Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

One of the things I was tasked with contributing to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner was a salad (actually, I may or may not have assigned myself this job; I can’t remember). I wanted to come up with a salad that was more than the just token fresh vegetable on the table; we all know that most of the time, we each slip a few leaves of romaine on to our plates so we can feel somewhat virtuous in between heaping forkfuls of the good stuff like mashed potatoes and stuffing. I wanted the salad to be hearty, and full of delicious things, and something that people might actually eat a second helping of! And if I’m the only one who goes back for seconds of this one? Well, more for me.

Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
serves 6-8 as a side dish

10 oz bag of kale, torn into bite size pieces*
1 cup dry wheatberries, cooked and cooled**
seeds of one large pomegranate
6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled
3-4 oz crumbled feta
olive oil
juice of one lemon, divided
1 T maple syrup
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

How To Seed a Pomegranate

*For those who are still scared of kale, you could use baby spinach instead (and obviously, skip the massaging part). However, once kale is dressed with some olive oil and lemon juice and worked a little bit (which helps to tenderize the somewhat tough leaves), it really just tastes like any other green, except with some more texture and chew! I have yet to experience the legendary bitterness that kale supposedly possesses… so, don’t be scared.

**Wheatberries are just the entire wheat kernel (less the hull), and are one of my favorite grains. They have a great chewy texture, which makes them great for things like salads, or stuffing peppers. You’ll find them in the same aisle as rice and other grains in the grocery store; if you can’t find them or don’t care to use them, you can certainly substitute brown or wild rice in this recipe.

1.) Start by prepping your kale. Add all the kale to a large bowl, and pour about one tablespoon of olive oil over it. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the kale, and add a small pinch of kosher salt; use your hands to massage the olive oil and lemon juice into the kale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

2.) To make your dressing, whisk together the maple syrup, dijon, the juice of the remaining half lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a good pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Taste to make sure you don’t need to adjust it; my first round making this dressing, I found it wasn’t maple-y enough, so I added some more maple syrup. Adjust to your taste.

3.) Add the wheatberries, chopped bacon, and pomegranate seeds to the bowl with the kale. Pour the dressing over everything, and toss to coat. Top with the crumbled feta, and serve.

(I like to add extra pomegranate seeds to my salad. More antioxidants for me!)

Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Since I first came up with this salad (last week), we’ve had it as a main course twice, and we’ve debated whether to have it again before Thanksgiving. It’s super filling and hearty, thanks to the kale and wheatberries, with TONS of different flavors – the salty feta, the smoky bacon, the sweet and tart pomegranate. It’s a great fall side dish, and would be especially perfect to have on hand if you have any vegetarians joining you for Thanksgiving (omitting the bacon, of course). Side note: since kale is very hearty and holds up well to dressing, this salad can be dressed and assembled ahead of time (I wouldn’t add the feta until you’re ready to serve). You could easily assemble the whole thing 6-8 hours ahead of the big meal (drain off any excess dressing or oil/lemon juice), keeping it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Tomorrow morning, I’ve got a quick post put together with a delicious way to cook acorn squash! It’s incredibly quick, easy, and delicious… and the leftover filling can be used to make an equally simple and tasty dessert. Make sure you check back tomorrow!

I’m totally ready for a long weekend,


Holiday Recipe Roundup!

Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us! And by “holiday season”, you know I really mean “eating season” – so, put on some elastic-waist pants, grab a big blanket to wrap yourself up with, and let’s get to work making your Thanksgiving menu, shall we?

After more than two years of posting recipes to the blog, we’ve got QUITE the collection of dishes to round out your holiday meal. You won’t find much in the way of sweet potatoes topped with mini marshmallows, or how to prep and roast a giant turkey (I’m more of a ham girl, myself), but you WILL find plenty of delicious recipes that will add something new and fun to your meal (when all else fails? Sprinkle your dish with pomegranate seeds! Festive!). I’ve broken this (gigantic) list down into several categories: Salads, Sides, and Desserts. A good amount of them are quick and easy to make, most will impress the hell out of your friends and family, and ALL of them are delicious. Feel free to send me the leftovers of any of the following:


Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Lemony Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed onion dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Vidalia Dressing

Beet Salad with Honey Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Goat Cheese Salad Dressing

Ina’s Ranch Dressing

Side Dishes:

Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Honey Balsamic Carrots

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Smoky Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

balsamic roasted potatoes.

Balsamic Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Dried Cherry Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Chutney Vinaigrette

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

Green Beans with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Bacon Creamed Corn

Beer and Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni


Classic Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Nutella Rugelach

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies (you could absolutely use apples instead of pears, if you wanted to!)

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Mini Salted Caramel Icebox Cakes

Chocolate Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Brownie Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Pots de Creme

no-bake nutella cheesecakes.

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecakes

I am going to TRY to get a couple more Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah, or other holiday) worthy recipes up on the blog over the weekend/early next week… but I can’t promise anything, as I might find myself too busy “taste testing” the desserts I’m making for all our Thanksgiving gatherings to get to the computer. I mean, do you think someone ELSE is going to test the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies to make sure they’re not poisonous?? No ma’am, it’s all on my shoulders. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

I hope you’ve found something that looks delicious enough to add to your holiday meal, and I hope your holiday weekend is filled with tasty feasts, and stretchy waistbands.

Bring on the pecan pie and mashed potatoes,

White Bean Minestrone with Parmesan and Garlicky Croutons

Well, friends, I have been sick for over a week now. And I tell you what – I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! I’ve alternated between making comfort foods (like this tomato soup), snacking on whatever sounded good when I had no appetite, and ordering takeout on the days that cooking seemed an insurmountable task. Finally, I hauled myself to the grocery store on Sunday (my most sincere apologies to anyone who had to witness my sneezing, snotty, slightly-green-faced self), and loaded my cart up with all kinds of stuff to make a veggie-packed, comforting minestrone soup. I am not always much of a soup person, but a big bowl of soup filled with vegetables and pasta and lots of parmesan sounded like just the thing I needed.

