Super Green Spring Salad

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It’s spring! And my garden is blooming and booming. I’ve been eating this Super Green Spring Salad every chance I get since all of the ingredients are directly from my garden… delicate lettuce, baby kale, bright broccoli with pretty tiny yellow flowers, crisp sugar peas, mint, chives. This salad is less of a recipe, and more of a throw-together spring green treat!

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

But, I should pause and preface this delicious garden post with the fact that I am not a good gardener. Seriously. I’m bad. Plants shrivel at my touch. They tell their other plant friends to run and hide when I decide to buy them. Any success I have at gardening is not my doing. Plants thrive in my garden in spite of me. I just wish I was a good gardener like my grandmother was. She could make anything grow and she could make you think that you could do it too. *sigh*

The first year we moved to Kansas City, I decided that I wanted to BE A GARDENER! (p.s. I said this with both hands on my hips and in a booming voice).  This is a laughable statement because at the time I killed anything in a pot in my house and at one point was scared to even get a pet because I couldn’t even keep a plant alive!

But, dangit, I was going to finally try to grow a garden and feed myself and eat healthy and get dirt in my fingers and sweat and love it and bring bushels of food in at the end of the day and sigh and say “way to go me!”.  So I bought three tomato plants and marched into the backyard of our new rent house with a shovel and a prideful grin on my face.  Like a blind settler deciding on their perfect plot of land, I just shoved my shovel into the hard clay ground next to the fence and dug three holes. That’s it. I just stuck the tomato plants in the ground as if I were planting flowers.  But, despite my ineptitude and lack of reading up on “how to grow tomatoes“, I ended up with some darn good tomatoes that year. Those plants grew over 8 feet tall! I even canned tomato sauce! Yeah. All that from just digging three holes…..and praying like hell and battling thieving squirrels!

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Basically, I kill any plant that is not in the ground. If it is up to me, all plants would die. However, after I put the plant in the ground, I cross my fingers that mother nature will take over and that she’ll be the true gardener.  I depend on her to water my garden too. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do…it’s just what I do…as a bad gardener!

Also, as a bad gardener, I don’t weed. I should…but I don’t. I feel like everything should be given a fighting chance.  My husband goes out to my garden and tries to weed things and I freak out. FREAK out. I’m scared that he’s going to pull a baby beet or a baby kale or maybe just a baby, hell I don’t know. “NOOOOO! That’s a blah blah blah and I wanted it there…. yeah. I WANTED that weed.”

Sorry, I’m super protective of my garden… even if it’s a weed box. Back off!

As a bad gardener, I plant things too close together. My husband always tries to correct my eagerness to cram as much as possible into our tiny raised beds. But I tend to say, “Space shmace. If you want to survive, you gotta try harder Mr tomato!!!!”.   This doesn’t always work out….buuuut, I won’t admit that to him.

But this year, six years into BEING A GARDENER, my garden is growing like a REAL garden!  Thank you again, mother nature. I have one of the biggest lettuce crops (which love these cool temps and tons of rain that KC has gotten this spring). I also have gorgeous broccoli heads! Oh and peas! I have snow peas climbing a trellis (actually it’s a defunct hand rain I pulled off my outdoor stairs) and tiny pea pods dangling everywhere! Kale is coming up like a champ! Baby beets are gearing up and their greens are getting taller.  I’m even growing brussels sprouts and cauliflower for the first time. Way to go me! I hope my grandma would be proud. I think she’d also really love this Super Green Spring Salad that I’ve been making from all of my garden goodies!

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I mention my lack of gardening skills in order to encourage anyone that loves fresh produce but may be scared to begin their own garden because, like me, they are terrible with plants. But don’t be scared. Just go do it!  What do you have to lose? A few bucks on a pack of seeds? You’ll fail, but you will also succeed and learn from those mistakes.  Man, I sure sound like an after school special, don’t I?  Anyways, I love seeing what new things I can grow. Nothing is better to me than walking outside my door to my own farmer’s market!

On this Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to branch out, dig a whole, plant something.  Plant something in honor of the one’s that you have loved and in their memory.  And then every time you go out to tend to it and get dirt on your fingers and sweat on your brow and harvest your fresh amazing produce, you can remember them and realize that their memory lives on. But also, don’t forget to give yourself a high-five from them and say “way to go!” (but say it with both hands on your hips and in a booming voice).

