Archive of ‘Vegetables’ category

Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo, Cranberries, and Pine Nuts | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Brussels sprouts are one of those veggies that aren’t always a crowd-pleaser. I can understand that because, if overcooked, they don’t smell great and can often taste like a wet sock. Nobody likes wet sock. Not that I have ever tasted a wet sock, but I can only imagine that I wouldn’t be a fan of it. However, if cooked correctly, brussels sprouts are nutty and flavorful and so so healthy for you!

To say that I am mildly obsessed with brussels sprouts would be an understatement. They are one of the only vegetables that make it into my grocery cart every week whether they are in or out of season. Most of the time, I prepare them by slicing them in half, tossing them in extra virgin olive oil, seasoning them with salt, pepper and fresh garlic, and roasting them in a 425˚ oven for about 30 minutes. However, over the last year, I have been hashing them and it’s my new favorite way to eat them.

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo, Cranberries, and Pine Nuts | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com To hash brussels sprouts, you trim the bottom stem, remove any bruised leaves, slice the sprout in half, and thinly slice each half about 1/8″ thick. You could also pop whole sprouts into your food processor affixed with the slicing blade. (more…)

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes offer a unique twist to a traditional baked potato. They were invented by a Swedish chef and are very easy to replicate. Their elegant presentation is perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish, family dinner, or date night in.

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes | Cucina Kristina So… the other day I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across this recipe from Jenn Greenberg and knew I had to try it immediately. The trouble was, I only had sweet potatoes in the house, but I decided to give it a whirl anyway. This might just be my new favorite way to eat sweet potatoes. 

After a little Google research, I found that Hasselback potatoes are the Swedish way of preparing baked potatoes and that their name is derived from the hotel that invented the dish, the Hasselbacken hotel in Stockholm.

hassleback-sweet-potatoes-3

Don’t be fooled by the intricate design these potatoes have. As long as you have a sharp knife, the prep is quick and easy. It took me about 15 minutes to prep and season three of these bad boys. In fact, I was able to prep them faster than it took my oven to heat to 425˚.

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12 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer + Raw Kale & Strawberry Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Salad is not just a sidekick to lunch or dinner anymore. With a breakfast salad, you get a serving of fruit and vegetables into your diet before you finish your morning coffee. I like breakfast salads topped with a runny fried egg, but you could add any protein of your choice.

Kale and Strawberry Breakfast Salad | 10 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer | cucinakristina.com

My kale plants have been doing wonderfully this summer mainly because we haven’t had a summer. I am in total denial about having to return to work this week because the last few months have felt like an extended spring.

Kale thrives in fall-like weather and can even survive for a few weeks under snow and frost, but usually my kale plants do not start booming until the middle of September. I’ve been harvesting and freezing massive amounts of kale every week, but my tomato and pepper plants have been producing very little if any fruit. The plight of home gardening! 

My favorite thing to eat for breakfast in the summer is a garden fresh omelette with fresh peppers, tomatoes, and arugula, but since the weather and garden is giving me kale, I created a raw kale and strawberry salad and paired it with an easy lemon vinaigrette. I’ve also rounded up 11 additional salads that you could enjoy for breakfast. So, if you are bored with your usual breakfast, try one (or all!) of the breakfast salads below!

12 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer

12 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer! | cucinakristina.com

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Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

What’s the best part of summer? Grilling, of course! Once the weather warms up, I try to make it a habit to grill as many meals as possible. To me, grilling is synonymous with summer. I am not one of those people who sends her husband outside during winter in a full snow suit to grill up some steaks. Although, the thought has crossed my mind, I am not going to lie.

One of my favorite things to grill is kabobs, also known as skewers. I think kabobs are so versatile because you can make them solely with meat, with fruits/veggies, or a mix of both. I posted this picture on Instagram and Twitter over Memorial Day weekend and it got a ton of buzz, which surprised me because I hadn’t planned on blogging this recipe. It was just something I threw together at the last minute, but it will probably be a staple at many BBQ’s to come.

Grilled Rainbow Vegetable Skewers or Kabobs

I’ve seen something similar to these floating around Pinterest using fruit, but there is no reason you can’t do the same with veggies. To make these, I tossed everything in a large bowl with olive oil and, after skewering them, I seasoned them with equal parts garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. 

