Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale Salad with a Lemony Dijon Vinaigrette

I've been eyeing this Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Dressing recipe from Just A Taste for awhile now.  But every time we get Brussels sprouts in the Crop Share, I'm completely incapable of not roasting them or turning them into this Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms in a Dijon Cream Sauce dish.  However, this week I vowed to finally make my own version of Just A Taste's salad, and I knew if I was going to get the Mister behind a giant bowl of green for dinner, I was going to have to put some meat in there somewhere, especially since there would also be no carb coming along with it either.  So while the original is completely vegetarian, I tossed in one shredded chicken breast from yet another rotisserie chicken I'm slowly dismembering as the week goes on.  I also didn't go based on her measurements, I just went based on quantities in our shares, so I doubled the dressing recipe as the original measurements were looking pretty slim for the amount of roughage I had going on.  She also had Parmesan or Pecorino cheese in her's, but we didn't miss it and with the almonds you already get that nutty flavor and by adding Kosher salt to the dressing, that checks the salty component box.  So feel free to add cheese if you'd like, just maybe back down on the amount of salt in the dressing or omit it all together.

Not going to lie, this is one of those annoyingly prep intensive dishes, so if you're looking for a quick weeknight dinner salad, this might not be a good option as thinly slicing your way through all that green becomes soul killing unless you've got some good tunes blaring in your kitchen.  However, thanks to this recipe, you will gain two, count them two, gold stars on your culinary skills charts:  Chiffonade & Emulsion.  Yep, we're getting fancy in Nalls' Kitchen tonight!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale Salad with a Lemony Dijon Vinaigrette

For salad:

1 quart Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed & shredded
1 bundle Kale, removed from stalk & shredded
1/2 cup sliced, unsalted almonds, toasted
1 chicken breast, cooked & shredded (I dismembered a rotisserie chicken)

For dressing:

1 large shallot, minced
4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp local honey
2 lemons, zest & juice
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil

In a medium-sized skillet, toast almond slices over medium high heat.  No need to add any oil as the natural oils in the almonds will be enough.  Stir fairy continuously to prevent burning.  Once almond are golden brown, remove from heat and set aside.

To shred Brussels sprouts, trim ends, and remove outer few leaves.  Then halve sprouts and thinly slice each half.  For kale, remove from the stalk and roll leaves into bundles and prepare to chiffonade.  Say what?  Yes, get ready to perfect your fancy knife skills -- and no you don't have to be totally accurate with these, you just want to have thin slices of kale for the salad.  Have no idea what I'm on about, then learn how to get  your chiffonade on in this helpful video...

Now toss together your kale, Brussels sprouts, toasted almond and shredded chicken together in a large bowl.   I weeded out any bits of the core of the sprouts  that still remained as chunks.

Grab a medium sized bowel and whip up the dressing.  Combine all ingredients through the salt and lightly whisk to fully combine.  Then slowly pour in olive oil while you whisk vigorously because you're doing another fancy thing, you're making an...emulsion!  Ooo la la!  First you chiffonade then you, well, emulse?  Emulsionize?  No, I've got it, you emulsionate!  Once all your oil is incorporated you should have a dressing that looks very much like a big bowl of whisked egg yolks.  Pour as much or as little over the salad and toss to coat.

Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld and serve.

Vietnamese Beef Salad

There were just a few carrots in the Crop Share this week, and by a few I mean a ton.  And while I thought about a carrot soup, it was too cold and snowy yesterday after all of the beautiful Spring weather, so I had to just delude myself a little longer and make something bright and fresh that made me think of the warmer temps to come.  If you'll remember, a few weeks back when we got cabbage I did my own Vietnamese twist on TaKorean "takos".  So last night I just left out the arepas all together, tweaked a few of the ingredients, and made up some delicious Vietnamese Beef Salads.  If you're looking to make a dent in your carrot supply and ignore the continued snow, these salads are where it's at!

Vietnamese Beef Salad

For the pickled slaw:

1 cup water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cabbage, cored & thin sliced
1 cup cilantro, minced
4 carrots, peeled and shredded

For the spicy garlic beef: 

1/2 cup soy sauce (I use Kikkoman's gluten-free soy sauce)
2 Tbsp Sriracha (use only 1 Tbsp for a lower heat version)
3 Tbsp local honey
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1.5 lbs thin sliced ribeye (if you really want the perfect cut for this or for making bulgogi hit up a local H Mart, it's worth the extra trip -- alas, I did not have the time to make the extra trip)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1" knob of ginger, minced

Make your slaw a day in advance if possible, if not, just allow yourself at least an hour for the flavors to meld and begin to pickle the veggies.  In a small saucepan, heat the water, vinegar and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Prep your cabbage, cilantro and carrots and then toss into a bowl.  Pour the liquid over and toss to fully combine.  Cover bowl and place in fridge for at least 1 hour up to 24 hrs (the longer it sits the better).

