The Art of Winging it (and Creamed Corn)

I swore this wouldn’t work out. But something (well, my boyfriend, really) told me to take photos anyway. I shrugged and said “what the heck.” A couple of nights ago, I looked at three ears of perfectly cooked corn on the cob and knew I had to do something with it. I’d been slathering butter and garlic all over those perfect ears for days now, and I (Don’t even think I’m going to say that I got sick of it, because that could never happen.) felt compelled to try something different. I didn’t want to mess with perfection, but, against my better judgement…

“Creamed corn,” he said. I’d never made it before. The concept was simple enough, and if being a southerner has taught me anything (I’m barely a southerner. I’m from Ft. Lauderdale.), it’s that I know how to do corn. And, I’ll tell you, I’d save a couple of ears again to make this easy peasy creamed corn…with garlic. (I had to work the garlic in there. I had to.) That business came out soooooooo gooooooooood.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 ears cooked ears of corn, cut off the cob
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • pinch of cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Melt butter in your favorite skillet over low-medium and add the minced garlic to the pan before it starts to bubble.

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Add the corn to the pan and toss. Keep the heat at low-medium. Meanwhile, make a slurry by adding the pinch of cornstarch to a small amount of the milk and whisking. The goal is to just get the clumps out.

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Add the milk, half and half, and slurry to the pan with the corn and bring to a slight simmer.

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 In a food processor or blender, take out about half of the corn mixture and blend. It’s up to you how pulverized you like your corn to be. (I’d actually blend less next time because I’d like more texture.) Add the blended bits back to the pan. Simmer over low-medium heat for about five minutes until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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 There. Creamed corn. With garlic. Yum.

20140730-112513-41113028.jpg And, yes, I’m eating it out of a ramekin. I’m eating it as I type. Don’t judge me. 😉

 Happy creamy corn, everyone!

Jenna

Angel Hair with Lemony Kale, Caramelized Onions, & Ricotta Salata

Kale is the new little black dress. Sautéed, baked, raw, braised, or fried, it all works. And I’m so fortunate to have oodles of the stuff from my favorite local farm. We’re always coming up with new ways to infuse the leafy lovelies into our meals, and this pasta dish may be my new favorite.

For this dish, you’ll need…

  • approximately 50 leaves of curly kale, stripped from the spines, washed and dried (use your salad spinner)
  • four tablespoons of EVOO
  • two yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • five cloves of garlic, minced
  • half fresh lemon, juice and zest
  • Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces Angel hair cooked al dente

Optional:

  • Balsamic vinegar reduction
  • Ricotta Salata cheese, crumbled

To begin, heat two tablespoons of EVOO in your favorite, very large, skillet over medium heat.

Add the sliced onions to the pan and a small pinch of sea salt.

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Keep the onions moving so they don’t burn until they start to soften. Reduce the heat to low-medium and let them caramelize. This should take about five minutes. Once they’re done, transfer them to a separate vessel.

Add one more tablespoon of EVOO to the pan and add the kale.

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Using tongs, toss the kale a lot as this will help it wilt. You’ll want it all in the pan, but it takes patience. Cooked kale, like any other green, cooks down to a minuscule portion of its original size once the water content is gone. The result is concentrated, amazing flavor.

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Add the lemon juice and a large pinch of sea salt. Give it another good toss. Put the lid on the pan. The kale will really start to break down because of the steam. After about a minute, remove the lid and check the progress. If it’s not soft, put the lid back on and wait another minute.

Remove the lid and make a well in the center of the kale. Add the minced garlic and give it a good stir. Add a bit of olive oil to help the sautéing if you desire.

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Add the lemon zest and stir again. Have cute boy help in the kitchen.

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Add the caramelized onions back to the pan and toss.

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Add the cooked pasta, drizzle in the remaining tablespoon of EVOO, and add salt and pepper to taste. There, you’re done!

photo 4But, if you’re like me, you’ll want to garnish this dish with crumbled ricotta salata cheese and a hefty balsamic reduction drizzle (yes, we always have this on hand). If you don’t have ricotta salata, feta cheese would be a great substitute.

