Tag Archives: kale

Creamy Peas and Panchetta Pasta

 

Nothing is quite so satisfying and delicious as enjoying a brief crop of produce in its prime.  Spring peas are a great example.  They burst into bloom in the early spring, swell to full pods, and then quickly disappear, leaving round seeds to dry and protect until next year.

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The beauty of frozen produce is that you can lock in all the enzymes and living nutrients of a fresh item and keep it for use many days or weeks or even months later.  Flash frozen vegetables can be the next best thing to right-from-the-dirt produce, and maybe even better because it is washed and minimally processed. This way, you can enjoy this fresh taste of spring any time of the year!

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The cream sauce is made with a minimal amount of fat. I used some half and half and some regular 2% milk. Add fresh grated Parmesan cheese and if you desire a tbsp or so of flour for a thick, creamy, salty sauce that tastes like velvet and will satisfy any Alfredo lover.  You can use other types of cheeses too, don’t be shy about trying mozzarella or reggiano, asiago or feta.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup torn greens of choice (kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach)
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon (optional, you can omit for a vegetarian recipe or use turkey bacon instead)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh pasta, drained

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Step 1: Boil and drain your pasta.  In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain all but about 2 tsp of fat*, and crumble the bacon.  Cook the peas and greens in the bacon fat for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

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Step 2: To the pan, add the milks and bring to a slow simmer.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well until thickened, add flour 1/2 tbsp at a time if desired.  Pour it over the hot drained pasta and top with a sprinkle of fresh grated cheese!

 

*If you want a vegetarian dish, omit the bacon and use vegetable of coconut oil instead!

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Ham and White Bean Soup

 

As the days grow colder and shorter, sometimes there is nothing quite so amazing as a steaming bowl of soup.  Soup is wonderful for so many reasons.  You can easily sneak all kinds of healthy veggies and ingredients into soup.  Soups are generally very kind to the budget, with frugal ingredients like beans and grains, and the ability to save about-to-expire produce.  Soup feels good on a sore throat, and is mostly healthy (if broth based, not fatty/creamy).

And soup just tastes great.

This ham soup starts with a rich & nutritious broth made from the ham bones, but if you don’t have the time (or the bones) you can use pre-made stock as well.  You can also substitute in any type of veggie you prefer, though I recommend sticking to about 2 cups of some sort of leafy green, and 1 cup of another harder veg for contrast.

Ham and white bean soup simmering

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham bone + 6-8 oz meat
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 large can white beans, or 2 small cans
  • Optional: 2 tbsp chicken bouillon

Scoop of ham and white bean soup

Step 1: In a crock pot or stock pot, simmer the ham bone in enough water to cover for 8-12 hours, during the day or overnight.  Strain the liquid, pull any remaining meat off the bone and shred it, and return it to the pot.  Discard the bones.

Scoop of ham and white bean soup with veggies

Step 2: Bring the stock to a boil, and add the kale and carrots.  Drain and rinse the beans to get rid of excess sodium and add to the pot.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until carrots soften.

Ham and white bean soup in bowl

Step 3: If needed, add in the bouillon.  This soup seems simple, but the base is so flavorful from being stewed so long.

Ham and white bean soup with cheese and bread

I suggest serving this with thick, soft Italian or multi-grain bread, and you may or may not want to shred some cheese over top.  I added just a touch of Vermont white cheddar, and it was absolutely scrumptious!  Even the fiancee, who just kind of tolerates soups, loved it and had seconds.  If you’d like your soup a little thicker, add less water and mash up one of the cans of beans before adding it.

 

Spaghetti Squash & Kale Stir Fry

 

For those who are unsure of trying new “health craze foods” like kale or spaghetti squash, let me assure you, they are SUPER easy to cook and incorporate into your repertoire.  By now the interwebs are bursting at the seams with kale related recipes, so that’s a good place to start.  You can pretty much use it anywhere you would use lettuce or spinach, sometimes coating in oil or steaming first since it is much more hardy in texture.

As for spaghetti squash, this baby is coming into its own in the fall. I have written before about my “spaghetti” and turkey meatballs, where you use the strands of squash just like noodles for the same texture but way more filling fiber and nutritious vitamins than wheat pasta. You can try starting this trick by using half-and-half squash and pasta, then working up from there according to taste.

Cooking a squash is as easy as 1-2-3 with a microwave. Simply cut the squash in half, and lay cut-side down on a plate in the microwave. Add about a 1/2 inch of water, and microwave 5 minutes. Flip the squash over, and microwave again. If it is soft when poked with a fork, you’re good to go, otherwise continue flipping and microwaving a few minutes at a time.  When it is done, you can take a fork and drag it down the sides, pulling out the flesh in spaghetti-like strings.

