Avocado Apple Cider Vinaigrette: The healthy creamy dressing

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 When I started down the road to healthy eating, the biggest labor o love with salads was trying to find a dressing that was both delicious and healthy.  Always loved my blue cheese and caesar but those are not the healthy choices that lead to life changing results–so why eat the dag salad anyway?

Sure, raspberry and balsamic vinaigrettes were aiight for a while but after a year I was over it.

 It was thanks to the amazing Robert Chaisson that I started learning to make my own dressings.  Thanks Robert!!!

 

The first variation was with ¼ avocado, chopped garlic, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar.    After that, I just kept playing.  The message that leaves? You can make your dressing a million ways, just have avocado and apple cider vinegar!

 

 

So today’s salad:

Blackened tri-tip steak with a three greens salad

 with a SweetHeat Avocado Vinaigrette.

 

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Salad Dressing:

(serves 1)

¼ Avocado

1 ½ Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

1 1/2 tsp sweetheat spices from Shenandoah Spice Company

You can substitute that spice with come garlic powder, cayenne, or a spice you love (plus a tsp of honey) but why would you?  Sweet Heat is by far my favorite spice from that dag company.

 

  1. Combine ingreedients into a bowl and, using a fork, mash together thoroughly.  Because the spices are not being heated, you may need more to get the flavor through.

Cooking the Steak (Super easy, promise)

Ingredients:

¼ lb tri tip steak strip (skirt steak or flank also fine)

1 tsp Blackend Bayou seasoning

1light drizzle of oil

  1. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat.  When oil is hot, lay steak in pan and sear on either side (Tthe spice will start to darken). Cook to your liking!

 

In the salad?

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4 leaves of romaine (chopped)

a cup of pea shoots

a cup of arugula (chopped)

1 green onion shoot

thinly sliced tomato

¼ cup of finely chopped apple

a sprinkle of raw gorgonzola

Results:

Sweet and spicy tasty salad with a dressing that makes me feel like I’m eatin’ something fatty without making me feel fatty.  It feels like fall and for once I feel full from a salad deemed healthy: oil free, low sodium, low sugar.

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Ingredients:

The Trusted Table: pea shoots, romaine, arugula, cilantro, tomato, onion

Whole Foods: Shenandoah Spice Company’s Sweet Heat, steak, apple, avocado, vinegar, gorgonzola

 

Two best friends and Brilliance: Shenandoah Spice Co.

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Shenandoah Spice Company caught my attention while doing the beloved Whole Foods sample rounds. I’m not a huge meat lover, nor will I ramble down the road of over-priced Whole Foods items—but they got me.

It was the bread dip first: everyone’s favorite Italian restaurant starter, with herbs a little sea salt and olive oil, just to dip your bread in. Next, a refreshing dill yogurt dip: one bite and all I wanted was red pepper, cucumber, and a bottle of wine. So the dips stop you at the table long enough just to see their spice collection.

They got my sale, but thanks to a wonderful Whole Foods employee, Chad, they got my help. Well really I got a cabinet filled with tasty spices and another awesome company with which to work.

So here’s the story:

Shenandoah Spice Company is owned and operated by two best friends, a butcher (Nick) and a chef (Josh).  About 8 years back they did what any good DelMarVa cat does and took a trip down their local river, the Shenandoah of course, with a cooler of beers and a couple of inner tubes.

While floating, they came to the brilliant realization: we have all of the knowledge and passion to make our own spice line…so why haven’t we?

They started with the butcher shop, Crabhill Butchers in Toms Brook, Virginia—then the farmers markets—now: Whole Foods and beyond!

I have the privilege of helping them expand through the Maryland, DC area.  Slow, but steady, we win the race to enter the kitchens of the masses.  After just one demo I am almost obsolete—it flies from the shelves.  Why? Because it’s just that dern good.

 

What I love and why?

