Triple Berry Compote

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So, I’ve done a lot of soul searching during my absence.  I’ve graduated college… finally!  I had to move… yuck!  I’ve discovered that I definitely have food allergies…hooray!  And well, now I am at that point where I think I am ready to get back in the groove of things.  If there is anything I’ve always been passionate about (among the many others) it is cooking!  I love to dream of what flavors, colors, and textures will blend so perfectly together to create something from scratch and fabulous.  I really do pride myself on that.  For quite some time, I have changed a lot of my cooking habits but for the better and I really want to share that with you.  Hopefully you will get some sort of enjoyment from my recipes and feed many bellies with them as well.

Now onto the recipe!

So, it’s summer time and what is one thing that you think of when you hear the word “summer”?  Well, I definitely think of cobblers and pies, specifically, berry cobblers/pies of that nature.  Sadly, strawberry season is over but blueberries and blackberries are still around!  Here is an easy and extremely satisfying way that I make my berry compote.  There is nothing to it and takes literally 10 minutes tops to make.  Fill your pies and cobblers with this compote OR eat it warm with just some delicious vanilla ice cream on top!

Please feel free to substitute any ingredients you may not have and also, sorry for this but, this post will lack pictures until I can get them up.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pint of organic strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
  • 2 pints of organic raspberries
  • 1 pint of organic blueberries
  • Juice + zest of one fresh organic lemon
  • 1/4 cup of raw coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp of organic vanilla extract (optional)

First, wash all berries.  Add berries in large saucepan and coat the berries with lemon juice and zest.  Turn on stove top to medium heat.

Gradually add in the rest of ingredients.  Make sure it does not boil.  If it boils, turn down heat.  Continuously stir and mix compote just until the berries begin to break down but they still hold most of their shape.  The compote will have thickened up some too.

Remove from heat and let it sit for a while.

Enjoy!

*pictures definitely coming soon*

From Scratch Gumbo

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I’ve been slacking and I don’t want to be that way.  Everything threw me off…ok no more excuses, Rachael.

So, I discovered this amazing little storefront Debbie’s Garden and Farmers Market and boy, was it a real treat.  As you may know…by now, I love buying local produce.  I love knowing where my food comes from.  I think that is super important.  So, one Saturday, hubby and I decided to go to the Sugar Land Farmer’s Market and that’s where we discovered Debbie’s Garden and Market.  We picked up their hibiscus mint tea–phenomenal if you like a nice herbal tea.  Really unlike any hibiscus tea I’ve had before.  So, the girl, Sarah, who was at their booth, told us that they have an actual store front with much much more goodies.  Sunday, we went on over and we picked up so many great fruits and veggies but soon after I left, I realized, I had the ingredients to make gumbo.

I’m going to be honest with you guys…I’ve only ate gumbo twice.  First time I made it was years ago, from a box mix (NEVER AGAIN) and the second time I tried some, was actually this past year at my work.  So, since I got a boat load of beautiful tomatoes and 2 pints of fresh okra–I immediately thought: Crockpot Gumbo.

P.S.: I did not create a roux–sorry, don’t want to use overly processed flour.  Also, I do not have picture by picture description.  This was as easy as can be!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Protein(s) of choice 1lb–boneless, skinless chicken breast, sausage, or seafood
  • 2 pints of fresh okra, washed tops and ends cut off, and sliced
  • 5 medium to large vine ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper or 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 stalk of celery, deribbed and chopped (I actually didn’t have any on hand but enhances flavor)
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2-2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional if you want extra hot)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

Set crock pot to LOW and toss in all ingredients.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.  Serve over warm rice when finished!  You may need to add additional salt or pepper, for yourliking.  Enjoy!

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FTC: Debbie’s Garden and Farmers Market did not pay me and are not paying me to mention them in my review/recipe.  I happen to have really enjoyed all the products I’ve purchased from them and will continue to purchase again and again.

Breakfast Hash (2 ways)

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Breakfast is one of my favorite meals except, I hardly ever eat it and what I mean is breakfast type of foods–sausage, eggs, hashbrowns…you know all that and then some!  And why is breakfast always better for dinner?

