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
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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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Rhubarb Strawberry Curd

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

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I still remember the first time that I tried rhubarb.  It was probably 10 years ago. I had wanted to try it, but just hadn’t had the chance (I guess) living in suburbia Oklahoma and just didn’t have the inclination to go hunt for it.

But one summer night, I was out working a 12 hour shift doing field work for my Master’s degree and my husband was babysitting my littlest sister who was only 6 at the time. Since they are both the adventurous type, and neither of them really knew how to cook…. they decided to make me a rhubarb cobbler as a surprise treat for when I got home.

I was so surprised when I walked in the door and smelled that amazing smell. It was seriously the best cobbler I had ever eaten. (Maybe it was because I had just worked 12 long hours in the hot summer sun.) But it really was the perfect blend of tartness and sweetness. Just like my husband and my sister Olivia. Sweet and tart! 🙂  They began my obsession with this fabulous spring plant…ooooh rhubarb!

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Since that first magical cobbler that they made for me ten years ago, I have had quite a love affair with rhubarb. Rhubarb is a perennial that will come back year after year when planted in a good location. My rhubarb plant always lets me know when spring is near, because it begins to sprout its long stalks and leaves when temps rise above 40 F.

Rhubarb can be used in so many recipes: tarts, cobblers, pies, salsa, sauces, and this amazing curd! Yeaaaaaaaaah. Curd doesn’t have to be reserved for citrus! This Rhubarb Strawberry Curd is hands down my favorite. I decided to add some frozen strawberries that I had in order to boost the pink color of the curd.  Feel free to adjust the ratio of rhubarb to strawberries to suit your own tastes.

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This Rhubarb Strawberry Curd can easily be used to fill a pie or tart crust for an easy dessert. The extra egg whites can be whipped up as a meringue for the top too! I went the easy route this time and I mixed mine in greek yogurt for a delicious breakfast and midday snack! Either way, I know that this will be a favorite for all you rhubarb lovers!

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Rhubarb Strawberry Curd

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 5 trimmed stalks)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 eggs, yolks separated (reserve whites for another use)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. In a heavy saucepan placed over medium heat, cook rhubarb, strawberries, water, and 3 tablespoons of honey for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and smashing the fruit with the back of spoon. Mixture will begin to fall apart and look mushy. Turn off heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor and puree smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, cream the butter and the honey together until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs slowly. Slowly add the rhubarb and strawberry mixture, whisking constantly until completely combined.
  4. Transfer mixture to a medium-sized, non-reactive saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly with either a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened to jelly consistency, about 10-12 minutes.  Do not let the curd boil! Pull the pan off the stove before it gets to that stage. The curd is done when it coats the back of a spatula or leaves a clear path when pulled through the mixture.
  5. Remove from heat allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Pour curd mixture into a clean glass jar, but let it cool completely before you screw on the lid. You can even place the filled jar in the freezer (without the lid) for about 15 minutes and then remove from freezer and place the lid on the jar. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Note – Recipe adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal.

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
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  • 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.

The Best Flourless Brownies

The Best Flourless Brownies (Grain Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I’m so sorry.

INCREDIBLY sorry.

I have been M.I.A. for a month. I need to grovel and ask for your forgiveness….

soooo….. I made brownies.

The Best Flourless Brownies (Grain Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Nothing says I love you and I’m sorry for being away like chocolate + butter + nuts. Am I right?

The Best Flourless Brownies (Grain Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I’ve been a little off kilter lately and super busy with life and work.  It became increasingly difficult to find additional time (and motivation) recently for posting new recipes.  Maybe it was lack of sun and seasonal depression. So I took a break. I went back to just cooking for the fun of it. I stopped worrying about whether or not it was good enough for the blog or whether I had to cook it at the right time so that I had enough natural light to photograph it.  I just cooked for me.

I think I go through this every winter. I have to realign myself with what is important to me.  Give myself a new focus. In turn, I have also given this blog a renewed purpose.

