Thursday, January 30

Revisited Recipe: Creamy Chicken, Artichoke, & Mushroom Casserole

I have over 600 recipes (and growing) in the Kitchen Sink Diaries archive. Some of them have been tweaked and improved since their original post or were just really special to begin with. These revisited recipes are some of my all-time favorites that deserve a second look.

Creamy Chicken, Artichoke, & Mushroom Casserole

There's something about casseroles that can feel a little outdated, but this creamy lemon chicken casserole is anything but the retro dish of older generations. I first made this recipe a couple years ago and it's become a go-to meal for a simple but elegant dinner ever since. Browned chicken cutlets are layered with artichoke hearts and thickly sliced mushrooms, smothered in a lemony cream sauce, and then topped with crispy parmesan breadcrumbs. The lemon flavor and crunchy topping keep the dish feeling light and multi-dimensional. Everything can be prepared hours in advance and then baked or reheated once you're ready to serve. It's easy enough for a hearty weeknight meal for your family but is still impressive enough for company. I like to serve it with a simple green salad and potatoes.

Note: I decided to double the ingredients and update the recipe that I originally posted because it's such a perfect dish to entertain with. I imagine it could easily be doubled again for a larger group, and it can definitely be halved to serve a couple or small family.

Creamy Lemon Chicken, Artichoke, & Mushroom Casserole:
Serves four-six

  • 2 - 2 1/4 lbs. chicken cutlets (pounded 1/2"-1/4" thick)
  • 3/4 lb. cremini mushrooms
  • 8 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 1 c. creme fraiche
  • 1/3 c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 c. finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. dry Sherry
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • salt
  • pepper

Click here to see the entire recipe.

Wednesday, January 29

Kale, Brussels Sprout, & Hazelnut Salad

Dark, leafy greens tossed with toasted hazelnuts, parmesan, and a lemon vinaigrette

Kale, Brussels Sprout, Hazelnut Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

My mom first made this kale and brussels sprout salad at Thanksgiving and it was such a nice balance to all the other rich foods. It's an easy and healthy winter's twist on a traditional green salad and only requires a few ingredients. Hearty, nutrient-packed kale and brussels sprouts sub in for baby lettuces; this adds extra texture and health benefits and also gives the salad a longer shelf-life because the greens won't wilt from the dressing. The toasted hazelnuts add a nice crunch and a slight sweetness and a generous amount of grated parmesan adds a deep umami flavor. I toss it all with a powerful lemon vinaigrette to kick it up. The salad tastes even better after sitting for about an hour, so it's the perfect thing to bring over to a dinner party or assemble in advance of guests arriving. Leftovers make a great lunch the next day, too.

Tip: The kale and brussels sprouts can be washed, dried, and chopped a few days in advance. Wrap them in paper towels and store in resealable plastic bags in the fridge to keep the greens fresh and crisp.

More Kale & Brussels Sprout Recipes:
- Kale Ribbon Salad with Parmesan and Garlic Vinaigrette
- Kale, Brussels Sprout, & Tofu Soba Noodles
- Raw Kale Soba Noodle Bowl with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Kale, Brussels Sprout, & Hazelnut Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard.
  • Slowly whisk in 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper
For Salad
  • Add 1/2 c. of raw hazelnuts* to a dry skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, or until toasted.
  • Place the hot nuts in a clean dish towel and rub off the outer skins from the hazelnuts, then roughly chop the nuts.
  • Meanwhile, remove the center ribs from 1 large bunch of  lacinato kale** and wash and dry thoroughly.
  • Finely slice the kale and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Remove any bruised outer leaves from 1/2 lb. of brussels sprouts, then thinly slice into shreds, discarding the tough cores and stems.
  • Add the brussels sprouts to the kale and toss with some of the dressing and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Add in 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese and the nuts and toss gently once more.
  • Divide salad onto plates and top with an extra sprinkle of cheese and nuts.

Serves four (side dish)
*Also known as filberts.
**Also known as black kale, dino kale, or cavolo nero.

Tuesday, January 28

Burrata with Persimmon-Pomegranate Relish

Fall fruit and creamy burrata make for an unexpected cheese course

Burrata Cheese with Persimmon Pomegranate Relish

Persimmons and pomegranates are some of the quintessential early winter fruits. I use pomegranates all the time as a salad topping (seen in this baby spinach salad and this crispy quinoa salad) and love their burst of tart flavor. Persimmons are a fairly new fruit that I'm warming up to, but they really shine in this relish. There are two kinds of widely-available persimmons: fuyu, which can should be eaten slightly-soft, and hachiya, which cannot be eaten until they are incredibly soft and almost-liquid. I could only find ripe hachiyas for this persimmon-pomegranate relish, which was inspired by something I saw in The A.O.C. Cookbook. Using diced fuyus would lead to a much different and chunkier-style dish, although I'd imagine it would be equally delicious. The relish is tangy and slightly sweet, but the shallots and cilantro keep it on the savory side. It makes a great cheese course when paired with creamy burrata (any type of triple cream cheese would be a good alternative) and we used the leftovers on top of grilled pork chops later that night.

