A Bowl of Fun

IMG_8097.JPGRice and beans are an easy and inexpensive go-to for a portion of weekly meals. It is also a great meatless option that still provides the needed protein when paired with a whole grain such as brown rice. A 1/2 pound of beans ($1-$3 depending on the variety) can be stretched a long way. I like to try different varieties from the self serve isle of Whole Foods when I want a change from my beloved local Camilla beans. A cooked pot of a 1/2 pound of beans will give me 10 servings which I will eat with greens, a lean protein or sometimes I’ll create a veggie bowl of fun. Changing things up by adding a variety of sautéed veggies and other chopped vegetables is an easy way to transform an otherwise plain dish. It’s also easy to prep ahead of time by simply peeling and slicing onion and bell pepper and sweating them out over medium heat in water. Once the water cooks out, I add a 1/2 tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt and pepper to brown them and add a punch of flavor. This can be stored in the fridge all week until needed. Check out one of my go to bowl mixes below for an easy change to a rice and bean week.

 

A Bowl of Fun

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked beans ( any color)
1/2 cup sautéed onion and bell pepper
2 tbsp. fresh jalapeño chopped or sliced pickled jalapeño
2 tbsp. sour cream
4 tbsp. salsa of choice
1/2 cup fresh diced tomato
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup guacamole

Directions:
1. Add half of the rice,beans and sautéed veggies to each bowl and microwave for 1- 1.5 minutes each.
2. Divide cheese evenly and add to each bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients in layers.
4. Enjoy.

Spice Things Up

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Every now and then, I get a craving for some good curry and I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone of yellow curry and try something new. Curry is a wonderfully complex flavor profile that mixes different spices and herbs and it works well with just about any meat or seafood out there. Since I am also a fan of red and green curry dishes, I decided to give red curry a try with ground pork. This was simple and quick and full of flavor. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Red Curry with Pork

1 lb ground pork
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic (8-10 medium cloves)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot (2 medium or 1 large carrot)
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1 cup of torn fresh basil
1 14oz can coconut milk
7 oz water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Place a large pot over medium heat and warm oil.
2. Add pork to oil and break apart with a spoon.
3. Peel and dice onion and peel and mince garlic. Add to pork with onion powder and half of the salt and pepper and mix well. Cook until pork is browned.
4. Rinse and chop bell pepper and peel and chop a large carrot. Add both to the pot and stir well.
5. Add red curry paste and mix in well. Add coconut milk and fill can halfway with water and add water. Rinse and roughly chop basil and add to the pot.
6. Add remaining seasoning and stir. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Serve with 1/2 cup of rice and top with fresh basil.

A Bit Of Light

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With life getting in the way, sometimes a light dinner is called for. This dish took 10 minutes to make and was both light and satisfying. I has also made a pitcher of cucumber infused water with basil and lemon earlier in the week which was quite refreshing. The shrimp in this dish can easily be substituted with a piece of seared fish or canned tuna that can be spruced up with fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Check out the recipe below.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. shrimp
1 lemon
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
1 small cucumber diced
1 cup diced tomato
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Peel and devein shrimp if whole. Set aside in ice water until ready to use.
2. Rinse and peel cucumber and cut in half. Cut in half horizontally, then make three long strips to make a small dice. Repeat with remaining half.
3. Rinse and score tomato before dicing it. Add tomato and cucumber to a medium-sized bowl.
4. Rinse and chop green onion and add to the bowl. Rinse lemon and cut in half before squeezing one half over bowl.
5. Place a pan over medium heat and add oil. Place shrimp on a paper towel and pat dry. Season with half of the seasonings and add to hot pan.
6. Season other half and let cook for 2 minutes before flipping he shrimp. Let cook for 2 minutes then squeeze in fresh lemon juice (seeded side up). Let cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.
7. Plate in bowls and serve.