Super Green Spring Salad // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Super Green Spring Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Note – This salad does not really have a set list of ingredients and can morph into whatever you have on hand. I have provided a gentle guide for what I like to use, but feel free to mix and match with whatever greens you have on hand or can spot at your local farmer’s market.  

Ingredients for the Salad

  • Four generous handfuls of spring greens mix (such as, leaf lettuce, baby kale, arugula, beet greens, etc.), gently rinse and dry
  • Handful of fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • Two small heads of broccoli
  • Handful of fresh herbs (such as mint, dill, chives, cilantro)

Ingredients for the Lemon Vinaigrette 

  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the snow peas or sugar peas in half or into bite-size pieces if they are large. If they are small, you can keep them whole. Whatever you choose.
  2. Chop the broccoli florets from the stalk. Chop the florets into small portions. Cut off the bottom fibrous portion of the stalk and chop the tender portion into 1/4-inch bite-size pieces.
  3. Place the lettuce, peas, broccoli, and herbs into a large bowl.
  4. Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a lidded jar. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Just before serving, drizzle about 1/3 cup of the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Place leftover dressing in the fridge or add more if needed.

Suggested toppings:

  • Optional Protein Toppings: chicken, quinoa, boiled egg, chicken sausage, fish
  • Optional Misc Toppings: sunflower seeds, roasted nuts, crumbled feta, shaved parmesan, goat cheese

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Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce (Gluten Free)

Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce

I really have to admit that, honestly, this Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce is one of my favorite dishes that I have ever made.

Honestly. Ever. I don’t know whether the magic of the sauce is from the morels or from the sherry-based sauce..or the heavy cream. Who knows. It’s good. Real good.

I came home to a huge bag of fresh picked morel mushrooms on my doorstep! A friend of mine foraged for them and thankfully decided to share his treasure! These puppies can go for as much as $40 per pound! We are eating like royalty over here!

Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce

Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce

With such a large bundle of morel mushroom-delights, I decided to prepare a recipe that was provincial and special: a french morel mushroom sauce.  This sauce deserves a trumpet of announcement. It deserves to be served in a bowl with amazing a crusty baguette, if you can have it. Sop it up. Don’t waste this sauce. With only 1/2 cup of heavy cream added at the end, the sauce is not heavy but it is substantial. I also think that adding champagne vinegar or lemon juice at the end really brings this sauce home with a small acidic kick.

Note – If you are unable to get fresh morel mushrooms, either substitute the mushrooms for equal quantity of cremini or shiitake OR go online and purchase about 2 oz of dry morels. If using dry morels, you will need to rehydrate them. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat off and add the morels to the saucepan. Cover the saucepan and soak the mushrooms for 30 minutes to rehydrate. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms out of the soaking liquid using a slotted spoon, gently squeezing out the excess liquid back into the saucepan. Reserve the soaking liquid. 

Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce

Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 3 pounds of bone in chicken thighs or breasts (skin removed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion or shallot
  • 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms, washed and cut in half if large (this is how I wash my morels)*
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper up to one day in advance.
  2. Add olive oil (or butter) in a large skillet placed over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet bone side up, and cook about 6 minutes per side, turning once.  Allow the chicken to become golden brown on both sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
  3. Lower the heat to medium. If needed, add another tablespoon of olive oil and then add onion (or shallots). Sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add washed morel mushrooms and sauté for a few more minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the mushrooms to a separate plate. Add dry sherry to skillet and bring to a boil. Allow the sherry to reduce by half (about 2 minutes). Add chicken stock and chicken to skillet and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the skillet with a lid placed slightly ajar. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Check chicken after 20 minutes. After cooked through, transfer the chicken to a platter.
  4. Add the mushrooms back to the skillet. Add cream, vinegar, and thyme. Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, pour the sauce over the chicken on the platter. Sprinkle with additional cracked pepper and fresh thyme, if desired.

Notes – recipe adapted from here and here.

Baked Lamb Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

Lamb Stew / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Paleo, Gluten Free)

For my birthday, a friend of mine gave me an amazing cookbook by Rachel Khoo called My Little French Kitchen.  I’ve been wrapped up in her delicious recipes, bright photos, and lovely stories about exploring regional french cuisine as she travels all around France! Ugh…Tough job, I know.  I try not to get too bitter at the picturesque seaside photos around Normandy and the nonstop lavender fields of Provance…especially when my fingers are numb by just driving my car to work. Spring needs to come quickly.

