Butternut Squash, Kale and Apricot Salad

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It’s official, we’ve entered squash season! All kinds of squash are popping up in the grocery stores and my blog feed and Pinterest seems to be overflowing with squash recipes.

Personally, butternut is my favorite of the Fall squashes. I recently heard that it was given it’s name because of it’s buttery softness and taste, I’m not sure if this is true, but it certainly is fitting.

A simple vinaigrette is all this salad needs to top it. I made a quick mixture of olive oil, chili herb vinegar, honey and a tiny bit of chili powder to add just the tiniest kick to offset the sweetness of the squash and the apricots.

Butternut Squash, Kale and Apricot Salad
2 cups roasted butternut squash cubes (see below)
1 bunch baby kale
1 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces goat cheese

To make the roasted butternut squash cubes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash, cut it in half lengthwise and chop into 1 inch cubes. Toss the cubes in a bowl with olive oil and whatever spices you prefer. I like to add salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon to mine but use whatever flavors you like best. Place the cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes until they’ve softened.

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To prepare the salad just wash and dry the kale, top it with the roasted squash, the apricots, red onion slices and crumble the goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

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Kale and Pepper Quesadilla

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This quesadilla was the result of needing to use up everything in our fridge before heading out of town for a few days. I was rummaging through the fridge to determine what had to be eaten before we left. The discoveries were a half a block of cheese, half a bag of small sweet peppers, one bunch of kale and a few green onions. Once I realized there were a few whole wheat tortillas hidden in the back of the fridge, the idea came to life. I think quesadillas get a bad rap for being unhealthy food, but depending on the tortilla you use and what you put in them they don’t have to be so bad.

I’m bringing these quesadillas to Angie’s Fiesta Friday party today.  If you haven’t joined the party yet you totally should it’s a ton of fun and the other bloggers are so inspiring! 

Kale and Pepper Quesadillas

Serves 2
2 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 mini sweet peppers
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed
2 whole wheat tortillas
Salt
Pepper

1. Remove the tops and seeds of the peppers and cut them into thin strips. Add the pepper strips and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Sauté until the peppers soften, about 6-8 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the peppers to a bowl.

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2. Remove the kale leaves from the stems and chop into small pieces. Add the remaining olive oil and kale to the pan on low heat and sauté for about 4 minutes until the kale wilts. Add the kale to the bowl with the peppers.

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3. Add the green onions to the bowl with the other vegetables and stir to combine.

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4. Place a tortilla in the pan and return to low heat. Place 1/4 of the cheese on half of the tortilla, then half of the vegetable mixture then another 1/4 of the cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla on top and cook for 3 minutes. Flip the tortilla and cook for another 2 minutes then remove it from the pan. Enjoy!
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Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

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So I went a little crazy this weekend…at the grocery store! We had a beautiful warm sunny day and I think that definitely affected my attitude while shopping. All of the vegetables in the store looked so fresh and delicious, I didn’t want to pass anything up. I just kept picking things up, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized I probably had more veggies that I could use up in a week. After a couple large salads I still had quite a few left to use so I figured this stir fry would be a great way to do that.

This might not be what you typically think of as stir fry. Instead of a sticky gooey sauce I prefer to let the vegetables be the star and season the chicken with paprika for a little more intensity. However, you could definitely add a little brown sugar to this to make it a little sticky if that’s how you like it. Another great thing about this meal is that it only takes one pot and one pan, making for quick and easy clean up!

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
3 chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
5 carrots
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup green beans
6-7 asparagus spears
5-6 kale leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 green onions

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place the chicken breasts in a baking pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom. Season the chicken. Combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 teaspoons paprika in a small bowl. Season the chicken with half of the spice mixture. Turn the chicken over and season the other side withe the rest of the spices. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until cooked through (cooking times will depend on the size of your chicken).

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2. Peel and chop your carrots. Place a pot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and add the carrots. Next chop your onion and add that to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Allow these to cook together until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.

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3. Next chop your green beans and asparagus and add them to the pot. Chop your kale into bite sized pieces and add it to the rest of the vegetables.

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4. When the vegetables begin to soften add your stock and rice to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook at a simmer until the rice is cooked and the stock has evaporated.

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5. When the chicken has cooked use two forks to pull it apart. Place the pulled apart pieces in the pot and stir to combine with the vegetables and rice. Add more salt or pepper if needed and top with chopped green onions, enjoy!