 

A Bit of Pesto

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Pesto is an incredibly flavorful addition to pasta. I love a nice bowl of pesto alfredo pasta with shrimp or chicken and colored myself inspired with the lovage pesto that I saw at the farmer’s market on Saturday. Though, I love a good bowl of pasta, I wanted to try my hand at zucchini pasta to see what all the fuss was about. I found a nifty, hand held veggetti spiraler for $9.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond and was sold. Now if you’re thinking, the pesto and pasta alternatives are too much change for one dish, you can always stick to traditional pesto, and mix the zucchini pasta with traditional or whole wheat spaghetti. As I am frequently touting the perks of separating shrimp or other proteins ahead of time, this dish is where that’s super helpful. I pulled out a couple of serving bags for this dish and defrosted the shrimp in the bag in lukewarm water for 10 minutes while I cooked everything else. If you are not a fan of shrimp, I’d recommend cubing chicken breasts or thighs and sautéing it with diced onion until cooked before adding to your pasta. I also picked up some purple long beans from the farmers market which made a great side to my creamy bowl of pesto alfredo zucchini pasta. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
2 medium zucchini
1 cup whole milk or 2%
1/2 packet (4oz) of low fat cream cheese cubed
1/2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. pesto
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. onion powder
1tbsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 tbsp. parsley (optional)

 

Directions:
1. Add frozen shrimp to a bowl or sink of lukewarm water to defrost.
2. Over low heat, add milk to a medium pot.
3. Cube cream cheese and butter and add to the pot. Let melt for 1 minute, then mix with a fork or whisk until dissolved.
4. Add flour and mix until dissolved. Add seasoning and pesto and mix well.
5. Wash spiraler and zucchini. Spiral zucchini and add to the pot.
6. Add defrosted shrimp. Let cook for 5 minutes until shrimp are cooked and zucchini tender.
7. Chop parsley for garnish. Serve and enjoy.

 

A Bit of Comfort

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Sometimes, a bit of comfort is called for and smothered steak, mashed potatoes and spinach certainly does the trick in my book. This was an easy dish to simmer slowly while I did house work as I ended a travel season. I do enjoy eating out on occasion, but there is something to be said about a home-cooked meal and this dish popped into my head. I picked up some sliced beef shoulder steak and beef round steak since they were both small packages and seared and braised them slowly in a thickened beef stock with onion and bell pepper. You can always use any cut of beef you like, but braising works better for tougher meats to help break the meat down and make the steak tender. Also, both cuts of beef were inexpensive and became perfectly tender. Whether with rice or potatoes as I had them, the smothered steak will be tasty both ways. Also, though I cooked spinach, I also brought a bag of mixed greens for a couple of easy salads during the week. Check out the recipe for the steak below.

Ingredients:
1 pack of shoulder steak (1/2 – 3/4 lb.)
1 pack of beef round steak (1/2 lb.)
1 can beef stock
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup water.

Directions:
1. Set out steaks 10 minutes before ready to cook to let meat rest.
3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. While heating, season one side of the steak with 1/4 of the seasoning.
4. Add season-side down and season other side with a fourth of salt and pepper. (If all of the steaks don’t fit in one layer, brown in two batches.) Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
5. Remove meat from pan to s large plate and add water to deglaze pan. Add butter and flour and whisk until light brown. Add stock and remaining seasoning and mix well.
6. Peel and thinly slice onion. Rinse and slice bell pepper before chopping it large and adding both to the pan.
7. Place steak of top of vegetables, top and reduce heat to low or simmer.
8. Let cook for 30-40 minutes. Cook potatoes or rice in the last 20 minutes of cooking so it is ready at the same time.
9. The salad or spinach can be prepared in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
10. Plate and enjoy.

