Month: November 2013

lunchbox life: kale, ham, and cannellini bean soup


Yes, this is another soup recipe.  I can’t help myself.  Today was a dreary, overcast day that was calling for a big pot of warmth and deliciousness.  Plus, we had leftover turkey parts from our Turkey Party, so I make my own turkey stock and wanted to put it to good use!

Let me tell you why this soup is a win-win: it tastes great, and it’s going to get your system in a good place before the onslaught of creamed-cheesy-doughy-dressing-holiday cocktail-too many desserts that will most certainly come next week.  If you read the blog, you know that I worship at the throne of leafy greens (swiss chard, spinach, collards, etc.), and the queen of the pack is hearty kale.  The soup has a great combo–greens and beans–that will help get your system “moving.”  Too much?  My close friends know that I think fiber ingestion is a virtue, and while it will certainly keep your system moving, it will also keep you fuller longer throughout the afternoon.

I used ham for some protein here because I’m a little turkey-ed out from our party this weekend, but you could certainly use turkey or chicken if you don’t eat pork.

Kale, Ham, and Cannellini Bean Soup

8 cups homemade turkey stock (you could certainly use storebought chicken stock–I just had this on hand)

2 bunches of kale

2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans

3/4 lb. thick sliced ham, diced

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried fennel seeds, crushed

1 tsp. oregano

Pour the turkey or chicken stock into a large stockpot and heat to medium-high heat.  Add the beans to the pot.  Tear the kale off of the stems into bite-sized pieces and put them into the pot, then add the ham and the spices.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let the soup simmer for about an hour.

lunchbox life: shrimp antipasto salad


Let me start with this: I’ve only packed two lunches for the week.  I have tomorrow off for Veterans Day, and I’ll be in Atlanta for meetings on Thursday and Friday.  I wouldn’t recommend packing five lunches with shrimp, but since I only had to pack two, I jumped at the chance to incorporate seafood into my lunch routine!

This is so very simple: for two days worth of lunches, buy 1/3 lb. cooked shrimp, then hit up the olive bar at Fresh Market.  I picked an assortment of antipasto goodies, including artichoke hearts, olives, roasted garlic, and mini mozzarella.  When you get home, chop all ingredients up into small, 1/2-inch pieces.  Toss with remaining oil/marinade in the container.  Pack separately from your greens, then when it’s time for lunch, toss the greens with the shrimp salad and enjoy.  I also packed a honeycrisp apple with each lunch.  Enjoy!

wild card wednesday: pumpkin lasagna + arugula, pancetta, and cranberry salad


Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday: November edition, which is officially Challenge Gourd!  After some facebook crowdsourcing today, I had a tough choice to make from all of the great ideas from some of our readers, but a common theme was an obvious go-to for the month that brings us Thanksgiving: pumpkin, different kinds of squash, and sweet potatoes.  We’re wrapping all of these together in the gourd category.  Yes, I know that a sweet potato isn’t a gourd–I’m just including it because of its similarity to butternut and acorn squashes.

Between the last school bell ringing and jetting off to a session at Pure Barre, I searched the Food and Wine magazine website for gourd recipes.  I found one for pumpkin lasagna, said aloud, “Yep.,” made my grocery list, hoisted on a pair of leggings and a tank top, and dashed out the door.  After my class, I gathered a few ingredients at Fresh Market and headed home.  Only after pouring myself a glass of wine (because this week is “doing the most,” as my students would say), I began assembling this surprisingly easy, yet deliciously complex dish.  I’m telling you–if you can stir things together and follow directions, you can make this in under an hour!

The salad is a nice, savory and sharp counter to the creamy lasagna.  If you’re vegetarian, leave out the pancetta (obviously), but you might want to add something salty in its place.

Pumpkin Lasagna

Adapted (not by much) from Food and Wine Magazine


2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 sweet onions, chopped

2 lbs. Swiss chard, stems removed, chopped

1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

3 cups canned pumpkin puree (one 28-ounce can)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan

1/2 cup milk

3 no-boil lasagna noodles

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and add the chard, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook, stirring, until the chard is wilted and no liquid remains in the pan, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups of the pumpkin, 3/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and the remaining teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

Pour the milk into an 8-by-8 inch baking dish. Top the milk with one third of the noodles, then spread half the pumpkin mixture over the noodles. Layer half the Swiss chard over the pumpkin and top with a second layer of noodles. Repeat with another layer of pumpkin, Swiss chard, and noodles. Combine the remaining 1 cup of pumpkin and 3/4 cup of cream. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the lasagne, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Arugula, Pancetta, and Cranberry Salad


4 cups arugula

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup diced pancetta

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

2 Tbsp. cherry balsamic vinegar (or regular, whatever you have)

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

salt and pepper, to taste

Place the arugula in a medium-sized bowl.  In a small frying pan, add the pancetta and cook until slightly crispy.  Take the pieces out and allow to drain on a paper towel.  Pour about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the rendered fat from the pancetta into a small bowl, then add the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Whisk to combine.  Add the almonds, cranberries, and pancetta to the arugula, then toss with the warm dressing.  Serve immediately.

tasty tuesday: pork tenderloin roulade with bacon pimento cheese risotto, grilled leek

An ode to Dovetail. Eleta and I went back to this fantastic place on their one year anniversary, which happened to be our fourth as a couple, since we had been there on opening night. The place has become a beacon for those who always want to know what’s next for Macon, Ga and the folks there have been fantastic stewards.

