Mexican Three Bean Salad

Sides

If you grow up in a church, potlucks are pretty standard. Game nights, super bowl parties, Sunday school meetings, holiday gatherings, low budget weddings, you name it— the church is on it. These days, there are probably a myriad of rules and regulations about what a responsible contribution would be– but back then, the only instruction was to bring enough food to feed one family. For the Fortunes, our staple contribution was a bucket of fried chicken, potato wedges and biscuits. Now yes, we happen to be black (so I know what you’re thinking) but this kind of meal was a HUGE departure for my mother and I loved her for it! I remember walking into our church’s Family Life Center (essentially a large rec room) and jumping in line immediately just to get a plate of what my own family brought!

Fast forward to present day and City Furniture is my new potluck beat. When my sorority sister Carolyn lured me to the company, I was all but guaranteed fantastic coworkers, festive happy hours and regularly scheduled pot luck lunches— all of which has come true.

For this month’s marketing department potluck, I will be debuting what I have deemed my new go to: Mexican Three Bean Salad. Instead of getting caught up in coming up with something impressive or different every time I’m going to take a leaf out of my mother’s book and just stick with what works.

 

The colorful vegetarian side below is something I’ve made a few times for myself and I can never get enough of it! Only a $10 dish, it’s easy to make, easy to store (just slap it into the company fridge), and there’s plenty to go around. As per usual, once I get these beans on the buffet I’ll be hopping in line with the intent to throw down!

 

M E X I C AN    T H R E E   B E A N   S A L A D

Ingredients

1 Can black beans

1 Can garbanzo beans

1 Can red kidney beans

1 Can corn

1 Pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1/2 Cup red onion

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

1/3 cup lime juice

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 Tablespoon honey

1/4 Teaspoon chili powder

1 Teaspoon salt

1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder

Black pepper to taste

 

Process

  1. Using a strainer, drain and rinse all beans and place into a large bowl. Drain canned corn and add it to the bowl. IMG_2576
  2. Chop cherry tomatoes into quarters (about 2 cups) and place into the large bowl.
  3. Chop 1/2 cup of onion, add it to the bowl and set the bowl aside.
  4. Chop 2 tablespoons of cilantro and place into a small bowl. Add lime juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together with a fork. IMG_2581
  5. Pour cilantro lime dressing into the large bowl, combining the mixture with a large spoon.
  6. Cover and refrigerate. IMG_2586

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Boiled Eggs

Hello, Whole 30, Mains, Sides

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Given the choice, I always prefer to start my morning with something savory. I love donuts and granola bars but there’s nothing like the perfect balance of coffee, cream and a little something salty. All that being said, I am pleased to introduce a fool proof process for boiled eggs — my tried and true morning delight!

B O I L E D    E G G S

Ingredients

2 Eggs

Process

1. Fill sauce pan with enough water to cover the eggs.
2. Place a lid over the eggs and turn the stove on high until the water starts to boil (approximately 7 minutes).
3. Turn the heat off, but leave the pan on the burner for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from stove and allow the eggs to cook in the heated water for 10 minutes (the lid should remain on during this process).

Note: If you’re into soft boiled eggs, skip step four and go directly to five. Also, you may want to skip the peeling directions below as you’ll want to treat these eggs a little more delicately. Lightly tapping the shell on the counter should do just fine.
5. Remove the eggs from the pot, and place them into an a bowl of ice water. Let the eggs sit for 10 minutes.

 

P E E L I N G   H A R D   B O I L E D   E G G S

1. Place one egg into a slender glass lined with a very small amount of water.
2. Cover the glass with one hand while clasping the bottom with the other, shaking the egg and glass horizontally from left to right.
3. Once the shell begins to break, remove the egg from the glass and peel.

 

 

Sauted Kale

Sides

img_1622After ringing in the new year with Key West’s finest, I was dreading my car ride home, dreading going back to work, and dreading what I thought I was going to be a baron kitchen. To my surprise, a few trusty staples were awaiting my arrival: Frozen Chicken, Cheese and Crackers, frozen meatballs, and kale.

God. Bless. The. Kale.

Coming off a diet of grilled cheese, French fries and a fair amount of alcohol, this green treat was just what I needed in my system!

 

S A U T E D   K A L E

 

Ingredients (one serving)

4 Cups kale

1 Teaspoon garlic

1/2 Yellow onion

4 Teaspoons olive oil

1/4 to 1 /2 Teaspoon salt*

1/4 Teaspoon pepper

 

Process

  1. If you’re using non-bagged kale**: use a strainer or colander to rinse the kale, then pat dry. Chop leaves into 1 1/2 – 2 inch strips (although no need to be precise, just ripping the leaves would be fine).  Set kale aside.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and set the temperature to medium high. Chop 1/2 onion and garlic and add it to the pan. Immediately turn the heat to low and cover with a lid for 5 minutes (or until the garlic and onion begin to sweat).
  3. Add kale, salt, and pepper to pan. Drizzling 2 more teaspoons of olive oil, mix all of the ingredients in the pan. Leave the pan uncovered for 12- 15 minutes, kneading the kale periodically.