Related Recipes:
- Grilled Peach, Prosciutto, & Burrata Salad
- Fresh Mozzarella & Fava Bean Crostini
- Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Caprese Salad

Burrata Cheese with Persimmon-Pomegranate Relish:
  • In a bowl, combine 1 minced shallot, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
  • Scoop the soft, liquidy flesh out of 1 ripe hachiya persimmon and add to the bowl, along with 1 tbsp. of pomegranate juice.*
  • Whisk together, then gently stir in 1 c. of pomegranate seeds and 2 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Gently pull apart 2 balls of burrata cheese** and place on a platter.
  • Spoon the persimmon-pomegranate relish on top (you probably won't use all of it). Serve with toasted baguette.

Serves two-four (appetizer)
*I just took a little bit of juice from the pomegranate after I removed the seeds. One pomegranate will be more than enough for this dish.
**I like to let the burrata warm up to room temperature a bit by leaving it out for 20 minutes or running the balls under warm water for 30 seconds.

Monday, January 27

Super Bowl Snacks

Everything you need for a delicious Super Bowl spread

Super Bowl Snack Recipes

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and we're getting ready for a small gathering at our house to watch the game. Thanks to my husband, I've gotten more and more into football every year and really look forward to watching the game (and commercials) with our friends. A lot of the fun comes from a big spread of food and drinks, which I always end up overindulging in. The key is to serve things that can easily be eaten in front of the couch without utensils, and making sure that at least some of the food can be served at room temperature. This keeps people, including the host, in front of the TV instead of forcing people to get up and pause the game or block others' views. Go to recipes for me always include something cheesy, some kind of chip and dip, and something sweet. Here are some of my favorite recipes for Super Bowl Sunday.

Want more ideas? See Super Bowl menus from 20112012, and 2013.

A full list of my sweet and savory snack recipes can be found here.

Super Bowl Menu:
  • Queso Fundido Dip - This melty dip is made with 100% real cheese, not Velveeta. Serve it with homemade tortilla chips (or cheat by throwing store-bought chips in the oven until warm) to really wow your guests.
  • Bacon-Wrapped Dates - The perfect combination of sweet and salty. These bite-size snacks can be assembled well in advance and taste good warm or at room temperature.
  • BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders - Everyone thinks of buffalo wings on game day, but these sliders will become a new fan favorite. Afterall, pork > chicken.
  • Citrus Bars - An easy make-ahead treat. The tangy lemon flavor is a nice, fresh respite from all the rich food.
  • Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats - It doesn't get better than this for a sweet, portable snack. The nutty brown butter and flaked salt add a nice balance to the sugary marshmallows.

There's nothing wrong with serving some store-bought snacks as well. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Carrot and Celery Sticks with Hummus
  • Salted Popcorn
  • Kettle Chips - particularly Salt & Vinegar or Sour Cream & Onion

Friday, January 24

Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon

A giant potato cake topped with smoked salmon, lemony greens, and chives

Potato Pancake Smoked Salmon

I've loved hash browns ever since I was a kid. And I'm not talking about those "breakfast potatoes" that most brunch spots serve nowadays. I want thin, shredded, diner-style potatoes that have a super crispy crust and are cooked in a generous amount of grease. This potato pancake is basically one giant hash brown that gets cooked in a large skillet before adding on the toppings: thinly sliced smoked salmon, greens, and chive creme fraiche. A squeeze of lemon balances the heaviness of the potatoes and keeps it feeling light. It's the perfect brunch dish and the presentation is stunning. Hash browns have never looked this good before.

Related Recipes:
- Potato Latkes
- Chorizo, Potato, & Pepper Hash
- Baked Potato Bites

Crispy Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon, Greens, & Chive Creme Fraiche:
  • Peel 4 large Russet potatoes and coarsely grate them.* Season them generously with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, melt 2-3 tbsp. of duck fat or butter into a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the potatoes to the pan, pressing down to form a tight, large disk.
  • Cook the potatoes for 6-8 minutes, or until the bottom of the potatoes are very dark and crisp.
  • Carefully flip the potato cake onto a plate with the crispy side up.
  • Return the pan to the heat and add in 2-3 more tbsp. of fat or butter.
  • Carefully slide the potatoes, crispy side up, back into the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until the bottom is crispy and the center is cooked through.
  • Slide the potato cake onto a large plate and top with a sprinkle of flaked sea salt, 5-6 oz. of thinly sliced smoked salmon, a handful of baby arugula, and a sprinkle of chives.
  • Cut the cake into wedges and serve with lemon wedges and chive creme fraiche.**

Serves four
*Use can use the large holes of a box grater to do this, but I use the shredding attachment to my food processor and it grates all of the potatoes in under a minute.
**To make the chive creme fraiche, combine 1/2 c. creme fraiche with 2 tbsp. minced chives and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 23

Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli

Burgers get a makeover with tender salmon patties and a spicy avocado spread

Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli

I got a meat grinder attachment to my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for Christmas with the intention of making my own specialty burgers and sausage. It's easy to buy some ground meat at the grocery store but having a meat grinder makes it possible to freshly grind up any protein out there. I tried it with salmon a few days ago and it was so easy! The salmon patties are light and tender and pair well with the super flavorful and slightly spicy avocado aioli. The salmon is the star, so I just like to keep the toppings simple with just a handful of baby greens, thinly sliced red onion, and a toasted whole wheat bun. It's a healthful spin on a typical beef burger and makes a nice alternative for guests at your next barbecue.

