}]; Noreen's Kitchen: 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

In The Spirit for Spirits? How to Make a Classic White Russian Cocktail and a Little History on Where It Came From!

Today we are starting our new series of Classic Cocktails!  We are excited to share these simple recipes for grown up drinks with you.  A little secret that you may not know about Rick and I is that we enjoy a well made cocktail from time to time and believe that there really is no substitute for a well made, libation with excellent spirits and mixers and shared in excellent company.

That in mind, we would love to share our love of the classic cocktail with you.  We are beginning with one of Rick's favorites, the White Russian.  This one is a simple and delicious drink that has three ingredients.  It is simply poured together and then the drinker will stir to mix.  You mix 2 ounces of vodka, 2 ounces of Kahlua or coffee liqueur along with an equal part of heavy cream and you have a White Russian.  The way you mix this drink will render you a different result.  If you pour the liqueur in first then float the vodka then float the cream there will be distinct separation and a lovely presentation.  If you did as I did and pour the vodka and then the liqueur and then float the cream, it will be a beautiful black and white drink.  Serve with a stir straw and a few chocolate covered coffee beans on top for a great service.

Some interesting history and background on the White Russian cocktail that you may or may not know include the fact that the cocktail is actually a derivative of another precursor known as the "Black Russian" which is a similar drink sans the cream.  It appeared around 1949 when some smart bar back added the cream and the rest is, as they say, history!  There is nothing Russian about these cocktails except for the fact that vodka is known to be a Russian spirit and thus the origin of that name being associated with the cocktail    

Many variants of the cocktail exist, both localized and widely known, such as a White Canadian (made with goat's milk), a Blind Russian (made with Baileys Irish Cream instead of cream – the “Blind” comes from the drink being made with all-alcoholic ingredients), a White Mexican (made with Horchata), an Anna Kournikova (made with skim milk, i.e. a “skinny, low-fat White Russian”), a White Cuban (made with rum instead of vodka), a White Belgian (made with chocolate liqueur instead of coffee liqueur), and a Dirty Russian (made with chocolate milk instead of cream). This is one of the things that makes cocktails so much fun!  If you don't like one thing or another, you can change it to suit your own tastes or available ingredients and you have created a whole new libation!

I hope you will enjoy these videos as much as we are going to enjoy making them for you.  Being a grown up has it's perks.  One of which is enjoying well made distilled spirits in the way they were intended.  We hope that you will always remember to drink responsibly and never over indulge, and if you do happen to do that, be responsible and don't drive home.  Call a cab or call a friend.  The safest way to ensure that you don't hurt yourself or others is to be your own mixologist in the privacy of your own home.  

Be safe, be well and Happy Sipping!

If you would like to see how we made a classic White Russian, you can take a peek here:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year to Bring New Changes!

The new year will be upon us in a day or two and with the dawn of a fresh, new, squeaky clean slate, comes the realization that we actually have to work for our successes!  That being the case with my Noreen's Kitchen website.  I was notified by my website hosting company that they would be phasing out the current website builder that I have been using for the last three years and that I would have to begin using the new and improved version.  Why can't things be easy?  I can't simply migrate the over 300 pages that I have already published to the new version, I have to put my current website into a holding pattern while I rebuild it in the newer version of their builder.  Messy, messy, messy!  What a phenomenal waste of my time, you might say, if it were you and I would tend to agree.  However I cannot change how this is going to work and since they didn't ask me first, I will simply have to acquiesce and deal with it in my own way.

The way we will be dealing with this is that I will be rebuilding Noreen's Kitchen website from the ground up.  I will be hopefully going back through my YouTube videos and posting all the recipes I have done videos for so that you can refer at any given time to make the recipes that I have demonstrated.  I have wanted to do this for a while, but simply could not find the time.  Now I have no choice.  I have also wanted to revamp the visual and graphic aspects of the website and make it more pleasing to the eye and streamlined.  I am hoping that I can achieve that as well and make your experience while visiting very pleasant and make you want to come back on a regular basis!  All these things are positive approaches and the changes will, no doubt be positive as well.  I have learned a lot over the last 5 years of having my channel and 3 years of my website and I am going to implement the things I have wanted, to make everything easier to deal with.

