Pepper Steak

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Pepper steak is incredibly comforting and easy to make. Best of all, it fits in one. It can be eaten with mashed potatoes or your favorite rice dish and makes great leftovers. I love to add different vegetables like peppers, mushrooms and onion, but you can always add your favorite mix of seasonal veggies. Sauteed leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard or other greens make a great side dish. But for this go round I topped it with micro greens for the same nutrient packing punch with less of the chewing. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Pepper Steak

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large thick cut filet or ribeye steaks 

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium onion

1 container of crimini mushrooms

1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste 

1/2 cup of water

3 large red potatoes 

1/2 tbsp. butter 

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cube potatoes and add to water. Slice 1/2 of the onion into thin slices and add to pot.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. 
  3. Lightly season steaks on one side with garlic powder, a pinch of salt and pepper. Place season side down in the  skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Season other side.
  4. Rinse and chop bell pepper into large pieces. Cut large mushrooms into fourths and smaller in half.
  5. Flip steaks and move one side of the skillet. Add peppers and mushrooms. 
  6. Peel and slice onion into thin slices. Add to the skillet and add 1/2 cup of water.
  7. Reduce heat to simmer and top up pan. Cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Strain potatoes and onions and add 1/2 tbsp of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Mash until chunky smooth.
  9. Plate and top with micro greens. (Optional)

Summer Hash

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Every now and then, I get a craving for comfort food. One of my favorites is smothered potatoes. As a kid, I was always an early riser, and since the rest of the house slept long after I did, I taught myself to make potatoes my way. While I called them hash browns, my mom always would always tell me they were smothered potatoes. It’s a great dish any time of the day and a particular favorite of mine for breakfast or brunch.

For this morning’s food demo at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market, I decided to make a healthier version with some seasonal zucchini, peppers and kale. It is great to have access to such variety all in one place. Thank you Chenier Farm for a wonderful variety of produce, and Amato’s Winery for some tasty sausage! For some added nutrients, I topped the dish with some flavorful microgreens from the Westdome Nursery. My favorite way to eat this is with a scrambled or poached egg or two. J  Be sure to share your thoughts. Enjoy!

Green Onion Sausage and Veggie Hash

Serves 4:

Ingredients:

¾ lb. fresh green onion sausage

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1 cup chopped red potato

1 cup of chopped zucchini

½ cup chopped bell pepper

½ cup of chopped banana pepper

1 cup chopped kale

1 tbsp. minced basil

1 tbsp. minced parsley

½ tsp. coarse black pepper

½ tsp. salt free sunny herb blend (red stick spice)

½ tsp. Sel de Provence (red stick spice) (optional to regular sea salt)

Directions:

1. Peel and dice the sweet onion. Place in a large skillet over medium heat with a splash of water.

2. Remove fresh green onion sausage from the casing and brown evenly.

3. Wash vegetables well and cut zucchini in half, then into long strips before dicing. Repeat with potato. In a medium pot, add vegetables with ½ cup of water. Cut peppers in half, remove seeds, then cut into strips before dicing.

4. Rinse herbs, mince and add to the pot. Add sausage and onion mixture. Cook for 10 minutes.

5. Rinse and cut chop kale. Add to pot and cook until wilted. Add seasoning and stir well.

6. Serve and enjoy.

Food For Frost

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With these unexpected cold fronts, it’s a great time to bring out the crock pot for something warm to bump out the cold. I was in the mood for a new round of curry and blended the remaining red curry I had and some yellow and used chicken as the protein this go round. As I often say, it’s helpful to prep ahead of time by separating large packs of meat into 6, 8 and 10 count bags for your freezer, since we don’t always have time for a store run. Since I already had the chicken, purple green beans and curry powder, I grabbed basil, low fat coconut milk and carrots from the store to finish the dish. This can be eaten as a soup or served with rice depending on your preference. Check out the recipe below.

Chicken Curry
Serves 8

8 chicken legs
2 cups purple or green beans
1 14-16 oz bag of baby carrots
6 small red potatoes
1 tbsp. yellow curry powder
2 tbsp. red curry powder paste (optional)
1 13.5 oz can low fat coconut milk
1 package of basil
1 cup diced onion
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
3 cups of water

Directions:
1. Remove skin and any excess fat from chicken and rinse before putting in crock pot.
2. Season chicken with seasoning (not curry).
3. Dice onion and halve potatoes add to crock pot. Add frozen green beans and carrots. Add water and curry and mix well.
4. Set crockpot on low heat for 8 hours.
5. Add coconut and basil in last 30 minutes of cook time.
6. Enjoy!

Soups and Stews

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Good comfort food can go a long way. I was determined to chomp into some hearty beef stew and decided to crock pot it to make sure the beef was tender enough for my braces. I went for the traditional with potatoes, carrots and onion. I decided to try the multi-colored carrots for some added flavor and variety. This was easy to prep and toss into the crockpot for 5 hours. My crockpot is set to warm after the cooking time, so it was perfect to stay warm the additional 30 minutes I needed before dinner. Note: I prefer more of a cross between soup and stew and don’t often make a roux, but you can certainly add a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch to make a thicker sauce with water or stock before adding it to the crockpot. Depending on how long you plan to be away determines whether you should set it to cook low or high so that it’s not over cooked. If you plan to put it on before leaving for a workday, I would recommend a low cooking temp for a longer cook time (I.e. 8 hours). You will also want to cut the carrots and potato into larger chunks so they still have texture.

also decided to dip into my freezer stash of gumbo that I make each season. I opted for the spicy chicken and sausage for an alternate meal in between servings of stew. Check out the recipe below. I hope you find it as easy and enjoyable as I do.