  • Espresso BBQ rub
  • Island Jerk
  • Blackened Bayou
  • Cul-Pepper Rub
  • Sweet Heat
  • Spicy Adobo
  • Okay so basically all of them but those are the top favorites

Why? You become the laziest chef and get that restaurant quality of flavor, without the take-out cost.  When trying to start a small business, that really makes a difference.

Go team.

 

So what can YOU do to help and get Shenandoah Spice to your neighborhoods??  How can you help a small business survive??

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Go to your local Whole Foods, Wegmans, corner markets and ask them if/where their Shenandoah Spices are! A few requests, only 5 minutes of your day, and you can truly bring momentum to their success.  Plus, nobody likes a squeaky wheel—being an annoying customer actually rocks in this situation.

 

Where to find it as of now?

Whole Foods Annapolis

Whole Foods Charlottesville

Whole Foods Tenleytown

Whole Foods Oldtown

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 p.s.- nicest guys to work with..maybe ever.

Back in the Zone: Veggie Chili–Go Big, Go Belly.

Vegetarian Chili: The Affordable Meal goin’ for DAYS

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So it has been about a week now since the blogging fun—that’s what I get for leaving my camera in DC and being Queen Spaz of rush hour.

This rainy day seems like a perfect time to pick it back up again with the ever perfect, ever tasty, money saving rainy meal: a big ol’ pot of veggie chili.

Chili really is the perfect thang to have right when it starts getting cold and if creative enough, with enough seasonings, you can really put almost anything in it.

Between tightening my belt for my bridesmaids dress (hey there Allie, buyin my dress!) and my Trusted Table produce share fresh off the farms, veggie chili just seemed to make sense:

Meals for days at a dag reasonable price.

And for those wondering: why use silly ol’ 2-alarm chili packs? Because spices are expensive.  This pack is $2.50 and requires zero measuring.  You can add whatever floats ya boat–curry, smoked paprika, whatevs.

Ingredients:

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(serves 1 bazillion)

1 2-alarm chili kit (sold at WF and most grocery stores)

1 cup cauliflower (finely chopped)

¾ cup red cabbage (finely chopped)

1 yellow onion (diced)

1 bell pepper (diced)

1 carrot (thinly sliced)

1 can black beans (drained)

1 can kidney beans (drained)

1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes

¼ cup tomato sauce or ½ small can tomato paste

olive oil

 

Optional additions:

These can really be anything your heart desires, but this is what I used:

jalapeño

1 tsp spicy plum chutney (Virginia Chutney Company)

1 clove crushed garlic

1/2 tsp bourbon smoked paprika

 

  1. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of your pot and bring pot to medium heat.  Add onions, cauliflower, cabbage, bell pepper, and sliced carrot.  Saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add spices listed on back of kit, whole peeled tomatoes (and liquid), tomato sauce, and drained beans to pot and turn to low.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add masa flour, red pepper, and optional ingredients to pot and simmer for 15 minutes on low.
  4. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt, avocado, some diced onions/tomatoes, and hot sauce for DAYS.♥

 

Other great optional ingredients: Roasted Red Peppers, Roasted Tomatoes, Serrano/Habenero Peppers

 

Ingredients List:

The Trusted Table: red cabbage, bell peppers, carrot, garlic

Whole Foods: yellow onion, cauliflower, Virginia Chutney, greek yogurt, avocado,whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, 2 alarm chili, beans

Farmers Market: jalapeños 

 

 

 

Tomatillos: Beyond the Salsa

Creamy Tomatillo Sauce

 

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So I love getting my weekly produce share from The Trusted Table but, gotta say, I want more from my tomatillos than just salsa verde.

One night, filled with boredom and a new level of lazy, my rommie and  I started pondering the idea of a tomatillo pasta sauce.  After a little research and some inspiration from Edesia Eats I got a handle on it:

the perfect light cream sauce.

Some of you may love a good Alfredo.  For me, those are recipes for tummy aches.  If you want a good cream sauce, here’s the one for you.

