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Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

10 Jun

muffins

I’ve been reading back through older posts from Soule Mama, and came upon this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb muffins. A few of my friends have rhubarb in their gardens, and when one had more than she could handle (it was literally covering her kitchen counter), I knew just what to do with it.

Shhh, don’t tell, but it’s actually the first time I’ve tried rhubarb! I think the name (and the fact that it looks like celery) scared me away, but it’s delicious. Just the right amount of sour and sweet, especially when it’s combined with other fruits. I froze the extra chopped rhubarb, so we’ll be enjoying these muffins for quite a while. They’re perfect for breakfast, or as a snack (especially if you cut them in half and warm them on a skillet with a little bit of butter.

muffins2

 

Soule Mama’s Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

1.5 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda

1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated orange rind (optional, but oh-so-good)

1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 cup sliced strawberries

Mix dry in a large bowl. Mix wet separately. Add wet to dry. Stir in berries and rhubarb. Spoon into greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Devour.

Getting Back to Green Smoothies

15 Apr

jensfav

One of the wonderful/terrible things about living in the UK is the plethora of delicious desserts. The milk is just better, somehow, which means the ice cream, puddings, custards and chocolate all taste incredible. They’re also everywhere, teasing you with their sugary goodness.

Needless to say, I’ve OD’d a bit on sweet treats since we’ve been here. As a result, I’ve been having a bit of a sugar/carb hangover and it’s time to come off the sweets a tad. One of the ways I’m trying to get more fruits and veg in as well as fill the gap of treats is Green Smoothies. I’ve been a big Green smoothie fan for quite some time, but they’ve dropped out of my daily diet since we’ve moved over here. No more — they are definitely going to be a regular thing in the Jones household.

There’s a really awesome 30-day green smoothie challenge going on right now over at Simple Green Smoothies. I’m a little late starting, but when you sign up (it’s free), they’ll give you the shopping list and recipes for the first two weeks. The recipes are a great mix: simple berry-based smoothies to more unique mixes (like Strawberry Basil or Peach Coconut Dream).

All you really need? A basic blender, some greens, some fruit, and your liquid base. Your fruit can be fresh, frozen — I even use some canned fruit when I don’t have access to it any other way. You can throw in a few ice cubes to make it frothier, or add a carrot or other vegetable for even more nutrients.

Here’s one of the more basic recipes:

 

STRAWBERRY, BANANA, BLUEBERRY GREEN SMOOTHIE

(From SimpleGreenSmoothies.com)

This five ingredient smoothie is full of iron, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. We add olive leaf extract, echinacea, and elderberry extract to this Strawberry, Banana, Blueberry green smoothie to make it an immunity booster as well. 

Ingredients

2 cups spinach, fresh
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
1 cup strawberries
1 cup blueberries
2 bananas

Makes 4-5 cups (about 2 servings)

Directions

Blend the liquid and spinach together first. Then add the remaining fruits and vegetables. Serve immediately for best consistency. 

** FYI: This green smoothie is more like a purple smoothie… thanks to the blueberries. 

 

Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad

7 Sep

Can you tell I’m a sucker for shrimp? I’m pretty sure I could eat them all day long. I know I’ve posted many a shrimp recipe, but I make no apologies. While I’m Florida, the shrimp are bountiful, and I welcome them to my kitchen with open arms.

I had a box of Orzo hanging out in my cabinet, along with some corn and a bit of asparagus, so I put them all together and found this Grilled Jerk Shrimp Orzo salad recipe on Taste of Home. At the time, I didn’t have a grill (although thanks to the cow, a little tabletop grill is now cozied up on our porch). I also didn’t have a red pepper, but I was pretty happy with how my adaptation turned out. It calls for jerk seasoning, but I was batting zero on that as well, so I just mixed up some of my own with this Homemade Jamaican Jerk Seasoning.

Corn and Asparagus

Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad

Adapted from Taste of Home

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 if you’re adding sides

  • 1 large ear sweet corn, husked
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup uncooked whole wheat orzo pasta
  • 6 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, chopped (optional)

DRESSING:

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (lemon works as well)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Rub the shrimp with the jerk seasoning and set aside.

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.

Place the corn cob base in a shallow bowl and cut kernels off of the cob (the bowl helps to catch stray kernels). Discard cob. Heat 1tbsp butter and a little bit of coconut oil (if you have it) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the trimmed asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until the asparagus is just starting to get tender (about 2 more minutes). Add the corn kernels. Cook until the asparagus is cooked through and the shrimp turn pink, turning once. Remove from heat.