Notes: *If you are using pre-bagged kale you can skip step one entirely. **This dish was perfectly savory for me, but if you’re sensitive to salt– start with 1/4 teaspoon and add another pinch to taste!

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Butternut Squash & Brussel Sprouts

Sides

butternut-squash-and-sprouts_complete3Much like pumpkin, butternut squash has become a quintessential ingredient during the fall. After seeing these little orange cubes sprinkled across magazines, restaurant menus and Pinterest posts, it occurred to me it was time to jump on the band wagon. Prior to the pre-spiraled noodles I used during Whole 30, I’m not even certain I had eaten butternut squash outside of a Lean Cuisine ravioli!

Several inspirational mental notes later (squash + faro + seeds+ cranberry;  squash + pear+ feta + arugula;  squash + lintels + pomegranate) I settled on the butternut squash and brussel sprout recipe you’ll find below.

I started this experiment off with a quick trip to Whole Foods. I had been eying their on-the-stalk display of brussel sprouts for a while and this was the perfect reason to take a bouquet home! (Although looking back the regular bagged kind is cheaper and less labor intensive). I also grabbed 1 medium sized squash (little over a pound), 2 pink lady apples, and  1 small scoop of roasted pumpkin seeds (no more than 4 ounces).

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Although the preparation for this recipe is super simple, I handled the bulk the prep work over the weekend (as I am usually less ambitious during the week). I plucked the brussel sprout buds off the stalk, then washed, dried and halved them before placing them into a Tupperware container. For the squash, I peeled (which I’m not sure why I had to google that), then chopped, then scooped out seeds (apparently there’s a little cul-de-sac of seeds at the bottom end…) and then placed these guys into a separate Tupperware container.

Whether or not you do this in one day or two, the only tasks left at this point is chopping the apples into cubes and dressing the veggies (I had leftover bacon on hand from breakfast but at some point you’d need to cook that too). For the brussel sprouts, I simply tossed this in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I placed the sprouts directly onto a large baking pan and then set it aside. For the squash, apples, pumpkin seeds and cranberries, I lined another pan with foil and tossed these ingredients in a mixture of maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

Music up, lights lit, and ornaments out, the 50 minute cook time was just the perfect window for Tam, Jon and I to finally decorate our tree!

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christmas-tree

B U T T E R N U T   S Q U A S H    &    B R U S S E L

S P R O U T S

Ingredients

5 Cups brussel sprouts

1 1/2 Pounds butternut squash

1/ 4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

1 / 2 Cup cranberries

2 Apples

2 Teaspoon olive oil

1 Teaspoon cinnamon

1/ 3 Cup maple syrup

1 Tablespoon honey

4 Bacon strips (optional)

Salt

Pepper

 

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse brussel sprouts thoroughly and chop into halves. Toss in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place sprouts face down on a baking sheet and set this aside.
  3. Peel, remove seeds, and chop one butternut squash into 1/2 – 3/4″ cubes.
  4. Rinse and chop 2 apples (you can peel the skin or leave it on) in the same size cubes as the squash.
  5. Combine apple, squash, pumpkin seeds and cranberries with maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Once everything is coated evenly, place the contents of the bowl on a large sheet pan (I lined mine in foil for fear of sticking). Place the sheet pan into the oven for a total cook time of 50 minutes.

Note: If you do not already have cooked bacon bits, now would be a great time to whip up a few slices! Once your strips have cooked on the skillet, pad down with a paper towel to remove excess grease and chop the strips into bits.

6. At the 20 minute mark, place the baking tray of brussel sprouts into the oven to cook for the remaining 30 minutes. If you are using two shelves, place the sprouts below the squash.

7. At the 40 minute mark, add the crumbled bacon to the squash baking tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of honey on top of the pan and mix everything around with a spatula.

8. At 50 minutes, remove both pans from the oven and combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Be sure to give it a good toss with the spatula so all of the flavors are nicely mixed.

butternut-squash-and-sprouts_complete

Roasted Broccoli

Sides

It’s funny how everyone assumes their childhood is “normal” until they reach an aha moment of Wait, was just that just us? It wasn’t until I got older and started hanging out at other people’s houses or chatting with friends about what my favorite meals or treats were that I realized maybe my family’s menus were a little atypical.

