Thursday, May 31, 2012

#FoodiePenPals

For the second month in a row, I've been paired with a California-based #FoodiePenPal. How lucky am I??? As you may know from this post, my May box included a 2 lb bag of black beans which just delighted me. I had so much fun soaking, preparing and eating them in a Shrimp and Quinoa salad.

My favorite May Pen Pal box item is the Pomegranate Apple Jelly from Ha's Apple Farm. It's perfectly textured, just sweet enough (no sugar added!) and already in frequent rotation. Last night, I seared two lightly salted pork chops in a cast iron skillet for two minutes a side, smeared a generous heaping of the pomegranate jelly on top and popped the whole skillet in the oven for 8 minutes to finish off the meat. Delish.

The one item not pictures below is the cactus flower tortillas. What an awesome, super local, California item. Love love loved these! Thank you, Michelle, from The Confluent Kitchen, for a wonderful May delivery!

Do you want to be a FoodiePenPal? Sign up here for this super fun exchange. You don't need to be a food blogger, you simply must love Food.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Black Bean, Shrimp & Quinoa Salad

While I knew I'd love the food memories this blog would help me create, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the memories its helped me recollect. Like one about the little nuggets below.  Beans.


My final winter CSA share delivery and my wonderful #FoodiePenPal package both included bags of black beans. It was a sign that it was finally time to move away from the canned alternative.  I've been meaning to cook beans from scratch forever, in that "I will clean out my closet and go to good will" kinda way.  You should, you know the end result will be good, but you keep putting it off.

Sifting through the beans, I flashed back to my dad and the family baked beans recipe. A recipe, I am now realizing, I have to get my hands on.  A recipe I can't tell you much about but a recipe I can vividly picture being prepared. I'd arrive in the kitchen in the morning, and there, in the sink, red beans would be soaking.  A signal that a BBQ or party was imminent.  

The single challenge of cooking beans is planning ahead to soak them. Otherwise, it's a really really easy process. 1) Soak the beans overnight covered in two inches of water.  2) Rinse the beans twice the next morning.  3) For every cup of beans, add two cups of water, a clove of garlic, a bay leaf and a half a teaspoon of ground cumin into a pot.  4) Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until tender, adding more water if necessary.  Done! Easy!

                                        Pre-soak                             In the morning

Even if you don't find the time to prepare your own black beans, the salad below is a bright, healthy and perfectly summery meal.  It serves four quite happily.

Black Bean, Shrimp & Quinoa Salad
Modified courtesy of Pressing On 

Ingredients  
  • 1 cup uncooked white quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth 
  • 2 cups of rinsed, chopped kale 
  • 4 cups of cooked black beans
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 2 ripe avocados, pealed and diced
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, cleaned
  • Juice of three - four limes  
  • Zest of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Salt & pepper
Directions
  • Rinse your quinoa, and place it in a pot with the two cups of stock.  Bring to a simmer, cooking for 20 - 25 minutes until the stock is absorbed. 
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a saute pan, add the shrimp and saute 3-4 minutes a side.  Chop in half once cooled. 
  • Steam the kale for 2-3 minutes until tender.
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and then add the beans, kale, cilantro, avocado, shrimp salt, pepper, lime juice and zest and toss delicately to mix**.
** In a moment of total local gluttony, I snapped up a few soft shell crabs, simply sauteed them for two minutes a side in butter and served them on top of this salad. Totally d.i.v.i.n.e. but totally unnecessary.

About Quinoa
Quinoa is a super food.  High in protein, gluten free and rich in 8 essential amino acids like lysine, Quinoa is the ultimate grain.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

#FoodRevolution Day: May 19th

I somehow missed the build up to Jamie Oliver's #FoodRevolution Day scheduled for this Saturday, May 19th. I could kick myself for not staying on top of this better, but I suppose I've been a bit busy

Jamie has a TV show of the same name documenting his scary but vital his fight against childhood obesity and the drive to improve food quality in school cafeterias.  To sum it up, kids needs fresh, real food on their cafeteria menus as the sugary milks, frozen pizzas and carb-heavy frozen alternatives are not cutting the mustard. You can read more about here

Food Revolution Day...
 
Why: "Worldwide, obesity has more than doubled since 1980. For the first time in history, being overweight is killing more people than being underweight, and at least 2.8 million adults around the world die each year as a result of being overweight or obese." 

What: "Food Revolution Day is about connecting with your community through events at schools, restaurants, local businesses, dinner parties and farmers' markets. We want to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone."

How: Search the site for a FoodRevolution event near you! Plan a last minute dinner party using only local, non-processed food! Donate to the cause!

So you have two days, that's right, just TWO DAYS to figure out how to celebrate your own #FoodRevolution Day this Saturday.  Next year, I promise more advanced planning. We're celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday and aside from the chips for her favorite dip, are aiming for a totally UN-processed meal!

Monday, May 7, 2012

#OnePotMeals: Roasted Chicken over Kale & Potatoes

I'm back at work, two weeks into this working mum thing and we are surviving.  So far I'd say this transition has been successful--the tears are less frequent, the baby seems happy (if also snotty!) and I am starting to sense a routine.  Aside from the painful tugs on my heartstrings each morning, the biggest struggle is in the food department.  How does one balance work, spending time with the little guy at night and eating well at home?  I welcome any and all input on the balance, and have two initiatives of my own:

1)  A quick and easy recipe share:  I emailed friends and came up with a (short) list of quick and easy recipes. I'd love more inspiration, so please please please add in any of your go-to mid week recipes. You can find, use and add to that shared recipe document here.

2) I'm shifting my dinner expectations with apologies to all the 15 step, 10+ ingredient recipes I used to love. (It's not you, it's me... we want different things right now, complicated recipes!).  I declared Sunday evening my official #OnePotMeals night, where I'll make a double portion of a One Pot Meal to enjoy and reheat for a second supper later in the week.

The first #OnePotMeals Sunday recipe follows below. Was it quick, easy and healthy? Yes. Was it the most flavorful thing ever?  Maybe not. But I spent almost all afternoon and evening with my little guy and can now spend all of tomorrow evening with him while we enjoy the leftovers. Shifted priorities!  

#OnePotMeals: Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Kale

Ingredients
  • 3 cups of tightly packed, cleaned and chopped kale
  • 1 medium vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 fingerling or Yukon potatoes, sliced into 1/4th inch slices*
  • 6 pieces of chicken (thighs and drums) 
  • 1/5 cup of olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Paprika 
  • Salt & Pepper

*While the recipe calls for Yukon Gold, I enjoyed fingerlings from my CSA share

 Directions
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss the potatoes, kale, and onion in oil, salt & pepper
  • Layer the mixture in a dutch oven
  • Top the vegetables with well salted and peppered chicken pieces
  • Sprinkle the chicken with paprika
  • Cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes
  • Remove the lid, and cook for another 30-35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
  • Enjoy with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice


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