Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cucumber Salad with Blackberry Browned Butter Vinaigrette #SundaySupper


It's Sunday! And time for Sunday Supper. It's the only day of the week I am committed to cooking (except today!) Join in on the virtual Summer BBQ Party! Today, I have an amazing story for you:

I am currently in Orlando, Florida for the incomparable Food & Wine Conference sponsored by Sunday Supper and a host of other sponsors and brands, acting as brand ambassador for Dixie Crystals sugar--promoting the brand and the winners of the Dixie Crystals Brownie Dessert Contest, as I won the contest last year!

Knowing I'd be in Orlando during the conference, I still signed up to post, knowing I could just schedule and be on my merry conferencing way. I made my salad, shot some photos on my back porch in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and planned to edit later. Well, the shots ended up being blurry, ugly (UGHHHH!) and supremely unusable. Did I mention blurry? I'll spare your eyes because all evidence has been deleted!

I was to leave for Orlando in just a few short hours. What's a girl to do? I packed a fresh English cucumber, fresh dill, some leftover browned butter vinaigrette in a Ziploc bag (3 oz. TSA approved, of course) and a half-pint of fresh blackberries I purchased at Food Lion in my carry-on. I was going to recreate my salad in my room and shoot the salad under the beautiful setting of the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.

And I did.

Kind of. Ish.

The conference has been action-packed and there was plenty of down time, but the pools, the spa, the restaurants and the gorgeous view from my room pulled me away from thinking about my un-photographed dish. I had to order a knife to be delivered to my room (hello, room service) so I could complete my dish. Was it worth the trouble and this ridiculous adventure? Make this salad and YOU be the judge.

This week, Melanie of Melanie Makes and Jennie of Messy Baker Blog are kicking off this Summer BBQ party the right way by being gracious, thoughtful co-hosts. Don't forget to check them out and tell them Nik Snacks sent you!

Cucumber Salad with Blackberry Browned Butter Vinaigrette
Makes 4 cups

I looked around my blog and realized I did not have a classic cucumber salad. I don't have many "classic" things on this blog and I wasn't about to start a trend with this. The browned butter vinaigrette is an unexpected, unique showstopper. Try it for your next picnic or outdoor grilling event (AKA barbecue, anywhere except the South)


2 English cucumbers, sliced thin, on the bias
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
5 Tablespoons fresh blackberry juice
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or salad oil
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
1/8 teaspoon mustard
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Optional: 4 ounces fresh blackberries cut in half for garnish

Slice English cucumbers into rounds, 1/4 inch thick. If using Kirby or other variety of cucumber, slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds in the middle, then slice into rounds (or crescents, at this point). 

Put the sliced cucumbers in a colander and sit the colander in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour. Drain the cucumbers and toss with black pepper and the fresh dill.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until browned but not burned (it should smell like toasted nuts) about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the fresh blackberry juice, (or blend 1/4 cup blackberries in juicer or food processor before beginning) vinegar, shallot and mustard. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the reserved brown butter and blend until thickened. Season to taste and set aside at room temperature until ready to toss and drizzle with the sliced cucumbers.
Don't forget to visit others sharing Summer BBQ Party recipes through Sunday Supper. You will find something to help you take your next BBQ up a few notches!

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Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

$20 Challenge [Better Butter Burgers + Sweet Peach Compote] #dcfarmkt

To prove that you can eat locally grown food AND stay within your grocery budget, the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market and the City of Winston-Salem is sponsoring the $20 Challenge twice a month from now through September in 2014.

This week's menu:
Better Butter Burgers
Fresh Succotash
Sweet Peach Compote

I stage a live cooking demonstration in which I prepare a meal for a family of four for $20 using ingredients I buy at the market that day.

This week, I was joined once again by my temporary sous chef and friend, Chris Blackburn, chef/owner of Josephine's Bistro and Lindley Park Filling Station in Greensboro.



Did you not make it to the market on Saturday? Watch the $20 Challenge on WSTV-13 on Time Warner Cable (Channels 74.3 and 1303) OR subscribe to the City of Winston-Salem's You Tube channel. 

This week was full of simplicity and decadence. Putting a knob of fresh, creamy butter in the center of a burger is not unheard of, but it's certainly not for the faint of heart. Adding even more butter to the fresh, crisp vegetables of a classic succotash is where the simplicity comes in. Succotash is near and dear to me and I don't take making it lightly. This version is EXTRA special because instead of the classic butterbeans, I use a variety of bean new to me: pink-eye peas. Watch the freshest episode of $20 Challenge to learn all about the fresh, local ingredients from North Carolina.



