Tag Archives: cooking

Tomato-Basil Chicken Stew

After I posted about this on Facebook, I got several requests for the recipe, so here it is:

What I used:

  • 1.5 lbs. chicken breast (from Bethel Trails Farm, thawed)
  • 1 bag of (frozen) October beans that I got from the Farmer’s Market this fall (you could use the canned bean of your choice from the grocery)
  • 2 (28 oz. Mason) jars of whole tomatoes (with their juices), which I got from the Lazy Farmer at the Farmer’s Market this fall. You could use canned from the store.
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 BIG handfuls of baby spinach (kale would work, too, I think)
  • 1 handful of chopped fresh basil
  • pinch or two of salt
  • a few shakes of black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

tomato basil soup 2What I did:
I put the tomatoes in the crock pot first, and I smashed them up with my big wooden spoon. Then, I threw everything else but the spinach in the crockpot and gave it a quick stir. I threw the spinach in on top and set that baby on low for 6 hours.  6 hours in, I checked it, and it needed a little more time.   After another hour, it was good to go, so I stirred, shredded up the chicken, stored some more, and served with some shredded parmesan cheese.


This was REALLY easy.  And it was VERY yummy.  The size would be good for a family.  Trent didn’t eat any, so I ate it for dinner and then lunch a few times during the week.  I froze the rest.  I think this is a good freeze-for-later meal.

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Salsa Verde Shrimp

This recipe is super easy. You can get fresh, local shrimp driven up from the coast at the Farmer’s Market. The hardest part of this recipe is popping off the heads & tails, peeling, and deveining the shrimp.

Here’s what you need:

  • Shrimp (1.5-2 lbs for 4 people, available here in Simpsonville from the Lazy Farmer or Shem Creek at the Farmer’s Market)
  • Hampton Farms Salsa Verde (available at the Farmer’s Market)salsa verde shrimp
  • Persian Lime Olive Oil from Carolina Olive Oil
  • Fresh corn from the Farmer’s Market (multiple vendors have corn!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • Rice and/or quinoa (if desired)

Here’s what you do for the shrimp:

  1. Heat the oil (about 1tbsp) in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add shrimp and garlic. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the salsa in the skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cook until shrimp are cooked through.
  4. Serve over rice/quinoa with corn.

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Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, and White Lemon Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

This is an easy but yummy pasta salad dish.  I usually pack it up to take with me to work for a healthy lunch.  But it makes an2015-07-12 14.46.04 equally good side dish–especially for something like a neighborhood potluck.

What I use:

  1. 6 ounces uncooked pasta (I used Garden Delight Trio Italiano this time, but I’ve also used bow tie pasta)
  2. 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (I had some grape, some cherry, and quite a few Roma from the garden, so I used a mix this time)
  3. 1 cup seedless green grapes, halves
  4. 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  5. 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (I used white lemon balsamic vinegar from Carolina Olive Oil, but a plain white balsamic works fine)
  6. 2 tablespoons chopped shallots (I omitted these this time because I forgot to pick up shallots at the grocery!)
  7. 2 teaspoons capers
  8. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  9. 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (I used fresh)
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  12. 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used Persian Lime olive oil from Carolina Olive Oil because I thought it would make a nice citrus-y summer dressing when paired with the white lemon balsamic vinegar, but again, you could use plain extra virgin olive oil)
  13. 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

What I do:

1. Cook pasta. Drain. Combine cooked pasta, tomatoes, grapes, and basil in a large bowl.

2. While pasta cooks, combine vinegar and ingredients 5 through 11 in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil to vinegar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Add cheese; toss to combine.

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Filed under In My Kitchen, Just For The Health of It

In the Kitchen, Out of the Comfort Zone

wpid-wp-1429987360486.jpegSo this year is all about getting out of my comfort zone. Last year, was all about #domesticgoddess, an ironic hashtag I created for posting tweets and pics about my adventures in the kitchen.  We start eating more fresh, made-from-scratch, healthier meals.  And that meant I had to learn how to cook much better that I had before.  It was fun, and I think we’re a little healthier as a result.  Lately, my focus has been on #thenewjazzercise.  I’ve got 57 classes under my belt as of today! Whoop, whoop!  And now I really look forward to my classes and seeing my new friends at the studio.