I digress…

Want to try something new?  How about a breakfast hash!  Below, I will give you details on how to do a seasonal hash using butternut squash and also with red potatoes.  I got some local cilantro in my last local box from Greenling and put those babies to use!  Also, I had some additional red bell peppers I had ordered and a butternut squash that needed to be used that I got in a local box.  Hooray!  Who knew playing with your food could be so much fun?

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1lb All Natural Pork Sausage
  • 2 small onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 small red bell peppers, rough chop
  • 1 large butternut squash or 4 large red potatoes
  • large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil and then some
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • eggs
  • your favorite salsa or pico de gallo (optional)
  • shredded cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400

Serves 4-6 people

1. Peel skin and cut into bite size pieces, either the butternut squash or red potatoes. Place in a bowl and add olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss, toss, toss!!

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2. On baking sheet, lined with tin foil, place butternut squash or red potatoes on top and roast in oven for 25 to 35 minutes.  Vegetable should have a nice color and crust, almost.

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3. In a large skillet, cook down breakfast sausage and make sure to break apart really well.  After the sausage has browned, remove from skillet and place on a paper towel to get rid of any excess grease.

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4. With your chopped bell pepper and thinly sliced onion, in a heated clean skillet, add olive oil, smoked paprika, white pepper, salt (dash), and a good crazy amount of black pepper.  Cook the onions and red bell pepper until they are nice and tender.  The smoked paprika should redden the color of everything.

5. Once tender, when the butternut squash or red potatoes are finished roasting, add them to the onion/bell pepper mix.  Add cooked sausage.  Turn off head.  Toss and mix everything around in skillet.

6. Add finely chopped cilantro.  Add more salt.  Plate hash.

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7. In a small skillet, fry an egg and place on top of hash.  You have the option of adding shredded cheese or your favorite salsa/pico de gallo to the top of the hash.  Enjoy!  Tip: Break that yolk into the hash–yummy!

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Tip: Try using green bell pepper if you decide to go with the butternut squash.  Butternut squash is very rich in flavor and red bell peppers tend to be sweet.  Cut out the sweetness using a green bell pepper or try using the red plus adding in some fresh jalapeno to kick it up a knotch!  Or if you’re a garlic lover, try roasting a whole pod of garlic in the oven, then mince up roasted garlic and add at the end to your hash.  Would be heavenly in both…you could also take out the cilantro and play with a different herb like something more mild like thyme or sage.

Update

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Hey everyone–

Just wanted to keep everyone up to date on me.  I’ve been tied up with personal issues that have been going on for about 2 weeks and this past week has been pretty insane and not in a good way.  Oh well, life happens and you just have to go with it.  I am temporarily on a mini hiatus but this weekend, I will be gearing back up with new recipes to share.

I hope you all have a great Superbowl weekend! 

Rachael

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

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My husband is a Yankee and apparently never ate butternut squash till he came down here.  Obviously, he’s been missing out.

Butternut Squash, one of my seasonal favorites, is very rich in flavor and has a nice nutty taste–hence butterNUT.  I get it, the weird hourglass shaped vegetable scares you…what do you do with this thing?  Well, you can do a lot.  Treat it as any other vegetable in your kitchen!  I happen to love it roasted with fresh herbs but be weary, it’s super rich in flavor and you may only be able to handle a little bit at a time.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

Heat oven to 400

On a large baking sheet, line with tin foil.

Peel off skin of squash and cut the ends off–discard.  Cut squash hot dog style.  Remove seeds from pits.  Cut squash in bite size pieces.

In large bowl, add butternut squash, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Toss, toss, toss!!

Pour squash mixture onto baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes.  Squash should have enhanced coloration and almost caramelized crust begin to form on outside.  Enjoy!

