Sunday, March 31, 2013

Shrimpies in a Blanket!

My time management skills tend to be mediocre at best. I always seem to think I can squeeze an extraordinary amount of things in the hour that I know it takes me to shower, get ready, and do my hair. But somehow I always think this time I'll be able to make an appetizer, clean up the kitchen, shower, get ready, and do my hair in that same hour. As you can probably guess, it never quite works out in my favor, or should I say my hair's favor, as that is what most often goes undone.

That is why I'm always in search of the perfect party recipe. I always want to bring something that is super duper impressive, but the problem with impressive party recipes is that they tend to take time and well, time is never on my side. These bacon wrapped shrimp are a great 3 ingredient recipe that will wow party goers. I'm not gonna lie, there is some tediousness in the wrapping, but it goes fairly fast and can be done ahead, even the night before, then refrigerate the shrimp until ready to cook. Easy peasy (even for someone with mediocre time management skills) and yields DELICIOUS results!

If you happen to find yourself with some extra time, then besides being Superwoman and needing to give me some tips, you can add another layer of flavor to these delicious little shrimpies by stuffing them with jalapeno cream cheese.

Shrimps in a Blanket
Makes 30 - 40 shrimps (depending on the size of the shrimp you use)

1 pound raw, peeled, deveined shrimp (bigger is better, but I used medium sized shrimp, 31- 40 a pound count)
1 pound bacon (in this case I do not recommend thick cut)
2 tablespoons honey (I use raw honey)

1 jalapeno, roasted
2 - 3 tablespoons whipped cream cheese

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, place wire cooling racks on top of baking sheets. Spray racks with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

If doing the cream cheese version, start by roasting the jalapeno over an open flame on the stove top. Turn often. Once charred, place the jalapeno in a plastic zip lock bag and seal. Once the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. Deseed the jalapeno and chop into small pieces, mix with the cream cheese. 

Cut your bacon in thirds, or halves if using very large shrimp. 

(Only if doing the cream cheese version) slice the shrimp like you are butterflying it, place a small amount of jalapeno cream cheese in the sliced shrimp. (For both versions) Wrap each shrimp with a piece of the cut bacon. Place the shrimp on the wire racks with the seam of the wrapped bacon seam side down. 

Bake for 15 minutes. Take shrimp out of the oven and drizzle with honey. Bake for 5 more minutes or until bacon is crispy and shrimp is opaque and cooked. Enjoy! Drizzle with even more honey if feeling frisky! :)

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Dishes Round Up

Easter is coming up! We spend Easter with Adam's family and it is always a holiday centered around food, which is my favorite kind of holiday. They always do potluck, and I always have an incredibly hard time deciding what to bring! My mind goes completely blank, which is weird since I do have a food blog to reference, but I always want to try something new! Which sometimes always isn't the best strategy, especially when feeding some particularly picky people (remember Adam's taste preferences? He gets them from somewhere...). I don't help the matter by always trying to think of a dish way outside the box. There was this one Christmas I made mashed celery root and apples, knowing full well that I myself don't like celery root and that most likely so will no one else. Adam's mom really tried to like it. It made me want to throw up so I greatly appreciate her effort. Then there was last Easter when I decided to try a new cupcake frosting recipe and ended up with a frosting so liquid-y that I had to serve it on the side as a cupcake "dipping sauce". So, Adam has banned me from using his family and friends as my guinea pigs. This year, I'm making a recipe that I've made before but never actually wrote down so I'm hoping my memory will serve me well! It involves bacon, jalapeno cream cheese, shrimp, and a honey sauce so I'm pretty sure I can't go wrong when it comes to people liking it. And if I'm wrong, I might need to consider getting a new family. (Just kidding!! I love you guys! Seriously, I really do.)

So, if you are running into a real mental road block when it comes to what to serve this Easter, here are some tried and true recipes of mine that I would recommend!


Make a couple of my Breakfast Bacon Apple Tarts - they are sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

My Paleo Espresso Mini Muffins are a great option for Gluten-Free family members. You can double the batch to feed more!

This Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Quiche is a real treat!


My Mini Party Sandwiches feature ham, cheese, and a poppy onion seed sauce that is perfect for Spring!

Fruit Pizza would be great for Easter Brunch. Half dessert / half healthy, it is sure to please!

A nice refreshing Asian inspired salad to bring some Easter colors to the party!

Main Dishes:

Beer and Balsamic Braised short ribs are sure to wow your guests. Start them in the morning and let them cook while you entertain. This is a recipe you will for sure want to double if serving more than 4 people.

