Foodstuff for Foodies – recipes, health tips & more

Gourmet Delivered to Your Door

Last Friday night my husband and I came home from a “dinner out” to find our kids watching Shark Tank. Not their usual sitcom, I thought, odd, but fine. Sitting down with my son, I watched the episode with him and soon these two young men appeared, pitching the concept of organized dinner prep delivered right to your door.

Okay. You have my attention. I’m an author who tends to get carried away with her stories. It’s not unusual for four o’clock to roll around and the kids ask, “Mom, what’s for dinner?

“Dinner?” Gulp. “I totally forgot!”

I assure myself that I can grab a few items from the pantry (or my garden) and whip up a fabulous meal in no time! I’m a positive thinker, that way. Believe and it shall happen! Unfortunately, on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself mid-meal prep with missing ingredients. Ack. No problem. I’ll improvise.

Ask me again, “What’s for dinner?”

“Chicken Marsala! (sort of).”

If only my family appreciated my creativity. Easy to see why the concept of a totally organized meal with complete ingredient list and accompanying recipe would intrigue me. I mean, could anything more perfect have been invented?

Not for me. Not for many a busy mother, corporate executive or plain old person looking for a tasty, fresh gourmet meal ready-to-cook delivered doorstep. Plated is the perfect solution. Fresh ingredients, savory recipes, and everything you need to pull it off. I’m going to be a hero at the dinner table. Seriously. The applause will soon follow. I’m certain of it.

One might suggest takeout as an obvious solution, however that would entail me getting into a car, driving to the restaurant, waiting, and driving home with food “not quite hot.” Ever tasted a French fry after fifteen minutes of driving? Green beans? Not as tasty as fifteen seconds stovetop-to-table. I enjoy cooking. I’m simply distracted when it comes to preparing for it. Busy.

Plated is the answer. Simple, fresh, delicious and delivered right to me. How’s that for a reminder? Hey, the family needs dinner. What more could one ask for? Not only do I love Plated’s logo and concept, but ten minutes of watching Nick and Josh and I’m convinced. These two are young, smart and dynamic. They’re going places and taking their concept with them. Gourmet at your door, same day or next. The only thing missing in my opinion are the organic vegetables from my garden out back!

The family will be pleased. They appreciate good food and Plated delivers. My garden blog is all about easy and organic. Plated is easy and gourmet. Perfect fit, wouldn’t you agree?

Try it. I think you’ll like it! Plated

Bloggers in Bloom!

Taking part this year in the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop where you’ll find ten days of gardening tips, recipes and giveaways! Decided the more the merrier and why not? Gardening is merry and fun. 🙂

authors in bloom

Better yet, creating scrumptuous dishes with our produce makes it all the better. For new gardeners, herbs are a great way to begin the adventure and lend themselves to all types of recipes. A simple way to use herbs are by making pastes and freezing them. Not only will you lock in the flavor, but you’ll make it easy to enjoy the fresh taste of herbs all year round.

For a simple basil paste, I use about 4 cups of basil (or 4 oz. stemmed) and approx. 1/4 cup olive oil. Place the leaves in a food processor and drizzle with olive oil. I pulse to begin and then hit a steady high if need be. Transfer paste to freezer-safe bags, flatten to remove all air and place in freeze. That’s it! Fresh herb paste ready to use when you’re ready.

basil paste

Variations include oregano and parsley. Use other herbs that don’t keep their same bright flavor when dried such as the mints, lemon basil, lemon balm or lemon verbena, and use cold-pressed nut or seed oils. Be sure to label the containers. More

Enjoying Okra

I’m planting okra this week and I’m doubling–no, tripling!–my beds this year. Why? Because I discovered just how easy it is to grow, freeze and fry these babies up for a delicious side dish to our dinner meal. While fried okra might not be the healthiest version of this veggie, it is one of the tastier versions not to mention my son’s favorite. Hint to parents: when you grow your child’s favorite vegetable, you will be amazed by how eager they are to take part in the planting, feeding and harvesting duties of said vegetable. As a woman in charge of a 4000 sq. ft. garden, I’ll take all the assistance I can get!

okra small and large

Now back to the business of growing. Okra are one of the easier veggies to manage. All you need is warm weather, a general fertilizer and water. They thrive on their own without a lot of maintenance on your part and will continually produce for an extended harvest. One thing to note about okra is size. Size does matter. Big okra are tough and un-delightful to eat. Small okra are tender and very delightful to eat, say about 2 – 3 inches in length. For those of you who are scrunching your noses right now because you can’t understand how anyone would eat the slimy pods, try them “fresh from the stem.” Freshly picked okra are not slimy, but rather crisp and delicate in flavor. More

Easy Grow Wheatgrass

I’ve been wanting to grow wheatgrass but wasn’t sure where to start. With a pretty busy schedule and no idea what the process involved, I was a little hesitant to take on a new project. But after reading a few articles on the amazing healing powers of wheatgrass juice, I must admit, I was intrigued. As a fan of holistic healing solutions, this juice seemed too good to be true. Story after story extolled the benefits of drinking the stuff and I knew I had to try it. I’m curious that way. 🙂

I was completely sold when a few locals began growing wheatgrass. I thought: here’s my chance to get a personal tutorial and tutorial I received. This video was made by a local fellow working with World Wellness. It explains everything, shows everything, as well as offering a handout which I’ve included below for your convenience. I’ve also added a few personal notes for further clarification.