As we say goodbye to winter, I am still cooking up stews and comfort meals. This cookbook offers plenty of that as well.  There is a wonderful section in her book about Alsace, a northeastern region of France, bordering Germany.  The recipes in this section are hearty, winter-loving, comfort foods.  One of my favorite recipes in the Alsace region of her book is called Baeckeoffe or “Baker’s Oven Stew”.  The history behind the stew refers to a time when french women would often bring this casserole to the baker in the morning on their way to the river to wash their clothes.  The baker would bake it in the coolest part of the oven all day. The women would then pick up the baked stew and a loaf of bread for dinner on their way home.  Hence the name Baeckeoffe or literally Baker’s Oven.

Lamb Stew / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Lamb Stew / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Paleo, Gluten Free)

As I started thinking more and more about that story, I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for those poor women. Those women had to lug that huuuuge cast iron casserole pot full of meat and wine to the baker’s shop PLUS haul their whole families’ stinky laundry to the river in the winter! Then they spent all day doing laundry in a cold river. They then had to pick up a fiery hot casserole and hoped that they wouldn’t drop it or get on their newly cleaned clothes. Hmm…Makes my issues seem pretty petty.

The original recipe used several different cuts of beef (oxtail and beef cheeks) and none of the spices that I mention below.  Buuuuut I had a leg of lamb staring me down in my freezer that needed to be used.  So there. I decided to adapt the recipe by using lamb and several warming spices such as cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and smoked paprika.  These spices pair very well with lamb. It gave the stew a hearty and warm balance.  If you don’t have lamb, you can sub out a 3-pound chuck roast and leave out the cinnamon and coriander. This stew is so easy and can be easily adjusted for whatever you have on hand.  Don’t have red wine? Use white. Don’t have white? Use chicken or beef stock.  Seriously… this is like the compost of all stews. And yet it comes out like magic.

Lamb Stew / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Oh and let’s talk about that lovely top, shall we?  It is just a butternut squash and a sweet potato that have been thinly sliced and layered around like a flower petal.  It’s quite a treat to take the top off of this stew when it is done and see that beautiful rose and smell the amazingness that wafts out. Just think of it as your winter flower.

Lamb Stew / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Baked Lamb Stew

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 3 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices

Instructions

  1. Place the lamb in a large glass bowl or baking dish and toss with the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, garlic, and pepper.  Use your hands to massage the seasonings into the lamb meat. Pour the wine over the meat so that it is submerged. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (and up to 24 hours).
  2. When ready to cook the stew, preheat the oven to 325F. Remove the marinated lamb from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cook time.
  3. In a large 6 to 8-quart Dutch oven, add lamb and marinade, onions, carrots, tomatoes with juice, water, bay leaves, and parsley. Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat.
  4. Neatly and tightly place thin slices of squash and potato around the edge of the pot.  The layers will begin to look like flower petals as shown in the above pictures. Continue layering the slices and lay them over the top of the stew until it is covered. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the stew and then place the lid on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 3 to 4 hours, until the lamb is tender. Remove the lid and parchment paper.  Increase the heat to 450 F and bake for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the top. Serve immediately.

Notes – you can easily use a 3-pound chuck roast in this recipe instead of lamb.

Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I recently brought this easy Black Bean Soup to a pot luck lunch party at my office.  It was a breeze. I actually threw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning in my office and let it cook there until lunch time. The big problem was that I let it cook in my office next to my desk. I nearly ate my arm off trying to not dive head first into the slow cooker and devour the entire thing.

But thankfully I had enough self control to hold off until it was time to serve so that everyone could try it. You’re welcome people!

I recommend this recipe for anyone looking for something super easy and cheap during the weeknight, weekend, or even for entertaining. This is an all around great soup! If you are going on a ski vacation and want to come home to something hearty and wholesome… this is your soup.  If you are just coming home from a long work week, this is your soup.  If you are having some friends over for game night, this is your soup.

I promise it to be a winner. It will satisfy both meat eaters and veggie eaters! It also will be easy on your pocket book and be super stress free.

Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Easy Black Bean Soup // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 4 cans of black beans (undrained)*
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup salsa of choice (I use Trader Joe’s salsa)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (reserve half of cilantro for topping)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • Toppings: greek yogurt, chopped scallions, lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Place two of the four cans of black beans (with liquid) in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender. Puree for about 15 seconds. Add pureed black beans and remaining ingredients through salsa into a slow cooker. Cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  2. Just before serving, stir in half of cilantro and juice of 1 lime. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve with greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped scallions, lime wedges, and additional cilantro.

