Parmesan-Kissed Kale Chips Recipe

Parmesan-Kissed Kale Chips Recipe

No need to force young family to eat their greens with this genius recipe. While the picture doesn’t do the kale “chips” justice, trust me when I tell you that their crisp texture and delicious flavor garners the same adoration as the less-nutritional potato-based bites. Bonus: They’re baked so you can save the guilt for when you do as I did last week and let your toddler have an ice cream sundae for breakfast (Hey, we WERE on vacation!)

Parmesan-Kissed Kale Chips

1 bunch of fresh green kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 250F.
Cut out and discard the center stems of the kale leaves.
Slice each kale leaf into 4-inch pieces.
Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, then evenly sprinkle on the cheese.
Scatter in a single layer onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp.
Serve unabashedly.

Chicken (or Beef) Bolognese Recipe

ground chicken bolognese

When I’m not child rearing or pontificating on how to improve life as a parent I’m paying the bills as a lifestyle journalist and entertaining expert, which includes developing articles and recipes for Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. I love the job because it allows me to focus on real-life food preparations rather than those that require a small fortune and a half day of kitchen labor. While I have not shared this offering with my editors, it is exactly the type of temptation they would go for because it’s ridiculously tasty and takes about 20 minutes to whip up—which is why it’s served in my house at least every other week. If you partake, definitely double or triple the recipe, serve some over your favorite pasta, and store the rest in the freezer for a future dinner on the fly.
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground chicken or beef
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup milk
1 24-ounce jar pasta sauce or 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pinch nutmeg

In a large pot over medium-high flame, heat the olive oil. Add the ground chicken and cook, stirring and breaking it up into bits, until just cooked through. Add the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has evaporated. Add the milk, stir, and simmer until it has evaporated. Add the pasta sauce and nutmeg, stir, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve over spaghetti, elbow pasta, or penne.

Ultra Moist Butterfly Chocolate Cake Recipe

butterfly cake close up

I have very strong opinions about children’s birthday parties: Specifically, there’s no reason to hire pro entertainers, blow bucks on goodie bags, and break the bank on over-the-top festivities–unless you are doing it to please yourself. After all, the kids don’t care. Give them a patch of dirt and a shovel or chase them around the yard while screaming like a fool and they’re happy.

I live in the land of competitive mothers and refuse to follow the trend. For each of Viva’s three birthday parties I’ve invited her friends, made some snacks and a cake, and let the kids loose in the yard. No one has complained that our parties aren’t up to snuff and if they did they would simply be off the guest list next year.

I DO have some ideas on how to make parties run smoothly, and I’ll share those in another post. Bur right now I want to share the one thing I go gaga over each year: making an amazing chocolate birthday cake.

While I think it’s perfectly acceptable to buy or make a simple cake, I happen to love baking an elaborate edible masterpiece for Viva’s birthday. No surprise there. I was an entertaining expert and frequent party-thrower before bearing a babe. It only makes sense that I would parlay my passion into a relevant context.

If you’re idea of fun is spendind a few hours in the kitchen, you truly must try this recipe for the ultimate moist chocolate cake (plus step-by-step instructions on how to make a butterfly shape cake).

I’ve used it two years running–and decorate it based on my girl’s desires–and everyone, parents included, can’t seem to get enough. Incidentally, if you’re pregnant and not yet thinking about festivities, consider this cake a great chocolate craving remedy.

butterfly cake

Ultra Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
This cake rocks because it’s so moist you can make it two days in advance, keep it covered on a counter, and it’ll be amazing when you serve it. (A huge plus if you don’t want to sweat the details the day of your event.) This recipe is for a sheet cake, but you can easily make a round layered cake or any shape you like or make two sheet cakes and stack ‘em for extra height.
32 Servings

4 cups skim milk or low-fat chocolate milk
2 cups butter
10 oz unsweetened good-quality baking chocolate
4 cups sugar
4 cups white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
2. Line 1 half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper and generously butter and dust with cocoa.
3. In a pot over moderate heat warm the milk, butter, chocolate, stirring occasionally until completely combined.
4. Stir in the sugar and transfer to a mixing bowl.
5. Beat in the flour, salt, baking soda, and vanilla.
6. Add the eggs and beat until the batter is smooth.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
8. Bake for 1 -1/2 hours until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pans and the middles spring back when touched.
9. Cool in the pan, then invert onto a platter. Cool completely before frosting.

Fast Cream Cheese Frosting
I like cream cheese frosting because it’s got a great tang to it and is stupidly easy to make.

1 package Philadelphia cream cheese (I like the flavor of this brand)
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 box powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and whip with an electric mixer. Viola!

Cake Decor Notes

1. This cake is REALLY easy to cut with a serrated knife. Before you cut to a custom shape, get a piece of paper that’s the same length and width of the cake and draw the shape you’d like the cake to be. Then cut the paper into the desired shape. Place the cut paper on top of your cake and sprinkle its edges with powdered sugar so you have a stencil and then cut the cake…like this:

butterfly cake stencil

2. After you cut the cake, frost it with a thinned layer of frosting (frosting mixed with milk) and let it harden overnight. Then frost the cake the next day with regular frosting; do this and you won’t battle crumbs in your frosting.

3. Add any decorative embellishments before the cake frosting hardens–right after you frost it. It’s a good idea to draw it first. I freehanded this one and realized it would have come out better if I’d created a visual plan to follow first.

4. If you don’t love the look of your cake, surround it with pretty things. I found my cake looked infinitely better the minute it was surrounded by flowers.

5. Consider other toppings. Candy pieces would be cute. Basic white frosting with more childlike polka dots would have rocked, too. It even looks pretty with a simple outline of a darker frosting. I also initially was going to go with muted colors, but the lady at the cake store discouraged me. I should have gone with my gut; go with yours when you attempt this cake and no matter what it looks like people will love it because it IS that good.

Rosemary and Garlic Chicken Under a Brick

rosemary, garlic chicken under a brick

Before I was pregnant I was into fast and delicious recipes. Now that I’m a mom I seriously can’t live without them, and this juicy, tasty, lightning-fast preparation is one of my most trusted standbys. No, I don’t really use a brick, though I could. Instead I opt for pressing down the chicken while it’s pan-frying with a heavy pan or pot. Try it for yourself and you’ll see why it totally rocks, especially if you’re a crispy-skin lover. Bonuses: It takes about 12 minutes to cook and is extremely healthy.
Serves 2

2 boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

Mix together the rosemary, garlic, and salt and rub it all over the chicken.

In a large saute pan heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the chicken, skin-side up, press down with a cast-iron or other heavy pan, and cook with the pan on top of it for 6 minutes.

Flip the chicken so it is skin-side down, press it down with the pot or pan and cook for another 6 minutes. Serve!

Healthy Craving Recipe: Cucumber-Mint Sandwiches

cucumber mint tea sandwiches

I’m not currently pregnant, but lemme tell you what: had I created this sandwich when I was in waiting, it would have been a favorite! Buttery, salty, and refreshing thank to the crisp, clean crunch of cucumber and bright flavor of mint mixed into the butter, it’s a winner for any occasion, be it pregnancy, a tea party, or just plain hunger. I developed a similar recipe for a baby shower article I wrote that’s in this month’s Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, but I saved this beauty just for you. Enjoy!

Cucumber and Mint Tea Sandwiches
Makes 10 sandwiches

1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
5 slices whole wheat bread
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

Mix together the butter, mint and ground black pepper. Spread 1-1/2 tablespoon mint butter on a slice of wheat bread, top with layers of cucumber, cut into star shapes with a cookie cutter, and serve.

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