I've been meaning to try these sweet potato bowls for a while and now that I had all the ingredients I needed, I finally decided to give them a try. I also used a sauce from a brand that I got to know recently, the Winking Food! Girl skillet sauces. You can find out about the brand on the website, here, and browse all their products.
I used the Classic Taco Skillet Sauce - onion, garlic and mild ancho chili come together to create a classic taco seasoning the whole family can enjoy. If you want some more spiciness just add some more chili flakes, for example.
Turning up the flavor volume of your daily meals becomes easy and fast and you can choose from 4 different skillet sauces, depending on what you're craving at the moment! The other flavors available are:
Besides buying the products directly from the brand's website you can also buy the products on Amazon. In fact, when you subscribe the Winking Girl! Foods newsletter you get a discount code to use on Amazon! That's a pretty good deal!
Find the Taco skillet sauce here, on Amazon:
I always like to try original recipes and different ways to incorporate regular basic ingredients so I decided to make my taco out of a sweet potato bowl and add some fresh accents, with cilantro and avocado. Turns out it's a perfect combo and I'll be doing these again very soon, judging by the husband's exciting approval of the final outcome!
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Wash the sweet potatoes and scrub them to remove any remaining dirt removed. Pat them dry with a paper towel and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them for about 1 hour (one of my potatoes was pretty big so it needed some extra time!).
3 - While the potatoes are in the oven start getting the filling ready. Brown the ground meat on a hot skillet, with the avocado oil.
4 - When the meat is cooked through and getting golden around the edges add the taco skillet sauce and get everything well mixed and combined.
5 - Add the jalapenos slices and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off.
6 - When the potatoes are cooked, take them off the oven and open them up by cutting them through the mid section and pressing on the edges so that the potatoes open up like a bowl. Just like you would do with a regular baked potato.
7 - Fill the sweet potatoes with the meat mixture and cover each one with 3 slices of Colby Jack cheese. Cook the potatoes to the oven to melt the cheese, for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and serve each sweet potato with freshly chopped cilantro and avocado bits on top.
I love spicy food so, as usual, I drizzled some sriracha sauce and fresh lime juice on top of my sweet potato to spice it up. It became this delicious exotic tasting sweet potato, perfect for a light but flavorful lunch! This is a pretty versatile dish and you can use whatever protein you have at hand to personalize it and make it your own.
Try these out and enjoy!
This is one of my favorite meals! A warm bowl of delicious creamy chicken with veggies that all my family loves - peas, carrots and corn, topped by a flaky and buttery puff pastry crust. Perfection on a bowl!
I decided to make it in individual ramekins because it comes out pretty and neat and it also helps to portion control it. Even though I managed my own portion I cannot say the same about the two men of the house, who ate two pies each!
I also took advantage of using the pressure cooker to cook some extra chicken thighs that were perfect to cook an additional dish - chicken and veggies rice. Using the pressure cooker only once I was able to get all my chicken pot pies and 4 portions of chicken rice, which is a pretty good outcome for so little time spent cooking and just using a few simple, whole ingredients. I also used the leftover chicken stock, from cooking the chicken, to add some more flavor to a vegetable soup that I cooked the next day. I'm all about saving time and making the most of the ingredients I'm using, so with this recipe I ended up getting a whole lot of meals prepped and done!
1 - Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2 - Prep all the veggies for the pie: peel and dice the carrots, celery, onions and garlic cloves.
3 - On a medium heat, cook the vegetables on a big pot with the avocado oil. Let them cook for about 5 minutes and add the flour, mixing really well to get it all incorporated with the vegetables.
4 - Add the Bare Bones chicken bone broth with rosemary and lemon, the water and the cream. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and the thyme.
5 - Let this all simmer in low heat for about 45 minutes. Be sure to stir it, once in a while, and to check on the liquid volume. If necessary, add some more water.
6 - Half way through the filling cooking time add the deboned chicken and keep cooking for the extra time needed. After this time the filling should be ready, bubbly and creamy. Turn the heat off and start prepping the ramekins.