White Bean Minestrone with Parmesan and Garlicky Croutons

Added bonus: it was pretty darn quick to make! So, about the time I felt the need to retire to my fainting couch for a rest, everything was in the pot and ready for a simmer. Excellent.

White Bean Minestrone with Parmesan and Garlicky Croutons
serves 4-6

5 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
two 15oz cans petite diced tomatoes, with liquid
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 3-4″ parmesan rind*
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
8oz small pasta, cooked until al dente
Freshly grated parmesan

For the croutons:
one 3-4 oz ciabatta roll, cut into 1″ cubes
1 T olive oil
kosher salt
garlic powder

*Even if you are not in the habit of buying fresh chunks of parmesan, this soup would be a good reason to start. The rind of the parmesan adds a lot of flavor to the soup as it simmers, and it would be tough to pull comparable flavor from simply adding parmesan to the soup. As I go through parmesan, I just throw the rinds into a plastic ziploc bag, and keep them in the freezer for use later. If you don’t already have a rind waiting for you, just cut it off the fresh chunk of cheese you bring home from the store, and use it right away!

1.) Add the bacon pieces to a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and turn the heat to medium. Allow the bacon to cook until crisp, and then remove to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain off all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease.

2.) Add the carrots and onion to the pot, stirring to coat with the bacon grease. Season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about one minute more.

3.) Pour the tomatoes and chicken stock into the pot, and bring the soup to a boil; immediately reduce to a simmer. Add the cannellini beans, green beans, parmesan rind, oregano, and pepper to the pot, and allow everything to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the green beans are bright green, and crisp-tender.

4.) While the soup simmers, make your croutons. Preheat your oven to 350°, and line a small baking sheet with foil. Pour the olive oil over the bread cubes, and toss until all the cubes are well coated. Sprinkle the croutons with the kosher salt and garlic powder, and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

5.) When the soup is ready, spoon some pasta into the bottom of the bowls, and then ladle the soup over it. Top with some of the reserved bacon, croutons, and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.

White Bean Minestrone with Parmesan and Garlicky Croutons

This soup covers a lot of bases: salty (parmesan and bacon), crispy (croutons), creamy (pasta and beans), and healthy (lots of veggies)! The crisp green beans lent a nice freshness to the soup, as well. One small side note: if you are planning to serve ALL of the soup immediately, you could add the pasta (already cooked) right into the soup a few minutes before serving, so it just warms through. However, if you’re planning on having leftovers, I find it’s best to keep the pasta separate from the soup, and just add it right before serving; that way, the pasta doesn’t get soggy and mushy from soaking in the soup.

Fingers crossed a few servings of this soup will kick the tail end of this illness,

Bacon Corn Chowder

FINALLY, fall weather is upon us! We’ve had kind of a wonky summer up here in the Mitten – a few cooler-than-normal weekends in July and August, a lot of rain, and some weird, hotter-than-hell days where they shouldn’t have been. As an example, this past Wednesday. There is no reason in this world that Wednesday should have had a high of 95 degrees (with a heat index of about 100°), but it did, and it was kind of awful. Thankfully, the last couple days have brought some storms that have dragged in a cool front – and our high today is 61°! The temperatures are going to be in the low 40s tonight! (Maybe you think I’m nuts for being excited about that – but that is some perfect windows-open, blankets-piled-on-the-bed, my-face-is-so-cold-I-can’t-feel-it, sleeping weather.)

Anyways, the onset of chillier weather always makes me crave soup. A big bowl of soup and a Michigan football game is a perfect Saturday afternoon combination, if you ask me! In reality, I made this soup back in early August – when it should have been 100 degrees and humid, but it was 65° and pouring rain. Go figure!

Bacon Corn Chowder

This soup is nice and hearty, smoky and sweet, and delicious with some toasted, cheesy bread for dipping.

Bacon Corn Chowder
Makes 8-12 servings, depending on size

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium russet potatoes (about 2lb) cut into 1/2″ dice
8 cobs of corn (about 3 cups of kernels)
4-6 cups of whole milk
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1.) Heat a large pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, and remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease.

2.) Add the onion and garlic, and sweat them until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

3.) Add the corn and potatoes to the pan, along with the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine everything. Pour the whole milk in, adding as much as you need to cover all the potatoes and corn (I used about 5 cups). Allow the soup to come up to a boil, and immediately reduce it to a simmer.

Bacon Corn Chowder

4.) Once the soup is simmering, whisk the cornstarch and a tablespoon of milk together in a small dish. Pour the slurry into the soup, and stir it in – this will help the soup thicken up a bit. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes until it’s slightly thickened, and the potatoes are cooked through.

5.) Taste the potatoes for seasoning – if a potato tastes a little bland, add more salt to taste. Add the bacon back into the pot just before serving.

Just because I like you guys, I’m going to offer you a little pro tip: check to be sure there is a shaker top on your bottle of red pepper flakes, before you shake it over the soup pot. If there’s NOT, you’re going to spend the next five minutes playing a little game called “Do You Think I Fished Enough Pepper Flakes Out Of The Soup, Or Will It Still Light Our Tongues On Fire?” And while that is certainly a way to pass some time on a rainy day, I can’t say I’d recommend it.

Bacon Corn Chowder

This soup would be a great way to kick off the fall season! It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and I think it would hold up nicely in a crock pot, if you wanted to make it for a tailgate or something similar.

You know what else is a perfect fall food? Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding!