A Bit Of Gumbo

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Though Disney didn’t quite get it right with their take on a healthy gumbo, they were on the right path. Gumbo can be full of flavor and toe the line of health. Growing up in New Orleans, I’ve certainly had many variations of gumbo-some that use everything but the kitchen sink-and others that were healthier and with fewer ingredients. My brother was the first in the family to cook a roux-less gumbo with some great seafood. Picking up a few things from him and adding my own twist was just what I needed to pass muster with the more common chicken and sausage gumbo. I used a couple cuts of chicken to make a flavorful base and okra as the thickening agent. I also used two types of sausage for that smokey taste and the kick of the South. I made this a few weeks back for my second gumbo cooking spree. Since it’s once again cold, this was an easy pull from the freezer and quick to defrost in the pot. Below is the recipe. Give it a try and make your own version of a healthier gumbo! 🙂

Ingredients:
1 pack of drumsticks (5-6)
2 chicken breast
2 cups diced onion
3/4 lb andouille sausage
1/2 lb smoked sausage
16 oz fresh or frozen okra
1 cup diced green onion
1/2 tbsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tbsp. gumbo file
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
8 cups of water

Directions:
1. Put a large pot on the stove with 6 cups of water over medium-high heat.
2. Rinse chicken thoroughly and remove skin from the chicken legs. It’s ok if some skin remains, but remove as much as possible, then add the chicken to the pot.
3. Peel and dice the onion and add to the pot.
4. Let boil for 15 minutes, then add okra and reduce to medium heat.
5. Let cook for 15 minutes, then remove chicken legs from pot, onto a plate and pull off chicken with a fork before adding back to the pot. You can also loosely break off pieces of the chicken breast, though it will mostly fall apart once it is done cooking. Add seasonings, green onion and remaining water.
6. Slice sausage and andouille in half and then into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the pot. Top it and reduce to low heat, to simmer.
7. Let cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steep until ready to eat. *Double the recipe and freeze it for easy meal nights.
8. Enjoy!

A Bit of Semi-Homemade

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For nights like tonight, during a busy week, I prefer quick, semi-homemade meals. I braved the cold for needed supplies last weekend and was surprised to find a cool new item in Trader Joe’s, onion and garlic jam. It is basically reduced balsamic vinegar with caramelized onion and garlic. Though its intended use is with meats and cheeses, I thought it could be great on a flatbread. I picked up smoked salmon for the protein since it’s already cooked and flavorful, and cream cheese and capers for that tart pop that the flatbread would need. Tonight it was easy to pick a few leaves of arugula out of my backyard, though store brought is fine, and I added my last kale and Swiss chard for a quick side salad. I needed a change and a nice dose of leafy greens since I have been eating lots of chili this week. This meal definitely gave me that change and lots of flavor to boot! It took less than 20 minutes to make (cooking time) which makes it perfect for later evening meals. I’ve included the recipe for the flatbread below. As always share your thoughts. Enjoy!
Smoked Salmon Flatbread

Ingredients:
1 3 oz pack of smokes salmon
1 bag of fresh pizza dough or 1 roll of thin crust pizza dough
2 tbsp. onion and garlic jam
1/8 cup of cream cheese cubed
1 tbsp. capers
1 tsp. fresh chopped green onion
1/8 cup thinly diced red onion
Approx. 1 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Take dough out of the fridge and let it rest for 15-20 minutes in original package.
2. Line a cooking sheet with aluminum foil and evenly spread the of olive oil to prevent sticking.
3. Follow instructions on container to spread out dough and bake for 2 minutes shy of the recommended time.
5. Peel and slice the red onion. Cut a fourth off of a slab of cream cheese and cube it.
4. Remove from oven and spread jam over warmed bread and add the red onion and cream cheese. Bake for another 5-7 minutes.
5. Add the smoked salmon, capers and green onion.
6. Enjoy.

A Bit Of Recovery

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If your holiday season was jam packed like mine and full of traditional food and treats, the beginning of 2017 will be all about cleansing and getting back into routine. Growing up in New Orleans, my family always ate black eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day for luck and financial prosperity in the new year. I decided to stick with tradition which is great for both my budget and cleansing with simple foods. Of course cabbage can be cooked a variety of ways, but I kept it simple with the ingredients to keep cabbage as the star. Check out my the recipe below and I wish everyone luck and prosperity in the new year and its adventures.

Ingredients:
1 head of cabbage (2-3 lbs)
4 slices of thick bacon (approx. 1/4 lb)
1 1/2 cups of diced yellow onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
3 cups of water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add bacon. Flip after 3-4 minutes and then reduce to medium heat .
2. Peel and dice the onion while bacon cooks.
3. Remove bacon and place on a paper towel and add onion to the bacon drippings in the pot. Stir and add 1/2 cup of water to prevent sticking.
4. Break off darker large leaves if attached, rinse and slice the larger leaves into thirds and stack them before slicing them into strips. Add to pot and stir.
5. Rinse the remaining head of cabbage, cut off rough end and cut in half. Remove the core from each half by slicing in a “v” around the core for easy removal.
6. Cut each half into large chunks, then a large dice like you would an onion. Add to the pot and stir.
7. Chop bacon into large pieces and add to the pot.
8. After 15 minutes, add vinegar, sugar, and seasonings. Stir well and cook for 15-20 minutes. If serving with rice, start rice and set the timer for both.
9. Serve and enjoy.