Hence the name.

You can of course also bake it cut-side down in a shallow oven-safe pan with a little water, 45-60 minutes or until softened. These preparation methods work well for pretty much all types of winter squash as well, from spaghetti to acorn to butternut.

Kale and Spaghetti Squash

For this recipe, spaghetti squash, kale, and other yummy veggies come together in a warming, filling fall favorite. You can make this in a frying pan or in the oven, and once made can be stirred into omelets, served alone or with sauce, or like I did wrapped into a burrito!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small spaghetti squash
  • Handful kale (about 1 cup)
  • 2 slices bacon — optional
  • 1 tbsp olive oil — if not using bacon
  • 1/4 white onion, sliced
  • 1/4 pint mushrooms
  • Nuitritional yeast
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Step 1: In a frying pan, add the onions and bacon if using. (Otherwise, cook onions in olive oil). Cook 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and kale, and flip the bacon. Cook, stirring, about 5-7 minutes. Then add in the spaghetti squash. Cook until everything is heated through.

Spaghetti Squash & Kale Burrito

Step 2: Now you can enjoy as is, add some sauce, scramble some eggs into it for a lovely omelet, or wrap it up into a burrito!

Slow Cooker Sausage & Kale Stew

 

Last week, a terrible thing occurred.

No it has nothing to do with upcoming elections. It wasn’t weather related. Everyone I know and love is just fine. (as far as I know.)

My Crock Pot broke.

It was in the sink with dirty dishes, and one thing lead to another, somehow in the mountain of dishes the crock got split right down the middle. The lovely workhorse of my kitchen, and it’s hardy ceramic bowl was now split in twain, to be used no more. I was heartbroken to say the least.

Any reader of the blog knows how in love with my slow cooker I am. This thing is amazing, making my life so much easier by preparing dozens, even hundreds, of slow cooked meals for me while I work or play or do whatever somewhere else. Then we come home to a house that smells amazing and a hot and healthy meal.

Though I will of course replace my crock as soon as humanly possible, I dedicate this post to the crock pot, as its last documented meal prior to fatal injury. May your crock last many years more.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head kale, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound sausage, cut in slices or ground
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • Optional: parmesan cheese and rustic whole grain bread

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Step 1: Rinse and tear the kale into pieces and place in the slow cooker. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add those. Open the white beans and either dump it all in or rinse them first then add to the crock pot. Add in the water or broth to your desired thickness.

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Step 2: Brown the sausage quickly in a frying pan, and add to the crock pot. At this point you can add any spices you want such as garlic, onion, paprika, rosemary, etc. Set on high for 4-5 hours or on low 6-8 hours and let it cook.

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Honestly, this really only needs heated through to be eaten, but the longer you let it stew the more the flavors meld and the broth thickens to become more stew-like and less soupy. Up to you how long you want/need to wait.

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This is amazing on its own, or you can serve it with some nice thick bread on the side. This makes plenty for about 4 servings, and you can of course double or halve it to your needs.

 

Slow Cooker Sausage & Kale Stew

Slow Cooker Sausage & Kale Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 head kale, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound sausage, cut in slices or ground
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • Optional: parmesan cheese and rustic whole grain bread

Instructions

  1. Rinse and tear the kale into pieces and place in the slow cooker. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add those. Open the white beans and either dump it all in or rinse them first then add to the crock pot. Add in the water or broth to your desired thickness.
  2. Brown the sausage quickly in a frying pan, and add to the crock pot. At this point you can add any spices you want such as garlic, onion, paprika, rosemary, etc. Set on low for 4-5 hours or 6-8 hours and let it cook.
  3. Honestly, this really only needs heated through to be eaten, but the longer you let it stew the more the flavors meld and the broth thickens to become more stew-like and less soupy. Up to you how long you want/need to wait.
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Split Pea, Lentil, & Potato Soup

 

As the weather turns foul and temperatures drop, I find myself craving thick, hearty, hot soups. There is nothing quite so cozy as sitting on the couch in slippers and PJs with a steaming bowl of goodness while the wind blows, and perhaps the snow falls.

One of my all-time favorite soup bases is the humble potato. Potatoes are so delicious and go well with just about anything, with no super-strong flavor of their own. I’ve previously shared my addictive Loaded Baked Potato Soup and copycat Zuppa Toscana recipes, both of which are sure to please.

One night, with three baked potatoes in my refrigerator and a small bag of split peas in the pantry I’d picked up on a whim, I decided to make the ultimate cold weather comfort soup.