All of this is going to take time.  I estimate, if I really work hard at it, and still keep up with my channel uploads, it will take me between 6 and 8 weeks to totally revamp the site from start to finish.  I ask patience from all of you who rely on the site to download and print my recipes.  No worries, though, the current version of the site will remain the same until the new version is available to be published.  You will still be able to access the site for printing out your favorite recipes until the new site is done.

Please sign up for email notifications through this blog and you will get an email each time I upload and post a new entry and/or recipe.  All of this is part of my goals for the new year.  One of which was to post a blog entry to coordinate with my video upload as well as post the recipe on my website and pay more attention to all my other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.  In time I will get a good schedule going and a checklist.  

In the last year, I have learned a lot.  As many of you know, I left a mainstream job about a year ago when my boss was elected as a judge and my office closed.  My husband Rick and I decided to try making my YouTube channel, website and blog our business.  So far it is working and we see great things in our future,  but we know we cannot rest on our laurels and we have to keep working very hard to get where we want to go.  We have you to thank for our continued success.  Without your support, feedback and love, we would definitely not be as successful as we have been and hope to be in the future!

It is our hope that you stick with us through this transition, which should be relatively painless.  Just look here on this blog for recipe posts.  I am uncertain if I can post PDFs, but I will find that out in good time.  If not, you will have to copy and paste for a short period of time.  

Thanks in advance for your understanding, continued support and constant participation in making our online community a wonderful place to be!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nice & Easy Pizza Roll-Ups! Perfect for New Years Eve Snacking!

Greetings!  Let's start this one off by saying, I am tired!  This holiday season has simply wiped me out!  I can't remember a year when I was this tired.  We worked very hard this year for some reason to get the holiday pulled together.  I don't know if it was the fact that we work a lot or the fact that pay schedules did not allow us to do our holiday shopping as early as we would have liked, but in the end, Christmas was wonderful and now that we are through it, we are focusing our sights on the coming new year.  

With that in mind I thought it might be nice to do a couple of videos featuring fun foods that you can serve to guests as pick ups or appetizers.  I am also planning on doing a couple other special things for the grown ups, but this one will be for anyone who loves a pizza!

I made this pizza roll up a couple of weeks back for Rick so he could try it out for lunch one day and he loved it.  I used what I had on hand and it turned out lovely.  This goes together quickly with ingredients that you probably already have on hand and this idea can go a long way.  If you want to take this in a different direction you go right ahead!

A large burrito sized tortilla is where we start and then I layered on about a half cup of shredded Italian blend cheese.  Topped that with a layer of thin sliced, good quality pepperoni and a sprinkle of both pizza seasoning and Parmesan cheese.  Popped that in the microwave for about a minute just until the cheese was melted and then rolled the whole thing up tight.  

When I made this for Rick, I just sliced it in half on an angle but if you are making these for a crowd as an appetizer or a pick up finger food, then you may want to slice each one in to four or even six slices.  I would not recommend slicing them too thin though because they will unravel and fall apart while eating.  You don't want your guests to ruin their party clothes.  I served this with some marinara sauce on the side for dipping.  Voila'!  Easy appetizers!

You can easily change this up and make it into any type of pizza you like, vegetarian, ham and pineapple, meat trio, even layer in some ham and swiss cheese and serve with some honey mustard for dipping.  Simply delicious.  This is the perfect quick and easy appetizer that you can make at the drop of a hat.  Any time you have people drop by you will be ready to greet them with a love warm platter of this quick and easy treat.

I hope you consider give this a try and  I hope you love it!

You can watch how I made these here!

Happy Eating!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Holly Jolly Vox Box Unboxing! Influenster Comes on Christmas Eve!

Greetings! Hope you are having a lovely holiday and that you were treated ultra well this Christmas.  The day after is always my favorite day of the holiday season.  It's quite, toned down and we are all in a relaxed mode.  After all the busy preparation for Christmas day and all the cooking, wrapping, shopping, shipping and anticipation it is nice to settle down and enjoy all we have been blessed with.

!It is usually what I refer to as my "do nothing" day , but seldom ends up being a day where I actually do nothing.  It is my own fault because I cannot stand to be still for long.  With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to share with you the Influenster Jolly Vox Box I received in the mail on Christmas Eve. 