7 - Get the ramekins lined up on a baking sheet or tray and fill each one of them with the chicken filling.
8 - Prepare the puff pastry: cut one large circle to serve as topping to each one of the pot pies, using the ramekins tops as a measure. With the remaining puff pastry cut shapes to decorate the pot pies. I used some leaf cutters and they turned out pretty cute!
9 - Cover the pot pies with the puff pastry tops, brush them with some egg wash (1 beaten egg) and add the extra shapes that had previously been cut. Enjoy yourself decorating these beauties for a bit!
10 - Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes or so, until the crust gets a beautiful golden color.
I just can't have enough of this puff pastry crust, it's so delicious!
Buttery, beautiful and it goes perfectly well with the creamy chicken filling. I can't wait to bake these again with some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving that I've already trimmed and frozen. I was lucky enough to get 2 free turkeys this year so I decided to cook one on Thanksgiving weekend and leave the other to cook later - every extra bit of meat I'll get from those will be prepped and frozen in ziploc bags for specific recipes, like chili, pot pies and turkey soup!
I loved the flavor of the Bare Bones chicken broth with rosemary and lemon and knowing that it gets me so much more benefits that regular cooking broth is definitely a plus! You can make your own broth at home but, definitely, it is a time saver to get this frozen packages. Now, you can get the shelf stable version too. You can find it here, on the brand's website or on Amazon (affiliate link):
If you haven't tried bone broth yet, please do!
t has lots of beneficial properties, as explained on the brand's website. ''The collagen that is extracted when simmering the bones and joints of pastured animals for 24+ hours contain the building blocks of life. Loaded with amino acids, and vital nutrients like calcium, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin, our broths are designed to nourish the mind, body and soul for a life well lived.''
Bone broth can be consumed hot, on a mug, which is a perfect way to start or end your day! Also, you can use it for cooking which makes it even easier for everyone to get it; for example, me kids don't fancy drinking it straight from the package (which they find weird!) but if I use it for my cooking I know they will end up getting the countless benefits from this super food and I'm pretty happy with that! Also, the fact that this broths are certified Paleo, USDA Organic and Whole30 approved can only mean that is the perfect addition to our daily diet.
Take another look at these marvelous pot pies and try the bone broth so you can also get all the benefits from it.
I always try to make dessert a fun treat to have. Although the kids love sweet things I try to balance that with fruit and other kind of natural snacking. I found out that portion control is a must when it comes to desserts and by using single serve cups or individual single containers it becomes extremely simple and easy.
I just got the most amazing treat from Rare Bird Preserves - passion fruit curd! It's amazingly exotic, with the passion fruit flavor and a truly luscious texture. It is smooth, creamy and sweet enough for you to eat it just as is or have it paired with something more neutral, like cream cheese. I decided to try these cheesecake cups and they came out perfect. The crunchy bottom layer is great and gives this treat that crunch that makes it real special and unique.
1 - Make the cookie base for the cheesecake cups: crumble the cookies on a food processor until they resemble sand. Add the melted butter and pulse a bit more to get all mixed up. This will get you plenty for the cheesecakes and you'll be left with some excess, which is great to use as a topping for ice cream or yogurt!
2 - Divide the cookie mix by the serving cups, pressing well on the bottom in order to create a well defined base level.
3 - Whisk the cream cheese or do it with the mixer to get it a bit more firm. Add the honey and remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Gently, add 3/4 of the passion fruit curd jar. Mix it gently with the cream cheese mix.
4 - Divide the cream cheese filling by the cups and add about a dollop of the remaining curd on each cup, mixing it with a straw or the back of a spoon to create a pattern. Add some mint leaves and enjoy!
Doesn't this image take you back to those hot summer days?! Yes, that was what I was going for! Whatever is going on outside, rain or shine, you can always trust food to take you back in time or to a different place. Food is magical and that's what makes it so special! When you love food and cooking it becomes a true pleasure just being in the kitchen creating something new everyday.
