Kale Salad with Chicken, Bacon and Israeli Couscous

I don’t mean to brag, but I really love kale. I know – what an asshole. So many people struggle to eat enough of the bitter superfood, and I just happen to totally dig it. It’s downright obnoxious, but I promise, I don’t take this blessing for granted.

Because I love it and know how healthy it is, I try to eat kale as often as possible – in smoothies, in pasta, in soup – any way I can. My very favorite way to eat kale, though, is salad. My husband always makes fun of me because I’ll make a meal out of any ingredients I like, whether they go together or not, but I think the ingredients in this salad are extremely well-matched, despite the fact that I cobbled them together from whatever I could find in my kitchen.

I always start with a big bowl of regular kale. None of that baby kale crap. I remove most of the bigger ribs.

A big bowl of kale (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Right off the bat, I drizzle it with a little olive oil, a healthy helping of fresh lemon juice and some sea salt.

Kale drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Then, I massage the kale for two to three minutes, until it’s softened and a bit wilted.

See how much it’s reduced?
Softening kale with olive oil lemon juice and sea salt (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Once that process is complete, I set the kale aside to continue soaking up the oily-lemony-salty goodness while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Whole wheat Israeli couscous (or pearl couscous) is another one of my very favorite things. It’s more versatile than the teeny couscous, in my opinion – much better in salads. My grocery store carries one by RiceSelect, but I’ve seen a few other brands. Trust me, it’s worth the search! Just one tip: like many whole wheat pastas, it can be a little bland-tasting on its own, so I always cook mine in chicken broth.

For this salad, I make about 3/4 cup of couscous, and I cut up a whole pint of grape tomatoes.

Halved grape tomatoes (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

For my protein, I tear four slices of turkey bacon into little bite-sized pieces, and I use whatever chicken breast is left over in my fridge. (For this particular salad, I used some that Brad had made for shawarma the night before, but the nutmeg was an odd fit – I might not recommend it.) If I’m grilling the chicken specifically for this salad, I just mix up some extra lemon mustard vinaigrette to marinate it with.

Making salad dressing is an art in my kitchen, not a science. Every time I try to use exact measurements, I just screw it up. This is my best guess, though: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, one tablespoon lemon juice, one tablespoon dijon mustard, one teaspoon minced garlic. Add to small bowl and whisk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lemon mustard vinaigrette dressing to go with kale salad (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

I toss all the ingredients and dressing together with my softened kale …

Kale salad with lemon mustard vinaigrette, chicken breast, bacon and Israeli couscous (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

And I serve it with a very generous helping of shaved parmesan.

Kale, chicken, bacon and Israeli couscous salad with lemon mustard vinaigrette (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Let’s be honest – everything in life needs a generous helping of shaved parmesan.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Kale salad with bacon chicken Israeli couscous and lemon mustard vinaigrette

Side note: If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I recently chipped my front tooth while enthusiastically trying to lick the last bit of Israeli couscous off a bowl. Yes, this is that Israeli couscous, and the mixing bowl you see in this post is the bone-breaking culprit. While I would recommend using utensils to eat this salad like a civilized human being, I’m hoping my tale of woe tells you just how delicious this salad is. I mean, I wanted to finish it so badly that I smashed a bowl into my face. So, uh … give it a try. Go kale!

Penne alla Vodka with Prosciutto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I’m very lucky to have an Italian husband. I’m even luckier to have an Italian husband whose mother taught him to cook. And it’s a good thing, because when I met Brad, I knew how to make three things: scrambled eggs, stove-popped popcorn and stir fry. Lord knows what we’d be eating if he hadn’t shared his skills with me.

I think I’m a decent cook now, but Brad’s the sauce master of the family, so when it came time to celebrate National Pasta Month, I begged him to make his famous vodka sauce so that I could share it here on the blog. And obviously, so that I could eat it.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Penne alla Vodka with Prosciutto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Of course, the internet has no shortage of vodka sauce recipes, so I suggested we set it apart by adding prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes. We were both skeptical when we saw how chunky the sauce looked, but in the end … oh, mama. This stuff is what dreams are made of.