Better Butter Burgers
Serves 4

Mixing whole butter into your hamburger meat or incorporating it into your meat patty is a sure-fire way to make sure your burger is juicy and full of flavor. Be sure not to handle your beef too much, as that will make it tough. You'll see in the video that I barely touch the meat as I seal the burgers before putting them in the skillet.

6 Tablespoons salted mountain butter, at room temperature
1 cup onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Montreal or steak seasoning
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound ground grass-fed beef
4 soft hamburger buns, split

Additional Condiment Ideas
Lettuce leaves
Sliced ripe red tomato
Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, Cackalacky sauce

Divide the meat into 8 loose portions, then gently flatten into thin patties.
Season ground beef with Montreal steak seasoning. Place one Tablespoon of butter in the center of four of the thin burger patties, placing another burger on top. Pinch the outer edges, sealing the butter inside each patty.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a mid-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until butter melts, 3 to 4 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking.

Add the burger patties to the hot skillet with the onions and cook burgers for 5-7 minutes per side for medium, or until done to your liking.
Allow burgers to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon the now caramelized onions on top of the burgers. Meanwhile, toast the buns, season three tomato slices with salt and pepper.
Assemble and serve burgers on buns with the toppings of your choice.

Fresh succotash
Serves 4

There is not much more delicious than fresh corn and tomatoes in the summer. Both of them together automatically equal summer. As the summer goes on, the tomatoes will be sweeter and so will the corn. Hold out until you can't anymore to get the freshest ingredients for the best succotash.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups fresh pink-eyed beans, rinsed
1 1/2 cups fresh (2 ears) corn kernels
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Add corn. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Serve.

Fresh peach compote
Serves 4

Peaches are sweet without adding sugar but why not make a little caramel to add a little extra goodness to your plate? By leaving the skins on the peaches when you cook them, the peaches will be less likely to fall apart.
 
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 cups sliced, peaches (skin on)
1 teaspoon salt

Place a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add butter and sugars to the pot. Do not stir. Let the butter and the sugars caramelize and melt.
Add peaches and coat the peaches with the caramelized sugar.  Bring them to a simmer and heat them until the peaches start to break apart. Stir again to coat peaches with sugar.  Sprinkle with salt. Serve.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

$20 Challenge [Summer Ratatouille + Sweet Custard] #dcfarmkt

Welcome to the FOURTH episode of the $20 Challenge!

Again, this week, I was joined by my friend and fellow blogger, Janet Cooper-Bridge of TheArmyMom.com. She helped prep the ingredients and ME, as it's sometimes difficult being ready when the camera starts rolling. Without her, the day could not have been possible. 

Check out her blog as she's chronicled the day and what it's like "on set." If you'd like to play sous chef for a day, email me at niksnacksblog at gmail.com. Put "Sous Chef" in the subject line so I know you're not SPAM!


Watch (and share) the next $20 Challenge HERE




To prove that you can eat locally grown food AND stay within your grocery budget, the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market and the City of Winston-Salem is sponsoring the $20 Challenge twice a month from now through September in 2014. I stage a live cooking demonstration where I prepare a meal that could feed a family of four for no more than $20 using ingredients I buy at the market that day.

DISCLAIMER: All of the recipes I prepare at the Dixie Classic Farmers Market are created that day with little to no prior planning. I use a limited amount of pantry staples that you can purchase at a free-standing retail grocery store and have on-hand at all times.


Flour (all-purpose and self-rising)
Baking powder
White granulated sugar
Brown Sugar
Pasta
Salt
Pepper
Dijon mustard
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Soy sauce
Honey
Bread 
Tomato sauce
Tomato paste
Eggs 
Butter 
Milk

Come to the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market and take your own $20 Challenge. Submissions are rolling in! Email pics and/or video to niksnacksblog at gmail.com



Summer Ratatouille
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup elephant garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup bell peppers, diced
11/2 cups tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup green tomatoes, diced
2 cups eggplant, diced
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup squash, diced
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning, dried
1/2 cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
8-10 large basil leaves, fresh salt and pepper, to taste


Heat 2 large skillets over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to each pan. Cook the onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bell peppers to one pan and the eggplant, zucchini and squash to the other. Season both pans with salt and pepper and add Italian seasoning. Stir occasionally and let the water from the vegetables release. Cook for about 12-15 minutes.

The vegetables will begin to caramelize and become fragrant. Combine both pans into one. Deglaze both pans with white wine and add the pan sauce into the pan with all of the vegetables. Add the fresh basil and additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 5 minutes more and stir well to blend. Serve either hot or at room temperature.