*I'm aware that most people don't have a meat grinder at home, so the salmon can also be finely chopped by hand or lightly pulsed in the food processor to achieve a similar texture. Just don't grind the salmon into a paste - it should still have some texture to it.

Related Recipes:
- Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese & Balsamic Onions
- Salmon Cakes with Yogurt Sauce
- Turkey Burgers with Green Apple & Brie

Ground Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli:
For Aioli
  • Scoop the flesh from 1 very ripe avocado into a blender or food processor.
  • Add in 1 de-seeded, chopped serrano pepper, scant 1/4 c. mayonnaise, the juice of 1/2 lime, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro.
  • Puree the aioli until smooth and check for seasoning and balance. Set aside.*
For Burgers
  • Chill 1 lb. boneless, skinless salmon fillet in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Pass the salmon through a meat grinder in the coarse setting.**
  • Season the ground salmon with 1-1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt, 2 tbsp. minced chives, and pepper.
  • Divide the salmon mixture into thirds and form into patties. Lightly brush with olive oil.
  • Cook the salmon on a hot grill or grill pan for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for another two minutes.
  • To assemble, spread some of the aioli on the bottoms of toasted burger buns, then top with the salmon patties.
  • Top each burger with a handful of baby greens and a few thin slices of red onion
  • Place the top bun on each burger and serve.

Serves three
*Aioli can be made several hours in advance and stored in the fridge until serving.
**If you don't have a meat grinder, you can also finely chop the salmon by hand or pulse in a food processor until ground.

Wednesday, January 22

Revisited Recipe: Brussels Sprout & Bacon Hash

I have over 600 recipes (and growing) in the Kitchen Sink Diaries archive. Some of them have been tweaked and improved since their original post or were just really special to begin with. These revisited recipes are some of my all-time favorites that deserve a second look.

Brussels Sprout Bacon Hash

There's something to be said about the pairing of bacon and eggs, but I also really like the pairing of bacon and brussels sprouts. Put all three together, toss in some Yukon Gold potatoes for good measure, and you have the ultimate marriage of flavors in this easy skillet hash. It's the perfect thing to make when you're trying to use up the few remaining strips of bacon from the package in your fridge. The hash is typically a breakfast item but there's nothing wrong with digging into a plate of this for dinner or breakfast. Leftover hash (without the egg on top) keeps in the fridge for future breakfasts later in the week.

Bacon & Brussels Sprout Hash with Fried Eggs:
Serves two-three people
  • 2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 bunch of brussels sprouts
  • 1 onion
  • 3 thick-cut strips of bacon
  • 2-3 eggs
  • Splash of chicken stock or water
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Tuesday, January 21

Flourless Chocolate Cake

A rich gluten-free chocolate cake from The Smitten Kitchen

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is the cake that broke our healthy eating cleanse. It's lightly adapted from a recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which was titled "tiny but intense chocolate cake", but since our friends have large appetites, I doubled the recipe to fit in a normal 9" cake pan. It's a flourless cake (making it naturally gluten-free) and has a fudge-like consistency and a deep chocolate flavor. I cooked it the night before I brought it over to our friends' house and it stayed moist with a crispy brownie-like crust. Because it's such a rich cake, it doesn't need any frosting to finish it. I like to add a light dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh raspberries and whipped cream, which keeps it feeling light.

Related Recipes:

Flourless Chocolate Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F, line the bottom of a 9" cake pan with a round of parchment paper, and grease the pan and the paper.
  • Melt 12 tbsp. butter in a small pot over medium heat.
  • Allow butter to melt, then sizzle and foam, then the foam will subside and nutty brown bits will form at the bottom of the pot.
  • Turn the heat off, then whisk in 8 oz. semisweet chocolate until melted and smooth.
  • Let chocolate cool until lukewarm.
  • Meanwhile, separate 6 eggs and put the yolks in an electric mixer. Reserve the whites.
  • Beat the yolks with 2/3 c. brown sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until mixture thickens.
  • Stir in the chocolate butter to combine and transfer to a bowl.
  • Clean out the mixer and add in the egg whites and a pinch of salt.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form* and then stir in a large pinch of ground cinnamon.
  • Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold n the remaining whites until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan and place in the oven.
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • The cake will be puffed to start but will quickly deflate.
  • Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then flip out onto a baking rack and cool to room temperature.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries.

Serves six-ten
*Egg whites should be shiny and the peaks should stand straight up after lifting a whisk or spoon out of the mixture.