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your soy sauce, Sriracha, honey and garlic, till fully combined.  Then add in your sliced ribeye and toss to coat.  Cover and place in fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour.

In a large skillet, heat your sesame oil over high heat, but take care to not allow it to burn.  Once you start to see little bubbles in the oil, toss in your minced ginger and cook for no longer than 1 minute.  Pour in your beef, marinade and all, and toss with tongs to cook.  Cook beef on high heat until you can no longer see pink on the meat, and no longer otherwise you're going to have chewy bits of beef.  Remove cooked beef from skillet and set aside on a plate.   Continue to simmer down remaining marinade in the skillet until it's turned into a thicker, sticky sauce.  Remove from heat and add beef and any drippings back to pan, tossing to fully coat the beef.

To assemble, place a mound of the slaw on each plate and top with some beef.  Drizzle any of the pan sauce over top if you'd like and serve.  You can also cook up a cup of rice if you feel like you need a starch with this too.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Crop Share Challenge: Stewed Collards with Apples

So a little late on last week's Crop Share Challenge, but ah well.  The two random items from last week's share I chose to pair together were collard greens and fuji apples.  In theory, this should work, but will the bitterness of the greens over power the apples?  Will it turn out too sweet for a side dish?  Will my insistence on adding garlic to every blessed dish be a very bad idea here?  Let's find out!

Stewed Collards with Apples

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bundle collards, removed from stem and shredded into more manageable bits
2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2" cubes
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch of Kosher salt
2 cups water

In a medium sized skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add in garlic and apples and saute until the apples just barely start to golden, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in collards and wilt completely down.  Season with red pepper flakes and salt, and cook for an additional minute.  Add in water and allow to come up to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.

After about 25 minutes, all of the liquid should be gone.  I thought about pulling it from the heat, but apparently the food sadist in me felt that 5 more minutes was what this dish needed.  So I let it brown up for the additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown everything evenly and prevent burning.  Once you hit minute 30, pull from heat and serve.


Oh goodness me the results have rendered my newest collards obsession.  Yes, even better than the Collard Greens Pesto from the other night.  I ate the entire thing myself, which if I'm going to spoil my dinner, might as well be with something like this.  But it would make a fantastic side to a roast pork tenderloin, or oooo roasted duck breast.  Or snag some chicken sausage and sear those up to serve with this for that whole apples & sausage thing.  Am I the only one that thinks any form of sausage should be served with apples or some sort of fruity sweet thing?  This is what happens when your parents let you dip your sausage links into grape jelly as a kid.  Mama & Da, you rock!  So yes, for those of you that are like ewww I hate collards, they're so bitter.  Chuck some apples at those greens and trust me you will fall in love.

Move over kale...collard greens are the new green kid in town!

Stay tuned for this week's Crop Share Challenge because I've decided to pair the beets with the blood oranges!  Both look like a homicide on your cutting board, so why not?!

Bayou-ish Jambalaya with Blackened Cauliflower

The awesome folks at Dizzy Pig are getting ready to release a new seasoning called Bayou-ish, so they sent out some samples to vendors to test out.  Well, one of the Nalls' samples trickled its way down to me so last night I gave it a whirl.  Now when I see "bayou" anything I want andouille sausage and shrimp.  Basically, I want jambalaya.  But we didn't exactly get the traditional jambalaya veggies in the Crop Share this week, so I cheated a bit.  So yes, before Emeril or any other Cajuns out there come after me with pitchforks, I do realize that "the trinity" is completely absent from my jambalaya and I may be committing a mortal sin by even calling this dish "jambalaya."  But, I try to work pretty close with in the parameters of what we get each week so that I or any of you don't have to go out and buy 50 other items of produce.  So please forgive me and I trust if one of you glorious Cajun's ever devise gluten free beignets you will not withhold the majesty from me.

