French Mediterranean Inspired Saute

Twenty Minutes and a healthy dinner on the table!

Twenty Minutes and a healthy dinner on the table!

 

I’m a procrastinator and I’m sorry/not sorry about that.

I had teased this recipe about two weeks back on Instagram along with a proclamation that I was working on a series of healthy, quick, weeknight meals to be posted *soon*. Technically, I am still working on those posts. I just have a very loose interpretation of what *soon* really means.

And the irony that I am late and have taken for-ever to get this quick recipe posted is not lost on me.

I don’t like being late, but I also have the attention span of a toddler hopped up on twenty Pixie Stix.

Perhaps I should rephrase “I don’t like being late” to “I often enjoy the idea of being on time”.

Let’s get down to it, shall we? It’s really simple, really forgiving, and I make a version of this dish at least once a week when I feel like throwing random things in the pan in hopes something edible comes out.

It’s a one-dish dinner, but feel free to bulk it up with a simple green salad, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. (Psssst –  If you order three or more items from Texas Olive Ranch and have them shipped to the same address, you get free shipping.)

I’d made this dish with chicken, but please note that I have included vegetarian swaps for this recipe.

The vinegar in this recipe is a fig-infused balsamic from Texas Olive Ranch. The fig adds to the Mediterranean flavor profile of this dish, but feel free to use plain balsamic.

If at any time your food starts to stick to the pan, simply add 1 – 2 T. water to eliminate sticking and avoid using more oil. I do this to save on calories as well as to stretch my olive oil supply. 😉

Simple ingredients make weeknight meal prep easier.

Simple ingredients make weeknight meal prep easier.

 

French Mediterranean Inspired Saute

Serves four

Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts, cubed (mine were about 3/4 lb total) OR one block tofu, drained and cut into large cubes

8 oz. package of sliced baby Portobello mushrooms. (I used Kitchen Pride, which is local to Texas. I bought them at a big retailer, but they sell at Farmer’s Markets all over the state)

1 red bell pepper, cut into large dice

1/2 yellow or red onion, cut into large dice

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 T. olive oil , separated

1/4 cup quality balsamic vinegar, such as Texas Olive Ranch Figalicious

2 large handfuls of baby spinach, about 2 cups

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano

12 ounce package of pasta, gluten free or “regular”

1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and cut into large pieces

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

1/3 cup feta cheese

 

Directions:

1. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. About 3 minutes before pasta is done cooking, add green beans. Once pasta is al dente, drain and toss pasta and green beans with 1 T. olive oil. Set aside.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat remaining 1 T. olive oil over medium – high heat. Season cubed chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper; add to hot pan and cook for about five minutes, stirring every minute to ensure browning on all sides of chicken.

3. Lower heat to medium. Add vinegar and stir chicken around, scraping up any browned bits.

4. Add mushrooms, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic to chicken. Cook over medium heat for about 4 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through and veggies are crisp tender. Add spinach, thyme, and oregano and cook about 1 minute further.

5. Once spinach is wilted, chicken is cooked, and balsamic vinegar has reduced slightly, add mixture to pasta and green beans. Toss gently. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve in large bowls and sprinkle each serving with feta cheese.

 

My homegirls.

My homegirls.

 

Texan Cheesesteak Stir Fry

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Well, hello again.

It has been awhile since I’ve put a blog post up, and this is actually my very first post under the new website name.

For those new friends out there, my name is JC and just recently I opened up a baking business. I decided that I wanted to name the business Birdcage Bakeshop; this happened to be my blog name. I did NOT want to give up blogging, so I moved all my content from my business website over to this here blog. Lots of work. It still isn’t done, but I’ll be making the changes slowly over the course of the next few weeks.

These days, I am so tired that dinner is usually some kind of *gasp* bagged salad mix and a quick protein. And by “quick protein”, I actually mean that I’m usually just opening up a can of black beans and throwing them on my iceberg.

Well. We can’t be fancy nancy everyday now, can we?

Speaking of fancy….

I have the privilege of living near both downtown McKinney, Texas, and Chestnut Square. Chestnut square is just off our cute little downtown; it is a collection of old homes from way back in the day. Every Saturday, they host a farmer’s market.

Last weekend, I stopped by the farmer’s market and picked up some GORGEOUS baby bella mushrooms from Kitchen Pride Mushrooms.  I’d been following Kitchen Pride on Instagram and after seeing their posts, had been nursing a craving for some ‘shrooms.

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See what I mean?