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Until next time, my friends, happy eating!

 

Pretty Purple Vegan Cabbage Slaw

Being a foodie definitely has its perks. I’m often the recipient of food stuff that friends purchase and realize they’ll never use. Gold beets? Sure. Twenty pounds of AP flour? Absolutely. Stunning head of magenta-colored cabbage? Bring it on.

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This cabbage, my friends, is the reason for this rainbow-colored vegan delight. It couldn’t be any easier of a recipe, and any excuse to use a mandolin slicer just about makes my day. It could also be adapted for the paleo diet if you nix the salt and sugar. Truth be told, the veggies probably have enough sweetness on their own, but I really dig the sweet/tangy flavor combo, so I do it up with no shame. And the salt is essential for helping the other flavors pop.

Ready for this? Don’t blink.

Ingredients:

  • half head purple cabbage, roughly chopped
  • half yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • half green bell pepper, julienned
  • one large carrot, thinly sliced
  • half sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar

Method:

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Fold to incorporate the wet and dry items together. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

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There. Done.

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Happy and healthy eating, my friends,

Jenna

No Bah Humbug Here: The Easiest Holiday Appetizer EVER

If you’re short on time and you need a festive holiday appetizer in a pinch, look no further! This amazing snack was born from laziness. I was eating pomegranate seeds, my boyfriend was having brie and pita crackers, and I really wanted to eat his snack, but wanted to top the brie with pepper jelly. But it was all the way in the kitchen…like a million miles away. And when he’s watching a Michigan game with that glazed-over look, there’s no budging him. And I was (and still am) caught up in Martha Stewart’s Collected Recipes for Every Day cookbook because it’s raining out, and I can’t play in the garden.

Anyhow, I popped a few ruby red jewels on top of the brie-smeared cracker and stuffed it in my mouth. I did (and am still doing) this repeatedly. Pretty, right?

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In fact, this post is nearly interrupting my face-stuffing…but I had to tell the blogosphere about this. The sweet/tart flavor of the pomegranate combined with the salty/creaminess of the brie and the crunch of the cracker make for a perfect and super simple appetizer. What’s more is that these little antioxidant-rich babies look exactly like holly berries. I’m completely smitten…and full.

Festively snacking,

Jenna

P.S. To make this gluten-free, I’d go for nice, uber seedy gluten-free cracker. It’d be amazing!

Crinkle-Cut Organic Carrot and Feta Salad

I just got back into town from being a bridesmaid in my father’s wedding. And, because my dad is a food fanatic, I gorged myself at the joyous event. I ate sushi, clams casino, tenderloin on crostini, flounder, scallops, lamp lollipops, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And that doesn’t even include the four course dinner or dessert extravaganza. Last night, I was at a massive, overwhelming, international Vegas buffet where two people happened to get married.

Now that I’m home, I want a simple, no fuss, healthy snack. I desperately need to go grocery shopping, so my fridge is pretty bare bones right now. But a girl’s gotta eat. And this girl’s resourceful. I have a bag of organic carrots and lots of cheese. We always have a ton of cheese.

I grabbed my new favorite crinkle cutter, my veggie peeler, two carrots, feta, and my shall-remain-nameless-always-perfect-for-emergencies Italian Dressing (geeeeeeeeeezfine, it’s Ken’s) , and made the perfect snack. I normally don’t write about quick snacks, but this one warrants a post.

To make this, peel and crinkle cut (or regular knife cut) two organic carrots. Fun colored ones would be great, too. Combine with two tablespoons of feta cheese, one tablespoon of dressing, a small pinch of sugar, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Toss and eat. How simple is that?!?!

The sweetness from the carrots, combined with the salty, tangy bite of the feta make the ideal scarfable snack. Plus, and I can’t ignore this, but the wavy crinkle cut shape is really fun!

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I’ll be enjoying this time and time again. I hope you give it try!

