Friday, August 31, 2012

Baked Mango Cajun Swai

Being on a seriously tight budget for the last 5 years requires me to hunt for the best deals I can find at the supermarket in order for be to still be able to buy any type of fish and not revert back to being a Vegan as I was for 14 years before developing cancer in 1995. Five years ago when I was still working full-time, I would have bought mostly fresh fish from the fish department in my local grocery store or gone to a Fishmonger. Now that is no longer an option due to the high cost of fish. These days I can't afford to be a Food Purist and only buy Wild Caught Fresh Salmon.

When I was growing up I recall only seeing tuna and sometimes Salmon  in cans and not much else. Today with the ever expanding Global Markets local stores now sell tuna, salmon, sardines, oysters, clams, eel & and even scallops in a can as well as Wild Caught Salmon and Dolphin Safe Tuna in pouches. When it is on sale or on clearance I am now buying Wild Caught Salmon in Pouches & Dolphin Safe Tuna so I can still get the great Omega 3 benefits. In addition I am now buying frozen fish which is something I never did before. This has allowed me to expand the types of fish I am now consuming while trying to avoid fish that are high in Mercury. There has been a lot of controversy regarding Swai in the Market Place. All the reports I have read show American Fish Producers don't want this Fish to be sold here in the U.S. because they are losing money to Foreign Countries and feel that Americans should only buy fish produced in America, this to me is discriminatory and is a restraint of trade to the other Country Exports.  My local Super Target has been selling Frozen Swai for $3.99 for a 12 Ounce package, $$5.99 for Tilapia, and Wild Caught Salmon for $9.99. This is a HUGE difference in prices for Fish. Swai has a taste that is almost identical to Tilapia which has been over-fished, it is a mild tasting white fish which for many non-fish lovers is preferable so they don't taste something FISHY.

1 Deep High Heat Non Aluminium Oven Safe Baking Dish
Non Stick Cooking Spray
Canola Oil
1 12 Ounce Package of Thawed Swai
1 TBSP of Capers
1 TBSP Minced Garlic
1 TBSP Morton & Bassett Cajun Spice Blend or other Salt Free Cajun Blend
2-3 Mangos Blended To Cover Bottom of Pan or Canned Mango Nectar

Pre-Heat Oven to 400 Degrees
Spray Pan Bottom & Sides With Cooking Spray
Arrange Thawed Filets In One Layer
Brush With Oil
Sprinkle Cajun Seasoning On Fish
Sprinkle Garlic On Fish
Add In Mango Juice, Capers & Frank's Sauce

Bake 12-14 Minutes Or Until Fish Flakes Easily

Peach Nectarine Green Bean Salad

Summers to me growing up was always the joy of Farm Fresh Ripe & Juicy Fruit. Granted with today's Global Markets in the United States of America you can pretty much get any fruit you want all year round. As I get older with the on-going Local-vore, and Farm to Table Movements why do people still want to eat Fruit that has traveled thousands of miles, been picked prematurely, and covered with tons of heavy industrial pesticides? Why are Farmers Markets still considered a novelty and why does buying directly from the Farmer cost so much? Why is the cost for Organic Produce so expensive?  If I could afford it, I would buy a lot more Organic Produce then I currently am, the optimist in me wants to think that many others feel the same way?

 Perhaps the closer I get to my 50th Birthday which will be during the month of January 2013 I am feeling nostalgic for a simpler time, way of life, the joys of local farm fresh food. I can still remember my Maternal Grandparents taking me with them to the local Farms to buy Fresh Produce directly, the smell of fresh apples, pears, plums and other fruits. May folks are purists and only eat fruits whole & plain exactly as they are, I believe that fruits are meant to be eaten at any of of day or night in an way you want. I transform fruits in my smoothies, shakes, soups, sauces, glazes, baking, stir-frys, wraps, sandwiches, as a salsa, etc.

