Expanding My Palate

Today marks week two of following through on my goal of trying one new vegetarian recipe each week.  I feel like a walking advertisement for Pinterest, but it is so easy to find new recipes there.  

I also enjoy the ease of opening the application at the grocery story to get the recipe ingredients.  Gone are the days of scribbling ingredients on paper and forgetting the list home.  The recipes are always with me, which increases my chances of trying the new dish.

Last week I enjoyed the One Dish Mexican Quinoa so much, that I made it again today. 🙂   This time I substituted chick peas for the corn.  It was equally as delicious and the chick peas added even more protein to the dish.

  
I am trying to ease into the vegetarian recipes, so to chose a new one, I look for new ways to combine familiar ingredients.  Yes, I am open to try new ingredients but will do so slowly.

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables, so when I read the Spicy Kale Quinoa Black Bean Salad, it immediately got my attention.  First, I love spicy foods.  Second, I love kale.  The idea of a spicy salad with green veggies is intriguing.  

Even if you do not consider yourself a cook, you can make this with ease.  I substituted the corn with chick peas, so the dish isn’t as colorful but has even more protein.  If I am going to eat less or no chicken and turkey, I have to find a way to replace the protein.

 

The above bowl was supposed to be a taste test; however, once I took a forkful, I went back and filled my bowl.  Lol!!

To make the dish a complete meal, I cooked (broiled) a large piece of salmon.  Both my family and I enjoy salmon.
To cook the (3.11 lb) salmon I did the following to both sides:

  1. Squeeze juice from 1 large lemon 
  2. Sprinkle generously with granulated garlic
  3. Sprinkle generously with fresh black pepper
  4.  Sprinkle evenly with Lawry’s All Purpose Chicken Seasoning
  5. Add a few piece of butter (I used Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter on the salmon
  6. Lightly drizzle with Italian Dressing

Cover and broil on low for 2o minutes.  Unconver and increase broiler to high.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes.  If you are cooking a smaller piece of salmon, it will cook quicker.  Keep your eyes on the salmon so it does not over cook.

  
The finished product….  A delightful, light, and nutritious meal.

Enjoy!! 🙂 

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Simplified Kale In The Kitchen

Back in the day, I had gazillion minutes on my hands. I had plenty of time to drive to Vineland, NJ, where a plethora of farms were located and I picked fresh kale, cabbage, and collard greens.  Local farmers welcomed pickers with open arms.

I took pride in the fact that my veggies were locally grown and that I picked them. How cool was that?  It was fun soaking and washing the crusty dirt from each leaf.  Then rolling the leaves pridefully, cutting them into tiny pieces only to build a mountain inside an oversized pot that cooked down to half the size.  Hehe! Oh boy!!  Those were the days.

Today my relationship with my veggies tell a different story. While my lifestyle today is healthier than before, and I continue to eat fresh (sometimes locally grown), the truth is:

Even if I had the time to pick fresh kale, collards, cabbage, or other produce from a farm, those beautiful leaves would sit in my fridge and slowly wilt and rot.  

Rather than make myself crazy with the process, my kale and collards enter my shopping cart looking like this.

kaleThe greens are already cut, tho not as small as I like but size doesn’t affect the flavor, so it’s really not that serious.  I buy these 16 oz. bags fom BJ’s and it works for me.  The greens are clean, but I soak and wash them again anyway.

One day when it’s just hubby and I, I can do the garden thing, but I know my current imitations.

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Kale Nutritional Label

I typically cook two pounds at a time.  To ensure they are thoroughly seasoned, I cook them in a large pot and carefully season each layer. Sometimes I combine one bag of kale and one bag of collard greens.

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1. Add two handfuls of greens.
2. Chop and add half of a sweet onion.
3. Add spices: granulated garlic powder, black pepper,  crushed red peppers, and Lawry’s Season Salt (Only if you must have salt, I prefer without)
4. Olive oil.
5. Repeat until all of the greens are in the pot.
6.  Depending on the size, I use two-three onions.

Sorry, I don’t know how much; I measure by sight. I thoroughly cover with seasoning. Too much garlic or pepper can never be a bad thing–right?  Lol!

Stir them well and cook them slowly.  I like my greens with a light crunch to them, so I cook them until they are bright in color.  As soon as the greens are cooked to my liking, I remove them from the heat and transfer them to a pan to cook.  Don’t cover until them until they have completely cooled off.

If you do food prep like I do, this is an easy way to get your greens in for the week.

greens in pan

To add variety to my food prep for the week, I also cooked two pounds of brussels sprouts.

Soak the brussels, cut the ends off, slice in half. Toss them in a baking pan. Add olive oil, the same seasoning used for the kale and add about a half cup of water. Cover with foil. Bake in the oven at 350 Degrees for about 40 minutes (depending on how firm you like them). When the brussels are cooked and you remove them from the oven, don’t forget to keep remove the foil or they will continue to cook.