Beef Stew
5 large red potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb. cubed stew meat
1 cup of stock (beef or chicken)
1 cup of water
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. corse black pepper
1 tsp. Cayenne (optional)

Directions:
1. Rinse potatoes then cut in half longways and then into fourths. Add to crockpot.
2. Rinse and peel carrots 2 carrots (unless purchased prepped) and cut into medium pieces. Add to pot.
3. Peel and dice onion and mince garlic and add to pot.
4. Add beef, seasoning and liquid. Stir well, top and set timer on the crockpot.
5. Serve with rice if desired.
6. Enjoy!

Changes and Opportunties

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In addition to new resolutions, my 2018 began with braces and a requirement for soft foods. So my first week yielded new smoothie mixes, mashed potatoes, smoked gouda mac and cheese and good ‘ol grits and egg. As a person who typically eats well balanced meals, it’s been a struggle to find right balances with soft foods outside of smoothies; however, challenge accepted.

This week I decided on comforting Sheppard’s pie with a twist to boost my veggie intake. In addition to the traditional peas and carrots, I did a mix of yellow cauliflower with potatoes to give me a little more nutrients.

I also have the fixings for bowls of egg drop soup which takes minutes to make and can be made as needed. Also depending on how hungry I am, I can beef it up with more egg or even a small can of chicken.

Check out the recipes for both dishes below.

Sheppard’s Pie
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 cups diced onion (one large)
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 cup of peas
1 small head of cauliflower (2 cups)
4 medium red potatoes or 1 large white potato
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. onion power
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cream cheese (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While it heats, rinse and peel potato(es). Cut in half. (If one large, cut in half longwise, then into fourths).
3. Rinse cauliflower and peel off leaves and cut off the tough stem end. The cauliflower should be about the same size as the potatoes.
4. Peel and dice a large onion and add half the onion, the potatoes and cauliflower to the water and boil for 15-17 minutes.
5. While that boils, place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground meat and the remaining onion and a pinch of water to brown the meat. Break into small pieces and brown evenly.
6. While the meat browns, peel carrots and chop finely by hand or with a food processor, small blender or magic chopper. Add to pan of beef.
7. Add defrosted peas and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes.
8. Remove potatoes from stove and strain. Add them back to the stove and reduce heat to low. Add butter, cream cheese and milk and mash until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove beef mixture from heat and add to a standard 5 quart baking dish (large rectangle).
10. Add potato mixture on top and smooth evenly. Bake for 10 minutes until top browns slightly.

 

Egg Drop Soup
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. diced green onion
1-2 large eggs
1 tbsp. Low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup canned chicken (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Add broth or stock to a small pot. Add green onion and all seasoning over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 3 minutes.
2. In a bowl add egg with a pinch of salt and whisk with a fork.
3. Add egg in a slow stream to pot. The egg will cook instantly. Remove heat.
4. Wash bowl from egg and add your finished soup. Enjoy.

Stewed Comfort

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Cold weather calls for soups, gumbos and comfort food. One of my favorite comfort meals as a kid was stewed chicken. It’s something easy to make, whether you are breaking down a whole chicken yourself or taking some help from the store with a mixed pack or a package of your favorite piece of meat. It’s helpful, when you can, to go for the whole chicken whether the store cuts it up or you and you can save parts for gumbo or a homemade stock for some chicken noodle soup for another week. Stewed chicken is simple dish and easy to serve over rice or with potatoes. I like to double down on the veggies with sautéed greens and a side salad. The cook time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, though the slow cooking for the latter 35 minutes can be spent elsewhere in the house with a set phone or stove timer. Though a standard 10″ deep pan will do, a cast iron pot or a Dutch oven. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:
1 3-3 1/2 chicken (cut into serving pieces)
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion (2 cups diced)
1 small bell pepper (1 cup diced)
4 cloves of garlic ( 2 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. onion power
1tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. salted butter
1 cup chicken stock or water

Directions:
1. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat.
2. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel before sprinkling on salt and pepper. Brown chicken in 2-3 batches for 2-3 minutes per side. Add batch to a plate once browned and repeat.
3. Add butter and then flour to melted butter. Using a fork or whisk, mix flour continuously for 3-5 minutes, browning in the pan dripping and butter. Once brown, add water or stock and remaining seasoning and mix with the fork or whisk.
4. Peel and mince garlic. Peel and dice onion and bell pepper.
5. Add onion and bell pepper, garlic and chicken back to the pan. Top and reduce to medium-low heat to simmer for 30-35 minutes.
6. Put on rice 10 minutes after chicken begins to simmer so that food is ready about the same time.
7. Plate and enjoy.

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.