Custard Sauce with Fresh Blueberries
Makes 2 cups

1 1/2 cups milk or cream
3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint blueberries
Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon butter
fresh mint or basil, for garnish


Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. While the milk is heating, whisk the yolks, sugar and flour in a medium non-reactive mixing bowl.

Temper the eggs with the heated milk by slowly adding half of the hot milk slowly into the egg mixture to bring the eggs to the same temperature as the milk. Next, slowly incorporate all of the egg mixture into the saucepan and turn the heat down to low.

Use a high heat spatula to constantly stir the custard to thicken it. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle and you will have scrambled eggs.

After the custard has thickened, take it off heat and if using, add the vanilla and butter. Place a buttered piece of wax paper on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Serve over fresh blueberries and garnish with fresh mint.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Crafted & Tacos: Food Writing Workshop

Do you remember that time I was asked to lead a food writing workshop for high school students?

I was asked to do it again in 2014. This time, it was a lively bunch of future professional writers who were incredibly excited, hungry for knowledge (and food) and drooled over all of the literary nuggets given to them throughout the week. I even had a repeat offender from last year.

Last year, I carefully crafted a plan with worksheets and a little talk about what food writing is and how to get into it.

This year, the only thing I Crafted was our trip to the hottest restaurant in Greensboro: Crafted, The Art of the Taco. Chef and friend, Kristina Fuller and her mom, Rhonda run the joint and allowed us to come and sample a spread of tacos, sides and trendy Greensboro sensibilities for an hour or so. I talked about how writing about food isn't just documenting what you ate and how it tasted; The key to good food writing is the story you tell and connecting with your audience in a way that they'll be able to understand since they were not at the same meal as you.

Below is the result of my laid-back approach to food writing. I think it worked out well. You be the judge. Be kind and comment below to let the students know how you connected to their writing. Thank you!

A special shout out goes to my friend and former co-worker, Tina Firesheets, who asked me to do this and is amazing, wonderful and one of my best foodie friends. She is always down for a new culinary adventure. I can't wait to see what she cooks up next. Literally.

THE REVIEWS

The building was neatly decorated and had a good vibe. They had a good selection of food and lots of variety. The fries had a good saltiness, but they were a bit sweet. The chips, when plain, didn’t have much flavor and were dull. The tacos had a tangy taste. I thought they had a bit too much spice, though when I  added sauce, I liked them better.
- Donna Kessler

A long corridor awaited me. Tacos? I looked to the left. I could almost smell it. Almost, because I had somehow managed to get  a cold and my nose was stuffy. All the people who had talked about this place so far had raved.
    “It was amazing.”
    “Simply heavenly.”
    “You have to try their kimchi tacos. I think it was called the Fedora?
 Delicious.”
I had high hopes. Not just because I wanted to eat some good food, but because my bottomless abyss of a stomach was rumbling so loud, that I was sure everyone could hear it. But no one seemed to notice.
Then the food came out. The tacos. Let me tell you, the aftertaste is a bit peculiar. You see, The first “taste” that fills your mouth is that of a regular soft taco: beans, salsa, onions, etc. etc. But then (yup there’s more) the after taste kicks in. There was something irregular. It was cilantro.
Now, the aversion to cilantro is not strong within me, but I know for some that it is. Even though it tasted decent, I would have preferred something zesty or, even, something more savory. As for me, cilantro is best paired with Asian food, such as pho (in my biased opinion).
Still, I was a satisfied diner. Happily munching on my taco and fries (which are absolutely perfectly fried), someone nudged me.
“Try it.”
“Try what?”
“Lime.”
I picked up the lime and placed it inside my taco. They chuckled.
“Squeeze out the juice from inside.”
With my face hot and embarrassed, I pinched the lime.
The sour aroma of the citrus wafted to my nose. Instantly I regretted placing lime juice on my taco. But what was done was done. I opened my mouth, and chomped.
Tangy. A bit bitter, mixing with the rich beans, and the salsa. The lime’s extract added a slightly pleasant taste -  the bland flavor of the avocado and the sour tint of lime mixed together.
Ah. I understood. It tasted horrible. The lime did. Not the taco.
- Junn Park


Crafted - the Art of the Taco is a wonderful place to eat. I remember my visit perfectly.  I sat in the booth side of the table, in front of many paintings. The waiters delivered a jar full of water and little cups of red and yellow sauces. They also brought four little plates to the each end of our table. A few minutes afterward, they brought sweet potato chips, fries, potato tacos and black bean tacos. I sampled the fries and a potato taco.

The fries - which I ate most of - had a salty, tangy taste. They were quite a bit crunchy, which made them all the more satisfying. The potato taco was wonderful. It was slightly spicy, and with lime, it was a bit sour - in a good way.

