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.

 

Mirliton Dressing

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Ever ignore the strange pear-shaped green vegetable at the produce stand? Mirliton or coyote squash is easy to transform into a dish everyone will love. Mirliton dressing with seafood and ham is one of my favorites and is an easy dish to cook in larger quantities for the week. In addition to dressing, it can also be pickled, sliced thin for stir fry and curried among many other uses. I used the whole vegetable, skin and all for added nutrients. They are out in abundance and an easy win to add to your shopping list. For the protein, I like ham and shrimp; however it is easy to substitute ground meat or ground chicken for the ham if you do not eat those meats. I did make my own bread crumbs for this dish and will include that recipe below. Certainly your favorite brand will work in this dish as well.  Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts. 

Mirliton Dressing

Serves 4

2 mirliton

1/2 lb shrimp

8oz diced ham

1 cup diced onion

1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 cups of kale *optional (I added it because I had it)

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread Crumbs

4-6 slices of wheat bread (depends on size)

1/2 cup dry oats

2 tbsp of flax seed

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350. 
  2. Rinse mirliton and boil in a pot over high heat for 30 minutes.
  3. In the last 10 minutes of boiling, toast bread, then grind it, the oats and the flaxseed in a food processor, blender or other device. Place in a baking dish and add seasoning and 2 tsp of olive oil. Mix well and brown in the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain mirliton, rinse in cool water and let cool for 15-20 minutes. While the mirliton cools, rinse and chop kale small. Dice onion and sauté both in 1 tsp. oil.
  5. Peel shrimp and chop before adding to skillet and cooking. 
  6. Dice ham and add to skillet. Reduce heat. Remove breadcrumbs from oven 
  7. Chop mirliton small and add to the skillet. Add seasoning and mix well. Add in breadcrumbs and mix well. 
  8. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 10-15 minutes until top is lightly browned.
  9. Enjoy!

Pesto Quinoa

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Pesto brings lots of flavor to any dish and quinoa is no exception. Making pesto at home is easy and allows control over how much of what goes into it. I used fresh basil, orange mint, green onion, garlic and walnuts that I had on hand with a small amount of oil.  Paired with sautéed shrimp, baked chicken and roasted vegetables done two ways, it was easy to have different meals daily. Having the right cooking strategy for your week is important to being successful in eating more home cooked meals. For this week, I did the baked chicken, roasted vegetables and quinoa on the same day. The next day, I defrosted a couple of single serving bags of shrimp while I ate breakfast and cooked them afterward (5 mins). I also keep things on-hand like individual packs of tuna (ranch, herb and garlic flavored) and salad greens or canned chicken for and easy chicken salad if I need a little more variety in the week. The important thing is to stock up on healthful, easy options regularly (monthly, weekly) to supplement what you will be cooking.

Check out the recipe below. Serves 5-6.

Pesto Ingredients:

1/2 cup basil

1/4 cup mint

1/4 cup green onion tops

1 clove of garlic 

1 tbsp. chopped walnuts

1 tsp. avocado or olive oil

Roasted Veggie Ingredients:

2 cups chopped zucchini with skin

2 cups chopped carrots 

2 cups chopped broccoli 

2 cups chopped bell pepper

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 

1 tbsp. lemon olive oil (or regular and 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice)

1 tbsp. garlic olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 

Other ingredients:

1 cup quinoa dry

2 cups of water

6-8 chicken legs

  • 5-10 shrimp (optional)

1/2 tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. onion powder

1/2 tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a second baking sheet with foil and add chicken with an even coating of the seasoning and oil and mix with a gloved hand. Place in oven for 45 minutes.
  3. Rinse all vegetables. Cut ends off zucchini then cut in half. Cut each half  in half longwise. Cut into strips and then cube. Repeat with carrots.  Cut bell pepper in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut into strips and then dice. Add all to the baking sheet and roughly break broccoli florets by hand and add them. 
  4. Split vegetables in half and season half with the balsamic vinegar and garlic olive oil and the other with the sherry vinegar and lemon olive oil or juice and regular olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and mix each well with a gloved hand. Bake in oven next to chicken for 30 minutes. Set timer.
  5. Add quinoa and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. In a small blender or bullet device, add pesto ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth.
  7. Once quinoa is done, add to a bowl and and pesto. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once roasted veggies and chicken is done, remove from the oven. Turn it off.
  9. Enjoy!

*For optional shrimp, cook in 1 tsp of oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and garlic powder for 2 minutes. Juice a half a lemon over shrimp and flip them. Add a little more juice and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 minute as it will continue cooking.

Simple Shrimp Soup

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With the latest cold front in Louisiana, I was inspired to make a simple shrimp soup with an Asian flair. A friend of mine introduced me to the Chinese hot pot and I thought some of those flavors would work great in a soup with a few leafy green vegetables and mushrooms. Though this soup would work with any mushroom, I found enoki mushrooms which I had not previously cooked when before and picked up a pack from a nearby Asian food store. They have a very mild flavor and their long stems with the rounded bulb tops look more like a noodle when separated. It’s incredible how well the flavors of simple ingredients gel together for a quick and easy meal on a cool evening. This soup took 20 minutes to make and it was helpful to use one of my frozen bags of shrimp where I peel and devein them in bulk ahead of time and put them into 1 lb, single and double serving portions for later use. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Ingredients:
3 cups water
32oz organic chicken stock
1 lb raw shrimp
3 cups bok Choy
1 cup spinach
1/8 cup shallots
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 tbsp Lee Kum lee soup base for satay hot pot (or any flavor preferred)
1 cup enoki mushroom
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (Huy Fong)
1 tsp fresh chives (optional garnish)