…and why tomatillos over tomatoes?  They are way cheaper, especially if ya can’t get seconds at the farmers market.

Ingredients:

(serves 2-3)

1/2-3/4 lb tomatillos

2 1/2 tsp greek yogurt

3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp chopped Italian parsley 

1/4 tsp salt

crushed red pepper

cracked black pepper

Italian seasoning

1 1/2 tbs olive oil

lemon wedge

Roasted Tomatillos
The roasted tomatillos
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut tomatillos in half.  Add olive oil, red pepper, black pepper, salt, crushed garlic, and italian seasoning to a large metal bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add tomatillos to bowl and toss until evenly coated.
  2. Lay a piece of parchment onto a rimmed cookie sheet.  Place tomatillos, open cut down, onto sheet.  Add excess oil and herbs on top of tomatillos.  Optional:  Crack black pepper over tomatillos and a light olive oil drizzle.  Not required but I did it for good measure.
  3. Place sheet in the oven and set timer for 20 minutes.  Tomatillos are done when soft to the touch.
  4. Carefully lift parchment from tray and pour all ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Add greek yogurt, italian parsley, and squeezed lemon juice to blender.  Blend until preferred consistency.

 

Veggies with dish?

Ingredients:

Whatever is left in your fridge, quite honestly.  Just make sure it’s enough for 2-3.  If you use less veggies the sauce will feed four, buuuut veggies are an essential part of your healthy diet so why skimp?

What  I used:

1 cup kale (finely chopped)

1-2 roma tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)

1/2 bell pepper (diced)

1/8 cup onion(diced)

1/3 cup zucchini (1/4″ thick pieces, halved)

2 cloves garlic (pressed)

Italian seasoning

cracked pepper

olive oil

  1. Bring sauté pan to medium heat (no hotter) with olive oil.  Add onions and bell pepper (or other firm vegetables i.e. carrots, celery, etc) and herbs.
  2. After sautéing onion and pepper for 3 minutes, add medium firm veggies (zucchini, squash, tomatoes).  Allow for 3 minutes of sautéing.
  3. A few minutes before serving, add kale into veggie mixture.  This is added at the end to keep it from over cooking.

 

Final Step:

  1. Toss pasta (amount preferred for two) with sauce and veggies.
  2. Serve, cover with grated tasty cheese, and enjoy your healthy creamy tomatillo sauce.

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Ingredients:

The Trusted Table: tomatillo, garlic, italian parsley, kale, onion, tomato, bell pepper

Whole Foods: greek yogurt, pasta

 

This weeks Trusted Table Share

Another lovely afternoon with my favorite treat:

A fresh CSA box from The Trusted Table!

I picked it up this morning just so I could share photos of the local delights, so I hope this sways you to the CSA way!

For all those living in Annapolis, they will deliver BUT they have also set up a new drop location with Annebeth’s on Maryland Ave!

 

In this box:

kohlbrabi

cherry tomatoes

sweet potato leaves

lemongrass

red beets

lettuce

Roasted Beet Salad and the rest o the meal…

This week from The Trusted Table produce share: Tasty Beets.  I had just finished a demo for Cherry Glen and had some Silver to spare, one of their aged chèvres.  Nothing better than roasted beats, a little goat cheese, and a vinegar dressing. Instead of the usual orange apple cider, I decided to go with a balsamic reduction.  How’d it go?

Super Tasty.

Try it, dare ya.

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Ingredients:

(serves 2)

for beet roasting:

4 medium sized beets

1 Tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic (pressed)

1/8 tsp salt

cracked black pepper

–with–

fresh rosemary

or

sage

for balsamic reduction:

½ cup balsamic vinegar

for salad stacking:

fresh chevre

5 basil leaves

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Beet Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the greens from beets and remove the ends. Wash to remove excess soil.
  2. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and herb of choice in a small bowl. Roll beets in oil mixture to thoroughly coat.
  3. Place coated beets on a sheet of aluminum foil. Add excess oil from bowl and close foil.
  4. Place beets (in foil) on a cookie sheet and put on center rack in the oven. Set timer for 40 minutes and take a nap! Or keep prepping if you’re worried about the house burning down, either works.
  5. Once finished, remove beets from the oven and let sit for 8 minutes.
  6. When ready (either cool enough for you to handle or cool enough for hot potato peeling) remove skins.

