Shrimp and Okra

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Shrimp and okra is a Southern Classic and a childhood favorite! With the random cold front, I was in the mood for something comforting. Though it’s early yet for farm fresh okra, I grabbed a pound of frozen okra from the produce stand to complement the Anna Marie Seafood shrimp I had from my local farmers market. My rule of thumb is pretty much a pound of each main ingredient: okra, shrimp and sausage. You can play with fresh stewed tomatoes from the market or use these quick tips for a quicker dish. This takes 30-45 minutes to make depending on the cook time or your okra, as some can be more slimy than others. Check out these tips below and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

1 lb sausage

1 lb chopped okra (16oz)

1 14oz can stewed or diced tomato

1 14oz can tomato sauce

3 tbsp. fresh or dried Italian seasoning (thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano blends)

1 tsp. cayenne 

2 cups chopped onion

6 cloves garlic

4 cups water 

Directions:

  1. Add chopped onion to a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped okra and 2 cups of water. Cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Slice sausage. Peel and mince or press garlic cloves and add garlic and sausage to the pot.
  3. Add seasoning, remaining water, tomatoes and sauce. Cook for 12-15 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and additional water if needed. Let cook for another 5-7 minutes. 
  5. Serve over rice or stand alone.
  6. Enjoy.

Hearty Comfort

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With the hot and cold temperature fluctuations, I’ve found myself in need of a few comforting hearty meals to ward off the cold and to boost my immune system to prevent illness. One of my go-to dishes is smothered potatoes with sausage and peppers. It’s quick, easy and tasty. It also goes easily with pretty much any leafy green. Since I have plenty of greens to harvest, I sautéed some collards and mustards with fresh pressed garlic and apple cider vinegar to help break down the greens and make them tender. You can always add some sautéed chicken or fish for some added protein. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Smothered Potatoes Ingredients:

2 cups sliced red potatoes

2 cups sliced onion

2 cups chopped bell pepper

3 tbsp. grated, pressed or chopped garlic

8oz sausage (I used Tennessee pride)

1/2 cup water

1/2 tbsp dried herbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Greens ingredients:

3-4 cups of chopped greens

1/2 cup water

4 tbsp. grated, pressed or chopped garlic

1/2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place large pan over medium heat and brown sausage.
  2. While cooking sausage, rinse peppers. Peel and slice onion and chop peppers. Add to the pan.
  3. Rinse and slice potatoes. Press garlic. Add both to pan with water then add seasoning. Top and reduce heat to low for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Rinse and chop greens (or use frozen).
  5. In a medium pot, add oil and garlic over medium heat.
  6. Add greens, water and seasoning then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Plate both and enjoy!

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.