Black Kale Salad from L&S


On one of our recent trips to Los Angeles, we went to the restaurant Love & Salt and fell in love (as seen in this post).  They have the type of menu that makes you want to go back every day to try something new.  Nothing disappoints, and I mean NOTHING.  Like their salad that's made up of black kale, soppressata, olives, pickled peppers, breadcrumbs and ricotta salata.  Everything about this salad is perfect, especially the way they julienne the ingredients so they are perfectly uniform.  When everything is the same size it's just easier to eat!  That's my jam.  And then let's talk about the breadcrumbs which, if I had to guess, are toasted in olive oil or butter until they reach a crisp, golden perfection.  The crunch they offer the salad is beyond... and such a nice change from biting into a big crouton.  The pickled peppers and olives give off the perfect, salty bite.  I can't imagine a better protein than the soppressata or a lovelier, creamier cheese than the ricotta salata and the black kale is the perfect vessel for this salad... a sturdy, earthy green that holds everything together.

My son would say, why don't you marry this salad??        

Maybe I will, son, maybe I will.   

As you can see, I tried to recreate it at home using a red-wine vinaigrette and it was pretty damn close to the restaurant version.  Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.  If you decide to try this combination... make sure to julienne your ingredients and do NOT forget to toast your bread crumbs.  In fact, I took leftover focaccia bread from our pizza delivery, put it in the food processor and THEN toasted it in the best olive oil I had!  I made a ton and now I put it on every salad.  The End.  

Tuna Melts: Big and Small


When we were visiting The Voice set over vacation, I discovered something FANTASTIC.  My almost-three-year-old PICKY eater will eat tuna salad!  You see, television sets are a dangerous, dangerous place for little kids.  There are scattered jars of M&M's and jelly beans and gum (so much gum!) and then trays of cookies and bars and sometimes they bring out something called Cookie Pie and serve it with ice cream and I die.  Like I said, television sets are dangerous places for grown women who write food blogs.  Anyway, I was bribing Etta to eat SOMETHING healthy before she dove into the candy jar, and tuna salad it was.  We had tried it at home before, but after eating "The Voice" tuna (weird) I realized what I had done wrong.  Mine was too chunky.  This was whipped, and fluffy... a spread-like consistency.  So when I got home, I decided to put my tuna in the food processor.  It was delicious!  Some mayo, some garlic salt, fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper...

Now we make Tiny Tuna Melts for the kids on crackers with white cheddar, and grown up versions on sourdough bread with sliced tomato and avocado.  I pop both versions under the broiler and watch until the cheese gets bubbly and slightly golden (adding the avocado for the adult sandwiches at the end).  You should definitely try the food processor trick for your tuna if you haven't already!

Tuna Salad
(Serves 4-6)

12 oz. tuna (I like solid albacore in water)
1/2 cup light mayo
Juice of half a lemon
Garlic salt
Salt and Pepper

Drain tuna, and place in food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Place in bowl, and add mayo and lemon juice.  Stir until smooth.  Add garlic salt, salt and pepper and taste until desired consistency is reached!

Jen's Crispy Smashed Potatoes


Have you ever gone to someone's house, eaten something they've prepared, gone home, went to bed, dreamt of what you ate, woke up, drove to the market and bought all of the ingredients so you could make it yourself at home?  I do that all the time, but then again, thinking and dreaming about food is pretty much my entire existence.  These smashed potatoes my neighbor made the other day were no exception... they are red potatoes, flattened with a masher, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh garlic, grated parmesan, herbs and salt and pepper... and they turn perfectly crunchy in the oven.    Go away french fries, these are perfect for the upcoming football season.  

Because that's what time it is, my friends.  Football and school lunches and seasonal Starbuck's drinks and Halloween stuff already in stores (with Christmas decorations no doubt 5 minutes away).  You can't fool us, 90-degree-weather, fall is gonna get you.  (Sorry, I talk to toddlers all day long.)     