A Bit Of Green Onion Sausage

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With the dreary weather expected this week, I was in the mood for some jambalaya. I’ve posted before about my preference for traditional New Orleans styled jambalaya with seafood, sausage and a red sauce to boot. I decided to highlight some local green onion sausage that I picked up at Soprano’s supermarket in Livonia parish which is about 30 minutes or so from Baton Rouge on Hwy 190. My dad loves to find gems off the beaten path and Soprano’s green onion sausage certainly makes the list. The sausage is made in house and the store offers both fresh and smoked options as well as other flavor combinations. Green onion sausage is tasty and pretty easy to find, so try a brand that you like and give it a try.

I also picked up some fresh turnips, green onion and red potatoes from the farmers market to make a quick soup with some of the sausage as a second option for meals this week. With a little help from a kohlrabi salad mix (kohlrabi, kale, shredded golden beets) from Trader Joe’s and a quick pickle of shaved turnips and thinly sliced yellow onion, that will be a nice side to my soup meals. For some added sweetness, you can also grate or thinly slice a small red apple into the salad mix. Since I have previously posted a jambalaya recipe, check out the soup and salad recipes below.

Potato, turnip and Sausage Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup diced red potato (2 medium)
1 cup diced turnip root (2 medium)
2 cups chopped turnip greens
1/4 lb green onion sausage
1 small yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 14.5oz can of chicken stock
2 cups of water
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and thinly slice onion. Add to a medium pot over medium heat with olive oil. Once it begins to sizzle and brown (2 mins) add 1/2 cup of water to carmalize the onions.
2. Remove green tops from turnip roots and soak tops in water in a bowl or the sink to remove dirt.
3. Using a potato peeler, peel turnips until dirty skin is removed. Cut off skinny end and green stem end. The cut in half and dice into medium pieces. Add to the pot with onions and add remaining water and bring to a boil.
4. Rinse potatoes and dice into medium pieces and add to the pot.
5. Cut sausage in half long-wise before slicing thin and add to the pot. Add seasoning.
6. Rinse and chop turnip greens and green onion and add to the pot.
7. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Enjoy.

 

Kohlrabi and Kale Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 cup salad mix
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. local honey
1 tbsp. thinly sliced onion
1 tbsp. thinly sliced turnip
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Directions.:
1. In a bowl, add vinegar and honey and mix with a fork until dissolved. Add seasonings.
2. Peel and thinly slice a small onion (About two cuts worth). Add to the vinegar.
3. Peel dirty skin from turnip. Rinse peeler and then use to peel thin pieces into the bowl.
4. Let sit for 3-5 minutes then add salad mix and toss well with a fork.
5. Enjoy.

 

A Bit Of Chicken

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I knew this would be a week where I would need to eat dinner quickly to get work done and workouts in, so I went with my favored chicken legs. I am a huge fan of making half the pan of baked chicken flavored different ways and I continued that trend this week with my pan of 10. I seasoned half the chicken with cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne and the other half with smoked paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

For sides I rinsed and warmed a can of organic black beans that I mixed with cumin, canned diced tomato and cilantro as one side. I also brought a few ears of corn that I cut off the cob and seasoned with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

For my lunch and dinner this week, I alternated between chicken with those two sides, chicken tacos and a basil and peach salad that all used that original pan of chicken from Sunday.

The chicken took 35 minutes to cook, the black beans 10 minutes to be warmed through and seasoned and the mango pico took 10 minutes to make. I cut the corn off the cob and seasoned it as needed for meals since it doesn’t need to be cooked and also diced tomato and cucumber for salad lunches in the morning before work.

The “cooking” this week took less than an hour for 10 of my 15 workday meals and also totaled $24.91 or 2.49 per meal. It helps if you can pick flavors and main items first and build from there. See the details below and give meal planning a try!

1 can of organic black beans – $.89
1 can diced tomatoes- $.98
2 ears of corn- $.29/each
Romaine and arugula- $7
Chicken legs- $2.31
Hola Tortillas- $2.59
Fresh tomatoes- $5
Cucumbers- $1
Peaches- $2
Mango- $.98
Avocado-$.99
Cilantro- $.59