Since “patio weather” is quickly coming to an end here in the Dallas area, my family and I have been taking every opportunity to grill and eat outdoors before the 110 degree weather unleashes itself. There is no better place to get meats than Local Yocal and that is just where I headed. What makes Local Yocal so great is that all their meats “are sustainably and humanely raised, and free of hormones, antibiotics and steroids“. You can read more about their meats here.

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Wagyu. Even the name sounds magical. This steak was tender as can be!

The owner, Matt, recommended a Wagyu Chip Steak for a stir fry. Hmmm. This sounded good. I’m a huge fan of stir-fries and their simplicity, so I took some home.

After fumbling through my pantry, I decided to make a Texan spin on a stir fry. It’s kind of like a Cheese Steak with these flavors: sliced Wagyu steak, onions, peppers, sliced Kitchen Pride baby bellas, and a marinade I whipped up with my Texas Olive Ranch products. I topped it all off with some raw milk cheddar. I ate it in a bowl, hubby stuffed it into a crusty French roll. Both ways, it was delicious!

Don’t let the steps throw you off. From beginning to end, this whole recipe took me about 40 minutes and most of that time was hands off when the steak was taking a quick marinade bath. Plus, it was waaaay better than the iceberg and canned bean salads I’ve been eating!

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Pssst! You can buy Texas Olive Ranch products at both the Chestnut Square Farmers Market OR Local Yocal!

TEXAN STYLE CHEESESTEAK STIRFRY

Serves 4 – 5, as a sandwich filling

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil, such as Texas Olive Ranch Mesquite Olive Oil

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, such as Texas Olive Ranch Pecan Vinegar

* If not using the Mesquite Olive Oil, add 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke to your marinade

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 lb. thin cut beef, sliced into 1/2″ ribbons

1/2 lb. baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced

1 small onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 sweet bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

2 tsp. cornstarch

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 lb. mild cheddar, or Monterey jack cheese, grated

4 crusty rolls, if serving as sandwiches

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine: mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

2. Place sliced steak into a large Ziploc baggie and pour half of the marinade over. Gently massage package. Place package into refrigerator. Marinade for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Keep in mind that if you get a top-notch quality cut of beef, such as Wagyu, from a local source, you will find an excessive amount of marinating is not necessary. Set aside remaining marinade.

3. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle pan with additional olive oil. Drain the marinade from the Ziploc bag and discard. Add steak strips to pan and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan, place onto plate and tent loosely with foil.

4. Add a tad more oil (or even a Tablespoon or two of water) and cook your onions, peppers, and mushrooms until crisp-tender; about 2 minutes on medium.

5. Add back to pan your cooked steak strips and any juices that have collected on the plate. Get your reserved marinade out from the fridge and whisk in 2 tsp. of cornstarch. Add to pan, bring to boil and simmer about 1 minute.

5. Serve as desired. Whether in a bowl or in a roll, smother this stir fry with some mild cheddar or jack cheese and enjoy.

Indian-inspired Potato Bean Saute

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Let me kick off this post by saying that I am by no means an expert in Indian Cuisine.

Yes, I am aware that Garbanzo (Chickpea) Beans or lentils would have been more authentic. However, I was making this lunch completely on-the-fly.

STARVING, impatient, and without my glasses, what I thought was a can of Garbanzo beans turned out to be Great Northern beans.

Sigh.

I’m reminded of that insurance commercial where an elderly lady is bumbling around without her glasses, petting and speaking baby-goo-goo nonsense to what she believes to be her cat. Turns out, it was a raccoon or skunk or something like that. Hehe.

So…anyways. Yeah. I totally had a moment.

 I had a craving for something with curry and potatoes. I also wanted something filling and quick to make, and this came together in about a half hour. Not bad. Given that it has no meat or animal products in it, I was unsure if I’d be successful in getting Mr. Carnivore to eat it without complaint. It worked! He wandered in from the garage and asked what I was making because it smelled good. I have learned after ten (!) years of marriage to this man that if I make something without meat, I can’t mention that before mealtime.

After we had eaten, I compulsively just HAD to blurt out “You liked that? Well….IT IS VEEEEGAN!!!!”. I just had to prove a point, you know…

Check out how simple a healthy, hearty meal can be:

Grab yourself some good Quality Olive Oil. I used Texas Olive Ranch, of course by now you know I’m basically like their Fan Club President!

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Without starting a small fire, get your oil nice ‘n hot. Toss in your chopped onions.

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Add in your ‘taters and spices and stir until it smells nice ‘n toasty.

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Add in the rest, including your “not-so-Garbanzo-beans”.

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Toss in your green stuff. Throw a lid on it and let it simmer down.

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Doesn’t it look unauthentically deeeelish?