*Note – this recipe can definitely be made with dried black beans but will take about 2 hours longer to cook.   Rinse and soak them overnight. Drain them and then puree half of them (about 4 cups) with 2 cups of water. Add all ingredients to slow cooker as mentioned above.  Cooking time will increase by 2 hours, with it taking 8 hours on low and 5 hours on high.

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This Black Eyed Pea stew provides all the good luck that you’ll need for the new year.  Well, don’t quote me on that. You may need some other luck besides this stew.  So cross your toes and buy a rabbit foot.

Southern tradition is to eat black eyed peas for luck and greens for wealth.  This Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew has both, plus it is cooked in a slow cooker so you’ll free up plenty of time to do other things, like catch up on some light readings or past episodes of New Girl or really nothing at all.

In fact, I barely put pants on today. *yaaawn* Best. day. ever.

I feel extremely lucky to be able to laze around with my favorite person and my favorite dog while this delicious stew cooked away in the background. It is the perfect bowl of lucky and hearty goodness on a super sleepy and chilly day.

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Cheers to everyone. I hope 2015 brings warmth and love to everyone! I’m truly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life. Now I’ve gotta go serve me up a big bowl of stew!

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black eyed peas
  • 1 large ham hock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 cup dried wild rice mix
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups of chopped kale leaves, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak dried black eyed peas overnight by placing them in a large stockpot and filling with 6 to 8 cups of water.  Pick out any bad black eyed peas that look shriveled and float up to the top. After soaking overnight, drain and rinse the black eyed peas.
  2. Add soaked black eyed peas and remaining ingredients (except kale) to large slow cooker (crockpot). Stir to combine. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Remove the bay leaves and the ham hock from slow cooker. Carefully use two forks to shred off the cooked ham from the bone. Return shredded ham and kale to slow cooker.  Stir to combine and allow the kale to wilt, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchilada Casserole

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Are you feeling adventurous? Of course you are. It’s after Christmas and we are revving up for the New Year. It is time for those New Year’s resolutions…such as trying new veggies!!!!

Drum roll please……….First up is Kobucha Squash!

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This amazing and delightful winter squash looks like a green pumpkin and is actually referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. It is often used in Thai curry and is quite flavorful. In fact, I think it tastes better than butternut squash and WAY better than regular orange pumpkin.

*GASP* Yah you heard me.  I’ve just found the better pumpkin replacement. Get on it, friends.  It even packs a lower calorie count than butternut squash with only 40 calories in a single cup compared to 60 calories per cup for butternut squash. It also has half the carbs of butternut squash (7 grams versus 16 grams). This puppy is WAY healthier than sweet potatoes too!

Once you cut into this green pumpkin, you are greeted with bright orange flesh which provides a fabulous dose of beta-carotene and vitamin A! The Kobucha contains plenty of other awesome attributes such as being loaded with fiber, iron, vitamin C, and some B vitamins. Can I get an AMEN!

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Well-stocked grocery stores or farmers markets will have Kobucha Squash. If you are unable to locate this awesome gem of a veg, you can substitute the Kobucha Squash for Butternut Squash.  If you don’t have butternut squash, you also could use sweet potatoes.

Now lets talk about this Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchilada Casserole. They are literally the best enchiladas I have EVER made. Literally. The roasted Kobucha Squash help make these comforting and creamy without being doused in tons of cheese. Also, I like making this dish more lasagna style with layers of tortillas, filling, cheese, and sauce instead of nice and neat rolled up enchiladas. To me, it is much easier and just as super tasty.

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

These enchiladas do take some prep time.  However, most of the steps can be done ahead of time. You can marinate the chicken up to one day ahead of time. The Kobucha Squash can be carved and cubed several days in advance, placed in a container, and refrigerated. (Note – I recommend microwaving the Kobucha Squash for 2 minutes to make it easier to carve up.) You can even roast the chicken, shred it, and refrigerate it in advance too. To be honest, this whole casserole can be assembled up to one day in advance and cooked the next day, making it the perfect dish for entertaining or for an easy weeknight meal.

I hope you enjoy this amazingly flavorful, delicious, and nutritious dish. And give yourself a big pat on the back for branching out and trying a new veggie!

