Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup – ★★★★★

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Kale, the superfood we are all told we should eat. Am I the only one who can not stomach getting a raw, firm and chewy piece of kale down? As much as I would love to be that woman who sits at a cafe and somehow manages to daintily eat an entirely kale salad and sip on green juice I know I will never be that kind of lady. No offense to those brave women who can do it, I am envious and wish I had your determination! That said, I want to set an example for my boys and try to get some superfoods into our diet. This soup is very kale heavy but it doesn’t have the raw chewy texture. The sausage really rounds out this soup and the beans are the perfect protein filler. We shared this soup with friends and it was a hit all around. (UPDATE: It is now 2017 and this has become our winter soup. I make a massive pot of it every other week. SO yummy and so good for your soul!)

Serves: 8     Calories: 298 per serving     Time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, we used sweet Italian
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock, divided
  • 1 bunch of kale, tough stems removed and chopped or torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese/ crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Place a large pan over medium heat. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in pot and add sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned. Remove sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Pour the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the pot, and add minced garlic. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds, or until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Pour 5 cups chicken broth/stock into pot and stir in kale, bay leaf, and garlic powder. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Place about 1/3 of the drained beans in a blender or food processor along with the remaining 1 cup broth. Blend until smooth.
  5. Once kale is tender, add beans, broth/beans mixture, and browned sausage to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir and simmer for a few minutes until heated through. Remove bay leaf before serving.
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo/video are originals belonging to me 

*Recipe adapted from http://www.fivehearthome.com

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Lemon and Blueberry Sweet Rolls

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This past Easter my sister-in-law hosted a beautiful brunch for the family. I volunteered to step out of my comfort zone and bake. When I say I can’t bake I mean that I cannot even slice and bake a Pillsbury cookie roll. So, when I saw the millions of recipes on pintrest I took on the challenge and whipped up some gooey and delicious lemon blueberry sweet rolls. These were a hit! I will admit that the process was time-consuming and my anxiety levels were high (because I ruin everything I bake), but I pulled it off. I know it sounds cliché but if I can do it anyone can. I would describe the taste as sweet and fresh. The blueberries explode in your mouth as you chew and the lemon glaze adds a creamy yet tangy bite to a perfect finish

Serves: 12    

Calories: 206 per roll    

Time: Prep and rise time: up to 3 hours 20 minutes ; Baking time: 30 minutes – Total time approx 4 hours

Ingredients for Dough:

  • 2 + 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 packet of instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 + 1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

Ingredients for Blueberry Filling:

  • 1 + 1/3 cups of frozen blueberries, must be frozen
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Ingredients for Lemon Glaze:

  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

Directions : SAVE YOURSELVES FROM PANIC AND MAKE SURE BLUEBERRIES ARE FROZEN, BUTTER IS UNSALTED AND THE EGG IS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. 

  1. Combine the ingredients for the filling. Gently toss to coat and let sit while preparing the dough.
  2. Begin preparing the dough. Measure out 1/2 cup of flour and set aside. In a large bowl combine the remaining flour, sugar, salt and yeast until evenly dispersed. Set aside.
  3. Heat the water, milk and butter together in the microwave in 30 second intervals until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot to the touch. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg, don’t forget this egg must be at room temperature, and only enough of the reserved 1/2 cup of flour to make a soft dough. You will know the dough is ready when it gently pulls away from the bowl and has an elastic consistency.
  4. On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for 5 minutes. Place dough ball into a clean and lightly greased bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes as passed, roll the dough out in a 14×8 inch rectangle. Pour the blueberry filling mixture over the dough and gently spread the filling to cover the dough. Spritz your fingers with nonstick spray and roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 12 pieces and place into a lightly greased pan (I used a rectangular aluminum pan so I could take it to my sister-in-law’s house but). Cover the pan with foil and allow to rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
  6. Once the rolls have doubled in size preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Bake rolls for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  8. Prepare the glaze by mixing the glaze ingredients together until smooth.
  9. Glaze the rolls immediately before serving.
  10. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com

