Revive Your Salad Game

Spice up your salad game with new flavors to keep things interesting. People often lament eating salads; however it’s important to keep them flavorful and filling. I like to change up both the proteins and the assortment of veggies. Check out two ideas below.


Chicken Fajita Salad: All of the accompaniments of chicken fajitas make a wonderful salad with a few handfuls of mixed greens. I caramelized onion with yellow, red and green bell peppers with mushrooms and sautéed some spicy chicken to go on top a bed of mixed greens, sliced and seasoned avocado and some sliced jalapeño peppers. This can be an intentional dish, or a way to repurpose leftovers from a taco night.


BBQ pork salad: Flavorful pork can definitely make the slide of vegetables go down easier. For this salad I used mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber and some assorted olives I had on hand. You could always swap the olives for picked jalapeños if you typically eat those with the pulled pork. I topped the salad with some microgeens I have been growing for some added nutrients and flavor. Keep the dressing simple with a lime and garlic dressing or balsamic vinegar just on the greens. There’s plenty of fat on the salad already with the olives, avocado and pork so adding more in the dressing is not needed. Once again this salad is a great way to use leftover bbq, roasted pork or chicken to mix up meals or get in more vegetables. 

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

Planning for Meal Prep

Meal prep made easy

Its that time a year where meal prep is critical, or as the kids say, clutch! I am a big fan of giving myself variety through meal prep and dinner bowls are not only cost effective, but offer variety. At a lofty $3.50 per serving, these beans, greens and grains bowls are tasty and cost effective. I made enough for the week, to share and to freeze. The trick is to break it into the basics.


Grains: I like to explore new seeds and grains and for these bowls I used a quinoa, bulgur wheat mixture for some varied nutrients. This served as the base for the bowls and a side for a couple of other meals.


Greens: As a Southerner, I love a good pot of greens. I made huge pot mixing kale, turnips, collards and mustards with a bunch of garlic and onion. It should be cooked until tender which is usually 20-30 minutes with the pre-chopped bags I used.


Proteins: Stewed black beans with fire roasted tomatoes are a great addition for vegetarian bowls or chicken fajita bowls (adding optional avocado). I also baked fish and sautéed two chicken breast for varied bowl options. 


Tip: Cut onion ahead of time and freeze it. I dice, slice and finely chop onion and store it in small freezer bags to have on hand. I do the same with bell pepper! This made it easy to caramelize onions and peppers for the chicken fajita bowl option.


Cooking:

  1. Start with the greens. With 1 1/2 diced onion and a head or two of minced garlic, add it to a large pot with a cup of water. Rinse a large bag of greens and add to the pot. Preheat the oven for the fish.
  2. While that cooks, start the grains, following the cooking instructions on the bag or your usual method if using a favorite. I used half stock, half water for some extra flavor and a few cloves of minced garlic.
  3. Stir greens and season well with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders and cayenne. Start stewed tomatoes on stove top and cook down for a few minutes before adding a cup of water and a can of beans. Season well. 
  4. Bake fish of choice with some fresh thyme and lemon and a drizzle of avocado or olive oil. While that bakes, season a sear the chicken breasts (or thighs).
  5. Optional: use pan from chicken to caramelize onions and peppers for the chicken fajita bowls.
  6. Remove fish from oven and turn off stove tops. Let food begin to cool before adding to storage containers.
  7. Freeze or share additional portions.

Steak Stir Fry with Homegrown Mushrooms

It has been a while since I’ve posted; I promise I am still cooking! I am also still growing things. In addition to my kombucha developments (I’m partial to lavender mint), I decided to try my hand at growing mushrooms indoors with a Back  To Roots organic mushroom growing kit. I was thrilled at my proficiency and decided to use it in a quick stir fry. 

Why mushrooms? Oyster mushrooms are a great immune boost, loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients. Additionally it has anti bacterial properties in the body. 

Check out this quick dish below and as always, let me know your thoughts. 

1 medium onion 

1 small bok choy or 2 cups of raw spinach

2 cups of sweet peppers

1 cup of mushrooms of choice

1 inch (1tbsp) fresh grated ginger

1 lb steak tips

1/2 tbsp cumin

1/2 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 cup of cooked rice

 1 tbsp avocado oil

1/4 cup of water

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook rice using preferred method.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Open and rinse steak; season with salt and pepper lightly. 
  3. Add steak and cook for 5 minutes. Rinse and slice peppers, rinse and quarter bok choy and slice mushrooms while steak cooks. 
  4. Remove steak and put on a plate. Add veggies, seasoning and water and grate in ginger. Cook for 5 minutes. 
  5. Add in steak and stir before turning off heat.
  6. Add to rice and enjoy!

Easy spicy citrus shrimp

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As a gal on the go, easy meals are a huge win for me. I prepped a nice batch of spicy citrus shrimp to go with roasted rosemary sweet potatoes and greens and also on top of my beloved avocado toast. Check out the recipe below.