Now a little bit about this Bayou-ish seasoning.  It's intended to withstand high heat, so if you're a fan of blackening fish or chicken, this is the way to go.  If I knew I wouldn't kill the Mister and myself with the smell I would have mixed this up with some gluten & dairy free breadcrumbs, breaded up some catfish and seared the heck out of it.  So instead, I went with my cheaters jambalaya and to roll in the Crop Share I did blacken up something, the one item I can only stand if it's cooked into submission...cauliflower.  I roasted that stuff in some Bayou-ish and olive oil at 430 degrees until it started to char, and that is the point in which I can consume cauliflower and not want to spit it out.  The roasted cauliflower really gives a nice hint of nutty sweetness to the jambalaya, and I had enough in my sample to use half of it on the cauliflower and the other half in the base sauce for the jambalaya.  So once they release this flavor, you'll be able to make this entire dish from one sample pack.  Problem is, then you're out, and I'm already dreaming up some Bayou-ish spiced shrimp po'boys with a vegan remoulade mixed with some more of the Bayou-ish.  Also, their seasonings are lower in sodium than most other seasoning mixes, but you don't feel like you're missing anything.  All I did was throw in a dash of salt at the very end and that was the only other additional seasoning I needed to add!

So what do you do in the meantime if you want to make this dish?  Grab yourself any all-purpose Creole seasoning from the store and give it a go.

Bayou-ish Jambalaya with Blackened Cauliflower

For the blackened cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dizzy Pig Bayou-ish seasoning

For the jambalaya base:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet onion, chopped
12 oz andouille sausage, sliced on the bias
1 lb shrimp
6 oz tomato paste
2 tsp Dizzy Pig Bayou-ish seasoning
2 cups water
2 cups rice, just undercooked
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
Pinch of Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 430 degrees.  Toss cauliflower in olive oil and Bayou-ish, and spread evenly in a baking dish.  Bake for 30-45 minutes until it has started to char a bit.

While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare 2 cups of rice according to package directions and remove from heat just a few minutes early to leave it slightly undercooked as you're going to finish it in with the rest of the ingredients.

In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in garlic and onion and saute until the onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes.  Toss in sausage and cook until slightly browned.  Add shrimp and cook for an additional minute.  Stir in tomato paste and Bayou-ish seasoning until well blended and cook for 2 minutes until you start to get a bit of a char on the bottom of the pan.  Deglaze with 1 cup of water, scraping all the bits off the bottom and then add the second cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and add the rice, folding in to fully incorporate.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.

When cauliflower is done, add that along with any of the pan drippings to the jambalaya.  Stir to fully mix, and add lemon juice, parsley and a pinch of Kosher salt.  Now I like to get a bit of a crust on the bottom, so for this you'll want to kick the heat back up to medium high for about 3-5 minutes and just take care to not completely burn the bottom of the jambalaya, you want a nice golden brown crust.  Or just leave on medium low heat and let the flavors set up for that remaining 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Presto Pesto: Collard Greens In My Pesto!

Are you tired of me making pesto out of every green thing yet?  Hope not, because this past week, as I was wading through the sea of collards we got in the Crop Share, (Early Spring registration just opened so swing by Nalls on a weekend to snag a new registration form!) I decided to give a go at that Collard Greens Pesto recipe from Southern Living that I'd previously posted.  But I didn't want to have to run back to the store to get pecans and I really didn't even want to blanch those collards because I don't cook the basil before it goes in my pesto, and then it's just another pot to clean.  So I just did my usual base recipe for pesto but threw in a whole bundle of collards in place of the basil, and crossed my fingers for luck.!  Soooo good!  It may actually be my favorite pesto and the Mister even thought it was incredible.  So if you're still trying to use up all the collards from last week, MAKE THIS PESTO!  I also did not have pasta, so I mixed ours in with a 1 lb of mushrooms that were sauteed in white wine, butter & olive oil, some shredded thigh and leg meat from a rotisserie chicken, and 2 cups of cooked white rice, added another splash or two of white wine and a pad of butter and just let it all simmer down till nearly all the liquid was absorbed.  You can see the final product below, but I'm not including a recipe for the full dish as it was one of those throw in a bit of this bit of that and nothing got timed or measured.

Collard Greens Pesto

1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
2-3 cups collard greens, removed from stem and ripped into smaller pieces
1/2 cup basil leaves, removed from stems
1 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Kosher salt to taste

In a blender or food processor add all ingredients and blend until fully combined and smooth.  If serving over pasta, you'll want to have a little extra olive oil on hand to toss with the pasta.  Or serve this as I did mixed with sauteed mushrooms, shredded chicken and rice in a white wine sauce.  Would also be great over seafood, chicken, or as a sandwich or appetizer spread.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Fusion Twist On Shrimp & Grits: Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Collards over Cheesy Arepas

I'm still musing over what to do for My Crop Share Challenge this week, and since the brussels sprouts did not want to come out into the blizzard, I'm going to have to re-think my two items.  I got A LOT of collards, so I'm thinking those will certainly be 1 of the 2 items and...wait a tick, hold the phone, some stewed collards with apples.  Yes, yes that's what it's going to be.  I've got a ton of Fuji apples and a ton of collards, why not see if they can play nice together!