Cut asparagus into 1-in. pieces (I found that kitchen shears were the easiest since the asparagus is already mixed with the other vegetables). Place the shrimp/veggie mixture, orzo and pepper (if using) in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat.

Enjoy, preferably with the back door propped open and your feet kicked up.

 Real Food Wednesdays

Girl Meets Cow

31 Aug

sirloin

Last night, we got a cow. Ok, part of a cow. It all happened so fast, and somehow I went from getting a random text message a few weeks ago to driving home with part of Betsy (that’s what we named her) in the back of my car.

I’ve been interested in buying part of a cow for a while. We actually don’t buy red meat very often because it’s hard to find local meat that isn’t extremely expensive. Buying a whole cow makes local, free-range beef much more affordable, but we’ve never had the freezer space to tackle one on our own. Mr. Jones and I had talked about splitting one with someone, but just hadn’t done the legwork to make it happen.

Cut to my friend Brenna sending me a text message at the beginning of the month asking if we wanted to go in on one. I was a little gun-shy at first, but we talked it over and decided to give it a shot. It meant a bigger up-front investment from our grocery budget (although not as much as you might think), but it also meant cutting our subsequent weekly food budget quite a bit. The cost per pound is incredibly low, and as long as you have a decent freezer (or at least, a friend/relative with a decent freezer), you’ll be set on your meat-buying for a good long time.

We didn’t know when exactly we were picking up “Betsy” (that’s the name she ended up with), but I figured we’d get the freezer space ready a few days ahead of time. Instead, due to some random events, I got another text on Monday telling me, “The cow is here!” I headed over to pick up my portion, which was 60 pounds of meat. I don’t know quite what I expected, but we ended up with a nice mix of cuts (sirloin, rib steak, ground beef, t-bone and more). They were each individually wrapped and neatly labelled, thanks to the local family butcher shop.

The cow came from a family who raises about 6 at a time, then sells them. They’re a mix of grass and grain fed, and only fed antibiotics for the last few weeks before being butchered (as required by state law). I love that we didn’t have to take care of that end of it, and that the butcher who did it was part of a small family shop that’s been around for a long, long time.

I was a little nervous about how well all of the meat would fit, but between a shelf in Caleb’s grandma’s freezer and some re-shuffling in ours, it all went in quite well. Overall, it was an amazingly smooth experience, even with the last-minute meat arrival. While it may seem overwhelming to purchase a quarter (or even an eighth) of a cow, if you can, give it a shot! You’ll save a good bit on meat in the long run, have the knowledge that it was raised in a healthy way, and enjoy the delicious taste that comes from real, fresh food. If you’re interested, my advice would be to contact your local Slow Food or WAPF chapter; or just start asking around!

Now, we just have to find a grill…

Real Food Wednesdays

Summer Drink

27 Jul

watamelon

It’s that time of the year…when fruit languishes in the fridge, growing sad and lonely as it’s forgotten in the midst of summer activities. This recipe is here to help. It’s nothing crazy, just a mix of things I happened to have on hand when I was getting ready to go to the beach and wanted something sweet to drink. You can try a similar technique with pretty much any fruit–I just chose watermelon because it was super juicy and was on its way to the great fruit clouds in the sky.

Summer Drink
Serves 4-6

• A quarter of a small watermelon (roughly 4-5 cups of watermelon)
• 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
• Juice from two limes
• Mint leaves (to taste)
• 2 cups Sparkling Water (optional)

Scoop out chunks of the watermelon in to a pitcher. Add the ginger and the lime juice, and use an immersion blender to get everything nice and smooth (note: If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend the watermelon in batches in a regular blender, pour into a pitcher, and then add the ginger/lime juice). Add the mint leaves, stir well, and pour in two cups of sparkling water. Or lemonade, or whatever else you’d like!

If you want to get really fancy, you can serve with a mint sprig for garnish (and a slice of lime). Or, you can do what I did and pour it in your water bottle and enjoy al fresco, at the beach!

 

Real Food Wednesdays

Mexi-Shrimp Bowl with Garden Fresh Veg

29 Jun

abundant tomatoes!
(or, “What to do when you have tomatoes coming out your ears”)

This year, my friend Brittany let us plant a small garden in one of her raised beds. My main focus was tomatoes, since I’d never grown them on my own before (and I just straight up love tomatoes). I don’t know what I was expecting, but not that the plants would flourish so well that we’d have a giant bowl of tomatoes every week. Amazingly, they do and we do.