The ingredients were freshly made. Corn tortillas, diced potato, an avocado slice, onion, cilantro, radishes and lime. I honestly really hate avocados to the end of the world, but after this experience, I might give them a second chance. I loved my experience, and I hope I can go again.
- Carmen Valladares

As soon as I walked into Crafted I was captured by the luxurious smells of sizzling food and buzzing conversations. Then I walked down a slender walk way to the tables, and waited to be served.
I selected a potato taco. It had wonderful shaved radishes and a ripe avocado slice [To be truthful, I hate avocados with a burning heart. But the avocado  went so well with it. It was perfectly flavorful and ripe].
Now let's get to the part that the taco is really about THE POTATOES. They were grilled, with red bell peppers and cilantro. My first bite was full of fresh  flavors. It was like a community get together of food - in my mouth.

Everything about the place was artistic and rustic. I loved the lighting, which set a mood that made it feel spacious and comfortable. The art in the dining room also made it upbeat, combined with the conversations - everything was very alive.
- Victoria Flynt 
               
                     
Crafted The Art of The Taco on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sneak Peek: $20 Challenge #dcfarmkt

Here's a sneak peek of what the next episode of $20 Challenge has in store for you!

Summer ratatouille + homemade custard over fresh NC blueberries

Friday, July 3 the recipes AND the next episode will be available on You Tube!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Idaho Potato Recipe Contest: Potato Breakfast Nachos #FWCon

It's that time again. 

It's another contest entry for the annual Food & Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida. Once again, Idaho Potato Commission is a title sponsor and is sponsoring this contest. 

Our challenge? Reinvent breakfast potatoes.

The contest was announced in April and I've been racking my brain since then, trying to come up with a winning recipe that might net me cash, prizes and hopefully a trip to Idaho! Potatoes are from the Americas and have been eaten for breakfast since God's dog was a puppy, so reinventing them? A very arduous task. 

My entry:
Potato Breakfast Nachos

Who wouldn't like hot, crispy, thinly sliced, seasoned Idaho potatoes layered with an unctuous, creamy, cheese sauce, bits of country sausage, dotted fresh, diced tomatoes and softly layered scrambled eggs? A fool. That's who.



It's the best of both worlds: a protein packed dish that is creative, simple to make and easy to customize for you and your family.

A few tips to make sure your nachos turn out perfect:

Wash and scrub your potatoes first. Slice potatoes to a 1/8 inch thickness on mandoline or use a sharp chef's knife to achieve the same results. After slicing your potatoes, submerge them in a bowl or container filled with water to wash off the starch and keep them from oxidizing (turning black). This step can be done a day ahead. Be sure to dry the potatoes with a clean dish towel or paper towels before frying. The excess moisture will prevent the chips from crisping and lower the oil temperature.

For perfect, fluffy scrambled eggs, low and slow is the way to go. Crack your eggs into a bowl and beat your eggs with a fork or a whisk to incorporate air and to break the yolks. After putting the eggs in a well-oiled, hit pan, turn the great to low or medium low and slowly flip the eggs do that the bottom becomes the top and the top goes to the bottom of the pan, creating soft layers that help the eggs stay moist and fluffy.

Incorporate warm milk into your flour mixture while making the cheese sauce to prevent lumps.

Using fresh Idaho potatoes in place of tortilla chips is ingenious, I think. Bón appetít!

There's still time to join me in Orlando at the Food & Wine Conference. Use code: NikSnacks to get $50 off your ticket price. There's also still time for you to enter this contest. Hop to it!

Potato Breakfast Nachos
Serves 4

2 lbs Russet Idaho potatoes (2 potatoes), sliced 1/8 inch thick
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 lb bulk sausage

Preheat the vegetable over medium-high heat in a stock pot or Dutch oven.

While the oil heats, line a sheet tray with paper towels. To check if oil is hot enough, put a tiny pinch of salt in the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready!

Carefully add the slices 1 at a time to the hot oil. Using a slotted spoon, constantly move the slices in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Remove the chips with the slotted spoon, and let excess oil drain. Place the chips on the lined sheet tray and season with salt and pepper. Let the oil come back to frying temperature and fry the remaining potatoes in small batches. Season.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, crumble the bulk sausage. Use a fork to separate the sausage crumbles and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the lined sheet tray with the potato chips to drain.

Cheese sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, like Frank's or Texas Pete

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in flour. Pour in the milk and stir with a whisk until the mixture thickens. Stirring constantly, mix in cheese and hot sauce. Continue to cook and stir until cheese has melted and all ingredients are well blended, about 8 minutes.

