day 21: the only way I’ll eat a ripe banana (bread)

I know, I know … I don’t like to bake, I don’t like bananas … I’m really high maintenance in that way. Ha!

I’ve been meaning to share this one for a while … This recipe was tested on a number of the Nashville Food Bloggers at our very first food styling workshop. Now, I can’t take credit for the photo … that is the craftswomenship of Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil and the actual styling is the work of of Teresa from Food on Fifth. BUT, I will take credit for the tears in baking successfully (no less) from scratch.

Oh, and if you, like me have completely failed at shopping this year for the holidays … I suggest you bake a few of these and smack on a pretty bow.

*Photographed and devoured with raspberry compote, because everything deserves just a hint of decadence.

Don't you want a bite (or slice)?

Don’t you want a bite (or slice)?

What you’ll need:

  • 3 ripe brown (sorry, ripe) bananas … smashed up with a fork
  • 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans (optional, but I did)

What you’ll do:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Combine butter with mashed bananas in a large room temperature bowl
    3. Add sugar, egg, vanilla, spices and baking soda
    4. Add flour
    5. Pour mixture into greased loaf pan
    6. Bake for 45 minutes or until a fork/ toothpick is removed clean
    7. Allow to cool
    8. Remove, slice and enjoy!
Advertisements

day 20: a staple I can’t take credit for … lentil stew + arugula

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … recipes are meant to be shared. They’re in constant evolution and when they’re truly great, they last for generations. I borrowed this one from Real Simple and I’ve been making it in masses for months. I normally add, omit, or substitute … but hey, if ain’t broke, why bother fixing it?

*I did leave out the feta cheese & reduced the amount of potatoes (reflected below)

lentil_stew

What you’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 6 small red potatoes, quarted
  • 1/2 pound turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 small bunch of arugula roughly chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper

What you’ll do:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, bay leaf, and lentils and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, cover, and cook until the potatoes and lentils are tender but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the kielbasa in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown on both sides. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. When the stew is cooked, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, arugula, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  6. Divide the stew among bowls and top each with the kielbasa.
  7. Enjoy!

day 19: butternut squash + kale lasagna … don’t mind if’n I do

I think I’m getting to a point in life where there are very few things that truly shock me … maybe a few that catch my emotions off guard, disappoint or baffle, but very few that genuinely shock me. Now, food on the other hand never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think there couldn’t be anything else worth trying I find a new flavor profile that rocks my world. I say all this to say … food just doesn’t let me down.

It’s no secret, I’m from the South and there are some things I just didn’t have exposure to as a young’n. I don’t believe butternut squash and I met until the latter of my twenties. Hell, I thought it was sweet potato. It’s a truly interesting vegetable. It’s pale and seemingly boring on the outside, but a beautiful orange on the inside. It smells like cantaloupe when you cut into it raw, but roasted it mirrors sweet potato. What on earth to do with such a chameleon? Lasagna. That’s what.

Shockingly fantastic butternut squash + kale lasagna

Shockingly fantastic butternut squash + kale lasagna

What you’ll need:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced thinly.
  • 1 handful of dinosaur kale, washed and stems removed.
  • 2 cups of milk or heavy cream (milk cause you probably have it and cream if you’re trying to put yourself into food coma & forget somethings)
  • a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups of Italian cheeses (I used parmesan, romano, and fontina)
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • no cook lasagna noodles

What you’ll do:

  1. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour to form a rue
  2. Add nutmeg, salt & pepper
  3. Add cold milk or cream and continue to whisk until well combined
  4. Gradually add in cheese and continue to whisk until well combined
  5. Ladle sauce on the bottom and top with noodles, followed by squash, then sauce, then kale (salt & pepper each layer)
  6. Bake at 350 covered for 30 minutes
  7. Continue to bake uncovered for another 30 minutes or until top is golden brown
  8. Allow to rest for 20 minutes
  9. Serve & Enjoy!

day 18: deconstructed meditteranean salad with falafel

I’ve been quiet for a few days … sorry! I’ve been cooking, I’ve just been to busy to share…

I love falafel and I’ve been too afraid to try to make it on my own. I know what the ingredients are. I know it’s fried. And right now, I know I want it. I’m sure my recipe is as far from authentic as one could possibly get, but it was amazing and curbed my craving. All in all, a success!

falafel

What you’ll need:

  • 150z. chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 handful of Italian parsley, washed & stemmed
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 green onions, washed and sliced
  • 1 pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 heaping tbsp flour
  • Canola or grapeseed oil (light and flavorless)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • your favorite red wine vinaigrette
  • sliced English cucumber
  • sliced red onion
  • 1 handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • a bit of crumbled feta
  • your favorite salad baby greens ( I used arugula, tat, soi, red & green chard)
  • A food processor

What you’ll do:

  1. Pulse garlic, chickpeas, parsley, green onions, flour and spices in processor until well combined.
  2. Add lemon juice. When you have a sticky dough, you’re good.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Form falafel patties. I made a total of 4 that were about 1/2″ tall and 2 1/2″.
  4. Drop your patties and move on to the deconstructed salad. Simply place a handful of greens with a bit of feta, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Toss your greens or serve a with a side of your dressing.
  5. Flip patties (one time is the goal). They should be golden brown.
  6. Remove and serve immediately.
  7. Enjoy!