I’ve been trying to find little ways to add them into the dishes I cook. On Monday, I made up a random dish from an assortment of what we had in the fridge, and those extra ‘maters really made it sing! The recipe is below–apologies in advance, I completely forgot to take any pictures of it before I ate the whole thing (it was pretty delicious). Feel free to adjust as needed, since this is a pretty thrown-together recipe to begin with.

Mexi-Shrimp Bowl

Serves 2

• 1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
• 1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
• 1 tsp. blackened seasoning
• a can of black beans
• two ears of corn
• two handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes (10-12)
• a handful of grated cheddar cheese

Heat the black beans in a small pot (you may want to drain some of the extra liquid from the can) over medium low heat. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat butter or coconut oil over medium heat. Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Sprinkle generously with blackened seasoning.  Add shrimp to pan, cook until pink. With a serrated knife, cut kernels from the ears of corn (it helps to cut over a bowl so it will catch all of the kernels). Add to the pan, along with the tomatoes.  Cook for two or three more minutes, until the shrimp is opaque and the tomatoes are just starting to soften. Remove from heat. Put a scoop of black beans in a bowl, top with shrimp/tomato/corn mixture and sprinkling of cheese. Garnish with cilantro or avocado slices.

 

Real Food Wednesdays

Unclutter Your Real Food Workspace

6 Apr

source

One of the biggest obstacles that gets in the way of eating real food is the actual act of cooking. Though there are plenty of real foods that can be eaten straight from the fridge or pantry, it’s often preferable (and more appetizing) to combine or prepare them.

Don’t get me wrong–I love to cook. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But there are times (especially when I’ve just battled traffic for an hour) that the thought of snapping my fingers to an instant dinner is mighty appealing. And when those times come, it’s much easier for me to jump the mental hurdle and begin cooking if my kitchen is a place that I actually want to be.

In a way, your kitchen isn’t much different than an office or a studio. It’s a place that you create; a place that you bring things together in ways that take inspiration, planning, science. There are measurements to be made (or guesses to be thrown together), things to arrange, multiple items to be combined in a way that makes them greater than the sum of their parts.

kitchen on design*sponge

source

Everyone has their preference for the ideal working space, but with kitchens, the common thread seems to be space. Flip through any home magazine or blog and you’ll see images of spacious, sun-filled kitchens with counters that go on for days, sinks deep enough to bathe in…you get the idea. Something about the freedom to spread out just speaks to the inner chef. Obviously, for many of us, the dream kitchen is only a dream (mine usually involves this one). But there is a way to make your kitchen a happy, roomy place–even when you live in a one bedroom apartment (ahem…like me). What might that be, you ask?

Minimalism.

It’s my theme for the month. Yes, spring cleaning and all that; but mostly because (thanks to Sara Janssen) I discovered Miss Minimalist and have been devouring her blog (and now her book) like crazy. She’s definitely on the more radical side of the minimalist scale, but for me it took seeing the lengths that she went to truly notice how much I am being owned by my possessions. I have so much STUFF, stuff that I haven’t touched or used in years but am still holding on to just “because.” Stuff that could be used by others who actually need it, or sold so that I can buy thing I really will use, or stuff that is nothing more than junk (and should be sent to the dump, where it belongs).

As I comb through my stuff (and my life) to get rid of things that don’t belong, what better place to start than the one where I spend most of my time and energy? It’s also the place where unused gadgets, utensils, dishes and even food hide in counters and cabinets, just waiting to spill out at the slightest touch. So I’m going to be ruthless and take back my space. This week, I challenge you to do the same. Here are a few tips to help you reclaim your kitchen, and turn it in to a space where you will always be happy to prepare and create.

source

Set aside a chunk of time. It doesn’t have to be a whole evening, just start with an hour or so, and choose as much of your space as you feel you can take on. Don’t be put off by thinking that you’ll never have time to do it all–an hour here or there going through one cabinet or the next will add up quickly.

Remove everything. Yes, everything. This is a tip straight from Miss Minimalist herself–in order to truly go through each thing that you have and determine if it should be taking up your precious space, you need to take it all out and put back only those things that you need and use. It might sound scary, but it’s surprisingly easy (and refreshing) to start with a blank slate.