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Kale In a Clementine Sauce are perfect for a taste of Spring. This recipe only serves 2, so double or triple the recipe and brown your chicken in batches.

Another one of my all time favorite meals - Brown Butter Pork Chops! This is another 2 serving recipe. But you can brown the chops in batches in the cast iron skillet and then cook the browned chops in a large glass dish and then transfer them back to the skillet in batches to baste with brown butter.


Make this German Potato Salad. Seriously, just do it. And double the batch.

Everyone loves mashed potatoes so make one of my two favorite recipes!
Buttery Mashed Potatoes with Spinach:

Or Creamy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Roast Veggies are easy to prepare ahead and pop in the oven while you entertain guests. These ones are my favorite.

It would not be a recipe round up without mentioning these Mushrooms in Cream and Ale Sauce. These are a must serve if you are having any kind of roast or steak. 


This crustless cheesecake would be festive with a strawberry topping!

Individual fruit crumbles are a great dessert option! Use whatever fruit is in season and double the topping as necessary.

Have a happy Easter!

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DIY: Jewelry Organizer

Today I'm doing a DIY post! I'm super excited to share this cute little jewelry organizer with you! It's a fun project with plenty of room for creativity and free handing your own ideas to add to it!
Basically, I really wanted a super cool jewelry shelf / organizer, but I didn't want to spend a bunch of money. Plus, I  wanted it to fit my needs. I find it's best just to make something yourself when you have a set idea of how you want it to be. So I headed out to Michael's Craft Store and hunted around till I found the perfect thing. A mini crate. The one I found is 12 inches tall, 9 1/2 wide, and 4 3/4 deep. It has 4 - 2"x 1/4"slats along the back and 2 along the side. This mini crate is similar but seems to have 3 slats along the side making it deeper, which might not work. I would recommend finding a shallow little crate, otherwise adding the nails and fixtures to the back of the crate will get tricky.

DIY jewelry hanger

I bought some paint, pulled out this little nail / hardware kit my Dad gave me years ago and got to work.

Here's the finished product:

It doesn't hold ALL my jewelry, but it holds the everyday / most often worn items. I still have a bowel of bangles on my dresser and some nicer jewelry in a leather jewelry box on the dresser. But I love having all my everyday items displayed on this cute shelf  / organizer.

DIY jewelry organizer

 I'll do my best to explain how I got my finished product. But, this really was a process that a winged and made work with what I had on hand, and you can do the same to customize it to your jewelry needs. Get creative!


Crate 12 inches x 9 1/2 inches and 4 3/4 inches deep
2 bottles acrylic paint in your choice of color - I used Martha Stewart's Metallic Rose Gold
8 - 1 inch small round head nails in color of your choice
2 - 1/2 inch small round head nails in color of your choice
1 - 2 feet piece of Flexible Nylon Coated Beading Wire in color of choice - or other flexible wire. This is what I used:

8 - 10 crimp beads in color of choice (in the bead section of craft store) 
9 or more crown bolts in color and size of choice
 Sawtooth picture hanger hardware with 2 small screws


drill with small drill bit
small hammer
mini screw driver
wire cutters
a small level is helpful as well


 Paint your wood crate your desired color. I did two coats of Martha Stewart's Mettalic Rose Gold. Allow crate to dry.

 Using a small hammer and some dexterity nail your first 4 nails into the inside back panel of your crate toward what will be the top. One in the middle of each back slat. Evenly space them apart. Don't let the nails go all the way through the wood, you can get them in there solidly without breaking out through the other end. Drop down 2 to 3 inches. I did 2 inches and evenly nail another row of 4 nails.

This next part is a little tricky to explain and it was kinda just trial and error, but I will do my best. I wanted a wire hanging across the middle of the jewelry shelf so that I could hang even more earrings. I found the smallest nails I could and nailed one on each outer side of the crate, being careful not to nail them all the way through. Then I took nylon beading wire and wrapped it around the nail and tied it in a knot then trimmed the excess wire. I threaded the wire through the middle of the crate and then threaded crimp beads on the wire and used pliers to crimp them down. The crimp beads are used so the earrings don't all slide to the middle of the wire. How many crimp beads you use and how far apart you place them is up to you. Then I wrapped the remaining side of the wire around the other nail and tied it off in a knot and trimmed the excess.


