Sausage and Cabbage Soup

A couple weeks ago, I saw a picture on Instagram of a cabbage and sausage soup by Nom Nom Paleo. I’ve made enough of her stuff to know whatever the recipe was , it was going to be killer. But I’m challenging myself to try and use photos I find on Instagram, Pinterest or even in my beloved cookbooks and make the recipe from what I have on hand or how I think it should be made. Weird, I know, but it’s my own little personal challenge to help me (hopefully) become a better cook.

So instead of clicking the link to her blog, I grabbed some pork sausage out of the freezer and surveyed my fridge to see what I could add. I ended up throwing in onion, carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms and savoy cabbage. I had some homemade bone broth so I used that too and topped the soup with fresh parsley and chopped green onions.

The result is sort of ramen-esque but hearty and comforting all at the same time. The rich broth gets flavored with the mushrooms and sausage and the cabbage is cooked just until it softens. The veggies are tender without being mushy and the whole dang thing takes 30 minutes to make.

I won’t even try and pretend my kids eat this soup. Not a chance. Last night I didn’t even offer it to them. Sadly, I think they would actually like it, if they wouldn’t turn their noses up at the cabbage. Oh well. Mayne some day. I’ve made this a couple times now and I can already see this is going to be one of my winter staples. 

Sausage and Cabbage Soup

  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (any kind will do, just NOT breakfast sausage)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 ounce container sliced mushrooms (a mix of button and shitake is ideal)
  • 1 medium head of savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 2 32-ounce boxes of organic chicken bone broth (regular chicken stock works too)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh OR dried parsley

In a large Dutch oven, brown sausage over medium heat, breaking the meat up into small pieces, until just cooked through. Remove meat from the pot and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Return the pot to heat and sauté the onion, carrots and celery for 5-6 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are fragrant. Add the garlic and stirring well, cook for 2 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and cabbage to the pot. Salt and pepper the entire vegetable mixture liberally, continuing to cook for another 3-5 minutes. Stir well. Add the sausage back to the pot along with the chicken broth. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer at a slow boil until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. The cabbage should not have any crunch but not so cooked that it begins to fall apart. Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with green onion and parsley. Soup should feed 6-8 people. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for leftovers the rest of the week.

Winter Cobb Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash

This is a big long recipe and it would be easy to be intimidated but I promise you; it’s easy. And once you make the different components of this delicious salad, you have meals all week long. 

I’m not usually one for salads in the winter. I don’t know why, but I usually lean towards warm and comforting soups to get my vegetables in, but this winter cob salad is a game-changer. Roasted squash, tart pomegranate seeds, creamy avocado and tangy pickled onions work so well together. It’s a recipe that I’ve made over and over again and we’re barely to December. I like it because it’s a one-pot (or really one-bowl) recipe. Throw all the ingredients together and you have a healthy and delicious meal.

Even better, once you have all the ingredients, you can use them in different ways. Don’t feel like a salad? No problem…eat the squash on its own with some roasted chicken. Didn’t have time to make pickled onions (or just don’t like them)? No problem. Skip them. This salad is incredible forgiving, so swap in and out what you like best.

Winter Cobb Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash

For the Squash

 2 delicata squash, washed and cut in half with seeds and pulp removed
 Zest of half a lemon 
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 1 teaspoon parsley
 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
 Kosher salt and black pepper.

Cut the squash into half inch pieces. In a large ziplock bag or bowl, toss the squash in olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, parmesan cheese and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to marinate for one hour. When ready to roast, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange squash on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure to get all the bits of parmesan cheese and lemon zest onto the tray. Roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, flipping the squash halfway through the cooking time. The squash is done when they begin to turn golden brown and a fork easily pierces the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the Salad

 5 ounces arugula
 Roasted delicata squash
 1 cooked chicken breast, cubed (I usually just grab a rotisserie chicken from the store and peel the skin off)
 1 honeycrisp apple, diced
 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
 2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (dried cranberries work well too)
 Pickled red onion (optional)
 Avocado, sliced

Quick Pickled Onions

 1 red onion, thinly sliced
 1 tablespoon sugar
 1 teaspoon kosher salt
 Apple Cider Vinegar

In an air-tight container, combine the red onion with the sugar and salt. Pour apple cider vinegar over the onion until they are halfway covered. Fill the container the rest of the way with water. Put the lid on and let sit on the counter for at least onehour. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Salad Dressing

 Juice of one lemon
 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
 ¼ cup white wine vinegar
 1 teaspoon dried mustard
 1 teaspoon dried parsley
 Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

In a measuring cup or a jar with a lid, combine ingredients. Mix well and taste to make sure it tastes to your preference. Add more salt or lemon juice as needed.