1 Large Bowl
1-2 Cups Cut Up Romaine Lettuce
1 Peach Cleaned & Cubed With Skin On
1 Nectarine Cleaned & Cubed With Skin On
1/2 Cup Cucumber Skinned & Cubed
1/2 Cup French Style Green Beans Steamed & Cubed
1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar

Add All Produce To Bowl
Add Oil & Vinegar & Toss

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spinach Kale Okra Bean Soup

Recently I read an article about the five pans every home cook should have and the Dutch Oven was right up there. Hard to believe that I have only owned my Dutch Oven for the last two years. Now, I would be lost if I did not own mine, it has become my go to pot for making soups, chili's, stew's, braising meats, etc.

It is an amusing story of how my gift of birthday slippers became my beloved Dutch Oven. In January 2010 my sister gave me a pair of house slippers which had been the most popular slippers for the 2009 holiday season for an early birthday gift, unfortunately the slippers did not fit. My sister had bought my slippers at a store called Farm & Fleet in Montgomery, IL not far from her house, but quite far from mine, and a store I had never been to. I found the stores website and looked for closer locations to my house so I could exchange my slippers for a pair that fit or another brand. I went to the Dekalb, IL location almost an hour from my house on a quest for my new slippers, none of the other sizes in this slipper fit me, nor did any of the other brands that I spent over an hour trying on fit. At this point I had a store credit and decide to browse through this huge store to see what else they sold that I might be interested in, I was determined not to leave this store till I had used my credit. It was just simply to far for me to come back to this store again. After trying on clothes that did not fit I found they had a huge selection of Kitchen Ware Items.

To be honest I had never heard of Dutch Ovens, much less knew what it was, till I came across them at a store in Dekalb, IL called Farm & Fleet which is not exactly close to my house. Then I was lost in a sea of Dutch Ovens of varying sizes, materials, lids, with handles and without, they had Cast Iron Dutch Ovens, Porcelain Enamel, Stainless Steel, and more. I tried lifting the Cast Iron and I was not able to and the same thing with many of the other materials, so I settled on the Stainless Steel one.

1 Dutch Oven
1 Ten Inch Skillet (Optional)
1 TSP Canola Oil
10 Ounces Frozen Chopped Spinach
16 Ounces Cleaned & Chopped Kale
16 Ounces Frozen Chopped Okra
1 Dice Onion
1-2 TBSP Minced Garlic
14.5 Ounce Can of No Salt Added Pinto Beans Tripple Rinsed or Soak & Cook Your Own
4 Cups Very Low Sodium Chicken Broth/Stock
1/8 TSP Sea Salt
1/4 TSP Ground Black Pepper

Saute onion in either the skillet or Dutch Oven on medium, drain oil
If using skillet then transfer onion to Dutch Oven
Add in Broth and All Items
Cover And Cook on Low Until Frozen Veggies are cooked and Kale is Soft
Between 25-40 Minutes

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Elgin Fresh Market

For those of you visiting, reading or following my blog the last few years, you already know that I live on a tight budget and for me I strive to get the best quality food at a lower cost. When I was working full-time and making lots of money I still used coupons and shopped sales but I was not as aware of the bigger difference in prices from so many different grocery stores as I am now. Having not worked for the last 5 years, I have had lots of time to learn the true ins and outs of grocery shopping cycles, sales, temporary markdowns, clearance, etc.  I have learned along the way that the larger chain grocery stores do not always give you the best price or the best quality on many items. Many times the best deals on produce, meats and other items are right at your local Market. Elgin Fresh Market has two locations that allow customers to get quality food at quality prices. I live on the Far West side of Elgin, IL so I find the McClean Boulevard West Side location very convenient for me. Come on over to Elgin, IL and check out the latest deals at the Elgin Fresh Market.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicken Okra Potato Puff Chili

My best recipes combine my favorite foods, sweet potatoes, turkey, & okra. I am definitely not a purist who only eats vegetables, fruits or meats on there own. I like to combine these in meals to get all my essential nutrients in one meal. Having to follow a 1,560 Calorie diet for years makes it much easier to stick to cooking this way. I have only lost a few pounds this year which is a bit disappointing. I still need to lose another 40-50 lbs despite having lost 40-45 lbs over the last few years. It makes it difficult when I do not have a Thyroid and have to rely on taking Thyroid Replacement Hormone for life since my Total Thyroidectmy Surgery January of 1996 for Papillary/Follicular Thyroid Cancer.