Italian Baked Sausage and Pasta – ★★★★✩

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This recipe had me at pasta and sausage. Who doesn’t love an Italian style bake?! It’s easy and IT’S DELICIOUS! This one seems like it has a lot of steps but it’s actually pretty effortless. I was impressed with how nicely each step came together and even more impressed with how crazy my children could get when I had 10 minutes between steps to rest.. Cooking with kids in the house is no easy feat, which is why I really enjoy these types of recipes that give me short bursts of time to give them some attention. The only thing that turned Perry off a bit was how this pasta dish reheated the next day for lunch. I will let him explain it in his rating/review, but I believe what happened to him is because of microwave user error. I did not have the experience he did but that might be because I heated mine up in the oven. I found it to be wonderfully creamy as a left over.

“When Kels first served this it was awesome. The pasta was perfect, the sausage was savory, the tomatoes were sweet/tangy and the sauce was creamy. What happened the following day is the reason I am giving this one four stars. Don’t get me wrong it was still delicious, but the texture changed which threw me off. It was so creamy the night before that I was a little disappointed when it took on a grainy ricotta texture after being reheated. I still enjoyed it but be informed that when you make this the leftovers might take on a new identity. I would definitely eat this again even as a left over!”

Serves: 6     Calories: 400 per serving    Time: 1 hour 20 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 lb Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 6 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato pasta sauce, we used a sweet basil variation
  • 1 container plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk, we used 1%
  • 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, we used reduced fat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta. You don’t want it to be cooked completely because you are going to bake it. You still want a little crunch when you strain it. (DON’T STRAIN UNTIL YOU READ STEP # 6)
  3. Spray a large pan with cooking spray and cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through/browned (approximately 15 minutes).
  4. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Turn off heat, remove sausages, and scrape what sauce and garlic is left in the pan into a bowl.
  5. Slice the sausage into bite-sized disks.
  6. Place the spinach in the bottom of your strainer. When pasta is done, pour pasta and pasta water over the spinach allowing the spinach to wilt.
  7. Pour pasta, sausage, spinach, and tomatoes into bowl with the garlic.
  8. Add tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, 1 cup of the cheese, and spices. Mix very well.
  9. Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover dish with foil.
  10. Cook for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
*Photo is an original belonging to me
*Recipe adapted from http://www.taylormadebytaylorbee.com/

Strawberry Poppyseed Chopped Salad – ★★★★★

11245474_10206328951400762_8669713775474277550_n11037467_10206328589191707_8662961639056008097_nWe don’t eat enough vegetables. There, I said it! I am a glutton for carbs and we have really been slacking in the vegetable section of the food pyramid. To change that we are doing chopped salads for dinner a few nights a week. Not only is this giving us the nutrients we are lacking but it is also SO easy to make. Dressing up a salad (with good nutritious things) really makes a difference, and makes it much less daunting to eat “just a salad.” Today I give you a great summer chopped salad that not only filled my tummy but tasted amazing. Who knew it could be so tasty getting your five a day 🙂 Perry gave this one five stars and this is why:

I am a carnivore. I enjoy meaty meals. Kelsey came at me with this “let’s eat salad” full force and, lets just say, I was not thrilled one bit. When I am told that I’m getting salad for dinner I think about a house salad you usually get with the main course. I should have known Kelsey had more up her sleeves. This salad is not your typical house salad. I will admit that the color of the dressing threw me off at first but when I took a bite my opinion completely changed. The dressing is sweet, tangy and savory if you can believe it. The salad itself was all about the toppings. The strawberries, I assume, are standard but the cheese and bacon…. They bring this salad to a new level! There is a lot of texture and flavor going on. I was left satisfied all around and give 5 stars. “

Serves: 6     Calories: 375     Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 8 cups chopped hearts of romaine, or any other lettuce you love
  • 2 cups of fresh strawberries, halved
  • 8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, we used the reduced fat option
  • sprinkling of dressing

Ingredients for Dressing:

  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds

Directions:

  1. Place all dressing ingredients except the poppyseeds in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Once combined stir in poppyseeds.
  2. Place a bed of lettuce on plate and top with strawberries, bacon crumbles, onion and feta cheese.
  3. Drizzle salad dressing over the plate.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

*Photos are original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://lecremedelacrumb.com