Dedicated to…

Ashley! Thanks to my wonderful cousin texting me this past week, I’m back! It’s December… I have two more weeks until Christmas break from school. I’ve gotten into another stump. It’s not rare for me to get seasonal depression. The cold sinks in, walking up and driving the work in the dark and then driving home in the dark, it does something to a girl. Well, to anyone. It’s not like I haven’t been cooking. Heck, I’ve even been taking pictures of what I’ve made, it just hasn’t made it here. So, again, thank you to my cousin Ashley for reminding me that I have people counting on me to blog each week.

Cooking today helped me get back into my routine of things and it helped me forget about the cold, sad weather outside. I woke up, watched CBS Sunday morning, went to the gym, went to tutoring, then came home and cooked and lesson planned. Ah, the sweet joy of routines, makes me feel like myself again! So here’s what we’ve got this week… definitely going to be a crowd pleaser… may want to save these recipes for your holiday festivities!

Brussel Sprout Pomegranate Salad

(Inspiration: my dear friend and colleague… whom brought me a cup of her recipe and a fork in the last five minutes of lunch one day this past week. The two forkfuls I was able to get was heaven on earth and the only food that touched my lips since 6am… so, I may be biased, but this one’s a keeper! Also, please note that in her recipe, she used feta cheese… definitely a great choice, adds a bite of saltiness!)

My recipe…

Salad–

1 pound brussel sprouts (1/2 processed in ninja, 1/2 chopped by hand… gives an added texture to each bite by having the two different cuts, not necessary but delicious)

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

1 small handful pecans, chopped

1 pomegranate

Ginger Jalapeno Dressing–

small piece of fresh ginger, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

*I started with the brussel sprouts, processed and hand shaved and the nuts, mixed together in a bowl

*Then, I said to myself… why the hell am I cooking something with pomegranate? I’ve always loved these things but hate opening and seeding them… so I watched a couple of videos and learned the easiest way ever… took me no more than 5 minutes to get this huge pomegranate open and seeded! Check it out…

1. Cut off the top, similar to how you would do a tomato top

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2. Score the skin (don’t cut too deep) into 8 sections

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3. Gently pull apart into sections

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4. Turn upside down and pull at edges of skin, seeds will just pop out!

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5. Continue to pull and pick at seeds, or use Martha Stewart’s method of beating the bottom of the fruit with a wooden spoon… (yeah, makes sense for Martha huh)

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6. Lastly, put some cold water in the bowl and the extra pieces of skin inside that fell out will rise to the top, simply scoop it out!

Wow! Told ya, super easy! So, then I added the pomegranate seeds to the bowl, mixed, and made my dressing – threw all ingredients listed above into my ninja food processor and drizzled on top of mixture. Mixed with my hands, cause that’s how I am, and bam! The dressing says it all… this dressing is something that comes from an old recipe of mine that it a kale salad and I think it’s even better with this salad! Enjoy! I topped it off with some goat cheese and black pepper for lunch tomorrow – can’t wait!

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Next up, breakfast… It’s been awhile since I’ve made breakfast for the week. I’ve been stuck on eggs or granola and yogurt for weeks. So, I brought back a winner — Quinoa Banana Bake! I made this a lot last year, especially during the winter season , but here’s the recipe again for ya…

1 cup quinoa, cooked (2 cups water, boil, simmer)

2 over-ripened bananas

1/2 cup almond milk

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger

2 tbs maple syrup

*Baked at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes just to let everything meld together. Can’t wait for this tomorrow morning warmed and topped with more almond milk, yum!

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Lastly, I tried to remake one of my mom’s recipes… Mushroom Black Bean Soup. Key word here is “tried”. My stepmom has taught me so much about cooking and yes, I am a better cook because of her, but I will never be better than her and some recipes, I just won’t be able to make as good. Either way, this soup is still a winner and will keep me nice and warm this week when its 20 degrees and starts to snow again. Frankly, I’m looking forward to the snow… better than this dirty muddy grass we have.

Mushroom Black Bean Soup

1 pound black beans, soaked and cooked in pressure cooker (20 minutes)

2 portobello mushrooms, chopped coarsely

2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

3/4 cup frozen corn

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly

seasonings: oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaves

*All vegetables were sauteed together in vegetable broth

*black beans were cooked in vegetable broth in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes

*sauteed vegetables were added to the pressure cooker and cooked for another 20 minutes

This soup’s flavors are great, its nice and comforting. I think that the flavors could be more bold and melded together better if I slow cooked it… I may put it on the slow cooker for a few hours tomorrow just to see. I remember when my mom made this that it was so cooked down that it stuck to your insides and the garlic and mushroom flavors would burst in every spoonful. Hopefully slow cooking it will help. If you are only using a slow cooker, my mom slow cooked to bean on low overnight and then added the vegetables and let it slow cook for another 3 hours.

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Have a fabulous week, ya’ll. Turn on the Christmas music, light up the tree, and snuggle on the couch with one of these beauties! Enjoy!

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