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Sauteed Spinach & Tatsoi

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I got some Tatsoi in one of my local boxes from Greenling and didn’t know what to do with it. Honestly, when I see greens that aren’t lettuce, I kind of think of them as lettuce but I am a firm believer that you don’t have to assume everything that is green should be treated like it has to be eaten in a salad type form.  I like my veggies cooked sometimes and it is easy to not over do a nice leafy green vegetable by quickly stir-frying it.

I wanted to keep this simple.  Since I had been working with a lot of citrus lately, due to the abundance of Meyer lemons I had ordered (for a special project) and received in my local box, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use more.

After doing some research, Tatsoi is basically like a mustard green and spinach had a baby.  It’s an Asian variety that looks very much like Bok Choy (which I happen to love steamed) but has a subtle mustard bite to it.

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Here is what you will need to do a quick stir-fry of any green(s) you may have and have been clueless about:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of spinach (it’s what I had and wanted to use in conjunction to mellow out mustard like flavor of tatsoi)
  • 2 bunches of tatsoi
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 lemon

In your wok, on HIGH, place olive oil and garlic in pan.  DO NOT BURN GARLIC! After about 1-2 minutes, you will smell that garlic.  Throw in your vegetables and quickly toss them until they begin to slightly wilt.  Add your pepper, salt, and nutmeg.  Once all the leaves were wilted but  not overcooked, I removed them from heat.  Enjoy!

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Farmer’s Market Haul

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Today I went to visit my mom because we had planned to go the the farmer’s market close to her house.  I’m always down for shopping local.  I knew I didn’t need any produce or really anything in particular but it’s always fun finding and discovering new things.

Gundermann Acres, one of the local farms that works with Greenling, sells their produce at this particular farmer’s market.  Everything looked beautiful and I was tempted to buy some things there but I held back.

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I did, however, bump into a few really fun things!  Round Rock Honey is a Texas company located in Central Texas and it’s pure, raw Texas honey.  They don’t heat or filter their honey–they seperate it after harvesting the hives by centrifuge in order to preserve all natural enzymes, pollen, and floral essences from the honey bees.  The flavor of the honey was unreal.  Strong floral notes.  Immediately made me wish I had some brie, water crackers, and some fresh apples and berries!

Another win was the olive oils I picked up from Texas Olive Ranch booth. Located in Carrizo Springs, Texas where they grow three different varieties of olive oils.  I love olive oil and I love Texas olive oils.  I had never tried this brand before but I actually picked up the Mesquite olive oil and the Herb Garden olive oil.  The Mesquite olive oil was by far the most interesting one I sampled or have tasted ever.  Can’t wait to try it out!

Last thing I picked up was this organic almond cinnamon butter from Paleo Cottage.  From reading the jar, they are based out of Katy, Texas.  I have never heard of them before but my husband and I really enjoy almond butter, particularly, Justin’s Almond Butter.  I figured, why not give this a try as it has no refined sugar in it.  The sweetness of the butter comes from the organic extra virgin coconut oil.  I actually tried two other nut butters but this one really stood out to me.  Can’t wait to use with fresh fruit for healthy snacks during the day.  One other butter that I did try, that I think would be very interesting working with, would be the pistachio butter.  May look it picking that one up soon!

Do you ever go to farmer’s markets near you?  If yes, what interesting things do you look for or what are some really cool things you discovered at your local farmer’s market that you bought and ended up loving?

Pan Seared and Roasted Lemon Dill Chicken

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Dill is one of my favorite herbs.  It goes great with seafood but surprisingly, it’s a great herb to use in other meats and vegetables.

In my Local Box I received Monday, I got fresh dill and Meyer lemons and decided to put those bad boys to use!  Citrus are in season and nothing is more fresh than incorporating different citrus fruits and their juices into your daily meals instead of those store bought juices that are loaded with preservatives for longer shelf life.

An easy way to get a super juicy piece of meat, is to pan sear it to lock in the juices and it also gives it a nice crust on the outside.  Simple, easy, and extremely tasty!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 sprigs of fresh dill per chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • turmeric
  • boneless, skinless chicken breast(s)

Turn oven to 350.