But, before we get to those, let me show you what was served up for dinner last night.  I'd seen this recipe for Cilantro Lime Shrimp from Never Enough Thyme and figured I'd wait till we got some of the items needed in an upcoming Crop Share.  But there was that beast amount of collards to contend with, so I figured aww heck just make it and toss in a bundle of collards.  Hmm, shrimp and collards, feels very Low Country.  Hmm, shrimp & grits with collards.  Grits are a cornmeal porridge.  So is polenta, but no, doesn't feel right.  Ugali (see recipe at bottom of this page)?  No.  Oooo, cheesy arepas, it's like cheesy grits pancakes!  And thus Low Country met South-of-the-Border in my kitchen and the results were deeeeeee-licious!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Collards over Cheesy Arepas


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 sweet onion, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 small bundle collard greens, removed from stem and rough chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (omit if jalapeno is enough heat for you, or just do 1/8 tsp)
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tomato, diced
2 limes, zest and juice
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb frozen pre-cooked shrimp, thawed in water and detailed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro,  chopped

For arepas -- see recipe for them in Vietnamese Style Tacos and just add a handful or two of your favorite shredded cheese (for dairy free I used Daiya cheddar shreds)

Make arepas first so they have time to set up and cool a bit while you're whipping up the shrimp portion.

Then in a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium high heat.  Add in onion, jalapeno and garlic and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Add in collards and cook until wilted.  Season with red pepper flakes and oregano and cook for an additional minute.  Add in tomato, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper and cook until tomatoes are nice and soft and soupy.  Toss in thawed shrimp and cook for only a few minutes until they are heated thru and have curled up.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Place 1 arepa on each plate and top with a scoop or two of the shrimp & veggies.

Lemon Pie via Betsy Preston

When Crop Share hands you lots of lemons, you might make lemonade, but try out this Lemon Pie from member Betsy Preston!  It was given to her sister by a friend of hers, who has had it as a family recipe for many years.  So this one  is tried and true!  Using the WHOLE lemon is what really gives this pie a kick!

Lemon Pie

1 whole lemon: cut off ends, remove seeds and cut up
4 eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
10 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 pie crust

Put first four ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Let set.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Strawberry Baby-Cakes

Happy Valentine's Day!

Since this is the day o' love, I wanted to give you all a strawberry-tacular recipe that's sure to please any Valentine.  And to really show them you care about them, these Strawberry Baby-Cakes are made from scratch and frosted with a pink icing that takes it's hue from strawberries.  No artificial food dyes in this one!

Strawberry Baby-Cakes

Yields 6 "baby cakes"

For cakes:
6 ramekins, greased
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 package of your favorite vanilla cake mix (I use Pamela's Classic Vanilla Cake Mix for gluten free and do the 3 egg equivalent of Ener-G Egg Replacer to keep these egg free, but they will turn out more like a sponge cake if you do that, still delicious)

For frosting:
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
16 oz cream cheese (I use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese for dairy free)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Splash of vanilla
6 reserved strawberries, sliced into a fan, for garnish, optional

Into a small saucepan, heat your strawberries, water and honey over medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and allow strawberries to cook down until you have a soupy consistency.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute or two, then using a blender or an immersion blender, puree the strawberry compote until completely smooth.  This will yield you just shy of 1 cup of puree.  Place it into the fridge to chill completely, at least 1 hour or more.

Prepare cake batter according to package directions, but if it doesn't already call for vanilla, add 2 Tbsp more.  Divide batter among 6 prepared ramekins and bake according to package directions.  Check with a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake to make sure they are done through and through.  You'll want to use the cupcake recommended bake time on the package, and then may have to add a minute or two.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Once fully cooled, with just a slight twist, you should be able to easily pull each baby cake out of it's ramekin.

While cakes are baking, prepare your frosting.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your cream cheese, powdered sugar, strawberry puree and splash of vanilla.  Blend until completely smooth and is a beautiful light pink color.  Pour into a pastry bag if you want to get fancy, or just plan to drizzle over the cakes (I tried both, but my piping skills are abysmal so I just said screw it and grabbed a spoon).  Either way, pour into bag or leave in the bowl and allow to set up in the fridge until your cakes are completely cooled and ready to frost.  Because of the low powdered sugar but high liquid content in this frosting, don't expect a super firm frosting, it will be more of a ganache or thick yogurt consistency, but it's delicious and refreshing.