To assemble the salad, layer the squash, apple, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chicken, pomegranate seeds, pickled onions and avocado over the arugula. Garnish with kosher salt and pepper.

Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad and using two forks, toss and mix until ingredients are well-combined. Store any leftover ingredients in air-tight containers in the refrigerator. 


White Bean Chicken Chili

After a long weekend of many indulgences: hello Trevari rose, hello stuffing and pumpkin pie not to mention the next-day turkey sandwich of my dreams, I’m more than ready to get back to the basics of eating healthfully. It was a tasty and memorable holiday and I hope yours was too.

This week I’m prepping a big batch of white bean chicken chili. I’ve thrown out the last scraps of leftovers and I hit the grocery store for lots of fruits and vegetables. With school and work and activities back in the swing of things this week, I know a big bowl of soup at the end of a long day will be just what everyone needs.

This recipe is perfect to meal prep at the beginning of the week for an easy and healthy dinner or lunches all week. I’ve written the recipe for an instant pot, but if you don’t have one, no problem. Simply combine all the ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. At the halfway point, use two forks to break apart the chicken.

White Bean Chicken Chili

 2 chicken breasts
 ½ yellow onion, diced
 1 red bell pepper, diced
 2 carrots, diced
 1 16-ounce jar medium salsa (red or green)
 1 can green or hatch chilis
 2 13-ounce cans great northern beans
 1 16-ounce bag organic frozen corn
 1 10-ounce bag frozen riced cauliflower
 2 32-ounce boxes organic low-sodium chicken stock
 1 teaspoon all-seasoning
 1 teaspoon cumin 
 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
 Black pepper

Place two frozen chicken breasts and the jar of salsa in an instant pot. Cook on manual for 25 minutes. Release pressure and turn to sauté function. Add the diced onion, bell pepper and carrots and stir into the chicken. Use a fork to begin breaking up the chicken. After 3-5 minutes of cooking, add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on manual for another 15 minutes. Release pressure, give the soup a good stir and finish breaking up the chicken, so it is nice and shredded. Taste to make sure it doesn’t need a bit more salt. 

To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with slices of avocado, fresh chopped cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime and a dollop of fat-free sour cream. Serves 6-8 generous portions.


Haricot Verts with Herb Butter

 I’m a firm believer a couple side dishes that show up to the Thanksgiving table need to be easy and quick. And even more importantly, they can’t take up sacred oven space. There’s enough jockeying to get all the food warm and on the table at a reasonable time.

My family insists on the same recipes for the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes every year which I‘m happy to oblige.

Tradition is tradition and I want my family to look forward to their favorite dishes. But on the flip side, I love to add a few surprises to the table as well, especially when it comes to the vegetable side dishes. 

This year I’m making haricot verts (skinny green beans) with herb butter. By mixing butter, fresh herbs and lemon juice right in the serving dish with the hot beans, nothing is simpler or more delicious. 

While the turkey rests before carving and the rest of the dishes warm up in the oven, these green beans comes together in five easy minutes. Haricot verts are quickly sautéed in a little butter with a minced shallot. A splash of water over the beans and a quick three minutes later, they are ready to be tossed with the herb butter and set on the table for dinner. Quick, easy and most importantly, wonderful.

With Thanksgiving exactly one week away, if you’re looking for inspiration for your own dinner, click the Thanksgiving tab for a slew of options that might just be perfect for your meal.

Haricot Verts with Herb Butter

 2 pounds haricot verts, washed and trimmed
 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
 4 tablespoons butter, divided
 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
 Zest of ½ lemon
 Juice of ½ lemon
 Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In a large sauté pan, sauté shallots in 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add haricot verts to the pan and toss well to combine the butter, shallots and beans. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add ¼ cup of water to pan and cover with a lid. Allow beans to steam for 3-4 minutes until bright green, tender but not soft. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter with parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix with a fork until well-combined.

In a deep serving dish, combine the haricot verts (drain any excess water from pan before transferring beans) with the herb butter. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper. Taste a bean to make sure they are salted enough. Garnish with another pinch of salt if necessary. Serve immediately.

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

With much eye-rolling and shoulder shrugging, my family has finally accepted my insistence that a salad grace our Thanksgiving table. If I left it up to my husband or my brothers, we would have a square meal of all white and brown dishes: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie. And not that there’s anything wrong with that (I mean come on, it’s all so delicious), but my stomach and eyes need a little variety for such a big, heavy meal. 

