Memorial Day Feast

In its evolution from a day of remembrance to honor those who fought in the Civil War, to a memorial for soldiers who gave their lives in World War I, then to memorialize American soldiers lost in all wars, this day has a long, proud history as a purely American day. We honor all those who have fought and lost their lives to protect our freedom. Memorial Day also marks the informal beginning of the summer. Swimming pools open for the season and all across America grills are fired up to cook delicious meals.

The best way to cook a steak on the grill is to marinate it all day. I use a marinade of vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, diced garlic and steak seasoning.

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A “hobo pack” of squash, zucchini, shallots, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice can be thrown on the grill as well and cooked over charcoal. Just make sure it’s fully secured so none of the juices leak out into the grill.

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You can grill ears of corn still in the husks. Just peel them back, remove the silks and coat the ears of corn with butter and whatever seasonings you like. We prefer salt, pepper and Old Bay. A tray of garlic knots and a boxed pasta salad round out this Memorial Day Feast.

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The end of our meal was a sweet red, white and blue berry trifle.

Ingredients: 1 quart strawberries (diced), 1 pint blueberries, 8 oz. package cream cheese at room temperature, 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, 2/3 cup whipped cream, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 small pound cake cut into squares

Directions:

  1. Put several of each kind of berries aside for topping.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, then a third of the whipped cream. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
  3. Cover the bottom of a trifle dish or glass bowl with a layer of diced pound cake pieces. Add 1/3 of each type of fruit, then cover with 1/3 of the cream cheese/whipped cream mixture. Alternate adding diced pound cake, fruit and cream cheese/whipped cream, then top with a thin layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle the reserved berries on top. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

 

Enjoy your Memorial Day with family and friends. What are your favorite Memorial Day foods?

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Healthy Meal Prep – Turkey Taco Salad and Tuna Sushi Roll Bowls

We’re all looking for ways to eat healthier, and meal prepping is one method I’ve found that helps me to save money by avoiding eating out, as well as eating healthier since I’m planning and preparing my own meals.

Turkey Taco Salad is a great recipe that lets you customize your meal for whatever type of diet you follow. If you’re going low-carb, leave out the corn and tortilla chips. Only add vegetables you like. Customize the level of heat in your salsa, and add guacamole if you like, or just plain avocado (or none!).

Simply brown a pound of ground turkey, drain any excess fat and add a packet of taco seasoning (or make your own!). Prep your bowls by adding 1/4 cup of corn and 1/4 cup of black beans to each bowl. Add 1/5 of the turkey to each bowl, then top with shredded cheddar or any other cheese you like. I like to bag my cold ingredients so I can heat up the turkey and let the cheese melt, then mix in the other veggies so the lettuce doesn’t wilt. Throw into sandwich bags your choice of lettuces or other greens, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado or a spoonful of guacamole, a spoonful of salsa and a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Add a dollop of southwest ranch dressing if you like. Each day, pack one bowl and one bag for your lunch. You can take a bag of tortilla chips with you to crumble over the top if you choose.

For the Tuna Sushi Roll Bowls, mix up a quick marinade of Japanese ponzu sauce, a couple drops of sesame oil, 1 tsp. grated ginger and 1 diced garlic clove. Marinate the thawed tuna steaks for at least thirty minutes while you prep the rice. I use a rice cooker so I can “set it and forget it.” White or brown rice is fine – I make enough for three cups cooked. Once the rice is done, it needs to sit out at room temperature to cool down. Whisk in a bowl 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/3 cup sugar or agave and 1 1/2 tbsp. salt. Once all the sugar and salt has dissolved, use a wooden spoon to mix the vinegar mixture into the cooled rice. Lay down a layer of rice in each of your bowls, then dice avocado and cucumber and add to the bowls. When your tuna has cooked through, remove it from the oven and let it cool a bit, then add a piece to each bowl. Crumble dried seaweed over each bowl and sprinkle a few dashes of soy sauce (or add that later when you warm your bowl up to eat).

Grab a bowl each day and you’ll have a healthy, inexpensive lunch!

How do you meal prep?

Crockpot Comfort Food for Fall

One of my favorite crockpot dishes for fall offers an Indian twist on a fall favorite – sweet potatoes. Adding green or red lentils and cooking in coconut oil amp up the healthiness of this hearty dish.

Curries come from India, where chefs prepare flavorful blends of spices, herbs and chiles to cook with vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and lentils. Various proteins are made into curries as well, like chicken, lamb and goat. Commercial curry powders began to be produced in the 18th century, as British colonial government and military members desired a quick spice blend to cook the dishes they’d enjoyed in India. Curries are often wet, meaning the vegetables and meats are cooked in a thick sauce. Rice or naan bread is served to sop up the sauce.