I want to thank those of you who reached out to me and encouraged me to continue cooking and creating in this space.  I received some lovely emails and words of encouragement.  This is supposed to be a space of creativity and sharing.  I want this space to be several things moving forward and not just a food blog. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely still want it to be a space where my inner grandma gets to cook, feed others, and then sit back and bask in the joy of nourishing the one’s I love.  But I also want to focus on discovering, exploring, and escaping comfort zones.

Thank you for letting me cook for you and provide nourishing recipes for the past three years. Also, thank you for giving me satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Best Flourless Brownies (Grain Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

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And with that…. let’s talk CHOCOLATE AND BUTTAH AND HAZELNUTS.

Get out that good butter and good chocolate. Turn on your oven. We are also going to throw in hazelnuts into our brownies to add some flare!

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V.D. is coming up… I mean, Valentine’s Day. And what better way to celebrate your loved ones and friends (or just you) than to serve up a plate of uuuuuuuhmazing gooey gooey brownies.  These brownies are adapted from a past recipe of mine (Paleo Flourless Brownie Bites) and a recipe from my favorite pastry chef, Dave Leibovitz.  The results are fabulously out of this world.  But, as LeVar Burton would say…. Don’t take my word for it.  Make them yourself and share the love.

The Best Flourless Brownies (Grain Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Flourless Brownies (Grain Free)

  • Servings: 12 to 16
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 6 tablespoons salted butter (or use unsalted and add 1/8 teaspoon salt)
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup coconut palm sugar (or unrefined cane sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup chopped nuts (I used roasted hazelnuts)
  • coarse or flaked sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 8X8 baking dish and set aside.
  2. Add coconut palm sugar, arrowroot powder, and cocoa powder to the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 1 minute to make sugar mixture super fine. Set aside.
  3. In a metal saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until it begins to crackle.  Add 2/3 of the chocolate chunks (about 8 oz) and remove pan from heat. Whisk constantly until chocolate is completely melted.  Add eggs one at a time and whisk constantly.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture into food processor with sugar mixture.  Process for at least one minute. Mixture will be glossy and thick. Add 1/2 cup of nuts and pulse once or twice to distribute. Use a rubber spatula and spoon out mixture into greased baking dish. Sprinkle remaining nuts, chocolate chunks, and flaked sea salt on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F, or until just set.  Do not overtake.

Note – If you do not have a food processor, then you will need to adapt the recipe slightly.  Add the sugar to the butter and chocolate mixture before you add the eggs. Remove the saucepan from heat. Add eggs one at a time, then add sifted cocoa powder and arrowroot powder straight to the saucepan.  Stir with a whisk briskly for at least 1 minute until the mixture becomes glossy and begins pulling away from the sides of the saucepan.  Stir in your nuts and then spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate and bake as directed above.

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.

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

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I have been in an alternate universe, my friends. A universe where people never sleep, the air smells like strawberry perfume, puke, and alcohol and no one seems to care that a burger costs $22. Ya….I speak of Vegas.

One of my oldest friends was getting hitched last weekend there. It was great to see him and his new wife as well as many old friends from college.  It’s funny getting back together with friends that you don’t see that often, but when you do see them, it is as if no time has passed. But then the problem is that I feel like I have to cram so much fun into a condensed time span.

So what do you get when you concentrate fun in Vegas?  Drinks that should never be THAT big, beer pong rallies (be sure close to your eyes when the ball hits the floor so that you don’t vom in your mouth), mechanical bull riding that felt like it lasted 10 minutes (I pulled a groin muscle doing this because I’m OLD), no sleep no sleep no sleep.  It took only 12 hours for me and my husband to quickly realize that we were in our mid 30s, not early 20s. Ouch.

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As a result, mama is in major decompression mode. No bright lights, no floral smells, no alcohol, no loud noises. All I need right now is to be wrapped up in a blanket like a human burrito while I listen to soul music on the record player. Put it on repeat please.

I also need a massive helping of this warm comfy soup to combat the outside temps that are in the teens!