Like so many dreamy things, Brad’s vodka sauce starts with extra virgin olive oil. He sauteed the onion first, then added the prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes. The minced garlic went in last.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Sauteed onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto

Next, he added canned San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka and fresh oregano.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Cooking vodka sauce with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes

After simmering the sauce and allowing it to thicken, he stirred in heavy cream. By the way: I never promised this recipe would be healthy.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Adding cream to vodka sauce

The sauce then simmered and thickened some more while we cooked the penne. Yum.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Vodka sauce with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes

We served the pasta with some parmesan and fresh basil. And we each ate two giant bowlfuls because enjoying good vodka sauce is much more important than being able to fit into your pants.

Penne alla vodka with sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto - by Glitter and Goat Cheese

Vodka Sauce with Prosciutto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 4
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion (we used sweet)
  3. 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
  4. 8 ounces prosciutto, cut into half-inch ribbons
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 (28-ounce) can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  7. 1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste
  8. 1/2 cup vodka
  9. 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  10. 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
Instructions
  1. 1. Coat large, heavy pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add onions and saute about 3 minutes, or until slightly softened.
  2. 2. Add sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. 3. Add garlic and saute until it has just begun to turn golden brown, about 1 minute.
  4. 4. Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka and fresh oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer 20-25 minutes, until thickened.
  5. 5. Stir in the heavy cream (make sure it's at room temperature). Continue to simmer 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve over your desired pasta and add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
  1. This sauce is very thick and chunky. If you'd prefer it to be thinner, use 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and 4 oz. prosciutto instead (or just leave them out entirely).
glitter & goat cheese http://www.glitterandgoatcheese.com/

The Past Few Weeks, According to My Phone

Oh, hey, everyone. I really hate when I don’t post for a long time, but I’ve been stupid busy, which is partly good and partly just obnoxious. I have a bunch of projects I want to start/finish and a bunch of things I want to take pictures of, but I haven’t had a free second! Boohoo, poor me, etc. So, I figured I’d share a few of the things with iPhone pictures of subpar quality. Please, keep in mind that I took most of these for myself, so the areas of my home you’re about to see are, uh, not styled or cleaned up or prettified. We’re keeping it real today.

I recently took some rough measurements of our downstairs to get an idea of how much it might cost to redo the terrible, tragic floors, and I confirmed what I already knew – that it’s going to be a while before we can afford it. So, I’ve endeavored to cover them up as much as possible so that my hatred for them won’t burn me up inside with QUITE as hot of a fire. I started with this runner from Overstock.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Foyer with gold frames and geometric area rug

I pushed myself out of my gray comfort zone to get the Brown/Bone, and ultimately, I’m glad I did. We needed some warmer shades up in here, and it also should be pretty good at disguising dirt. In the above photo, you can also see that we’ve made some progress on the gold frame collage in the stairway, and you can see my new vintage brass(-ish) mini cabinet thing in the bottom left! I don’t know what time period it’s from or even what to call it, but I just love it. I found it at DuPre’s Antique Market in Marietta Square and felt that I couldn’t live without it, so my mom bought it for me as an early birthday gift. I’ll post better pictures of it some day soon!

I’m still pretending to know how to take care of plants, so I got a few hanging baskets for our porch. I did a fair amount of research on shade-friendly flowers that can handle being neglected, and I came up with lobelia.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Hanging lobelia

Aren’t they pretty? They droop when they’re thirsty, then I water them and they perk back up. I like plants that tell me what they want.

Speaking of plants, I was CRAZY bored the other night, so I said to myself, “Self, you should gold leaf something,” and the first thing that came to mind was terra cotta pots, a la The Hunted Interior. I’m really feeling how they came out.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - DIY gold leafed terra cotta pots

I usually try not to tell the internet if I’m going out of town, but now that I’m back, I can tell you that I spent last weekend in California(!). Brad was there working with our insanely talented friends from Manchester Orchestra, so I got to see them play two nights in a row.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Manchester Orchestra Cope tour

I’ve been to many Manchester shows, but they inexplicably get better every time I see them, and this tour is particularly amazing. If there’s a show near you and it isn’t already sold out, you need to get yourself a ticket.

For another part of my trip, I visited my dear friend Katie in San Francisco.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Steph and Katie in San Francisco

Katie and I met in college, and after graduation, we both scattered across the country, so we don’t get to see each other much. I was really pumped to spend even a couple days with her, and she showed me SUCH a good time. I love San Francisco! I couldn’t believe how GREEN everything was. I know I probably drove everybody nuts by talking about the plant life so much, but it’s just a really beautiful city. And really fun, too.