I didn’t want just split pea soup, mostly because I didn’t have a lot of them and I also didn’t have a ham bone. All the recipes say use a ham bone.

So potatoes were the chosen base. I put on a pot of water, and threw them in first. Then I dumped my little bag of peas in, and it still seemed to need something. One more thing.

I looked over on my counter, where I keep several jars (just like these square glass stackable jars) of bulk ingredients that I buy whenever I’m at sprouts and feel adventurous. I especially love pretty colored things. And there it was, the perfect missing ingredient.

Orange Lentils.

You can of course use brown or green lentils as well. With some kale from the fridge and other spices, this turned into a thick, hearty, dreamy soup.

And as a bonus, it is accidentally vegan! But trust me when I say it is so completely delicious. You may crave it all winter long. You’ve been warned.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 small baked potatoes
  • 2/3 cup green split peas
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup torn kale
  • 1 tbsp dried onion
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt

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Step 1: In a sauce pot, throw in diced baked potato, peas, and lentils. Cover with water, plus about 1 inch. If your potatoes aren’t cooked yet, boil those for 15 minutes before adding the other legumes.

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Step 2: After boiling about 10-15 minutes, add in the kale and seasonings. Stir well, and continue to simmer another 10 minutes or so. The longer you simmer the soup, the more the ingredients will fall apart.

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If you don’t like chunks, you can certainly use an immersion blender or a regular blender in batches to create a puree. But I liked the slightly chunky potato and the still-detectable little peas and lentils.

This soup is so incredible, I ended up having it three meals in a row.

 

Split Pea, Lentil, & Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 small baked potatoes
  • 2/3 cup green split peas
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup torn kale
  • 1 tbsp dried onion
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt

Instructions

  1. In a sauce pot, throw in diced baked potato, peas, and lentils. Cover with water, plus about 1 inch. If your potatoes aren't cooked yet, boil those for 15 minutes before adding the other legumes.
  2. After boiling 10-15 minutes, add in the kale and seasonings. Stir well, and continue to simmer another 10 minutes or so. The longer you simmer the soup, the more the ingredients will fall apart.
  3. If you don't like chunks, you can certainly use an immersion blender or a regular blender in batches to create a puree. But I liked the slightly chunky potato and the still-detectable little peas and lentils.
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Bean & Couscous Stuffed Peppers

 

So you might know I’ve been on a bit of a bean kick lately. I love how affordable (read: cheap!) dried beans are and so I’ve been trying to incorporate them more into my daily cooking.

I’ve already found that I can indeed can my own beans. For mere cents per jar this is a great savings over buying them at the store for 60-90 cents per can.

I had already made Red Beans & Rice, and I totally love beef & rice stuffed peppers, and couscous stuffed peppers. I figured beans are a natural option for stuffing, since they are high in fiber and protein, and are good at binding together other ingredients. This is another recipe that turned out accidentally vegan. I’m on a roll and I like it!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers any color
  • 1 cup cooked couscous
  • 2/3 cup cooked beans, mashed
  • 1 can tomato sauce, or 1/2 cup pizza/pasta sauce
  • Handful torn kale
  • Garlic salt or other seasonings to taste

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Step 1: If you haven’t already, cook the couscous by covering with boiling water, then waiting 5-10 minutes to absorb. Fluff with a fork. I cooked the beans overnight in a crock pot, then mashed them.

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Step 2: Cut the tops off the peppers and discard seeds. In a bowl, mix the couscous, beans, sauce, seasonings, and kale. Stuff 1/3 of the mixture into each pepper. If you reserve a little sauce you can pour that on top.

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Step 3: Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the outside of the peppers becomes soft to the touch and easily pierced with a fork.

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These are amazing hot out of the oven or reheated the next day. Recipe can easily be doubled for a big family or to make meals for the whole week.

 

 

Bean & Couscous Stuffed Peppers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 3 stuffed peppers

1 pepper

Ingredients

  • 3 bell peppers any color
  • 1 cup cooked couscous
  • 2/3 cup cooked beans, mashed
  • 1 can tomato sauce, or 1/2 cup pizza/pasta sauce
  • Handful torn kale
  • Garlic salt or other seasonings to taste

Instructions

  1. If you haven't already, cook the couscous by covering with boiling water, then waiting 5-10 minutes to absorb. Fluff with a fork. I cooked the beans overnight in a crock pot, then mashed them.
  2. Cut the tops off the peppers and discard seeds. In a bowl, mix the couscous, beans, sauce, seasonings, and kale. Stuff 1/3 of the mixture into each pepper. If you reserve a little sauce you can pour that on top.
  3. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the outside of the peppers becomes soft to the touch and easily pierced with a fork.
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Barley & Kale Veggie Salad

 

Fall is the time for bumper crops of kale. As the current “It” vegetable, we know all about how healthy kale is for you. But even though kale chips are amazing, sauteed kale in greens makes a great side dish, and Zuppa Toscana is a definite crowd-pleasing soup, sometimes you need a new way to enjoy this power green. If you like light, fresh, great-cold-or-room-temp dishes, this baby’s a winner!