day 17: if looks could kill … but tastes could revive …

Ever had those moments you WISH you could have gotten on camera? Or rather, you wish you had a better photo to represent the moment that ROCKED your world? Welcome to today’s lesson in culinary genius …

On that note, tonight was all about flexibility and creativity … I realized that I was a bit behind on the start with tonight’s blog post. In a dash, I got flexible and creative. What’s in the fridge … Pork steaks, broccoli, black rice, cilantro, onions and apples … Sounds like a meal, eh? And indeed it was. BUT, let’s not forget, part of the appeal in reading a food blog is the inspiration to replicate the beautiful photo of food you see before you. One day, I’ll learn enough tips & tricks to make Teresa Blackburn of Food on Fifth proud (hopefully, she’s still keeping up with me *hint hint). In the meantime, let’s just take a leap of faith. Take my word for it … this one is worth perfecting through the lens.

Meal on the fly!

Meal on the fly!

What you’ll need:

  • Pork steaks
  • A healthy sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A healthy sprinkle of cumin
  • A healthy sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Broccoli florets
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of honey
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 granny smith apple, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • black rice, cooked to recipe with chicken stock and 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Salsa verde (I used a personal favorite’s house green hot sauce – ask nicely and I’ll connect you with that recipe one day)

What you’ll do:

For the Pork Steaks

  1. Allow steaks to come to room temperature and sprinkle with cinnamon, garlic powder and cumin.
  2. Grill steaks to your preference. I typically go for 135 internal temp and let them rest for a few minutes
  3. Make chutney (recipe below) amazing!
  4. Enjoy!

For the Roasted Broccoli

  1. Combine 2 tbsp of olive oil, lime, salt & pepper. Whisk well.
  2. Toss broccoli in dressing
  3. Spread into an even layer on a baking sheet
  4. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes
  5. Enjoy!

For the Chutney:

  1. Sautee onions and apples in the remaining oil and butter
  2. Add in salsa verde of your choice (I used about 3 heaping tbsp)
  3. Toss in fresh cilantro (leave a few to dress your plate if you like)
  4. Enjoy!

*Plate it up with black rice. Get brave stir it all together. Bite, chew and continue the digestion process. You can thank me later!

day 16: always on time & in a curry shrimp with coconut milk

It’s been quite the trying day. Emotions are high and the body is weary! I understand that it’s not necessarily a food worthy topic, but if one is to appreciate one’s motivation for writing, cooking, sharing, blogging … it’s a must.

The truth is, there are two kinds of recipes – emotionally driven ones and those glorious accidents that evolve into culinary skills and expertise. When you understand that, the art of cooking becomes quite simplified. You become more interested in the story and effort of the dish than that of the outcome. It heightens the senses and becomes more of an experience vs. a taste. And as an added bonus, the taste exceeds expectation and eludes absolute, undeniable bliss.

This recipe is the emotionally driven kind – I say that as a preface. Don’t expect traditional blends or results. Open up and explore.

Curry Shrimp with Coconut Milk & Parsley

Curry Shrimp with Coconut Milk & Parsley

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of raw medium to large shrimp, deveined & peeled.
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 inches of ginger, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut thinly
  • 2 honeycrisp or other pink variety apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 plum or campari tomatoes diced
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. corriander
  • 1/2 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • a dash of sriracha (optional)
  • 4 tbsp. quality olive oil
  • Prepared rice (I cooked mine in equal parts white wine and chicken stock)
  • Salt & pepper (layer each time to add something to the recipe)
  • A handful of chopped Italian parsley (I had it on hand) or cilantro

What you’ll do:

  1. Heat olive oil to medium-high. Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook until onions are becoming translucent & others are fragrant.
  2. Add in carrots and apples and cook until almost tender.
  3. Incorporate all dried spices. Combine until spices are fragrant & coat existing mixture.
  4. Add in tomatoes, coconut milk, and shrimp. If you’re adding in cayenne and/ or sriracha add this in now too.
  5. Cook until shrimp is tender and opaque.
  6. Allow to simmer to reduce by 1/3. Serve with prepared rice.
  7. Garnish with parsley or cilantro. Lime would be delish too!
  8. Enjoy!

* Also in the spirit of being earnest, I doubled my sriracha & cayenne counts … Do not do that! I nearly lit my esophagus on FIRE.

day 15: good + good for you roasted vegetables with arugula + goat cheese

I love roasted root vegetables! I mean seriously … the affinity is almost bizarre. Almost.

