Bountiful Berries

 

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It’s that time of year again for strawberry season! I cannot get enough of this local, flavorful fruit and the opportunities to make new inspired creations. This past Saturday, I shared one such dish with a shrimp avocado and strawberry salad. Traditionally for such salads, I’ve added other seafood like crab and fruit such as mango. I decided to make a version using fresh strawberries from the Frank Fekete Farm, seafood from Anna Marie Shrimp and local microgreens from Westdome Nursery. The trick is to balance the sweet with savory additions like fresh garlic and herbs in the dressing. This tasty dish was well received and one that I’ve already made again. Check out the recipe below.

 

Shrimp, Avocado and Strawberry Salad

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1-1.5 lb(s). peeled and deveined shrimp

2 cups of chopped strawberries

3 cups of microgreens (Can also mix in salad greens)

2 large avocadoes

2 tbsp. chopped green onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp. local honey

4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. Red Stick Spice garlic and herb (no salt)

1 tbsp. Red Stick Spice Roasted Onion granules

Pinch of Red Stick spice aged balsamic vinegar sea salt (or reg sea salt)

 

Directions:

  1. Peel and devein shrimp and set aside. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add 2 tsp of each seasoning (minus salt) to shrimp and add to a hot skillet. Add a splash of water and sear for 3 minutes on both sides before removing from heat.
  3. In a medium serving bowl add vinegar and honey and mix until well blended. Add in oil.  Peel and press garlic in. If you do not have a garlic press, mince finely, then add to the bowl. Add in remaining seasoning. Mix well.
  4. Rinse and chop 2 cups worth of strawberries. Add to the bowl. Cut the avocado in half then score each half into bite-sized pieces before scooping into the bowl.
  5. You can chop shrimp or leave whole and add to the bowl. Rinse and chop green onion then add to the bowl.
  6. Add in micro greens and optional salad greens. You can also add in fresh herbs like parsley for an added layer of flavor. Mix well, serve and enjoy.

 

Thanksgiving Sides

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Thanksgiving brings together family with food and fun and also brings the opportunity to share gratitude. In addition to time with family we all look forward to our favorite dishes for the Thanksgiving holiday. While I am certainly looking forward to mirliton dressing, I will also prepare a healthy side to share my gratitude for health in this season. 

I fell in love with the oyster mushrooms from the Red Stick Farmers Market and wanted to share this tasty idea a side option. With multiple varieties of kale in season, I selected the tender Dino kale  and sautéed them with garlic and the mushrooms for a quick and easy side dish. You can always substitute any other mushroom of choice. Check out the recipe below.

In addition to this recipe, the savory sweet potato dishes in my last post would also make great seasonal sides. I challenge you to make a healthy dish and add it to the mix this Thanksgiving. Be sure to share your creations!

Sautéed Kale and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 cups of Kale

2 cups of oyster mushrooms diced

6-8 cloves of garlic minced

1 tbsp. Olive oil

1/2 cup of water

1 tsp. Red pepper flakes or cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse kale and slice leaves in half longwise before chopping. 
  2. Heat oil over medium heat. Peel and mince garlic  and add to oil. Add red pepper flakes.
  3. Chop mushrooms and add to garlic. Add in kale and stir well for one minute.
  4. Add water, top and reduce heat to low for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Seasonal Sweet Potatoes

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Every fall, we are lucky to have the delicious sweet potato crop produce in abundance. Sweet potatoes, like all potatoes, have their share of nutrients and vitamins such as high fiber, iron, calcium, B vitamins (energy) and Vitamin C (immune boost). Of course by name alone, this starchy vegetable lends itself more to desserts; however sweet potatoes are a great addition to many savory creations. After purchasing a couple of sweet potatoes from the Chenier Farm at my local farmers market, I used the potatoes to make two sides: rosemary and garlic chive roasted vegetable medley and savory mashed sweet potato. These are great side dishes for any protein of choice. If you want to keep things simple, bake chicken, which you can season 2 to 3 ways on one baking sheet, and steam the leafy green veggie of your choice. Check out the recipes below.

 

Mashed Sweet Potato

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet Potato (2 -2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. butter

½ cup of milk

3 tbsp. green onion

½ tbsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Rinse and peel sweet potato.  Cut in half then slice.
  3. Boil for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
  4. Strain water. Add butter and mash potatoes with a fork.
  5. Add milk, green onion and seasoning. Mix well.
  6. Enjoy.

 

Roasted Vegetable Medley

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (2 cups)

6 medium turnips (2-2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. avocado or olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary

2 tbsp. garlic or regular chives

½ tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and peel potatoes and turnips.
  3. Cut off both ends of turnips but leave stems to stabilize the root while cutting. Cut it in half, then slices. Dice the sliced turnips. Repeat with second half, remaining turnips and potatoes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and chop herbs.
  5. Add vegetables, oil, herbs and seasoning and mix until evenly coated with your hands or a spoon.
  6. Spread vegetables into an even layer on parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (Test with a fork. Fork should slide easily into and out of the diced veggies.)
  7. Enjoy.

 

 

Summer Hash

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Every now and then, I get a craving for comfort food. One of my favorites is smothered potatoes. As a kid, I was always an early riser, and since the rest of the house slept long after I did, I taught myself to make potatoes my way. While I called them hash browns, my mom always would always tell me they were smothered potatoes. It’s a great dish any time of the day and a particular favorite of mine for breakfast or brunch.

For this morning’s food demo at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market, I decided to make a healthier version with some seasonal zucchini, peppers and kale. It is great to have access to such variety all in one place. Thank you Chenier Farm for a wonderful variety of produce, and Amato’s Winery for some tasty sausage! For some added nutrients, I topped the dish with some flavorful microgreens from the Westdome Nursery. My favorite way to eat this is with a scrambled or poached egg or two. J  Be sure to share your thoughts. Enjoy!

