I am all about making meals that can carry over to the next day, and even the following (and the one after that if we are being honest). Between what often feels like unsuccessful attempts to balance two careers and two little ones, the days are over before I know it and cooking ends up falling off the “things I hope I can do today” list. Whatever I make needs to be relatively easy and low on ingredients. I came across this salad while perusing one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen. I have made many things from the Smitten Kitchen recipe cache and THEY ARE ALL AMAZING!!!
Think of this salad as a charcuterie plate over iceberg lettuce. Or, as Smitten Kitchen described it, an Italian sub with all the fixins. YES PLEASE! It is filling so it’s not one of those wimpy dinner salads where I’ll be hungry 20 minutes later and foraging through the pantry. BONUS, I prepped all the ingredients before and then stored them separately in the fridge for easy leftovers. Super low key and a big time saver. As a side note, the oregano vinaigrette slays and is worth making just to have on hand in the fridge.
ITALIAN CHOPPED SALAD
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/06/nancys-chopped-salad/
INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS:
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, ideally extra-virgin
Chop the garlic and the oregano. Place all the dry ingredients in a mortar and pestle to combine into a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, try using a fork to mash the ingredients together. And if you don’t want to fool with this step, that’s fine too. Place the dry ingredient mixture in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until combined.
Salad and assembly
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into paper-thin rings
1/2 pound provolone, sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
1/2 pound salami, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
4 medium or 8 small pickled pepperoncini, sliced into rings
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 head iceberg lettuce, halved, cored, and cut in 1/2-inch ribbons
1 head radicchio, halved, cored and cut in 1/4-inch ribbons (NOTE: my grocery store did not have radicchio and the salad was still good without it)
2 tablespoons dried oregano for garnish (optional)
To make the salad, add the dressing to the lettuce and radicchio and massage until combined. Do not add all the dressing at once, as you may not need all of it. No one likes soggy lettuce. Next, add the chickpeas, red onion, provolone cheese, salami, pepperoncini and tomatoes to the lettuce. Combine. If you like, top with a bit of fresh oregano. You can either make one large salad, or individual servings.
Kitchen Playlist -
Waste, Foster the People
Heavy Dirty Soul, Twenty One Pilot
Young Folks, Peter Bjorn and John
Delicate, Taylor Swift
Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare), Kid Cudi
Hey Hey! We hope everyone had a good weekend. How are we in a good mood on a Monday morning? Coffee. Coffee. And more coffee. But really, and most importantly, we get to share this DIVINE recipe with y'all from one of our favorite restaurants, Bottega, located in Birmingham, Alabama.
Bottega is owned by Frank Stitt, a legendary and nationally recognized chef and restaurateur. Mr. Stitt was doing the slow food and locally sourced thing before either were a "thing." He develops and cultivates relationships with regional farmers so you know you are only getting the best when you go to one of his restaurants. And if you can't get to Bottega, Highlands Bar & Grill, or Chez Fon Fon, then you have one of his cookbooks, Bottega Favorita, to turn to.
Before I get to the Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers, let's address a social media trend. We know, this is a total Larry David moment.
Our Insta feed is basically an overload of curated toast pictures from lifestyle and food bloggers. Does anyone else find this so so strange? It’s toast. The same toast people avoided like the plague not too long ago because…carbs. But now, toast is a thing? Toast is cool. Toast has a good vibe. Toast is hip. Whatever. Maybe we have aged out of trendy toast eating.
Toast. Really? Curated and styled toast. Are y’all with me over how ridiculous this is?
We are going to let you in on a little secret. Here at PopKitty Kitchen, we are NOT into trendy recipes. We are into recipes that are TIMELESS and DELICIOUS. If you are familiar with Frank Stitt, then you know this recipe can ONLY BE timeless.
Here is what you’ll need:
2 large red or yellow bell peppers oz goat cheese
Handful of basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (I used three “stalks”)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup yellow raisins, plumped for about 10 minutes in hot water and drained
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I used storebought because I was short on time, but the recommendation is to use fresh)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive-oil
Preheat the oven to 475
Roast the red peppers in the oven until each side is charred. This will probably take 20 – 30 minutes total. Once one side is charred, rotate the pepper to char the next side, and so on. When finished, place the peppers in either 1) a baking dish covered with aluminum foil OR 2) a paper bag (grocery bag is good) and roll the bag down so that no air can escape. The point with either method is to allow the peppers to “steam” which softens the skin. Let the peppers cool and peel off the charred skin. If you don’t remove all of the skin, that is fine. Some char is good and adds flavor and texture.
Cut each pepper down the middle, long ways, and remove the insides. Salt and pepper each inside. Spread even layers of goat cheese on each side. The more the better. There is no such thing as too much goat cheese, especially when it is baked and soft and gooey.