I purchased my seeds from GotSprouts and soaked them as directed. Sunflowers float, wheatgrass sink. More

Pulling Your Hair Out?

Stop. If you’re like me, you’re losing it at an alarming rate. I don’t know if mid-life has caught up with me or the hormones are on the attack but my hair is thinning and I’m none too happy about it! I have every intention of living until I’m 92 and I don’t plan to be a bald-headed old woman. feisty, yes. Bald, no.

woman pulling hair out_XSmall

But wait–there’s good news! I think I might have stumbled upon the secret weapon against hair loss. In response to an aging lower back, I’ve had to focus on “anti-inflammatory” living. I eat anti-inflammatory foods, I exercise, stretch daily to keep my muscles loose and limber, take warm baths to keep the blood flowing…and in my quest, I discovered the omega-3. Now some of you are way ahead of me, consuming these babies by the wagon-load. They’re great for overall health and well-being, but hair growth?

Seriously, I wish someone would have mentioned this sooner. It’s never good when you gaze into the mirror and can see your scalp. It’s disheartening. But alas, no more! Ever since I’ve been eating a daily dose of flax-seed and chia with my oatmeal, my hair is thick and full!  Okay, that might be a stretch. Blame it on the excitement factor, but my hair is noticeably improving, from new clumps around my face to an overall “I can’t see my scalp anymore” fullness. It’s wonderful. Rejuvenating. This stuff is worth eating if for no other reason than hair growth. Not particularly tasty, but definitely worthwhile.

Thinning hair? Eat flax-seed. 2 TBSP a day is all you need, I split mine 1/2 flax and 1/2 chia. Add it to oatmeal, yogurt, fruit smoothies, whatever. It works. Besides, what have you got to lose? Other than more hair, that is. 🙁

Kale Chips Made Easy

Here in Florida the weather is cooling, providing the perfect conditions for growing kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach…all the yummy, dark leafy greens. And with these dark leafy greens come with numerous health benefits. Rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, you certainly want these guys in your belly.

And homemade kale chips make for a healthy snack that will delight the taste buds! Not only healthy and packed with vitamins, these kale chips are versatile and wonderfully easy to make. Simply clip the kale leaves from the garden, clean off the dirt and arrange on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper–a little garlic powder–and voilá!

kale chips roasting

kale chips roasting

My kale chips might look a bit dead and brown, but that’s only because I went heavy on the olive oil and it soaked through.

kale chips in the oven

roasted kale chips

It didn’t affect the taste in a negative way. Quite the contrary. I loved them! And if you don’t want to eat them straight from the dish, toss or crumble into your salad. Definitely worth a try! And think of how healthy you’ll feel about it.

Harvesting Sweets for Thanksgiving!

Oh, what a fabulous day when the sweet potatoes are ready! Now mind you, we could have harvested these babies a few weeks back, but it’s oh-so-much more fun to harvest them in time for the holidays. Sweet potatoes are a staple on our Thanksgiving table. Actually, in our house these potatoes make a year round appearance because not only are they delicious, they’re healthy.

Wonderful! We do love healthy. But now is the time when sweet potatoes are actually “in season” in Central Florida. So, with this in mind, we scooped away the dirt and voilá ~ potatoes!

Kids LOVE this part. Harvesting potatoes is commonly referred to as “swimming” for potatoes and once you let that cat out of the bag, the kids come running. Really puts a nick in my child’s playover when their friends want to garden (ugh-moan) instead of kick the soccer ball around. But gardening is that much fun.

Now, when digging for these guys, one must be careful. An aggressive scrape from your shovel WILL leave a mark on that potato you don’t see until you hit it. Gashes detract from your potato’s storage ability so do be aware.

swimming for sweet potatoes

Best tactic is to don the gloves and get to fingering your way through the dirt.  Most potatoes will be collected under the main root system, however, don’t be surprised if you find potatoes on extended vines several feet away. In our case, we actually found some beneath my lovely black-papered walkways!

our school harvest sweet treats

It’s an adventure. Anyhoo, once you’ve gathered a basket full, gently rinse the dirt from their bodies and set in a cool, dry place to store. Anxious to cook them? Thought you would be. Why not try this Deep Dish Casserole? It has an orange twist to it and is absolutely divine on the tastebuds.  Sweet Potato French Fries are also delightful and of course, Sweet Potato Pie proves a huge hit with everyone. No matter how you slice these golden girls you’ll be pleased with the outcome. And remember, sweet potatoes are healthy. Loaded with vitamins A and C, these are superfoods when it comes to anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory power. Enjoy!

