Inspired Brunch


I thoroughly enjoyed cooking this Saturday at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market this weekend. I decided to expand a pickled onion and strawberry salad I created last strawberry season and and a sweet potato and sausage hash done in an “Inspired” way. 🙂 I decided to make a sweet and sour pork sausage with a savory sweet potato hash to go with the salad for a seasonal and flavorful weekend brunch.

Check out the recipes below. You can also catch me in action with the short video by Lena Farms on Facebook with some quick tips on uses for apple cider vinegar. As always, share your thoughts!


Pickled Onion and Strawberry Salad
Serves 4-6

1 cup of chopped strawberries
1 cup of sliced onion (1 small)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. strawberry ghost pepper jam
1 cup shredded arugula
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper


Sweet and sour pork sausage with Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4-6

Main Ingredients:
1/2 lb. cubed smoked sausage
1 1/2 medium sweet potato cubed (2 cups)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 cup water
1 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onion bottoms
1 pinch of salt

Sweet and sour sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. pineapple ghost pepper jelly

1. Add apple cider vinegar and jam to a medium-sized bowl and mix well with a fork until well blended.
2. Cut an onion in half then peel each half. Slice each half thinly and add to the vinegar mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Peel and rinse sweet potato. Using aggression and a sharp knife (haha), cut sweet potato in half, then into thirds before dicing into small cubes.
4. Clean green onion stems and bulb bottoms well under running water and then cut off rooted ends (can be replanted). Thinly cut ends up to where the stem turns green.
5. Add oil and onion to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes then add sweet potato. Add 1/2 cup of water . Add paprika, pepper and rosemary and mix well. Let cook for 6 minutes, shaking the skillet or stirring occasionally.
6. Cut sausage in half longwise, then in half again to make cubing the sausage easier.
7. Add potatoes and onion to a small bowl and place sausage in same skillet with 1/4 cup of water and let sausage cook for 3-5 minutes until water evaporates. Add potatoes back in and if potatoes are undercooked (still hard) add a splash of water.
8. In the bowl from the potatoes, add balsamic vinegar and jelly and mix well with a fork until blended. Add to sausage and potato mix and stir well. Cook for 3 minutes until liquid evaporates and remove from heat. Add a pinch of salt it desired.
9. Rinse and slice strawberries and add to the bowl of pickled onion.
10. Rinse and chop parsley and arugula and add it and seasoning to the bowl. Mix well.
11. Plate both and enjoy.

Seafood Salad



Seafood is an easy go-to in my book and with so many flavors that can be added to it, what’s not to love? In observance of the Lent season, I wanted to offer up this quick 10 minute dish that is both flavorful and filling. It refrigerates well and is wonderful with mixed greens.

Quick tip: if you are not a fan of leftovers, it helps to be prepared with individual bags of frozen shrimp. I typically buy 5 lbs and break it down into single (5-6 shrimp) double (10-12 shrimp) or full pound bags for a larger dish. It it easy to then cook shrimp for 5 minutes and cut up the fruit and veggies of choice for a quick meal. Trader Joe’s has the adorable and perfectly portioned teeny tiny avocados that come six to a bag, so you can always make this dish as you go in single or double servings.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with mangoes and how to cut them, check out this quick YouTube video to learn how to pick and cut them:

Check out the recipe below.

Seafood salad with spicy sesame dressing
Serves 2

2 cup pieces, Mangos, raw
1 medium, Avocado
0.50 tablespoon, Oil – Sesame
0.50 tbsp, Honey
2 Tbsp (15ml), Low Sodium
1 tbsp, Rice Wine Vinegar
6 oz, Shrimps (about 10-12)
9 oz, Crab Delights, Imitation Crabmeat (1 1/4 cup)
1 tsp avocado oil
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel and devine shrimp ( or defrost frozen shrimp.
2. Add avocado oil to medium skillet over medium heat. While it heats season shrimp with salt and pepper and onion powder. Add to heated skillet and cook for 2 minutes per side then remove pan from heat.
3. While shrimp cools, add vinegar, oil, sriracha an honey to a medium bowl and mix well with a fork. Rough chop the imitation crab and add to dressing.
4. Cut avocado in half long wise and score the avocado longwise and the across making small cubes. Gently with a spoon, scoop into the bowl.
5. Rinse mango. The center of the entire fruit is a pit so similar to cutting the avocado, cut a strip longwise from either side around the center and score and cube the fruit like the avocado. Push the skin inside out so fruit stands like buildings. Cut in small cubes off into the bowl.
6. Add in shrimp and lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon.
7. Enjoy!


Color Me Avocado


Avocados are a gem. Technically a fruit, avocados are full of fiber, low in carbs and full of good fats. As a soft fruit when ripened, it’s perfect for easy brace face meals. I’ve become a big fan of avocado toast and it is easy to change up for any meal. This is a quick and easy dish that takes 5 minutes to make. I’ve made it with both eggs and sautéed shrimp. Quick note: If you don’t have a grater and don’t want chunks of garlic in your avocado, smash the garlic and rub each slice of toast thoroughly before adding the mashed avocado. Check out the recipe below.

1 small to medium avocado
1 -2 small cloves of garlic grated
2 slices of whole wheat toast
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp. avocado oil or butter
2 scrambled or poached eggs or 5 sautéed shrimp

1. Cut avocado in half longwise. Remove pit and scoop both halves into a bowl.
2. Mash gently with a fork. Peel garlic and grate into bowl.
3. Add a pinch on salt and pepper and mix well.
4. Scramble eggs in butter or oil and season with salt and pepper.
a.option 2: season one side of shrimp with salt, pepper and onion power and cook in oil or butter for 3 minutes on each side. Cut each in half longwise.
5. Toast bread. Add mashed avocado and red pepper flakes to each slice of bread.
6. Add half of shrimp or egg to each slice of toast.