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef stew meat (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 onions, sliced in 1/4-inch slivers
  • 10 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place first six ingredients (stew through beef stock) in a crockpot. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.
  2. In a small bowl, stir arrowroot powder into sherry until a smooth paste is formed. Add sherry mixture to the crockpot and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

My husband and I ran the KC half marathon this past Saturday. One of the best things about running in the early morning is getting to see the city wake up as the sun rises. You see a view that is typically missed while enjoying the coziness of bed. Chilly morning runs sound so much better, right? I’ll tell ya, that the early morning air was perfectly crisp for me. Plus the trees were all in full amazing bloom of color like they saved all their peak beauty just for us!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It’s crazy to realize that five years ago I completed the full marathon. *shudder* I will say that I definitely enjoy running half marathons MUCH better than full marathons….obvi. The full marathon is a torturous journey that I’m glad I did once…and will likely never repeat.  (Similar to trying to drink a pint of vinegar on a dare….great to do once, but never again.  Am I right?)

For some reason, I really like running half marathons. It’s a decent length of race to push my training and fitness level a little higher, while not ruining my life or body. Usually. This past training season I pulled a calf muscle three weeks ago but since I gave myself three weeks off from running, I was able to bust out the race. Needless to say, after running 13.1 miles this weekend, I’m in super recovery mode. Give me carbs, give me nutrients….more importantly, give me ice cream!

On Sunday, I did a lot of stretching, drank plenty of water, and worked in my yard enjoying the fall day. I also harvested the end of season crops and late bloomer tomatoes and peppers. I wasn’t sure what to do with my bounty until I remembered this delicious Smoky Red Pepper Soup in one of my favorite new cookbooks, Vibrant Food by Kimberly Hasselbrink. I decided to adapt the soup a bit and roast the peppers and tomatoes in the oven together and whip up this nutrient-dense soup to aide my recovery. Winner winner.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This soup is the easiest thing I’ve done all weekend.  It is so easy since all of the vegetables are roasted together on a single baking sheet under a broiler.  Then all of the roasted vegetables are then pureed with spices in either a high speed blender or in a stockpot using an immersion blender. So easy I could sleep and do this. Maybe I am.

The broiler gives a great smoky flavor to the tomatoes and peppers. It is also spiced with both smoked paprika and chipotle powder which add extra smoky punch of flavor.  If you are sensitive to spice or serving this to lil tikes, then I would recommend skipping the chipotle powder since it is a bit spicy.  This is perfect as a main meal with a dollop of greek yogurt or served as a first course with this kale salad with garlic tahini dressing or this Peruvian Roasted Chicken.

Oooh….or grilled cheeeeeeese pleeeeeease.  Sorry folks. As you can tell I’m in carbo load mode.  I’ll get back to being a green machine tomorrow.

You don’t have to run a half or full marathon to deserve this soup. It’s easy, light, and provides your body the nutrients it needs to get through these fall days. Get on it!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

  • Servings: about 10 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet red bell peppers (about 2 pounds), quartered with seeds/membranes removed
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic (skins on)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 pounds of whole tomatoes (about 8 Roma tomatoes or 4 larger tomatoes)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional if you don’t like spicy dishes)
  • Optional toppings: plain greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, roasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler. Place oven rack in the upper portion of the oven about 6 to 8 inches from broiler.
  2. Place cut peppers skin side up, whole roma tomatoes, whole garlic, and quartered onions in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the top rack. Broil the veggies, watching carefully, for about 10 to 15 minutes until the pepper and tomato skins are mostly blackened on top.
  3. When the peppers are cool enough to touch, remove the pepper skins by running them under running water. Peel and remove the skin from the garlic as well.
  4. In a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, heat the roasted vegetables, vegetable broth, salt, and spices.  Puree the soup smooth using an immersion blender. This step also can be performed using a high speed blender or food processor.
  5. Serve soup topped with greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Note – Recipe adapted from Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As fall starts to move in, I find myself in comfort mode.

I want to be cozy.

I want to wear wool socks.

I want comfy meals.

But I also don’t want to pack on some comfy pounds…can I have both?  Why can’t I just have the things I want!