My wire went directly across the middle of the shelf both width and depth wise and I chose not to put anything else below the wire because I knew my earrings would hang down and I wanted to use the bottom of the crate as a shelf for bracelets and other jewelry.

Next, I put in my hooks for necklaces, I spaced 9 crown bolts (they look like hooks with a screw on the end) about 1/2 an inch apart. I used the pointy end of the hook to make an indent in the wood as a measured each 1/2 an inch apart. Then using a very small drill bit, I drilled a hole where each hook would go. Make sure not to drill all the way through the wood! And make sure your drill bit is smaller than the screw portion of the hook. Then screw in each hook. I then did a row of 3 hooks behind the first row, just add a little more functionality.

Look at that, we're almost done! Now flip the shelf over to the backside (I didn't paint the back of my shelf since it will be up against the wall). Place your sawtooth hangar in the middle with equal distance between each end of the hangar and the end of the shelf. Drill a small hole where the screw will go on each side, using a mini screw driver, screw the small screws that come with the sawtooth hangar in place to secure the hangar.

Now hang your shelf and get to organizing!

DIY jewelry organizer

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

German Potato Salad With Bacon and Vinegar

Potato Salad with BACON and a tasty dressing made from BACON drippings and vinegar. Holy smokes, Batman! I'm in heaven.

German potato salad

To tell you the truth, I have a major issue with traditional potato salad, it's much like my issue with coleslaw. I like potatoes, and I don't mind mayo... but put them together and I'm like NO, thank you. Also, I have a big hangup with the fact that both potato salad and coleslaw are cold dishes. I really prefer my food hot. Regular old sandwich, not for me thank you very much. Toasty warm meatball sub? Yes, please. Cold pizza? Why?! Seriously, just why? Like I said, I really enjoy my food hot... except for sushi, that I like cold, no baked rolls for me. No siree. I'm quite the strange eater when it comes to food temperatures. Unlike, my husband who will devour anything cold. He's been known to eat my paleo chili cold and whatever else I send with him for lunch forgetting that he has no access to a microwave at work and is probably too lazy to use one even if he did. So, where am I going with this whole rant? Potato salad. It's weird to me. Cold potatoes. When do you ever eat potatoes cold? Mayo. Not bad in theory, but kinda gross when potatoes are smothered in it. Celery. Whhhyyyy?! BUT, GERMAN potato salad, now that's something I can get on board with. Replace the mayo with vinegar? Why yes, don't mind if I do. Have I mentioned that salt and vinegar almonds are one of my favorite things. Yes, there is such a thing as and no they aren't weird at all. But this potato salad really had me at one beautiful word - bacon. Baaacccooon. Bacon. Bacon.

German potato salad with bacon

I mean seriously how could you go wrong smothering potatoes in bacon drippings? It's a match mad in potato salad heaven. It's sexy, tangy, and just a little bit naughty.
This is seriously going to be summertime go to side dish. You should make it yours also.

German Potato Salad with Bacon and Vinegar
recipe modified from here
Makes 6 side servings

2 to 2 1/4 pounds waxy potatoes - I used red potatoes and baby Yukon golds - unpeeled and sliced using a mandolin to 1/8 to 1/4  inch slices
6 bacon slices, chopped - I recommend thick cut nitrate free applewood smoked bacon (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
1/2 a large brown onion, finely diced
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons coarse grained mustard (I used garlic coarse grained mustard and it was great!)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons KOSHER salt (less if using table salt)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 green onions - chopped

Wash your potatoes. Leave the skin on and slice using a mandolin. I chose to use a combination of baby Yukon golds and baby red potatoes and it was a very nice combination that I would highly recommend.

Place potato slices in a large steamer basket and steam for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender in the middle of the slices. Mine took 15 minutes. When done steaming, remove potatoes and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, add chopped bacon to a hot pan. (Honestly, I say 6 pieces bacon in the ingredient list, but I wouldn't hesitate to use 7 pieces.) Sauté bacon until browned and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Discard all but 2 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings. It seems like a lot, but this is the base of your dressing. Sauté chopped onion in bacon drippings for about 3 to 4 minutes until onions soften. Add the white wine vinegar, water, mustard, sugar, salt (it seems like a lot of salt, but it's needed - I use coarse grain kosher salt), and fresh ground pepper. Whisk ingredients together. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until mixture is reduced to about 2/3 cup. I eyeballed this. Remove from heat.

