Hearty Comfort

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With the hot and cold temperature fluctuations, I’ve found myself in need of a few comforting hearty meals to ward off the cold and to boost my immune system to prevent illness. One of my go-to dishes is smothered potatoes with sausage and peppers. It’s quick, easy and tasty. It also goes easily with pretty much any leafy green. Since I have plenty of greens to harvest, I sautéed some collards and mustards with fresh pressed garlic and apple cider vinegar to help break down the greens and make them tender. You can always add some sautéed chicken or fish for some added protein. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Smothered Potatoes Ingredients:

2 cups sliced red potatoes

2 cups sliced onion

2 cups chopped bell pepper

3 tbsp. grated, pressed or chopped garlic

8oz sausage (I used Tennessee pride)

1/2 cup water

1/2 tbsp dried herbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Greens ingredients:

3-4 cups of chopped greens

1/2 cup water

4 tbsp. grated, pressed or chopped garlic

1/2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place large pan over medium heat and brown sausage.
  2. While cooking sausage, rinse peppers. Peel and slice onion and chop peppers. Add to the pan.
  3. Rinse and slice potatoes. Press garlic. Add both to pan with water then add seasoning. Top and reduce heat to low for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Rinse and chop greens (or use frozen).
  5. In a medium pot, add oil and garlic over medium heat.
  6. Add greens, water and seasoning then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Plate both and enjoy!

Simple Meals

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Looking for a quick and light meal option? Check out this herbed citrus salmon topped with a mango avocado salad. I sautéed some greens to go alongside my fish since I chose the mango and avocado which are higher in carbs; however a nice rice pilaf or cilantro-lime rice would also make a great side or meal addition. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1lb sockeye salmon

½ tbsp. herb blend (parsley, rosemary, thyme or any of your favorites)

Juice of half an orange

Juice of a lemon

1 mango diced

1 medium avocado diced

1 tbsp. fresh cilantro

1 tbsp. fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tbsp. olive oil

1 clove of garlic

Directions:

1. If preparing rice or side vegetables, start cooking it first.
2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
3. Season fish with half the herbs, salt and pepper and place in skillet season side down. Let sear for 3 minutes.
4. While fish cooks, rinse mango. Slice mango off with skin toward the center to score into small squares and place in a small bowl. Repeat with all four sides.
5. Season second side of fish and flip before lowering heat. Add fresh orange juice and half of lemon juice around fish. (Do not pour on top or you could remove seasoning and sear).
6. Cut avocado in half, score into small squares then scoop out into the bowl with mango. Turn off fish and remove from heat.
7. Mince or press garlic into bowl. Rinse and dice fresh herbs and add to the bowl of avocado and mango. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. *an optional addition in a little cayenne for a kick.
8. Plate and enjoy.

Stewed Sockeye Salmon

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People are often surprised that I include canned fish in my pantry staples. While we all probably prefer fresh seafood any day, it doesn’t mean you should not have a canned option or two in your back pocket for a time where you don’t have time to go to the store, or if you have other financial priorities. One of my favorite dishes as a kid was stewed salmon in a spicy red sauce. My mom would serve it over rice with a salad or a cooked green vegetable. In keeping with that tradition, I cooked some of my thriving backyard greens. Check out he recipe below.

Stewed Salmon

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cans of 14.5 oz sockeye salmon 

1 can of stewed tomatoes 

1 5-7oz can of tomato sauce (no salt)

1 1/2 cups diced onion

1 tbsp. minced or pressed garlic

1/2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 tsp. coarse black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne

Salt to taste (start with 1 tsp)

  1. If serving over rice, cook the desired amount of rice on the stove or in a cooker.
  2. In a medium pot, add olive oil and place over medium heat. Peel and dice onion and add to the pot. Stir.
  3. Mince or press garlic and add to the pot. Add a splash of water. 
  4. Once onions have softened, open and add salmon, stewed tomatoes and sauce.
  5. Gently break stewed tomatoes into smaller pieces against the side of the pot with a spoon. Add seasoning and stir.
  6. Top the pot, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. If eating steamed veggies or a salad, prepare it now.
  7. Serve over rice and enjoy.

Bountiful Berries

 

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It’s that time of year again for strawberry season! I cannot get enough of this local, flavorful fruit and the opportunities to make new inspired creations. This past Saturday, I shared one such dish with a shrimp avocado and strawberry salad. Traditionally for such salads, I’ve added other seafood like crab and fruit such as mango. I decided to make a version using fresh strawberries from the Frank Fekete Farm, seafood from Anna Marie Shrimp and local microgreens from Westdome Nursery. The trick is to balance the sweet with savory additions like fresh garlic and herbs in the dressing. This tasty dish was well received and one that I’ve already made again. Check out the recipe below.

 

Shrimp, Avocado and Strawberry Salad

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1-1.5 lb(s). peeled and deveined shrimp

2 cups of chopped strawberries

3 cups of microgreens (Can also mix in salad greens)

2 large avocadoes

2 tbsp. chopped green onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp. local honey

4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. Red Stick Spice garlic and herb (no salt)

1 tbsp. Red Stick Spice Roasted Onion granules

Pinch of Red Stick spice aged balsamic vinegar sea salt (or reg sea salt)

 

Directions:

  1. Peel and devein shrimp and set aside. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add 2 tsp of each seasoning (minus salt) to shrimp and add to a hot skillet. Add a splash of water and sear for 3 minutes on both sides before removing from heat.
  3. In a medium serving bowl add vinegar and honey and mix until well blended. Add in oil.  Peel and press garlic in. If you do not have a garlic press, mince finely, then add to the bowl. Add in remaining seasoning. Mix well.
  4. Rinse and chop 2 cups worth of strawberries. Add to the bowl. Cut the avocado in half then score each half into bite-sized pieces before scooping into the bowl.
  5. You can chop shrimp or leave whole and add to the bowl. Rinse and chop green onion then add to the bowl.
  6. Add in micro greens and optional salad greens. You can also add in fresh herbs like parsley for an added layer of flavor. Mix well, serve and enjoy.