Foods That Are Good For Grilling

Want to make your own rainbow kabobs? You can use the same fruits and veggies I did or mix and match based on what is in season or available. Wouldn’t it be fun to do coordinate team colors at an end of the year BBQ or school colors for a graduation party? Below are some foods you can use to make your own kabobs sorted by color.
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Green Beans with Toasted Almonds &
Blood Orange Vinaigrette

This recipe for green beans gets a zesty punch from the blood orange vinaigrette. It’s a perfect side dish for a summer BBQ! The blood orange vinaigrette would also make a great dressing for a brunch salad.

green beans with blood orange vinaigrette

While most of the kiddos in Chicago are heading back to school today, I am sitting in my house enjoying a hot cup of coffee with the windows open. Getting Easter Monday off is one of the perks of working at a Catholic school. I mentioned that the windows were open, right?! OPEN. Begone, winter! See you next year! spring is finally on the horizon!

You know what is awesome about spring? The seasonal fruits and veggies that start to pop up at the grocery store and farmer’s markets. You start to see things like asparagus, ramps, peas, and fennel. The sheer RETURN of the farmer’s market is an exciting thing about spring. 

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Butternut Squash Flour

I am on the hunt to expand my Paleo breakfast ideas past fried eggs. I love eggs, but sometimes you just gotta change things up. I am still experimenting with this idea, but I was pretty surprised by the way these turned out so I thought I would share the test recipe with you. While browsing Amazon the other day, I came across pumpkin powder. Pumpkin powder is dehydrated pumpkin that is ground into a fine powder and can be used in place of flour. I was rather intrigued and decided to experiment with making my own.

Unfortunately, my local grocery store was totally out of pumpkins, so I picked up a butternut squash instead. Close enough! I wanted to experiment with making tortillas. Traditional corn tortillas are made from corn, water, and lime. Flour tortillas are made from flour, salt, water, and lard. Therefore, it stands to reason that you could make tortillas from any flour, right?

The result was pretty awesome even though my tortilla recipe still needs a bit of work. I think I made this first batch too thick because they split apart when I picked them up and didn’t hold together like a traditional tortilla. However, they tasted great so I just ate my breakfast with a knife and fork, tostada-style. :-) I might try adding a binder (flax seed, perhaps?) to the next batch and see if that helps. I’ll keep you posted!

Paleo Breakfast Ideas

Butternut squash toastadas!

To Make Butternut Squash Flour

Peel, seed, and cube the squash and spread it onto a dehydrator. You want small, evenly sized cubes. The pieces took FOREVER to dehydrate. I had them in there for close to 24 hours. Next time, I am going to shred the squash and see if that helps speed up the process!

When they are fully dehydrated, add to a blender and grind into a powder. This also took a bit of time because I have a pretty cheap blender. I imagine a VitaMix could do the trick in a few seconds! I am going to move the VitaMix to the top of my Christmas Wish List. :-)

Butternut Squash Tortillas (Test Recipe)

In a bowl, combine 1/3 cup butternut squash flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add warm water by the tablespoon and mix until you get a doughy consistency. For me, 3 tablespoons was too little, but 4 tablespoons was too much. I had to play with this and add a little bit more flour to form a dough. Like I said… I am still experimenting!

Divide dough into 2 balls. Place dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper and press with a tortilla press. If you do not have a tortilla press, you can roll these out by hand. Toast the tortillas in a skillet, about 4 minutes on each side.

Butternut Squash Toastadas
Assemble the toastadas by placing two tortillas on a plate. Top with your favorite toppings.

In the photo above: 2 butternut squash tortillas, shredded chicken, tomatillo salsa, pickled carrots, and pumpkin seeds.

Other Paleo topping ideas: Shredded pork, ground beef, eggs, lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives, cilantro, fresh lime, onions, peppers, and thinly sliced radish.

Have you ever used squash flour? 

Za’atar Scented Carrot Fries

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have undoubtedly heard me rave about the Foodie Penpals program I participate in each month. Well, I found a Paleo version hosted by Tarah over at What I Gather and Brittanie over at Three Diets One Dinner. How perfect! Paleo Penpals is very similar to Foodie Penpals. Each month you are paired with another participant and you exchange Paleo-friendly items with them. Then, you create a recipe using the items you received from your pen pal. Tarah and Brittanie will put together a roundup post with all of the recipes that were submitted and post it on their blogs at the end of each month. I thought this would be a really great way to expand my Paleo pantry and get some inspiration for new recipes.