Quick, Delicious, and Healthy Gluten-Free, Vegan Black Bean Soup

I know I shouldn’t be focusing on anything in yoga other then my practice in the present, but I was thinking about soup…creamy, delicious, organic black bean soup. I was so hungry! As soon as I got in my car, I planned the execution of this soup and mentally inventoried everything in my pantry to be sure I didn’t have to stop at the store on my way home. Normally, I’d start from organic dried beans, but I always have some canned ones on hand for times like this. Thank goodness. Here’s to having a well-stocked pantry and a garden full of peppers!

For this quick and easy black bean soup, you’ll need:

  • 4 cans organic low-sodium black beans
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 cubanelle peppers, diced (you can also use two medium bell peppers)
  • 1 jalapeño sliced (you can remove the seeds and ribs to limit the heat if you want)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Adobo seasoning
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • Dried oregano
  • Water

To begin, dice your peppers, onion, and garlic if you haven’t alredy.

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Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large lidded pot over medium-high heat. NOTE: I always use my enameled cast iron pot because it traps so much heat and leads to quicker cooking times.

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Add your garlic to the oil and let cook for about 30 seconds. Don’t let it burn.

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Add the peppers and onion to the pot and give it a quick stir. Add a small pinch of sea salt.

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Sauté for five minutes while frequently moving around the pan.
Now add the beans, liquid and all, and one can of water. NOTE: I would have added veggie stock if I had some, but water works just fine. Add all your spices, give it a good stir.

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Turn the heat down to low, put on the lid, and let it simmer for about a half hour. When you take off the lid, give it a good stir. The soup should have thickened.

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The soup could be eaten just like this, but I like to purée half with my immersion blender. To do this, ladle out half off of the soup into a separate bowl, plug in your stick blender, and let it rip! Remove the bay leaf before this step.

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It’ll be thick with a wonderfully creamy texture.

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Add back the bean soup that you separated, simmer for about five minutes, adjust the seasonings, and eat! I like to garnish mine with a dollop of sour cream and pickled jalapeños. Feel free to eat this with some tortilla chips for a bit of crunch.

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My Favorite, No Fail, Super Easy, Multi-Purpose Dressing

Fact #1: I love condiments. Fact #2: When I think of eating, 99% of the time, some sort of sauce or dressing is involved. Fact #3: I am about to share my favorite universal dressing with you.

1/2 cup organic light olive oil
1/2 cup organic red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon organic dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Shake vigorously. There. That’s it. I usually just make this in a wide-mouth squeeze bottle because it saves me dirtying a bowl and whisk.

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Quick Fix Dinner: Penne with Chicken, Cremini Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Chardonnay

Perhaps I should’ve put Chardonnay as the first word of this title. Although only a splash went into the dish, the flavor that came from it was outstanding and noteworthy. And, truth be told, I started cooking after just getting home from an overnight trip and drove through a torrential can’t-see-two-feet-in-front-of-the-car downpour on the highway; suffice to say, I was a little edgy. Mmmmmmm, wine.

So, we got home around 8 p.m. and were hungry. There was absolutely no way I was heading back out, so I scrounged the fridge. I had some chicken breast, cremini mushrooms, onions, garlic, Chardonnay (of course), leftover penne pasta, sundried tomato oil, and lemon. I couldn’t have planned this better myself! So I got to cooking. I made it up as I went along because I was too hungry and tired to think. The results were remarkable. (And I don’t believe that everything tastes good when one is hungry. I’m still picky, no matter the rumble in my tummy.)

So, I promise this’ll be good. Follow along…

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinImage
  • Sundried tomato infused EVOO (garlic EVOO or plain would also be fine)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Good quality Chardonnay
  • Fresh lemon
  • 12 ounces of cooked (leftover if you’ve got it) penne or other bite-sized pasta

Once you’ve got everything prepped, this will go relatively quickly. Ready?

1. Add 1 tablespoon of your infused EVOO (or plain) to a large non-stick skillet and heat to medium-high.

2. Add the quartered cremini mushrooms and let them sauté for about a minute while constantly moving them around the pan (don’t let them burn!).

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3. Add all of the sliced onions, and give it a good stir.

4. Add a nice pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper to the pan.

5. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes while constantly moving the ingredients around the pan.

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6. Remove the mushrooms and onions from the pan and set aside.

