Recipe: DIY Starbucks Kale + Veggie Salad

*First of all, congratulations to Carolyn, winner of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird! Thank you to everyone who signed up for my newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, go now! I’m choosing winners at random from my entire email subscription list.

Next up to give away is Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, a clever and entertaining book filled anecdotes about his life interspersed with practical advice.

onwriting

I had it in my collection for years, but for some reason it took me almost a decade to pick it up. Big mistake. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat. 

The results of this random drawing will be posted here and on Writing at the Table on Tuesday, December 23rd.

Now for the post…

During the thirteen years I lived in Brooklyn, I never went to Starbucks. Why would I? I lived in the land of Quirky Cool Coffee Shops (that’s a direct quote from the linked article, by the way, I’m not trying to be a snob), and besides, the closest Starbucks was too far of a walk.

But I love writing in cafes, and the closest one to me in Brooklyn was a little sliver of a cafe called Steeplechase, which had the most delicious cinnamon chip scones (alas, not gluten free). I used to go there once a week when my son had a sitter. 

When we moved to New Hope, I knew I’d have to find a place to write. Sure, I had a whole house instead of a tiny apartment, but the thing is, I like the background noise of coffee shops. Plus, I love coffee.

I tried seeking out a cute little independent shop, but seating was a problem. The local Starbucks, however, has some rather comfy armchairs. And did you know they now offer a blonde (light) roast? It’s pretty tasty and far less intense than their dark roasts. Just my personal preference because I know plenty of people who can’t get enough of their regular sludge, I mean coffee.

Anyway, I was also pleased to see that they added some healthy and hearty food options to their menu. Including this awesome salad, which to my knowledge is gluten free (though not labeled as such):

starbucks kale salad

(Yes, it’s sitting on my dashboard because I was too hungry to take it home for a proper photo shoot.)

So, after buying it several times, I decided to make it myself. It’s a bit labor intensive, but it makes a week’s worth of lunches (unless someone in your household steals half of them…)

DIY Kale, Brown Rice + Roasted Veggie Bowl

IMG_3999

For the recipe, head over to Writing at the Table

Gluten Free Buckwheat Noodle Stir Fry + a Slice of Country

It’s November, already. I know I’m not the only one caught totally off guard by the insanely fast passage of time this autumn. I’ve heard the rumbling on other blogs. I know it’s super boring and redundant to talk about how fast time goes by, but seriously, it feels like Bunky started kindergarten about three seconds ago, and now Halloween is over, Little Guy’s 2nd birthday was over a week ago (!) and Thanksgiving is a stone’s throw away. I’m behind on posts and pretty much everything else.

How I'm feeling lately.

I can relate to how this guy feels.

But, instead of throwing up my hands and giving up (my usual m.o.), I am going to take some deep cleansing breaths (trying) and go one post at a time. First up, our awesome pre-Halloween trip to the country and a super yum buckwheat noodle stir fry recipe.

Important note from the author: I totally understand if you feel the need to scroll past the ridiculous amount of pictures of my kids and the photogenic country background and get right to the recipe. All I ask is that you look at this one before you go.

indian corn

I mean, really. How does nature make this stuff up?

Okay, so here we go. A few weeks ago we drove up to the country for what might be my favorite time of the year (well, besides summer at the lake, of course). Besides everything looking so golden hued and gorgeous with all the fall foliage, there is THIS:

Cunningham Farms Corn Maze

Cunningham Farms

Cunningham Farms is a lovely little farm in Bethel, NY. (Bethel is the location for the original Woodstock concert, btw, with a trippy museum to boot.) We stumbled upon their pumpkin patch and corn maze last year and loved it. This is a picture of Bunky in October 2012 giving her famous double thumbs up (highest level of praise).

farm thumbs up with hay bale

And now, one year older. (Same fleece, ha.)

Bunky on hay bales

They added some cool new features like an obstacle course, giant chess board, and Bunky’s absolute favorite, panning for gems. The kid is super into crystals and rocks. I mean, who isn’t?

obstacle course

chess board

Bunky loved "finding" gems.

Bunky finding “gems” with her dad.

I loved the corn maze, which I skipped last year because I didn’t feel like carrying Leo.

corn maze kids

Of course, I still ended up lugging him around most of the way, but with a face like this, how could I resist?

Little Guy close up

Look at the sky. It was a perfect mix of clouds and sun.