This recipe is very versatile - you can use whatever fruit and preserves you like! Make it your own and use the ingredients you have at hand to get the best results. This is a very simple and quick recipe to make and it's perfect for when you've got someone coming over and need a fast treat for dinner!
We have a great new place around Scotch Plains to get some delicious and nutritious snacks! I heard about this place on the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Neighbors Facebook group which shows that even us, locals, don't keep up with everything going around us! I decided to take a look and get to know the place so I scheduled a meeting with the owner, Desiree.
To get to Oba Brazil you need to get in the YETI MMA, right next to Bowcraft, on Route 22. As soon as you get in you get a cozy feeling from the simple but tastefully though of decoration. The owner, Desiree, is Brazilian and it was extremely refreshing for me to able to speak Portuguese with someone around here! It's amazing how you can get so familiar with someone just by coming from brother countries, like Portugal and Brazil.
So, with all the warmness typical in Brazilian people, Desire showed me the place around. There are a few tables and chair to sit down and you can sit down at the counter too, if you want to be closer to the action! Behind the counter you can always count on seeing a lot of fresh fruit, organic whenever possible, but always fresh which is key to a business that is focused on fresh produce.
You can choose from a pretty good variety of pitaya and açaí bowls, depending on what you like the most. The frozen pitaya and açaí used are 100% organic and can really boost your metabolism - help promote skin and heart health, contain healthy fatty acids, are powerful energy and immune system boosters and are packed with vitamins.
At OBA Brazil you can choose between five different bowls:
I tried the "Salada de Fruta", salad fruit bowl and it really was something! The fruit really is extremely fresh and super tasty. The whole thing ended up looking like a piece of art. Just take a look at it!
Do you see that flower on top of the bowl? It's super cute and delicate and it's made from frozen peanut butter. Desiree also had ones made from chocolate and I think it's the perfect final touch for such a beautiful creation. It truly adds a personal touch which is what keeps me coming back to a pace like this - feeling like the person there is really committed to it and tried to pass along something personal, besides the product that is being sold.
Shakes are also part of the menu and the flavors are all so interesting that the real issue is which one to choose! I went there with my kids, after this day, and they loved the smoothies, are we're most used to calling them. Desiree is all about costumer service and getting things done the way the client likes it; my daughter was able to get a personalized shake because there are some ingredients that she dosen't like that much so she had one specially made for her! How cool is that? If you have a particular ingredient that you don't like just tell Desiree about it and she will change it for you, for sure!
There are 6 different shakes and, although they all have protein powder on them, you can ask them without it if you don't want it, just ask!
As you can see it's like a tropical paradise by Scotch Plains!
There are also some truly delicious treats to eat alongside the shakes. There are "coxinhas de galinha" which are a kind of salty chicken appetizer, available in different flavors, like buffalo, broccoli or plain. They are covered in bread crumbs and fried and they are sold like bites (individual size snacks). You can get a dozen for $12 and you're able to mix and match the flavors. If you're planning a get together try these out. They won't last long and everyone will ask you where to buy them!
There's also "pão de queijo", Brazilian bread cheese. A delicious and mouth watering appetizer that comes straight out of the oven and melts in our mouth! These are sold by $1.5 for 3 units. When I was there Desiree also had these Brazilian dessert called "brigadeiros" - a chocolate bite size dessert for the chocolate lovers! There's also something new to try out at OBA Brazil!
I hope I was able to get everyone curious about the new smoothie/bowls place and that I'll get some of the locals to try these delicious treats. Pa a visit to Desiree, she's extremely nice and always ready to welcome new costumers. Also, if you've never been there she will offer you a discount for your first purchase!
With the cold days ahead get some nutritious shake or bowl and warm up with a Brazilian hot snack! Trust me, try it out and let me know what you had. I'll just leave you my bowl again for your own delight!
Carrying on with the purpose of getting to know the people in our community I found out about Soothcare through Facebook. I got to know Samantha and we had a really pleasant morning sipping a cup of coffee and just chatting about life and about the product she created.
Samantha is a certified Holistic Health Coach, having received her training from the Institute for Integrated Nutrition in New York City. She is married and a mother of 3 children. We discussed the importance of healthy eating and healthy habits in children being that the both of us are so interested in food and health.