This focus has, though, lulled me into some cooking complacency.  I haven’t really been trying anything new.  I’ve still been cooking from scratch, good, healthy meals, but I’ve been mostly just repeating old faves.  So last night, I decided it was time to try something new: mussels.  I’ve had them before at seafood places, but I’ve never made them or even seen anyone else make them.  Publix has these little recipe cards by the seafood counter, and I picked one up.  Sounded easy.  And it was!  It was also super quick. The Publix recipe was for 4 servings, but I was dining solo, so I cut it down for one using the online recipe converter calculator (still bad at math).

Mussels in White Wine with Lemon:

1/2 cup white wine
1/8 cup lemon
3/4 lb mussels
1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoons parsley

1. Preheat large saute pan on medium-high. Combine wine and lemon juice in pan and bring to boil. Add mussels and cover; cook 6-8 minutes or until mussels open.  Discard mussels that remain closed after cooking (all mine opened).

2. Stir butter into broth until melted. Sprinkle with parsley.

3. Enjoy!

This was a fun, tasty treat for a Friday night, and I’m glad I decided to try something at home that’s usually just a restaurant food for me.  I’m even more pleased that it took less than 15 minutes to make!

Here’s the photographic evidence:

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Homemade Pizza Love

I am pizza lover. Pure and simple. I could probably survive on pizza alone and be completely happy. And I like all kinds of different pizzas. Unfortunately, ordering pizza is both expensive and (generally) unhealthy.

So since my 2014 commitment is to cook more, order out less, and eat healthier, I figured–after 2 months without it–that I needed to ry some homemade pizza.I could have gone all out and made on of those cauliflower crusts I’ve got save on Pinterest. But I didn’t. I bought crust.  In fact, I bought some thin & crispy personal-sized crusts because I was pretty sure Trent would want pepperoni and LOTS of cheese and have no interest in my planned veggie pizza. I may have bought the crust, but I did make the sauce myself instead of relying ons something in a jar.

I used this recipe. Here’s confession number 2: while I think it definitely would’ve been better in both taste and health to use real tomatoes, I did not do that this time (I plan to next time–maybe this summer when tomatoes are more in season)

Of course, sauce alone does not a pizza make! I decided my pizza would be veggies, specifically mushrooms, red onions, spinach, Kalamatta olives. I actually had a dream about making this pizza last weekend, which is what started this whole thing. So I basically followed my dream to make mine. 😉  First, I chopped up all my veggies (except the baby spinach leaves).  Then, I sautéed them in a pan with EVOO over medium heat until the spinach leaves wilted. I used feta cheese for mine because feta is one of the lower calories, healthier cheeses (so sayeth Google). Also, it’s just a yummy treat on pretty much everything.  I used a store-bought 3-cheese pizza blend for Trent’s pizza.  We actually got three meals out of this: 2 dinners and a lunch (3 total mini pizzas each!).  The first time I did Trent’s I put the meat under the cheese; he requested that I put the pepperoni slices on top of the cheese to see if it would make his pepperoni crunchier, which it did.  Overall, this was a hit–and something I’ll do again.

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Filed under In My Kitchen, Just For The Health of It

Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans

So far I’ve been doing pretty good with my new commitment to healthier eating. Part of that commitment is a commitment to cooking more meals–you know, as opposed to take out, delivery, or heating up frozen, processed foods. I didn’t learn a lot about cooking growing up, so this is really an adventure of sorts. I’m not sure how I’d do it without Google, which comes in handy for figuring out strange cooking terms I’ve never hear before in addition to figuring out techniques for making food.

Another thing we’re trying to do is sit down at the kitchen table to eat together and talk–you know, as opposed to sitting in front of the TV, eating off TV trays. We even got some new chair cushions for the kitchen chairs, so they’re actually comfortable enough to sit on for more than just a minute. So far, so good. I hope we can keep it up–I’m really enjoying it.

Anyway–one of my recent kitchen adventures was this Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans recipe. We had a piece of salmon in the freezer and a bag of frozen lima beans. All the other ingredients were also already on hand (this is really one of the keys to successfully making good, healthy homemade meals on a regular basis–keeping the kitchen stocked with the right ingredients, so they’re always on hand). I’ve been trying to do that, too, and again, so far, so good.

