Seductive Kale Salad ♥

Seductive Kale Salad
Today's healthy vegetable recipe: I've fallen for the slow seduction of quick-cooked kale. Low carb. Weight Watchers zero points. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

Is kale the boy-next-door who just might become the love of your life, if you only paid attention? Like that boy, kale is always there, steady and patient. Like most greens, it's especially obvious during the late months of winter, during the weeks and even months when we so long for fresh foods, straight from the earth. But thanks to the miracle of global food distribution, kale is available and inexpensive year-round. (Miracle? Yes, really. Just think what we'd be eating, week in, week out, without it.)

But kale is also the one who gets invited to the party at the very last minute. It's often an after-thought, just something to throw into a soup or a stew at the end of cooking for texture and color contrast, rarely raised onto a deserved pedestal of adoration.

Well, lemme tell you. Kale has lured me in, slowly, slowly, ever so slowly. It started with an after-thought salad, just a few greens thrown into a skillet with a little bacon grease and some boiling water, then chopped and tossed with a little honey and salt. And here's where it's ended up, the reason why in the last weeks, I've brought home a big bouquet of kale every single trip to the grocery. I finally learned how to cook it. For me. For my taste. For my can't-get-enough, been-eatin'-it-like-candy obsession.

Crustless Quiche with Roasted Peppers ♥

Crustless Quiche with Roasted Peppers
Today's vegetarian quiche recipe: A crustless quiche, makes up in minutes. It has a "secret" ingredient, whipped cottage cheese which adds body and protein. Low carb. Moist and cheesy but Weight Watchers? Just 3 points!

My best Christmas present to myself? Food magazine subscriptions, three to be exact, re-subscriptions in fact. Bon Appetit. Cook's Illustrated. But the surprise favorite is Vegetarian Times, which I subscribed to many years ago when I wasn't eating meat (Note to Vegetarians).

But back then, Vegetarian Times was a little dusty and hippy-dippy for my taste. My memory is that the recipes required too-regular trips to a low-turnover natural food store; were too laden with fat and especially cheese; and just didn't appeal to my just-emerging affinity to fresh, seasonal food.

In 2012? Without question, I love Vegetarian Times. Love it. Real food. Easy ingredients. Nutrition info, people! Mostly main dishes, just a few sweets. Lots of vegetables. Lots of tips. Each issue shows a shortlist of staff favorites, that's where I start and that's where I found today's quiche recipe. (And for anyone who might wonder, this is NOT paid advertising. It's just me, sharing a happy discovery.)

Is anyone else a former (or future?!!) Vegetarian Times subscriber? What's your take on the magazine? What's your favorite magazine for everyday healthy meatless-meal inspiration?

Beer-Soaked Crispy Baked Fries ♥

Beer-Soaked Crispy Baked Fries
For crispy baked French 'fries', here's a quick trick, soak the fries in beer first!

Crispy fries are the holy grail of potatoes – steamy hot and golden brown, crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. Starting on Day 325 in 2006 (don't bother, but there you go), I've tried a half dozen recipes, all disappointing. And when you limit your carbs, on those rare occasions when you choose to eat potatoes, they'd darn-better be worth eating!

The recipe was inspired by St. Louis' "Beer Guy" aka Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The headline read, "Beer-soaked 'fries' are baked to crispy perfection". This sounded ever-so-promising!

No-Cream Creamy Cauliflower Soup ♥

No-Cream Creamy Cauliflower Soup
graphic button small size size 10 Today's simple cauliflower soup recipe: If you have just three ingredients, a head of cauliflower, an onion and olive oil, you can make this soup! It turns out so creamy, even though it's made without cream, thanks to an unusual slightly-fussy-but-not-difficult technique to draw out flavor and creaminess. Made with water, it's a delicious vegan soup for everyone. Made with chicken stock (Note to Vegetarians), it's a low-calorie satisfying, substantial supper. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 or 2 points. graphic button small size size 10

Something I've learned about restaurant chefs: many of them cook the same few dishes, again and again, over and over. Sheer repetition means "nailing" the muscle memory of technique and the sensory cues of color, smell, texture, touch. If practice makes perfect, there's a reason that restaurant chefs are good at what they do.

We home cooks, if we make the one same thing once a week, it's a lot, especially if we are curious cooks who for fun are ever expanding our recipe repertoire. Me, right now I make only two things every week, although in fact, every day. Creamy Oatmeal in the Microwave with Peanut Butter. Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salad. But repetition means I have nailed these "recipes".