Get rid of duplicates. Unless you host parties on a weekly basis, you probably don’t need five sets of appetizer plates. Or three potato mashers. Or (gasp) an entire shelf of drinking glasses. I know, I know–the glasses were the hardest thing for me to let go of. But honestly, there is no reason that Mr. Jones and I need 15 drinking glasses. If we’re having that many people over, we’ll be using disposable cups. We can definitely get by on eight (or even just four). There’s this awesome thing called a sink, where you can wash the dirty glasses and then reuse them again.

Get rid of the things you aren’t using. You may have gotten that electric turkey knife from Aunt Selma for your wedding three years ago, but if you haven’t even assembled it, lose it (true story). Same goes for the Foreman Grill, tomato slicer, or whatever other item seemed like a great idea at the time but turned in to a permanent fixture above the fridge/beneath the oven/in the highest cabinet. If you don’t use it, it’s not useful.

source

Put the most used things within reach, where you use them. Minimizing your stuff also means maximizing the things you DO use. Keep bowls and utensils close to where you cook, knife and cutting board within easy reach, etc. If you’re constantly running back and forth in the kitchen, grabbing the same few things, condense them all in to one easy-to-snag place.

Clear your counters. Now that you have some lovely empty space in your cabinets, clear off your countertops so that you have lots of room to chop, mix, and knead as you please. Stow the toaster that only gets used on Saturdays, hide the blender that doesn’t show its face every morning. It’s just as easy (if not easier) to pull an appliance out of your cabinets as it is to be constantly  working around it, wiping off food drips, and checking to be sure it’s unplugged. And when you’re taking it off the counter, ask yourself if you really do need it–you can replace many appliances with a good oven and a sharp knife.

Be just as ruthless with your food. Your food should be just as edited as the rest of your kitchen. Clear the fridge of those questionable things (olive tapenade from two years ago? container with leftovers that look like they’re about to start walking?) and arrange what’s left in a way that makes sense for your cooking style. When you buy a random spice or condiment for a recipe, keep it on a list on the side of your fridge and work it in to recipes in the upcoming weeks. Use things up before they get swallowed by the bowels of your pantry. And keep in mind one of the key properties of real food: it has an expiration date. Use it while it’s fresh and you’ll reap the best taste and the best health benefits.

 

Real Food Wednesdays

Real Food Basics: The Perfect Omelette

30 Mar

omelette

Sometimes, you just have to go back to the basics. Farm fresh eggs, 100% real butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Yup, I’m talkin bout omelettes.

They’re perfect for a midnight snack, breakfast, dinner, lunch…ok, so pretty much any meal. I love them alone, or with any number of tasty fillings (mushrooms, green onions, tomato–yum!).

I’ve always been a big omelette fan, but it wasn’t until the summer before I left for college that I started making them myself. The entire summer, at exactly 11pm, I would cook an omelet. I ate it on the couch, watching TV (and probably relishing in my freedom from high school). Perfection.

Last week, while I was watching season one of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, I started looking up clips from Jamie’s older UK shows on YouTube. I stumbled on this short video, in which Jamie does a great job of showing how to cook the perfect omelette.

Jamie Oliver’s Perfect Omelette

• 2-3 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil
• pat of butter
• a small handful of grated Cheddar cheese (optional)

Place your pan over medium heat. Add a little bit of oil and a knob of butter. Let it melt and give it a few shakes to coat the pan. Break the eggs in to a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whip with your fork and pour the eggs in to the pan. During the first 20 seconds, use your fork or spatula to draw the eggs in a bit so that the uppermost egg gets redistributed (this allows the eggs to cook more evenly). After 30 seconds, use your fork or spatula to loosen the egg one last time. Turn the heat down a little, and grate a bit of cheese on top of the omelette. Let it set over low heat a bit more, until the softness of the eggs just begins to turn. Go around the edges to loosen the omelette, then tilt the pan so the omelette slides slightly away from you. Put the spatula under one side and flap it–and you’re done!

eggs

You can do what I did this morning, and savor the simplicity of the eggs, butter and cheese–or go crazy with some of the following fillings:

Turkey/Chicken Sausage, Soyrizo, Bacon, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Scallion, Mushrooms, Basil, Onions, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Avocado, Sundried Tomatoes, Sour Cream, Salsa

I love Jamie’s method because it’s quick and easy, without using fancy techniques. Of course, there are plenty of different approaches, but this one produced the best omelette I’ve ever made.