 

Balsamic Reduction

Balsamic Reduction:

  1. Place ½ cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saute or sauce pot.
  2. Place at medium heat and allow to reach a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, occasionally stirring to avoid sticking.
  3. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until amount has reduced by at least half. For a more syrup like consistency, extend time. DO NOT increase heat while cooking. It takes time, sure, but increasing the heat will leave you with a stiff, gnarly balsamic reduction-like mess.

 

Stacked Beets and Goat Cheese

Salad stacking:

  1. Cut beets into ¼ inch thick pieces. Cut aged chevre into ¼ inch thick pieces, thinner if you can. I’m using Cherry Glen Silver but Bucheron slivers, cana de cabra, and oveja de cabra will also work just fine. If not from Maryland, you might try something from Cypress Grove.
  2. Layer beet-cheese-beet, etc., until stacked salad reaches desired height.
  3. Drizzle balsamic reduction over stacks and on plate, followed by topping with chopped basil.
  4. Take a picture and enjoy!

 

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Served with a Creamy Kale Salad

 Ingredients:

(serves 2)

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

2 tbs greek yogurt

¼ tsp honey

cracked pepper

1 cup chopped dinasaur kale

1 cup chopped romaine

1 small asian pear

1 small yellow roma tomato

 

  1. Combine vinegar, greek yogurt, honey, and pepper in a bowl. Whip to help blend in the honey.
  2. Toss chopped kale in the mixture for 2 minutes, then add diced pear, tomato, and romaine. Serve topped with fresh cracked black pepper.

 

The Meat of it…

Ingredients: 

1 chipotle Field Roast Sausage

¼ cup yellow onion

pinch of salt

1 tsp olive oil

 

  1. Saute onions in olive oil on medium heat with salt pinch for 2 minutes. Add sliced sausage.
  2. Cook sausage on each side for a few minutes until slightly browned.

 

Enjoy!

The Full Meal
and yes, this is natural lighting without a flash, unedited. Guess I forgot to check my levels!

Ingredients List:

The Trusted Table: beets, basil + rest of meal: kale, romaine, tomato, pear

Annebeths: Cherry Glen goat cheese

Whole Foods: Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar

Frenchies Tasty Sauces: Black Spot Sauces

Back in college I had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with a man named Aaron French.  A brilliant activist/farmer/master chef, our friends got to play test bunnies as he spent more time working on our local, organic farm (Evenstar Farm).  Now I never had the luck of living in the house with most of my farming friends, but I did get to try the sauces.

The most amazing treats to experience.  Spicy heaven.

Spicy with a hint of sweetness and so much flavor!  As a spice enthusiast, I am always looking for something with a kick to make my palate pleased.  He and I would praise our favorite indian restaurant for the flavor and depth of the heat and, gosh dern it, the kid could do the same.

Follow the link to check out Aaron’s company and order some of his perfect sauces:

Black Spot Hot Sauces

Found on the Small Potatoes website.

 

Here is his list of sauces and descriptions:

 

–The Original

The first sauce I ever made, the simplest and certainly one of the best. A milder sauce thats textured and creamy and gets its heat and base from ripe, red jalapenos which are more flavorful than the green jalapenos were used to.. Red onions, garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar round out this classic tasting sauce.
—–$4/5oz bottle $7/pint jar—–

–The Verde

The mildest sauce available, but also packed full of flavor. Green jalapenos, onion and garlic give the base flavor…but then cilantro and lime truly take it up a notch. Vinegar helps bring out the citrusy tang of the lime, and gives the sauce a smooth consistency.
—–$4/5oz bottle $7/pint jar—–

