Skip to content

Italiano Insalata

25 February 2015

Italiano Insalata Italiano Salad_heidikinscooks_Feb2015

One of my favorite pizza places serves a similar salad to this one, and I’ve always really loved it. So, I decided to recreate using some pantry and fridge staples, nothing super fancy required. I threw this together in just a few minutes and absolutely devoured it! This has a wonderful collection of flavors and textures!

Italiano Insalata

Baby spinach, torn or chopped into smaller pieces.
I find that with salads with lots of toppings I must have smaller lettuce so that I can fit both the greenery and the toppings on each fork full. If you want to double-fist it, spinach-toppings,  spinach-toppings, etc. then don’t tear up your lettuce.

For every two people you are feeding, add:
3 whole artichoke hearts, cut into quarters and then into thin slices
1 section red bell pepper, diced
1-2 green onions, white and light green parts, minced
1/4 cup garbanzo beans
5-8 thin slices of hard sausage–I used beef summer sausage, but you could also use salami or whatever you prefer–slice each round in to matchsticks
2 tablespoons shredded or fresh grated Parmesan cheese
A few twists of black pepper

Top with balsamic salad dressing, which you could probably make from scratch, but I absolutely buy it instead.

You can make this on individual plates, layering the ingredients as you go, or just toss it all together in a big bowl. Enough of this salad could easily be your whole meal, especially if you added extra garbanzo beans and sausage; or, you could use it as a side to some grilled chicken/steak, or a pasta dish. Or both, if you are Starvin’ Marvin.

I had this excellent epicurean dream to top this with a creamy blue cheese dressing…but, um, mine was expired. Not a little bit expired, but, like, 18+ months expired. With fuzzy mold. At this point in the evening I was starving and didn’t want to run to the grocery store for salad dressing because I knew I’d come home with a half-pound of Mozzarella sticks and the three-for-one discount priced donuts. So, I used a balsamic dressing instead and it was delicious. It wasn’t creamy, but I ended up eating salad for dinner instead of Mozzarella sticks and donuts, so overall I think it was okay.

Valentine Salad

12 February 2015

Valentine Salad_heidikinscooks_Feb 2015

I love Valentine’s Day, and have always loved Valentine’s Day. Not in a swoony, romantic, fancy-pants date with flowers and chocolates and jewelry kind of way, but in a heart and pink and red and cookies kind of way. To be honest, my favorite Valentine’s Day date is a night home with my sweetheart, my favorite delivery pizza (Papa Johns, I’ll never quit your crust!) and a movie that makes me laugh. This salad, with it’s pink grapefruit, red pomegranate seeds, and adorable white jicama hearts, is probably the most Valentine-y thing I’ve ever made outside of frosted sugar cookies; it would be a great side to your romantic steak or lobster dinner. And hey, it probably would also go really great with pizza.

Valentine Salad

Spinach or spring green mix

1 medium grapefruit, segmented, each segment cut into thirds
1 small jicama, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 – 1 whole English cucumber, seeds and pulp scooped out, diced
Sliced almonds (not pictured because I forgot to add them until later)

Brianna’s Poppyseed dressing

Segment your grapefruit first, this tutorial explains that process well, I think. This will be messy, so keep some paper towels handy. Also, if you have a paper cut anywhere on your hand, learn from my pain and for the love, WEAR GLOVES. Peel and slice the jicama into thin slices. You will need a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, unless you want to get super fancy with your paring knife. Cut out a bunch of hearts from your jicama slices. Cut the cucumber lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the pulpy seed goop, then slice into 4 or more long strips and chop into tiny bits.

Layer your spinach/lettuce, then the grapefruit pieces, jicama hearts, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, and sliced almonds. (Depending on how many people you are serving, and how you like your lettuce/topping ratio for your salad, you may have extra toppings.) Serve with poppyseed dressing, that I’m sure you could make from scratch, but you can also buy a bottle of this stuff for $4 dollars at the grocery store and it is delicious!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

**You could cut the jicama into stars instead of hearts and make an adorable Christmas or holiday salad.

Casual Valentine’s Day Table Setting

10 February 2015

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (3)

I think Valentine’s Day was my Mom’s favorite holiday, but as a single woman raising a bunch of kids, her Valentine’s Day was not about romantic, candle-lit dinners, but more about casual family dinners smothered in hearts. Which, frankly, is a lot more fun than an expensive evening out with a lot of high expectations.

So, in that spirit of the holiday, I give you a casual table perfect for a dinner with friends, dinner with your kids, or a fabulous Galentine’s Day party. You know, whatever strikes your fancy.

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (2)

I started with a white tablecloth and then layered woven rattan chargers and my red Fiestaware chargers.

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (4)

Then add basic white dinner plates, some charming gingham napkins.

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (1)

My go-to grocery store bouquet keeps this pretty low-key, but also festive.

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (6)

Since this is a pretty casual table, I tried criss-crossing the flatware on top of the napkins, and I love how it turned out. Cute, casual, and different. Also eliminates the need for napkin rings.