If you are not familiar with Influenster, it is a website where you can go and sign up and take surveys and qualify to do product testing and reviews.  You then complete tasks and put the word out on your social media and earn points to qualify for more boxes.  I have received three this year and thought it would be fun to share this box.  I plan on sharing more boxes in the future and you can go sign up to qualify to get your own boxes.

This box had some fun stuff, like Skinny Cow candy, Rimmel lip laquer, NYC eye shadow, Mini Duck Tape and Puffs Plus with lotion tissues.   I have also received other boxes that included cereal, insoles, mac and cheese, Pond's BB cream (one of my faves) and high end facial serum that was just lovely.

It's fun to get to try things and give your feedback.  So go and sign up to give this a try!


Rimmel London Show Off Lip Lacquer @RimmelLondonUS / #ShowOffLipLacquer

NYC New York Color HD Color Trio Eye Shadow@NYCNewYorkColor / #HDColorTrio

Ducklings Mini Rolls Duck Tape @TheDuckBrand / #MiniDucklings

Puffs Plus      @Puffs / #PassthePuffs

Skinny Cow Candy    @TheSkinnyCow / #IndulgeWithSkinny

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas, New Year's, Channel Plans and Influenster! Oh My!

Hi everyone!  Today is the day after Christmas and I am sitting here going through all of my stuff, having a bit of a relaxing day after all of the prep work and fun of yesterday.  I am pooped!  I don't know about you, but getting ready for Christmas just gets to be busier and busier every passing year.  My girls are bigger now, but they are no less active.  In the end, my favorite part of the holiday seems to be the late evening hours of peace and quite that come when everyone is settled in for a holiday movie munching on freshly popped corn and sipping spiced cider.  That is when I am the happiest.  The gifts and the food and the family visits are all nice and meaningful, but it is the quiet of an evening with my children and my husband that make Christmas special for me.

I always call the day after Christmas my "Do nothing day".  It doesn't always turn out to be a day filled with nothing, because I need to be doing something all the time and not much will keep me down.  Even when watching a movie I need to be doing something, like crafting or crocheting.  Drives my husband up the ever, loving wall.  So it goes, my do nothing day is turning into a day filled with answering emails, going over comments and planning the first month of the new year for my YouTube channel.  I can feel the promise of the new year upon me.  This year, more so than in years past, I am hoping that is a good sign.  I know that I am motivated to make this coming year an amazing one in the kitchen and garden for myself, my family and for all of you!  

With that in mind, I recently began receiving boxes from Influenster which are filled with great samples of new products to try.  I plan on sharing some of these boxes with you today and in the coming weeks whenever I receive one.  I want to share my thoughts and feelings about what they send me.  I have only received on box so far, in 2013 and it was filled with some amazing products that I would not have known about which I cannot live without now, it also included some tried and true favorites.  

Today I wanted to share with you a product that I was sent to sample.  Meaningful Beauty Creme' De Serum.  This is from super model Cindy Crawford and you may have seen this advertised in one of those late night infomercials.  I have to tell you that I am usually very skeptical and suspect and would most likely not go out of my way to purchase such a product for any number of reasons.  When I got the opportunity to try this serum, I did not have high hopes.  I really kind of chuckled at the thought to be quite honest.

Well, as with lots of other things in life,  I was totally wrong about my initial approach to this product.  This serum is quite simply, delicious!  It only took one try for me to be hooked on it!  It is a tiny little bottle, that packs a powerful punch!  I have dry skin and being almost 50, whether I like to admit it or not, I am beginning to see signs of aging.  YUCK!!!!!  Under eye circles, fine lines and some dark spots that have been with me since the birth of my youngest daughter, 14 years ago.  Even though most people would not notice them, I do and while I don't mind for the most part, there are days when they bother me a lot.  

One little pump of this serum glides over your freshly washed face like a light silk veil.  It absorbs into your skin and helps it to remain soft and supple.  I was really surprised that there was not oily or greasy residue.  My skin tends to be dry but I have an oily T-zone.  This serum is wonderful and since I began using it about three weeks ago, my dark spots started to fade as well as the circles under my eyes and the fine lines I spoke of are starting to go away.  In short, I am really impressed with this product.

