Semi Homemade

9CC95310-396A-4A4E-8E7C-8E72F10D4A3B.jpeg

What’s in your pantry? It is always good to keep items on hand for easy, semi-homemade meals. I keep staples like canned beans, diced tomatoes (roasted and plain), olives and others in stock for quick and easy meals that are easy on my budget. I picked up some ricotta and arugula ravioli and pasta sauce to make this dish. This dish took ten minutes to make and is packed with nutrients and vitamins. Though I prefer to make my own pasta sauce, I enjoyed this three-cheese tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s and added some fresh greens and herbs. In the future I would likely add some mushrooms for added nutrients red pepper flakes for heat. Check out the recipe below. 

Ingredients:

1 pack of ravioli

1 jar of pasta sauce (of choice)

1 1/2 cups of fresh spinach

1 cup of arugula

1 tbsp. fresh Parmesan 

2 tbsp. fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Rinse and chop basil. In a large skillet, add sauce, basil and greens and wilt over low heat. 
  3. Add fresh ravioli and boil for three minutes.
  4. Add ravioli to sauce and grate in fresh cheese. 
  5. Enjoy. 

Lessons in Kitchen Mishaps

291A0C44-8F68-4135-B947-75D65617B3ED

So I did something I haven’t done in years; I burned a creation that I just knew would be mouth-watering delicious. I even shamefully ate it partially cold at lunch, afraid that it might smell a little scorched. While trimming my tomato plants, repotting herbs that I started indoors, and working on my spinach trellis, I lost track of time and my inspired dish suffered. Though my spicy stewed coconut chicken dish was not perfect as intended, the ginger basil fried rice was it’s saving grace as that had my full attention. It was also a good reminder that time waits for no one, so neglecting to set a timer thinking “this won’t take long” is a recipe for scorched food. I sufficiently learned my lesson. This is a pretty inexpensive dish, using chicken legs as a base which adds lots of flavor while being wallet friendly. Even the fried rice required little using items already on hand. If you’d like to try a non-scorched version, check out the recipe below.

Spicy Stewed Coconut Chicken 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pack of chicken legs (4 count)

1 can diced tomato

6oz coconut milk

6 cups of water

2 cups of chicken stock

1 cup of chopped spinach

1 cup diced onion

3 cloves of grated garlic

2 tbsp. fresh basil

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. fresh ground peppercorn (or coarse black pepper)

1 tsp. cayenne (optional)

1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Bring water and stock to a boil in a medium pot. Rinse and add chicken legs, garlic powder and ground peppercorns or pepper. Boil for 18 minutes.
  2. Remove chicken and cut from the bone before adding back into the pot. Add diced tomato (with liquid), coconut milk, basil and cayenne. Grate in garlic or mince well and add.
  3. Peel and dice a small onion and add to pot. Cook for 10 minutes on simmer, then rinse, chop and add spinach. 
  4. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy with plain or fried rice.

Ginger Basil Fried Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked white or brown rice (preferably a few days old)

2 eggs

2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce

1 small carrot grated or in slivers

1 tbsp. sriracha 

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. grated ginger

2 cloves of sliced garlic

3 tbsp. chopped basil 

1 tbsp. oil (olive, avocado or coconut oil)

Directions:

  1. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Slice garlic and chop basil while oil heats.
  2. Add garlic and basil and stir to infuse in the oil. Add rice and stir occasionally, lightly browning for 5 minutes.
  3. Grate ginger and add to pot. Peel carrot and grate or peel into slivers with a potato peeler.
  4. Move still browning rice to one side of the pan and add the eggs. Mix in well with the rice.
  5. Add soy sauce, sriracha and sesame oil and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy.

Alternative Side Dishes

FFD66144-7705-4645-9582-F5B3EF14307B.jpeg

I love every kind of potato there is, but every now and then I like to try something new. There’s always those close cousins that get ignored like butternut squash. Since squash is in season, I decided to try preparing it in a different way. This would also be great as a replacement in sweet potato casserole or in a standard potato hash. This made a great side to baked chicken and sautéed greens and is easy to prepare ahead. You can always change up the chicken with different seasonings if you want to make enough for the week. Check out the recipe below.

Mashed Rosemary Butternut Squash

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash (~2 cups)

1 cup of water

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste 

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and add water to an oven safe baking pan.

2. Cut the Squash in half and roast for 1 hour or until tender (fork should go in easy).

3. Let cool for 20 minutes, then scoop out and discard seeded center. Using a spoon, scoop out squash and add to a bowl. If the skin is too soft for scooping, peel each half with a knife.