Friday, January 17

Healthy Eating Cleanse Update

Week two of the healthy eating cleanse

Kitchen Sink Diaries Healthy Cleanse
One Thing I'll Take Away From the Cleanse: Starting Each Morning With a Glass of Warm Water & Half a Lemon

The hardest time for my husband and I to make healthy eating choices is on the weekend. Typically, Fridays and Saturdays are the days that I take a break from cooking, and we usually go out for meals or have simple things like lazy waffles at home. So, without a doubt, I was the most worried about slipping on our healthy eating cleanse last weekend. Luckily, I did enough planning to make sure that we had meals and groceries in place for us to eat healthy at home all weekend, although we did cheat slightly with the delicious lentil meatballs. We were also able to repurpose a lot of our weekend cooking for meals during the week: sometimes as leftovers, or sometimes just by thinking ahead (like making extra farro on Tuesday night for Wednesday's lunch or grilling the chicken for the chili along with Sunday night's pork tenderloin). These steps made it easy to have a quick, healthy meal on the table.

The cleanse finally ended last night with dinner at our friends' house. We originally planned on extending it until the weekend, but I was more than happy to stop a day early in favor of their dinner invitation. One interesting thing about the cleanse is that I started craving things that aren't normally on the top of my food favorites list. I don't usually have a big sweet tooth, but I've been obsessing over dessert (and donuts! don't even get me started on glazed donuts!) for the last week straight. True nirvana was reached when we tucked into the simple flourless chocolate cake that I brought over for dessert last night.

Click here to see last week's recipes from the cleanse.

Kitchen Sink Diaries' Healthy Eating Cleanse, Week 2:
Breakfast - Mini Spinach & Onion Frittatas
Lunch - Lentil Meatballs with Almond-Lemon-Basil Pesto & Greens
Dinner - Grilled Chicken with Rosemary & Garlic Borlotti Beans and Carrot Avocado Salad

Breakfast - Smoothies & Failed Attempt at Juicing
Lunch - Grilled Mahi Mahi with Grapefruit Salsa
Dinner - Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Asparagus, and Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Pomegranate

Breakfast - Flax Seed & Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Blueberries
Lunch - Leftover Lentil Meatballs with Almond-Lemon-Basil Pesto & Greens
Dinner - Grilled Chicken Chili

Breakfast - Flax Seed & Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Blueberries
Lunch - Leftover Lentil Meatballs with Almond-Lemon-Basil Pesto & Greens
Dinner - Roasted Kale & Coconut with Farro

Breakfast - Flax Seed & Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Blueberries
Lunch - Vegetable Farro Salad
Dinner - Leftover Grilled Chicken Chili

**A full list of healthy recipes (not all follow the cleanse standards) can be found here.**

Thursday, January 16

Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Pomegranate

Simple greens are topped with crispy quinoa, crunchy hazelnuts, and juicy pom seeds

Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa and Pomegranate

Salad recipes are not my strong suit. We eat a simple green salad most nights a week, but it's generally an afterthought. My go-to lemon-shallot vinaigrette gets tossed with whatever greens we have on hand, a sprinkle of parmesan, and maybe a handful of croutons if I'm really planning ahead. It's tasty, and healthy, and never requires a trip to the store, which allows me to focus most of my cooking time on a show-stopping main course.

One of the changes we're making on our healthy eating cleanse is to focus more on the nutrient-packed side dishes and less on the (generally meat- or pasta-centric) main course - which is why I finally got around to trying this salad from Sprouted Kitchen that has been on my list for about a year. It's a fairly basic recipe with a few exciting twists that makes it stand out: a slightly-creamy lemon yogurt dressing, two types of winter lettuce, nuts, fruit, and crispy quinoa. The key is lots of crunch from the crispy grain, chopped hazelnuts, and juicy pomegranate seeds. My husband fell in love with the yogurt dressing (I personally prefer mine to be a little more acidic and savory) and took the generous leftover amount to work to use on salad bar salads all week. My favorite part was the crispy quinoa, which is a genius way to use up any leftover quinoa you might have in the house and is going to become a standard topping in the future. Just beware of the crispy-chewy crunch - a piece got lodged in between my teeth and I frantically tried flossing it out for the next ten minutes.

Related Recipes:

Butter Lettuce & Arugula Salad with Crispy Quinoa, Pomegranate Seeds, & Hazelnuts:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 1/4 c. lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/3 c. Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. honey, 1 tsp. dried Italian herbs, 1 tsp. salt, and a large pinch of pepper until smooth.
  • Slowly whisk in 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and check for seasoning.
  • Set aside. Dressing can also keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.
For Salad
  • Simmer 1/2 c. quinoa with 3/4 c. salted water for 15 minutes, or until tender and all the water is absorbed.*
  • Heat 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil** in a skillet until very hot and add in the cooked quinoa.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa pops and sizzles and turns crispy, about 5 minutes. LEt cool in the pan.
  • Remove the core from 1 head of butter lettuce and tear the leaves into large pieces.
  • Toss the butter lettuce and a few cups of baby arugula with some of the dressing and a little freshly cracked pepper and then mound onto a plate.
  • Sprinkle the crispy quinoa on top, along with 1/2 c. chopped toasted hazelnuts and the 1/2 c. pomegranate seeds.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy.

