Freezer Fix

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With the holidays in full swing, this is the perfect time to save some cash to go toward those holiday preparations by eating out of the freezer and reinventing leftovers. I for one got the most bang for my buck out of my thanksgiving turkey breast with turkey, smoked Gouda, creole mustard and fresh cranberry sauce sandwiches. I also plucked the turkey breast clean for turkey and sausage gumbo that will be perfect for Christmas and a few servings for this week.

In addition to the gumbo, this week will be a mix of some of my favorites including curry, turnip, sausage and sweet potato soup, chili and succotash.

What’s in your freezer?

Thanksgiving Ready pt. 2

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I was told at today’s demo that I knocked another one out of the park with this soup dish; and the best part was all of the kid approvals and request for the recipe to make this dish at home. Though I’ve made variations of this soup before, the idea is to incorporate some of those Thanksgiving flavors as either an appetizer soup or as a way to use leftover supplies from the holiday preparations. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Sweet Potato, turnip and Sausage Soup
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
2 cups diced sweet potato (2 medium)
2 cups diced turnip root (4 medium)
2 cups chopped turnip greens
1/2 lb Cutrer’s smoked sausage cubed
2 cups chopped green onion
1 cup of chicken stock
5 cups of water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Directions:
1. Add water to a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Remove green tops (leave on stems for easy root peeling) from turnip roots and soak tops in water in a bowl or the sink to remove dirt.
3. Using a potato peeler, peel turnips until dirty skin is removed. Cut off skinny end and green stem end. Cut in half and then three strips before dicing into medium pieces. Add to the pot of water.
4. Rinse and peel sweet potatoes. Cut them in half, then each half into strips and dice into medium pieces and add to the pot.
5. Cut sausage in half long-wise before slicing thin and add to the pot. Add seasoning and chicken stock. Let boil for 10 minutes.
6. Rinse and chop turnip greens and green onion and add to the pot.
7. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Enjoy.

 

 

Thanksgiving Ready

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With thanksgiving around the corner, it’s good to have options to lighten traditional classics like sweet potato casserole. I enjoyed sharing my easy recipe with yesterday’s demo at the Red Stick Farmers Market. Though there was not butternut squash at the market yesterday, if you can find it, try subbing out half of the sweet potatoes to lighten the carb load and add in other nutrients. Since we are also in cold and flu season, I also showed how to make a fresh immune booster to keep you and your loved-ones protected or armed with a speedy recovery boost this season. Check out the recipe for each below.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves 8

Ingredients:
4 cups diced sweet potato (3-4 small)
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. whole milk (or preferred %)
1 tbsp. red stick spice Vietnamese cinnamon
3 tbsp. local honey
2 tbsp. raw cane sugar
1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans

Directions:
1. Place a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half longwise. Cut each half into three strips then cube into medium-sized chunks. Add to pot.
3. Let boil for 12 minutes or until tender with a fork.
4. Strain and place in a large bowl. Mash with a large spoon and add butter, honey and sugar and mix until well blended. Add milk and spices and mix well.
5. Place in a small oven safe dish and cover top in chopped roasted pecans. Bake for 5 minutes. *optional (Be careful not to burn pecans.)

 

Immune Booster
Serves 6

Ingredients:
3-4 fresh juiced satsuma or orange
3-4 fresh juiced lemon
3 tbsp. local honey
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1-2 drops of oil of oregano pee individual serving *optional

Directions:
1. Peel satsumas and break in half. With a glove hand, juice satsuma sections over a medium bowl with a pouring spout.
2. Rinse lemons and cut in half. Remove visible seeds and juice each half, cut side up over the bowl.
3. Stir mixture with a fork or spoon and remove any spotted seeds. Add honey and mix until dissolved.
4. Add cayenne and stir well. Pour into individual containers for storage in the fridge. (A salad dressing container or top-able condiment container should work.)
5. Add optional oil of oregano only when ready to consume. Otherwise, the entire mixture will taste like a pizza within an hour. 🙂

Not Your Average Cutlet

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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.

Ingredients:
Chicken:
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

Quinoa:
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

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

Directions:
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.😊)

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.

Fall Flavor Fix

IMG_8141.JPGIf you’re as excited as I am for the cooling weather, it’s both a great time to get outdoors and to step into soup recipes. The Fall is abundant with a variety of vegetables that are easy to make into soups. I am a fan of roasting vegetables to bring out and transform their flavors. For my first soup of the season, I decided on roasting eggplant, butternut squash and garlic for a buttery and nutty flavored soup. Not only is it rich and creamy, but nice and flavorful. If you’re missing the meat, crumble a slice or two of bacon on top with a little fresh green onion for an added punch of bold. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Soup ingredients:
1 medium purple eggplant
1 medium butternut squash
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk (2% or whole recommended)
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh minced rosemary
1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut squash in half longwise and scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon. Add to baking sheet.
3. Rinse eggplant and cut off each end then cut in half. Cut 1-inch thick chunks and slice longer slices in half. Add to baking sheet.
4. Peel garlic and cut in half. Add to eggplant and coat it in olive oil on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
5. Remove eggplant and garlic and place into a bowl to cool. Check squash with a fork and if it is tender (fork sinks in) remove sheet from oven and let cool. If not, let cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off oven.
6. Once cooled (10 minutes) remove skin from eggplant and squash. Add to a food processor or blender with water and blend until smooth.
7. Add to a medium pot and add seasoning and milk and stir until well blended. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
8. Serve and enjoy.

Winging It

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With football season upon us, it’s good to have a recipe or two of something easy and game worthy in your back pocket. Dips and chips are always a crowd pleaser and rotel certainly pops to the forefront of easy options. I like to make my own mix with a couple hunks of good cheddar and pepper jack and cream cheese to smooth things out; add ground meat and a can rotel and you’re in business. Though there are not often leftovers, this is great on top of fresh baked fries, topped with fresh tomato, pickled jalapeño and a little sour cream to boot.

In addition to my take on rotel, I like to wing it at home with crispy oven baked wings that I can sauce any way I please. Not only is it easy, but certainly more cost effective. My package of 7 whole wings (14 pieces) totaled $5.05 and on average I’ve spent about a dollar per wing.

Try your hand at making both dishes with the recipes below.

Rotel ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced bell peppee
1/2 lb. mild cheddar cheese (block or shredded)
1/2 lb. pepper jack cheese (block or shredded)
1 8oz package of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 10oz can of rotel original
1 diced medium jalapeño (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and dice a medium onion. Slice, remove seeds and dice the bell pepper. Add both to a pot over medium heat.
2. Add ground beef and seasoning and break up with a fork or large spoon.
3. Slice or shred cheese (if block) while beef cooks.
4. Dice optional jalepeno. Add the can of rotel with liquid and diced jalepeno. Reduce heat to low-medium.
5. Add pepper jack and cheddar cheese and mix to melt. Add cream cheese.
6. Reduce heat to simmer and stir occasionally until fully melted.
7. Serve with chips or over fries

 

Wings ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of wings
1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tbsp. sirracha
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. ketchup

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Add wings and other ingredients to a ziploc bag, close it and shake and massage bag to evenly distribute oil and seasoning.
3. Add to baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. (Should be crispy and browned.)
4. In a bowl, whisk BBQ sauce and honey until well blended. Add in other ingredients and mix well.
5. Remove wings from oven and add to the bowl.
6. Toss well then add back to the baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes.
7. Remove from foil and enjoy.