It’s simple.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

My comfort meal of choice is lasagna. It is hearty, comfy, and saucy. I miss the original butt busting version dearly, I do. But as an alternative, I love replacing the noodles in a typical lasagna with different vegetables. One of my favorite paleo versions uses roasted eggplants.  Aaaaaaand, my thighs are pretty thankful for this swap.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

With zucchini being at the end of their peak season, I decided to whip up a lasagna using zucchini ribbons in place of lasagna noodles for a healthy and tasty lasagna without weighing you down. This version does a yummy layer of whole milk ricotta with parmesan cheese which I love. However, if you are avoiding dairy, you can easily skip the ricotta cheese mixture layer and this lasagna would still be a winner!

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 lb ground grass-fed beef or gluten free pork sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 10 oz whole baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (divided)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice zucchini 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin slicer. Place in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and set them aside for 10 minutes to drain of excess moisture.  After 10 minutes, pat the zucchini slices with the clean towel to remove the moisture.
  3. In a large sauce pan or pot, brown the ground beef (or sausage) over medium heat until completely cooked. Drain excess grease. Return pan to heat and add onion, minced garlic, and sliced mushrooms.  Stirring frequently, brown and cook until onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Sauce can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, and 1/4-cup parmesan.
  5. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce (about 2 cups) in the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ glass pan.  Layer slices of zucchini on top of the sauce.  Spread another 1 to 2 cups of sauce on top of the zucchini slices.  Spread all of the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce layer. Then place a second layer of zucchini slices on top. Spoon remaining sauce on top. Top with remaining parmesan cheese. This can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to cook. (Note – you will need to remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to placing in oven.)
  6. Bake lasagna at 350 F for 30 minutes. (If the lasagna was made ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator, add 15 minutes to the cook time.) Serve hot topped with fresh basil and/or extra parmesan cheese.

Note – This recipe is easily adaptable for food intolerances or other diets.

Paleo-Friendly and Dairy Free Adaption: To make this paleo-friendly and dairy free, do not include the ricotta-cheese layer. The lasagna will still taste amazing.

Vegetarian Adaption: Remove the meat from the marinara sauce. Double the Riccotta-mixture for added protein.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Homemade Bloody Mary Recipe

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Last weekend, over the labor day holiday weekend, my husband and I escaped the hot KC summer and traveled to the amazing scenery of New Mexico. We were celebrating our NINTH wedding anniversary. It was magical. We spent several days in Taos and then ended our vacation in Santa Fe. I’m absolutely in love with the area. How could you not be???

The mountains.

The locals.

The adobes.

The FOOOOD!

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It was prime time for roasting fresh hatch chiles!  Everywhere we went, I had green chile and red chile sauce (christmas style…which means both) slathered on everything.  I couldn’t get enough, breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, chile on chile on chile. I luckily brought back some fresh hatch chiles that I was able to snag at the Taos Farmers Market.

We came home to a plethora of tomatoes in our garden. The end of August and September typically leave most gardeners with so many tomatoes that you are looking for new and different ways to use them.  So I have a handy dandy new recipe idea for you and all your ton o’ tomatoes…Bloody Mary Mix. Ya..you heard me. I will be showing you how to use all of those tomatoes to make fresh tomato juice for your own homemade Bloody Mary Mix.

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

One really easy way to make tomato juice is using a juicer. Williams-Sonoma has a plethora of great juicer options (droooool). Unfortunately, I do not have a juicer. So I decided to puree my tomatoes (along with some onion, green chiles, and celery) and pass the puree through a sieve or fine mesh to separate the juice from the solids.  I was able to get 8 cups of juice from 12 cups of diced tomatoes.

And DON’T THROW AWAY THOSE SOLIDS…seriously.  Make fresh and easy salsa with the tomato solids! Two recipe dishes for one effort!  I added a handful of cilantro, a diced onion, diced jalapeños, lime juice, and salt to taste. Bam…salsa. A snack to go with your brunch drink. Amazing.

Additionally, I have included canning instructions below so that you can preserve your awesome homemade Bloody Mary Mix and drink it forever give it as gifts (if you can dare part with this amazing elixir). If you don’t have much canning equipment, check out this awesome selection of canning and preserving equipment from Williams-Sonoma too (double drool).

