Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

This is a super quick and flavorful main dish for two. Each serving comes in at around 202 calories. Served with rice and a green veggie (like broccoli or asparagus), you have a healthy, low-calorie meal.

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 clove garlic, finely minced
8 ounces wild salmon filets
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, combine the balsamic vinegar, water, maple syrup, and garlic over medium-high heat. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper and place in the balsamic sauce in the skillet. Bring the liquid just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning once, until the salmon is done, about 10 minutes. The balsamic vinegar sauce will have reduced quite a bit and thickened. You may have to add a tablespoon (or more) of water if the sauce is thickening too quickly


Eggplant Stroganoff

Eggplant Stroganoff

I’ve been getting some beautiful eggplants in my Pinckney’s Produce CSA box so far this season. I’m always looking for new ways to prepare eggplant. Each week CSA members get an email early in the week with the contents of the week’s box, news from the farm, and a recipe to use some of the produce. This recipe for Eggplant Stroganoff was featured in last week’s email. It was mentioned that the recipe given produces a runny sauce. I thought I could avoid that problem by preparing the sauce separately from the veggies and reducing the amount of liquid. I think my adaptation of Eggplant Stroganoff turned out well.

My husband had reservations about trying the Eggplant Stroganoff. He’s not a big fan of eggplant, but he admitted that he liked it and then had seconds. I wasn’t a 100% certain I would like it, but it was actually super-delicious. I finished off the leftovers for lunch today and am already thinking about making it again soon. And why not? This Eggplant Stroganoff has almost half of the calories of my Beef Stroganoff and is totally satisfying. You will not miss the meat in this dish.

Eggplant Stroganoff

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 Italian eggplant (or two small), cut into 1-inch cubes (no need to peel the eggplant)
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 1/2 cups water and 2 Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes)
1/2 cup sour cream (you can use low-fat)
salt and pepper, to taste

cooked egg noodles, warmed

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and dry mustard and cook for a minute. Gradually add the vegetable broth, whisking constantly until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm on low heat.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften. Add the eggplant and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes. Pour reserved sauce over the eggplant mixture and stir gently to combine. Reduce heat and simmer a  few minutes more. Serve over warm egg noodles.




Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes

Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes (640x480)

The past two months have been crazy-busy. Both of my sons are now in school. Their schools are in opposite parts of the city. I’m spending 4 to 6 hours a day in the car shuttling them around to school and appointments. Throw in there an emergency surgery for my cat, a dead air conditioner that required a complete system replacement, a ruptured eardrum, a variety of back-to-school colds, car problems, soccer practice and games, art workshops, and PTO meetings (I volunteered to be the Secretary for my oldest son’s school’s PTSO). Life has been hectic!

In hectic times, the crockpot comes in so handy. Butter Chicken is a popular Indian dish not usually done in a crockpot. The crockpot is a perfect cooking implement for this dish because the chicken turns out so tender. The addition of potatoes is not necessarily traditional, but it is delicious and gives more substance to the dish. This recipe makes enough for leftovers, which taste even better since the spices have had time to meld.

This recipe uses a lot of spices. I mix my own garam masala and curry powder. I have included the recipes for my spice mixes. You can buy already prepared Indian spice mixtures at some grocery stores or online at

Butter Chicken and Potatoes (640x480)


Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts), cut into bite-sized chunks
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 tablespoon curry powder (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon garam masala (see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
4 tablespoons butter
fresh cilantro, chopped

Cooked Basmati rice

Layer the onions, chicken, and potatoes in the crockpot. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, Thai curry paste, spices, tomato paste, coconut milk, and cream. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Add the butter to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with Basmati rice. Naan bread would be wonderful with this too.

Recipe adapted from the one found here.

Curry Powder

2 T. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cayenne
1 tsp. ground ginger

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Garam Masala

2 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine spices. Store in glass jar.

Southwestern Vegetable and Bean Soup

Southwestern Vegetable and Bean Soup

My CSA’s fall season has started and I couldn’t be happier. I really miss those boxes in between seasons. The last two boxes have had a variety of peppers and summer squash in addition to sweet potatoes, arugula, eggplant, and pickling cucumbers. I love using poblano peppers in soup.

Depending on the heat of the poblano peppers (they tend to vary quite a bit) you use, this soup can be a bit spicy. I like it that way. If you would like a spicier soup, add a jalapeno or serrano pepper for heat. If you are not a fan of spicy foods, substitute a milder pepper, like an Anaheim or banana pepper, for the poblano. If you have fresh cilantro on hand, feel free to throw some into the soup before serving.

This recipe makes about 12 1 cup servings that come in at about 100 calories a serving. A great low-calorie lunch.