I grew up in a household that looking back was pretty healthy: no soda except for birthdays and sleepovers, if mom bought “chips” it was usually just Goldfish, cereal was always super grainy or fibery (Captain Crunch has literally never been inside my home) fish was on the menu at least 2 – 3 nights a week; and dinner was never complete without a freshly steamed vegetable.

To this day I can recall being in middle school and finding it mind blowing my friend’s mother was preparing broccoli with melted cheese. I remember staring at my plate thinking, wait— this comes more ways than just steamed? How insane! Later, as I started developing more of a palette, I also realized that even broccoli that appeared to be “plain” was often prepared in butter, or steamed but seasoned with salt and pepper. This was all truly mind blowing. Where had I been? Where had my family been? Was everyone doing these things?

Well, tonight I found myself standing in Publix with my mind blown yet again.

Jon and I had been planning to have pumpkin soup as our main course for dinner but I knew I’d require a vegetable in order for the meal to really feel complete (old habits die hard). Naturally, I hopped on Pinterest and started looking for something fun that didn’t involve brussel sprouts or butternut squash (not hating, just wanted something different). After some serious scrolling, I landed on a picture of roasted broccoli. ROASTED. BROCCOLI.

Again— what??? This recipe turned out to be not only a game changer in the broccoli world but also incredibly addicting!

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R O A S T E D   B R O C C O L I

Ingredients

Broccoli florets

1/8 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1/8 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

¼ Cup Almond Slivers

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/8 Teaspoon Salt

1 Lemon (the juice of)

Parmesan Cheese (to taste)

Process

1.      Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2.      Chop the florets in halves or thirds, just so the bites would be manageable. I placed the almonds and broccoli florets in a plastic Ziploc bag and tossed them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

3.      Place florets onto a baking tray and season with garlic powder, salt, and red pepper flakes. Squeeze lemon over the tray. Bake broccoli in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the florets start to deflate and the buds start to turn brown)

4.      After the tray has been removed from the oven, sprinkle with parmesan cheese (thinly shaved fresh parm would probably be awesome but I just used the container we have for spaghetti)

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This was perfect right out of the oven but if it does start to cool down, try and fight the urge to warm it up in the microwave. We found that while the microwave didn’t add a ton of moisture, eating it room temp (and still a little crispy) was actually a better way to go!

 

 

Pumpkin Soup

Mains, Sides

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Do you ever get cravings for things you’ve never even had before? That is exactly what happened to me last week. Out of the blue, pumpkin soup was on my mind and haunting me for days. Now, on the one hand, I am major soup lover. I’m the sort of person who drinks soup year round because I love the warmth and the I love the flavors you can cultivate. On the other hand— I’ve never really gotten into the spirit of “Pumpkin Season”.

Unlike most, Fall as first generation American (parents are British) in Florida is always somewhat watered down: The weather barely changes. Halloween is still somewhat baffling. Thanksgiving is always delicious (turkey, stuffing, cranberry, roasted potatoes, dinner rolls, apple pie…)  but kind of basic (nothing fried, no crazy casseroles, no pumpkin pie, no pecan pie). Even my first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte was a little anticlimactic because I found the flavor to be a little too sweet!

All this to say, while I couldn’t tell you why pumpkin soup was on my mind but man am I glad it was! After consulting google and Pinterest for a few recipes, I decided the flavor profile I wanted to achieve would be similar to butternut squash soup (there were a few recipes that called for coconut milk and chives which also sounded good so I may try that too).  During the process I also decided I wanted the soup to have a tinge of sweetness to it to balance out the salty in the bacon and cheese it would be dressed with on top (it was almost an even split between recipes that called for sugar/honey and recipes that did not).

mains_pumpkin-soup

P U M P K I N   SOUP

Ingredients

1 ½ Cans pumpkin puree

4 Cups chicken broth (my boyfriend and I tend to use Kitchen Basics because there’s additives in there)

1 ½ Teaspoons salt

1/ 2 Cup chopped onion

1/2 Teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 Teaspoon minced garlic

8 Whole peppercorns

1/ 2 Teaspoon ginger paste (or fresh ground ginger)

1/ 4 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 Teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/ 4 Cup honey

1/ 2 – 1/3 Cup heavy whipping cream

4 – 6 Pieces of cooked bacon

Optional:

1 / 2 Cup Cheese (I recommend parmesan but we had feta in the house and just used that),

1 Bagel (or bread of your choosing) for croutons

1/2 Tablespoon Ghee (or butter)

Process

1.      In a large pot, combine pumpkin puree, chicken stock, salt, thyme, garlic, pepper corns, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Turn the stove to high until the pot begins to boil. When this happens, turn temperature to medium-low and place the lid on. Stir periodically.

2.      In a sauté pan, fry 4- 6 strips of bacon on medium temperature. When the bacon is crisp, remove the meat from the pan (do not wash it though) and place bacon onto a plate of paper towels as to absorb the excess grease.