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EASY INDIAN-INSPIRED POTATO BEAN SAUTE

INGREDIENTS:

15 oz. can Great Northern Beans (or Garbanzo), drained and rinsed

1 T. olive oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 T. curry powder

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

one pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup water or veggie stock

15 oz. can petite cut diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups kale, chopped

Lemon Wedges

To Serve: Cooked Brown Rice, Cooked Basmati Rice, Pita Bread, or Crusty French Bread

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large, deep sauté pan heat your oil over medium heat. Add in your onions and sweat them out. Add in minced garlic and stir 30 seconds.

2. Add the diced potatoes and spices. Cook for one minute, until spices are fragrant.

3. Add in remaining ingredients, except lemon wedges, stirring to combine. Bring to boil, then cover and lower heat to low.

4. Gently simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often, until potatoes are very tender.

5. Remove bay leaf and serve garnished with a lemon wedge over starch of choice.

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Pasta

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After last night’s carnivorous dinner of Steak and Cheese Panini, I decided tonight was MY night. After all, I did end up eating Apple Jacks for dinner since I don’t eat that much in the way of meat. I can’t really say that I’m vegetarian or vegan. I generally avoid any kind of label. I eat dairy and eggs in moderation and meat every once in a blue moon, if obtained from a responsible source. I just really dig my veggies, man.

Today during lunch, I am happy to report that I did NOT get lost going to Green Grocer again. While I was there, I picked up a few items that just “looked good”: organic brown rice pasta, organic cilantro, organic crookneck squash, and my FAVORITE TOMATOES from Amelia’s Farm. Amelia’s Farm is a Texan company (yeehaw!) and I’m not joking – they grow the best tomatoes I’ve ever had in my entire life!

And, oh yeah, I sautéed the squash and totally forgot about adding it to the pasta. Whoops.

I also forgot to put the avocado in the picture of the sauce ingredients. I blame that on the dinnertime rush.

I’ve said it before, many times, that good quality ingredients can elevate a simple supper to extremes. This simple Creamy Avocado Cilantro Pasta is one of those. Not only is it vegan and gluten free, it’s brimming with good-for-you-fats from the olive oil and avocado used in the sauce. A healthy portion of the aforementioned veggies and some organic black beans completes this dish, adding extra fiber and protein.

This dish is super easy and is weeknight worthy; it came together for me in 20 minutes! Served warm or cold, this recipe makes enough for four very generous main entrée portions or about 8-10 side dish servings.

I topped mine with some Bragg’s nutritional yeast for some added B-vitamins.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Avocado Cilantro Sauce

(makes about one cup, depending on the size of your cilantro bunch)

1 bunch cilantro

2 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/2 lime

1/2 avocado, flesh scooped from outer skin

1/4 cup good quality olive oil, such as Texas Olive Ranch

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, process all ingredients until a slightly chunky sauce forms. Stop every 15 seconds or so to scrape the bowl. (My mini-chopper did the job in about 1 minute)

That’s it! This sauce, similar to a pesto, would make a wonderful sandwich spread. It would also be tasty spooned over some goat cheese and served with crackers. Keep this in the fridge for up to three days.

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Creamy Avocado Cilantro Pasta

Ingredients:

12 oz. bag of brown rice pasta (or equal amount of any other type pasta)

1 T. sea salt (for adding to pasta water)

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup corn kernels

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 bunch green onions, sliced

1 batch of Creamy Avocado Cilantro sauce

Lime Wedges, to serve

Nutritional Yeast or Queso Fresco, to serve

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot full of water to boil, adding in 1 T. of sea salt. Cook pasta per package directions.

2. Meanwhile, make your Creamy Avocado Sauce.

3. Once pasta is al dente, drain and rinse briefly with fresh water.

4. In a large serving bowl, gently toss the cooked pasta with prepared sauce, tomatoes, beans, corn, and scallions. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve with lime wedges and optional cheese.

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“Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost” Steak and Cheese Panini

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Fellow veggie friends, I am sorry.

See, I’m married to a carnivore and have spawned one carnivorous daughter. And they loooooooooove their steaks.

I don’t pass judgment on dietary/lifestyle preferences, which is why when I’m out and about Dallas and find a really good cut of meat I usually get some for the family.

Earlier today, I intended to swing by Green Grocer to get a green juice. However, the onramp to 75 was shut down and I was forced to try to find my way over to Lower Greenville. Key word:try. I really don’t know what I did. I thought I could cut over and pick up Greenville by taking some side street, but instead I found myself in Deep Ellum. This was a good thing, really! I’m just glad I didn’t end up in Louisiana, to be honest.