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Even though I accidentally put all the paprika into the yogurt mixture, this came out good. Both Trent and I enjoyed it, and Trent noted that the sauce would be good to use on other fish dishes in the future. He really liked it. So we’re filing this one under “Make Again.” Success.

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Made Up Mahi Mahi & Quinoa

So…I was putting some new groceries in the freezer when I discovered we still had some Mahi Mahi in there we hadn’t used. And this dinner was borne of that discovery…

It is basically made up of stuff we had around the house that seemed like it would make a decent dinner.  I had no idea what I was doing, so I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

I have never cooked quinoa before, nor even eaten it.  But I picked up a bag at Trader Joe’s the other day because I’d heard so much good stuff about IMG_6871it. I mean, it was all the rage in 2013, so why not finally give it a try in 2014, right? And I’m trying to eat healthier, and quinoa (which I’ve mispronounced in my head for the last year–thankfully, never out loud) is apparently some sort of super food that we’ve been aware of since at least 1955 but has only recently become vogue. Google it.

I figured I needed some sort of marinade for the fish, so that was first up. I pondered what to do with it while it thawed.  I checked Pinterest and Google, of course, but ultimately, did sort of my own thing–although I was partially inspired by this lime marinade. Here’s what I came up with:

Made-up Mahi Marinade

Then, I needed a side. I couldn’t decide what to do here. We had some broccoli, and I was thinking about it, but it didn’t seem right, so I threw open the cupboards thinking “orzo!” when I realized we had none….but there was that magic quinoa. I was a little afraid of it, to be honest.  But I resolved to make it.  I didn’t just want to dump some plain SEED on the plate. We had some cherry tomatoes I had picked up from TJ’s with another recipe in mind, and, thus, I decided upon this:

Quinoa with tomatoes and basil vinaigrette

The end result: thumbs up from both me and the husband.  Now, that I have it all recorded, we’ll definitely do this again.

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Seafood Blend with Garlic & Basil Linguine and Romano Cheese

So a few days ago, in honor of the new year, I went a little pin crazy over on Pinterest, pinning new, healthy, quick recipes.  See–I need to get back to getting healthy.  I really fell off the wagon last year.  So there’s no time like the present to get back on, right?  My new thing is Mediterranean or Italian meals made with fresh ingredients whenever possible. That started with an e-mail I subscribe to, Daily Recipes and was reinforced when I read this article called “Why Your Grandparents Didn’t Have Food Allergies” and this one by a mother who moved to Italy and what she learned about our culture, theirs, and eating habits. Plus, I’ve always like Mediterranean and Italian food in general.

Tonight I tried my hand at making something based of one of those pins. Let’s call it “Seafood Blend with Garlic & Basil Linguine and Romano Cheese.” Basically, we were at Trader Joe’s, and I saw the frozen bag of Seafood Blend, which has scallops and shrimp and calamari rings, and I thought, “Hey, this will

Garlic Basil Linguine from Trader Joe's

Garlic Basil Linguine from Trader Joe’s

probably be just as good as seared scallops…and maybe easier.” So I got the bag. (SN: I will probably actually try searing scallops one day–just not today)  From there, I pretty much followed the recipe with a few exceptions:

  1. I don’t know where people get fresh linguine, but it ain’t in any of the groceries near my house. Instead, I hit got a bag of garlic and basil linguine noodles from TJ’s.
  2. I killed my herb garden. Yup, that’s right. So I used that cool “as close to fresh” basil from the grocery store.
  3. Because I used the frozen blend, I traded the directions in step two about searing the scallops for the direction on the bag, which told me to cook the seafood in a pan with oil (I use Extra Virgin, obviously) and to add garlic if desired. I desired (obviously).

So. It was pretty good. I would definitely make it or a variation again. It wasn’t too hard or time-consuming. And it tasted good.  Plus, it was better for us than, say, ordering another pizza.  I hope to be able to take the time to cook more actual meals for us over the coming months.  I’m going to try anyway. We’ll see.

I’m also hoping that I can get our friend Shellie from down the street to join me in a “Girlfriends’ Diet Plan” like I read about in Eating Well magazine this month (Come on, Shellie, come on!).

Oh, and start going back to the gym on the regular.

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