3.      Turn bacon pan to medium-high and sauté onions with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the onions begin to caramelize, pour the contents on the pan into the large pumpkin pot. This will add some more savory flavor!

4.      Add honey to large pot, turn the stove to low and place the lid on. Let this cook for at least another 30 minutes or so to really let the flavors mix. (I deep conditioned my hair that night, so I let my soup go for about an hour and a half)

5.      Slowly stir the heavy whipping cream into the pot. Leave this cook for a final 5 minutes.

6.      When the soup is complete, serve each portion with crumbled bacon strips, a pinch of cheese, and croutons*.

*During the soup’s final 10 minutes, chop one bagel (we had some frozen, but the bread is up to you) into 1” cubes. Place bread into a sauté pan with ghee (or butter) and season with a pinch of salt and set this on medium high. When the bread turns toasty and golden brown you’re all set to go!

Whole 30: Days 28 – 30

Hello, Whole 30, Sides

Meal Summary

 

Day 28

Breakfast: Boiled Egg, Lara Bar

Lunch: Grilled Chicken Salad (grilled chicken, boiled egg, bell peppers, onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, balsamic vinegar and olive oil)

Snack: Carrot Sticks, Banana Chips

Dinner: Jerk Pork (see my post from Days 4-6 for my spice mix), Sweet Potato Chips and Guacamole

 

Day 29

Breakfast: Boiled Egg, Lara Bar

Lunch: Jerk Pork, Carrot Sticks, Apple Sauce

Snack: Almonds & Raisins, Sweet Potato Chips

Dinner: Salad (Pulled Chicken, Jicama, Red Onions, Carrots, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Lime)

 

Day 30

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, 1/4 sausage patty (greasy and questionably compliant)

Lunch: Hot Dog (no bun, also questionable), Mango

Snacks: Almonds & Raisins, Banana Chips

Dinner: Grilled Cheese (not even questionable– 100% not compliant)

 

Thoughts

 

God bless sweet potatoes! I’ve had a hankering for something crunchy (that wasn’t bananas) and on Day 28 I nailed sweet potato chips (recipe below). 2 sweet potatoes yielded enough my side dish on Day 29, definitely a snack at work on 28, and a snack or two while in the Keys.

Now, in the interest of full transparency—although Day 29 and 30 started off with good intentions, overall it was a bust. On Day 30 Jon had two short films premiering at the Key West Film Festival and once it show time, celebratory shots were poured and that was officially a wrap for all our efforts!! It was an unfortunate defeat– but I certainly don’t regret it. On the one hand, we were SO CLOSE. But the other hand though, I’m SO proud of Jon for sticking to the diet as long as he did!  Granted, I was just along for the ride but he definitely earned some slack! To be on the radio, talking about his films like a pro, then follow it up with two premieres—I mean, come on!

So, how does the story end? Well surprisingly, after the glasses clinked, our previous abstinence from booze became quite a conversation starter! Why dieting and lifestyle changes are taboo subject matter I’ll never understand— but as we shared about our Whole 30 experience, one by one our Key West family started sharing their war stories and efforts. Turns out, one of the couples have been on a vegan path for the past 6 months! Even though it was just a few minutes, it was really awesome to hear each of our friends spreading the gospel on what’s been working for them lately.

The reality of it is, none of us are perfect. In fact, I can tell you for certain that all of Jon and my meals from here are on out will not be clean. But at this point— our awareness is heightened, which is incredibly valuable. We made a conscious effort to eat whole foods and saw the impact it had on our mind, body and soul. Our recipes will not be retired and we now have the tools to eat clean and eat well as often as possible. The key to sustaining ourselves on this earth is not about revolving through cycles of Whole 30, or Atkins, or  juicing; running everyday or doing sit ups before bed– it’s just about taking care of ourselves and embracing the idea of continued improvement.

I appreciate you joining our journey and I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors! For recipes, hacks and encouragement just check out the rest of the blog! And yes, I did lose 5lbs and Jon dropped 20 🙂  .

 

S W E E T   P O T A T O   C H I P S

Ingredients

2 Sweet potatoes

1/2 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Process

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (unless your pan is typically on really good non-stick behavior— my surprisingly was).
  3. With a sharp knife, slice potatoes as thin as possible into discs. When complete, put potato slices into a plastic bag and toss with olive oil and salt.

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whole-30_sweet-potato-on-pan

  1. Place potatoes on the baking plan without overlapping. Let this cook for 45 – 50 minutes. At this point, they will start to dehydrate and you can scoop them up with a spatula and flip each chip over. Let this continue to bake for another 30 to 40 minutes or so, but be sure to check in!
  2. When you remove the chips from the oven don’t be surprised if some still look a little soft. They will crisp up when they reach room temp!

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