Look at the sky. It was a perfect fall mix of clouds and sun.

There was a tractor, because of course.

tractor

The Indian corn was a huge hit all around.

candy corn

Little Guy loved his so much he fell asleep holding it later that day. No joke. He also used it as a “phone” on the ride home.

corn nap

A real life nap. Not staged.

I feel like the corn was more colorful than I remember, each kernel so shiny and vibrant. Or maybe I just never really saw it before. My mom used to love Indian corn and every autumn we’d have some hanging on our door. I used to think she was a little silly for getting so excited about it, and now here I am. There are so many things I wish I could tell her she was right about. Corn is the least of it, you know?

She would’ve loved these guys, obvs.

Bunky thief

little guy thief

She also would have loved this blog. I think she would have been surprised about the recipes since I had never been much of a cook. My claim to fame as a post college graduate was that I made edible scrambled eggs and rocking rice krispie treats. No joke. It wasn’t until I met my husband at the ripe old age of 26 (yes, I thought I was old then – HILARIOUS, right?!) that I began to learn. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was his master plan to teach me how to cook and then conveniently hand over the tongs.

Well. I’ve come along way from those early days. For years I relied on recipes, strictly. I felt like if I strayed from a recipe even in the most minor of ways, it would end in disaster and chaos. Not unlike how I live my life, ha. Oh, the metaphors one can come up with on such little sleep. Anyway. It’s only very recently that I feel brave enough to go out on my own, to combine recipes, to leave out (seemingly!) key ingredients, to swap things out, to PLAY. I still keep it safe, as I don’t have any free time to experiment for whimsy’s sake. I’ve got a picky family to feed, you know?

So, the recipe I came up with works in several key ways for me and my people:

1. It’s HEALTHY, but covertly so (6-8 grams of protein per noodle serving!)

2. I can switch up the veggies depending on what I’ve got hanging around.

3. It is super flavorful (which is saying a lot given my spice averse family).

4. (Perhaps most importantly) It’s FAST and EASY.

Here’s the secret: awesome gluten free soba noodles.

king soba

I used King Soba Sweet Potato Buckwheat for this recipe, but their Pumpkin Ginger Brown Rice noodles are great, too. They are organic, gluten free, and super healthy. You can cook them up and add them to soup (which we did for Bunky who is anti-stir fry for some strange reason) or make this…

stir fry

Please don’t judge a book by its cover. Or my recipe by this photo.

Gluten Free Buckwheat Noodle Stir Fry (with chicken or all veggie)

Adapted from this recipe and this one, too.

Ingredients (for the sauce):

For the sauce:
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger minced or thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar

For the rest:

  • 1 complete package of gluten free King Soba noodles (comes in batches of 3 but each is about one serving, according to my family)*
  • 2 teaspoons of canola oil
  • 1 broccoli crown, separated into bite sized pieces
  • carrots (we used pre-shredded from the store, or 2-3 carrots shredded or sliced)
  • 2-3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips or thinly sliced (omit and use cubed tofu if you’d like)
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, deveined and chopped

* We also cooked up a package of plain rice noodles and used both cause we are noodle people.

Directions:

1. Mix all sauce ingredients into a small bowl. Set aside

2. Boil water for noodles. Cook as directed on the package. Set aside when done.

Gray noodles look gross, but they taste good.

Gray noodles look gross, but they taste good.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in the pan on medium. Add broccoli, cook for a few minutes and then add carrots. After a minute or two add the chicken and cook until almost cooked through.

(Sidebar: I had taken a picture of the raw chicken happily nestled inside a circle of veggies, but my husband nearly threw up when he saw it and told me to delete it. So I did. Thanks, honey. Probably a good call.)

Add kale. Cook for a few minutes until wilted down.

stir fry chicken and veg

4. Now add sauce. Stir everything together and cook for a few minutes more on low heat.

5. Finally, add noodles and stir to combine or serve over noodles. Your call.

stir fry gf

It looks like I served this version over rice, ha! Works just as well, but with less protein power than buckwheat soba.

Some day I’ll manage to take pictures during daylight hours and not seconds before starving people are waiting to eat. Until then, they’ll look like the one above. Sorry.

I leave you with this final photo from Cunningham Farms. Yup, this guy was back.

See you next year, suckers.

See you next year, suckers.

