Chicken Over Warm Kale and Asparagus Salad

January 8th, 2014

Chicken over warm kale 1


To continue the Greens of Winter theme, I made this flavorful and simple chicken dish that utilizes convenient store-bought products.  It was a featured recipe in Publix’s Aprons Simple Meal Program.  Every week they feature recipes from products on their aisles.  All of the ingredients are gathered at the cooking station so that, if, after sampling the dish and it is to your liking, you can gather all of the ingredients to make it; all in one place.  Genius!

Chicken over Warm Kale ingredients


Here are the major players in the dish.  I forgot to include the red wine vinegar and the sugar, but you get the general idea.  The Aprons Program is a wonderful idea for harried cooks and working families who have very little time to shop, but still want to serve their families home-cooked meals.  This was almost just as simple as ordering a pizza or stopping for take-out chinese food.  Nutritionally there is no contest. It is low in fat and full of healthy ingredients.

Chicken over warm kale V2

The only addition I made to this meal was a pot of mashed potatoes.  A brown and wild rice mix would also be good.  I think we are off to a great start in the New Year.


1 ( 3 oz ) package shallots, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb fresh asparagus spears
1 3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/4 teaspoon garlic/herb seasoning, divided
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 ( 5 oz ) container kale salad blend
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

PREP: Chop shallots and basil.  Cut asparagus into 1-inch long pieces, removing tough root end.

1. Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Season chicken with 1 teaspoon garlic/herb seasoning (wash hands).  Place oil in pan, then add chicken; cook 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned.

2. Reduce heat to low.  Stir in tomatoes and shallots; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes are softened.

3. Combine vinegar and sugar, then stir into tomato mixture; cook 8-10 minutes, turning chicken occasionally, or until liquid has reduced by about one-half and chicken is 165 degrees F.  Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes to rest.

4. Stir kale, basil, asparagus, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon seasoning into tomato mixture; cook 1 minute or until salad is wilted.  Transfer salad to serving plates; slice chicken and arrange on top of salad.  Sprinkle with cheese; serve.  Serves 4.

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Southwestern Quinoa Salad

August 6th, 2013


This quinoa salad is a lovely dish to serve with any of your Southwestern inspired dinners.  Quinoa is one of those grain-like seeds that have become fashionable because of both its exotic nature and because it is good for you.  Unfortunately its popularity has resulted in a price increase for this native South American staple.  It has always been a mainstay of the diets in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru.  In the last three years the price of quinoa has increased three times.   Because of the demand for this healthy foodstuff, local villagers in South America have to pay more.  Some believe that the people are eating less of it because of the price.  But another theory is that because the farmers are making more money they can afford more imported products like white rice and noodles.  Children, given a choice between a sweetened water and quinoa drink or a coca cola will choose the coke.  But the farmers are happy and eventually the supply and demand will equalize and everyone will be better off from the consumption of this protein rich seed.  At least I hope that is the case.

I found this recipe on the Food 52 website.  Because it has so many of the fresh summertime vegetables in it, I knew that it would be a bowl full of goodness.  I love the way that the quinoa cooks up to almost translucent bubbles.  The corn is charred in a skillet with cumin seeds which brings out the flavors of both in a big way.  Add black beans, tomatoes and scallions and a lime and orange vinaigrette and you have a nutritious and delicious salad.


  • 1 1/2cups quinoa
  • 1 cup corn (or two ears of corn, with the kernels sliced off)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2cups black beans, cooked (or use canned beans rinsed and drained)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled (I omitted this because I didn’t have it)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (the whites and the greens)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Bring three cups of salted water to boil in a large saucepan. While it warms, rinse the quinoa well under cold water. When the water boils, add the quinoa and stir. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes — the quinoa should still have a slight bite. (You want it well before mushy.) Then drain it well and add to a large salad bowl.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a cast-iron skillet or wok on high, without adding oil. When the pan is hot, toss in the corn, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are singed. It should take at least five minutes, possibly as much as ten. When they are almost done, add the cumin seeds to the skillet and toast briefly. Then add both to the large salad bowl.
  3. To the same salad bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, the cooked beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned), the feta, the sliced green onions, and the smoked paprika.
  4. Roast the poblano peppers until blackened. (I use the open flame on the stove.) Let cool, then peel, seed, and chop roughly. Add these to the bowl too.
  5. Toss the salad together and add salt to taste. Then whisk together the oil, lime juice, and orange juice. Toss the salad with the dressing. Taste. You may want more oil or more lime juice. Adjust as desired. Taste again. Serve.