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7. Wipe out skillet, and add 1-2 tablespoons of the infused EVOO again. Keep the the heat at medium-high.

8. If you haven’t alredy done so, season both sides of the chicken breast with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

8. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, add the paillards to the pan. They should make a nice sizzle.

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9. Turn the chicken after 3 minutes.

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10. Sauté for 3 minutes on the other side. It should be nice and golden brown.

11. Remove from the pan and set let rest for a few minutes.

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11. While the chicken is resting, feel free to pour a glass of wine, start cleaning up a bit, or set the table. You’ve got about three minutes of free time.

12. Thinly slice the chicken on a clean cutting surface.

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13. Add 1 tablespoon of the same flavored or plain oil back to the skillet and heat to medium-high again.

14. Add the sliced garlic and mushroom and onion mixture. Give it a good stir and let saute for 1-2 minutes.

15. Add the sliced chicken to the pan and mix it all together.

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16. Once this is good and sizzling, add about a 1/2 cup of good quality Chardonnay.

17. Let this cook down for about 30 seconds, and add a nice pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

18. Add the cooked penne to the pan. Let this all heat through, and add half a squeezed lemon.

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19. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

NOTE: If I had fresh basil, I’d have added it at the very end. It would be a pefect addition.

20. Plate it up and add some fresh grated parmesan or Romano cheese.

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Happy eating, everyone!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Beefsteak Tomato, Vidalia Onion, and Italian Basil Bruschetta Topping

Nothing is as perfect as a vine ripened tomato. Summer brings tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors to our backyard gardens and farmer’s markets. We love to find ways to use them, and, because my honey is a fantastic baker and just made a to-die-for crusty baguette, bruschetta felt like the right thing to do. Also, it’s not a tough thing to make. The quality of the ingredients you use will take center stage and need little embellishment.

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To make the bruschetta topping as we’ve done, you’ll need:

2-3 large, perfectly ripe, beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sweet Vidalia onion, diced
6 Italian basil leaves, cut in thin ribbons
Pinch of sea salt
Few grinds black pepper
4 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil (or plain EVOO if you prefer)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Put all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

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Add the oil and vinegar.

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Add the salt and pepper and gently fold all ingredients together. It would be fine to eat just as soon as you put it all together, but I like to let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator.

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You could serve “salad” this over fish, chicken, or shrimp if you’d like. But I love it on sliced and grilled baguette rubbed with fresh garlic (and topped with fresh melted mozzarella, if I’m feeling extra decadent).

Peppered Smoked Salmon Over Organic Romaine with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

I’m hungry. After a long day at work and Yoga, I’m ready to eat…NOW. I have some smoked peppered, and sustainably harvested salmon, crisp romaine, cukes from my favorite local farm, Vidalia onion, and capers. I also have the makings for a great honey and stone ground mustard vinaigrette. So let’s cook, or it’s gonna get ugly around here.

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If you need to wash your veggies, do that now. But here’s a time-saving tip: when you come home from the farmers market or grocery store, wash and cut up your veggies right then. That way they’ll be ready for you when you’re ready for them. Having a healthy salad becomes a pleasure rather than extra work when you’re starving and, if you’re anything like me, impatient.

Create a bed of lettuce and scatter your sliced cukes, capers, and thinly sliced onion around the plate. Gently peel the salmon from the skin,flake it with a fork or your fingers, and place on top. Crack some fresh pepper on top, and set the entire salad, plate and all, in the fridge. I like to do this because. I like salads chilled. It’ll be the perfect temperature by the time you make the dressing.

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For the dressing, you’ll need:

3 tablespoons Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1-2 tablespoons honey (use local honey to help with seasonal allergies)
1/3 cup canola oil or other mild-tasting variety
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
Cracked pepper to taste

Shake all ingredients vigorously in a mason jar, cruet, or other tightly lidded vessel. I used this nifty emulsifier/cruet gadget that I found at Target. You could use a blender if you’re so inclined, but it’s really not worth the clean-up or time expenditure when you WANT TO EAT.

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Drizzle the desired amount over your salad, pour a nice glass of Chardonnay, and chow down. Happy eating!

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