Helping Hands

Tasty and healthy meal assistance

A little help from the store can go a long way to making quick work of dinner. I’m a big fan of portioned proteins for easy freezer storage and easier use for making the right number of portions at a given time. This shrimp and kale dish was elevated with a simple sauce using onion, garlic, a little stock and a roasted eggplant and tomato spread from Trader Joe’s. The spread while low in calories, was packed with flavor that easily added to this quick dish. This took 10 minutes to make and additionally, I made enough to freeze. You can always double this portion for a family of 4 or to have additional portions to freeze for easy meals during a busy week. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb of shrimp

2 cups fresh kale

1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms sliced

1/2 cup of onion

1/4 cup of chicken or seafood stock

1/4 cup of eggplant spread

1/2 tbsp avocado oil (or olive)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of water


Directions:

  1. Rinse and kale and add to a skillet with a pinch of water over medium heat. Add onion and stir.
  2. Slice mushrooms while kale cooks and add mushrooms to the pan. Season and reserve a little of the powders for the shrimp. Cook for 3-5 mins.
  3. Add the eggplant spread and stir in. Add stock to deglaze the pan. Cook for 2 minutes and add to a plate.
  4. Add oil and let it warm. Add shrimp and seasoning and cook for 2.5 minutes before flipping and cooking for the same time.
  5. Top greens mixture and enjoy.

Charcuterie Nights

Adult Lunchables

Sometimes a grown up lunchable in the form of a charcuterie board makes a quick dinner and is fun to entertain with. I like to add an assortment of salami, garlic stuffed olives, caper berries, fresh fruit (blueberries, cherries, strawberries ) and of course cheese. For small groups my go to options are an herbed goat cheese that I top with a drizzle of honey, some smoked Gouda and a smoked or peppered cheddar.


But if its an individual party, adding some greens or salad is an easy addition to balance out the richness. It’s as simple as finding a mix of meats and cheeses that appeal to your tastes. I personally like the Columbus brand variety of salami and the Brooklyn Cured brands, but I’m always on the hunt for new tasty additions. Additionally, I like to add surprises to the board such as coffee dark chocolate or chocolate covered almonds. What’s your favorite mix? Please leave a post to reply.

Sip and Breathe

Simple Syrup

With Labor Day fast approaching, it’s a great time to start planning the drink menu. This is the perfect time to kick back with a small group of family and friends and take a moment to relax. Why not do it in style? I’ve been experimenting with homemade simple syrups after my friend Carolyn showed me just how easy it is. Check out this recipe for my lavender mint simple syrup to make a simply superb French 75. During my time in Rochester NY, I fell in love with a local lilac gin by Black Button Distillery, but this cocktail can be made with any favored infused gin or vodka. I recommend making the simple syrup ahead of time over the weekend or the day before, just to save yourself some time. Any left over syrup can be used for cold or hot tea!


Simple Syrup Ingredients:

1 /2 cup dried organic lavender

2 sprigs of fresh or dried mint

2 cups of distilled water

1.5 cups of raw sugar

3 clean food pouches or a glass jar.

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil. Add measured lavender and mint to a bowl.
  2. When water boils, cover lavender and mint and cover bowl with a plate or lid.
  3. Let lavender water steep for at least a hour but no more than 2 hours.
  4. Strain water into a measuring cup and add water and sugar into a medium pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to medium low heat and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
  7. Add to food pouches or glass jar with an airtight lid. Store in a cool, dry place or refrigerate.

The drink below serves 1. Just multiply each ingredient for the number of drinks prepared. 🙂 If you are making more than two drinks, I’d recommend buying cold pressed lemon juice or your preferred product to save on the manual labor.


French 75 Ingredients:

1.5 oz infused gin

1 oz cold pressed or fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 oz of simple syrup (double if you like sweeter drinks)

3 oz of champagne

Directions:

  1. Add gin to a glass, add simple sugar and mix with a spoon
  2. Add lemon juice and top with champagne
  3. Optional: zest a lemon for garnish 
  4. Enjoy