4 large eggs

Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and let it melt. Pick up the pan and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan with the butter.

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk until they turn pale yellow. Add the eggs to the hot pan and let them cook for one minute or until they start to set.

Use a spatula and gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan and tilt the pan to allow the uncooked egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges.

Turn off the heat and continue gently stir the egg until all of the eggs become firm. Transfer to a plate when the eggs are set but still moist and soft. 

Optional garnish:
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

To assemble:

Place the potato chips on a large platter. Layer the sausage, eggs, cheese sauce and diced tomatoes over the chips.

Perfect Potato Breakfast Nacho Chip
WISH ME LUCK!

Monday, June 23, 2014

$10 Whole Foods Challenge #WFMarket

If you're a regular reader (which I know you are), you're familiar with my biweekly $20 Challenge at the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market. Tanya Rivera of WFMY-2 and 2 Wants To Know challenged me to a duel. No, not really--but she challenged me to create a gourmet meal for 4, only using $10--AT WHOLE FOODS.

There is a reason it's nicknamed "Whole Paychecks". The organic specialty grocery store is more expensive than other stores in the area, including The Fresh Market and they take EBT, which The Fresh Market does not.

This was not my first time creating a meal for four at Whole Foods. I succeeded SIX YEARS ago and the results this time was more fantastic than the first.


*The asterisks indicate items purchased from Whole Foods


Appetizer: Zucchini salad with mustard vinaigrette
Main Course: Chicken chorizo and ground chuck patties with sweet potatoes and rutabaga
Side Dish: green beans with Black Forest bacon and dried cranberries
Dessert: Almond jam bars

That's right. Less than $10, including tax and dessert. Mmm hmm. Dessert.

How did I do it? A little bit of planning and buying exactly what I needed. I purchased my protein first and bulked up my patties with lentils, cornmeal and wheat germ. I could have easily purchased rice, quinoa or other grain, but I liked the color of the lentils.

Also, using simple pantry staples can help you achieve your meal goals with minimal funds.

Want to try your own $10 Whole Foods Challenge? Try it and send me pics to niksnacksblog@gmail.com

Chorizo & Chuck Meat Patties




1 link chicken chorizo sausage*
Scant 1/4 lb ground chuck (85/15)*
1/2 cup raw wheat germ*
3 Tbs cornmeal*
1 1/4 cup green lentils, cooked*
2 Tbs hot wing sauce or other hot pepper sauce
2 Tbs vegetable oil

Split open the chicken chorizo link, take out the forcemeat and place it in a bowl. Add the ground chuck, wheat germ, cornmeal, green lentils and hot wing sauce. Mix with a spoon or your hands. Form the mixture into 2-inch patties that are 1/2-inch thick.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add patties to skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Sweet Potato & Rutabaga

1 sweet potato*
1 rutabaga*
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 Tbs butter
salt and pepper, to taste
Scrub sweet potato and rutabaga and rinse with water. Peel skin using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut into even pieces. Discard ends and hard, woody pieces.

In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock until it is simmering and add sweet potato and rutabaga with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes. When chicken stock and water have evaporated, take the pot off the heat and add the butter. Stir to coat vegetables. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve.

Green beans with bacon & cranberries

1 Tbs light olive oil
1/2 lb green beans*
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 strip bacon, cut into small pieces*
2 oz dried cranberries*
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat large skillet with 2 Tbs of olive oil and place green beans in the pan with vinegar and bacon. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add cranberries and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve.

Zucchini Salad with mustard vinaigrette

1 Large zucchini, cut in thin slices on the bias (cut diagonally)*
2 oz. red onion, chopped*
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of sugar (optional)

Place sliced zucchini in a bowl that can be fitted with a lid. Add red onion, white vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Place lid on top and shake vigorously to mix the liquid ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add sugar for a little bit of sweetness. The longer the zucchini sits, the better it will taste.



Almond Jam Bars

6 Tbs all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tbs almond butter*
6 Tbs granulated white sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
6 Tbs grape jelly or other jelly or jam

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line metal baking pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhang around edges and pressing firmly into corners and up sides of pan. Stir flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Mix almond butter, sugar, butter and egg in a separate bowl until smooth. Add flour mixture; mix just to blend. Transfer 3/4 of dough to prepared pan. Spread jelly over bar mixture. Using fingertips or a spoon, place remaining dough on top of the jelly in uneven pieces.

Bake bars until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack. Using foil overhang as aid to lift bars from pan. Cut into 8 squares. Serve.

This post was NOT sponsored by Whole Foods. No coupons, sale items or limited quantity items were used.