Wash and trim chicken breast(s) of all fat or skin that may have been left behind.  On the smooth, top part of the breast, at an angle, cut through the chicken and create a slit or “pocket”.  Take a sprig of dill and tuck it into the pocket of the chicken that you created.  Salt, pepper, dust of paprika, and dust of turmeric on each side of chicken.

In pan, on HIGH, heat olive oil until very hot.  Dill side, place chicken into hot pan and sear for 3-5 minutes until crust forms.  Flip chicken over and do the same.

While chicken is searing, take the lemon and slice 4 thin lemon slices.  With the balance of the lemon, juice the lemon and pour over chicken breast to deglaze pan.  Once each side is seared, put two lemon slices atop each chicken and put in oven.  Bake 20-30 minutes until juices of chicken run clear.  Voila!  Enjoy!!

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Fajita Lettuce Wraps

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I was inspired recently from a friend after I had asked on Facebook one day what everyone was having for dinner that night.  Well, this friend mentioned fajitas right off the grill and it immediately made my mouth water.  There is nothing better than beef right off the grill in general, plus, I hadn’t had my “Tex-Mex” fix in a while.

I ordered the most gorgeous cut of local, grass-fed, flank steak from Greenling the other day and wanted to showcase it in this recipe.  Side note: (Texas residents only) It’s from the Bastrop Cattle Company–If you’re interested!  See pictures below but maybe I’m a bit of a freak but the color, the grain, and fat consistency…looks like art!

I came up with a liquid marinade featuring not only oil and spices but also those cute little key limes I got in my Greenling Local Box on Monday.  Acid is very important in marinades especially with beef (which is normally a tougher meat) because the acidity breaks down the meat and creates nice little pathways for the marinade to get inside that cut of beef, allowing it to really soak up that flavor and helping it keep moist/juicy when cooked over heat.  I let this piece of meat marinate for 2 days in the fridge but if you even let it sit for 1 day, it would still taste spectacular. The most prominent flavor was the key lime.  Key limes are much sweeter than regular limes and I think that made all the difference in this marinade.

As for the lettuce, you can use whatever lettuce you like but using one that it easy to roll up is best.  You can find Bibb lettuce or living lettuce at your local grocery store.  Iceberg can work as well but the greener the veggie, the more nutrients!

So are you interested on my healthy spin on fajitas?

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the marinade:

  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 3 pinches of chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt
  • juice of 2 key limes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the fajitas:

  • 1lb flank steak
  • head of bibb lettuce or living lettuce
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1-2 tsp canola oil
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • key limes, quartered (optional)
  • avocado (optional)

Serves 2 super hungry people or 4 with normal appetites!

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the marinade.  Place flank steak inside gallon bag and dump in marinade.  Massage the marinade all over the flank steak.  Make sure to let out air from bag and roll it up tight.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Tip: Try to cook within 1 day of marinade as marinating meat up to 2 or more days can tend to make meat tough.

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Prepare the sauteed veggies by combining onions, bell peppers, and carrots in pan with salt, pepper, cumin, and canola oil.  Cook till veggies are softened but still with crunch.DSC_0001

Wash bibb lettuce leaves and pat dry and voila!  Use lettuce leaves in place of tortillas and fix up your lettuce wrap fajitas as you like!

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Side note: You can add cheese, if you’d like.  The avocado slices really help add creaminess to the lettuce fajita since there isn’t the usual condiments in this recipe.  You can also make a guacamole, if you’d like.

Greenling Local Box Haul #2

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Hey everyone!  I’m really excited about the box this week and am looking forward to putting together some dishes using the ingredients.

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Local Box week January 20th thru January 26th:

  • Avocado from G&S Groves
  • Mesclun Salas Mix from My Father’s Farm
  • Purple Kosaitai from My Father’s Farm
  • Spinach from Gundermann Acres
  • Meyer Lemons from G&S Groves
  • Tangerines from G&S Groves
  • Cauliflower from G&S Groves
  • Dill from My Father’s Farm
  • Watermelon Radish from Fruitful Hill Farm
  • Butternut Squash My Father’s Farm