini beans and stir to combine. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, salt, pepper and cheese and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Stir in kale and cooked sausage and cook for 5 minutes longer. Serve garnished with more cheese, if desired.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Turkey Tenderloin with Mushroom Gravy

Sundays are my favorite day of the week. It's my time to catch up, hang with the family and cook to my heart's content. Today I was feeling inspired to make a hearty, yet good-for-me, dinner. Quinoa is a traditional side dish these days and I love it because it's naturally gluten-free (so it can satisfy all guests) and it's high in fiber and protein. The filling in this dish is a combination of fresh spinach and lemon zest, creamy goat cheese, smoky bacon and quinoa. It's definitely good all on it's own, but when baked inside the turkey tenderloin, it becomes more flavorful and juicy. 

Now let's talk about my mushroom gravy. This is where it's at! I use baby bella mushrooms a lot because they add such good flavor and texture. In this sauce, they work as the perfect vessel to soak up the turkey pan drippings. The touch of heavy cream that's added at the end provides a silky richness. 

This recipe would be wonderful for entertaining and can easily be doubled or tripled depending on your crowd. Enjoy! 





1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Place spinach, goat cheese and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and fold in cooked bacon and quinoa. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.




3. Make a pocket in each tenderloin by cutting lengthwise from one side almost to (but not through) the opposite side. Fill each tenderloin with a generous amount of filling and secure with kitchen twine.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the outside of each tenderloin with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes.


5. Meanwhile, in the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes longer.



6. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, then whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the turkey stock and stir until gravy thickens. Turn heat off and whisk in heavy cream. Season gravy with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.






7. Let turkey tenderloins rest 5 minutes, remove kitchen twine and slice. Serve with gravy.



Quinoa Stuffed Turkey Tenderloin with Mushroom Gravy 
Serves 4

All you need:
2 cups baby spinach
2 oz. plain goat cheese, softened
2 oz. garlic and herb goat cheese, softened
Zest of 1 lemon
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 turkey tenderloins (about 1 pound each)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 (8 oz.) package baby bella mushrooms, diced small
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup flour (gluten-free if you like)
2 cups turkey stock
2 tablespoons heavy cream

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Place spinach, goat cheese and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and fold in cooked bacon and quinoa. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Make a pocket in each tenderloin by cutting lengthwise from one side almost to (but not through) the opposite side. Fill each tenderloin with a generous amount of filling and secure with kitchen twine.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the outside of each tenderloin with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes longer.
6. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, then whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the turkey stock and stir until gravy thickens. Turn heat off and whisk in heavy cream. Season gravy with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.
7. Let turkey tenderloins rest 5 minutes, remove kitchen twine and slice. Serve with gravy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Mini Muffins

I think everyone can agree with that fact that the holiday season is the best time of the year. Yes, it can be busy, but I can't help but get a warm feeling in my heart listening to Christmas music while baking up smells that remind me of cooking with my Grandma. One of those familiar holiday smells is gingerbread. The combination of ginger, cinnamon and chocolate will fill your house with goodness. 

These baby muffins are the perfect breakfast or snack item, but if you're in the giving spirit (and are willing to share...it may be difficult!) then these would also make a perfect gift for neighbors or co-workers. Happy holidays!




1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat 3 mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.


3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, water, yogurt, molasses and oil until blended.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in chocolate chips and crystalized ginger.



5. Fill muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.




Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Mini Muffins
Makes 3 dozen

All you need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 cup water
1 (5.3 oz.) container fat free plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup chopped crystalized ginger
1 cup dark chocolate chips

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat 3 mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, water, yogurt, molasses and oil until blended.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in chocolate chips and crystalized ginger.
5. Fill muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chopped Chicken Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

It's safe to say I'm still in a turkey coma from this past weekend. While Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever, after a few days of what seemed like an eating competition, today I was ready for a light meal. I don't eat a lot of salads, but if they contain a combination of sweet and salty ingredients, you can bet I'll like it. I decided to pair sweet dried apricots with salty blue cheese in this one for a flavor that will have you craving more. The vinaigrette's fresh rosemary adds a special touch. Make this meal for dinner and if you have any left, it's a perfectly portable lunch. Enjoy! 




1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.


3. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken for 3 minutes per side and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes, then dice.


4. Place chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl. Top with the diced chicken and chopped apricots. Drizzle vinaigrette over and toss lightly.


5. Transfer salad to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese and almonds.


Chopped Chicken Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette
Serves 4

All you need:
Vinaigrette
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large or 2 small heads romaine lettuce, finely chopped
10 dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken for 3 minutes per side and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes, then dice.
4. Place chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl. Top with the diced chicken and chopped apricots. Drizzle vinaigrette over and toss lightly.
5. Transfer salad to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese and almonds.