Another great thing about Katie is that she introduced me to this amazing kale and brussels sprout salad recipe.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Kale and brussels sprout salad

I made it the other night and it was even more delicious than I expected. To counteract the healthy factor, I served it with spinach artichoke grilled cheese sandwiches. Holy moly.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Spinach artichoke grilled cheese

I find food photography to be an extremely intimidating art form, and I’m pretty sure this phone photo hasn’t captured the magic of these sandwiches. But trust me when I tell you that they may be one of the tastiest things I’ve ever put in my mouth. TRY THEM. TODAY.

Jumping back to when I went out of town: My dog, Macy, had a bit of a tough time. She was at the kennel and decided she was just done and wanted out, so she wouldn’t let anyone near her. I had to hire a trainer to go pick her up (PS: Frogs to Dogs is AMAZING) and then our petsitter took care of her the rest of the weekend. She’s a very special creature, and I just want to be with her and protect her at all times.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Steph and Macy

My poor sweet little fool.

Lastly, I ordered this rug during the Rugs USA Mother’s Day sale, and it came today. Imagine my surprise when I unrolled it and instead of being violet, it was hot pink. Of course, I had to lay it out to see how it looked.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Rugs USA Windsor Overdyed Grove Rug in Pink

This is what it was supposed to look like:

Windsor Overdyed Grove Rug in Violet

Ohh, you guys, I don’t know what to do. Fuchsia is my favorite. And I think that would look really good in here. But the pink is so cheerful and warm, and it has less of the distressed white parts, and UGH, I don’t know. I attempted to PhotoShop it into fuchsia to see how it would look.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room with Photoshopped rug

I’m very, very torn. I’m not sure I can live with myself if I don’t try the fuchsia, but how much would it stink if I sent the pink back and ended up liking it better? I’m going to call Rugs USA tomorrow and see what my options are.

So, that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. What’s up with all of you?

Thanksgiving in the New House

When we first signed up to run a half on Thanksgiving Day, we figured we’d be spending the rest of the day eating Boston Market by ourselves. Luckily, Brad’s parents came to visit and helped us with the shopping, prepping and cooking, and even though we celebrated a day late, we ended up having our first real Thanksgiving in our new house.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Thanksgiving table with floral china and gold

I was thrilled to finally have a chance to use the china and flatware from our wedding registry. It’s seriously been sitting in our cabinet a year and a half without being used at all, and that ain’t right. I mean, look how pretty it is!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Floral china

I believe this is the first time I’ve shared a picture of our new dining room furniture, too. Voila!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Thanksgiving table

We had the table custom-made by Bassett. I’d had my heart set on rustic reclaimed wood, but we just couldn’t find a reasonably-priced one that we liked. This one has two leaves, so it can seat up to eight people (or maybe 10 – we haven’t tried yet), and it has a protective finish, and the dark wood does match our other furniture better. It’s for the best, really. The ghost chairs are by LexMod, and I LOVE THEM. They are SO much more comfortable and sturdy than I thought they’d be – especially with the Ikea sheepskins.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Thanksgiving table with ghost chairs and sheepskins

I picked up the linen runner and napkins from Crate & Barrel, literally three days before Thanksgiving, because I am excellent at planning ahead.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Thanksgiving table with ghost chairs and floral china

The silver tray and the salt and pepper shakers are Michael Aram from our wedding registry. I love them.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Michael Aram salt and pepper shakers

You can tell I did a really good job ironing the runner.

Anyway, preparing the meal was a two-day team effort. Brad’s parents got us a new grill as an early Christmas gift, and Brad was massively excited to grill the turkey on it.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Brad grilling the turkey

I had no idea you could grill a turkey, but it came out amazing, so um, I guess you can.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Brad carving the turkey

The stuffing came from this recipe, and it was delicious. We piled it onto our giant platter (another last minute Crate & Barrel purchase) along with the turkey.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Thanksgiving turkey platter

We also made bacon-wrapped green beans, using this recipe. We made ours on a broiling rack instead of letting them cook in the bacon grease, and I think they suffered for it. But the bacon part was good!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Bacon-wrapped Green Beans

The sauteed carrots with lemon and marjoram came from this recipe, and I thought they were pretty dank. (Do people still say dank?)

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Sauteed carrots with lemon and marjoram

The corn pudding and potatoes were both from family recipes.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Corn pudding and Chee Chee Potatoes

I was given permission to share the recipe for the corn pudding – which was SERIOUSLY INSANELY GOOD – so I’ll put that in another post if y’all are interested!