This year though I’m thinking this roasted delicata squash salad is going to make an appearance. Delicata squash are roasted in lemon zest, salt and pepper and a bit of good parmesan cheese until they are brown and crispy. Tossed with arugula, a honeycrisp apple, tangy goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries; this salad is the essence of fall in a bite. 

I love delicate squash because you don’t have to peel them. I also think they hold up a little better than other squashes when roasted. I don’t love any kind of mushy vegetable, but especially squash. I roast the delicata squash for just a few minutes and they come out crispy and golden brown; perfect for this salad.

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

For the Squash

 2 delicata squash, washed and cut in half with seeds and pulp removed
 Zest of half a lemon
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 1 teaspoon parsley
 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
 Kosher salt and black pepper.

Cut the squash into half inch pieces. In a large ziplock bag or bowl, toss the squash in olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, parmesan cheese and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to marinate for one hour. When ready to roast, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange squash on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure to get all the bits of parmesan cheese and lemon zest onto the tray. Roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, flipping the squash halfway through the cooking time. The squash is done when they begin to turn golden brown and a fork easily pierces the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the Salad

 5 ounces arugula
 Roasted delicata squash
 1 honeycrisp apple, diced
 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
 2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
 2-3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
 Juice and zest of 1 lemon
 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 Kosher salt and black pepper

To assemble the salad, toss the arugula with the lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil in a large bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Layer the squash, apple, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cranberries, and goat cheese over the arugula. Garnish with kosher salt and pepper.

A Cozy Fall Dinner Party

So often food connects us to memories or people. We have a favorite dish our mother made for us as children or remember a special breakfast our grandparents made only when we visited them. We highlight memorable meals with friends and memorialize the trips we’ve taken based on what we ate.

We make a connection to the people we care about through food. It doesn’t matter one bit if you consider yourself a ‘foodie,’ or have no idea how to get around the in the kitchen.  What we find is that the food really didn’t matter all that much, ultimately it’s about the gathering.

My aunt, whose recipe for mashed potatoes is included in this menu,  understood the simple pleasures of a good meal, good friends, the decadence of a sweet-smelling candle and a good piece of chocolate. She never missed an opportunity to gather with her friends and family. She loved to cook and was a natural generous host. I think of her often when I’m in my own kitchen. Her food was thoughtful and inspiring while in the same breath completely approachable.

As the holiday season quickly approaches and so many of us steel ourselves for the onslaught of gatherings and events, here is an opportunity to make a meal for friends and family that feels like a warm hug on a cold blustery evening.

This isn’t a fancy menu; just good, simple food for a cozy evening. Grilled tri-tip steak is marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic with a splash of sriracha resulting in tender flavorful meat. Mashed potatoes get a makeover with sour cream and cream cheese, then baked to give the potatoes a twice-baked texture. Your guests will be fighting over the last spoonful, I can guarantee it. And finally, a big spinach salad full of fruit, tangy goat cheese and delicious caramelized onions, not only surprise you but add big delicious flavor.

Dessert is decadent but so easy. Homemade mocha pudding literally comes together in 10 minutes but will wow your guests. It is rich and chocolaty with a hint of espresso. A dollop of whipped cream and a few berries softens the richness of the dessert and makes it so special.

Don’t worry too much about the perfect centerpiece or matching napkins. Just set the table, turn some music on and invite people over. Sit around the table long after the meal ends sharing stories and laughing until your sides hurt. The dishes can wait until morning, just enjoy being at the table, in the moment. 

Grilled Tri-Tip Steak

  • 2-3 pounds tri-tip
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha. Whisk to combine. Liberally salt and pepper the tri-tip steaks on both sides of the meat. Submerge the meat in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate at least 3 hours, longer if possible.

Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high. Place tri-tip steak on the grill. Sear each side for 5 – 8 minutes per side.

Lower grill to medium-low heat and continue to grill for 6-10 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 130 degrees in the center of the steak. Tri-tip steaks can range in thickness. I suggest using a meat thermometer to check the temperature to ensure the meat does not overcook. The total cooking time will be about 20-25 minutes. 

Meredith’s Potatoes

  • 5 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups full-fat sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, thinly sliced
  • Dash of smoked paprika

Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Boil potatoes over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water from potatoes and return them to the pot. Turn the heat back to medium and cook for one to two minutes until moisture evaporates. Turn heat off.

Using a hand mixer or a potato masher, begin to mash the potatoes. Mix in the sour cream and cream cheese and continue stirring and mixing until the potatoes are smooth and the ingredient are well-combined. Salt and pepper to the potatoes liberally. Taste to see if they need more salt.