If you are interested in learning more about meaningful beauty you can find them here:

You can also sign up to be an Influenster of your own!  I love participating in these trials and maybe you will too!  You can find Influenster here:  http://www.influenster.com/  You have to fill out some surveys to find out what you like and where you fit as far as what is appropriate to  your lifestyle, but after that you can start to qualify to receive your box of fun filled samples to try and review!

So, I hope you don't mind if I pop in from time to time to share my "Vox Box" with you and let you know what I think about what I get to try!  Let me know what you think about what I think, I think that will be a lot of fun!  

My goal for the new year is to post a whole lot more here on my blog and let you into a little more of my life besides the kitchen.  I have plans to possible start a crafting channel, raise the bar on my kitchen channel and get the ball rolling on Rick's home improvement channel.  Blogging is just a natural progression for us.  This gives us an opportunity to check in or pop over for a quick snippet of our life maybe that we don't want to share on video or to enhance what we have done on video.  We hope you like what we have planned for the new year and as always love your input, suggestions and feedback!

Here is hoping that this holiday season has found you well and happy and that the new year will be filled with amazing awesomeness for all of us!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quick Caramel Sauce! Hit Your Sweet Spot!

Caramel Dip!  Easy and delicious!
Anyone who knows me, knows that autumn is my favorite time of year.  I wait with deep desire and anticipation for the first crisp mornings to make their debut.  Living in North Carolina, I sometimes have to wait a bit longer than other places I have lived but the feeling is always the same!  I breath in that crisp morning air and let the stresses of summer leave my psyche.  Ah, sweet autumn, welcome once again!  Once the leaves begin to fall and blanket the earth for her long winter's nap, it brings to rise certain necessities in our home.  Candles change their fragrance, the garden goes to sleep, warmer clothes come out of hiding and requests begin to come from members of the family for things that they love this time of year.

Caramel is one of those beloved flavors of the season.  Caramel is a favorite the year round, however in the cooler months, especially in the fall, it is essential.  Drizzled over ice cream, as a sweet dip for apples or as a chewy moment of satisfaction on the go, this is the flavor of the month for sure!  I have recently been playing around with those little cellophane wrapped caramels that we all grew up with just to see what I could do with them.   I also was trying to recreate a caramel dip similar to those found in the produce section but without all the garbage ingredients.  I was successful on many levels.  One thing led to another and the results spoke for themselves!  O caramel, I we love thee!  

I made a plain caramel dip with just a bag on unwrapped caramel candies and some heavy cream popped it in the microwave and let it melt, gave it a stir and voila', beautiful caramel dip for my girls to dip apple slices in, after school!  My husband of course covered a bowl of vanilla ice cream with the stuff and was in heaven!

Next up, I wondered what would happen if I threw  a cup of chocolate chips in that mix.  Wonder no more!  This made the most amazing chocolate caramel sauce you will ever put in your mouth!  It has the texture and consistency of the best hot fudge you have ever tasted and I really mean that.  When this cools, it is perfect for dipping pretzels and enjoying that sweet and salty combo.  

Then, one evening as I was sitting with my husband and doing research for a few new projects.  I asked him if he thought that caramel dip would work with some peanut butter chips.  Rick said what he always says,  "Only one way to find out!"  And so it was that we created this delicious, decadent peanut butter flavored warm and gooey caramel dip that was just as amazing as the other two.  It has a distinct thickness about it and it is perfect after it cools for dipping crisp sticks of carrots and celery into.  Probably not diet worthy, but definitely kid friendly and who doesn't want to get just a few more veggies into their kids?  Am I right?!

I think I will be making batches of these dips/sauces to share for the holidays.  I think jarring them up in jelly jars and giving in trios would be a welcomed and thrifty gift for friends and neighbors and a little bit different from the ubiquitous cookies and banana bread, not that there is anything wrong with those things, but sometimes it is nice to be a little different!

So the next time you have a yen for something sweet, give these sauces/dips a try!  Eat them warm or let them come to room temperature so they get thick and gooey.  Either way you do it they will be devoured right before your eyes.  You can be happy in knowing that you made it yourself, you know whats in it and your family will love it!

I hope you try these and I hope you love them!

Happy Eating!

Check out the videos for the sauces here:

Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Say Cheese! Make Cheese!