Serves two (light meal)
Serves four (side dish)

*Quinoa needs to be very dry or it will not get crispy. This is also a great way to use leftover cooked quinoa.
**Or any other oil you like.

Wednesday, January 15

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Grapefruit & Avocado Salsa

Simple grilled fish gets topped with a bright winter citrus and avocado salsa

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Grapefruit Avocado Salsa

One of the struggles with our healthy eating cleanse is that I'm in the midst of reading all my new cookbooks and have been drooling over recipes that seem to feature every single ingredient that I'm trying to avoid right now. I'd already tried out some recipes from The A.O.C. Cookbook before the cleanse kicked off (like this orange and avocado salad and these bacon-wrapped dates) but had to put the book down once I got to her incredible and decadent meat section. This grilled fish dish is actually inspired by a crudo recipe in the book, but since I'm still working up the courage to try a raw fish recipe at home, I adapted and simplified it significantly. The star here is the grapefruit and avocado salsa, which adds a significant amount of acidity and heat to the meaty grilled fish. The dish has a light summery quality to it, but all the ingredients are actually at their peak in the winter. It's a fresh, healthy way to enjoy fish and fresh produce until the weather warms up.

Related Recipes:

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Grapefruit & Avocado Salsa:
For Salsa
  • Slice the top and bottom off of a grapefruit,* then cut off the peel and pith. Working over a bowl, use a pairing knife to slice in between the membrane of each section to remove all the grapefruit segments.
  • All the segments and a little juice should be left in the bowl. Pick out any seeds, and if you have more than 1 tbsp. of juice, strain it off.** Cut each grapefruit segment in half.
  • Add the juice of 1/2 lime and a large pinch of salt to the grapefruit and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Whisk in 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, then stir in 1 finely diced small Persian cucumber, 1 finely diced ripe avocado, and 1 tbsp. minced fresh jalapeno.
  • Check for seasoning and set aside.
For Fish
  • Season both sides of two 6 oz. mahi mahi fillets each with 1 tbsp. grapefruit zest and 1 tbsp. minced cilantro. Ideally, let sit in the fridge for a few hours, then bring to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat and brush each peice of fish with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Cook fish for 4-5 minutes, or until dark grill marks form and fish loosens from the grill, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until fish is just slightly translucent in the center.
  • Let fish rest for a few minutes (fish will continue to cook slightly as it rests) then top with salsa and serve.

Serves two, with some salsa left over
*I used an Oro Blanco, but any type of grapefruit will do.
**I like to squeeze the remaining grapefruit juice in an empty cup and drink it up.

Lentil "Meatballs" with Basil-Almond-Lemon Pesto

You won't miss the meat with these protein-packed lentil balls and tangy pesto

Lentil Meatballs with Basil Almond Lemon Pesto

We decided to go easy on the cleanse-worthy eating over the weekend so that I could make these lentil "meatballs" from Sprouted Kitchen. While undoubtedly still a healthy, protein-packed meal, these do contain a little bit of cheese and breadcrumbs (as every good meatball recipe should). Unsurprisingly, this meal was my favorite thing that I've eaten lately. The pureed lentils really do have a meaty texture but manage to stay tender and moist while baked. I like to serve them more like quinoa cakes: with an herby sauce and lots of baby greens on top. You could easily treat them just like meatballs, though, and toss with tomato sauce and pasta. Leftovers lose a little bit of their crunchy crust but make a delicious and portable snacks or lunch.

Related Recipes:
- Chicken & Prosciutto Meatballs
- Parmesan & Herb Quinoa Cakes
- Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Lentil "Meatballs" with Basil-Almond-Lemon Pesto:
For Pesto
  • Combine 6 oz. fresh basil leaves, heaping 1/4 c. toasted almonds,* the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, and 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese in a food processor. Add in a pinch of salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.
  • Stream in 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil until a sauce forms. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. If you want the sauce thinner, add in a little water.
For "Meatballs"
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Pulse 3 c. of cooked black lentils** in a food processor until a kind of chunky paste forms (most of the lentils should be completely pureed but some should be mostly intact).
  • Scrape the lentils into a large mixing bowl and add in 3 beaten eggs, scant 1 c. panko breadcrumbs, 1 1/4 c. ricotta cheese, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp. minced parsley, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 2 tsp. dried Italian herbs and stir to combine.
  • Roll the lentil mixture into 1" balls and place on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet - you should get about 2 dozen meatballs.
  • Lightly brush each ball with olive oil and transfer to the oven.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, then gently flip each ball over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • To serve, put a few spoonfuls of pesto on the bottom of a plate, top with meatballs, dollop each ball with more pesto, and sprinkle with a handful of baby arugula.

Serves six
*Add raw almonds to a dry pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, or until nuts smell toasty.
**I used 1 c. of dried lentils that I covered in water and cooked for 20 minutes, or until tender. Can substitute with other firm whole lentils, such as green or du Puy.