Driving down Elm, I saw the signage for Rudolph’s Market, so I went inside; come to find out it has been in business 118 years! That’s crazy. Anyways, I love me a family business so I picked up a package of a cut of beef called “Philly Steak”. I just knew my two meat eaters would love me for it. Rudolph’s also sells breads from Empire Baking Company , and I picked up a yummy looking loaf of Jalapeno Cheddar.

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Vegetarians, avert your eyes! Look away!

I then went skipping wandering a bit further down Elm. I didn’t really know where I was going. My husband shouldn’t let me out of the house, I tend to wander and collect things. (Dogs, cool rocks, pictures of sunsets, loaves of bread, stuff like that) My husband wants to see if he can have one of those teddy bear toddler leashes made in adult size. He blames the Red Bull. I blame my overconsumption of Jack Kerouac novels and a teenage fascination with “On The Road”.

Anywho, I then saw the signage for Mozzarella Company, which sells cars. Just kidding. They sell cheese, lots and lots of delicious cheese. I had so much fun inside that store. I was lucky to have met the owner, Paula Lambert. She opened Mozzarella Company 32 years ago! What an accomplishment. I enjoyed discussing cheeses with her, and even sampled her newest flavor cheese which is infused with lemon. Divine! I told Paula what I had purchased at Rudolph’s and she suggested a Black Pepper Garlic Cacciota cheese. My husband and 8 year old went gaga over it.

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If you ever find yourself “lost” in Deep Ellum, make sure you swing by this place. It’s the only one I know of where you can meet the person that makes your cheese!

Okay…redirecting here. Let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This Panini is super easy to make. Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

STEAK AND PEPPERED CHEESE PANINI

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 lbs. steak, thinly sliced

1 T. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup Mesquite Olive Oil (Texas Olive Ranch, as always) OR 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/3 cup vinegar or lemon juice (I used Pecan Balsamic)

1 tsp. hot sauce

Sea Salt

1/2 red onion, sliced

2 – 3 T. olive oil, separated, for cooking onion slices and steak slices

1 loaf of nice, crusty bread

1 clove garlic, halved

1/4 lb. quality cheese (if you aren’t in the Dallas area, use any mild white cheese plus a nice dose of cracked black pepper)

Optional condiments: Greens, sliced tomatoes, jalapenos, spicy carrots, etc.

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the Worcestershire, oil, vinegar, hot sauce, and shake to combine. Add your slices of steak and let marinate for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat enough oil to cook red onions until starting to brown. Remove from pan.

3. Remove marinated meat and discard remaining marinade. Generously sprinkle sea salt onto steak. Working in batches, fry steak slices in oil until browned and cooked through. Set aside.

4. Cut clove of garlic in half, rubbing the cut end over your slices of bread.

5. Layer sliced steak, cheese, onions, and any other desired condiments into a sandwich.

6. Using a Panini press, cook sandwich per machine directions. If you don’t have one, use a large pan and place your Panini in the middle. Using a small pan, gently press down on your sandwich. After 1 – 2 minutes, flip over and repeat the pressing. Viola!

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Sesame Panko Crusted Salmon on Braised Asian Veggies

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This morning I found myself in awe. See, I have recently undertaken an attempt at starting a veggie patch. And when I say veggie patch, I really mean I have three green things that I am attempting to grow sitting on my window sill: basil, spinach, and green onions. I once saw on Pinterest that you can grow green onions just by sticking the leftover root-stumps (technical term) into a glass of water and letting them do their thing. I figured “Why Not?”, threw caution in the wind and set those suckers on the ledge overlooking my backyard (hoping that the dogs wouldn’t disturb my feeble attempts at developing a green thumb).

This isn’t the first time that I’ve attempted to harness the power of nature and grow my own food. Let’s see…attempt #1 was back in my late teens. I tried to grow carrots, which never even so much as sprouted in the container; I ended up pitching the container in the trash after three months of fruitless hope and despair. Imagine my surprise when my Dad went to get something out of the side yard and noticed some little stray plants. Thinking they were weeds, he pulled them out, only to discover some monstrous abomination of nature – three nubby carrots and only one carrot top. Like some kind of veggie freak. I was too weirded out to even eat them, so they went to my Uncle Tony’s rabbit instead.

Notable attempt #2 occurred many moons after the mutant carrot adventure, after we’d moved to Texas. I wanted to teach my girls about food, sustainability, yada yada, so I’d purchased what should have been a foolproof herb garden starter kit from Home Depot. So, one sunny afternoon, my girls and I sat in the front yard carefully patting the seeds into the little pockets of soil. We were even joined by three neighbor kids, who up until that point seemed absolutely terrified of me. Now I was feeling pretty cool. I even told the kids how we would meet up to check the progress of the herbs every day. What a cute plan, no? Then I went on a three day business trip, Dallas got a HUGE windstorm, and I returned home to find little herblings (another technical term) strewn about the backyard, along with the hopes and dreams of every child on my street.

