Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

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Whelp. As the song goes, this is The End.

The end of 2016, that is.

Wait, what; did you guys think I meant…THE end?

I mean, I dunno. Maybe it is. Check back with me after January 20th.

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For today however, let’s just keep the main focus on the fact that we’ve reached the end of the year. There is but one more day left in 2016. Crazy.

I won’t say this year’s went by particularly quick; it hasn’t really felt like that for me personally. I will say that it brought LOTS of change. Lots of new. Lots of different. There’s room for pessimism but the thing about starting a new year is that there’s also room for some new optimism. If things can get worse, there’s no reason not to hope that they can and won’t just might get better too, right?

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Some of us may choose the simple practice of optimism going into the new year. Others like to engage in certain practices that across cultures are supposed to bring especial luck to individuals if done on New Years Eve. I’m sure you guys are familiar with plenty of them.

Healthy amount of libations consumed.

Kissing a significant other or a… whatever you want to call them, at the stroke of midnight.

Opening doors and windows wide at night to let the ‘bad luck’ out of a house.

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There are plenty of places worldwide where people will consume particular foods, whether through tradition or believing that the foods themselves will provide good luck because of what they symbolize. Noodles consumed in Asian countries symbolize and are supposed to bring life longevity. In Spain, eating 12 grapes for each month of the year is supposed to predict the kind of year you will have (sweet for good times, sour for bad). There’s a certain Greek bread called Vasilopitta that I swear I’m gonna get around to trying myself one of these days. In the American south, black eyed peas, corn bread and leafy greens eaten at years end/new years are supposed to bring good luck.

If I’m being completely honest, I really don’t know or care whether or not eating greens of any kind will bring good luck. I’m gonna eat ’em regardless. But if the taste of today’s recipe was any indication, I’d say I was feeling pretty lucky this afternoon.

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Prior to this, the only ways I’d had kale previously was eating it raw, then eating it in the crispy chips you bake in the oven. Both are fine, but they’ve never really ‘wowed’ me into thinking kale was all that special. This recipe changed my mind. The kale is quick roasted in the oven, just to the point where it’s soft without being completed deflated. Sweet potato is roasted until it’s soft, but not quite mushy; it’s still got body to it. Both are then gently tossed together with some dried cranberries in a sweet and tangy dressing for a salad that is just REALLY delicious. The best part is, it tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had enough time to meld properly. The firm texture of the sweet potato is preserved and the texture of the kale in my opinion is improved: whereas raw kale is tough and fibrous, the quick roasted kale that’s been tossed in the dressing has this robust chewiness that’s a really great bite.

Truth to be told, it’s gone now and I’m already missing this stuff.  Oh yeah: and did I mention it’s pretty darn HEALTHY? And I actually want it. That’s always nice.

Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #152, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Ginger @ Ginger & Bread.

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Roasted Sweet Potato & Kale Salad

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled, seeded, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch (about 8 ounces) kale
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup (about 6 ounces) dried cranberries or cherries

Directions

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potato pieces with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are tender throughout and well browned around the edges, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from foil. Carefully remove potatoes from foil using a thin metal spatula and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, pick leaves off of kale stems into a large bowl and roughly tear with hands; discard stems. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper, and massage until well-coated in oil. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until wilted and crisp in some spots, about 7–10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to bowl with sweet potatoes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together shallot, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar . Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup of the oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cranberries to bowl with sweet potatoes and kale,. Toss with half of dressing, taste, and add more dressing as desired. The dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it come to room temperature or briefly microwave until warm before serving.

Lime-Glazed Chicken

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Hey guys!I’m back from my little blogging break I took after completing the 12 Days of Christmas series.It was a blast nd I feel super proud and accomplished that I actually pulled it off, but I did need a few days to recoup and recover from 12 straight days of posting.

Once again, thanks to all of you who followed along, liked or commented on all those posts. If you missed some or all of it, well, the posts are still there. Feel free to look back over the past few days and get caught up. I’m sure not all of us are in sugar comas yet, right? No reason why you can’t get some before the new year starts.

Speaking of which- it IS almost New Years Eve isn’t it? How is it 2015 ALREADY? If you figure it out, let me know because I swear we just started 2014.

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Anyone have any great plans for tomorrow night that I should know about? Me, you ask? Heh.

Guys, I’m the last person you want to ask about how to spend a New Years Eve. I’ve told you before, I’m a complete and total introvert. That’s the polite way of saying that I’m kinda boring. The not-so-polite way of saying it is to just straight up admit that not only am I kinda boring, I’m also kinda lame- when it comes to ‘partying’ stuff anyway.

Let the track of my New Years Eve nights speak for itself:

One year, I went to bed at ten, and slept straight through the whole thing, not getting up until eight the next morning.

Another, me and my mom spent NYEwatching one of those half hour long infomercials selling a 1970’s soul collection on CD. The New Year rung in with us singing along to Donna Summer and The Emotions. (But to our credit, we still didn’t buy the CD set)

I spent one year watching an ER marathon and binge eating saltine crackers  (don’t ask, I just got a craving for them).

And last year, all of us here spent New Years Eve in the living room having a Disney karaoke marathon. Enough said about that.

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This year? Well, it’ll probably involve me and a sofa, I’ll tell you that much.

Please tell me you guys will be doing something more interesting than all of that.

On second thought, no don’t tell me that. Just say you won’t be doing anything interesting for NYE either- I’ll feel better about my boring, uneventful self that way.