Add potatoes to the pan and spoon mixture over the potatoes. Try to separate the slices so that dressing gets on each piece of potato. Mix in the bacon and chopped green onion. Add more salt and pepper to taste if desired (I didn't). Transfer to a bowl and serve warm. DELICIOUS!

Side Note: The original recipe calls for fresh dill, but I hate dill so I skipped it. I can't imagine it needing it, it is so flavorful without it and the green onion I added gives it a pop of color. But if you are into dill go ahead and add it! The original recipe called for 1/4 cup fresh dill.

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest Posting! Crispy Chicken Thighs in a Delicious Sauce!

I'm so excited to be guest posting today over at Arsy's lovely blog Rubies and Radishes. Rubies and Radishes is a beautiful paleo blog with delicious recipes and great photos! The recipe I'm sharing today is paleo and delicious! It cooks up in just your cast iron skillet (one of my favorite kitchen items!) so there is minimal clean up, which is always nice. This recipe came together when I bought a bunch of those little cuties (clementines) that are on sale and chicken thighs, which were also on sale. I always have kale on hand for kale salad, so I decided to throw the three together and see what happened.

Magic happened. This dish is so good. I seriously want to make it every day. Crispy chicken skin, moist meat, wilted yet still crisp kale, and a delicious orange sauce with no added sugar!

Head over to Rubies and Radishes to check it out!

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Inspired by the Irish: Colcannon with a Twist

Saint Patty's Day is this Sunday!! This day holds a special day in my heart since it is the day Adam proposed. I can't believe it was just one year ago that he asked me to marry him and now we are married and buying our first home! What an amazing year it has been! I love him more than I ever thought I could one year ago. (Awwww... so cheesy. But true.)

So to celebrate this special day and our one year anniversary of being engaged that Adam refuses to recognize (he believes we should only have one anniversary, our wedding anniversary, how boring), I've created a kinda Irish recipe for you! Why kinda? Well, think of it as a recipe that represents the 1/4 Irish that Adam didn't know he was until I had a conversation with his grandma. Plus, I really just wanted to make mashed potatoes with spinach in it, which reminds me of this Irish dish called colcannon. Colcannon is mashed potatoes with lots of butter and mixed with cabbage or kale. I realize that my version isn't exactly what you would call traditional and that might defeat the whole purpose of posting something Irish for Saint Patrick's Day, but at the very least it's a dish with green in it! So you can't blog pinch me!

I love to use gold Yukon potatoes instead of russets and I'm not a fan of using a blender to mash my mashed potatoes, a simple wooden spoon works fine for me. Someday, someone (ahem, Adam - stocking stuffer idea!) will buy me a real potato masher, then I may or may not use it. You see, I have very specific thoughts on mashed potatoes - if you are interested in hearing them (I mean, why wouldn't you be?) check out my recipe for  Roasted Garlic Creamy Mashed Potatoes.

These Irish-ish mashed potatoes meet all my requirements for delicious and flavorful mashed potatoes. Plus, they are great to get some green into your child, or in my case, husband's, diet. Honestly who could turn down mashed potatoes loaded with butter, even if it's studded with healthy spinach?

Come on, you know you want to get your kinda Irish on.

Mashed Potatoes with Spinach
Makes 6 -8 side servings

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup milk (I used whole, but you can use whatever you like)
6 tablespoons butter (I use Irish Kerrygold butter, it's seriously the most flavorful butter and it's from grass-fed cows! Healthier diet for them means better butter for you.)
fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups baby spinach, measured then chopped

Ok, so there are two ways you could do the cooking / peeling of the potatoes, it just depends on where you want to spend your time. 

1. You could peel them and cut them into quarters then place in a pot with water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring them to a boil and boil until fork tender.
2. You could wash them and place them whole in a pot with water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring them to a boil until fork tender. It will take them longer to boil, but once they are cooked and cooled enough to handle you can simply peel the skins off using your hands or a small paring knife. 

Using desired method boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain water from the pot and place peeled potatoes back in the pot and over medium-low heat on the stove. 

Add 5 tablespoons butter, milk, 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (depending on your tastes), and ground pepper to the pot. Mash potatoes using a wooden spoon or potato masher.

Add chopped spinach and stir to incorporate it into the mashed potatoes. Constantly stir while continuing to cook over medium-low heat until spinach has wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve potatoes with a large pat of butter on top!