Of course, I guess I’ll have to try it at 11pm to really be sure…

Real Food Wednesdays

My Favorite Freezer Meal: Sweet Potato Burritos

23 Mar

sweet potato burritos lined up

It’s nice to have a go-to recipe for new moms, sick friends, or your own freezer stash. Something that is somewhat inexpensive and easy to prepare, a snap to reheat–and of course, delicious! These sweet potato burritos are definitely the first thing I turn to when I need an easy freezer meal. I love to keep a stock of them in our freezer for grab-and-go lunches, or for nights when one of us is doing dinner on our own.

I was actually inspired to find a recipe for them after Mr. Jones had one at our farmers’ market. There are always some great eats there, and we stumbled on a small local restaurant that had sweet potato burritos on their specials board. Caleb ate one and couldn’t stop raving about it, so I was determined to find a similar recipe. When I found one on AllRecipes, I also noticed that a number of the reviews suggested making the batch and then freezing the leftovers. Brilliant!

Since that discovery, they’ve graced my freezer with their presence time after time. I love dropping off a big bag of them to friends who recently had a baby or need an easy meal.

sweet potato burrito contents

 

Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos

(slightly modified from this version)

• 1 tablespoon EVOO
• 1 onion, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 (14.5 oz. or 15.25 oz.) cans canned black beans, drained and mashed
• 1.5 cups water
• 3 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 4 teaspoons prepared mustard
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
• 3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (about four medium roasted sweet potatoes–be sure to remember it takes about an hour to roast them)
• 12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed (homemade is best, but often I just use the ones in the Mexican/Ethnic aisle)
• 8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the mashed black beans. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce, then remove from heat.
3. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.
4. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve. We usually eat two and freeze the rest. Be sure to try them with some sour cream or honey mustard on top (or guacamole/salsa if that’s more your style).

sweet potato burritos

 

Storing and Reheating:

Wrap each burrito in foil, allow to cool, and place in the freezer.

To reheat in the oven: from frozen. 30 mins wrapped in foil at 350 degrees, then 15 mins unwrapped to crisp them up. For the best crispness, heat in the oven (or microwave, below) and then brown each side in a skillet over medium heat.

In the microwave (if you’re like me and don’t have access to a stove/toaster oven at work): wrap loosely in a damp paper towel or cloth. Heat for 1 minute on each side, unwrap and cut in half, and heat for one minute more.

 

Real Food Wednesdays

Easy Homemade Chicken Stock in the Crock-Pot

16 Mar

chicken stock

When cooking, there are times when you have to use substitutes. Imitations. Almost-but-not-quite-as-good-as The Real Thing.

However, chicken stock shouldn’t be one of those items.

First, simply because no powder, concentrate, or watery shelf-stable wannabe will even come close to matching the flavor of real, homemade chicken stock. That’s just the honest truth. Second, because it’s extremely easy (and cheap) to make! Third, because if you don’t know how, I’m going to tell you. See–no excuses. (Well, except for the sad photo above. It was taken quite a while back, in bad lighting, so don’t come down too hard on it. But back to the chicken stock…)

Every few weeks, I buy a whole chicken. The best will come from a local farm, but usually I have to compromise by getting an organic, free-range bird from Publix. Yes, it will cost more than the conventional brand, but not much–and I promise, the flavor you’ll get will make it completely worth it (not to mention the benefits of eating a chicken that was actually raised as a chicken).

After roasting the chicken with an assortment of vegetables, eating dinner, and setting aside the rest of the delicious meat for a few more meals, I do the following (from Keeper of the Home):

Chicken Stock

I pull out my crock-pot and put the carcass/bones in, along with any drippings from the pan. Next, I add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (this helps draw the minerals out of the bones) and pour a few quarts of cold water over the bones (until the crock pot is almost full). Set the crock-pot on low and let it simmer overnight. Before I head to work the next morning, I add some vegetable scraps (carrots, celery, onions, etc.). I try to save my scraps in a container in the freezer, so I always have some I can dump in.

The crock-pot continues to simmer on low for the rest of the day. When I return home in the evening, I add a little bit of parsley, sea salt, an herb or two if I’m feeling the urge, and let it simmer for about 15 more minutes. I turn off the crockpot, and strain the stock in to jars (usually in two cup portions) to freeze. I also do some smaller sizes, put them all in the freezer (once it’s cooled a bit), and voila! I now have my very own stock…of chicken stock.

Real Food Wednesdays

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