Homemade cottage cheese is cheap and easy!  Give it a try!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been playing with cheese.  No, not literally playing with cheese, by playing, I kind of mean, learning about how to make simple cheese.    I have had success with two different types of simple cheese that are very nice to have on hand or in my case watch disappear!

I like to know how to make things for myself because sometimes you just can't be sure what is being put into some of the commercially produced items that we tend to reach for on a regular basis.  Do  want to make cheese all the time?  But I do want to know how to make it myself.  I tend to get a great deal of satisfaction from researching, applying myself and making something as ubiquitous as cheese in my own kitchen.

I will tell you that making cheese takes patience, time and attention to detail.  When you look at a recipe, you need to follow it.  When you see an ingredient such as rennet, you must have it, there is no real substitution.  You always want to start off with the necessary ingredients in order to have a good end result.

I have been playing with homemade mozzarella cheese for about two years. I have been successful exactly twice and I think it was by mistake both times.  The other dozen times  tried, it was nothing but a gloppy mess that did not set and was unable to be properly pulled.  I have dumped countless gallons of perfectly good milk down the drain in the form of failed cheese.  More than I would like to admit, but because we all make mistakes and it is a learning experience and all part of the journey, I will divest myself of my own pride in order to inspire others.

Cheese making is an art!  It is not, however, reserved for farmers and cheese masters.  It is accessible to everyone.  You can find great books on how to make your own small batch cheeses at home.  You can also find great supplies for making everything from cheese to yogurt at many websites.  Have a look around and a whole new world will open up to you.  I suggest you start small and easy like I did, by making a type of Farmer's cheese or homemade cream cheese.  Simple, and delicious and very, very easy. 

Just like the old saying goes, a job worth doing is worth doing well.  In a world full of instant this and quick that.  Cheese is still one of those things that takes time.  I was recently inspired by a friend who made some quick spreadable goat cheese that she seasoned with fresh chives and other herbs from her garden.  Watching her I knew that I could do that.  Although I am sans a goat, I did not let that stop me.  Off I went to the Amish market for some fresh whole milk.

Cheese is really nothing more than milk solids that have been separated from their water or whey.  In layman's terms we are removing the water from the milk.  What results is the thick, milk solid that all cheese is made from.  The cheese I made, similar to my friends, was soft, spreadable and delicious.  It did not contain rennet and did not require time to rest or incubate and become a curd.  This cheese was super simple and everyone can do it!

Farmer's cheese requires nothing more than a little time, some milk, an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar and whatever seasonings you wish to flavor your cheese.  I made two different types of cheese from one half gallon of milk.  Flavored cheese spread with salt and Herbs du Provence and the other half I turned into the most decadent whipped cream cheese you have ever tasted.  Simply divine and does not compare to what is sold as cream cheese in the market today.

I think making cheese can be very rewarding, but be warned, if your family is anything but mine it will disappear quickly.  Between bagels, toast, crackers and simple snacking this cheese might not last the afternoon.  Make sure you try and put some aside for your breakfast, that way at least you can bask in your hard work if only for a moment.

Now go do something cheesy!  Make some cheese!

You can see how I made this wonderful cheese here:

You can get a printable recipe and instruction here:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

K.I.S.S. and Get Ready for Valentine's Day!

This post is a collaboration with Williams-Sonoma, but all words and opinions are my own.

williams-sonoma, cooking, baking, cooks, cutlery

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and this is the perfect time to think about how you want to surprise your sweetheart with something for that special day.

While flowers are a lovely gesture, they are really expensive and with the economy being what it is, they can be off the table for some people.  Jewelry is always a welcomed option for the ladies in your life, but again, can be expensive.  I don't know many people who have the extra money to plunk down on a diamond heart for the February holiday.  What to do?  Food is always a wonderful option! We all have to eat like it or not (who doesn't like it?)  Whether you plan to cook a meal for your sweetheart or make something even more creative,  the folks over at Williams Sonoma have compiled some great ideas and resources to help plan your Valentine's Day.

There are lots of ways to show your loved one that you care.  You don't have to spend a ton of money, but you do want to make sure that whatever you do, you do it with quality and care.  Think about what you want to make and do it as simply as possible.  Remember, if you have never made a recipe before, you might want to give it a try before you make it for your wife or fiance'.  Just to make sure you know what you are doing.  The evening can quickly become a disappointment, mostly for yourself, if you don't have confidence that what you have chosen to make is going to be a smash!