Divide strawberry cream cheese frosting evenly between all cake and if you're drizzling the way I did, it looks like you tried to do something cool if you let it run down the sides a bit.  Then garnish each baby cake with a fanned strawberry and prepare yourself because the cook is about to be kissed!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms In A Dijon Cream Sauce

I cannot get enough of this brussels sprouts recipe, it is nothing short of decadent, and chances are you already have a good bit of the ingredients hanging out in your pantry or fridge.  Yet some more great comfort cooking while we're in the midst of this snowy tundra!

Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms In A Dijon Cream Sauce

And in case you don't have everything already in your pantry, don't forget to take your Tauntaun with you to the store...

Aaaaaand, if you're just nerdy enough to need more wintery Star Wars humor, here's a little gem straight from Sochi.  The Olympics are really getting intense!

Fellow Crop Share are welcome.

Collard Greens Pesto via Southern Living

In case you hadn't heard, I'm currently obsessed with pesto (exhibit A, B & C).  So when I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, I knew it had to happen...Collard Greens Pesto!  The Mister and I will be spending the weekend at funeral events, so the Crop Share cooking, especially my new weekly challenge, will have to wait till next week.  But you can bet I'll be whipping up my own version of this Southern Living recipe for Collard Greens Pesto.  And right now for my Crop Share challenge, I'm thinking I'm going to pair the brussels sprouts with the minneola oranges, and possibly throw some celery in there just as an extra curve ball (I'm feeling sportsy after a morning of snowball baseball in our parking lot this morning).  Want to join me in your own Crop Share challenge?  Then either pair together the same seemingly random items I do each week and come up with your own creation, or come up with your own pairing.  Then e-mail your results and photos to me at  For more info on my personal challenge see this past week's post and recipe: My Crop Share Challenge: Swiss Chard Wrapped Salmon With Grapefruit

But for now...MOAR PESTO!

Collard Greens Pesto via Southern Living

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup via Two Peas & Their Pod

If you've even remotely peeked outside you know this is some serious soup weather we have going on!  And since it looks like possibly a bit more snow tomorrow night at Saturday, we're all going to want to whip up something comforting with our Crop Shares.  So prepare to use up your celery and lemon this week, and check out this bright and delicious looking Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup via Two Peas & Their Pod

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mega Snownadotopus vs. Snowbominable Zombie Prianhaconda: Snow Day Comfort Cooking!

Well a few years ago we had Snowmageddon (aka Snowpocalypse or SnOMG!), and tonight it looks like we're in for some more powdery fun!  YAY!  In good SyFy Originals fashion, I just couldn't resist giving an over-the-top name to the next 48 hours, and I feel my blog title has done that in pure overblown style.  Now, I get it, many of you are not originally from lands where this type of snow is a weekly winter (and fall, and spring) occurrence, and the words, "lake effect," "parking ban," and "shoveling the roof" have never been a part of your vocabulary.  So before panic sets in, here are this Northeast Ohio gals tips for winter storm survival:

1. PUMP YOUR BRAKES!  Seriously people, even if you have anti-lock breaks, please do not come flying up behind me at a stop light and think if you slam on your breaks you will stop.  Go slow, use caution on turns, pulling out and merging, and when you need to use your breaks, gradually pump them to slooooooowly decrease your speed.  Also, don't make drastic U-Turns into oncoming traffic and expect that I can slam on my breaks and stop (I'm looking at you black BMW on Beulah Street!).  That being said, unless the conditions are ungodly, going 5 mph on the Beltway is also in itself dangerous, and you will likely be the cause of an accident.  Oh and if you're in a big pickup or black government issue Suburban, let me remind you that ice is a great equalizer of all vehicles and just because you drive a big honkin' tank, it doesn't mean you can go or exceed the posted speed limit.  Slow your roll big vehicles, slow your roll.

2. Invest right now, right now, in a snow scraper and a shovel!  I've witnessed too many people trying to clean their cars or shovel out around their cars with baking sheets to know that proper snow removal implements are apparently a real need in this area.  Good people have invented wonderful devices to handle snow, so that you can leave the baking sheets for all the Snow Day baking you'll be doing.  Mmm, cookies & cocoa!  Also, once it really starts coming down, if we do get the higher totals they're calling for, trust me, you DO NOT want to try and shovel 10" of snow out of your driveway all at once, so shovel in intervals.  As the son my parents never had, I've had to shovel near knee-deep, heavy, wet snow, that was so heavy the snow blower said, "no, no thank you."  I wound up with what was likely a stress fracture in my left wrist for several months.  Not fun.  But snowball fights while you shovel your driveway in intervals are!  Plus, it's an excuse for more cocoa or hot toddies when you come back in!