Green Onion Sausage and Veggie Hash

Serves 4:

Ingredients:

¾ lb. fresh green onion sausage

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1 cup chopped red potato

1 cup of chopped zucchini

½ cup chopped bell pepper

½ cup of chopped banana pepper

1 cup chopped kale

1 tbsp. minced basil

1 tbsp. minced parsley

½ tsp. coarse black pepper

½ tsp. salt free sunny herb blend (red stick spice)

½ tsp. Sel de Provence (red stick spice) (optional to regular sea salt)

Directions:

1. Peel and dice the sweet onion. Place in a large skillet over medium heat with a splash of water.

2. Remove fresh green onion sausage from the casing and brown evenly.

3. Wash vegetables well and cut zucchini in half, then into long strips before dicing. Repeat with potato. In a medium pot, add vegetables with ½ cup of water. Cut peppers in half, remove seeds, then cut into strips before dicing.

4. Rinse herbs, mince and add to the pot. Add sausage and onion mixture. Cook for 10 minutes.

5. Rinse and cut chop kale. Add to pot and cook until wilted. Add seasoning and stir well.

6. Serve and enjoy.

Inspired Brunch

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I thoroughly enjoyed cooking this Saturday at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market this weekend. I decided to expand a pickled onion and strawberry salad I created last strawberry season and and a sweet potato and sausage hash done in an “Inspired” way. 🙂 I decided to make a sweet and sour pork sausage with a savory sweet potato hash to go with the salad for a seasonal and flavorful weekend brunch.

Check out the recipes below. You can also catch me in action with the short video by Lena Farms on Facebook with some quick tips on uses for apple cider vinegar. As always, share your thoughts!

 

Pickled Onion and Strawberry Salad
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 cup of chopped strawberries
1 cup of sliced onion (1 small)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. strawberry ghost pepper jam
1 cup shredded arugula
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper

 

Sweet and sour pork sausage with Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4-6

Main Ingredients:
1/2 lb. cubed smoked sausage
1 1/2 medium sweet potato cubed (2 cups)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 cup water
1 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onion bottoms
1 pinch of salt

Sweet and sour sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. pineapple ghost pepper jelly

Directions:
1. Add apple cider vinegar and jam to a medium-sized bowl and mix well with a fork until well blended.
2. Cut an onion in half then peel each half. Slice each half thinly and add to the vinegar mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Peel and rinse sweet potato. Using aggression and a sharp knife (haha), cut sweet potato in half, then into thirds before dicing into small cubes.
4. Clean green onion stems and bulb bottoms well under running water and then cut off rooted ends (can be replanted). Thinly cut ends up to where the stem turns green.
5. Add oil and onion to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes then add sweet potato. Add 1/2 cup of water . Add paprika, pepper and rosemary and mix well. Let cook for 6 minutes, shaking the skillet or stirring occasionally.
6. Cut sausage in half longwise, then in half again to make cubing the sausage easier.
7. Add potatoes and onion to a small bowl and place sausage in same skillet with 1/4 cup of water and let sausage cook for 3-5 minutes until water evaporates. Add potatoes back in and if potatoes are undercooked (still hard) add a splash of water.
8. In the bowl from the potatoes, add balsamic vinegar and jelly and mix well with a fork until blended. Add to sausage and potato mix and stir well. Cook for 3 minutes until liquid evaporates and remove from heat. Add a pinch of salt it desired.
9. Rinse and slice strawberries and add to the bowl of pickled onion.
10. Rinse and chop parsley and arugula and add it and seasoning to the bowl. Mix well.
11. Plate both 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.

A Bit of Louisiana

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To kickoff the Lent season, I have to start with my take on a Louisiana classic, Shrimp and Grits. This is a warm and inviting dish that can be made lots of ways. It was perfect and quick after my intense kickboxing class and certainly an easy dish to prepare after work on Friday. If you don’t have these ingredients at home, you can have most of them delivered to your front door with an easy order through www.indieplate.com which delivers local, farm fresh ingredients to your home. Check them out to see if you live within their delivery area and take advantage of their weekly deals and discounts. I actually placed my order midday Saturday that was delivered yesterday and was excited to try out the local, stone-ground grits that I have heard so much about. Below are the ingredients and directions. I hope it is as enjoyable for you as it was for me tonight. Please share if you like the recipe.

Ingredients for grits (serves 4):
1 cup stone ground grits
2 1/2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of milk
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter

Ingredients for shrimp:
6-8 medium peeled and deveined shrimp per person
1/2 small yellow onion diced small
2 tbsp green onion
1 tbsp minced garlic fresh
1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup water

Directions:
1. Measure milk into a measuring cup and let it come to room temperature.
2. Put two cups of water on boil in a medium-sized pot. Once it begins to boil, add the grits.
3. Add salt and stir the grits until well incorporated and then reduce heat to low.
4. Don gloves. Peel and devein shrimp while the grits cook.
5. Stir every 3-5 minutes and add milk and additional water in 1/2 cup increments until the grits are the creamy consistency of your preference. The grits will take 25-30 minutes.
5. Dice and mince the onion, garlic and scallions (green onion). Set aside green onion for the end of the dish and add other ingredients over medium heat with an inch of water.
6. Once onion and garlic are soft, sprinkle flour in an even coat and stir until flour starts to brown. Add Worcestershire sauce to pan and water and stir.
7. Sprinkle seasonings on shrimp before adding it and butter to the pan. Stir for three minutes and add the green onion. Turn off heat. The shrimp will continue to cook in the residual heat.
8. Add butter (and cheese if preferred) to grits and stir until melted. Salt to taste. Turn off heat.
9. Plate and enjoy.