The best advice I can give you is this;  K.I.S.S. (fitting no?).  Most of us know this little gem as Keep It Super Simple.  Maybe not how you remember it, but a bit nicer and still imparts the same message.  Keeping things simple is the key to being successful at anything!  In this case, planning a simple, yet romantic meal for your special someone can be easy with a bit of planning and a little finesse.    

 Start your night with a romantic appetizer of a shared shrimp cocktail.  Move on to bacon wrapped filet mignon that are the star of the show and super simple to create for your main course.  Then, finish off with a molten chocolate cake, delicious and decadent.  All of these dishes are simple, yet will knock the socks off of anyone you choose to share them with.  The best part of this type of romantic meal is the fact that you have made it yourself!  Cooking for someone is, after all,  the ultimate expression of love, in my opinion.

You can find the recipes for the bacon wrapped filet mignon as well as the molten chocolate cake on the Williams-Sonoma website here: 

If making a whole meal is not your preference, you can always make a sweet treat for your honey.  Below are a few suggestions for Valentine's day, I've come up with that you might consider.  The most important thing to remember is being together, in the moment and making a beautiful memory is priceless.  Here is hoping you have a priceless Valentine's day, sealed with a K.I.S.S.

Hazelnut Mousse!  Quick and Easy and Impressive!

Fun Valentine Krispy Treats!  Super Fun for the Kids!

Valentine Chocolate Orange Meringue Kisses

Check out other Ideas on my website:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Salad Days: A Promise To Try and Eat More Salads All Year Long

This post is a collaboration with Williams-Sonoma, but all words and opinions are my own.

When I was growing up we would sometimes have salad with dinner.  It was usually as an accompaniment to a grilled steak or chicken and during the summer  months when it was much too hot, in Tucson, Arizona to be thinking about turning on the oven.  My mom would often put me in charge of tossing the dinner salad together and it always had the same ingredients; iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges and sliced cucumbers.  Onions were left on the side because my brother would not come withing 10 feet of them and my dad did not care for them on his salad.  Break out the bottled dressing and salad was served.  I never really liked salad much when I was a kid.  

When I was in college, pasta salads became very popular (yes, I know that I am dating myself).  Cooked, cold pasta mixed with chunks of Mozzarella cheese, cubes of pepperoni and chopped onions, sliced black olives and sometimes some peppers thrown in for good measure.  Pour on some bottled dressing and voila'! Salad as a meal!   Who doesn't love a good pasta salad?  I haven't had one like this in quite a while.  Kind of makes me want one, come to think of it.  

All of this reminiscing is great, a walk down salad memory lane, if you will, but salad can be and is so much more than just a wedge of iceberg lettuce drowned in blue cheese dressing and a couple of cherry tomatoes tossed on the plate for show.  Yes salad is whatever you want it to be and I think we sometimes forget that we can make almost anything into a salad.

Traditionally, salads are cold but they can be served warm or hot as well.  They can be just greens dressed with a simply vinaigrette made with lemon and olive oil, or they can be full of everything but greens and lettuce.  I personally love a chopped salad sans lettuce.  Sometimes I just think lettuce gets in the way of all that other earthy goodness.  How about throwing some cubed bread for a Panzanella or Tuscan bread salad?  What about using cooked rice, Quinoa, couscous or Millet as a base for a dinner salad?  The possibilities are endless!

There is really no good reason not to be eating more salad.  I, for one, have promised myself that I will serve more salads, hot, cold and everything in between to my family this coming year.  It is my hope that we can love this new path and use it as an opportunity to explore new combinations of ingredients that we can enjoy together at our supper table.  My girls love salad!  My oldest, Molly loves it however she can get it, with lots of greens or with none at all, with grilled chicken or steak, Caesar or Asian style, you name it, she loves it and actually craves salad.  Not bad for a 15 year old right?  My youngest is a bit more finicky but I'm working on her.  Right now she will only eat salad that is made with fresh baby spinach and hard cooked eggs, she only eats the tomatoes on the side and she likes it with ranch dressing.  Like I said, I'm working on her!  As for myself and my husband, we both love them as well, but I just don't think about them being a meal as often as I should.  