3. Fairfax County Schools have already called it for tomorrow, so if you have kids, you get outside tomorrow and you play in that snow!  Snow forts, sledding, snowmen, snow angels, snowball fights, belly flops into snow (this is only fun if the under layers of snow are not frozen, if they are, trust me, it reaaaallly hurts), and even trek your way to the nearest playground and play on the equipment in the snow.  If you don't have get outside a be a kid!  But just as a friendly reminder to all...don't eat the yellow snow, and yeah, really don't eat any snow at all.  I've seen recipes on Pinterest for making ice cream from snow and I'm like um, probably not a sound idea folks.  Think of it like a sandbox, a very cold, wet sandbox, so don't eat the contents!

4.  There will still be Doritos, milk, bread and water on Friday.  It amazes me the first things to disappear from grocery shelves here, and apparently Doritos are a part of every snow emergency kit.  Unless you plan to go through a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, 8 gallons of water (I have witnessed this purchase this week, and yes she was in full storm panic mode), and 3 bags of Doritos in the next 24 hrs, maybe just buy some comfort foodstuffs.  A nice bottle of wine, a large roast, some potatoes, bagels from the bakery, you know, cozy foods you want to cuddle up with.  You're not going to be wearing a power suit and heels tomorrow, you're going to be letting the gut out in some slouchy, comfy pants (what I call, "party pants"), so eat accordingly!

See, this is fun!  Most of you will have the day off tomorrow, and just get home safely tonight and Mother Nature has just gifted you a Pajama Day!  HOORAY!  So like I said in #4, rather than stocking up like the world is ending (really lady at the Giant, 8 gallons of water??), get ready for some stick to your ribs comfort cooking.  And with that in mind, tonight I whipped up a faux cheesetacular batch of Chicken, Broccoli, and Zucchini Mac & Cheese!  There's nary a lick of dairy in this mac, but I dare you to not succumb to the ooey gooeyness.  I'll give you the dairy-free version, but you can always go with a dairy-full version and just use the real milk versions of the ingredients.  Well, at least in theory it should work, I never actually made mac & cheese from scratch before I met my dairy-free Mister.

So get home safe everyone, and if you don't have to venture off to work in the AM, then stay in those pj's all morning until you change into your snow gear to go play, and then immediately come home to change into another set of pj's before you curl up with some comfort food and a good film.  Happy Snow Day!

Dairy-Free Mac & Cheese with Chicken, Zucchini & Broccoli


12 oz pasta (shells, rotini, or macaroni)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large zucchini, stem end trimmed and then cut into bite-sized pieces
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
Ground black pepper & garlic powder
1 breast, thigh and leg from a rotisserie chicken, shredded
4 cups unsweetened rice milk (or use skim milk for real dairy)
1 cup Daiya jack "cheese" shreds
4 cups Daiya mozzarella "cheese" shreds (or use the real version of each cheese)
2 tsp ground black pepper
2-3 dashes nutmeg

Start your pasta water to boil and get your pasta cooking according to package directions.

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in veggies, season with a few sprinkles of ground black pepper and garlic powder, and saute until just slightly browned, 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Dismember your rotisserie chicken, and shred breast, thigh and leg meat with two forks (use the remaining breast and thigh for these Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Pesto Chicken...and know your husband has likely already eaten one chicken leg within 5 minutes of getting home from the grocery).  Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat rice milk over medium high heat.  When it begins to simmer, whisk in your cheese and continue to whisk until fully melted and well-combined.  Reduce heat to low and season with black pepper and nutmeg, whisking to fully blend.  Fold in shredded chicken and veggies and allow to cool for a few minutes while pasta finishes cooking.  When pasta is done and drained, pour cheese and veggies over top and gently fold in to cover all of the pasta.  Allow to cool and set up for a minute or two before serving.  Proceed to bow in awe before the lusciousness of the faux cheesiness!

My Crop Share Challenge: Swiss Chard Wrapped Salmon with Grapefruit

This past weekend I decided that I'm going to give myself some Iron Chef style challenges each week by pairing two seemingly random items from that week's share into one dish.  And not like oh such and such with a side of this and a side of that, the items must reside together in the dish.  For fun, whether I wind up with a kitchen win or a kitchen fail, I'll post the recipe and results on the blog each week.  So to kick off my first challenge, I grabbed the Swiss chard and the grapefruit and got to dreaming...again, literally, I'm dreaming in food lately, ha!  And what came to me was to wrap some salmon in the Swiss chard, because hey if folks use banana leaves to wrap fish in, chard has to work, and citrus is always a good idea when it comes to fish, so could we have a winner, winner Crop Share dinner?