I’ve been meaning to try more grain and veggie salads, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. Kale is on sale for 0.99 per bunch, organic! You can’t pass up that kind of deal. So with a fridge full of kale and a hankering for something new, I made up this recipe. It turned out fabulous! The combination of tomato and cucumber and onion crunch with the soft cooked barley and fresh kale leaves is really addicting.

The best part about it? It makes a crap-ton, and per 2 cups is under 100 calories! So you can stuff yourself on this all you like and feel good about it. Have it for lunch, as an afternoon snack, before dinner to dull the appetite. There really isn’t a bad time for this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, torn and stems removed
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, rinsed, skin-on, diced
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

Step 1: Cook the barley in 1 1/2 cups water by bringing to a boil, then lowering to a simmer. Cover, and cook 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed and barley is soft. Add more water if needed during cooking. Let cool.

 

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Step 2: Chop all your veggies and place in a large bowl. Mix the oil and vinegars, and salt & pepper if using. Pour over the veggies.

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Step 3: Combine the cooled barley with the veggies and mix well. Now you have a giant side dish, snacks all week, or a super healthy and vegetarian main course.

 

Simple sauteed power greens

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One of the things I like best about growing up is changing tastes. When I was little, I had an on-off relationships with most vegetables, notably mushrooms. I loved them one week, and hated them the next. With growing up comes changing ideas of what tastes good, and I love it. I can be more creative, try different ingredients and recipes, and cook things that are good for me at which I would have turned up my nose years ago.
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One of those things is kale. Since I worked on a CSA farm and tried Kale Chips for the first time, I have been looking for more ways to use this power green more often. One excellent option is in soup, like the Olive Garden copycat of Zuppa Toscana I made. Delicious and packed with healthy ingredients.
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So as I had recently purchased more kale at Sprouts Farmers Market, along with some golden beets and fresh garlic heads, I decided to try another kale classic: Italian Sauteed Greens. I’m sure this is yet another popular side dish with a long and debated over past. But basically it’s garlic and olive oil with various greens sauteed lightly, and usually a tangy dressing like vinegar or lemon juice added. Also it is sometimes spicy, but since I’m a wuss I did not add hot peppers or hot pepper flakes. Feel free to if you love heartburn.
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Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, cut into small strips
1 bunch beet leaves, in small strips
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1/4 cup sour liquid (I used banana pepper liquid and 3 tbsp lemon juice, you can also use any type of vinegar)
Sprinkle of sea salt
3-4 banana pepper or hot pepper rings

Step 1: Dice up your garlic into bits. You can use a garlic press or chopper if you want.

Step 2: Saute the garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil 4-5 minutes, you should be able to smell it.

Step 3: Cut the greens into thin strips. Add to the pan, and cover tightly. Let it steam in the garlic oil for 10-15 minutes, or until fully wilted.

These greens were so vibrant and lovely even before cooking! All that heart-healthy nutrient-packed deliciousness…

Step 4: Add your sour notes, lemon juice and banana peppers. Stir, cover, and saute another 5-10 minutes.

Banana pepper rings are a new love of mine. I put them on tuna sandwiches, on pizza, into my greens… they’re awesome. And lemon juice is a necessity for life.

Step 5: Once wilted and everything is combined, move to plate and garnish as you like.

I added a little sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese and some sea salt. It was the most perfect balance, and the tart juices took away a lot of the harsh bitterness most people don’t like about greens.

These greens were tangy and delicious, and if you enjoy spicy food would go great with some hot peppers.  I also had some cottage cheese on the side, to complete a whole, light lunch. It’s filling without feeling stuffed, and ridiculously good for you.

Mmmmmm…

What’s your favorite way to cook greens?

Souppa like Zuppa Toscana

I still had some sausage left over from my sausage gravy & biscuits, plus half a bunch of kale that hadn’t been made into kale chips. (If you’ve never tried kale chips, I definitely recommend it! Kale is super good for you but can be bitter, and this is a super simple way to get your leafy greens). A quick internet search for “sausage and kale” quickly showed a trend towards this “Zuppa Toscana” that Olive Garden makes (don’t sue me please!) that lots of people claim to mimic.