Directions:
1. Defrost frozen shrimp in cool water in its plastic bag 15 minutes before starting to cook or overnight unless using fresh.
2. Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of soup base and stir until well blended. Peel and dice shallot and add to the pot of liquid. Grate in 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger.
3. While waiting for it to boil, rinse and break off leaves of the bok choy and cut white ends into 1 inch chunks and leafy green tops into large ribbons. (Not too small if you want to keep some texture!)
4. Rinse spinach leaves and slice into ribbons. Rinse enoki and cut off roots. Remove any wilted or slimy mushrooms.
5. Add greens, mushrooms, chili sauce and soy sauce to the pot.
6. Rinse and add shrimp. Reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Bowl and serve with optional garnish.

 

A Bit Of Pecans

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So I’ve determined that for the next few posts I will alternate between a meal and the cocktails and dressing series. I won a herb garden from a fundraising event I recently attended and have been testing out my green thumb to support both dishes and drinks. When a friend of mine brought me some fresh Louisiana pecans, I thought that would be great with some herbs in a fish dish. I had some catfish on hand from a previous indieplate.com order and some veggies from my farmers market trip and below is the creation that came from it. Hope you enjoy it if you try it and share your thoughts!

Pecan Topped Catfish
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 medium red potatoes (1 cup chopped)
2 fillets of catfish
1.5 cups of string beans
1 cup sliced yellow onion
2 tsp. coconut oil or oil of choice
¾ cup of water
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. of chives minced (reserve for plating)

Ingredients Pecan Topper:
2 tbsp. chopped pecans
1 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
1 tbsp. butter

Directions:
1. Diced a small onion. (If onion is larger than what is needed, chop it and store it in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for an easy addition during the week.)
2. Wash and dice the potatoes and add the potatoes and half of the onion to a large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add 1 tsp. of each seasoning to the potatoes. Let them begin to brown slightly (3 mins) before adding ¼ cup of the water. Let cook for 5 minutes before putting them in a bowl for later use. (They will not be cooked through completely.)
4. Rinse out pan and add coconut oil over medium heat. While heating, add 1 ½ tsp of each seasoning to the fish (add 1 tsp of cayenne to each to boost the heat). Place in heated skillet seasoned side down and season the other side with the same amount. Sear on each side for 3 minutes.
5. While the fish sears, rinse green beans and cut off rough ends. You can leave them whole or cut in half. Add green beans and remaining onion to a small pan over medium heat with ¼ cup of water and remaining seasoning. Once it begins to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low.
6. Once fish is browned make room in the pan and add back in the potatoes and onion to continue cooking. Add another ¼ cup of water. Top and reduce heat to medium low.
7. Let green beans and fish cook for an additional 5 minutes.
8. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. While the butter melts chop pecans and herbs before adding to saucepan. Stir every 30 seconds for 2 minutes to lightly toast the mixture. Do not let the nuts burn.
9. Turn off all pots. Plate potatoes, then top with the fish and add half of the pecan mixture to each fillet. Add green beans beside the fish and sprinkle 1 tsp of chives over each plate.
10. Enjoy!

 

A Bit Of Catfish

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This week has been all about 30- minute meals. I am a huge fan of one-pot or one-pan wonders with an easy clean up. This is a versatile dish where both the protein and veggies can be changed with preferences. I used catfish as the protein in this dish but you can also use chicken or shrimp if preferred. When I ordered my items from indie plate last week I also stocked up on some local catfish. It comes frozen and the great thing is it doesn’t have to be defrosted before cooking it. Regarding the mixed veggies  you can really use whichever winter veggies you prefer. I picked up some Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips and fennel at the Farmers Market. The ingredients and recipe are posted below which serves two. I decided to try documenting the stages of the cooking since it was easy and simple. If you are feeding four or more people, the recipe can be adjusted accordingly.

Fish ingredients:
1/2 lb. catfish
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley

Mixed Veggies Ingredients:
1/2 cup thinly-sliced turnips
1 cup of broccoli florets
1/4 cup sliced fennel
1 cup Brussels sprout halves
3 cloves of garlic cut into fourths
1 tbsp Sicilian olive oil (Miletello’s)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp onion powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large cooking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
2. Cut ends off turnips and place the cut end down. Cut the turnip in half horizontally then slice into thin strips vertically. Place on one end of lines cooking sheet.
3. Cut Brussels sprout ends off and place cut end down before cutting each in half and adding to the baking sheet.
4. Cut thin strips off of fennel bulb then roughly slice the strips until you’ve cut about 1/4 of a cup and add it to the baking sheet.
5. Wash broccoli and break off the whole into smaller pieces. Peel 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and cut them into four pieces and add them and the broccoli to the baking sheet.
6. Drizzle olive oil over veggies and mix by hand until the veggies are evenly coated. Lightly sprinkle the seasonings in an even layer.
7. Take the frozen fish from the package and place it on the basing sheet. Drizzle on the olive oil and smooth in an even coat with a brush or by hand. Sprinkle seasonings in a even layer.
8. Place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes before plating. Squeeze fresh lemon or lime over the fish and tip with optional fennel fronds if desired.
10. 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.