Sprinkle the raisins, pine nuts and basil on top of the goat cheese and evenly among the peppers. (Admittedly, I forgot to buy the pine nuts and this was still amazing without them.)
Fold over the peppers. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with the breadcrumbs.
Place the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet or oven proof skillet. I used a Le Creuset Cast-Iron Skillet which worked perfectly. Bake for 10 minutes or so, until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the goat cheese is melted.
Serves 2 as a heavy appetizer.
Chandler & Cathryn
As PopKitty Kitchen is in its very early stage, I’m thinking that we will fill you guys in on who we are and what we are about as these posts evolve. It seems daunting (and unrealistic) to describe ourselves in just one post or a small “About Me” section. This stage of life is best described as BUSY! I am a mom to two little ones (2 ½ year old boy and 8 month old girl), a wife to an extremely talented and smart legal eagle (who works long hours, as expected), and I work for a large corporation as part of its in-house legal team. To be completely open, on “easy” days it feels like we are treading water. It is the norm to find ourselves on nightly runs to CVS because we’re out of diapers/wipes/formula/milk. Our dogs have found themselves firmly in positions 3 and 4, and they are not happy about it. We haven’t slept past 6:30 am in years. Publix delivery has been a life saver.
I say all this as a lead in to this recipe post of Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Indian Spiced Chicken. If I am going to make something, it has to last for more than one meal. When the pediatrician recently asked me how often we eat at the table as a family, it was a challenge to suppress my look of “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I WISH!” However, I do really try to have a healthy meal prepared in advance so that David and I can at least sit down and eat together once the kids have gone to bed. After a few nights of starting dinner around 8:00 during the week, I quickly realized that I needed to plan better and have something on hand that could be reheated and still taste great.
This coconut quinoa was inspired by one of my favorite meals at a local restaurant, the Wicked Hen. They serve a vegetarian quinoa that is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I love it. I could eat it every day and be completely happy. I haven’t quite figured out how Wicked Hen makes their quinoa, but it is definitely cooked in coconut milk. So, this is where I started and plan to do so in the future.
For the chicken, I just threw the spices together that I used for the quinoa it was surprisingly AMAZING. Honestly, I thought the chicken was going to be a fail because I forgot to put it in the oven until the quinoa was almost finished and we were approaching 9:00 pm on a Wednesday. (Above I said that I “tried” to have a meal prepared in advance. That does not mean I actually have my life together and can do so.) And, I apologize this post is light on pictures. I was in a hurry and completely forgot to document the process once I started cooking.
Here is what you'll need:
1 head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 large chicken breasts
1 cup quinoa (I used red)
Medium sweet onion
14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp ground ginger (separated)
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp ground turmeric (separated)
2 Tbs ground curry powder (separated) (curry paste would be good as well, but I had curry powder in the pantry. I may try curry paste next time to see if there is a big difference.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower
Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Toss in 2 Tbs of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet (I always line with foil to make clean-up easier) and roast on 425 for about 40 minutes, or until the edges get toasty.
Indian Spiced Chicken
Combine 1 Tbs ginger, 1 Tbs curry powder and 1 Tbs turmeric. In a baking dish, drizzle about 1 – 2 Tbs olive oil. Dredge the chicken through the olive oil on both sides. Coat the top of each chicken breast with the spices. Bake on 350 for about 20 minutes or until done.
Dice the onion into small pieces. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pot and add onion. Cook until slightly translucent and starting to soften. Add the quinoa and spices and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in coconut milk and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let the quinoa sit to thicken, about 5 minutes.
In the same pot, fold in the roasted broccoli and cauliflower, along with any remaining olive oil, until mixed evenly. If the pot is not large enough, a separate bowl is fine. But who’s trying to unnecessarily dirty dishes that will need to be cleaned? Not me!
To plate, place the Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables as the base and top with the chicken. Enjoy!
Lunch the next day with a simple arugula side salad.
NOTE: I don’t want to fool any of our readers that have toddlers as well, so I will go ahead and say that our 2 ½ year old could be starving and he would not eat quinoa or cauliflower or broccoli. Right now, his diet primarily consists of “chick-a-lay,” but I’m hoping one day we will get to a better place with his eating habits.
I am a huge gumbo fan. If a restaurant has gumbo on their menu, I order it so that I can critique it and hopefully, enjoy it. Gumbo is a science and if you get it wrong, it won’t turn out right.
When I decided to make gumbo during this cold spell, I wanted to make sure that I followed the important steps from a recipe. I looked no further than the king of Cajun cooking, Emeril Lagasse. My recipe is based off of his “Emeril’s Classic Seafood Gumbo” recipe. But if you know me, I ended up straying away from all the details and creating my perfect gumbo.