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (5)

I just used my regular glasses and kept this all quite simple. Remember that thing about unnecessarily high expectations? Yeah, I like to avoid those whenever possible.

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (7)

Valentines Day Table Setting_heidikinscooks_February 2015 (9)

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Sources (no affiliate links)
Tablecloth: gift from grandmother
Rattan chargers: IKEA
Red Fiestaware chargers: HomerLaughlin
White dinner plates: Pottery Barn Caterers Box
Gingham Napkins: Sur la Table (similar)
Flatware: Towle Living Wave, Amazon
Glassware: Target, old

Brussels Sprouts with Golden Beets

5 February 2015

Brussels Sprouts and golden beets_heidikinscooks_February 2015
Last year I picked up a couple of golden (or yellow) beets kind of on a whim while grocery shopping. I’d never cooked beets before, I liked pickled red beets, but hadn’t even heard of yellow ones. I think I was hoping they’d be a little less messy than their dark red, juicy cousins. I roasted them with a head of cauliflower, onion, and garlic and absolutely fell in love. When roasted, golden beets are sweet and tender and don’t have ANY of the juice and staining problems that red beets do. Since then, I have added these to a number of dishes because I love how bright they are and how delicious.

Tossing sweet golden beets with Brussels Sprouts, onion, garlic, and the last of the chickpeas and roasting the whole thing for a half hour resulted in this wonderful mix of flavors and textures. I topped it with a bit of Parmesan and some chopped up almonds and devoured the whole thing immediately. This would be an excellent side dish with any kind of grilled or roasted meat, mashed potatoes, soup and bread, or whatever you fancy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Golden Beets

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, washed, trimmed, and halved
3-4 golden beets, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1-2 cups chickpeas, rinsed
1 yellow onion, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons dry mustard
A few shakes of red pepper flakes

Sliced almonds

Wash and trim the Brussels Sprouts, cut in halves, and toss onto a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully slice the outer peel off the beets, trim, and then cut into thickish slices (1/2 inch), and then into cubes, place on baking sheet. Chop up your onion and garlic, add that to the baking sheet with the chickpeas. Drizzle the whole mess with olive oil, push it around with a spatula until everything is coated, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, dry mustard, and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Toss into your preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, until your beets are soft and before the sprouts start to char, you will probably want to stir things around every 10 minutes or so.

Give yourself a generous helping, check for salt, then top with Parmesan and sliced almonds.

Minestrone Skillet

3 February 2015

Minestrone Soup Skillet_heidikinscooks_Feb 2015

Want to hear a first world problem? The other night I wanted soup, but I didn’t want soupy-soup. I wanted something….chunkier. I was flipping through my recipes and the Minestrone one caught my eye, but again, I didn’t want something soupy, or brothy, or anything that required a spoon. I wanted fork-worthy soup. Stew? Yes, stew. But not meaty, I wanted thick, vegetabley fork-required stew. (Oh my gosh, are you still reading this? I can’t even explain myself sometimes!) The solution, of course, is a dinner skillet, a one-pan meal for all my vegetabley wants and needs, with just enough broth to steam and cook the veggies but not enough to need a spoon.

This is, perhaps, one of the most delicious things I’ve made in a while. It’s packed full of veggies, and the combination of fresh green beans and spicy parsley made this taste so fresh and swoony! Swoony forky stew, please!

Minestrone Skillet

2 pieces of bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, cut lengthwise into quarters, then diced
1-2 sections red or green bell pepper, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon crushed Oregano
1/2-1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Big handful fresh green beans, trimmed, and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
*About 2 cups of chopped beans, or one 15 oz. can
1 15 oz. can Italian style diced tomatoes with juice (I like Petite diced the best)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
1-2 cups chickpeas, rinsed
2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters or sixths, then chopped into triangles
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
5-6 ounces fresh spinach, rough chop

Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf, Italian parsley, minced

Heat a large skillet or frying pan, toss in the chopped bacon and cook until crispy. Add onion, garlic, celery, and pepper and stir, throw in salt, pepper, and other spices and continue to stir until the veggies are soft and translucent.

Add the green beans, tomatoes, kidney beans, chickpeas, zucchini, and broth and bring to a boil and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes until your green beans are cooked but still a tiny bit crisp. Take the lid off–your skillet should be awfully full by now–throw all the spinach on top, and put the lid back on for 3-5 minutes, until the spinach is wilty,then stir it in.

Test for salt and pepper, add more if necessary.

Serve hot, topped with Parmesan and parsley, and a side of crusty bread smothered in butter. Serves 4-6 adults. I served this in a deep plate and it worked perfectly, if your plates are kind of flat you may prefer a bowl instead.

You can easily add cooked chicken or turkey or diced up pork to this to bulk it up a bit. Or add some chopped up or shredded carrots, or mushrooms, or small pasta (I’d throw it in cooked, not raw), or kale, or anything else that suits your fancy. There are probably endless variations on this recipe!