*sigh*

But…back to the current veggies. I’m pleased to report that from last week to today, my green onions have in fact regenerated. Wow!

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Except for the basil, that poor bastard:

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Now, onto today’s recipe. I’ve been craving veggies and salmon for weeks now. Last week, in my co-op share from Urban Acres, I got a huge, honkin’ head ‘o bok choy. It seems only natural to braise it and top it off with some salmon. Bok Choy, of course, is very good in Asian flavored dishes and this particular one is no exception. It is a quick, hearty, healthy meal loaded with vitamins and heart healthy fats.

Just do yourself a favor. If you cannot grow anything like myself, sign up for a co-op or just pick up your veggies from the grocery store. Unless you are into mutant carrots.

Also, I served this with a Basmati rice. I have not included the directions in this post, but simply follow the directions on your package. A good time to start your rice (mine had only a 15 minute cook time) is after you’ve prepared your teriyaki sauce and set your salmon in the fridge to hang out and marinade for 30 minutes. You’ll also want to start your veggies during this time and everything with be ready around the same time. Start to finish this dish took me only 45 minutes, most of that time was spent taking pictures. Ha!

SESAME PANKO CRUSTED SALMON ON BRAISED ASIAN VEGGIES

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TERIYAKI SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup olive oil (I used Texas Olive Ranch’s Meyer Lemon Oil)

2 T. brown sugar

1 T. Rice Wine Vinegar

1 T. sesame seeds

1 tsp. ginger, ground or fresh

1 tsp. minced garlic

Directions:

1. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl.

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SESAME PANKO CRUSTED SALMON

Ingredients:

4 individual sized Salmon fillets (approx. 5 oz. each)

1/2 recipe Teriyaki Sauce (see above)

1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs

2 T. olive oil

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Set Salmon fillets in rectangular glass dish.

2. Pour 1/2 recipe of the Teriyaki Sauce over the fish and marinate, in the fridge, for 30 minutes. (THIS IS A GOOD POINT TO START YOUR RICE AND GET WORKING ON YOUR BRAISED VEGGIES!)

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, lightly greased.

5. After marinating time is up, remove your fillets from the marinade and place on prepared sheet. DISCARD USED MARINADE!

6. In a small mixing bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs with olive oil. Divide mixture evenly to the top of salmon fillets, patting down to ensure they stick to the top of the fish.

7. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes, until salmon flakes easily with a fork. See picture below for a visual of what “flaky” fish looks like:

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BRAISED ASIAN VEGGIES

Ingredients:

1 head Bok Choy, rinsed and sliced into 1/2 inch ribbons

1 cup carrots, sliced on the bias (fancy word for diagonally)

1 sweet bell pepper, diced into large chunks

1 cup edamame, removed from tough outer shell (you can find these shelled in the frozen foods aisle)

1/2 cup water or veggie broth

Directions:

1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat.

2. Pour veggie broth or water into pan and add your veggies. (Using water/broth to braise your veggies saves you from extra fat/calories!)

3. Cook veggies about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrots just have a slight bite to them. You still want your veggies to be crispy and not mush.

 

To tie the dish together:

On a dinner plate, place about a 1/2 cup serving of rice, followed by about 3/4 cup veggie mixture. Drizzle 2 T. of remaining Teriyaki Sauce (NOT used for marinating your fish) over rice and veggies. Top this colorful mound of deliciousness with your crunchy Salmon. Dig in!

 

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Spicy Noodles with Greens and Shallot

Spicy Noodles with Greens and Shallot

Upon waking up yesterday morning, I had decided to give up carbs and coffee in an attempt to quickly shed some pounds for my sister’s upcoming wedding.

Aside from the fact that I have a biscuit hanging out of my mouth as I type this post, one can easily see from the picture above that by late afternoon yesterday my determination had quickly waned.

You see, yesterday I picked up my co-op share from Urban Acres  and it was just bursting with all kinds of yummy things. Specifically, a bunch of organic greens: Dandelion, Turnip, and Spinach.

Yesterday was also “clean out the fridge, pantry, and freezer day”. While rooting around the deep freezer, I came across a container of fresh Sweet Potato pasta I had purchased from Jimmy’s Food Store on Bryan off Fitzhugh in Dallas.