Green Chili Chicken and Kobacha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs or chicken breast (preferably organic)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • juice of 1 lime (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups cubed Kobucha squash (butternut squash or sweet potatoes could be substituted)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 4 oz canned diced green chilis
  • 16 oz gluten-free tomatillo salsa verde
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 8 to 10 gluten-free corn tortillas, cut into quarter sections

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a medium bowl. Combine coriander, cumin, chile powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add half of spice mixture to chicken and reserve the other half.  Add half of lime juice to chicken. Toss chicken with spices and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
  3. Place cubed kobucha squash and diced onion in a separate large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Stir in remaining spice mixture. Place cubed winter squash as a single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Stir vegetables and place back in oven to cook for an additional 25 minutes. At this time, add chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. Remove both the roasted squash and baked chicken from oven. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Using two forks, shred baked chicken. Place shredded chicken, roasted squash and onions, juice of half a lime, 1/4 cup diced cilantro, canned green chilis, and 1/3 cup salsa verde in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Spray or grease an 8X11 baking dish. Place 1/3 cup salsa verde in bottom of baking dish. place 10 to 12 quarter sections of tortillas in bottom of dish on top of salsa verde in a single layer, slightly overlapping each other.  Spoon out half of shredded chicken mixture and smooth over the tortillas. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of salsa verde and 1/2 cup cheese on top. Layer with 10 more tortilla wedges. Spread out remaining chicken filling on top of tortilla wedges. Top with remaining tortilla wedges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and remaining salsa verde.
  6. Place baking dish into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve with extra salsa verde, chopped cilantro, and greek yogurt.

Notes:

  • For dairy free version, do not use cheese.
  • For vegetarian version, replace chicken with 2 cups cooked black beans.
  • These enchiladas can be prepared up to 1 day ahead of time through step 5. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before placing in middle rack of preheated oven. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Broccoli, Apple, and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing

Broccoli, Apple, and Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Welcome the season of “How Many Parties, Booze, Snacks, Sweets, Treats, and Good Times Can I Shove Into My Face and Schedule”.

But there is one big problem with this season.

My stomach. She’s such a fun killer.

Broccoli, Apple, and Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Broccoli, Apple, and Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Given my cranky belly and gluten intolerance, I often go to holiday parties and find that there is hardly anything that I can eat without severe consequences. Lately, my trick for getting through party after party is to bring a delicious, healthy, and festive dish that I can eat and enjoy. By doing this I hopefully won’t be the one over in the corner munching on a pound of carrots and staring like a voracious dog at others eating seven layer bars, molasses cookies, sausage balls, and chocolate covered pretzels…. “No no no, I’m good. I LOOOOVE carrots. I hate other delicious things. No go on. Please keep eating. Please, I’m fine. I’m FIIIINE.”

This Broccoli, Apple, and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing has been my go to Christmas salad this season.  It’s incredibly delicious with great crunch from the broccoli and brussels sprouts and crisp apple. Plus the savory tahini-maple dressing will have you wanting to lick the spoon! I have taken this salad to four different parties and have had great responses. It also holds up very well as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Broccoli, Apple, and Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Oh and look how festive this salad looks! Greed, Red, and White! Sometimes I even add dried cranberries for more red pop!

So Happy Holidays to you and yours!  Make a plan during this holiday season and don’t get overwhelmed!  You can do it!

Broccoli, Apple, and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Maple Dressing

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 broccoli crowns, florets only, chopped
  • 1/2 lb brussels sprouts (about 2 big handfuls), stems removed and discolored leaves discarded
  • 1 large honey crisp apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta (do not include for dairy free option)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Tahini-Maple Dressing

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Chop the broccoli into small bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Use a sharp chef’s knife or mandolin slicer to slice the brussels sprouts as thin as possible. Alternately, a food processor’s slicing disk could be used. Add the brussels sprouts to the large bowl with the broccoli.
  2. In a separate small jar or bowl, whisk the tahini, lemon juice, and maple syrup together to form a paste. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is creamy and pourable like vinaigrette (not too watery). Pour the dressing over the broccoli and brussels sprouts and toss to combine.  (The salad can be made a few hour ahead of time to this point and refrigerated).
  3. Add the chopped apple, feta, and sliced almonds to the salad and toss lightly.  Serve immediately.