Changes and Opportunties


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)

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

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.

Not Your Average Cutlet


While stewed chicken is delish and comforting, your time in the kitchen may not allow for it. In this case, it is good to stock up on chicken or pork cutlets which is essentially a boneless breast or chop that’s been cut in half to reduce cooking time. If you need a 20-minute dinner option, this balanced and flavorful option is certainly a winner. Pairing the jazzed up chicken with a whole grain like millet or a seed like quinoa, and a vegetable of choice keeps it simple and balanced.

I’ve mentioned quinoa before in posts and while it can be hit or miss on the like-o-meter, the key is to add flavor. I like to cook it with stock or wine with herbs and a touch or butter. Of course you can add a little cheese, herbs and spinach or broccoli for an alternative to broccoli and cheese rice or a variation of rice pilaf. For this dish I added white wine, water and seasoning and finished with a dab of butter.

I also kept the veggie simple by microwaving some frozen spinach with a little seasoning and butter. This dish is great with and without the addition of quinoa. If you skip the grain or seed, I would double up on the cutlets.

Check out the recipe below.

1-1 1/2 lbs chicken cutlets (4-5 cutlets)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup sliced onion (small onion)
1 cup sliced mushroom (white or crimini)
1/2 cup sliced bell pepper
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup of white wine

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbsp. chopped basil (optional)
1/2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. onion powder

1 cup of spinach
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. butter

1. Rinse quinoa with water and strain. Add to a small pot with liquid and other ingredients and mix with a fork. Place over medium heat.
2. Bring quinoa to a boil and once boiling, reduce heat to low, top it and let cook for 18-20 minutes. While waiting for the quinoa to boil, peel and slice a small onion in half. Slice each half into thin strips for even-sized pieces.
3. Rinse bell pepper, cut in half and remove seeds, then slice thinly. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel before slicing thinly. (Do not rinse as this can make the mushrooms tough).
4. Place a large pan with oil over medium heat to heat oil. Rinse chicken cutlets, then season with a pinch of each seasoning. Place seasoned side down, in hot pan and sear for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Season other side and then flip to cook for the same time on the other side.
5. Remove chicken to a plate and add vegetables and remaining seasoning. Let cook for 1 minute before adding liquids to deglaze the pan. Let cook for 3 minutes before adding chicken on top the veggies and reducing heat to medium low. Remove from heat after 3-5 minutes to prevent over cooking the chicken.
6. Add spinach and ingredients to bowl and place in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add butter to quinoa and mix well to melt. Add some of the sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms with quinoa, mix with fork and add to a plate. Top with chicken and more sautéed vegetables and add a serving of spinach to the plate.
8. Enjoy! (A glass of wine is a great addition.😊)

A Bowl of Fun

IMG_8097.JPGRice and beans are an easy and inexpensive go-to for a portion of weekly meals. It is also a great meatless option that still provides the needed protein when paired with a whole grain such as brown rice. A 1/2 pound of beans ($1-$3 depending on the variety) can be stretched a long way. I like to try different varieties from the self serve isle of Whole Foods when I want a change from my beloved local Camilla beans. A cooked pot of a 1/2 pound of beans will give me 10 servings which I will eat with greens, a lean protein or sometimes I’ll create a veggie bowl of fun. Changing things up by adding a variety of sautéed veggies and other chopped vegetables is an easy way to transform an otherwise plain dish. It’s also easy to prep ahead of time by simply peeling and slicing onion and bell pepper and sweating them out over medium heat in water. Once the water cooks out, I add a 1/2 tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt and pepper to brown them and add a punch of flavor. This can be stored in the fridge all week until needed. Check out one of my go to bowl mixes below for an easy change to a rice and bean week.


A Bowl of Fun

Serves 2

1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked beans ( any color)
1/2 cup sautéed onion and bell pepper
2 tbsp. fresh jalapeño chopped or sliced pickled jalapeño
2 tbsp. sour cream
4 tbsp. salsa of choice
1/2 cup fresh diced tomato
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup guacamole

1. Add half of the rice,beans and sautéed veggies to each bowl and microwave for 1- 1.5 minutes each.
2. Divide cheese evenly and add to each bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients in layers.
4. Enjoy.

Spice Things Up


Every now and then, I get a craving for some good curry and I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone of yellow curry and try something new. Curry is a wonderfully complex flavor profile that mixes different spices and herbs and it works well with just about any meat or seafood out there. Since I am also a fan of red and green curry dishes, I decided to give red curry a try with ground pork. This was simple and quick and full of flavor. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Red Curry with Pork

1 lb ground pork
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic (8-10 medium cloves)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot (2 medium or 1 large carrot)
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1 cup of torn fresh basil
1 14oz can coconut milk
7 oz water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder

1. Place a large pot over medium heat and warm oil.
2. Add pork to oil and break apart with a spoon.
3. Peel and dice onion and peel and mince garlic. Add to pork with onion powder and half of the salt and pepper and mix well. Cook until pork is browned.
4. Rinse and chop bell pepper and peel and chop a large carrot. Add both to the pot and stir well.
5. Add red curry paste and mix in well. Add coconut milk and fill can halfway with water and add water. Rinse and roughly chop basil and add to the pot.
6. Add remaining seasoning and stir. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Serve with 1/2 cup of rice and top with fresh basil.