I got to thinking…Pasta. Shallots. Greens. Spice. Four things that I love dearly. Have you tried Rattlesnake Oil from Texas Olive Ranch before? It has cracked pepper and Chipotle peppers! Delicious.

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I’m no quitter. Except for when it comes to carbs. I love me some carbs, especially spicy ones tossed with greens, caramelized shallots, and olive oil with a shot of balsamic vinegar. I used Pomegranate Balsamic, but just like with any of my recipes, you can substitute plain. (I just really, really recommend Texas Olive Ranch as you can see from my collection in the background. Everyone has their splurges, right?)

This recipe is very quick to come together, making it perfect for weeknight meals.

SPICY NOODLES WITH GREENS AND SHALLOT

Serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main with VERY generous servings

Ingredients

16 oz. noodles of choice (fresh if possible!)

1 cup shallot, sliced thin (about 4 -5 bulbs)

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 bunch Dandelion greens

1 bunch Turnip greens

1 medium bunch spinach (or 3 cups baby spinach)

1/2 cup Rattlesnake Olive Oil (or 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes) plus 3 T. for sautéing veggies

1/4 cup Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar (or 1/4 cup Balsamic)

1/3 cup water or vegetable broth

Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste

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Directions:

 

2. Meanwhile, carefully rinse your greens to ensure all gritty dirt is removed from leaves. Pat dry and slice into thin ribbons. Set aside. Slice shallots and prepare your sauté pan.

3. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots to pan and sauté approximately 3 minutes until softened.

4. Add vinegar to pan and cook about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently until slightly reduced and shallots are very soft. If shallots start to stick, splash in some water or veggie broth.

5. Add sliced greens to sauté pan, along with minced garlic and water or veggie broth. Cook approx. 3 minutes longer, until greens are wilted and a vibrant green.

6. Once noodles are cooked, drain and empty into a large serving dish. Add cooked greens and shallots to bowl, along with 1/2 cup olive oil. Using tongs, gently toss to combine.

 

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This dish would be lovely with some toasted walnuts or some Parmesan cheese. Vegans could also use some nutritional yeast as this dish as written is vegan friendly.

Real quick – back to my talk of carb-cutting and coffee elimination. IF you regularly consume 1/2 a pot of coffee a day (like me), do not try to create, cook, and photograph two blog posts at once while making sandwiches for your young-uns. You run the risk of angering the boiling pasta gods, nearly getting your starchy pasta water splashed into your Mango Jam. See photo below:

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Now, if you’ll excuse me….I’m off to pour another cup of coffee.

 

 

 

Glazed Pork Chops with Kohlrabi Pesto Veggie Saute

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It’s been a long, long winter. The holidays are long past, nothing much to look forward to winter-wise. I dream of Spring and Summer.

Although, living in North Texas, I suppose I don’t have much to complain about. We really get minimal snow and only have to deal with ice storms every once in a blue moon. However, this hasn’t stopped me from missing warmer times. I’m ready for Spring! So, so ready. I want to grill. I want to wear dresses. I want to pack my horrible, black marshmallow of a winter coat away for the next 9 months.

But the produce co-op shares aren’t paying attention. Last weekend I got the most gorgeous half-share from my co-op, Urban Acres. Yep, still filled with wintry goodness. 🙂

Amongst the baby bok choy, Texas Grapefruit, and big, bountiful bunch of kale, were these guys:

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What are these?!

They are kohlrabi, aka “turnip cabbage”. They are really odd looking, no? I’ve never eaten one in my life….until last weekend. Both the bulb and the greens are edible. When preparing the bulb, it is necessary to peel the tough, fibrous, outer layer. The flesh of the bulb can be eaten raw, and is crisp and tangy. Think broccoli meets mild radish. Or something like that.

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I decided to sauté the bulb with some potatoes that I also received in my share; when cooked, the kohlrabi bulb tastes reminiscent of a cooked broccoli stalk. I wanted to “high-class” these veggies up. Basil has yet to show it’s pretty little head, so I used the greens from the kohlrabi bulb to make a Winter Pesto using Sweet Basil Olive Oil from Texas Olive Ranch.

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Kohlrabi Green Pesto – Makes approximately 3/4 cup pesto

Greens from 3 medium bulbs Kohlrabi

4 T. good quality olive oil (I used Sweet Basil)

1/2 cup raw almonds

2 T. water

1/4 cup Asiago cheese

Salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until mostly combined. (I personally love a more rustic looking pesto)

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Kohlrabi and Yukon Gold Saute – Serves four

Ingredients:

3 medium bulbs of Kohlrabi

2 medium sized Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 T. butter

Directions:

1. Wash and scrub Potato. Chop into a medium dice.

2. Wash and peel Kohlrabi bulbs. Chop into a medium dice.

3. In a medium pan, melt 3 T. butter. Saute potato and Kohlrabi until tender and browned, over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. When veggies pierce easily with a fork, remove from heat.