So off I go to try and make salad a bigger part of our lives.  I hope you will consider this as well. We can make our lives a bit easier with salad and we can make our bodies a little healthier with them as well.  The good folks at Williams-Sonoma have devised a wonderful chart along with recipes that provide a seemingly endless variety of salad recipes for us to work through.  Have a look and see what you like and start eating salad tonight!

Check them out here:

Click Here to See Great Salad Ideas at Williams-Sonoma

Here are a couple of salad ideas that we love at our house:

Asian Chicken Salad

Ginger Sesame Dressing

Taco Salad with Homemade Chili
I hope you try these and I hope you love them!  I also hope you check out the link to Williams-Sonoma and get some great ideas for salad dinners at your house!

Happy Eating!

You can see lots more recipes and ideas on my website

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup!Vegetable Soup Even a Veggie Hater Will Love!

The new year is upon us.  Many people have made resolutions for a variety of things such as to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, save money get organized, etc.  Eating healthier is on our agenda.  We tend to eat fairly healthy, however, there is always room for improvement.  The problem lies in the fact that most comfort food is laden with fat, sugar, salt and every other thing that the doctors tell us is bad for us.  It can sometimes be hard to find a perfect balance between flavorful, satisfying and healthy.

It can be even more daunting if you are trying to encourage someone to eat healthy and they absolutely hate the idea of even remotely being introduced to a vegetable of any kind besides a potato.  Yes, this is a daunting task indeed.  I have people tell me all the time, that their spouse or their children simply abhor vegetables.  I really cannot offer much advice except that it should be done little by little. 

I have never had a problem with my kids or my husband when it comes to veggies.  We enjoy lots of veggies!  A lot of that has to do with the fact that we grow a lot of our own, in our garden, every year.  That makes it even more meaningful when you can sit down to a table full of delicious veggie dishes and know that the majority of them came from your own soil, tended by your own hands.  My family may be an exception to the norm.  My youngest loves, of all things, Lima beans!  I know, she's a freak right?!

So, anyway, back to the subject at hand.  Getting veggie haters to eat veggies.  There is one thing that I have observed in my years of cooking for people and that is the people who say they don't like vegetables normally enjoy tomatoes and potatoes.  As for the other myriad of offerings in the farmer's market, they may take a bit more convincing. 

Tomatoes and potatoes are the start of a really amazing soup that will warm your cold winter nights and have your family coming back for more.  It is loaded with veggies and it is simple  and quick to make.  You can plan for this soup to take less than an hour to prepare you will be getting rave reviews for much longer after you serve it to your family.

My husband has dubbed this simply "Yummy Soup".  Whatever you call it, you are going to love it.  Filled with Cannellini beans, a selection of aromatics such as onion, celery, garlic and carrots as well as tomatoes and the nutritional powerhouse, kale.  I know, I know, you are saying that you are never going to get your picky, veggie hater to eat kale.  Yes you will, trust me.  rip it or cut it up small enough and toss it in the soup where it will wilt into the broth and be disguised forever! 

When you give your family kale, you are giving them one of the most nutritious vegetables you can find!  Kale is a member of the Brassica family which also is the same family as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.  Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss. Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Kale is also a good source of carotenoids.  

My friend, Bev, calls Kale her secret weapon.  She loves to dehydrate it and grind it up into a powder which she then adds to anything she can.  Her family is none the wiser and she is getting some powerful nutrition into them at the same time.  My grandmother used to swear that kale is the reason I never suffered from acne or any other skin problems as a teenager.  She may be right!  We ate kale on a regular basis with our meals growing up.  My mother would sautee' it with garlic and olive oil.  Steam it with onions and potatoes or just open up a can of it and heat it through.  Yes, when I was a kid, they had canned kale available in the grocery store.  I haven't looked for it so I don't know if they still do.  I much prefer the fresh variety and it is always available in the market. 
I hope that you will give this wonderful, nutritious soup a try.  When you eat it you will be in good company.  This is a soup steeped in history.  You could imagine Roman gladiators enjoying a soup like this.  Simple, hearty, warming and delicious.  Try some today and get one of those new year's promises out of the way!

Complete recipe can be found at my website:

Noreen's Kitchen