This month I was paired with Amanda from Kentucky. She sent me two different spice mixes; one was her own “super secret” pork rub and the other was a spice mix called za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that is a mixture of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac and it used on pretty much everything in the Middle East. It can be used to season root veggies or you can add it to olive oil to make a dip for bread. Some people eat it straight from the jar.

Sumac has a slight citrus taste so my original thought was to make za’atar spiked marinara sauce; however, after adding nearly three tablespoons of it to the pot and finding it didn’t have the punch I was looking for, I gave up that idea. I’ve seen pictures of carrot “fries” floating around various Paleo blogs and decided to give that a try. Success!

Carrot fries are awesome! They have a consistency that is similar to sweet potato fries. The sweetness of the carrots and coconut oil pairs nicely with the tartness of the sumac. You can purchase za’atar online or you can make your own from scratch. If you can’t get your hands on any, you can substitute the za’atar in the recipe below for your favorite all-purpose spice blend or season with plain old salt and pepper.

By the way, have I showed you my method for melting coconut oil?

How to Melt Coconut Oil | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

We don’t own a microwave so I had to get creative!

Yup. That’s my bathroom. That’s my hairdryer. Laugh all you want, but it works like a charm! :)

Za'atar Scented Carrot "Fries" | Via Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Served alongside homemade mayo

*NOTE: This recipe makes a single serving of carrot “fries.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon za’atar

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425˚.
  2. Peel and chop carrots into quarters. You want them to be roughly the same size and thickness.
  3. In a bowl, toss carrots in melted coconut oil for a few minutes to make sure they are well coated.
  4. Add za’atar to the bowl and toss the carrots for another few minutes making sure to distribute the spice evenly.
  5. Spread the carrots onto a baking sheet lined with foil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes. Watch these as they have a tendency to burn quickly! It may take a few more minutes or a few less depending on how thick you cut your “fries.”
  6. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Sriracha Mayonnaise

I have never like mayonnaise. I can’t even tolerate it when the flavor is masked and mixed into things. Potato salad? No, thanks. Ranch dressing? Bleh! Sandwich spread? I prefer mustard. Can you imagine my surprise when one night I was craving mayonnaise? I imagine that my body wasn’t craving mayonnaise as much as it was craving fat, but either way I was too lazy to drive to the store, and I decided to make some. Yup. On a whim I decided to whip up some homemade mayonnaise.

I read this recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl and this recipe from Alton Brown and decided to combine the two. I must have gotten lucky because it came together beautifully, tasted amazing, and was super easy. Apparently, mayonnaise is rather finicky and can separate easily if not prepared correctly. 

I will be up front and honest, I have only tried this recipe once, and like I said, I may have gotten lucky. But, if you are a fellow mayonnaise hater, I strongly urge you to make some from scratch. You just may be a convert. I am!

Homemade Mayonnaise
Yields ~1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 cup light olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine egg yolk, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, mustard and salt. I used the blade attachment and let it whirl for about 20-30 seconds.
  2. SLOWLY drizzle the oil into the food processor. Pour as slowly as you can and then slow it down even more. This part should take about 3-5 minutes.
  3. When you have poured all of the oil into the food processor, let it whirl for another 15-20 seconds.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Sriracha Mayonnaise

Sweet and Spicy

Sweet and Spicy

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, maybe a little more depending on the size of your sweet potato
  • Seasoned salt
  • 3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (see above!)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425˚.
  2. Peel sweet potato and cut into strips about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Toss in melted coconut oil, season with seasoned salt, and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes or until they brown evenly. If you are feeling extra enthusiastic, flip them at the halfway mark.
  5. In a small dish, mix 3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Sirarcha sauce until well combined.
  6. Dip sweet potato fries into the Sirarcha mayonnaise and enjoy the flavor explosion!

Mason Jar Salads

Mason Jar Salads. Stay fresh for up to a week in the fridge. Layer hardier ingredients on the bottom and more delicate items on top. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Great time saver!

I do my grocery shopping and food prep for the week on Sunday afternoon. It the single best time saver and stress reliever that I have discovered to date. It takes a bit of planning in the beginning to get the hang of it, but it is so worth it once you figure out the odds and ends!

I typically spend anywhere between 5-6 hours shopping, prepping, and cleaning up on Sunday, but it totally eliminates any work I have to do for meals during the week. At any point during the week, I can whip up breakfast, lunch, or dinner with zero prep time and minimal clean up. Mid-week clean up is reduced to the pots/pans I use to cook and the dishes we eat on.