4. In a medium serving bowl, toss prepared veg with 3 T. Kohlrabi Green Pesto. Serve aside chicken, fish, or pork.

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Since it is still too chilly outside for me, I decided to pan-fry some boneless pork chops on my stovetop. To set them apart, after seasoning with salt and pepper and pan frying them, I created a quick glaze using Orange and White Balsamic Vinegar, also from Texas Olive Ranch, mixed with some mango preserves I had made the day prior. Feel free to sub Orange Marmalade or Apricot preserves.

 

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Glazed Pork Chops:

Ingredients:

4 boneless center cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)

Sea Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil, for light pan-frying

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar, such as Orange & White Infused by Texas Olive Ranch

1 T. mango preserves OR orange marmalade  OR Apricot preserves

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

2. Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Add to hot pan, cooking approximately six minutes each side. Remove cooked chops to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

3. To hot pan, add 1/2 cup vinegar, scraping up all the yummy browned bits left behind be the chops. Add in Tablespoon of preserves and cook over medium heat approximately 3 minutes, until reduced and syrupy.

4. Spoon thickened glaze over cooked chops. Serve and enjoy!

Just how many weeks until Spring????

Black Eyed Peas ‘n Greens Stew

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There are certain dishes that just scream “From the South”. Although I am not a native southerner, I have grown fond of greens; kale, collard, mustard – you name it! Winter time in Texas means an overabundance of greens in markets and co-op shares. When I first moved down from up north, I would have had no clue what to do with them. They just looked and smelled like funky lettuce impostors. But, man, was I ever wrong!

Another Southern staple are black eyed peas. Although, I never understood why they are called peas. They look and taste like beans; albeit, a little earthy. This earthiness plays well with the cabbage-like taste and hearty texture of collard greens. Add in a shot of smoky-spicy flavor and you’re in heaven.

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 I purchased about 1/2 lb. dried, organic black eyed peas from Green Grocer’s bulk section. They only cost me about $1.25, I think. You just can’t beat the price on dried beans and the time saved preparing dishes in the pressure cooker. I did cook the whole recipe in the pressure cooker (which I am in L-O-V-E with). However, you can also use a 28 oz. can of black eyed peas, rinsed and drained.  The whole recipe should come together in about a half hour, whether you cook entirely in the pressure cooker or use canned beans and a pot on the stove top. I’m going to show the recipe as prepared on the stove top. But, really, folks. I love bulk bin shopping for these reasons, summed up by Green Grocer:

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I sautéed everything using Texas Olive Ranch’s Roasted Garlic Olive Oil. You can find this product online here , at local farmer’s markets around Texas, and fine grocers such as Green Grocer and Central Market in the DFW area.

Black Eyed Peas ‘n Greens Stew

*as prepared on the stovetop

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 T. olive oil

28 oz. canned black eyed peas, drained and rinsed

3 cups vegetable stock or broth

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 tsp. oregano

1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 bunch of collard greens

1 large tomato, diced

1 T. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. ground pepper (to taste)

Brown rice, to serve

Sriracha, to up the hipster factor

Directions:

1. In a large stockpot, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add in onions and bell pepper, cooking until onion has turned translucent.

2. Add in minced garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.

3. Add thyme, bay leaf, oregano, and paprika. Cook an additional 30 seconds.

4. Add in 3 cups of vegetable broth/stock, as well as black eyed peas, salt, and pepper.

5. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer about 20 – 30 minutes, covered. (Longer time if preferred, however, if you’re in a hurry 30 minutes should do it)

6. While the beans are simmering, cook your rice according to package directions. We use microwaved bowls of brown organic rice that we pick up from Costco for weeknight meals. They cook in 90 seconds!

7. Once the 30 minute simmer is complete, remove lid of stock pot and add in chopped greens and tomatoes. Replace lid and simmer another 5 minutes or so.

8. Once greens have wilted, you are ready to eat! Place a serving of rice in the bottom of a bowl, spooning black eyed pea and greens over the top. I love mine topped with Sriracha sauce!

This stew gets better and better the next day or two, making it a great option for make-ahead lunches.