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Spring Vegetable Pizza and a Memory

March 19th, 2013

Spring is actually showing signs of arriving.  I have received pictures from friends in North Carolina of the dogwood and red bud trees beginning to bloom.  I am ready for it.  We will be heading back from Florida to North Carolina next week and it is always such a soul satisfying experience to see nature renewing itself.   Here in Florida the changes are subtle.

Spring vegetables are always favorites.  The first fresh asparagus holds many memories for me.  In Michigan, where I grew up, asparagus was ready to pick at the end of April, as I recall.  I know I have shared this story before, but for those of you who haven’t heard it, I will repeat it.  The rest of you can skip ahead if you would like.  The year I was to graduate from high school, my best girlfriends and I skipped school one day.  There were nine of us.  We had a good reason.  Our friend Judie’s family farm had a problem.  The asparagus crop was ready to harvest but the migrant workers had not yet arrived for the season.  We thought we would help them out by picking the asparagus.  Believe me, that is not an easy job.  It was a day of back-breaking drudgery.  To complicate matters, a group of the senior guys got wind of what we were doing and decided they wanted in on the action.  Some ulterior motives might have been involved.  With so many of us absent from our small high school, it is no wonder that the principal took notice.  Our dear Mothers could not bring themselves to lie about the reason for our absences.  At that time you had to have a signed excuse from the parent for any days missed at school.  It was only when we presented ourselves to the office with our excuses the next day that were were confronted by Mr. Small, THE PRINCIPAL.  He had found out what we were up to and had decided that if we were truthful about our whereabouts, it would be an excused absence.  If we claimed  sickness or anything else, we would not be able to participate in the graduation proceedings.  He understood the farming community around us and was ready to concede the circumstances.   Our parents understood the imperative of honesty.  It was a lesson learned by all of us.  Everyone did the right thing.  But the biggest lesson I learned was that I never wanted to pick acres of asparagus again.  To this day,every time I look at a stalk of asparagus,  it all comes back to me.  But isn’t it a wonder that at one time we could actually pick our own?

In spite of the earlier experience,  I do love to eat asparagus.  This recipe for Spring Vegetable Pizza with Gremolata appeared in Cooking Light Magazine.  I adapted it to our tastes.  David likes a little meat on his pizza, so I added some diced and cooked chicken thighs.  The other vegetables are a fresh fennel bulb with fronds and peas.  The light sauce is a combination of ricotta cheese and pecorino Romano cheese.  The gremolata of parsley, lemon rind and garlic add another level of freshness.  Instead of a homemade pizza crust I used a purchased Stone Fired Crust.  It was perfect for this.

I loved this pizza.  David was not so enthused.  It probably had something to do with the lack of pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.  But if you like a white pizza with light spring vegetable flavors, you will love this.  Think I’ve lost you Larry, Dave and some of the you other internet guys.  But the “Asparagus Picking Gals” would be proud.  See you all at our 50th reunion this September!  We still Rock.

 An update:  According to my high school friend, we had unexcused absences.  What our principal did was clear us for graduation.  I guess he did the right thing.  I just wish my version was correct.  Homer, you could have done better.


1 12-inch store bought Stone Fired Pizza Crust
1 fennel bulb with stalks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 1/2 cup (3-inch) pieces asparagus, cut in half lengthwise
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 skinless, boneless chicken thigh, chopped and cooked in a little oil with salt, pepper and paprika until done
2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 1/2 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 large garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Place pizza crust on a round pizza pan

Remove stalks from fennel bulb; reserve 1 tablespoon fronds.  Cut trimmed bulb into thin slices.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add sliced fennel bulb slices and cook for at least 1 minute.  Add peas, asparagus and sliced garlic to pan; saute 2 minutes.

Combine ricotta, milk, pepper and pecorino Romano cheese; spread evenly over pizza crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Bake at 500 degrees F for 5 minutes.  Carefully remove pizza from oven.  Top pizza with pea mixture.  Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp.  Remove from oven; sprinkle evenly with salt.  Combine reserved fennel fronds, parsley, rind, and minced garlic;  sprinkle over pizza.  Cut into wedges.

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Tomato-Basil and Goat Cheese Crostini

January 21st, 2013

Today I am posting a recipe from my DIL Kristen.  She made similar crostini for us over the holidays.   She changed the recipe a little since Christmas and likes this version even better.  What is so unique about these crostini is the creamy consistency of the goat cheese spread and the freshness of the tomato and basil garnish.  I thought they would make a great appetizer for a Super Bowl party or for any party for that matter.