Here’s the thing … they’re delicious, easy to whip up, and with a couple of additions they go from ordinary good to extraordinary. Perhaps that is the appeal! No matter, I’m hoping this is the catalyst for the week ahead. At least I’ve done my prep work…

Roasted vegetables with arugula + goat cheese

Roasted vegetables with arugula + goat cheese

What you’ll need:

  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful of arugula, watercress, baby kale or spring mix
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • sunflower kernels for garnish

What you’ll do:

  1. Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey until well combined.
  2. Toss all veggies in sauce and coat generously with salt & pepper.
  3. Roast on a baking sheet in 400 degree oven until sweet potatoes are tender and veggies have a caramel color around the edges … all the sauce should be absorbed
  4. Allow veggies to cool for a few minutes uncovered and away from heat
  5. Serve atop a bed of greens (I used arugula – the peppery flavor is fantastic) and top with goat cheese & sunflower kernels
  6. Enjoy!

*Leftovers are great the next day – no need to reheat.

day 14: soon to be famous crab stuffed mac + cheese

I spent the day being an adult … not that I’m not all the time, but the not fun part of being an adult. Car repairs. I’m fairly certain the most stoic of grown ups has shed a tear or two over just the right unexpected car dilemma. And, once you’ve paid and gotten back on the road … I think you’re entitled to a little self-indulgence. What on earth could be better a fit splurge than crab and mac & cheese? Nothing. That’s what.

This ain’t your Momma’s mac + cheese … it’s got a few twists (literally).

Crab Stuffed Mac + Cheese

Crab Stuffed Mac + Cheese

What you’ll need:

  • 16 oz. Cavatappi pasta, cooked al dente & drained
  • 2 cups of shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 handful chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup of panko
  • 16 oz. lump crab meat
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 tbps flour
  • 3 shallots minced
  • zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups fontina shredded
  • healthy dash of your favorite hot sauce (I used Frank’s here)
  • 1 tbsp of quality dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp quality of olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • a smidge of nutmeg
  • truffle oil drizzle (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Sautee shallots in 1 tbsp of the olive oil until fragrant & tender
  2. Combine crab meat, hot sauce, dijon, lemon zest, lemon juice and shallots. (Careful not to over mix – you want lump crab meat not shreds). Set aside.
  3. Combine shredded gruyere, panko, parsley, and the remainder of your olive oil. Set aside.
  4. Melt butter and whisk in flour over medium heat. Add heavy cream and fontina. Continue to whisk so nothing sticks! Throw in your smidge of fresh ground nutmeg.
  5. Combine your cooked pasta with the crab mixture in a casserole dish.
  6. Pour your sauce over the crab mixture.
  7. Next top with the panko mixture.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown & bubbling on the sides.
  9. Let stand for 10 minutes before digging in. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil.
  10. Enjoy!

day 13: if at first you don’t suceed, TRY again! Sweet potato + black bean chili at last!

Woot! Second time’s a charm folks. I believe after yesterday’s fiasco, it’s worthy. This dish is served with a bit of wisdom, parody … hey, let’s put it all on the table!

Life is an ever-evolving lesson in the art of the try. It’s not enough to declare you’re going to do something. You have to truly attempt and risk failing, pick it up (if you’re determined) and make the shit (sorry for the language) WORK! Don’t you dare give up after you fumble, try again. If you don’t … then you’ve truly failed.

Now that I’ve completed my soap box rant, here’s the recipe. It’s kind of fantastic, 100% vegetarian, and frankly amazing!

Sweet potato + black bean chili at it's finest

Sweet potato + black bean chili at it’s finest

What you’ll need:

  • 1 medium sweet potato – washed, peeled & diced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock, water or chicken stock – whatever you have on hand
  • 1 tbsp of quality olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • salt & pepper

What you’ll do:

  1. Heat olive oil to medium and add onion and garlic. Cook until fragrant. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, zucchini, cumin and chili powder. Combine until coated.Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  3. Add stock and crushed tomatoes
  4. Add in black beans and bring to rolling boil
  5. Reduce heat and reduce to simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender
  6. Serve with your favorite toppings – cilantro, sour cream, avocado, cheese, jalapenos, fresh lime, salsa, etc.
  7. Enjoy!

* This freezes WELL! Don’t be afraid of leftovers.

day 12: well, that just happened … laugh it off!

So, let’s be honest … shall we?

You’ve planned well. You’ve prepared for every possible scenario. You have stood in front of the mirror, your speech is memorized, your outfit is fresh & clean … and then, BOOM! You completely bomb. Yep … if it’s the bomb part … I nailed it today.

What you’ll need:

  • One amazing recipe for sweet potato, black bean chili
  • All ingredients to execute said recipe without a hitch
  • A trying day (like this one)
  • Distractions (mine was a dog and my thoughts)
  • Equal parts honesty and humility
  • Minimum of 2 strong cocktails
  • A healthy dose of laughter

What you’ll do:

  1. Chop all ingredients and complete recipe up to the point of simmering and fail to turn heat down
  2. Walk away to take care of things/ dogs, pay bills, cry, watch TV, or whatever you fancy really
  3. Notice the scent of burning chili just in time to realize all liquid has left the pot
  4. Turn chili remnant off. Cry a bit. Pout. Throw chili remnant away.
  5. Pour the first of your cocktails
  6. Tell the truth about what happened to your post for today
  7. Pour the second of your cocktails
  8. Laugh at yourself
  9. Try again tomorrow.