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Chicken, Quinoa, Pesto Bowl

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The inspiration from this dish comes from one of my all time favorite lunches. On nice sunny warm days I love taking the opportunity to walk to one of my favorite lunch spots, Protein Bar . While their menu is full of great healthy options, I’m particularly fond of their spinach pesto bowl. Given that the closest location is nearly a mile from my office, and the temperatures this winter have been absurdly terrible, I haven’t felt like making the trek there at lunch so, I decided to try to re-create the bowl myself.

I substituted kale for the spinach and added some grape tomatoes because I like their fresh bite. I used chicken thighs for the meat because that’s what I had but chicken breasts would work just as well if not better. This didn’t come out exactly like Protein Bar’s bowl, but it was pretty darn close and still pretty good!

Chicken, Quinoa, Pesto Bowl
4 chicken thighs or breasts
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 bunch of kale (about 6 leaves)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
3 Tablespoons pesto
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
salt
pepper
fresh parsley (optional)
fresh basil (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a baking dish and place your chicken on top. Season the chicken with half of the rosemary, oregano and some salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over and season the other side with the rest of the spices. Bake in the oven for about 45-60 minutes until cooked (cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces).
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2. While the chicken is cooking begin preparing your kale. Wash the kale and cut into bite sized pieces. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a medium pot. Then add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook the kale until it begins to soften and wilt, about 7 minutes.

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3. Next, add the chicken stock to the pot with the kale. Then add the quinoa and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and let it cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. When the liquid is gone stir in your pesto.

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4. When the chicken is cooked, take it out and use two forks to pull apart the meat. Add the meat to the quinoa and stir to combine. Finally, turn the heat off on the pot and stir in your tomatoes. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and top with fresh parsley and basil if you want. Enjoy!

Kale, Pesto and Red Onion Flatbread

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Last week, for the first time since I’ve lived in the DC area, we actually got some real snow! Nothing crazy, probably just about 3 inches in my area but I was excited none the less. To make it even better, the snow allowed me to work from home for a day, extending the already long weekend! I really enjoy days when I work from home because I have extra time to make lunch and dinner.

Given the chilly temperatures and the lack of quick snow removal in this area, instead of finding a new recipe to try and going out to buy all the ingredients, I rummaged through the cupboards and fridge to see what I could develop with what I had on hand. I always have ingredients for dough, I had kale and these adorable red pearl onions (sorry if adorable is a weird word for onions, but these really were) from my week’s farm basket and a jar of pesto my friend brought me from Italy that I’ve been excited to try. I put it all together and came up with this flatbread. If you don’t want to make dough, you can use frozen pizza dough as a shortcut.

Kale, Pesto and Onion Flatbread
Dough:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup warm waterflatbread2
2 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon
pepper

Topping:
1 bunch kale, stems removed and washed
1/2 cup red pearl onions peeled and chopped (or 1 small red onion)
3 Tablespoons pesto
1 Tablespoon  plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
salt
pepper
a few shavings of parmesan cheese

Begin by making your dough. Add the water and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and let sit for ten minutes. Then combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl and add them to the water and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook, begin to combine and slowly add 1 tablespoon of olive oil while it’s all mixing. Continue mixing until a ball of dough had formed. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for an hour.

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After the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (if you have a pizza stone it really helps to bake these on a hot pizza stone). Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into an oblong shape. Drizzle the additional olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper on top of the rolled out dough. When the oven is ready, place the dough on your pizza stone or on a baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the dough just starts to get a little brown.

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To make the topping add the olive oil and onions to a pan on medium-low heat. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes then add your kale to the pan. Add your desired amount of salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the kale has wilted.

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Remove your dough from the oven and spread a a layer of pesto over it. Top with your kale and onions. Add a few shavings of parmesan cheese, enjoy!

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Simple Sautéed Kale

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I know I know, its cliche now to say you recently discovered kale is an awesome superfood, but I never tried it until a few months ago and now I’m obsessed – where have you been all my life kale!? Kale is good in so many preparations and this is one of my favorites. A super simple way to get all of the healthy benefits of this great ingredient.

This could be a great Thanksgiving side if you’re looking for ways to lighten up traditional holiday sides. To all my other kale fans out there, let me know how you like to cook it!

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion sliced into thin strips
1 glove garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

1. Add the oil and garlic to a pan on medium heat.

2. Let the garlic cook for 30-60 seconds and then add the onion and season with salt and pepper.

3. Let the onion cook for about 4 minutes and then add the kale, if the entire bunch won’t fit in the pan you can add some, let it cook down a little and then add the rest.

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4. Add the lemon juice and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about 8 minutes, enjoy!

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