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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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

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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

Directions:
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.

A Bit Of Light

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With life getting in the way, sometimes a light dinner is called for. This dish took 10 minutes to make and was both light and satisfying. I has also made a pitcher of cucumber infused water with basil and lemon earlier in the week which was quite refreshing. The shrimp in this dish can easily be substituted with a piece of seared fish or canned tuna that can be spruced up with fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Check out the recipe below.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. shrimp
1 lemon
1 tbsp. chopped green onion
1 small cucumber diced
1 cup diced tomato
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Peel and devein shrimp if whole. Set aside in ice water until ready to use.
2. Rinse and peel cucumber and cut in half. Cut in half horizontally, then make three long strips to make a small dice. Repeat with remaining half.
3. Rinse and score tomato before dicing it. Add tomato and cucumber to a medium-sized bowl.
4. Rinse and chop green onion and add to the bowl. Rinse lemon and cut in half before squeezing one half over bowl.
5. Place a pan over medium heat and add oil. Place shrimp on a paper towel and pat dry. Season with half of the seasonings and add to hot pan.
6. Season other half and let cook for 2 minutes before flipping he shrimp. Let cook for 2 minutes then squeeze in fresh lemon juice (seeded side up). Let cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.
7. Plate in bowls and serve.

 

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.

 

A Bit Of Chicken

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I knew this would be a week where I would need to eat dinner quickly to get work done and workouts in, so I went with my favored chicken legs. I am a huge fan of making half the pan of baked chicken flavored different ways and I continued that trend this week with my pan of 10. I seasoned half the chicken with cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne and the other half with smoked paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

For sides I rinsed and warmed a can of organic black beans that I mixed with cumin, canned diced tomato and cilantro as one side. I also brought a few ears of corn that I cut off the cob and seasoned with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

For my lunch and dinner this week, I alternated between chicken with those two sides, chicken tacos and a basil and peach salad that all used that original pan of chicken from Sunday.

The chicken took 35 minutes to cook, the black beans 10 minutes to be warmed through and seasoned and the mango pico took 10 minutes to make. I cut the corn off the cob and seasoned it as needed for meals since it doesn’t need to be cooked and also diced tomato and cucumber for salad lunches in the morning before work.

The “cooking” this week took less than an hour for 10 of my 15 workday meals and also totaled $24.91 or 2.49 per meal. It helps if you can pick flavors and main items first and build from there. See the details below and give meal planning a try!

1 can of organic black beans – $.89
1 can diced tomatoes- $.98
2 ears of corn- $.29/each
Romaine and arugula- $7
Chicken legs- $2.31
Hola Tortillas- $2.59
Fresh tomatoes- $5
Cucumbers- $1
Peaches- $2
Mango- $.98
Avocado-$.99
Cilantro- $.59

A Bit Of Flavor

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It was great to celebrate summer produce with a food demo yesterday at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. With beautiful seasonal corn, tomatoes and cucumber in abundance, it served as a great base for a shrimp bowl. Thanks to Anna Marie Seafood Company, Lena Farm, Chenier Farm and the Fekete Farm for great produce and homemade jelly for the dish.

Not only was this a simple dish, but one that was easy to make with two different flavors to mix things up. This is an easy dish to make before hand and store as individual servings in the fridge for go-to lunch or dinner meals during the week. Depending on your preference, you can make the shrimp all at once and either warm the shrimp separate, or eat cool bowls. I prefer to cook the shrimp two servings per person at a time by making individual and double serving-sized ziploc bags of shrimp that I stock in the freezer. Mix and store the dressings in mason jars or small containers and add 1-2 tbsp. to each serving before eating. The base ingredients are for 8 servings and each dressing is for 4 servings. Check out the two recipes below.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups of fresh corn (4-5 ears)
2 cups diced tomato (2-4 small tomatoes)
2 cups of diced cucumber
1 cup micro greens (optional)
1/2 cup green onion

Shrimp ingredients:
2 lbs shrimp (5-6 pieces per serving)
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

Dressing 1 ingredients:
2 tbsp. Lena’s hibiscus and bishop crown pepper jelly
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Dressing 2 ingredients:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh orange mint
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. If cooking shrimp all at once, add peeled and deveined shrimp to a large ziploc bag, add seasoning and oil and close it. Massage or shake shrimp to distribute seasoning evenly. Let sit so Flavor soaks in.
2. Shuck and rinse corn to remove strings. In a large bowl, cut corn off of cob into bowl, one at a time.
3. Peel cucumber in one-inch strips leaving some skin for additional nutrients. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut the fourth of cucumber in half horizontally, then into strips before dicing to get a small dice. Repeat with remaining three pieces.
4. On a cutting board score and dice tomato and add to bowl.
5. Rinse and chop green onion and add to bowl. Mix with a spoon and add evenly to individual containers.
6. To make dressing one, add jelly and vinegar to a mason jar or small container and mix with a fork until jelly is dissolved. Add oil and seasoning. Store until ready to use.
7. To make dressing two, chop mint and onion and add to mason jar or container. Add vinegar, oil and seasoning and mix well. Store until ready to use.
8. Heat a large skillet over medium- high heat for two minutes. Add shrimp to skillet in an even, flat layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side. *If all of the shrimp doesn’t fit into the skillet, lower heat for the second batch to prevent over cooking shrimp.
9. Add dressing and shrimp to a pre-made bowl and enjoy!

 

A Bit Of Eggplant

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Eggplant is one of those misunderstood vegetables. It grows in many varieties with varying levels of sweetness and is easy to incorporate in a roasted vegetable medley, ratatouille, or made creole style with seafood and ground meat. I decided to give it some Asian flavor with a little sesame oil, ground ginger and a healthy hand of green onion. Since I keep shrimp on hand, that was a simple protein to add atop my sautéed eggplant. Check out the recipe below and let me know your thoughts.

Sautéed shrimp and eggplant
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant
1 small onion diced
1 small bell pepper diced
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. onion powder
10 medium shrimp
1 medium lime

Directions:
1. Rinse eggplant and cut off ends. Cut in half longwise, then cut each half into thirds in slices. Keep slices stacked and cut into strips before dicing. Repeat with second half.
2. Rinse bell pepper then cut in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut into strips then dice. Repeat with second half.
3. Cut one end off the onion then cut in half and peel each half. Cut into strips up to the remaining end then dice. (Keep to stabilize the onion while you dice). Repeat with second half.
4. Peel and dice cloves of garlic.
5. Heat sesame and 1/2 the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables once hot. Add half of the seasonings and stir well. Add a splash of water to prevent sticking. Let cook for 5 minutes.
6. While mixture continues to cook, peel and devein shrimp and season with remaining seasoning.
7. In a small skillet, heat remaining olive oil and add shrimp, seasoned side down once hot. Cook for three minutes, stir vegetable mixture then flip shrimp. Cut lime in half and squeeze a half over the shrimp. Let cook for 2-3 minutes then turn off heat.
8. Plate and enjoy.