Start by sauteeing your onion and ginger over medium heat.

Once that gets soft and flavorful, you can take it off the heat and add it to your crockpot. Next, add in your peeled, diced sweet potato, carrots and peas (if you like) and your spices.  Cover the mixture with vegetable broth and let it cook on high for two hours or on low for six hours.

Once the mixture has cooked down, I like to mash it with a potato masher until it gets to a smoother, stew-like consistency.  I have it with basmati rice, and I usually freeze some for later.  This dish is delicious and filling, a great work lunch for fall to pull out and heat up quickly.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

1 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup dried green or red lentils
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small bag frozen peas and carrots
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder or 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth

 

 

Sunday Meal Prep – Pumpkin Oats & Salads in Jars

Sundays in our house mean waking up early to go for a run, watching football, going grocery shopping and prepping breakfasts and lunches for the week. I’m trying to detox from meat and eat clean, so I decided to make a couple of different kinds of oats and some chopped salads in jars.

There’s hardly anything simpler than throwing some oats in a container, adding some kind of fruit, some nuts, honey and spices. These quick-prep breakfasts are delicious and nutritious, and make busy mornings getting three kids out of the house to school easier on me.

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I get tired of eating the same thing every day, so I made two different variations. For the first, I put 1/4 cup of organic, quick-cooking oats in a container. I added about three tablespoons of canned pumpkin, a tablespoon of local honey and a handful of pecans and pistachios. A sprinkle of cinnamon and pumpkin spice fills these breakfast bowls with fall flavors. For the other two bowls, I tossed in about 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries, a teaspoon of lemon zest, some pecans, local honey and about 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.

For lunches, I made an Israeli chopped salad, with diced tomato, cucumber, red onion and green pepper.  I topped them with some feta cheese, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper. What is today referred to as “Israeli” chopped salad originated in the Palestinian territory, and was adapted by the various kibbutz communities in Israel. The vegetable mix can vary based on what is fresh and in season, but typically includes tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers along with herbs and lemon juice. For my other two salads, I tossed in some baby spinach, diced red onion, tomato, arugula, bleu cheese and diced strawberries.  Then I drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top.

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I’ll probably add a banana as a snack and have a cup of yogurt with my salads at lunch. Prepping everything on Sunday afternoon means I have a week’s worth of fresh, delicious meals that were inexpensive to make and easy to prepare.

Do you prep your meals for the work week on Sundays? What are your go-to meals?

Quick 7-Layer Greek Dip

If you’re looking for a quick, healthy and delicious snack to try at home or take to a party, give this 7-Layer Greek Dip a try!

Start by spreading a large container of your favorite plain hummus evenly on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Dice red peppers, red onions and cucumbers and sprinkle them over the hummus.

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Top with diced olives and crumbled feta cheese, then drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top. Sprinkle some oregano over, and add some salt and pepper if you like.

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Then dig in! Try it with my favorite snack, Stacy’s Pita Chips, or some fresh pita bread.

It’s a Sausage Fest!

Recently, a co-worker of my husband’s offered him several pounds of homemade sausage. Apparently every year his co-worker and a friend go down to Smithfield, Virginia, home of the finest hams in the country, to buy a whole hog and make their own sausage. The ham industry in Smithfield dates from colonial times, as early as 1779. The pork and peanut industries in this part of Virginia were closely intertwined for many years. In fact, until 1966 Smithfield hams were required to come from peanut-fed hogs in order to claim the Smithfield moniker. This year, my husband’s co-worker and his friend were only able to get some Boston butt, but they still made country-style sausage in two flavors: regular and sage.

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Of course, we tried making some into patties and frying it up, and it was delicious! But I wanted to try it in a recipe, so I found one for sausage and cheese picnic bread:

Picnic Sausage Bread

1 lb. sausage (I mixed the regular and sage flavors of our homemade sausage)

1 package refrigerated pizza dough (like Pillsbury)

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the sausage and drain any extra grease. Unroll the pizza dough flat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cooked sausage and shredded cheese. Roll up, crimp and seal the seams and ends and brush with a bit of olive oil. Poke a few holes in the top to vent. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

The sausage roll came out bubbly and warm. I paired it with Breckenridge Ophelia Hoppy Wheat Ale from Growlers To Go (who, by the way, offers a Happy Hour special on Wednesdays from 4-7 PM of buy one, get one half off on growler fills).

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The verdict? This sausage fest was delicious!