Generously butter baking dish. Add potatoes to the buttered dish, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle with a dash of smoked paprika. Bake potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Garnish with slivered green onions. Serve immediately.

*Potatoes can be made ahead of time. Instead of baking, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Allow the potatoes to come to room temperature while oven preheats.

Harvest Salad with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 8 oz. container organic baby spinach
  • 1 honey crisp apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 6 oz. container fresh blackberries (or raspberries)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

Maple Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Start by caramelizing the onion. In a medium saucepan, drizzle two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over thinly sliced onions. Give the onions a quick stir and sprinkle with kosher salt. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid. Stir every couple minutes until the onions are richly brown and condensed down by about half, usually about 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and continue to stir the onions.

In a large bowl, layer the honey crisp apple, blackberries, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds and slivered almonds over baby spinach. Top everything with the caramelized onions. Drizzle with maple balsamic dressing and mix to combine all ingredients. Serve immediately.

Herb Butter

  • ½ cup salted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs such as Italian parsley, basil and rosemary
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Coarse sea salt

In a small bowl use a fork to mix softened butter with fresh herbs and lemon zest. Sprinkle with coarse salt. On a piece of parchment paper, place the butter in the center of the paper. Wrap the parchment around the butter forming a cylinder. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, unwrap butter from parchment and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Chocolate Mocha Pudding

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Sweetened heavy whipping cream
  • Raspberries

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, instant espresso and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolks. Turn the heat to medium and pour the milk mixture over the sugar mixture, stirring to combine. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to boil and thicken, about five minutes. Allow the pudding to boil an additional minute before removing from the heat. Stir in vanilla.

To make whipped cream, whip one cup heavy whipping cream with a hand mixer. For additional flavor add one tablespoon powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. Store extras in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

*As soon as the pudding is finished thickening and the vanilla extract is stirred in, place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap over the pudding. This prevents a skin from forming and keeps the pudding decadently smooth.

To serve, divide pudding into individual cups. Top with sweetened whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries.

Maple Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate nutrient dense foods into my family’s diet. And while I have no problem eating salads, soups and smoothies for every meal; my family has a different idea of what that looks like.

For all the cooking I do, my kids are still kids; they would prefer to dunk all their vegetables in ranch dressing and that’s on a good day. They regularly refuse the dinners I make and complain that everything is ‘gross’ and ‘looks weird.’

And that’s ok, because I know they’ll grow out of it eventually. I keep making the food I think we should be eating and shrugging my shoulders when it’s refused. Sometimes they eat a banana and call it dinner, sometimes they grudgingly try the food in front of them and surprise surprise, at least 50 percent of the time they end up liking what they initially deemed inedible.

I tend to rely heavily on pastas and grains for quick weeknight dinners. Pasta tossed with a little pork or turkey Italian sausage and some kind of vegetable hidden under parmesan cheese is quick, easy and usually everyone at the table will eat it.

But in the last year or so, I’ve tried to get away from that as much, looking to help my family (and myself) eat more vegetables, especially at dinner time. I still love a one-pot meal, but I’m finding more and more that a flavorful roasted vegetable is just as satisfying and so much better for our overall health than that pasta dish.

These roasted sweet potatoes are the perfect crowd-pleaser and easy weeknight side-dish. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and C, potassium and fiber. Tossed in a little pure maple syrup and a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce the result is a sweet and spicy ‘french fry’ with just a hint of smoky flavor. This recipe works well with pork and chicken, wrapped up in a tortilla as a base for vegetable tacos or saved for morning when you can enjoy them with a fried egg.

Maple Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

·         3 large sweet potatoes, cut into ½ inch wedges

·         2 tablespoons olive oil

·         2 tablespoons corn starch

·         2 tablespoons maple syrup

·         1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and finely diced

·         1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce

·         1 teaspoon coarse salt

·         ½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment pepper. Wash, peel and dice sweet potatoes. The thinner you cut the potatoes, the quicker they cook. Thicker potatoes keep their shape a little better, but take longer to roast.

In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes in olive oil and cornstarch. Allow the potatoes to rest for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Seed and dice the pepper. Drizzle the maple syrup, chipotle pepper and reserved adobo sauce over the sweet potatoes. Salt and pepper the potatoes and mix well. Spread the sweet potatoes evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the edges of the sweet potatoes are crispy and golden brown. Make sure to flip the potatoes half way through the cooking time to ensure they cook evenly.

Save the remaining chipotle peppers in a container and stash in the refrigerator or freezer.