Tuesday, January 14

Mini Spinach & Onion Frittatas

These healthy frittatas are baked in a muffin tin to become bite-size and portable

Mini Spinach Onion Frittatas

These little frittatas have been one of our saving graces during our healthy eating cleanse. Portion control can be a problem for us because we're a small family and I cook so often that we always have too much food around. Instead of making a large frittata in a skillet, these minis are baked in muffin tins for perfect small portions. Two or three make a breakfast serving and any leftovers can easily be reheated for a quick breakfast later in the week or as an afternoon snack to curb hunger pains. This light frittata is packed with spinach and sweet onions and uses a blend of half whole eggs and half egg whites for less fat and more protein. If we weren't avoiding cheese, a little sprinkle of feta or chevre goat cheese would be a nice addition, but this same cooking technique can be applied to any frittata recipe you like.

More Frittata Recipes:
- Brussels Sprout & Cheddar Frittata
- Tricolore Frittata with Warm Cherry Tomatoes
- French Potato Omelette

Mini Spinach & Onion Frittatas:
  • Preheat an oven to 400F.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in 1 chopped onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until softened and starting to turn translucent.
  • Add in 6 oz. baby spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let spinach mixture cool slightly.
  • While mixture is cooling, combine 5 eggs with 5 egg whites in a mixing bowl.
  • Add in a generous pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of red chili flakes, and a splash of low-fat milk.*
  • Whisk the eggs until pale yellow and bubbles start to form on the surface.
  • Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray and divide the spinach mixture among each cup (it should be enough to fill each cup about halfway).
  • Pour the eggs on top of the spinach mixture in each to fill each cup about 3/4.
  • Bake the frittatas for 15 minutes, or until no longer jiggly in the center.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then gently pull the frittatas out of the muffin tin.**
  • Top each frittata with a sprinkle of minced parsley and serve.***

Serves four-six
*Optional, but I like the creamy texture that milk adds to the eggs.
**They should come out easily if the tin is properly greased. You can use a butter knife to help take them out, too.
***My husband likes to store the leftovers in the fridge and then microwave a few on busy weekday mornings.

Monday, January 13

Parmesan-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

A sweet and salty appetizer that your guests will love

Parmesan Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates AOC

I love bacon. But when the bacon-wrapped everything trend was at its culinary peak, I got sick of it showing up in dishes it shouldn't. Some foods truly aren't better with bacon, but these bacon-wrapped parmesan-stuffed dates (recipe taken from The A.O.C. Cookbook) sure taste delicious. I usually find dates a little cloying, but the savory cheese and smoky bacon play off the date's sweetness and form a perfect balance. The recipe couldn't be simpler: just stuff pitted dates with a little chunk of Parmesan and then wrapped them up in a thin piece of bacon. I actually think it's really fun to sit around and make these and even recruited my husband (who usually only steps foot in the kitchen to grab a beer from the fridge or wash dishes) to help out. This would be a great project to get kids in on, too. The dates can easily be prepped hours before a party, stored in the fridge, and then popped into the oven after guests arrive. We served these as part of our New Year's small plates feast and they were gone within minutes.

More Appetizer Recipes:
- Mozzarella & Italian Sausage Queso Dip
- Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini
- Baked Potato Bites

Parmesan-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates:
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Cut a small block of Parmesan cheese into matchstick-sized pieces and stuff a piece of cheese into each center of 24 pitted dates. Squeeze the opening of the dates closed.
  • Cut 12 thin slices of bacon in half so that you have 24 pieces.*
  • Tightly wrap a piece of the bacon around each date and place seam-side down on a baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and cheese has melted.
  • Let cool slightly, then arrange on a platter and serve.

Serves five-six
*The bacon must be thin or it won't get crispy. Lightly stretching the bacon before you wrap the date in it will help.

Friday, January 10

Healthy Eating Cleanse

Going on a cleanse doesn't have to mean a week of drinking green juice

My husband and I are doing our second annual healthy eating cleanse. So this week, while I've been posting waffles and things covered in parmesan, I've actually been sticking to a diet based on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. The idea behind the cleanse is not to starve ourselves or drink green juices every day for a week (although we're thinking of experimenting with one this weekend...stay tuned), but to bulk up on healthy organic foods while avoiding some of our common indulgences - refined flours, most dairy, booze, and other completely delicious items. For some meals, it's been easy and unnoticeable to stick to the cleanse and at other times I have cravings for cheese and bread that turn into cursing and anger.

My husband is the most positively affected by the cleanse (as most men are quick to see results by such changes), and has already dropped a few pounds since the beginning of the week. Personally, I'm not sold on having to avoid any specific category of food for an extended period of time and think that we generally eat healthy, well-balanced meals year-round, but the cleanse has given me a chance to be creative with meal planning and to reset my body and palate going into 2014. I'd recommend this idea to anyone who wants a fresh, healthy start on the new year or who is interested in trying to make nutritious recipes at home - just make sure to adjust the guidelines to fit your lifestyle and personal tastes.

Click here to see details from last year's healthy eating cleanse.

Kitchen Sink Diaries' Healthy Eating Cleanse:
Breakfast - Mini Spinach & Onion Frittatas
Lunch - Winter Vegetable Minestrone (sadly, without the shower of parmesan cheese)
Dinner - Grilled Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon with Grilled Lemons and Steamed Green Beans

Breakfast - Flax Seed Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Fresh Blueberries
Lunch - Winter Vegetable Minestrone
Dinner - Orange Chicken & Snap Pea Stir-Fry

Breakfast - Flax Seed Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Fresh Blueberries
Lunch - Leftover Orange Chicken & Snap Pea Stir-Fry
Dinner - Garlic & Rosemary Borlotti Beans with Sauteed Garlicky Kale

Breakfast - Flax Seed Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Fresh Blueberries
Lunch - Leftover Garlic & Rosemary Borlotti Beans with Sauteed Garlicky Kale
Dinner - Quinoa, Butternut Squash, & Baby Kale Salad

Breakfast - Flax Seed Almond Granola with Low-Fat Greek Yogurt and Fresh Blueberries
Lunch - Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad
Dinner - Grilled Flank Steak, Roasted Broccoli, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

**A full list of healthy recipes (not all follow the cleanse standards) can be found here.**

Thursday, January 9

Borlotti Beans on Garlic Toast

Tender borlotti (cranberry) beans are the perfect compliment to good, crusty bread

Borlotti Beans on Garlic Toast

Beans on toast might seem like boring peasant food, but this recipe will change your mind. Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, are sweeter and creamier than other varieties. Simmering the dried beans with fresh garlic and rosemary imparts a ton of flavor during cooking and finishing them with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil adds richness. I'm lazy about doing any steps that require things to "sit overnight", so I just put the dried beans directly into a pot without soaking them first. This will add to the cooking time, but I was still able to make perfectly tender beans in about 90 minutes. The borlottis are a nice alternative from the more typical black, pinto, or white beans, and can be served as a side dish along grilled or roasted meat, add body to soups or stews, or make a great snack. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is on top of an olive oil and garlic-rubbed crouton. The crunch of the bread compliments the tenderness of the beans and makes a delicious snack or light meal. A handful of baby greens on top would be a nice addition, too.

Related Recipes:
- Slow-Cooked Black Beans
- Fava Bean Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs
- Bean, Cheese, & Avocado Tostadas with Fried Eggs

Garlic & Rosemary Borlotti (Cranberry) Beans on Garlic Toast:
  • Rinse 1 lb. of dried borlotti beans (also called cranberry beans) and place in a large heavy pot. Cover with cold water by 2-3 inches.
  • Add in 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and 2 cloves of whole peeled garlic.
  • Bring the pot to a light boil, then lower to very low simmer and cover with a lid.
  • Let the beans cook for 1-2 hours*, or until tender but still slightly al dente. Stir in a few good pinches of salt and taste for seasoning.
  • Once beans are cooked, slice a baguette into rounds and toast a couple slices until golden.
  • Immediately rub the toast with a clove of garlic and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Use a slotted spoon to spoon some of the beans on top of the toast, then add another drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of flaked sea salt.
Serves ten - twelve (beans)
*Depending on the brand of bean you used and whether or not they were soaked before.

Wednesday, January 8

Winter Vegetable Minestrone

A winter spin on the classic Italian vegetable soup

Winter Vegetable Minestrone

January really epitomizes winter for me. The days are short, the weather is cold, and I generally like to stay at home in something cozy as often as possible. In other words, it's an ideal soup month. This minestrone is a hearty winter take on the classic Italian vegetable soup that's inspired by similar recipes I saw from the Barefoot Contessa, Giada DeLaurentiis, and Martha Stewart. It's full of big sturdy vegetables - carrots, kale, butternut squash, and others - and studded with tender borlotti beans. It's not a brothy soup (the tomatoey stock is delicious, though), but more of a chunky vegetable and bean stew. The minestrone is filling enough to stand alone as a meal, although a nice piece of garlic-rubbed toast is an excellent addition. Leftovers keep well but the broth tends to thicken up slightly as it sits in the fridge.

Related Recipes:
- Minestrone with Cheese Tortellini & Pesto
- Lentil, Sausage, & Kale Soup
- Tomato Soup

Winter Vegetable Minestrone:
  • Largely dice 3 stalks of celery, 3-4 carrots, 1 small butternut squash, 1 large Yukon Gold potato, and 1 yellow onion.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add in the vegetables and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add in 3 cloves of minced garlic during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
  • Pour in 6 c. of vegetable or chicken stock and 12 oz. of canned crushed tomatoes and stir the bottom of the pot to scrape any brown bits.
  • Add in the rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese* and bring to a heavy simmer.
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, then remove the Parmesan rind.
  • Remove the ribs from 1 bunch of Tuscan kale and then thinly slice it into ribbons.
  • Stir the kale and 2 1/2 c. cooked beans** into the soup.
  • Cook for 2 minutes, or until kale has wilted, then check seasonings and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves six
*I keep old Parmesan rinds in the freezer. They add a great salty umami flavor to soups.
**I used cooked borlotti beans (also known as cranberry beans), but cannellini beans would work well too.