Here are some tips to help those who may be unfamiliar with collard green preparation:

***Rinse collard greens, ensuring any gritty sand is removed from the leaves. Collards have a medium sized “rib” running through the bottom half of the leaf. To get rid of this easily, stack each cleaned leaf on top of each other. Using a sharp knife, cut out the ribs using an inverted “V” cut. With the stem removed, roll up the leaves and cut them into ribbons about 1/2 ” thick. Cut these ribbons in half, working the other direction. They should look like this:

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And this, THIS is the holy grail of Olive Oils. I have no stake in this company. I’m just really, very passionate about their products!:

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Winter and Spring Tomato Terrine Salads

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Local tomatoes from Green Grocer

Quality Olive Oils and Vinegars from Texas Olive Ranch

This week has been windy, grey, and freeeeezing here in Dallas. In line with the dreary weather, I’ve started a re-boot of sorts with my food intake. Less baked goods, more juices and veggies. My first day in, I was jonesing from a bad sugar withdrawal. After work, cranky, cold, and tired, I decided to swing by Green Grocer to get a juice. I would have loved to get a latte, but I’ve drastically cut back on caffeine as well. (Hence, the cranky)

Imagine my pleasure at spying a basket of the red, perfect beauties pictured above. How could I not by a few? They’re so pretty, organic, delicious-looking, but more importantly they were a colorful “Spring-ish” departure from the dull weather outside.

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Yes. Yes, it is quite normal to photograph tomatoes while you weigh them.

I strolled along the aisles of Green Grocer, picking up some prosciutto and some yummy looking Texan Goat cheese.

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It’s wrapped in twine. Just like a little present for your taste buds.

Once outside the store, clutching a cold juice and a bag full ‘o organic goodies, I realized that even though my treasured tomatoes screamed Springtime, it was still cold as you-know-what. But, I want Spring and I want.it.now!

While getting my stuff together in preparation for taking dozens of pictures of things I can’t eat on my diet blogging, it struck me that the same ingredients can be used to make two completely different salads. Using my favorite tools of the trade, oils and vinegars from Texas Olive Ranch, I whipped up some tomato awesomeness.

These salads would make a fantastic starter dish for a dinner party. They look fancy, use quality ingredients, and come together quickly. The cold version could even be prepped the morning of your party, but wait until serving before you drizzle the olive oil on top. Both recipes use the same core ingredients: beefsteak tomatoes, goat cheese, prosciutto, chives, sea salt, and pepper. You can easily omit the prosciutto to make this veggie-friendly.

Using a different olive oil and vinegar in each recipe completely changes the flavor profile. Using Hill Country Herb Garden paired with Figalicious balsamic vinegar makes the Spring Tomato Terrine salad a great partner for a simple pasta dish or grilled chicken. Using Garden Rosemary Olive Oil and Black Cherry infused Balsamic Vinegar for the warm Winter Tomato Terrine Salad made the flavors more assertive. This would pair well with lamb or beef.

*Please note these recipes are laid out for one serving. Simply multiply the ingredients by the number of persons to be served. Easy!

SPRING TOMATO TERRINE

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Ingredients

1 small-sized Beefsteak tomato (organic preferred)

1 T. goat cheese

4 very thin slices Prosciutto

1 tsp. chopped chives

Olive Oil ( I used Herb Garden, available here)

Balsamic Vinegar (I used a Fig-based vinegar from Texas Olive Ranch, available at farmer’s markets in TX. Order a comparable product here)

Preparation:

1. Slice tomato into 1/4 inch slabs. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper on each slice. (Salt is your friend, people!)

2. Place a slice of tomato in center of small serving plate. Spread with 1/2 T. goat cheese (a little goes a long way) And top with two slices of prosciutto. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.

3. Repeat the process once more, ending with a slice of seasoned tomato. Sprinkle chives on top and generously drizzle Herb Garden olive oil on top of tomato.

Serve immediately.

Winter Tomato Terrine

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Ingredients:

1 small-sized Beefsteak tomato (organic preferred)

1 T. goat cheese

4 very thin slices Prosciutto

2 T. panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp. chopped chives

Olive Oil ( I used Garden Rosemary, available here)

Balsamic Vinegar (I used Black Cherry, available here)

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease desired number of small ramekins with Rosemary olive oil.

2. Slice tomato into 1/4 inch slabs. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper on each slice.

2. Place a slice of tomato in center of small ramekin. Spread with 1/2 T. goat cheese (a little goes a long way) and top with two slices of prosciutto. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.

3. Repeat the process once more, ending with a slice of seasoned tomato.

4. In a small bowl, mix Panko breadcrumbs with enough Olive Oil to coat. Gently press breadcrumbs onto top of terrine.

5. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 7 minutes, until warmed through and breadcrumbs are golden and toasty.

Serve immediately.

Dream of Spring.

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