Neither the kale or the brussels are freshly gardened picked, but as I already said, no longer do I make myself crazy trying to incorporate a task that is unrealistic and will put me into a frenzy.

With so much going on in my life, simplicity is the goal.

I know it’s been some time since I’ve written regular posts, but I am back!!!  🙂

Thanks for stopping by.


Thanksgiving Food Prep

Three days from now and around this time (8:27 p.m.), most people will be rubbing their bellies trying to digest dinner. Maybe even contemplating second or third helpings, or another trip to the desert table.

I was not feelin the kitchen after work this evening, but I’ve been on a roll cooking my share of Thanksgiving dinner, so just like I push myself to go to the gym some days, I pushed myself to cook another dish.

This year’s Thanksgiving eve, I just want to chill and don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen. Everything, except the salmon will be cooked in advance.

Here is six pounds of a blend of collard greens and kale. I wanted to cook the greens vegan style, but my peeps wouldn’t have that. But I think for Christmas dinner, I am just going to cook them without the smoked meat.  That stuff is bad for you! :0(

greens

I cooked them using smoked turkey legs. However, I just couldn’t contribute too much to the clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and added fat. I’m serious! I parboiled the four (4) smoked turkey legs in a handful of fresh garlic cloves and crushed red pepper.

The legs boiled until the skin begin to fall off. I then remove them from the pot and take off the skin, fat, and bones. It’s still unhealthy, but slightly better than with the excess fat.

I layered the greens in the pot with a little of the broth from turkey legs, sweet onions, and this seasoning.

seasoning

The outcome is amazing! I compromise this way because I understand that 20+ folks coming for dinner have not interested in eating clean. A small section of the kitchen counter will be dedicated to clean eating.

I am just about done my cooking.

freezer

The garage freezer!

On Saturday, I cooked six pounds of mac and cheese and  B’Dazzle helped me with 15 pounds of yams by peeling them for me. I’m so lucky! He’s an awesome kid and did a super-duper job. :0)

tailor peeling

On my way home today, I was deeply saddened when I saw a long line at the local food bank. The parking lot was full, an attendant directed traffic, and a long line of cars sat along side a busy roadway waiting for their turn to pick up donated food. I haven’t seen it like this before. A recent and sudden surge of casino closings in Atlantic City has many families struggling… struggling to find work… struggling to provide food for the family… struggling to pay rent/mortgage… heat… electricity… etc…

Regardless of where you live, if you are blessed to enjoy the festivities of a holiday dinner or a daily meal, heat, or a warm and safe place to sleep, I urge you to help someone in need. Invite them to dinner or give food, clothing, or whatever it is you can offer. Every bit of help can make a difference to someone in need.

Don’t judge, be kind, and be generous.

giving

Sweet dreams!


Roaring With Pleasure!

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 Like my zodiac twin, Leo the lion, I am roaring with pleasure!

Black rice is the newest cuisine that I added to my weekly palate.

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blackrice1

On Sunday, I blogged about my first time cooking it.

IMG_3467 I give it two thumbs up!

The texture and flavor are like that of brown rice and you cook it pretty much the same. I enjoyed the rice with kale and chicken breast; it was delicious.

If you enjoy the soft fluffy texture of white rice and you want the same texture, the rice needs to cook longer and with more water.

My family enjoys brown rice with the added flavor low sodium chicken broth, instead of water.

Because this was my first time cooking and eating black rice, I did not want to alter the original flavor, so I followed the package instructions and cooked it in water.  The package did not call for oil or butter, but it made sense to add oil to the rice, so I added one tablespoon to two cups of rice.  I should have added two.

Tonight (four days later), I had enough leftover black rice from the week, so you know I was dying to cook?

black rice and shrimpBlack rice, sautéed garlic shrimp, and a baby kale medley!

Seriously this perked me up. After a long day on the road, missing several meals, not drinking enough water, I was terribly off kilter.  The meal, a toasty fireplace and a forbidden glass of Cabernet has me feeling more like myself. 🙂

friday fire

Enjoy the weekend!


A Beautiful Habit

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Image courtesy of LivingWellSpendingLess.com

Boo!!  Lol!  Good Morning!

I just packed my lunchbox and got excited at the beauty of lunch; it’s so pretty!   It’s okay, I’m cool if you don’t get it.  When you eat clean, you see food differently and appreciate the natural beauty of vegetation.

Anyways, the meat is from Sunday’s food prep session; center cut pork loin.  We ate the last of the cooked veggies yesterday, so I tossed in a couple handfuls of a kale medley blend (spinach, kale, chard, and carrots), drizzled pan juices from the cooked chops, and placed the chops on top.  A half-cup of brown rice is my side.

Mmm…. makes for a delicious and nutritious lunch!

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Happy Halloween and Happy Friday!

Enjoy the day… make it fabulous!  🙂