Tuesday, January 7

Lazy Weekend Waffles

Easy homemade waffles are the perfect way to start your morning

Lazy Weekend Waffles

I bought a waffle iron shortly after I started dating my husband and they've become one of our favorite breakfast foods. I have so many fond memories of lazy weekend mornings spent over waffles - waking up, playing some happy music, popping a tray of bacon in the oven, and whipping up this batter. These waffles aren't fancy but they come out fluffy and a little crispy on the edges and are the perfect way to start off a weekend morning. Because the waffles have to be prepared individually, they really aren't good for a crowd.* It's the intimacy of this dish that makes it. The ritual of spending time together in the kitchen, sipping orange juice while we wait for the iron to finish cooking the next waffle, and cutting the first one in half so we can each have a taste while the next batch cooks. We got a little fancy last time we had them and made some warm strawberries to go on top, but I like them best with a pat of butter and pure maple syrup.

*Note: If you insist on serving these for a group, you can cook a full batch of waffles and keep them in a warm oven before serving.

Related Recipes:

Lazy Weekend Waffles:
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together 2 c. all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and 1/4 c. sugar until pale yellow.
  • Add in 2 c. milk, 4 tbsp. melted butter, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
  • Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to remove any lumps.
  • Heat your waffle iron until hot and spray the mold with non-stick spray.
  • Pour some batter into the mold and cook according to your iron's specifications.
  • Gently remove the waffle from the iron and repeat until all waffles are cooked.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup, butter, etc.

Makes five-six waffles*
*In my waffle iron. You may get more or less waffles depending on the size of your waffle iron.

Monday, January 6

How To: Roast Vegetables in the Oven

The foolproof method for perfectly roasting vegetables in the oven

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Perfectly roasted vegetables are one of my go-to recipes during the week because they're so simple and can be used in endless ways. Once you master the method of roasting one type of vegetable in a hot oven, you can easily use the same technique on any other vegetable that you like and just adjust the cooking time as needed. The key is making sure that all vegetables are the same size and that your oven is very hot. This ensures that everything is done at the same time and that the vegetables get crunchy and browned in some areas. The difference between steamed or blanched broccoli and roasted broccoli is incredible - the high heat from the oven adds a toasty, nutty flavor to the florets that can't be achieved with other methods. Serve the vegetables on their own for a quick and healthy side dish or turn them into a vegetarian meal with just a few extra steps.

Ideas for Turning Roasted Vegetables Into a Meal:
- Fold into tortillas and top with cheese and salsa for quick vegetable tacos.
- Toss with a hearty grain like quinoa or farro for a substantial lunch salad like this and this.
- Stir them into pasta sauce and serve over whole-wheat noodles for an easy pasta primavera.

Perfect Oven-Roasted Vegetables:
  • Preheat your oven to 425F.
  • Chop vegetables into uniform bite-size pieces.*
  • Toss each bunch of vegetables with 2 tbsp. olive oil and generous sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.**
  • Roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until tender and browned in some areas.

Serves two-four (side dish per bunch of vegetables)
*Smaller vegetables, such as asparagus spears and baby carrots, can be left whole.
**Do not crowd vegetables on the sheet or they will steam instead of getting brown.

Cooking time varies by vegetables.
- Broccoli and cauliflower florets, halved brussels sprouts, and similar vegetables generally take 8-10 minutes.
- Thin asparagus, small carrots, and other long skinny vegetables can take as little as 5 minutes.
- Diced potatoes and winter squash can take 20-30 minutes or longer, depending on size.
- Eggplant and summer squash usually take 10-15 minutes.

Friday, January 3

Three Year Blogversary

Celebrating three years of Kitchen Sink Diaries!

I started this blog as a resolution of sorts at the beginning of January 2011. Three years and over 600 recipes later, KSD has chronicled all my major life changes: from engagement to marriage, to new jobs and new homes, to unforgettable trips around the world. I've grown so much as a cook over this time and really pushed myself to try new things, expand my palate, and come up with recipes that my friends and family can recreate at home.

In the spirit of continued growth, I've made some recent improvements to Kitchen Sink Diaries so that my recipes are easier to find, share, and cook. A full list of my categorized recipes can be found here, with alphabetical lists and chronological posts available for most (and soon, all) recipe categories. All images are now shareable on Pinterest as well. Stay tuned for even more improvements coming soon and don't hesitate to reach out to me directly through comments, Facebook, or Twitter for recipe ideas, tips, and feedback. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 2

Healthy Recipes for the New Year

Easy and delicious recipes to lend a healthy start to the New Year

Every New Year there are two types of people: those who make New Year's resolutions and those who hate the (somewhat cliche) idea of jumping on the bandwagon. I personally like the idea of resolutions, although I generally opt for more personal and attainable goals rather than the typical "join a gym and work out three days a week" ambitions. Healthy eating is always something that we try to focus on this time of year, not as a resolution per se, but as a way a to detox from the Thanksgiving through New Year's stretch of indulgent eating and drinking. We do the same thing throughout the year whenever we go on a binge during vacations, birthdays, or for whatever reason. Here are some of my favorite easy recipes to set me back on track.

Click here to see last year's healthy New Year's recipes.

Favorite Healthy Recipes:

*You can find a full list of my healthy recipes here.