Swiss Chard Wrapped Salmon with Grapefruit

2 fillets of wild-caught Sockeye salmon (Sockeye is a great sustainable choice, so snag it when you can, and for more info on sustainable and over-fished seafood, see this great database from the Monterey Bay Aquarium)
2 slices of grapefruit, halved
1 Tbsp butter (for dairy free we use Earth Balance margarine)
1 tsp chopped dill
4 Swiss chard leaves
Olive oil to drizzle

In advance, whip up your dill butter as you'll want it to set up for about an hour in the fridge.  For that just blend together your Tbsp of butter and your tsp of dill and allow it to chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, bring some water to a boil and toss in your 4 chard leaves for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to turn them from bright to dark green.  Remove from boiling water and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Lay flat onto a kitchen towel or paper towels and lightly pat to remove any excess water.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or in a lightly oiled baking dish, place to chard leaves, slightly overlapping each other and then an inch or two away, repeat with the other two leaves.  Place salmon fillets, skin side down, onto the left edge of the leaves.  Divide the dill butter evenly and spread it on the tops of the salmon, like you're making delicious salmon toast.  And then place two halves of grapefruit on top of each salmon fillet, and spread them out enough so that you're maximizing your grapefruit-touching surface area -- you don't want all the flavor concentrated right in the middle of the fish, you want to spread the love.  Then pick up a fillet on the left side, with the chard leaves under it and gently roll it over so that you're wrapping the rest of the leaves around it.  Place back so that the skin side remains down and repeat with the second fillet.  Your leaves may not wrap the whole way around, and that's okay.

Drizzle the tops with a touch of olive oil and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.


Omnomnomnomnom!!!!  Because of the general texture of the grapefruit, you really want to think of this as solely a garnish as cutting through it to get a complete bite with the fish and the chard is a bit much and the grapefruit does not want to play along.  So just set your grapefruit slices aside, because they've done their job of imbuing this dish with it's bright citrus flavors.  The chard holds all of the moisture into the fish, and then gives this dish a great earthy flavor.  We served our fillets with herb roasted fingerling potatoes.

So if you're just not a fan of Swiss chard, then using it as a moisture-trapping fish wrap is the way to go, because you could even look at it just like the grapefruit, as mere garnish, and set it aside, because it will still have done it's job of allowing the fish to steam and braise in all it's own wonderful juices and that added dill bitter, while it all gets roasted away.  There's a trifecta of cooking techniques happening all at once to that fish, and it's all thanks to a couple leaves of Swiss chard.

Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Pesto Chicken

I'm currently OBSESSED with pesto.  Earlier in the week I had to make our new favorite, Cilantro Pistachio Pesto, and it just wasn't enough, I needed more.  Luckily, I've begun to cook in my dreams again, and the other morning I awoke after having whipped up some delectable roasted zucchini boats stuffed with basil & almond pesto, tomatoes and shredded chicken.  They say if you can dream it, you can do it, so I made a massive batch of basil & almond pesto (for the base pesto recipe, see our Broccoli Pesto recipe, and either omit the broccoli, or use up the last of this week's broccoli for a double dose of crop share veggies), turned two zucchini into battleships of deliciousness, snagged an extra tomato and rotisserie chicken, and prepared to make my dream come true.  I only used up two of the three zucchini this week, so it allowed for two halves for the Mister & I, and man do I wish I would have just attacked that 3rd zucchini.  But I'm lovingly saving that one to pair with the broccoli, and the rest of the rotisserie chicken in a creamy, dairy & gluten free mac & cheese.  That magic is happening tonight, so stay tuned!  Oh and if you make the full pesto recipe linked above, it makes A LOT.  You only need a cup for this recipe, so save the rest to toss with pasta, pour over some baked chicken or fish, use as a chip or veggie dip, or hollow out a couple tomatoes and cook up a cup of quinoa, and get ready to roast up some stuffed tomatoes with pesto quinoa.  Which if you want a vegetarian or vegan version of these zucchini boats, just leave out the chicken and sub in quinoa, chickpeas, or another protein-packed animal-friendly foodstuff.

Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Pesto Chicken

2 large zucchini, stem end trimmed, halved and seed section scooped out to make enough room to stuff
1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
1 breast and 1 thigh from a rotisserie chicken
1 cup pesto (for homemade, see our Broccoli Pesto recipe.  I left out the broccoli, but added in 1/2 cup of the zucchini innards, for extra veggie power)
Pinch of kosher salt
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly rub olive oil onto zucchini boats and place on a baking sheet or in a large enough baking dish.