Jen's Crispy Smashed Potatoes
(Serves 6-8)

2 lbs. baby red potatoes (about 24), washed
Extra virgin olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Brush a large baking sheet with olive oil.  Place the potatoes about an inch apart on sheet.  Using a potato masher (or a large fork), gently smash potatoes.  Drizzle the tops with olive oil.  Crush garlic with a press, and sprinkle a little on each potato.  Sprinkle the tops with Italian herbs, salt and pepper and Parmesan.  Bake for 20 minutes, until potatoes are golden and crispy.    

Grilled Veggie Pasta on TODAY


Friendly friends!  I am back from vacation.  I am officially home, being an official, productive mom.  I am putting my kids to bed before 8pm (after lots and LOTS of nighttime reading), we are eating only the healthiest of foods, and I've stopped drinking wine!  Except for all of this is a lie.

Ok not all of it.  I AM home.  Vacation IS over.  I am ATTEMPTING to be productive.

I even cooked up a Today Original pasta dish this morning, and if you missed it you can check out the segment and view the recipe here.  Baby steps to waking up early.

But GUESS WHAT?!  I am going to post a recipe every, single, day this week.  So take THAT you lazy, indulgent, carefree, delicious summer.  Take that.  

Photos by Samantha Okazaki

Fresh Corn & Egg Scramble


One of my go-to "I have no idea what to cook tonight" meals is breakfast for dinner.  It's different for the kids, it's easy, and you can get rid of all your leftovers.  Just scramble eggs, and throw everything in it!  I had never really thought about putting corn in my eggs until I had breakfast at Martha's 22nd Street Grill in Hermosa Beach, California.  They make a white corn scramble that's to die for.  During the summer, I almost always have leftover corn in the fridge, and I love slicing off the kernels into salads, pastas and now... scrambles!  This was delicious, probably due to the cream and Boursin cheese I added (no judging) but also because of the delicious, fresh, summer corn.

Fresh Corn & Egg Scramble
(Serves 4)

2 T unsalted butter
6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk or cream
4 ears of cooked corn, kernels sliced off
1/4 cup Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese (or garden veggie flavored cream cheese), crumbled
1 T chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
Salt and pepper 

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat.  While heating, whisk the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Add to skillet, and cook until fluffy using a rubber spatula to stir eggs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Homemade Funfetti Cake


My baby turns ONE on Thursday.  Today, August 17th, was my due date, and it feels like just yesterday that I was waddling around, complaining about still being pregnant, shoving absurd amounts of carbs in my mouth.  Now she's almost one, moving into toddler-ville, drinking real milk and trying to walk.  I would do it all over again, each and every loooong pregnancy, just to savor these baby years.  Yet I know they must grow up, and therefore we must celebrate and that means CAKE.  We had a little pre-party the other day, and I baked a homemade Funfetti Cake following this recipe.  It was moist, delicious, and easy.  And um, fun... DUH.  

Instead of one of those giant number candles, I made a "1" using a wax paper stencil I made myself.  Simply cut out a design, place over the cake (gently), add your sprinkles and remove!  

More birthday cake fun:

Jack's 4th birthday cake(s).

(And in case you're keeping track, for Jack's 6th birthday I bought an ice cream cake because that's what he wanted and I only pouted about it for a week or so.)

Grilled Cheese with Sweet Relish


I'm trying to figure out how to start this post, but I'm extremely distracted by my own photo, because even though I just ate exactly what I'm looking at, I WANT ANOTHER.  How do you say, this is the best grilled cheese ever?  Oh, just like that.  THIS IS THE BEST GRILLED CHEESE EVER.  Of course, you have to be into the sweet and savory combo, and you have to not care that nothing about this is good for you.  Meaning, I don't think bread that is slathered in mayo and cooked in bubbly butter as a vessel for ooey, gooey cheese is diet food.  Eat some fruit with it or something, I don't care, just EAT IT.  I followed this recipe... and loved how she added the sweet relish after cooking the sandwich on the stove.  It kept it cool, which was a nice contrast to the crispy, hot sandwich.  

Bread and cheese cooking in bubbly butter... all is right in the world.

You also might like this Grilled Cheese and Pickle Panini


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