Notes

  • For paleo friendly, vegan friendly, and dairy free, do not include the feta cheese.
  • If you don’t have tahini, almond butter could be used.
  • For added protein and a complete meal, add some cooked quinoa or shredded chicken.

Smoky Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Breakfast is a hallowed time in our home. Not brunch…breakfast. I primarily blame my husband for this tradition. He isn’t one for typical traditions but when it comes to breakfast on the weekend, it is sacred, it has to be from a skillet, and it happens before 9AM.  He was the crazy friend in college that would wake up one too many friends knocking on their door at 7 AM saying “it’s BREAKFAST TIME”.

AT SEVEN AM…

in COLLEGE. uuuuuh.

God bless him.

But now that we are in our mid-thirties, 7 AM is not that early to me anymore. My hubby still wakes up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (ugh) on Saturday or Sunday morning and says, “It’s BREAKFAST TIME”.  Usually there is a dance that goes with this statement as he pulls out his most prized flea-market find, an old Griswold cast iron skillet that he lugged back from MARFA, TEXAS on a PLANE.

God bless him.

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Sunday mornings in our home consist of putting on a record, firing up the cast iron skillet, and brewing a pot of coffee. Currently, I have Sturgill Simpson on repeat and this Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet heating up. This breakfast skillet is similar to a breakfast hash that I get at my favorite breakfast spot in KC called Urban Table. There is something about getting breakfast served to you in a skillet, am I right?

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I love the flavors of this breakfast with the smokey bacon, seared brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, and sweet potatoes.  I season the whole shabang with a spicy kick from the chipotle powder and smoked paprika, adding to the smokiness of the bacon.

Oh and a few cook’s notes –

1. Be sure to dice your sweet potatoes rather small so that they cook all the way through quickly.

2. If your brussels sprouts are humongous, just quarter them. Basically you want them to be just a bit larger than the sweet potatoes because the brussels sprouts will cook faster than the sweet potatoes. Cooking pieces that are slightly larger will allow them to be done at about the same time.

3. If you are serving this to tiny tots or people with a spice intolerance, I would hold off on the chipotle powder and use chili powder or nothing.  Chipotle powder is quite spicy.

4. To finish the whole thing off, cook the eggs separately to each persons desired consistency.  I love my eggs either poached or sunny side up, but the Breakfast Man likes over-easy eggs.

5. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, cry yourself to sleep and hope that santa brings you one. But never fear, you can make this in a regular skillet OR you could even roast your veggies (tossed with olive oil) in a 450F preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So throw on some warm socks, brew a pot of coffee, and pull out your skillet. BECAUSE IT IS BREAKFAST TIME!!!!!

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet

  • Servings: 2 to 4
  • Difficulty: Easy/Medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 slices of smoky thick cut bacon, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup of small brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 to 4 large eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the pieces are just crisp (not burned!). Remove the bacon slices using a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  2. Reduce the heat under the skillet, add the sliced, sweet potato cubes, and halved brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the bacon grease. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the sweet potato has softened. Add bacon and spices to the veggie skillet and stir to coat. Turn off heat.
  3. In a separate skillet, poach or fry eggs to desired consistency. Spoon out portions of the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes onto separate plates and top with eggs.

Cook’s Notes

1. Adapted from my favorite breakfast at Urban Table and How Sweet Eats’ Brussels Sprouts Breakfast Hash.

2. This dish serves 2 GENEROUSLY or 4 smaller portions. If serving a crowd, serve with a fruit salad.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free)

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This year was my third year to host Friendsgiving here in Kansas City.  The first year, we had 11 friends and no kids gather in our small home and bring an amazing assortment of food…including jello shots. Over the years, some friends have moved away and others have moved in. We love welcoming new friends into our hearts and home. This year was much bigger with 15 adults and six children, as many of our friends have become parents. No jello shots this year. Womp Womp. Although the dynamic was slightly different, the joy and love was tremendous.

Friendsgiving 2012

Friendsgiving 2014

Time management is key to hosting a low stress and enjoyable holiday party. By organizing my dishes and using slow cooking techniques, I was able to enjoy the beautiful day and amazing friends that came to our home.

I spent the day preparing for a full house in my tiny space. Since my kitchen and my oven is quite small, I chose to roast a 7-lb pork shoulder in a roasting oven (life saver), roast a 4-lb free range chicken in my oven, and cook my cornbread dressing in my slow cooker. During the great cooking adventure, I did lose a breaker and a fuse a few times (and ended up placing my slow cooker with the cornbread dressing in a spare bedroom!). But it all turned out great and I kept my wine glass FULL.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So let’s get to this Cornbread Dressing, shall we?