Kristen is very dear to me.  She and I have much in common.  She loves to cook and she is very good at it.   But she is also a savvy business woman who runs a very successful online stationery boutique specializing in unique wedding invitations called The Green Kangaroo.  The name of her business came from the title of the book The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo by Judy Blume.  It is a story of a middle child  (which Kristen is) trying to be unique and special. She is both of these in spades.

When she emailed me this recipe and the accompanying pictures, I knew I wanted to share it with you.  I have never had a bad meal from her kitchen.   Thank you Kristen!

I am linking this recipe to Tailgating Time -Super Bowl at Seaside Simplicity.  There are lots of great recipes for your Super Bowl party on this post.



  • 1 Baguette
  • 1 4 oz. log of Goat Cheese such as Montchevre or Il de France
  • 1/4 cup of skim milk
  • 3-4 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Slice the baguette on the bias and place pieces on a cookie sheet.  Toast in the oven at 450 degrees until lightly brown.
In a bowl, combine the goat cheese and milk.  Use a spoon to mash/stir and work the goat cheese and milk into a smooth paste.
Slice roma tomatoes (and deseed if preferred).  Use a food processor, chopper, or immersion blender to briefly pulse the tomatoes, garlic and basil into a relish-like consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Next, pour the tomato relish into a fine mesh sieve.  Gently shake it until most of the visible, separate moisture has drained out.  The tomato relish will form somewhat of a ball.  This is good!  If you don’t have a sieve, use multiple layers of paper towels and pour the tomato relish onto the paper towels to absorb the moisture.  You don’t want soggy crostinis!
Assemble your Crostinis – spread a liberal amount of goat cheese onto the toasted side of each crostini.  Spoon tomato relish on top of the goat cheese and present on a platter.  These would also be delicious with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar!  I’ve even considered assembling a small salad on top of the goat cheese.  You could do goat cheese, micro greens, tomato-basil relish, & vinaigrette.  The possibilities are endless!
This appetizer should take about 20 minutes or less to make and your guests will be asking for more!

Austrian Potato Salad

January 17th, 2013

I have always been aware of French potato salad, hot German potato salad and good old American potato salad.  But Austrian potato salad is a new one to me.      I know now that Wolfgang Puck has a wonderful recipe for warm Austrian potato salad.  I found this particular recipe because I could not sleep.  Sometimes we insomniacs get up in the middle of the night to read in the hopes that it will lull us back into sleep.  I finished the last 20 pages of the novel I was reading and still wasn’t tired.  There was a stack of  old Cooks Illustrated magazines sitting on my book shelf, so I dragged them out hoping that another half hour of perusing their pages would do the trick and send me back to bed.  I found the recipe for this potato salad and became intrigued, as I always am by any potato recipe.  But the question that nagged at me was – “What makes Austrian potato salad different from German potato salad?”  Or American for that matter?

The difference is American potato salad is mayonnaise-based.  German potato salad has bacon in it.  Austrian potato salad is lighter; using very little fat.  Instead it uses the starch from the potatoes by mashing a few chunks into chicken broth to form a thick and velvety dressing.  It still has the tang of vinegar and a crunch with cornichons and diced red onions.  Unfortunately, when I made it the next day I did not have cornichons.  So I substituted the pickled red onions that I had made in my previous post.  Also instead of chives, I used parsley.  The dish is forgiving of these substitutions.

Traditionally Austrian potato salad (erdapfelsalat) is served with Wiener Schnitzel.  We had it with grilled barbecued ribs.  I highly recommend it.  Sometimes insomnia is a good thing.



2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
Table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped fine
6 cornichons (pickles), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Ground black pepper

1. Bring potatoes, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar and 1 tablespoon vinegar to boil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until potatoes offer no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15 to 17 minutes.  Remove cover, increase heat to high (so cooking liquid will reduce), and cook 2 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes in colander ser over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid.  Set drained potatoes aside.  Pour off and discard all but 1/2 cup cooking liquid (if 1/2 cup liquid does not remain, add water to make 1/2 cup).  Whisk remaining tablespoon vinegar, mustard, and oil into cooking liquid.

3. Add 1/2 cup cooked potatoes to bowl with cooking liquid mixture and mash with potato masher or fork until thick sauce forms (mixture will be slightly chunky).  Add remaining potatoes, onion, cornichons, and chives, folding gently with rubber spatula to combine.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.