 

Thai Curry Cod

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While I’m usually a salmon girl, I like to explore other fish options like Cod to change things up. A good source of the favored omega-3-fatty-acids, cod is rich in other nutrients and is low in calories compared to grams of protein. In simplest terms, you get more bites for your bucks.

I baked the cod in green Thai curry sauce with the help of the ever interesting Trader Joe’s. I paired it with herbed rice pilaf with herbs from my backyard and steamed green beans for a balanced meal. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

 

Rice Ingredients:

¾ cup of brown rice medley

1 ½ cups of water

¼ cup chopped parsley

¼ cup chopped cilantro

½ tsp sea salt

 

 

Ingredients:

~ 2 lbs. of frozen Cod (about 8 pieces)

¼ cup Thai curry sauce (any you prefer)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp coarse black pepper

1 tbsp. dried parsley

 

16oz frozen organic green beans

1 tbsp. curry sauce (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Directions:

  1. Bring  rice and water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and cook for 35 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Drain fish and add to the baking sheet. Brush each piece with some of the sauce before adding remaining seasoning.
  3. With 25 minutes left on the rice, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes.
  4. In the last Add green beans to a microwave safe bowl. Season with salt and pepper and optional sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Rinse and chop herbs for rice. Add herbs and salt and mix well with a spoon.
  6. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Still Growing

 

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Mustard greens are next on the list for my growing greens mini series . As a wonderful winter crop, they thrive in cool temps and are cold hardy, meaning they will survive a light frost. I planted these in November as baby plants and they shot right on up in less than four weeks. I’ve harvested three rounds from the greens so far and it is continuing to grow, making bi-weekly and weekly harvests possible,depending on the number of servings I’m cooking. While I planted my mustards in a raised bed, they can easily be planted in a container outside.  If you’re thinking, “i’m not going out to buy a container,” you can always use household items like an empty storage bin, large food containers, etc. that you can poke holes into with a screwdriver or pair of scissors. 

As we are in winter, pick up a few transplants from your local nursery. You can usually get groups of 6 for a couple of bucks. It is worth the investment to let sunshine and nature grow a plant that keeps on giving all season long. The greens should keep producing into the spring. 

To get started:

  • Identify a sunny spot in your backyard (or front yard bed) to plant your greens. 
    • Dig holes to fit two transplants each if smaller or plan them individually 6-8 inches apart.
    • Cover with dirt and then add mulch to help the plant retain its moisture
  • If using a container, prep it by poking holes in the bottom for drainage
    • Fill it 2/3 of the way with a mixture of compost and soil. Add plants and the cover with dirt, then mulch.

You can harvest the leaves by clipping them off with kitchen scissors; I waited about 6 weeks until the leaves were large and mature, but you can also clip them when they are young (2-3 weeks) and about 3-4 inches long for a little added spice to your salads. 

Only cut what you plan to eat. The plant will continue to grow new leaves. Check out my stages of growth below. Happy growing!

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If it starts to warm and you start noticing holes in your greens, you can spray them with organic pest sprays. You can cut, chop, bag and freeze them. I’d recommend labeling the bag with its content and the date so that you stay on top of its freshness. They should be consumed within 12 months.

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Mirliton Dressing

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Ever ignore the strange pear-shaped green vegetable at the produce stand? Mirliton or coyote squash is easy to transform into a dish everyone will love. Mirliton dressing with seafood and ham is one of my favorites and is an easy dish to cook in larger quantities for the week. In addition to dressing, it can also be pickled, sliced thin for stir fry and curried among many other uses. I used the whole vegetable, skin and all for added nutrients. They are out in abundance and an easy win to add to your shopping list. For the protein, I like ham and shrimp; however it is easy to substitute ground meat or ground chicken for the ham if you do not eat those meats. I did make my own bread crumbs for this dish and will include that recipe below. Certainly your favorite brand will work in this dish as well.  Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts. 

Mirliton Dressing

Serves 4

2 mirliton

1/2 lb shrimp

8oz diced ham

1 cup diced onion

1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 cups of kale *optional (I added it because I had it)

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread Crumbs

4-6 slices of wheat bread (depends on size)

1/2 cup dry oats

2 tbsp of flax seed

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350. 
  2. Rinse mirliton and boil in a pot over high heat for 30 minutes.
  3. In the last 10 minutes of boiling, toast bread, then grind it, the oats and the flaxseed in a food processor, blender or other device. Place in a baking dish and add seasoning and 2 tsp of olive oil. Mix well and brown in the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain mirliton, rinse in cool water and let cool for 15-20 minutes. While the mirliton cools, rinse and chop kale small. Dice onion and sauté both in 1 tsp. oil.
  5. Peel shrimp and chop before adding to skillet and cooking. 
  6. Dice ham and add to skillet. Reduce heat. Remove breadcrumbs from oven 
  7. Chop mirliton small and add to the skillet. Add seasoning and mix well. Add in breadcrumbs and mix well. 
  8. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 10-15 minutes until top is lightly browned.
  9. Enjoy!