Simple Citrus Kale Salad

“If you hate kale, you’ve been doing it all wrong.” That’s what people used to tell me. And I just thought they were mean people. Then my sister in law showed me how to massage it, and I started to explore the wonderful world of kale. The other trick with kale is that you need an acidic dressing. But, whatever you do, don’t taste the dressing before putting it on the salad.

Simple Citrus Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 mins
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  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed removed and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (don’t use the curly kind)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Sprouts sell them in the produce section)
  • 1 navel orange, cut into bite-size pieces


Grab a large bowl, knife, cutting board, and your salad spinner. Remove the stems from the kale, roll each leaf, and chop. Massage the kale with the salt until it lets out liquid, about one minute. Rinse and dry in the salad spinner. Taste the kale to make sure that you rinsed off enough of the salt. If it’s still really salty, rinse and spin a second time. Rinse the bowl and place kale back in it. Add the avocado oil, lemon juice, pepper, and parsley. Add the orange wedges and pomegranate arils right before serving. If you’d like to store this salad, make up until the point of adding parsley, and add orange wedges and pomegranate arils on the day that you’re eating it. This will store nicely for 1-2 days in the fridge.


Kale Salad with Apples and Blackberries

Meet my new favorite salad. I only recently ventured into the land of kale salad. Until then, I’ve seen it stacked up on salad bars, looking dry and unappetizing. And while I wasn’t afraid of kale, I just never really went out of my way to order it or make it myself. I’d heard of “massaging your kale,” but it sounded like something that I should do after my yoga class before meditating (I don’t do either).

In short, I didn’t realize how easy it was until my sister-in-law Krista showed me a few weeks ago. I had to tweak the recipe she showed me, of course.  Oh, one thing to note: don’t mess with the dressing. The end product is a fine balance of sweet and tart, and that makes the final salad just perfect.

Kale Salad with Apples and Blackberries

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20 mins
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  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed removed and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (don’t use the curly kind)
  • 1 Gala or Fuji apple, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (Trader Joe’s sells them in a small package in the produce section)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped into bited-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pint blackberries


Grab a large bowl, knife, cutting board, and your salad spinner. Remove the stems from the kale, roll each leaf, and chop. Massage the kale with salt until it lets out liquid, about one minute. Rinse and dry in the salad spinner. Rinse the bowl and place kale back in it. (You can also watch the attached video to see how to chop and massage the kale.)  Continue to assemble the salad by adding carrot, parsley, apple, pomegranate, and onion. Add the olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Stir and taste, then adjust seasonings to your liking. This salad will store nicely for 1-2 days in the fridge. Add blackberries right before serving.



Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

I was really amazed with how much these shrank in the oven. Start with a gigantic zucchini if you can. This will be a great way to use up the tons of zucchini we plan to grow this summer.

Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: A few hours (mostly hands off)
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  • 1 lb (about 4 cups) thin sliced Zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper (OR use Hot Chili Pepper and Garlic Blend from Wildtree instead)
  • ½ tsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar


Note: Preheat oven to 230 degrees F. I cut my zucchini on a mandoline slicer using the thinnest setting. In a medium bowl whisk salt, pepper, grapeseed oil (if used), and vinegar. Add sliced zucchini. Toss with the “dressing” to coat. Arrange slices on sheet trays. Bake for about 1 hour and then turn the oven off.  Allow them to completely dry out.  I used four giant zucchini and they shrank considerably.  See below for a before/after picture.  Make these the day before and store in a bowl covered in foil.

If you want to kick this up a notch, consider substituting Hot Chili Pepper and Garlic Blend from Wildtree instead of the salt and pepper.


Store in an airtight container.


Mini Caprese Salad Bites

I love taking a vegetable dish when I’m asked to take an appetizer to a party. I find that most of the dishes end up being heavy or cracker friendly, and I like to keep the carbs low while eating real food.  I’m also a fan of just taking cut-up veggies, and I’ll share a great idea for that in a few days. For now, this is basically a portable caprese salad. These are probably best served with a fork so that you can cut them in half.