All this plus cranberry sauce (canned, duh) and gravy (jarred, duh) made for a pretty full table.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Thanksgiving table with food

And of course, we finished it off with apple pie, which Brad and his mom made from scratch, and blueberry pie, which I made from a box found in the freezer section. Yuuuup.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Apple and blueberry pies

It’s not Thanksgiving until you’ve Instagrammed a picture of your plate. Here’s mine!

Glitter and Goat-Cheese - Instagram Thanksgiving plate

We polled the table on what was the best dish, and while not everyone voted officially, I think the corn pudding may have won.

What was the best dish at your Thanksgiving table?

     

(Kind of) Going Green

Hey, strangers! Remember me? That girl who used to blog multiple times a week and now barely even stops by? Yeah, that’s me. Guilty.

So what’s new in the Glitter & Goat Cheese world? Well, first of all – my mom got engaged on Saturday! How awesome is that?! I’m so excited for her and her new fiancé, Rob, and am hoping they’ll let me get at least marginally involved in the wedding decor. I’m still upset that I didn’t discover Pinterest until the tail end of my wedding planning process. I would have been all over it. But I digress! Congratulations to my mommy (and happy Mother’s Day!)

The Hubs and I have been busy, busy, busy, and I know I always say that, but this time it’s for REAL. I work in one of those industries that gets CRAZY over the summer while everyone else is taking trips to the beach. It’s exhausting, but I also really love my job, so I’m happy to be challenged. At the same time, though, we’re still on a running schedule (my coach is now helping me get a little faster), and we’ve been really sleep-deprived, so we’re doing everything we can to take care of our health. And that’s where our brand-new Blendtec blender comes in!

BlendTec - Green Smoothies - Ingredients In Jar

Isn’t she beautiful? The backstory: I’ve been wanting a juicer for some time now, but I just couldn’t get Brad behind the idea. He’s a smoothie guy – he wanted something to replicate the fruity concoctions you can buy at Smoothie King. I’m a big smoothie fan, too, but I really wanted something to encourage a balanced diet – I wanted to drink kale and carrots and stuff.

While we were in Nashville, our friends’ friends Betsy and Mark were kind enough to have us over their home to carbo-load before the race. At their apartment, we were introduced to three fascinating things: two toilet-trained cats named Gronk and Izzie (you need to read their blog right now), and a Vitamix. Long story short, I found out that there are things called GREEN SMOOTHIES that you can make with vegetables AND fruit (and protein powder and flax seed and whatever else you want to throw in there), and you get to use the whole fruit/vegetable instead of just the juice, which gets you extra fiber. Sold!

Brad and I were trying to figure out which of our televisions we were going to have to sell in order to buy a high-powered blender when his parents came to the rescue and offered to buy us one for our birthdays. A few days later, our Blendtec was sitting on our counter. Thanks, Bill and Cheryl!

If “Blendtec” sounds familiar to you, it might be because you’ve seen the whacky “Will It Blend?” videos. We haven’t tried putting our iPads in there yet, but so far, it has blended everything we tried. This morning, I mixed up some Vita Coco, spinach, flax seed, frozen strawberries and blackberries, and fresh grapes.

BlendTec - Green Smoothies - Ingredients
(I did not spill those flax seeds out of the bag for artistic photography purposes – I just knocked it over by accident.)

For this particular combination of ingredients, I just hit the “Smoothie” button (with certain things, you have to try different cycles, even though they’re all smoothies). Then, the magic happens.

First, it chops up the greens.
BlendTec - Green Smoothies - Blending Process

Then, it pulls in the rest of the ingredients.
BlendTec - Green Smoothies - Blending Process

Last, it blends everything together into a smooth, drinkable consistency.
BlendTec - Green Smoothies - Blending Process

It doesn’t always look pretty, but 99% of my mixtures so far have been delicious. (I still drink them when they come out yucky-tasting. Produce is expensive, y’all.)

BlendTec - Green Smoothies

For the record, strawberry seeds are very stubborn. I haven’t quite figured out how to pulverize them, and they always seem to end up stuck in my straw. But everything else blends up perfectly! We’re still doing a lot of experimenting. I bought some protein powder today in hopes that it’d make my smoothies a bit more filling.

So, that’s what’s been going on over here. Hopefully my next post will be about something a little prettier than blended spinach and running gear! What’s been new with all of you, lovelies?