Well as any loyal reader knows, I’m not a ‘by-the-book’ recipe follower, so I just took the general idea and ran with it. What happened was a simple, delicious soup that quite frankly surprised me with how tasty it was. With really only 4 ingredients and 30 minutes, a warm, filling and complex soup for dinner can be yours!

Ingredients:
1/2 pound sausage
1/2 bunch kale, shredded
2-3 large potatoes, diced
6 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
3 tbsp cornstarch
Italian seasonings

Step 1: Brown the sausage in a frying pan. Drain most of the fat and set aside.

Step 2: Dice the potatoes into thin wedges. There’s no right or wrong way really. Most copy-cat recipes use redskins but I only have russet so those will do. Drop them into a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork.

Step 3: While the potatoes boil, rip the kale into bite sized pieces, discarding the stems. When the potatoes are soft, drain and put back into the pot.

Step 4: Add water, bouillon, seasoning, kale and sausage. If you’re on a super budget the spices and bouillon aren’t required, just kicks up the flavor a notch. If you’re flush with cash, try adding half heavy cream and half chicken stock to make a creamier base soup. Of course, if you’re rolling in Benjamins you could also just go out to Olive Garden for dinner tonight…and we should be friends. Email me k?

Step 5: Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. In a cup, combine some hot soup water and the cornstarch and mix. Once it’s all dissolved add it to the pot. This will help it to thicken. Also not completely required, but I like a little body. You could use flour for the same purpose.

The flavors combine beautifully into a rich soup that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would definitely make this again. If only I had some salad and bread sticks to go with it.

Kale chips really are good!

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I am working on a CSA farm this summer, and we have begun harvesting and distribution. This week the take-home was:
  • 1 bag mixed lettuces.
  • 1 bag kale.
  • 1 carton snow peas.
  • 1 bunch radishes.
  • 1 bunch turnips.
  • 1 bunch pak choi.
  • Handful broccoli .
  • Herbs – spearmint, pineapple mint, oregano, thyme, farrow
I have been hearing so many people and blogs talk about how kale is bitter and hard to cook, but kale chips seem to be wildly popular. And they are amazingly easy to make! Then when searching recipes for turnips, I kept “turning up” (haha) mashed potatoes and turnips recipes. The pak choi lends itself well to stir-frying, add in some extra veggies and you’ve got yourself a meal! So my good (brave) friend and I embarked upon a cooking adventure to use up most of the farm food.
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Mashed Potatoes & Turnips:
2 large potatoes, diced
3-4 turnips, diced
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter/margerine
1/4 cup cream cheese or sour cream
Garlic powder
Step 1: Thoroughly wash veggies. Dice potatoes and turnips into small pieces. The smaller the pieces the faster they cook.
Step 2: Put the potatoes and turnips into a pot and cover with water. Get to a rolling boil, then boil for 20 minutes or until soft.
Step 3: When soft, drain and place in a large bowl. Break big chunks with a fork.
Step 4: Add wet ingredients, and blend well. Add as much garlic as you like!
The turnips have a soft taste to compliment the starchy potatoes, and of course you can experiment with other milk products and butter and spices or salt. But honestly, after you get used to the first few bites, mashed vegetables au natural tastes like nothing else! And it is delicious. We both had seconds.
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Pak Choi Stir Fry:
1 bunch pak choi
1 large carrot
~2 cups snow peas
1/2 cup broccoli
2 tbsp olive oil
Step 1: Thoroughly wash all veggies. Dice the carrots and broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Put the oil into the pan and put on medium heat.
Step 2: Add veggies in order of firmness, carrots and broccoli first, then snow peas, then pak choi for the last 5 minutes. Stir and keep covered throughout.
About 10 calories per serving, mostly from the oil! You can also steam the veggies.
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Kale Chips:
1 head kale
2 tbsp olive oil
~2 tbsp sea salt
Optional seasonings – we did one batch with chili powder to spice it up
Step 1: Tear the kale leaves from the main stem, and tear into bite size pieces.
Step 2: Place in a bowl and drizzle olive oil, in small amounts. Toss until just coated.

Step 3: Lay in single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300 for ~20 minutes, tossing once. When chips are just beginning to turn brown and are crispy to the touch, they’re ready.

Crispy, healthy Kale chips!

These chips are light and airy, but totally delicious. It’s a strange sensation your first bite, but I guarantee it won’t be your last!

Dinner fresh from the farm!