Tag Archives: side dish

Kale and Bacon Risotto

Given that my family LOVED my Garlic Lemon Kale Pasta and kale is so good for you, I decided to experiment with another tasty kale recipe.

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes, and it’s really not difficult to make (you just have to stir it constantly, which means it’s not the dish to make when you’re home alone with the kids). But if your other half is available to run interference on the little ones, this dish is a great way to get a super healthy veggie into your kids’ tummies. Olivia ate her entire helping AND polished off the leftovers for lunch the next day!

Kale and Bacon Risotto

1 1/3 cups uncooked arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, cleaned, de-stemmed, and rough chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
5 slices of bacon
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook the bacon until just crispy; crumble and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, drizzle a tbsp of olive oil and add the kale. Cook, stirring frequently, until the kale is tender; add the crushed red pepper, mix well, and then pour into a bowl to set aside.

Heat the chicken broth over low heat in a small saucepan.

In your sauté pan, add the rest of the olive oil and the garlic. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for just a minute, and then add the rice. Cook the rice for 1-2 minutes, and then ladle in 1 cup of the broth and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the rest of the broth 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until the liquid in the pan has been absorbed before adding more. Be sure to stir constantly while the rice is cooking.

When all of the broth has been added and absorbed, stir in the kale, bacon, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Remove the risotto from the heat and serve immediately.


Guest Post: Tabouli Salad

My friend Dori, who writes the blog (703) Mommy and Me, recently made this delicious Tabouli Salad when we were over her house for dinner. Not only did my husband and I love it, but Olivia ate three helpings of this healthy side dish! Since I have mint and parsley coming out of my ears and am dying to make this, I asked Dori if she’d be willing to share her recipe with my readers. Luckily, she loves me and was happy to share, so enjoy!

 My mom used to make us tabouli (or tabbouleh) salad all the time in the summer. The fresh vegetables and herbs make it completely mouthwatering while providing a high protein and low calorie meal. Tabouli is super easy and quick, so it is a perfect side dish (or main meal) for a busy bee. I made this as an accompaniment to a leftover roast chicken Greek pita sandwich.

Pitas: Pita , chicken, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, hummus and a Greek yogurt sauce

1 C Bulgar (I purchase mine in the bulk food section at Whole Foods)
1 container of grape tomatoes, quartered
½ English cucumber, chopped
1 C Scallions, chopped
1 C Parsley, chopped
2 tbs Mint, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbs EVOO
* 1 C Feta, crumbled (optional)
* shredded romaine lettuce (optional)

Mix Bulgar with 2 C boiling water, cover tightly and let it sit for 30 minutes. While the Bulgar cooks you can cut your veggies and herbs. Strain the Bulgar using a mesh sieve making sure to get most of the moisture out of the grain. Mix the Bulgar, veggies, herbs in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together the lemon, EVOO, S&P. Incorporate it into the grain mixture and serve. You can also add the crumbled feta and lettuce to the mix or you can top a bed of lettuce with the grain and then cheese.

My Favorite Summer Side

This bean salad is a huge hit with my family, and it’s just not summertime without it. This dish is packed with fiber, iron, and protein, so you can feel good about your kids asking for seconds—because they will!

Summer Bean Salad

1 can fat free reduced sodium black beans

1 can chickpeas

1 can fat free reduced sodium kidney beans

2 cups shelled edamame (I use the frozen variety)

1 small tomato (you can also use roasted red peppers if you have any), chopped

1 avocado, diced

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime

Salt and pepper

Drain and rinse the three canned beans and place them, along with the edamame, in a large bowl. Add the tomato, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, and avocado. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the avocado to help keep it from browning. Mix everything thoroughly, and salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

It’s official: I have jumped on the kale bandwagon. After hearing everyone and their mother rave about “this delicious kale salad they had” and” those yummy kale chips they made,” I had to try it out for myself. Luckily, our produce box for the week contained one large, fresh bunch of kale. Because kale is so chock-full of vitamins and nutrients, I wanted to make something with it that I thought my daughter would actually eat. Enter garlic kale mashed potatoes. I figured she would eat it right up if it was mixed in with mashed potatoes, and I was right! Kale experiment #1 was a resounding success!

Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs red potatoes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups finely chopped kale

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

3 tbsp Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp butter

salt and pepper (to taste)


Wash and quarter the potatoes, but leave the skin on. Boil until tender (about 15-20 minutes) and then drain, holding aside a cup of the potato water in case you need it later to thin out the mashed potatoes. Mash the potatoes and set to the side. Meanwhile, wash, de-stem, and chop the kale. Heat oil over medium heat and add minced garlic. Sauté garlic for a few minutes and then add the kale. Cook until the kale is completely wilted and then remove from heat. Add the milk, sour cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper to the mashed potatoes and stir well. Slowly incorporate the kale until everything is well mixed. If you like creamier potatoes, you can thin them out with more milk, a touch of heavy cream, or the potato water you set aside previously, whichever you prefer.


Packed Mac and Cheese

My daughter loves mac and cheese, but I try not to give her just that alone—it’s great comfort food but not exactly a balanced meal for a toddler. The problem is, I try to give her veggies first, but as soon as she sees the mac and cheese, the jig is up. She has eyes only for the orange stuff. So today I decided to make my own mac and cheese where I could hide all the healthy stuff right in with the yummy stuff. The cheese sauce has pureed butternut squash in it, I used whole wheat pasta, and I added finely shredded chicken for protein. And the little one was none the wiser! You could even add in peas or broccoli before baking—I just didn’t have any on hand.

Packed Macaroni and Cheese

1 box whole wheat pasta

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

1 tsp pepper

pinch of salt

1 tsp garlic

1 cup roasted and pureed butternut squash

1 cup milk

1 cup cream (you can eliminate this and add extra milk if you like)

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack and cheddar that I shredded myself)

10 oz shredded chicken (canned chicken even works great and is easy to keep on hand)

1 tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup bread crumbs


Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, drain and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, melt the 4 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat and then wisk in the flour, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly stir in the milk, cream and Worcestershire sauce. Stir constantly until the sauce is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking for another 8 minutes. Stir in the squash puree and wisk until blended. Gradually add the cheese one handful at a time, allowing the cheese in the pan to melt before adding more (stirring constantly). Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chicken and pasta, and mix well to coat.

Transfer the pasta to a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Mix the tbsp of melted butter with the bread crumbs and sprinkle them over the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Collard Greens (Or Happiness in a Bowl)

One of my favorite comfort foods of all time is collard greens. No matter how crap my mood, one bite and I am suddenly 8 years old again, standing on a step stool at my grandmother’s stove helping her stir the giant pot of greens and asking repeatedly when I can eat them. I was looking forward to introducing my daughter to this cozy dish, not only because of my fond childhood memories but because collard greens are jam packed with nutrients. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am from the south, which means a) I am certain I overcook my collard greens, which I know lowers the nutritional value, blah, blah, blah, and b) I ALWAYS use pork seasoning (so clearly, I’m not eating these strictly for the health benefits). There are plenty of other recipes for collard greens that involve just water and 15 minutes of boiling, but personally, I think they taste awful. However, if that’s your preference, knock yourself out. If you prefer for your collard greens to be full of salty yumminess, check out my recipe below.

6-8 cups washed and de-stemmed collard greens (you can buy them loose in the produce section or in a bag, pre-washed and ready to go)

1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 lb salted pork seasoning (or fat back, as I tend to call it, which provides my coworkers with endless entertainment- you can also use a few chopped up slices of cooked bacon if you’re running short on fat back)

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

Crushed red pepper flakes (0ptional)




Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding the vinegar, pork seasoning, crushed red peppers (about 1 tsp for a light kick, more if you like it spicier), dash of salt and dash of pepper to the water while it’s warming to let all the flavors steep. Once you have a rolling boil, add the collards and onion and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on volume.  Strain out any pork seasoning using a slotted spoon before serving. You can also add a dash of Tabasco sauce if you like them really spicy.