Mini Caprese Salad Bites

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 30min
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 package Campari tomatoes (larger than cherry tomatoes, smaller than regular tomatoes). Look for these at Trader Joe’s and/or Costco.
  • 8-10 sticks of mozzarella string cheese or 1 container pearl sized buffalo mozzarella.
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Wildtree Tuscan Dipping Oil, or use a combination of grapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar.


Rinse and pat dry the tomatoes. Remove all stems. Cut off the top of the tomato. Use a sharp paring knife cut a thin slice off the bottom so that they don’t roll around. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or the paring knife. Discard the seedy centers. Place the tomato cut side down on a paper towel to drain liquid.

Depending on the size of your tomatoes cut the mozzarella sticks into bite size pieces that will fit nicely in to the tomato (or use the pearl-sized mozzarella balls). Rinse and gently pat dry the basil. Hand tear generous pieces to go in the middle of each tomato.

To assemble, line your scooped out tomatoes on a cutting board or cookie sheet. Line each tomato with a piece of basil, gently pushing it to the bottom of the tomato. Top off with a piece of mozzarella. Season to taste with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. Drizzle with Wildree Tuscan Dipping Oil. Best served when cheese is at room temperature.



Cheese Crisps

Trust me, these are worth the effort, especially if you trying out a grain-free or low carb diet and want something crunchy. I really like these crumbled up on top of salads.

Cheese Crisps

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 mins
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  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s Swiss and Gruyere


Grab a cookie sheet and some parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375°F. Drop small piles (about 2 tsp each) of the cheese onto the parchment paper. Make sure to leave a little bit of space because the cheese will spread out. You can tap down on the cheese slightly to help this process.  Bake for 8-12 minutes until the cheese begins to brown nicely. You want the edges to look slightly crispy.  Remove the crisps from the oven and allow them to cool for about 3 minutes before using a very thin spatula to move the crisps over to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining cheese until you’re happy with how many crisps you’ve made.


Store in an airtight container. These will last about week, but you will probably eat them all before then.


Gluten-free Egg-free Irish Car Bomb Cake

Full disclosure. This is not a low-carb recipe. It is, however, very difficult to find good gluten-free eggless baked goods and therefore, every now and then, even I break the rules.

This was inspired by a cupcake recipe that I saw a few weeks.  Given that it’s almost St. Patty’s Day, I thought, “Why not?”…  So let’s make a car bomb cake.  I sure hope it tastes as good as it looks.  The idea comes from the following drink recipe.

Gluten-free Egg-free Irish Car Bomb Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
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Cake ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups gluten-free plain flour (I used the blue bag version of Cup4cup. You can find it at Williams Sonoma and various other places. It’s expensive but seriously worth it).
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup gluten free dark beer (I used a chocolate stout that my husband made).
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Coconut oil spray

Cake directions:

Grab a large bowl, a flour sifter, and a medium bowl. Preheat oven to 375°F and grab a round 9″ cake tin. Spray the cake tin with the coconut oil.

Put the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and sugar into the flour sifter over the large bowl. Sift the ingredients into the bowl.  Mix the vegetable oil, beer, and vanilla in the medium bowl with a whisk.  Combine the wet into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  When you are ready to bake (i.e., make sure the oven is to temperature and your cake tin is prepped), add the vinegar and stir quickly to combine. This is the chemical reaction that is going to help your cake rise, so there is no time to waste.  Stir just long enough to combine the vinegar, dump the batter into the cake tin, smooth the top, and put it in the oven.


Cook for 22-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Set aside the cake the cool for 5 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cooking rack. You can make the cake in the morning and then finish the rest of the cake later that same day.

Whiskey ganache ingredients:

  • 8 oz chocolate chips, the darker the better
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 fl. oz heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons whiskey

Whiskey ganache directions:

Grab a medium microwave-proof bowl and a silicone spatula. Put the chocolate chips and the butter in a bowl and microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments until the chocolate and butter have melted. Stir vigorously.  Add the cream and whiskey, stir until smooth, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will be the middle layer of the cake. You don’t want it to run out the sides of the cake, which is why you want to refrigerate it to help it set up.

