Season of Soup

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Seasonal soup is an easy win for the week and can be stocked in the freezer for easy access at a later date. I like to make a big pot and then break it down into smaller containers immediately. It’s important to break down large pots of anything: soups, stews, gumbo, etc. for food safety to ensure the food properly cools before being refrigerated or frozen. I’d recommend a couple of individual servings for easy lunch and 2-4 servings per frozen container.

I picked up some seasonal cabbage and kale from the farmer’s market and rounded out the veggie mix with mushrooms, carrots, onions and stewed tomatoes. To add smokiness, I browned a few strips of bacon to start the soup and layered on flavor with dried herbs. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Cabbage, raw

2 cups Kale, raw

1 lb. Organic Carrots

14 fluid ounce, Stewed Tomatoes No Salt Added

8.00 oz, Baby Bella Mushrooms

6 fluid ounce, Tomato sauce, canned, no salt added

6 cup (8 fl oz), Water – Municipal

6 Slices, Premium Bacon

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. coarse Ground Black Pepper

2 tsp. Italian seasoning blend

2 tsp. red pepper flakes  or cayenne

2 cups of onion

4 cups organic Free Range Chicken Broth

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse and chop cabbage and kale. Peel and chop onion and carrots and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, brown 6 slices of bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and add in carrots and onion and a splash of water. Turn down to medium heat and cook until softened.
  3. Add cabbage, kale, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and stock to the pot.
  4. Dice mushrooms and bacon and add to the pot. Add all seasonings, mix well and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Champion Your Day

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s easy to skip if it’s not part of your routine; if you are trying to maintain or lose weight, make it part of your routine. Of course the quality of the meal is important. Breakfast jumpstarts the metabolism and sets the stage for your energy stores for the day. I’m a big fan of big breakfast often including a fruit or vegetable with protein and a whole grain. If you are not a morning person, plan ahead to make sure you make a great start to your day. 

Below are a few ideas to keep in your back pocket:

Avocado Toast:

  • Multi-grain bread
  • Avocado
  • Protein of choice (bacon, smoked salmon, egg or multiples)

Overnight Oats

  • Oats
  • Milk
  • Frozen berries
  • Spices like cinnamon or sweeteners like honey

Morning Muffins (can bake a dozen!)

  • Egg
  • Cheese
  • Yellow or green onion
  • Protein of choice (bacon, sausage, ground beef, seafood

Sandwiches 

  • Egg McMuffin at home with protein of choice
  • Nut Butter and Banana
  • Nut butter and jelly

Fuel Up!

Pasta Pot

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I find that cooking is all an exploration of what works and what doesn’t. I am all about finding efficiencies to prepare good meals that are cost effective and saves me time on cleanup. Since I spent time making granola and bread this weekend, I turned to my crockpot for an easy meal. I’ve always wondered if you could cook meat fully in the crockpot without browning it first and whether it would cook pasta for an easy all in one dish; yes you can. I was thrilled with how well it came out and I grated a little Parmesan on top for that final touch of flavor. Check out the easy recipe below and put your crockpot to good use.

1 lb lean ground beef

1 cup sliced mushrooms

8oz frozen spinach

1 25 oz jar of vodka sauce

8oz of dry corkscrew pasta 

1 1/2 cup of diced onion

2 cups water 

2 tbsp fresh rosemary

2 tbsp fresh basil 

Directions:

  1. Defrost lean ground meat at least two hours before starting.
  2. Add meat to a crockpot and breakup thoroughly.
  3. Dice and slice veggies and mince herbs; add them to the crockpot including spinach.
  4. Add pasta then sauce and water.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  6. Enjoy 

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.

A Bit Of Succotash

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Another crock pot dish has made my life easier this week and is one that will freeze easy for go-to meals when I don’t have time or am not in the mood to cook. Succotash is an inexpensive go-to dish that is primarily veggie based and a southern favorite; a rich tomato-based fusion of flavor that can slow cook in the crock pot and make it easy to run errands, workout and live life. You can always spice it up with a pinch of cayenne for an added kick. I grew up with this dish made with sausage; however it can be made with or without it. At about $9 for the pot without the sausage, this dish is a must add to the line up. Give it a try and share your thoughts!

