Balsamic vegetables over cheesy soft polenta – Something from nothing!

Sometimes looking at what you have in your fridge can be great inspiration for great dishes. This simple “fridge creation” came from making do with what I had at home.

I had cubes of cheddar cheese in my fridge that I didn’t wait it to go waste at the end so I transformed it into a wonderful side dish along with the vegetables I had to on hand . I had over ripe cherry tomatoes , a semi hard green zucchini and a wrinkled red bell pepper. Here’s how I made this great combo

How to Make It

Combine the chopped vegetables in a sauté pan with olive oil and chopped garlic. At then end mix in a bit of balsamic glaze for sweetness. For the soft polenta , I cooked the instant corn meal with water until soft and smooth. At the end added in the chopped cheddar cheese cubes.

Use what ever veggies you have for a great vegetarian dish. Add in some meat and you have whole dinner.. The polenta or vegetables is a great side dish on it’s own . So many dinner possibilities. I just love being creative in the kitchen!

Portobello mushrooms and Israeli couscous

Tonight I want something quick and simple pasta dish with mushrooms . I happened have some Israeli couscous , also known as Pearl Couscous. in the pantry and chose to highlighted that instead of standard pasta pasta.

What I found out online is that there is big difference between  Couscous and  Israeli Couscous.  Israeli couscous and true couscous are both made with semolina flour and water, but true couscous is much smaller and irregularly shaped while Israeli couscous is bigger with a soft, chewy texture. Depending on what I serve it with or mix in I like to use both kinds. I always the the plain version and like to add in my own seasonings and spices. This dish I love because it reminds me of a lighter risotto that takes a lot less time.

How to Make it

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add in the couscous and water. . Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the couscous for five to seven minutes. Once tender, remove from heat.

in the meantime Sautee sliced Portobello mushrooms with chicken stock , raw garlic chopped parsley and lots of herbs and good oil. At the end grate in parmesan cheese for more richness .

chef tip! Use whatever mushrooms you have on hand just cook them through well. Also this makes a great cold pasta salad !

Croatian Potato or Restani Krumpir as they call it


Sometimes when you cook for yourself or others and even party guest you want to make something extra special . It may just be a really good side dish like this one if you already have a good protein. My family is orginally from Croatia and my Mom who is a wonderful cook to, likes to teach me recipes from the homeland like this one..

Restani Krumpir (or rested potatoes) consists of fried potatoes with onions, paprika and sometimes diced bacon or pancetta is added in.

I already had the chicken that I bought which is already roasted and I just wanted a unique side dish. Croatian comfort food at it’s finest in my opinion. I love it and make it once in while just for myself. My mom prepares it for the holidays to. It pairs the best with roasted meats in my opinion. It’s like chunky mashed potatoes but 10 times better!

Ingredients*

Russet potatoes
yellow sweet onions
animal lard or oil you a can heat up very hot
salt and sweet paprika

**just add as many potatoes and onions as you need for the serving

How to Make it

wash the dirt and boil in cold water and cook until soft for about an hour. drain and let cook before you peel and slice so you don’t burn yourself.

In a skillet sauté chopped onion until soft . Carefully peal the potato and roughly mash it into large chunks. Add salt to the cooked onions and some lard is you have it and fry it until it starts to stick.

chef tip! you can also peal and boil the potato in large pieces if you prefer.

Meatless Bean Corn Tomato Chili

All the fall/winter season arrives warm chilis and soups are my favorite to make. Plus you can make them in batches and freeze portions for future use! A quick and easy meal to enjoy on the table fast.

Recently I created deliciousness on a cool Monday night for a meatless Monday people like to call it..

I had Trader Joe’s “beefless” beef in my freezer still . If you want you can remove it or replace with ground beef or turkey. Just makes you cook the meat and onions through before adding everything else. I found out since that soy crumbles are already cooked, so they can usually just be added into soups, stews, chilies and the like toward the end of cooking. Since everything else is in a can it comes together really fast. (Great benefit!)

Ingredients

2 cups of yellow onions ,
1 package of
Trader Joes soy crumbles’
1 can of Goya low sodium black beans
1 can of Goya corn
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cups of cold water
Longhorn steak seasoning or y kind of chili or taco seasoning you like to taste

How to Make it

I added to a big pot first the chopped onions which I cooked in avocado oil. then added in the frozen crumbles and mixed it together.
Once that is combines and mostly cooked though add in the, water, beans, corn and tomatoes and let it simmer away until done.

chef tip! If you take out the crumbs or meat it all together just another can of drained kidney beans to make it heartier!