Irish cream buttercream ingredients:

  • 2 sticks plus 5 oz. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 oz. Irish Cream liquer

Irish cream buttercream directions:

Let the butter come to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, microwave it on 30% power for about 20 seconds. Place the butter in a stand mixer with the whipping paddle and cream the butter for about 1 minute until it starts to turn pale. Add the powdered sugar and the Irish Cream and put the mixer on slow until the sugar is incorporated. Continue to mix for 1-2 minutes until the buttercream has the desired consistency.


Cut the cake in the middle to create two layers. Making sure that the ganache has cooled enough to spread without getting too cold, layer the ganache on the first cake layer and spread out with a spatula. Don’t spread it all the way to the edge, since it will expand towards the edges when you add the second layer.


Add the second layer of cake, pushing down gently to help the ganache expand to the edges of the cake. Frost the top of the cake with the Irish cream buttercream. Decorate with grated chocolate if desired.


Note: I tend not to use too much buttercream frosting when I make cakes. You could easily make more of this frosting if you want to frost the sides of the cake.



Tequila Chipotle Lime Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These were delicious! I wanted to make something Mexican that didn’t have salsa, cilantro, or onions. What I discovered was a whole new Mexican flavor profile.  I’m definitely going to make these again.

Tequila Chipotle Lime Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil.
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast.
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle en adobo paste in a tube. I like Olo’s Chipotle Paste.
  • 1 tablespoon tequila.
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Garlic Galore Seasoning, or powdered garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Chipotle Lime Seasoning.
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1 butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated.
  • Optional additional toppings include: chopped bell peppers, Mexican cheese, chopped English cucumbers, chopped cherry tomatoes.

Preheat a large frying pan on medium.  Cook the ground chicken with the grapeseed oil until brown. While the chicken is browning, grab a small bowl and mix all of the other ingredients together. Prep any optional toppings that you plan to serve with the lettuce wraps.  Once the chicken is no longer pink, stir in the rest of the seasonings from the small bowl and heat through. I served this with my Argentine Chimichurri and a Cranberry Lime Margarita.



Vegetables en Papillote

Face it, things just sounds fancier when they’re in French. I decided to make a fancy side dish yesterday to go alongside a super simple Wildtree freezer meal. I used what I had in the refrigerator, added a little bit of garlic seasoning and grapeseed oil to go with them. Et voila!  Here’s the recipe.

Vegetables en Papillote

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 parchment cooking bag. I like these. You could also use parchment paper and cut it/folder it to make a big envelope. Whatever works. Note that the parchment bags are way cheaper if you buy three boxes. Buy some and share with friends.
  • 1 big handful French green beans or haricots verts. I really like the ones at Trader Joe’s.
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into strips.
  • 1 large carrot, julienned.
  • 8 stalks thick asparagus, chopped into 2″ lengths (bend the asparagus spear until it breaks. That’s how you know where to cut it. Discard the woody end bit).
  • Handful of herbs. I used basil. If you use rosemary or something stronger, don’t use very much (just a pinch).
  • 2 tablespoon Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil or other grapeseed oil.
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Garlic Galore Seasoning (or mix garlic powder with onion powder to make 1/2 tablespoon and then add salt/pepper to make up the other 1/2 tablespoon).


Preheat the oven to 425F. Grab a ziploc bag, parchment cooking bag, and a cookie sheet. Prep all the veggies and then put them in the ziploc bag.


Mix in the oil and seasonings and smoosh to coat the vegetables with the oil and seasonings. Carefully (seriously, they can rip) open the parchment bag and spoon the seasoned veggies into the bag.  Fold over the bag a few times and place it in the oven. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, but open the bag, and let the veggies sit for a few minutes.


I served this Honey Balsamic Chicken (recipe coming soon).