Succotash
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
8 husks of corn
2 medium/large tomatoes
1 1/2 large bell pepper
1 large yellow onion
1 head of garlic (6 cloves of garlic) minced
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 lb (16 oz) smoked sausage of choice
1 cup frozen or rinsed and canned Lima beans
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
3 1/2 cups of water

Directions:
1. Shuck and rinse corn, then cut off cob and place in crock pot.
2. Peel onion and garlic; dice onion and mince the garlic and add to the corn.
3. Rinse and slice bell pepper before dicing and adding to the crock pot.
4. Rinse and slice tomatoes. Cut the whole sliced tomato in half (horizontal) then dice for smaller dice. Add to mixture in pot.
5. Slice and add sausage to the pot. Rinse and add Lima beans to the mixture or just add them in if using frozen.
6. Add tomato sauce and fill the emptied can with water twice to add to crock pot.
7. Add tomato paste and seasonings and stir well before setting timer to 4 hours.
8. Cook brown rice 30 minutes before timer is done.
9. Serve and enjoy.

 

A Bit Of Recovery

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If your holiday season was jam packed like mine and full of traditional food and treats, the beginning of 2017 will be all about cleansing and getting back into routine. Growing up in New Orleans, my family always ate black eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day for luck and financial prosperity in the new year. I decided to stick with tradition which is great for both my budget and cleansing with simple foods. Of course cabbage can be cooked a variety of ways, but I kept it simple with the ingredients to keep cabbage as the star. Check out my the recipe below and I wish everyone luck and prosperity in the new year and its adventures.

Ingredients:
1 head of cabbage (2-3 lbs)
4 slices of thick bacon (approx. 1/4 lb)
1 1/2 cups of diced yellow onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
3 cups of water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add bacon. Flip after 3-4 minutes and then reduce to medium heat .
2. Peel and dice the onion while bacon cooks.
3. Remove bacon and place on a paper towel and add onion to the bacon drippings in the pot. Stir and add 1/2 cup of water to prevent sticking.
4. Break off darker large leaves if attached, rinse and slice the larger leaves into thirds and stack them before slicing them into strips. Add to pot and stir.
5. Rinse the remaining head of cabbage, cut off rough end and cut in half. Remove the core from each half by slicing in a “v” around the core for easy removal.
6. Cut each half into large chunks, then a large dice like you would an onion. Add to the pot and stir.
7. Chop bacon into large pieces and add to the pot.
8. After 15 minutes, add vinegar, sugar, and seasonings. Stir well and cook for 15-20 minutes. If serving with rice, start rice and set the timer for both.
9. Serve and enjoy.

A Bit Of Rosemary

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It was great to be part of the last Red Stick Farmers Market of the year and make a warming dish for the cool morning. It was even better to see people young and aging, try something new and for most, find something they enjoyed and would like to try making at home. Let me just say, the quality of lamb from Our Family Farm, the Fekete Farm and Morrow Farm vegetables and the spices from Red Stick Spice Company made all the difference. Since this will be my last post until the New Year, I wish you all a happy holiday season and inspiration for memorable meals. Enjoy!

Rosemary lamb and vegetable stew

1 lb. of ground lamb
1 cup of chopped carrots
1/4 cup minced shallot or 1/2 cup of yellow onion
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups of shredded or chopped kale
1 1/2 cups of shredded or chopped Swiss chard
1/2 cup sliced sweet peppers
1 cup fresh corn
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. whole peppercorn
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. of rosemary finishing sea salt (sprinkle on each serving)
1/2 can of 14 oz diced tomato (no salt added)
4 tbsp. of tomato paste
4 cups of water

Optional garnish ingredients
1 cup of thinlyshaved turnips
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. or raw sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and slice shallot or onion and garlic. Add, with the lamb, to a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
2. Break meat apart with a large spoon and brown evenly. Add 1 cup of the water to prevent sticking.
3. Peel and chop carrots and add to pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes and open the cans.
4. Add the diced tomato, paste and two cups of water to the pot.
5. Mince fresh rosemary and add to pot and add all seasonings except finishing salt. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes.
6. While simmering, add sugar and rice wine vinegar to a bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Peel two medium large turnips leaving green stems attached for stability. Score the turnip into fourths without removing the stems and then slice over the bowl using a mandolin on the thinnest setting. (If you do not have a mandolin, you can use a box grater or a potato peeler to make ribbons of turnips.) Season with salt and pepper, stir and set aside to steep.
7. Shuck and rinse corn. Cut off cob into a bowl or on the cutting board. Add to the pot.
8. Rinse a few leaves of kale and Swiss chard and rip or cut leaves from the stems. Slice into thin strips and wilt in greens one cup at a time. Add remaining water if needed. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes then plate.
9. Sprinkle a pinch of rosemary finishing salt to each plate and top with a fork full of pickled turnips.
10. Enjoy.