I’ve had this recipe swimming around in the blog folder of my computer for a while now- I just kept forgetting to put it up (to be honest, I’m not too crazy about how these pictures turned out in retrospect, but oh well). It’s another simple, quick and pretty healthy chicken dish that I use for my family when I buy bulk chicken breast packages from the grocery store to last us through the week.

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This chicken reminds me of a dish I’d order in a Latin American-themed restaurant alongside some paella or arborrio rice. You could even slice or dice it up and throw it in a tortilla or on top of a salad for a full meal. I’ve done both with this chicken and it turned out great both times. The ingredients are simple, but the flavors still really pop. Give it a shot when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands and still want a great meal.

Seeya ‘next year’ guys 😉

Lime Glazed Chicken


Recipe Courtesy of Great American Recipes

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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 oz. each)
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish. Combine the mustard, lime zest, lime juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

3. Brush half of the glaze over the chicken. Bake, brushing with the remaining glaze occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, 25-30 minutes. Serve.

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

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Happy New Year everyone!

We made it to 2014, guys. I hope everyone’s New Year’s Eve was lots of fun and that you spent it surrounded by your loved ones. Did everyone stay up nice and late? Did you save a glass of champagne for me? No? Oh, okay.

Today is a very important day, and not just because it’s the first day of the new year. Something very important is happening today. Any guesses? None?

I’ll give you a hint- it involves roses. Lots and lots of roses…

Random, but very important fact about me guys: I’m an alumni of Michigan State University. A proud alumni. So proud, I’m gonna boast about my school for the next solid paragraph:

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Michigan State University {MSU} is:

  • Among the largest single-campus residence hall system in the country with 27 residence halls in five neighborhoods and two apartment villages. There are 538 buildings, including 95 academic buildings. 
  • Nickname: Spartans,  Colors: Green and white,  Mascot: Sparty (Three-time national top collegiate mascot), Conference: Big Ten
  • Outstanding record of students earning prestigious national and international scholarships: Goldwater, 34; Rhodes, 16; Churchill, 16; Truman, 16; Marshall, 16; Udall, nine; Hollings, six; Gates, three; and Mitchell, one.
  • More than 275 study abroad programs on all continents in more than 60 countries (yes, that does include Antarctica. I’m serious.)

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If none of that is impressive enough, then try this one on for size: today, the MSU football team will be competing in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, CA. For my international readers, and non-College football fans (you poor unfortunate souls, you) I’ll give a brief explanation: the Rose Bowl is a championship game matching up the top 2 teams from the Big 10 Conference (mainly mid-west schools) and the Pacific- 12 Conference (schools in the far west). It’s a pretty big deal. As not only a die-hard, I-bleed-green, Spartan fan, but also a college football lover, I am needless to say, SO proud of my team for making it to the Rose Bowl. So much so, that I wanted to try and do a recipe that would pay some kind of homage to the game taking place tonight.

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Well, trying to create a dish around roses was rather tricky. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of any, I know you can use rose petals or rose water in food. It was just that the idea of trying to hunt down a recipe with either one of those very pricey ingredients that may not even turn out good (considering I’ve never used either) wasn’t worth the effort to me- at least not now. Besides, since this recipe was supposed to be for a football game I decided that less was more and to just keep things simple. What’s one of the top foods that people love to eat when watching ‘The Game’? Buffalo Chicken. I’m not a huge fan of chicken wings, but I LOVE buffalo chicken tenders, so I decided to go with that.

I used a bag of frozen pre-cut chicken strips I got from my grocery store and thawed, but buying boneless, skinless chicken breast and cutting them up will work just as well with this recipe.  There are two things I will insist on though: ‘double dipping’ the chicken in both the egg wash and flour, and having a sheet pan fitted with a wire rack on top to let the chicken rest. The first will make sure that you have a nice, thick n’ crunchy crust on the outside. The second will help make sure that that crust actually sticks and doesn’t slide off when you fry it. Several trials and errors have proven me right. So just take my word for it.

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If you’re a football fan, I hope you’ll join me in watching MSU play (and hopefully win) against Stanford in the Rose Bowl today.

If you’re not a football fan, then I hope you’ll at least give these chicken tenders a try. They’re a real ‘win’.

GO GREEN! GO WHITE! BEAT STANFORD!

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Buffalo Chicken Tenders

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tender strips, patted dry
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce)
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning (like Weber Kick’n Chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup, or 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

 Directions

1. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet, or deep pan to 350°. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Line the bottom of a half sheet pan with wax paper. Place wire rack(s) over sheet pan, and spray rack(s) with cooking spray. Set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the buttermilk and 1/4 cup hot sauce. In a smaller, square dish, mix together the flour, chicken seasoning, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder with a fork.

4. Dip chicken tenders into egg mixture, then dip into flour mixture and coat evenly. Place tenders onto wire racks, being careful not to allow them to touch.

5. Repeat step 3, dipping all of the tenders back into egg mixture, then in flour mixture again so that they have a double coating. Place back on wire rack.

6. Fry tenders in hot oil until golden brown and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Let drain on paper towels when done.

7. Mix together butter, 1/2 cup hot sauce, brown sugar and minced garlic in a large bowl. Add fried tenders to bowl, a few at a time and toss in the sauce with a pair of tongs until evenly coated.

8. Line another sheet pan with parchment paper. Place tenders onto pan and bake for about 5 minutes. Serve.

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