A Bit Of Chili

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I decided it was time for some chili and grilled cheese to ward of the crummy, rainy weather. I love dishes like these that you can top anyway you’d like and it’s fun for everyone to make it their own. This is one of the best meals to eat leftovers of because the flavor just gets better with time. This is great to make on the weekend if you will using the dried beans, but it is also an easy go to during the week as a crockpot dish. To all of my friends and colleagues warding off the sniffles and coughs, a little spice is sure to clear that right up! See below for the recipe and feel free to share your thoughts!

Note: This is certainly a dish that can be slow cooked in the crock pot. Just substitute a 15 ounce canned beans in water with no salt added for the Camilla beans. In the morning, cook the meat with the onion, garlic and celery, then add it and all of the ingredients to the crock pot and put the heat on low for 4 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. fresh minced garlic
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomato (no salt added)
  • 1 12 ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • ½ lb. cooked Camilla red beans
  • 1 lb. of lean ground beef (93% fat free)
  • 1 lb. of ground chuck (85/15)
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper ( or less for less spice)
  • 4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Cook dried Camilla beans in the chili pot in 2 to 3 cups of water for an hour over medium heat. Stir and slightly mash beans against the pot every 20-25 minutes.
  2. Remove beans from pot and place in a bowl. Chop celery, garlic and onion and add to pot with a ½ cup of water.
  3. Add ground beef to the pot and cook until browned.
  4. Open all cans and add the diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes to the pot.
  5. Put on a disposable glove and chop all of the chipotle peppers on a plate into small pieces before adding to the pot. Fill the can with water to get all of the adobo sauce and add to the pot.
  6. Add all of seasoning, the beans and a cup of water to the pot. Reduce heat to medium low and stir after 15-20 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep in mind that the longer the chili sits, the more flavorful it becomes. (Hooray for leftovers!)
  8. Serve with your favorite toppings. I like to add a little cheese, salsa, sour cream and green onion .

A Bit Of Preparation

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A lot of my friends know I often bring my lunch to work; it’s cost effective and I know exactly what’s in it. I often use part of my weekend to prep meals for the week, both lunch and dinner. I made a simple chicken salad that was great for lunch today. One can makes enough for 3 to 4 servings. You can also sear fish or chicken to go with a salad or sides of your choice. Yesterday evening I made a brining solution for the two beautiful whole, fresh flounder I picked up at Saturday’s Farmers Market. I let the flounder soak overnight and seared them in olive oil and finished the fish in the oven with fresh lemon, capers, butter and parsley. I wilted some beet greens and Swiss chard with garlic, topped them with pickled onions and carrots and topped the fish with microgreens from the farmers market which packs the nutrients  of broccoli, kale and assortment of other veggies without requiring me to eat them all tonight. And while this dish is absent of a carb or starch, I should mention I roasted potatoes with onions for my leftover fish; tonight I am saving myself for the ice cream I also made this weekend. Should I add chocolate? I think so. 🙂

Check out the recipes below. The chicken salad took all of 5 minutes and the fish dish took 35 minutes. Now I could be faster with my knife and potato peeler but if you have a partner or kids, they can make easy work of the pickling job or chopping the greens.

Chicken Salad Ingredients:
1 can chicken or 1 cup of leftover baked or roasted chicken
1/2 cup of minced celery
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1 1/2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp creole mustard
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1tsp coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Chop celery and onion.
2. Open and strain can of chicken by pressing lid down to release liquid and place in a small bowl.
3. Add celery, onion mayo, mustard and seasoning. Mix well.
4. Top with foil and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Day 1:
Flounder Brine Ingredients:
Ziploc gallon bag
Measuring cup
3 cups of water
1 1/2 tbsp sea or kosher salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
3-6 bay leaf depending on size
2-4 pieces of lemon peel

Directions:
1. Place fish in Ziploc bag after rinsing.
2. In a measuring cup, add water sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Pour into Ziploc bag.
3. Add bay leaf.
4. Cut the ends off of a lemon and the  zest from each side. Avoid cutting into the fruit. Add to the Ziploc bag.
5. Seal and squeeze excess aid from the bag, being mindful of the water solution.
6. Store on a plate in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:
Seared Flounder Ingredients:
Flounder in brine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 lemon or 2 tbsp juiced
1 tbsp capers (optional)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup of chopped beet greens
1 cup of chopped Swiss chard