1 Dutch Oven
1-2 TBSP Canola Oil
1 Package Isernios Italian Chicken Sausage
1 16 Ounce Package of Frozen Chopped Okra
1 Diced Onion
1-2 TBSP Minced Garlic
1 TBSP Ground Cumin
1 TSP Ground Corriander
1 8-10 Package of Frozen Corn not on the Cob
1/2 Package of Sweet Potato Puffs Cooked
I used Alexia, not sure if any other brand makes these yet?

Heat Oil in Dutch Oven on Medium
Add in Onion, Garlic,Sausage & Seasonings
Cook Through
Add in Everything Else
Cover & Cook on Low Until Okra & Corn Are Cooked

Smashed Sweet Potato Chili

Whenever cool weather hits I automatically think of chili, I am such a fan of Sweet Potatoes that I still buy them off-season despite the cost.

One 12 Inch Skillet
1-2 TBSP Canola Oil
1 TSP Garlic Powder
1 TBSP Minced Garlic
1 TSP Onion Powder
1 TBSP Ground Cumin
1 TBSP Ground Corriander
1 TBSP Freeze Dried Cilantro
8-10 Ounce Package of No Salt Added or Low Sodium Frozen Corn off the Cob
One Diced Onion
One - Two Frozen Cubed Okra
4-5 Diced Roasted Red Pepper Fresh or From a Jar
Three Sweet Potatoes Cooked And Smashed

Heat Oil on medium in Skillet
Add In Onion, Corn, Garlic,Okra & Seasonings
Cook till Soft
Add in Potato & Peppers
Cook for a Few Minutes to Blend in Flavors

Polenta Soup

Hard to believe that the Dog Days of Summer are long-gone, my 2 nieces and many other kids/teens in the area have already gone back to school. Those 100+ High Heat & Humidity Days seem like a distant Memory, for the last week we have been experiencing record cold temps for this time of year during the Day & Night. I do not mean we are getting Winter Cold temps during the month of August, but Daytime Highs of 66 and 72 are not the norm at all for August, last week it went down to 49 at night and other suburbs into the low 50's at night. That is weather we might typically get in late September or October. The cool weather was my motivation for soups and other one pot meals in my favorite Dutch Oven.

1 Five Quart Dutch Oven
1 TBSP Canola Oil or a Combo or Canola With Olive Oil
1 Diced Onion
1 Package of Isernios Italian Chicken Sausage or other Brand that is Ground and not in a Casing
One 18 Ounce Package Pre-Cooked Ready Made Polenta Cut Into Cubes
This one is from the Cost Plus World Market Store, It is not Available Online Though
You could also use Jaxson Cornmeal Mush Which is the Same thing as Ready Made Polenta from Cost Plus
I used this in some recipes of mine from 2011, here is the link to one of them with the PIC as Well
Also you could contact the Dik Jaxon Products Company

Dik Jaxon Products Company

  • (937) 890-7350
6195 Webster St, Dayton, OH 45414

4 Cups Very Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 16 Oz Package of Frozen Chopped Okra
1 -2 TBSP Minced Garlic
If you prefer you can saute the garlic, onion, & sausage in a skillet with oil or you do that in the Dutch Oven.
I prefer to just one pan for recipes.

Add Oil to Dutch Oven, Heat on Medium
Add in Oil, Sausage, & Garlic & Cook
Drain Oil, Leave in Food
Add in Broth, Polenta, Okra
Cover and Cook for 30-45 Minutes