The meal I ordered on this fateful night was the special, a chicken roulade with pimiento cheese risotto. This is my retort:

So rich and such cream cream.

So rich and such cream cream.

I couldn’t do an exact copy, of course, that would be a little on the nose (and I don’t have the chops…). Their version was so flavorful and well spiced that you didn’t recognize that you were having such simple ingredients. Mine, too is quite simple. The filling was nothing more than sauteed leeks, arugula, garlic, and italian parsley minced and stirred in some greek yogurt cream cheese and the risotto had one helluva shortcut by way of:



Man, what a sagely creation. You owe it to yourself to make this meal.

Pork Tenderloin Roulade

1 whole pork tenderloin, butterflied and pounded thin
2 leeks
8oz arugula
5 cloves garlic
4 oz Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 8oz package greek yogurt cream cheese

Slice the tenderloin down the middle but only go about 3/4 the way through until it lays flat in a single layer. Lay in two pieces of plastic wrap and about to about 1/4 inch thick with a tenderizing mallet. Season with salt and pepper.

Chop off the bottom end of the leek bulbs. Chop the leeks into thin rings from the base to the bottom of the leaves. Heat a pan with the oil, add the leeks, arugula, garlic, and parsley with a little soft. Saute until the leeks are soft, mince in a food processor. Pour into a bowl with the cream cheese and stir.

Spread the cheese mixture on the inside of the pork loin. Roll so that the loin will look like a Fibonacci spiral. Heat a pan over medium high heat and sear the loin on all sides, about 4 minutes.



While searing, preheat oven to 400. Place the pan in the oven and continue to cook for about 25-30 minutes, until it is cooked throughout (170 degreees). Om nom.

Grilled leek

Leftover leek leaves
Olive Oil

Combine the oil, salt and pepper. Brush on leeks. Grill on a grill pan about 5 minutes per side until tender.

Bacon Pimento Cheese Risotto.

I have covered Risotto before and there are many places that explain the process, but the basics:

1 1/2 cups arborio
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 Shallot
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil

Heat stock to a simmer and reduce to low. Melt butter with oil, add sliced shallot. Add rice and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in wine until absorbed. Stirring constantly, add the broth 1 cup at a time, allowing to absorb each time before adding more.

At the end of the broth (and the rice is tender), add in the flavor, in this case the whole package of the palmetto cheese. Stir and serve as quickly as possible.

Most of the things in this meal can be substituted for whatever flavors you prefer. Happy foodventures!

lunchbox life: stewed lentils and tomatoes with slow-cooked turkey


This is one of those times when the picture doesn’t do the dish justice.  When the elves of the internet discover the online equivalent to “smell-o-vision,” this recipe will sing, but until then, I’ll just have to get you to use your imagination.  Think stewed tomatoes with olive oil, tons of aromatic onions, garlic, and thyme simmering on your stove top on a Sunday afternoon full of chores and errands.  Mmmmmm.

So, I featured lentils in last week’s Tasty Tuesday, and I have to tell you that they’re pretty cool.  Lentils are a type of legume that are high in fiber and relatively high in protein.  The high fiber/protein combination is great for digestion and keeping you fuller longer, which is great for a midday meal.  They’re also incredibly easy to cook, so next time you’re making a soup or stew, throw in some green or pink lentils and try them out!

I added the slow-cooked turkey for added protein and layer of flavor.  I bought a package of two turkey tenderloins at Publix that are the same shape as a pork tenderloins, but tend to be smaller in scale.  I really didn’t have a plan in mind, so I broke out the trusty crock-pot and placed the turkey tenderloins inside.  Then, I threw in a few old reliable ingredients: 1 cup of white wine (leftover Trader Joe’s Chardonnay in the refrigerator that had been open too long to drink…oops), 2 cups of chicken stock, about 1 Tbsp. balsamic reduction drizzle,  about 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, five smashed garlic cloves, and salt and pepper.  The only rule here is to add some liquid, so use the chicken stock and take your pick of flavor enhancers.  You could also use sliced lemon, capers, shallots, cumin, curry, or whatever you feel like.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes with Slow-Cooked Turkey
Adapted from smitten kitchen, who adapted it from Barefoot Contessa

2 tsp. olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup green lentils
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. dry thyme
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.

Take the tomatoes out of the can, give them a rough chop, then place them back in the can with the tomato juice.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Top with the shredded slow-cooked turkey and enjoy!