Lavash Bread as Pizza? Yes!

I’ve been researching healthier pizza and bread alternatives that are better for you and found this idea online from SkinnyTaste blog. It was so easy and good and creative! I personally believe that pizza can actually be quite healthy, depending on the kind of bread we use and of course the topping ingredients.

What is Lavash ?

Lavash Bread is low carb and a good source of fiber. Used in a roll-up sandwich or as a sliced party snack, this lavash bread will not fall apart. Middle East Lavash Bread is a reduced carb, high protein and has no cholesterol.

Joseph’s Bakery Low Carb Bread Flax Oat Lavash is the brand that I like to use and easy and I can buy in the my local grocery store. Highly recommended

For more information about Joseph’s Bakery Lavash Page click here

For this pizza I added raw spinach , shredded mozzarella cheese, homemade mushroom tomato sauce and cooked organic 90% lean ground beef for protein . Bake flat at 425 degrees for 10 minutes until crisp . Use what ever cooked protein and veggies you like.

Chef tip! Don’t add a lot of sauce and toppings so it doesn’t get soggy.

Link to recipe on Skinnytaste I was inspired by

UPDATE! This dish has been submitted in a Foodiespicks recipe themed competition online . Click on the link below to vote!

https://bit.ly/2GhSPCz

Skillet potato gnocchi with Mushrooms and brown butter herb sauce

If you love delicious Italian food but are really short on time, look no further than the holy grail of quick Italian meals — frozen gnocchi. Gnocchi are small, delectable Italian dumplings made with potato, flour, and eggs. Also if you make your own gnocchi they will also freeze well to.

I also have to say I am lover of all kinds of mushrooms. Mushroom sauces are great when you can purchase fresh mushrooms. The pack in a lot of flavor and go with a lot of different things.

This method of cooking frozen gnocchi is very simple — all you’ll need is a large skillet or pan for tasty gnocchi that are crispy outside and a perfectly soft inside. This simple mushroom “sauce” really brings the dish together.

Ingredients and steps

500g potato gnocchi – frozen
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups mushroom, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 raw garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons of “herb de Provence” dry spice mix or any dry Italian seasoning works to

How to Make it
In a large skillet add half of the the butter over medium heat until foaming. Add the mushrooms and garlic, parsley and cook, stirring, until soft. Transfer to a separate bowl. Heat the remaining butter in pan over medium heat until foaming.

While the mushrooms are cooking add the frozen gnocchi to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook the gnocchi for one minute after the water returns to a boil and the gnocchi float to the top. Remove the gnocchi with the spider strainer or slotted spoon and add them to the other skillet directly.

Once you add in the cooked gnocchi, stir for 5-8 minutes until the gnocchi and butter are golden. Transfer the mushrooms to the gnocchi and mix it gently together. At the end add in the herb de Provence” mix from France , which has dried thyme, marjoram, rosemary and sage in it. Serve hot and enjoy! Top it with shredded parmesan cheese when hot to make it more heavenly.

chef tip : Want them brown and crispy? Leave them undisturbed in the pan for about 3 minutes before you move them. Then flip them onto the other side for another 3 minutes to brown the other side.

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Balsamic honey chicken thighs with pickled Danish red cabbage

Homemade balsamic honey chicken thigh over pickled Danish pickled red cabbage , what a great combo !

I like to marinate the chicken in a balsamic glaze and honey or agave syrup with salt and pepper.

I then refrigerate it for least a hour before I bake or grill them. You can do this also with chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts. Just adjust the cooking time.

I had a red cabbage that I bought recently that is pickled. This is the star of this dish. Recently there has been a lot of talk on the benefits of your gut by eating fermented foods. So eat away! Pickled cabbage, is pickled via fermentation.Fermented foods have lots of proven health benefits thanks to good bacteria, and the fermentation process also results in wonderfully complex flavor.

For this dish I used Danish red cabbage , also known as Rødkål . You can buy in store or make on your own. The process is time consuming but worth it the end and it store well in the fridge for many days.

The company I use is called Beauvais , which makes a great version that tastes homemade and can be found in your grocery store or online .