For the past few months, I have been eating salads everyday for lunch and storing them in mason jars. I make 6 at a time and the mason jars keep the ingredients fresh for the entire week. Any airtight container would probably work, but I like mason jars because they fit in the door of the fridge. If I were to make the salads only, shopping, prep, and clean up would probably take 2-3 hours.

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my mason jar salads on Instagram and it sparked a ton of questions from people. I originally saw this idea floating around Pinterest so I thought everyone already knew about it, but it turns out they do not. I never actually “pinned” the original idea onto one of my boards so, unfortunately, I can’t credit the place that I first saw this.

I don’t add any dressing into the mason jars because I dress my salads with olive oil and vinegar only. If you want, you can add the dressing to the bottom of the jars. Just make sure that you always layer sturdy veggies at the bottom (like carrots or radishes) so they stay crisp throughout the week.

Mason Jar Salads
Time: 2-3 hours which includes shopping, prep, and clean up
Makes 6 salads

Make a week's worth of salads ahead of time and store them in mason jars. They will keep in your fridge for up to a week! Layer hardy ingredients on bottom and more delicate items (like lettuce or sprouts) on top. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Example of the items you will need

Ingredients
You can use any ingredients that you want. For the above salads I used the following:

  • 3 green peppers – 1/2 pepper per salad
  • 12 radishes – 2 radishes per salad
  • 6 carrots – 1 per salad
  • 3 small apples – 1/2 apple per salad
  • 6 celery stalks – 1 per salad
  • 3 shallots – 1/2 shallot per salad
  • 3 heads of romaine lettuce – 1/2 head per salad
  • 3 small cucumbers  – 1/2 cucumber per salad. Note: Pictured above are 6 small cucumbers because I planned on using 1 per salad. As you can see in the picture below, it was way too much so I ended up using half of the original amount I bought.
  • Sport peppers

Directions

Mason jar salads will keep fresh and crisp in your fridge up to a week. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Layer your ingredients

Start with your sturdy ingredients and layer each ingredient. Add the lettuce last. I layered in this order. Radish, carrot, cucumber, celery, green pepper, apple, shallot, sport peppers, and lettuce.

Mason Jar Salads - They will keep fresh and crisp in your fridge up to a week. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Shake the jar to create more room

Don’t worry if your jar starts to look like it is getting full. You have tons of room left and you can push the items down when you add the lettuce. Before adding the lettuce, shake the jar to settle the ingredients and fill in the gaps between layers. The jar on the left has not been shaken, the jar on the right has. See the difference?

Make salads for the week ahead of time and store them in a mason jar. They will keep in your fridge for up to a week. From: Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Finished salads

Lastly, add the lettuce. Really pack it in there. You can fit a lot more than you think in these jars!

When you are ready to eat them, dump them out into a large bowl. At this point you can add a protein source like hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, or shrimp. Add nuts or seeds if you are keeping it vegetarian or vegan. You can also add homemade pickled banana peppers.

Store vegetable trimmings in a freezer bag and use them to make homemade vegetable broth. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Use these to make homemade vegetable broth

Make sure you save any veggie shavings or trimmings. Just throw them into a plastic bag and store them in your freezer. When the bag gets full, dump the contents into a large pot of water and make homemade vegetable broth.

Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower

OMG! This recipe is amazing. I think I might love cauliflower now, which is good because cauliflower is low in calories and packed full of vitamin C. Ok, ok enough with the boring stuff. On to the chocolate!

I received an email from Vosges Haut Chocolate with this recipe for cocoa roasted cauliflower. I was intrigued, Googled it, and found this recipe on The Clothes Make the Girl, which sounded so much better. It was! I am a sucker for coconut oil so I was in as soon as I saw that.

OMG. So good.

Next time I make this I am going to omit the paprika because the coconut oil, salt, and cocoa powder together are such a wonderful sweet, salty, savory combination. I’m not sure the paprika adds enough umph for me to use it again, but experiment, you might love it! I am also going to use fresh garlic because freshly roasted garlic is one of the best things ever.

Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower

Cucina Kristina: Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower

Savory and sweet. So lovely!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Salt and garlic powder (or fresh garlic) to taste

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a bowl and toss cauliflower until it is evenly distributed. Note: We do not have a microwave so I melted the coconut oil by blasting it with a hairdryer. Worked like a charm! True story.
  3. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, garlic, and cocoa powder.
  4. Roast for 25-30 minutes.

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