–The Ardor

This one’s something special. Starting with slow roasted red jalapenos and garlic, this sauce hits its stride when dried ancho pepper (also known as poblano when ripe) powder gets added into the simmering mixture of peppers, garlic and onion and vinegar. A smokey, chipotle flavor helps this medium to mild spicy sauce be a great subtle addition to just about anything.
—–$4/5oz bottle—–

–The ‘Mater

A delicious, mildly spicy and extremely flavorful mix of equal parts heirloom tomatoes and red jalapenos milled to a perfectly creamy consistency. Small amounts of onion, garlic, and Scotch Bonnet peppers give this delicious mixture a bit more heat.
—–$5/5 oz bottle $9/pint jar—–

–The Avery Island

Named for the famous home of Tabasco Hot Sauce, this is a fermented hot sauce that carries the same consistency as the famous Louisiana sauce. Insanely simple: mashed peppers allowed to ferment in a salt brine for a little more than a month. This won’t be ready until mid- October but there will be both a red jalapeno and a milder green jalapeno variety.
—–$6/5 oz bottle—–

–The Georgia Flame

The most diverse sauce I make brings together sweet and spicy in a fantastically flavorful explosion of sweet Iowa grown peaches and Bhut Jolokia peppers (also known as the Ghost Pepper). Garlic, carrots and a little bit of apple cider vinegar help flesh this sauce out.
—–$7/5 oz bottle—–

–Drop It Like It’s Hot Sauce

This is it folks. This is the hottest sauce I have. A small base of red jalapenos quickly give way to much hotter peppers. A quadruple threat of Paper Lantern, Scotch Bonnet, Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion peppers makes this sauce truly one for the fans of fiery foods. Small amounts of onion, garlic and carrots are added for flavor and to achieve a smooth, drip-able consistency.
—–$7/5 oz bottle—–

 

That last one? I want that last one.

 

Forget that. I want em all.

Thanks for workin’ local organic, Aaron.  You’re an inspiration to all foodie kind.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

So many eggplants from The Trusted Table, so little time.

Since I’ve been on an Italian kick, I figured I’d just keep going.  I had decided to make Eggplant Parm this week but scheduled a date with my buddy, Michaela, for the Parm cookin’ evening and she’s gluten-free.  Thus, I got creative and explored the Whole Body Department of Whole Foods.

What’d I find?  A great Eggplant Parm encrusting.

Spectrum Savory Blend (Hemp and Flax Seed).

If you don’t want to go gluten free, replace flour and mix with crushed bread crumbs, garlic powder, and herbs.

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Ingredients

(serves 4) 

3 (approx 2.5 lb) medium-large eggplants

½ cups Savory hemp/flax seed mix

¼ cup gluten-free flour

¾ cup parmesan cheese

¼ tsp salt

cracked pepper

1 tsp italian seasoning

–or–

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

 

3 cloves of garlic (finely pressed)

2 eggs

2 tbs water

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet in a thin layer of olive oil. Whisk eggs, water, and pressed garlic in a bowl together. Mix seasoned flax/hemp seed, parmesan cheese, seasonings, and flour in a separate bowl.DSC_0010

  2. You can remove the skin off the eggplant or you can keep the skin on. I prefer skin on for a better packing nutrient punch. Dip the eggplant into the egg mixture and hold it up to drain excess liquid. Press firmly into the breading mixture, flip and repeat. Place fully breaded pieces onto oiled cookie sheet.

  3. Once all pieces fully breaded, place cookie sheet into oven for approx. 20 minutes, or until a golden brown on the bottom side. Flip and place back in the oven for approx. 20, until both sides are the golden brown.DSC_0013

  4. There are two ways to do the next step: with a deep dish (pie tin/casserole dish) or a cookie sheet. I went with the cookie sheet method, less dirty dishes and I didn’t want to use so much cheese.