If you leave out the carrot, this recipe is Ideal Protein Phase 1 friendly.

Bon appetit!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

This is one of my most requested recipes. I’ve made this recipe for my cooking club in Virginia on at least two occasions. I’ve also made it for Thanksgiving for probably the past six years, and also in my friend’s Argosy camper the past two years while camping.  You know a recipe is good when people request it over and over again.

This is especially good if you use my homemade Easy Chicken Broth. However, you can use organic chicken broth or veggie broth and it’ll still be delicious. You can even substitute additional broth for the milk to keep this vegan.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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For the roasted veggies:

  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or olive oil.
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes.  You can also buy it prechopped at many grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s.
  • 2 Bosc pears, cut into quarters.  I don’t peel mine, but you are free to do so.
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole
  • 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 cups Easy Chicken Broth (follow link for recipe), vegetable broth, or chicken broth
  • 1.5 to 2 cups milk or half and half, or additional broth if you’d like this to be dairy free.
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper, or more to taste
  • Penzey’s freeze-dried shallots (for garnish, optional)


Preheat the oven to 400F.  Grab a sheet pan and a gallon Ziploc bag. Place the oil, butternut squash, pears, salt and pepper, and garlic in the bag and mix to coat. Dump the bag contents onto the sheet pan and roast for approximately 20 minutes. Stir the mixture with a spatula to make sure that things aren’t sticking or burning. Continue to cook until a knife inserted into the butternut squash comes out easily, about another 5-15 minutes.


This is one of those recipes that begs for an immersion blender. Once the mixture is finished in the oven, simply put all the ingredients in a large soup pot on the stove. Add the chicken stock and then pulverize using the immersion blender until the mixture is smooth. Feel free to add additional seasonings at this stage (for example, curry powder or chili powder can be added if you like a little heat). Once the mixture is smooth, add enough milk (or half and half or broth) until the soup reaches your desired consistency.  Heat through the on the stove on medium-low heat without allowing the mixture to come to a boil. Turn off the stove and let sit for a few hours or up to two days before serving to allow flavors to meld. Reheat before serving. Note: best made the day before you plan to serve this.

Note: If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a food processor or blender and do it in batches. If you are doing this, keep in mind to only fill things half full if they are hot. And be careful! You don’t want to be splashed by hot soup.

I have to admit that this recipe has seen many variations over the years. If you are skipping the milk and keeping it vegan, keep in mind that any spices you add to kick up the heat is often tamed by dairy. And as many variations as I have done, I often find that people like the pure, simple version the best.



Brian’s Famous Flank Steak

So there will be multiple flank steak recipes on this blog. It’s been a family staple in my husband’s family for years. His mom originally made it famous by loading it up with onions and other yummy ingredients.  That recipe will be forthcoming. Since Brian can’t eat onions, (they make him sick) he has further adapted the recipe with garlic, soy, and other things that he likes.

Brian's Famous Flank Steak

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 tablespoonWildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil (or other grapeseed oil).
  • 1/2 cup Tamari sauce
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, depending how much you like mustard.
  • 1 piece flank steak. Buy it at a place with a real butcher. Ask them to “tenderize it once” and they should know what that means. My local butcher here at Safeway did it once for me, and now has some of them sitting in the case with a little “tenderized” sticker on the package.  See, great ideas spread fast…


Grab a gallon Ziploc bag. Mix all the seasonings in the bag and place the flank steak in the bag. This is best done the day before you want to cook it, but give it at least one hour in the marinade if you are pressed for time.

When you are ready, preheat a barbecue grill to medium – high. Once the grill is hot, take the flank steak out of the bag and put it on the grill. Grill on the first side for approximately four minutes, then flip and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. You want the steak to register approximately 145F on a meet thermometer.  I’ve also done this under the broiler (when there was 6″ of snow on the grill), although I prefer it on the grill.  When I use the broiler, I use a cookie sheet and a cookie cooling rack. This keeps the steak off the pan.