Southwestern Vegetable and Bean Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 poblano chiles, stem and seeds removed and diced
1 large bell pepper, diced (use your choice of color)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups of vegetable broth
1 15.5 ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 14. 5 ounce can diced tomatoes and juices
1 cup frozen corn
1 large zucchini, diced (yellow squash would be fine too)
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onions, poblanos, and bell peppers and sauté until tender. Add the garlic; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, corn, and zucchini. Cook until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Spicy Roasted Okra

Spicy Roasted Okra

One of the many joys of no longer having a thyroid is the non-existent metabolism. I have put on 17 pounds since my thyroidectomy surgery in January. Having been diagnosed with hypothyroidism over 13 years ago, I’m no stranger to the weight issues that go along with thyroid disease. Right before my thyroid cancer diagnosis, I was on a sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free diet for 6 months. In that 6 months I lost a whopping 4 pounds. It’s discouraging. I don’t have room for extra weight so I have resorted to calorie counting. There are some great free apps out there to make it easier. I’m aiming for 1500 to 1700 calories a day for (hopefully) weight loss.

My hubby works late on Thursdays and I usually end up making something simple for my dinner. Last Thursday I roasted a batch of fresh okra. I love okra. Roasted Okra is totally addicting and satisfying too. Plus, it’s super easy to make. I used a jalapeno from my garden and it was super hot. It made for some SPICY Roasted Okra. It was so spicy, I got the hiccups. Do you get hiccups when you eat spicy/hot foods?

Vegetables typically have lower calorie counts than other foods, so it makes sense to eat more of them to aid in weight loss 1 pound of fresh okra has 124 calories! 1 tablespoon of canola oil also has 124 calories. 1 jalapeno has about 4 calories. This entire recipe (if made with 1 tablespoon of canola oil) only has 152 calories! So, there’s no guilt when I eat the entire batch of Roasted Okra by myself. : )

Roasted Okra

Spicy Roasted Okra

1 pound fresh okra pods, ends trimmed
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
Kosher salt and pepper
spices of your choice (I used garlic powder and cumin)

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Cut the okra pods in half lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the okra and sliced jalapeno with the oil. Season the okra to taste with Kosher salt, pepper, and preferred spices. Arrange the okra in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Roast the okra in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring once half-way through cooking. I like the okra right when it starts to crisp up and brown.


Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas

Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas

I picked up 8 ounce packages of baby bella mushrooms at Aldi this week for 99 cents each. Such a good deal. I’m becoming a big fan of Aldi, which is owned by the same company that owns Trader Joe’s. Aldi doesn’t have much in way of variety, but they have good prices, especially on produce. I got organic bananas for 69 cents a pound and a seedless watermelon for $2.99 this week. Just don’t get too attached to any one product at Aldi. The products are constantly changing.

We will be eating a lot of mushroom dishes this week. This is a variation of my Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with a Creamy Tomatillo Sauce recipe. In this version, the sauce is different. I incorporated some of the mushrooms into the creamy enchilada sauce. It’s delicious.

Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas 2

Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas

3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages (9 – 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze as much liquid as possible)
salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated (or Monterrey Jack)
1 cup water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use Knorr brand)
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter until tender. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove half of the mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Add the spinach to the mushroom mixture and cook until all the liquid in the skillet is gone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the pepper jack cheese and turn the heat down to low. Keep the mushroom mixture warm while you prepare the enchilada sauce.

In a saucepan, bring the water and vegetarian bouillon cube to a boil. Whisk the corn starch and garlic powder into the sour cream and then whisk into the boiling liquid. Whisk until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the reserved mushroom mixture and the cilantro.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Wet several paper towels and wring them out. Wrap the corn tortillas in the damp paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds or until warm and pliable.

Divide the spinach and mushroom filling evenly between the 8 corn tortillas and roll up (not too tight) to enclose the filling. Place the enchiladas seam side down in the baking dish. Top the enchiladas with the creamy mushroom sauce. Bake the enchiladas in the 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn (640x480)

It has been so hot and humid in South Carolina lately. Who wants to cook on days like this? Crockpot cooking is perfect for hot days. It doesn’t heat up the house and leaves you plenty of time for summer fun.

We have been eating more vegetarian meals lately. Grocery prices have gone up so much that there’s not much room for meat in the budget. Grocery prices are ridiculous! The price of cheese alone has gone up 20% in just the past two weeks. What is going on? Everything is going up but the paycheck, so budget meals are a necessity. This meal is budget-friendly. Beans are cheap. I am able to get cans of beans at Aldi for 59 cents each. Dried beans are cheaper, but canned beans are so convenient. Paired with chiles from the farmers’ market and my garden, this chili is relatively inexpensive as well as nutritious.

This chili is even better the next day. Do you know what I did with the leftover chili? I made Frito pie (Fritos topped with chili and cheese) with it. So good.

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped
1 – 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 15.5 ounce can cannellini  beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro in the crockpot and cook on low 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 3 to 4 hours). Right before serving, stir in the cilantro.


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