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

My homemade Bloody Mary Mix recipe has a New Mexican spin since I added roasted hatch green chiles. I roasted my own chiles by placing them over an open gas flame. The smokey hatch chiles provide a nice smokey addition of flavor! Warning – be careful when adding additional hot sauce to your Bloody Mary Mix because some hatch chiles can be HOT HOT HOT.

If you want to put up several jars of this Bloody Mary Mix, pint-sized jars of homemade Bloody Mary Mix make a great gift.  I know I would LOVE to get this mix as a gift. Oh ya. To make a great gift set, include the following:

  • Pint sized jar of Homemade Bloody Mary Mix (sealed and processed through hot batch canning)
  • Jelly jar of pickled green tomatoes (sealed and processed through hot bath canning) or a jar of jalapeño stuffed olives
  • Tiny baggy of kosher salt, ground pepper, and smoked paprika for the rim
  • Mini bottle of vodka

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Voila! Best brunch gift ever.  Be sure to include directions for mixing up the homemade drink. One pint jar will make at least TWO Bloody Marys.

Note – the Homemade Bloody Mary Mix may start to separate (solids and liquid). This is ok…no big deal. Just swirl the mix prior to preparing your drinks. This may not be an issue if you use a juicer.

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Homemade Bloody Mary Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 12 cups of diced ripe tomatoes and juice
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 2 fresh roasted hatch green chiles (or 4 oz canned green chiles) (optional)
  • juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated fresh horseradish or prepared bottled horseradish
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Hot sauce (such as Sriracha), to taste
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice (spicy pickle juice is super good)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups of vodka
  • Rim Seasoning: kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, smoked paprika
  • Optional Garnish: olives, jalapeño stuffed olives, pickled green tomatoes, lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Make Fresh Tomato Juice – Place chopped tomatoes, onion, celery, and roasted hatch chiles in a blender or food processor and puree.  This will likely need to occur in batches. Pass the pureed mixture in batches through a food mill or through a fine mesh sieve, capturing the juice in a large container. You should have about 8 cups of tomato juice.  Set solids aside to make this salsa. (Alternately to using a blender, you can use a juicer and juice the tomatoes, celery, shallot, and chiles).
  2. Make Mix – Add lemon juice, lime juice, grated horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and celery salt to the fresh tomato juice. Add hot sauce, salt, and fresh cracked pepper to taste. (To can and preserve the Bloody Mary Mix, see canning instructions below).
  3. Assemble Drinks – Mix 1 tablespoon each of salt, ground black pepper, and smoked paprika on a small flat plate. Dip the rim of each glass in water or lemon juice and then dip the rim of each glass in the paprika-salt mixture and twist the glass.   Fill each 8 ounce glass with ice to the rim. Pour 1 ounce of vodka and top off with bloody mary mix in each glass. An extra splash of hot sauce and pickle juice tastes grand.  Be sure to swirl around all the ingredients using a spoon or chopsticks.
  4. Garnish – Top and garnish the drinks as you wish…with limes, lemons, jalapeño stuffed olives, hot sauce, pickled green tomatoes, pickled green beans, bacon… ya bacon. It’s endless possibilities.

Canning Instructions: (See this tutorial on canning instructions for great details)

  1. Clean and heat canning jars.  Simmer lids for 10 minutes at around 180 F water. Preheat the water bath to a rolling boil.
  2. Fill pint-sized jars with Bloody Mary Mix, leaving 1/4-inch head space at the top of the jar. Wipe rim of jars.
  3. Apply the lids and screw on the canning rings.
  4. Lower the pint jars into the boiling water canning bath using a jar rack. Allow the water to come back to a gentle boil.  Place lid on canning bath and process pint jars for at least 45 minutes. (Note – If you’re canning a small batch of jars, it is best to use a smaller pot to process your jars to reduce breakage.)
  5. Remove from canning water bath using tongs. Allow to cool to room temperature. After your jars have cooled, check the seal by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the lid does not move and is concave, then you have a good seal. However, if the lid moves when pushed, then there is a bad seal and the jar needs to be processed again.