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Espresso Mini Muffins

Sometimes you just need a little pick me up. Especially if your "pillow situation" isn't working out very well. What do you mean you don't have a "pillow situation"? I envy you, my friend. I really do. I have a serious pillow situation. It involves four different pillows, endless combinations of them, and constantly switching them around to get just the right level of pillow perfection that will bring me solid sleep and a neck that doesn't feel like it got run over by a freight train in the morning. Although, the neck thing could be because I sometimes choose to forgo the pillows entirely and lay curled up in this weird position with my head halfway down the bed and hanging off the side. Still, I blame the pillow situation.

flourless muffins

But the point of this story is that sometimes you just need a little pick me up, and when you don't drink coffee but find yourself with a bag of ground espresso in your pantry, that little pick me up comes in the form of Espresso Mini Muffins with Chocolate Ganache. And don't ask how I ended up with that bag of ground espresso in a non-coffee drinking household, that's a story for another day and another post.

espresso muffins

Look at those little babies! Ohhhh yeah. AND guess what? They are gluten-free and grain-free! They are the perfect cross between a breakfast muffin and a dessert with their delicious chocolate ganache frosting. They've got a hint of espresso and are nice and fluffy despite being entirely flour-less! They are a great morning snack and the perfect pick me up for when your pillow situation has got you down. Or if you are normal, and not partially crazy when it comes to pillows like me, then they are the perfect pick me up for anytime you need one! Or even if you don't!

Espresso Mini Muffins with Chocolate Ganache
Makes 12 mini muffins

For the muffins:
3/4 cup almond meal/flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 tablespoon ground espresso beans
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil + more for greasing
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

For the chocolate ganache:
2 oz dark chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a mini muffin tin well with coconut oil. 

In a food processor combine all the dry ingredients for the muffins. Pulse to combine. 

Add in the wet ingredients for the muffins and mix on high until everything is nice and smooth. 

Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. You should have just enough to make 12, if you really scrape the bowl clean.  

Bake for 8-9 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Do NOT over bake!

Allow muffins to cool.

Make the ganache. In a microwave safe bowl combine the coconut milk and chocolate, microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave for 15 more seconds if it is not melted. Be careful not to burn it.

Top muffins with desired amount of ganache. Enjoy!

paleo muffins

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Paleo Chili

Soooooo, guys, I have a problem. 
The new job has lunch catered every day. 
Every single freaking day. 
From restaurants.

Are you grasping the enormity of this?! My two favorite things in life, well besides my husband, and my dog, and my family, and my friends, and... well it's hard to pick favorite things, but if I had to, I would have to say my two favorite things (besides all those other things) are 1. food. 2. FREE food. Or maybe it's vice versa. Soooo... my point is... I've been pigging out. Maj. (Is that how the cool kids abbreviate "majorly"?)

But I have a solution!

And it comes in the form of more food! I needed something that would give me enough satisfaction that I would be able to turn down FREE food catered from restaurants, and paleo chili is just the thing to come to the rescue! This paleo chili is so, so, so, so good. I mean, it's good. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Lot's of meat and sweet potatoes and a slightly tangy sauce. Plus you can whip it up in about 45 minutes! If that's not a life saver I don't know what is.

paleo chili

Seriously. Try it for yourself! Paleo chili is the way to go. You won't even miss the beans. Who really wants beans in their chili anyways?
P.S. You'll probably want to make a double batch - just double the ingredients below. The extras freeze great! 

Paleo Chili 
Adapted from Health-Bent
4 servings 

1 pound ground beef (I use grass-fed ground beef 85/15 from Trader Joe's)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I use Tapitio)
2 tablespoons lime juice

*Side note - don't be afraid of 85/15 GRASS-FED beef. The fat in it is healthy fat since it is coming from animals that ate nutritious and natural grass as their diet.

Chop onions and bell pepper. Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

I've found that I can brown my meat and sauté the onions and bell pepper at the same time. If the meat has enough fat in it there is no need to add any extra oil for sautéing the onions and peppers. Throw your meat, onions, and bell pepper into the pot on the stove. Using a spatula or wooden spoon break up the meat as it browns into small pieces.

Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, drain fat if needed. I usually push the meat and vegetables to one side and use a paper towel to soak up some of the fat. But I leave some for flavor!

Next, add your crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, and all spices except hot sauce and lime juice. Stir well. Add your peeled and diced sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

Add hot sauce and lime juice. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Enjoy a healthy and satisfying lunch... dinner... or even breakfast (just throw an egg on top!).

paleo chili

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lacinato Kale Salad: Three ways!