Apples, Fennel, and Pecans! Yeeeeeeaaaas. And don’t forget sage!

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

There are several parts of this dressing that can be made ahead of time. The Gluten Free Old Fashioned Cornbread can be made up to 2 days ahead. The aromatics in the dish (onions, celery, and fennel) can be braised in a little olive oil up to two days ahead of time as well. I mixed everything together and placed into my slow cooker and allowed to cook while I was getting other things together. This also kept the cornbread dressing warm until it was time to eat.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 batch of old fashioned skillet cornbread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, slivered
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 medium apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare cornbread at least one day ahead of time. Crumble up cornbread and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Allow to sit out at room temperature and dry out. Alternately, preheat oven to 250F and scatter cornbread in a single layer on the rimmed baking sheet and bake (stirring often) for about 1 hour or until the cornbread is dried out.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, onion, and celery and cook, stirring often, and beginning to soften. Add apple, pecans, and herbs. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in dried out cornbread and 1 1/2 cups of broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Spoon cornbread dressing mixture into a large slow cooker or crock pot. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Easy Gluten Free Old Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, I am preparing a two series post for my favorite Thanksgiving dish….cornbread dressing. Not stuffing. Dressssssing. What’s the diff, you ask?

Stuffing is stuffed inside your bird whereas dressing is a casserole cooked OUTSIDE your bird. Next, make that dressing with cornbread. None of this fancy BRIOCHE. What? Give me southern style cornbread dressing seasoned with plenty o sage!  YAAASSSS. But stay tuned, that’s my next post.

And for my next magic trick, I’ll make amazingly moist gluten-free cornbread. You ready??? aaaah. Put away those boxes of Iffy Jiffy. Serious. This is just as easy and better for you.  It’s perfect alongside chili, soup, and as a base for my Cornbread Dressing for Thanksgiving!  Oh and it’s fabulous with a dab of butter and some honey! holy Moses.

Gluten Free Corn Bread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So what is Old Fashioned Cornbread, you ask?

Welcome to cornbread 101!  I like to break cornbread (pun intended) into two different styles: Old Fashioned (or rather Southern Style) and Yankee Style (or Northern Style).

(1) Old fashioned cornbread is 100% cornmeal, buttermilk, and a touch of sweetener.

(2) Yankee style cornbread is a more cake-like cornbread that contains around 50% cornmeal, 50% all purpose flour, and a lot of sugar. Think yellow cake and Jiffy in cornbread Tender match. Good…but not cornbread to me.

I prefer a savory cornbread that tastes like CORNBREAD…not cake.

Old fashioned cornbread is also generally cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, adding extra flavor. If you don’t have a skillet (put it on your christmas list and get one), you can easily make this cornbread in a buttered 8X8 pan. However, I should note that something magical happens when the skillet of cornbread is finished. You open that hot oven to an amazing smell of buttery cornbread. Pulling out a hot skillet of hot cornbread from an oven makes me feel close to my grandmother and a different generation that didn’t know about cell phones, and Facebook, and go go go. It makes me wish that she was here with me as I slather a hot wedge of cornbread with extra butter.

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Easy Gluten Free Old Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups stone ground gluten-free cornmeal*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey*
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature), beaten
  • 1 1/4 buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Place an 8-inch cast iron skillet into the preheating oven. (If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, butter an 8X8 baking dish and set aside.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, honey, and greek yogurt until combined.
  3. Remove preheated skillet from oven. Place butter in the skillet, swirl around and allow to melt.
  4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined and no dry ingredients remain.  Mixture will be slightly lumpy.
  5. Pour batter into the skillet. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden brown. Test the doneness by placing a butter knife in the middle of the cornbread and removing it. It’s finished baking when the butter knife comes out clean. Let the cornbread cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm!

*Notes:

  • For a more fluffy cake-like cornbread (yankee style), a half-cup of the cornmeal can be replaced with gluten-free flour such as oat flour, almond meal, rice flour, or a gf flour blend.
  • The honey can also be increased to one-fourth of a cup for a sweeter cornbread. I have also used maple syrup and coconut palm sugar with good results.
  • Buttermilk can be substituted with dairy or non-dairy milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.