Comfort Food From the Garden

With the recent cold dips in temperature, I’m reminded of what comfort food is all about. Easy, especially when you have a husband who constantly reminds you. “I don’t eat fish when it’s cold outside. Fish is a summer food.”

Hmph. Has the man never tasted a wonderfully warm and succulent bourbon-glazed salmon? I mean, seriously. That’s what I call some comforting food. But I’m not the only one sitting at the dinner table so one must take others into consideration. In light of this fact, I’ve managed to whip up some wonderfully comforting foods that will please even those from the north (who expect their bellies to react to changing temperatures).

French Onion soup

First on the list is Savory French Onion Soup. This is one of my all time favorites and with the recent addition of sweet onions to my garden, a must-eat on the fall grocery list. It’s easy to make though it tends to take a bit of time. And what good soup doesn’t? My daughter is a HUGE fan of this soup and she’s pretty fussy. (Gets it from her momma.) Worth a try for your family.

While we’re on the topic of onions, how about Onions Au Gratin? This one is a spinoff of the French Onion Soup and worth every ounce of effort.

 onion gratin

Last post I mentioned Baked Sweet Onions but have you ever thought to combine them with cabbage? Sautéed Cabbage and Onions is a real treat, one my husband particularly enjoys.

comfort in cabbage and onions

For a tropical flair on comfort, how about Chicken and Yellow Rice with Black Beans?

chicken and yellow rice

It’s not at all difficult to prepare and the taste is out of this world. Talk about filling with comfort, this is one meal I will stuff myself to the seams and enjoy every minute. But then again, I’m from Miami and LOVE all things Spanish. Ever heard of Ottmar Liebert? Great flamenco guitarist.

And to top it off with a sweet, comforting dessert, try these Butterscotch Cookies. Found this recipe while perusing some of my cooking magazines and had to share.

butterscotch-cookies

The butterscotch flavor screams fall and comfort and the soft melt-in-your mouth goodness backs it up. But watch yourself–not only do these taste divine but your belly will fall madly in love and you might find yourself overstuffing!

Now what are you waiting for? Make those promises of comfort to YOUR family and get to the supermarket! You’ll be drifting on a cloud of accolades come bedtime.

 

Pitchin’ Pumpkins

Wish I could say my pumpkin patch did great this year. Wish I was carving pumpkins for Halloween, smack dab in the garden. But I can’t and I won’t be. The bugs in my neighborhood are celebrating, instead. I swear I’m gonna start using screen in my garden. Living against a beautiful backdrop of nature does not ensure a flourishing garden—quite the opposite. It provides cover for the bugs that are stalking and munching your plants.

pumpkin bloom

If only pumpkins weren’t so tasty, with beautiful blooms and wide, flat, yummy leaves. But they are. Now, if you’ve got pumpkins in your garden, I know exactly what to do with them. Make pumpkin pie!

Me? I’ll be using the store-bought pumpkins from you’re my porch step. Don’t bother tossing them into the compost pile. Instead, cook them! Roast the seeds, bake the flesh and okay, I guess you can compost the skin. More

Ulcer-Healing Cabbage Juice

So I’ve been reading up on stomach acid and the accompanying problems associated with the same. Seems all these antacids we’re taking might not be the best route. As a woman who prefers natural healing over pharmaceutical, I thought I’d delve into the issue a bit more and search for a food remedy. If you’re a follower of my blog, you know there are ties between what we eat and health issues we encounter so for me it’s a no-brainer do the research. I discovered some startling facts. While it’s easy to understand the effects of fast food on a body, how about tomatoes?

tomatoes ready for drying

They look good, taste delicious, but did you know they can aggravate the condition commonly referred to as of GERD? Onions, too. Who knew?

Not me. Chocolate isn’t recommended for those suffering from the condition either. What a bummer. HUGE bummer. Alcohol exacerbates the condition, too. Bye-bye wine!

Anyoo, I began my research because I’ve been having stomach acid issues of late. While I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, I think I’ve narrowed it down to the onset–a three-week period of time when I took a daily NSAID for back pain. Doctor told me to take an antacid with it, but I didn’t listen. Remember, I don’t like to take meds, so unless I NEED it, I don’t take it. Apparently I NEEDED it to combat the effects of the NSAID on my stomach lining. Moral of the story: Ask more thorough questions. (My doctor’s gonna love that!) More