4. Mash squash until smooth and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Satisfaction and Comfort

B778C745-6350-4152-A6A7-CE05AA213DD7.jpeg

I’ve gotten on a kick making bread at home, really just to see if I could. I’ve been surprised that it something that can be done in an hour and even better, that I can  add things like flaxseeds, oats and chia seeds mostly to my hearts content. While baking it was a fun experience, making an open-faced turkey, avocado and tomato sandwich sealed the deal. This was a quick and easy meal that was both filling and satisfying. And there is just something to be said about fresh baked bread. 🙂

Using a teeny tiny avocado, I reserved half for an easy guacamole later in the week and cut slices out of the other half. I mashed a slice for more of an avocado butter to spread on the bread, added the tomato and turkey and the remaining slices on top. This takes all of 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

3oz of Turkey

1/2 small avocado

1/2 medium tomato

 1 slice of bread

Salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Warm a slice of bread. 
  2. Cut an avocado in half while it warms and remove the pit. Store one half and cut the other half into slices.
  3. Mash one to two slices on the bread and smear like butter. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Slice 2 to 3 slices of a tomato and add to bread. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Add smoked turkey and top with remaining avocado and red pepper flakes.

Salmon with Flavor

C1681E4A-45E8-4DC2-BB92-092C14DA45E4

Eating at least two servings of fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, is a great way to get it good omega 3s which are great for heart health. Pair it with a healthy fat like avocado and you’ve got a dual hit of nutrients needed for brain health and cognition! Fish is easy to come by whether canned, frozen or fresh. These days the challenge comes in whether to get wild caught options or farm raised as nutritionally, the fish seem equal. There is lots of literature out there about sustainability with wild caught and contaminants in farm raised options, so certainly there is no wrong choice.

For this dish I used a frozen wild caught salmon fillet that was large enough for two.  I was inspired by my Granny who cooked the salmon when my mom and I visited for Memorial day. She has been seriously loving youtube and all of its infinite wisdom which has inspired her to get in the kitchen! I love the use of simple flavors like lemon, garlic and honey and the flavor it can bring to a humble salmon fillet. Leftover fish would be great over some arugula as a salad. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Garlic Lemon Seared Salmon

1 1lb fillet of salmon

1/2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil 

1 juiced lemon

1 grated cloves of garlic 

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup wild rice

1 1/2 water 

1 cup fresh Swiss chard

Directions:

  1. Bring water and rice to a boil in a small pot. Cook as described on package.
  2. Heat a large sized skillet over medium high heat and add oil.
  3. Season fish on one side with salt and pepper and place seasoned side down into skillet. Season other side and cook for three minutes.
  4. Flip and squeeze in lemon juice and cook for another three minutes. Turn off heat and continue cooking on residual heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse and chop Swiss chard and wilt into rice. 
  6. Plate rice and Swiss chard mix with fish.
  7. Enjoy!

Pepper Steak

C94C25D2-272F-4FA2-BC9D-F2FE9A5DB7E3

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)

Discover Farro

E72BD25D-28D5-4D72-888C-F2251CB9A729.jpeg

I love to try out new whole grains, especially those that are versatile. Farro definitely makes the cut as a wonderfully nutritious grain that is kind of like a cross between rice and pasta. High in fiber and containing lower levels of gluten, farro is a great option to help lower risk for diseases such as heart disease and inflammatory diseases. To make it even better, Trader Joe’s offers a quick cook option of farro which makes it great as an option for a quick meal during the week. It’s easy enough to change up vegetables and flavor profiles with additions such as chickpeas or chicken, other herbs or a variety of vegetables. And with a cook and prep time of just about 17 minutes, it’s a hard, easy meal to pass up. This is a great meatless Monday option and can easily serve as a side to sautéed or grilled chicken, shrimp or dish. I typically like to make about 2 servings of chicken and shrimp to change things up and add a side salad or roasted vegetables. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts! 

Farro Salad

Salad Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes 

2 cups frozen spinach

1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced red onion

3 tbsp. feta cheese

1 1/2 cups dry quick cook farro

Sauce ingredients:

Juice of 1 lime

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup fresh mint

2 scallions 

Pinch of water 

Directions:

  1. Put a medium pot of water over medium high heat to boil.
  2. While waiting for water to boil, wipe off excess dirt from mushrooms and slice thinly. Slice about 1/2 or a small red onion and add mushrooms and onion to a skillet with 1 cup of water. Simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally. 
  3. Add farro to water once boiling and set a timer for 10 minutes. Stir once to prevent sticking. Cook frozen spinach in microwave for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Quarter about 6 cherry tomatoes and add to a medium bowl. Turn off mushrooms and onion once water evaporates.
  5. Using a small blender or bullet or ninja device, add sauce ingredients and blend well.
  6. Strain farro and add in spinach. Stir to help cool the farro and further cook spinach. Add to the bowl with tomatoes. Add in mushrooms and onion, sauce and add feta cheese.
  7. Serve and enjoy.