  • Deep dish: Place a layer of eggplant at the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Pour over a thin layer of sauce and cover with shredded parmesan cheese. Cover with another layer of eggplant-sauce-mozzarella. Repeat process until all eggplant in dish.
  • Cookie sheet: Remove tray and pour enough sauce to cover eggplant, without drenching it. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella over the top. I used aged chèvre (Cherry Glen) and parm to cover it. 

  1. Bake in the oven until the cheese and sauce boil.

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Sauce, before adding stewed tomatoes

Ingredients:

32 oz oven roasted tomatoes

1 32 oz can of peeled, stewed tomatoes

½ can tomato paste

¼ tsp crushed red peppers

 

Optional Additional Ingredients:

2 cloves pressed garlic

Fresh Basil

  1. Follow the oven roasted tomato recipe, make it the day before.

  2. Combine oven-roasted tomatoes with stewed tomatoes and tomato paste in a pot or pan. Allow to simmer and soften while eggplant browns in oven. Add optional ingredients.

I used zucchini linguini instead of pasta to add more veggies to my diet, threw some bread on the side to keep my carb quota up. Follow the link and scroll down to veggie prep!

Ingredients:

The Trusted Table: tomatoes, basil, garlic, eggplant, eggs

Whole Foods: Herb and Garlic Flax/Hemp mixture, parmesan cheese, gluten-free flour

Today’s Trusted Box: Photo Crazy

If I had more time before going to demo, I probably could have sat on the back porch for hours finding new fun ways to photograph vegetables.  Alas, I gotta go cook food for the Whole Foods of Annapolis, so here is just a small expression as to how much I love my produce share.

Thanks Trusted Table!

This Weeks Box:

Turnips

Beats

Radishes

Eggplant

Dinosaur Kale

Romaine Lettuce

Yellow Roma Tomatoes

Red Tomatillos

Red Onions

Farmers Market Seconds: Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I’ve been dying to make large oven roasted tomatoes to make my own tasty sauce. Only hesitation–large tomatoes are so gosh dern expensive.  How to buy enough tomatoes to make sauce without turning it into a $20 sauce? Farmers market seconds.  If you don’t see them at the stand, ask — they’re hiding them.

Seconds are the tomatoes considered unfit for sale due to bruises or cracks in the skin.

Regular priced tomatoes: $2/lb.  Seconds: 30 c/lb.

 When you ask, be quick to start fillin ya bag — as soon as I asked 3 other women came flocking over thanking me for asking and reducing my bounty by half.  I guess sharing is caring?

Anywho, give it a try!

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Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:

3 lb tomatoes

6 tbs olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

½ cup Italian parsley

salt

fresh cracked pepper

Optional Seasonings (and suggested amounts)

basil (¼ cup chopped)

thyme (10-12 sprigs, stripped)

rosemary (3-4 sprigs, stripped)

crushed red pepper (to taste)

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  1. Thinly slice garlic cloves and finely chop italian parsley. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Combine oil and seasonings into a bowl, only adding half of the italian parsley. I used garlic and basil flavored oil and about ½ tsp of salt, along with a touch of red pepper, and, of course, a ton of cracked pepper.

  3. Cut tomatoes in half and toss in the oil mixture. With larger tomatoes, it may be easiest to roll in the oil, one half at a time. After coated, place tomatoes, cut side down, onto a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  4. Rub the rest of the italian parsley to the top of the tomatoes. Optional: add a light drizzle of olive oil over tomatoes and a fresh coat of cracked pepper. The oil is for those who might want to make more of a sauce after roasting, the pepper for spice lovers.

  5. Place tray in the oven on the middle rack and set the timer for 2 hours. At the two hour mark, check to see if its cooked to your liking. If you’d like a dryer roasted tomato, add an hour. I did 2 hours and 20 minutes.

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Enjoy with eggs, sauces, meat dishes, quinoa, really anything you’d like!

 

Ingredients:

The Trusted Table: garlic, italian parsley

Farmers Market: tomato seconds