Happy Monday! 
I actually shouldn't be that excited that it's Monday because, well, it's MONDAY, and this marks the end of my two week "vacation". And I say "vacation" because 2 weeks of packing up one house, cleaning the heck out of it, and then moving into another, cleaning the heck out of it and unpacking hardly is my dream vacation. (Maybe that's why I posted about my dream vacation last Monday.) But I'm back to work! At a whole new job! In a whole new field! Yep, my days of making crappy reality programming have come to an end. Lot's of changes happening over here. In fact, so many that my mind can't completely comprehend, so I'm just gonna talk about kale instead of all the changes. Kale cures everything, right? Even extreme anxiety over the mass amount of quickly happening changes in ones life?

lacinato kale

 I do have to admit that this kale-cures-everything theory is new to me. Up until recently, I actually didn't really like kale. Yep, I said it, a food blogger semi health nut like me, didn't really like kale. (I feel like that is something I should never admit out loud on a food blog.) But since I've changed my ways, I've come to terms with my former kale hating self. And I'm glad to say she's gone. Now, I freaking LOVE kale. So much growing and self exploration happening over here lately. 

kale salad

I have one person to thank for helping me turn over a new leaf (quite literally!), and Adam has one person to blame for his recent forced mass consumption of kale, and that is Jacquelyn over at Marin Mama Cooks. She swears by her lacinato kale salad, even her kids love it. I knew it was my duty as a food blogger to give kale one more shot. 

This salad is incredibly easy and uses ingredients you most likely have on hand. The key is the lacinato kale or tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, Italian kale, whatever you want to call it, it is so much better than that curly kale stuff. Ugh. I went to a restaurant the other day and ordered a kale salad thinking hey I like kale now, I can order a kale salad! Then I got a bowl of curly kale with dressing that clearly was not massaged into it (more on that later) and I was like nope, turns out I only like lacinato kale. But that's just me, maybe you like curly kale. Good for you! I aspire to be like you one day, but for now I'll just have to be very specific about my kale intake. 

Back to the salad, the other key to making this salad work is to get in there and massage the dressing, yes with your hands, into the kale leaves. Really work it on in there, it's kinda fun! Then let the salad relax for a while and soak up all the olive oil, garlic, lemon goodness. (Or serve right away if you are like me and poor at time management.) This salad can last up to 5 days in the fridge (maybe even more!) and the leaves retain their crispness even after being slathered in dressing. Go kale, you rock! I make a big batch on Sunday and use it throughout the week for lunches, dinner, and occasional snaking while in the car. It's that good. 

And this kale salad is versatile! (I'm starting to feel like I'm an infomercial for kale salad.)

If you buy now, we'll throw in a free "I heart kale" bumper sticker! And, if you don't like it after 60 days your money back is guranteeeedddd! 

Just kidding about that last part, you shouldn't keep kale salad for 60 days. It will go bad. And I'm not giving you any money. And I don't have "I heart kale" bumper stickers... yet. 

So, Kale Salad: Three Ways.

1. With lots of grated parmesan.

2. With crunchy buttered bread crumbs.

3. With sliced almonds and dried cranberries.

Basically, any way you top it, this salad is bound to be in constant rotation at your house, I mean if it can turn a kale hater like me into a (lacinato only) kale lover what will it do for you if you already like kale?!! Oh, the wonders!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get working on my "I heart kale" bumper stickers.

Lacinato Kale Salad
adapted from Marin Mama Cooks
makes 4-6 servings

1very large bunch or two small bunches lacinato kale (also can be called dinosaur kale or tuscan kale), large stems removed and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of one lemon - about 2 - 3 tablespoons
pinch of salt to taste (go easy on the salt if you are adding parmesan)
a nice big grind of fresh ground pepper
crushed red pepper to taste - I like a lot

To destem the kale, cut or pull the leaves away from the stem. Stack the destemmed leaves together and thinly slice. Place in a large bowl.

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk well. Pour dressing over kale and massage it into the leaves using your hands. Let kale rest for 5 minutes to well... I've gone as long as 5 days. Top with desired optional toppings before serving and toss again.

Optional Toppings:
Grated parmesan 
handful of sliced almonds and dried cranberries
Toasted Buttered Bread Crumbs:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Melt butter and olive oil in pan over medium heat. Once melted, add breadcrumbs and stir. Breadcrumbs should absorb all the butter and olive oil, add more breadcrumbs if needed. Toast, stirring frequently until breadcrumbs become golden in color. Remove from heat and allow to cool before topping kale salad with the toasted breadcrumbs. 

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