Kale me Crazy

flickr photo credit, Glory Foods

I just couldn’t help myself with this ridiculous title. The runner up was, “A Kale for Help.” Yes, a kale recipe is coming up, but first…

I’m actually terrible at titles (can’t you tell?) and at one point when I worked for the evil empire of MTV Networks it was part of my job to come up with catchy, quirky, and cool headings and you can guess that I did NOT excel at that. At all. It was a rather short-lived job, and actually my last “corporate” one. Then I went on to become a self-defense instructor. Way more fun, and I was much better at it.

*If you want to see me in groin-kicking action, check out the movie, The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster. Um, my brief scene didn’t make the final cut, but it did make the deleted scenes! I can’t say much for the movie itself (I enjoy kicking butt for fun, but I don’t like actual violence, even in the movies) but it was definitely a fun experience being on a movie set. Directors actually yell “Action!” and “Cut!” and the part about waiting around for hours, totally true.*

But I digress. Back to –

flickr photo credit, krupp

Maybe this post should’ve been called, “A Kale for Help” because I need help, people, serious help, with dinner. Bunky is in a picky(er) phase right now and is a sort-of vegetarian, or I should say, cheese-atarian because she pretty much only eats cheese. My husband is picky with most vegetables and beans because of digestive issues. I will not elaborate (you really don’t want to know). He will really only eat potatoes, tomatoes, and green beans right now. I’m only allowed to use a tiny amount of garlic. No onion. My list of “no’s” is long and depressing. If I made food just for myself it would be magical, dishes filled with vibrant veggies and tingling spices. Even Little Guy who formerly ate whatever, is now getting picky. Or at least enjoying his new trick of shaking his head “no.” It was really cute for a few days. Not anymore.

So you see what I’m up against. I don’t want to a short order cook and make everyone individual meals, but I have to admit that sometimes it goes down like that. My goal is to find a meal I can make and truly enjoy, and then tailor the same meal for my picky people. Which brings me to kale.

Bunky ate raw kale at age two when we took a garden class together and it gave me the false hope that she would be a voracious veggie eater. Not true. I am currently the only kale eater in the house, but that is not stopping me from making this awesome dinner…

Creamy Spaghetti with Chicken, Kale and Tomatoes

Not the prettiest picture, but everyone was hungry and grumpy when I was trying to take it.

The meal deconstructed worked out like this: Bunky ate her pasta with red sauce and strawberries on the side (don’t ask). My husband enjoyed his with chicken and tomatoes. I ate it all. The recipe is adapted from With Style & Grace, but as you know, I adjusted it for my picky family.

*This meal is gluten free, obviously, but with a few easy changes it can also be dairy free. I haven’t tested it DF, though, but if you do let me know how it turns out.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces dry gluten free spaghetti (I used Mrs. Leeper’s brown rice pasta)
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, filleted
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (sub non dairy spread if you’re Dairy Free)
  • 3/4 cup half and half (use full fat coconut milk for DF)
  • 1/2 cup, approximately, grated parmesan cheese (sub nutritional yeast here for DF)
  • 2 cups kale, cut and removed from stem
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes (or more if you like)
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti a few minutes short of the package instructions for al dente. *This is key for GF pasta. If you overcook it, it will be gross – especially brown rice pasta, which gets gummy.* Set aside some pasta water if you remember. If not, don’t beat yourself up.

In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat and cook chicken breasts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through. Set cooked chicken aside.

Then melt the butter in the same pan over low heat. Add half & half and mix with the melted butter to combine. Stir frequently and then add the cooked pasta. If you time it right, which I did by sheer luck, you can use tongs to transfer the pasta directly into the pan without draining it. But if not, no big deal. Just use a colander and then add pasta to saucepan.

Increase the heat to medium while you toss the pasta with the butter and half & half. Add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, mix well. Add a little cooking water from the pasta if you need more liquid. If not, regular water is fine too. Then add the rest of the cheese and toss again to combine. Decrease heat and throw in the kale and tomatoes and mix well to combine. Remove after a few minutes or until kale is just slightly wilted. 

Spoon some of the pasta mixture on a plate and place chicken along side, or on top. Or underneath. It’s up to you. Tell your picky family members to remove what they don’t want and sit back and enjoy.

Pairs nicely with a glass of chilled white wine. (What doesn’t, really?) 

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mama, Eat.Live.Make, and Gluten Freed R.D., and One Creative Mommy’s Gluten Free Monday link up. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.