Pickled Veggie Ingredients:
1 carrot shredded with potato peeler
1/2 onion sliced thin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:
1. If cooking potatoes, slice 3 in half and then  into 1/2 inch thick pieces and add to a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper with thin slices onion. Drizzle olive oil, salt pepper and garlic powder and add to a preheated 375 degree oven. If no potatoes still heat oven for the fish. (Optional)
2. In a medium-sized bowl, add vinegar and sugar and mix until dissolved.
3. Peel carrot then shred, using a potato peeler, into the bowl.
4. Thinly slice onion and add to the bowl. Add seasoning and mix with a fork before topping with foil and setting it aside.
5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
6. Rinse fish in cool water to remove excess salt and place on a plate. Season each fish with a fourth of the seasoning on one side. Once pan is hot place seasoned-side down. Season other side.
7. Let it cook for 3 minutes. Then flip to other side and reduce heat to medium for 2 minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice to deglaze the pan, then add parsley, butter, capers and a splash of water and place in oven for 5 minutes or so depending on size of fish.
8. While fish cooks, add greens to a non-stick pan and cook for 3 minutes with garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper and a pinch of water.
9. Turn off heat and remove everything from the oven carefully.
10. Plate greens first, then picked veggies. Place the fish on top. Add micro greens or a little chopped parsley to the top and enjoy.

A Bit Of Cleansing

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Happy New Year to you readers and your families! With the new year upon us and everyone focusing on diets, cleanses and new beginnings, I decided a cleanse with my homemade juice blends, cabbage  and eating my frozen servings of soups, stews and gumbos was a great way to go. I am a huge fan of cooking in bulk and freezing dishes for easy meals when you’re too busy or too tired to cook; in my case, I just wanted easy. This method can also help stretch your budget if you’re like me and still recovering from holiday spending. This has been a week of gumbos and soup with the cold weather, and a variety of fresh juice blends. I brought out my beloved juicer to make veggie and fruit blends. I’ve been on a citrus kick with the many sick bugs floating around the workplace  and green blends with kale and spinach. I’ve gotten produce from the farmers market and Southside Produce, looking for Louisiana items when I could. Since I’ve been sharing the juices themselves in my excitement, it’s only fair that I share a recipe or two. If you do not own a juicer, you can always whip out a blender and strainer or blender and the nut bags to help strain out the pulp. Please share your thoughts and as always, enjoy!

Note: Yes, I amused myself with the names. Each juice has a shelf life of 1-3 days to maximize the absorption of the nutrients and should make 16 ounces depending on the size and juice in the ingredients.

Color Me Orange

Ingredients:

  • 6 peeled carrots
  • 1 peeled medium grapefruit
  • 2 oranges
  • glass pint jar or (16 ounce) container

Directions:

  1. Peel carrots and cut off each end. Set aside for juicing.
  2. Peel citrus by slicing off both ends to stabilize the fruit. Cut the skin off of the fruit in a circular motion, removing the skin and pith (white stuff/inner peeling).
  3. Place the container or jar under the juicer. Add carrots to  juicer and push through until juiced, then juice citrus. Top jar and place in fridge until ready to drink.
  4. If using a blender, process the carrots until smooth then add citrus to the blender. Push the mixture through a strainer or nut bag into the container.

Applelation

Ingredients:

  • 6 peeled carrots
  • 1/4 of a pineapple
  • 1- 1 1/2 gala or Fuji apple(s) (depends on size)
  • 1 orange

Directions:

  1. Peel and cut off both ends of the carrots. Set aside.
  2. Peel orange by slicing off both ends to stabilize the fruit. Cut the skin off of the fruit in a circular motion, removing the skin and pith (white stuff/inner peeling).
  3. Cut off both ends of the pineapple and cut off the spiked skin. Cut the pineapple in half and then each halve in half. Store the other portions for other juice blends
  4. Cut apples in half and then cut each halve in half. Remove seeded center.
  5. Juice carrots into the container, then juice the pineapple and apple quarters.
  6. If using a blender, follow the steps from the previous recipe.
  7. Store juice until ready to use.