I think the hardest part of any gumbo recipe is getting the roux right. It takes patience, constant stirring and little prayer that it doesn't reach the point of burning. You come oh so close to burning the roux in order to get the deep, complex flavors that make a great gumbo.
I cooked this gumbo in my trusty Le Creuset dutch oven. Any heavy bottomed pan will do, one that can hold up to the heat.
Here is what you'll need:
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
¾ cup finely chopped green peppers
¾ cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
6 cups seafood stock
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package andouille sausage, diced
1 pound chicken tenderloins, diced small
White rice, for serving
Chopped green onions, for serving
Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the pot. Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to stir the roux for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the color of milk chocolate.
Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Seafood Stock to the pot. Season the gumbo with the thyme, bay leaves, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Add the diced chicken and diced andouille sausage to the pot. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.
Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface. Stir the shrimp into the gumbo and cook for 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.
Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
If you don't like shrimp, chicken and/or sausage, you can substitute any of them for something you do like. You could add fish, maybe catfish, grouper or some other sturdy fish. You could add more vegetables such as okra or tomatoes. Don't be scared, make some changes to make it your own!
Now go make this, you will not regret it!
Chandler and Cathryn
When picking out a recipe for dinner, it must meet the following criteria: 1) simple ingredients, 2) the fewer the dishes needed the better, 3) at least somewhat healthy, and 4) it looks like something I will want to make again. With a full time job and two small kids to look after, extra time is a luxury. This butternut squash and lentil salad with goat cheese hit the mark, plus some! The fact that the salad is vegetarian and packed with protein is an added bonus for sure. Did you know that lentils have 18 grams of protein in one cup? Not only are they inexpensive and low calorie, but they have more protein than beef per gram. Crazy!
The only downside to this salad, and any other recipe including butternut squash, is the hassle of cutting the squash into many small-ish pieces. I thought about buying the pre-cut squash at Publix, but when I saw the price, I said “boy bye” and decided I could use the arm workout. Otherwise, the other steps are a breeze and you will have plenty of leftovers for the week.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
3 medium butternut squash (5-6 cups)
¾ cup lentils
6 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 Tbs cumin, ground
1 tsp red pepper, ground
arugula (probably 1 ½ to 2 cups per person for a main dish)
2 Tbs goat cheese per salad
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch cubes. I should have taken pictures during this process, but I find the best way to cut a butternut squash is as follows: 1) peel the outside of the squash, 2) cut off the bottom of the squash so that you can stand it upright, 3) cut the squash into halves, long ways, 4) using a spoon, remove the seeds from the inside, and 5) cut the two large pieces into strips, and then into cubes.
Toss the squash in the olive oil, salt, cumin and ground red pepper. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet (I covered mine in tin foil) for 40 minutes, stirring half way through.
While the squash is roasting, soak the lentils in cold water for about 10 minutes. During this time, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once the 10 minutes has passed, drain the lentils, removing any debris, and add to the pot for 30 minutes. You will know the lentils are done once they start to soften up. However, don’t let them get too soft or you will wind up with mush. No thank you.
Drain the lentils and place in a medium sized bowl. By now, the squash should be done as well. Add the squash and any left over olive oil to the bowl of lentils. (I actually added about a tablespoon more of olive oil at this point because I love the stuff.) Stir gently.
This is the easy part – place 1 – 2 cups of arugula in each bowl and top with the butternut squash and lentil mixture. Add 2 Tablespoons of goat cheese on top, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and enjoy a hearty and healthy meal! The peppery goodness of the arugula zaps your taste buds and the goat cheese adds a tartness and richness that makes my mouth water as I am sitting at my computer.
Note: You can easily omit the arugula and serve this as a side dish or on its own. It would also be great with chicken or salmon.
Chandler and Cathryn
I'll be honest, I've never wanted to try smoked trout dip. It never sounded good to me, not in the least bit. But my mind was changed when my Aunt, who is fearless in the kitchen, brought this smoked trout dip to my house. I LOVE this smoked trout dip. And I promise you will too!
Here's what you'll need:
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 3.2 ounce can of smoked trout
3 tablespoons of chopped chives
2 tablespoons of chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
Optional: a handful of capers
Combine the chopped shallots, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cream cheese. Once fully combined, blend in smoked trout, chives and capers (optional). Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature with your favorite crackers.
I hope you enjoy this Smoked Trout Dip as much as I do!
We are so glad you've found us! Please be patient with us as we begin our culinary journey with you. We plan to post great recipes, tips and tricks to help you in the kitchen. If there is anything you would like to see, please let us know!
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We look forward to getting to know our followers!
Chandler and Cathryn