About Beauvais 

Beauvais is a Danish brand of condiments, snacks and readymade meals now owned by Norwegian food company Orkla ASA.  The brand was founded by and is named for Jeean Baptiste Desiré Beauvais, a French immigrant, who established a production of canned food in Copenhagen in 1850. The company was acquired by Orkla in 1995 and renamed Orkla Foods Denmark in 2013. (Source Wikipedia)

Try it out you will love it!

Chef tip! – Want to learn more about foods that pickled versus fermented check out this article below

https://www.furtherfood.com/pickled-versus-fermented-foods-which-is-better-for-your-gut/

Chicken Pomodoro in Creamy Light Vodka Sauce

To save money when I see something on sale I buy and freeze it for later, especially meat and some seafoods. All you have to do is take it out the night before when your planning your next meal and leave it in the fridge to thaw.

This chicken dish below is so good and simple ! It’s an easy way to use up those chicken tenders or cutlets in your freezer. These rest of the ingredients are pantry or fridge staples. The sauce is amazing on it’s own to so I make extra sauce and the freeze it for a future pasta dish.

Vodka sauce is definitely an indulgence, but with this healthier version, you don’t have the guil and it is still just as satisfying!

Ingredients.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts thinned out.
flour
salt
pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄4 cup vodka
1⁄2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1/4 cup 2 % milk
4 tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese
1⁄3 chopped basil
2 tablespoons garlic powder.
* Half and Half or light cream can be added at the end if needed*

How to make it

Place chicken breasts or tenders between 2 pieces of thick plastic wrap and pound until meat until thin.
Heat olive oil in skillet.
Season chicken with salt & pepper, then dust with flour.
Saute chicken in oil till golden then remove to a platter.
Pour off fat from pan.
Add broth, vodka, stir, and cook stirring until vodka is nearly gone to deglaze the pan and get all the good bits off.
Add sliced cherry tomatoes, garlic powder, and fresh chopped basil
Return chicken to pan, cook each side 1 minute then add mixture of shaved parmesan cheese and 2 % milk mixed together
Heat through and serve!

Chef tip! Freezing 101 , Ina Garten important points: 1) Label + date everything. And 2) Defrost food overnight in the fridge, not on the counter.

A twist on good steak and a summer succotash

Sometimes you want to follow a recipe and sometimes you just end up doing it your way. Inspired by recipe I read in Real Simple magazine . Over the years I’ve collected tons of recipes from magazines, cut them out like coupons and save them a big binder. I save online recipes in files in my computer so they are like a searchable digital cookbook.

Highly recommend having a system to keep them organized and together whenever you need some cooking inspiration.

In true fashion, I changed up the ingredients based on what I had on hand at home in my freezer and fridge. Inspiration is all that you need to make great food at home.

The result a grilled Flat Iron steak with a succotash of charred yellow squash , corn and pancetta mixed together in olive oil. Super simple and tasty.

Check out the original recipe below. How would you change it up?

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/grilled-hanger-steak-with-charred-succotash

Beautifying Brussel Sprouts!

Brussels sprouts have high levels of many nutrients and so very healthy for you and can lead to many health benefits.. They get a bad rap for being America’s most hated vegetables and need a little love to taste good.

When cooked properly, Brussels sprouts taste fantastic, even addictive. Charred and crispy on the outside, lightly caramelized and meaty on the inside, when sautéed Brussels sprouts can become a quick and easy side dish.

One new way I learned to love them is hiding the bitter taste of brussel sprouts with fresh escarole and kale mixed in. I added in bacon bits and light agave syrup it’s amazing! 😀💚

Here is how I elevated these little green balls into a tasty dish.

Ingredients.

1/2 (12-ounce) packages Brussels sprouts, ends and brown leaves trimmed
1 cup cleaned and chopped curly kale leaves
1 cup cleaned and chopped leafy escarole leaves
2 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon syrupy light agave or honey
2 tablespoons bacon bits

Steps

Heat a large cast iron skillet or frying pan over over medium heat. Add the olive oil, sliced Brussels sprouts, kale and escarole, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute them all well, for about 4 to 5 minutes,until very tender. Once soft but not burned add in the agave syrup and bacon bits. Serve hot.

Cool Food fact! Brussels Sprouts first appeared in Europe in the 5th century, but were later cultivated near Brussels in Belgium, leading to their name. They are sometimes mistakenly called ‘Brussel’.