Spicy Citrus Shrimp

Ingredients:

2 lbs shrimp

1 1/2 tbsp red pepper flake

1 juiced lemon

2 tbsp avocado or olive oil

4 tbsp minced garlic salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel and devein shrimp (it defrost if using frozen).
  2. Peel and mince roughly a head of garlic.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flake. Sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add shrimp and sear for 2 minutes on one side. Juice half a lemon season side up.
  5. Flip them gently and juice the other half of lemon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for an addition 2 minutes and remove from heat.
  7. Enjoy with avocado toast or beside a carb and vegetable of your choice.
  8. Enjoy.

Seared Tuna Steak Salad

Tuna Steak 2

 

I know it’s been a while since my last post! I am hopeful I will be able to apply some of the principles I’m learning in my operations class to make more time for posting. 🙂 Check out this quick tuna steak recipe. I added this chilled on top of a mixed green salad with avocado, toasted sunflower seeds, cucumber and tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Tasty and simple! As always, please share your thoughts.

Ingredients:

5 oz tuna steaks (2)

1 tsp cayenne

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/2 tbsp honey

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp coarse black pepper

1 tbsp olive or avocado oil

 

Directions:

 

  1. In a small bowl or ramekin add soy sauce and honey and mix well until honey is dissolved.
  2. Juice the orange, grate the ginger and and add to the bowl. Add salt and cayenne and mix well.
  3. In a gallon ziploc bag, add tuna steak and marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add steaks and add coarse black pepper to the top side up. (This will make a crust once flipped.)
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip and repeat.
  6. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Add on top of you favorite salad mix.

Seafood Pasta

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As it is growing colder in my new neck of the woods, my desire for comfort food increases. This seafood pasta is an easy win and is good for four servings. Since pasta can often  be heavy, I lightened the load with some fresh herbs and bright citrus. I also am a fan of heat and added some red pepper flake to spice things up. I went with a frozen bag of seafood from Trader Joe’s for my dish but of course fresh is always preferred. Check out the recipe below.

Seafood Pasta

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked pasta

1 lb mixed seafood (shrimp, scallops, calamari)

1/2 of a lemon

1/4 cup of white wine

2 tbsp butter

1/2 tbsp avocado or olive oil

1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (a whole if spicy preferred)

1 cup diced onion

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/8 cup chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Defrost seafood and boil pasta ahead of time.
  2. Add oil to a medium-sized pan over medium heat.
  3. Slice onion in half and cut off one end. Peel off skin leaving on one end for stability then slice into strips before dicing.
  4. Peel and mince garlic and add both onion and garlic to the pan.
  5. Add seafood to pan and sir well for 2 minutes. Add wine and juice lemon seeded side up to deglaze pan and reduce heat.
  6. Add pasta and butter and seasoning and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Mix well then turn off heat.
  7. Rinse and chop parsley.
  8. Plate and top with parsley.
  9. Enjoy!

Hello Sheppard’s Pie

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I know it’s been a while since my last post. I made a life change and decided to go back to school full time. Who would have thought I’d be more busy in school than working full time?! But school or not, a girl has got to eat. While I have been cooking, I haven’t been posting so my goal is to get to a new normal schedule.

I’m starting with my take on Sheppard’s pie. Spoiler alert, this is not your mom’s Sheppard’s pie. It has elements of healthy with an infusion of vegetables and loads of flavor. My philosophy is the vegetables balance the butter that is absolutely required for the potatoes. This pan makes enough for 8 to 10 servings depending on if your into generous portions. Check out the recipe below. 🙂

Sheppards Pie

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground turkey

2 cups diced carrot

2 cups diced zucchini

1 cup of diced bell pepper

1 cup peas

3 cups diced onion

1/4 cup minced garlic

6 oz tomato sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste with Italian seasoning

1 tbsp red pepper flake

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

2 tbsp of garlic and onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of mashed potatoes

1/2 tbsp. avocado oil

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup of parsley (optional garnish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and dice 2-3 large potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until potatoes can be pierced smoothly with a fork.
  3. Peel and dice onion. Add one cup to potatoes. Peel and mince garlic and add both to a medium pot over medium heat with oil.
  4. Peel and chop carrots and add to the pot with a splash of water to soften.
  5. Add ground turkey and brown with garlic and onion and carrots.
  6. While browning turkey, rinse zucchini, slice in half, then cut into strips before dicing. Rinse and dice bell pepper.
  7. Add diced zucchini and bell pepper to the pot. Open cans and stir in tomato paste, then add sauce and seasoning.
  8. Add peas then remove the pan from heat.
  9. Drain potatoes and onion and mash with butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add meat mixture to a oven-safe baking dish then add potatoes on top in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered to firm up the mixture.