In a medium sized bowl, shred the cooked chicken breast & thigh meat, and then stir in 1 cup of prepared pesto and the diced tomato.  Add a pinch of kosher salt, and stir to fully combine.  Evenly distribute filling among zucchini boats, and then lightly drizzle tops with a bit of olive oil.

Bake in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until zucchini is just soft, but not mushy, and top of stuffing is golden.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Love Story In Dessert - Whiskey Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

As we head into the week o' love, we all know that oftentimes love can be bittersweet.  I'm keenly reminded of that tonight as the Mister and I prepare to head back to Youngstown next weekend to say goodbye to one friend and comfort the friend, his wife, who remains.  It's an odd feeling to be in my early 30s and already have a friend not much older than myself who tonight is now a widow.  Their love story was always bittersweet, as he suffered from juvenile diabetes and, by the time they were married, it had really ravaged his body so much so that several years ago, on Valentine's Day even, she donated a kidney to him.  Years and two kidney transplants later, the disease finally took him in his sleep this afternoon.  I'd had grand plans for additional posts for what to do with the beautiful Swiss chard, but that will have to wait for another day as in between posts tonight I've been soaking up time just sitting with my husband, because I still can.  So this week, hug those close to you extra tight, make new memories around the table and in the kitchen, and -- since I can't leave you without one last recipe -- pay an homage to the bittersweetness of love when you whip up this Whiskey Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries.

Whiskey Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries


Strawberries and zucchini in the same week!  It's like the best of summer just arrived in February!  Woo hoo!  Now, I know there are some who despise zucchini, or at least get all zucchini-ed out after months and months of this glorious squash, but not me, nope, I could eat it all day every day.  So here are some savory, and even a sweet, take on cooking with this delectable and versatile green veggie (links to recipes hyperlinked in titles).

Zucchini & Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

Zucchini Ribbons in Oil & Garlic

Veggie & Chicken Sausage Stuffed Potatoes

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies

Strawberry, Spinach & Almond Salad with a Poppy Seed Dressing

And you thought you were getting rid of me that easy?  Muahahahaha, surprise!  I'll (Tara) still be manning things over here in Nalls' Kitchen, because really, how can I pull myself away?  So gird your loins for continued random musings of Crop Share cooking adventures.  And guest posts are still welcome, encouraged and greatly enjoyed!  You'll still be able to send recipes and guest posts to or send them to and Valerie will forward them my way.

Now...let's get cookin'!

So yesterday, the Mister and I discovered something glorious...Winesday.  We'd heard about Whole Foods wine tastings, but never seriously looked into it until this week.  When I learned that $5 per person got you 5 wines to taste (they say it works out to about a glass and a half by the end - but there were some generous pour-ers last night!), food pairings at each station, and a glass to keep.  Plus, if you bring your glass back, you get a $1 off future Winesdays.  Drinking in the grocery on the cheap, and at a place like Whole Paycheck nonetheless?  To that I say...Namaste!  Side note: If you've yet to read, Surviving Whole Foods, it's a must, especially if you've also taken your life into your own hands in the parking garage at the one in Old Town.  

So what was the very first food pairing we encountered?  A spinach salad with strawberries!  And what are we getting this week in the Crop Share?  STRAWBERRIES!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  So skip the Whole Paycheck prices and whip up this delectable salad, complete with your own homemade poppy seed dressing.  Toss in some chicken, shrimp or tofu to make it a meal.  And of course, if anyone wants to come drink with me in the grocery, you will henceforth be able to find me celebrating Winesdays at the Whole Foods in Old Town between 5-7 PM.  Completely for recipe research of course!

Strawberry, Spinach & Almond Salad

For salad:
1/2 lb fresh spinach
1/2 pint strawberries, halved
2 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted and unsalted (to toast your own, brown in a skillet over medium heat, the natural oils in the almonds will be sufficient)

For Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sweet onion, minced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (for gluten-free stick with original Lea & Perinns as it's safe, huzzah!)
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

In a blender, add your first 5 dressing ingredients and blend for about 30 seconds until smooth.  Then with the blender running, slowly pour in oil in a steady stream to make an emulsion.  Once fully blended, stir in poppy seeds and set aside.  You can either serve it at room temp or if you're wanting a warm dressing, put it in a microwave safe container and nuke it for 30 seconds to maybe at most a minute.  You want it warm, not hot.

For salad, use our handy dandy tips for no gritty spinach, and then trim stems.  Toss with strawberries and toasted almonds, and then right before serving gently toss with the Poppy Seed Dressing.

Yields 2 servings.