Soothease is a brand of natural candies created with a specific purpose: having been through a very hard time in her life, Samantha battled against cancer and today she is, proudly, a cancer survivor! We all know of someone who's been through this disease and hear about all the side effects of treatments. While going through chemotherapy for cancer she experienced several side effects, as it is typical with this kind of therapies. One of the main issues was the mouth discomfort - the permanent feeling of dry mouth and the recurring mouth sores became a struggle.
Dysgeusia (changes in taste) is pretty much common during chemotherapy and radiation therapy and it can occur in up to 50% of patients. The changes can be caused by damage of the taste buds, dry mouth, infections or dental problems. In consequence, foods may seem to be tasteless or may not taste the way they did before the treatment.
Being a holistic chef, Samantha believes in the power of natural and earth-based foods and has been practicing a vegan diet in her household for a long time. Getting the correct, safe and beneficial foods can get us to a more healthy place, both spiritually and physically.
After several experiences with many organic ingredients, Samantha came up with a great tasting candy that promotes comfort and supports the human body's ability to maintain normal taste sensation.
Every ingredient of these candies is organic, natural, non-GMO and was carefully chosen for it's natural supportive properties. If you would like to know something more about these products and where to buy them, look up here the store locator.
You can also order Soothease candies online, on Amazon (affiliate link):
At the moment, there are 4 flavors available. The present challenge is to take out the sugar from the recipe and replace it with something healthier. I'm sure Samantha will be able to get a perfect substitute and offer a no-sugar variety in the near future. When you're a chef you are constantly trying to find different combinations of ingredients to improve your ideas!
Samantha was kind enough to offer me a package of the Chocolate Flavored Brown Rice heart candies and I tough it tasted great. A very smooth flavor that even my kids loved! I think it's great for anyone that is looking for some kind of comforting solution for the mouth. I tried it after burning my tongue when tasting food (I'm always in a hurry!) and it helped me to get a feeling of relief.
Chocolate Flavored Brown Rice -
Made with ingredients that help sooth the mouth: organic sugar, Aloe Vera water, organic brown rice, organic cocoa powder, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
Orange Flavored Barley -
Made with ingredients that help support the body's ability to regain the sense of taste: organic sugar, Aloe Vera water, organic light corn syrup, organic barley malt syrup, organic orange extract, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
Honey Lavender Flavored -
Made with ingredients that help sooth the mouth: organic sugar, organic honey, Aloe Vera water, organic lavender extract, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
Peppermint Flavored Barley (New!) -
Made with ingredients that help sooth the mouth: organic sugar, Aloe Vera water, organic light corn syrup, organic barley malt syrup, organic peppermint extract, organic dried dandelion root, organic dried chamomile and organic dried calendula.
All of the varieties are available in heart shape and lollipop shape
I hope this post will help everyone to get to know this candies because I'm positive that most of us know someone that will benefit from them. Even for ourselves, not having a medical condition, taking these candies may be a way to help our mouth to be comfortable and to have a soothing experience on these cold months ahead.
I had a great time getting to know Samantha and learning about her life story and I hope we can all keep sharing about all our great entrepreneurs that we have in the Scotch Plains and Fanwood area.
On chilly rainy day I'm all about comfort food. A plate of food should be good for you and should also bring you joy and happiness! I was feeling a bit homesick so I decided to cook myself a pretty traditional Portuguese dish.
I've been eating these peas and poached eggs since I was a kid. My parents love it and my mom would always cook it during the long winter days, as a treat. I changed some of the ingredients but the core base of the dish is there - the peas, the eggs and some meat to make it a very satisfying meal. Back in Portugal we use mostly chorizo but I went with bacon and it worked out really well, too.
I also decided to incorporate a new ingredient that I've been given to try out. Bare Bones kindly offered me some bone broth packages and this was the first recipe I decided to use it in. I used the tomato and spice variety because this dish requires a "tomatoey" flavor (I guess that's a word, now!) and it was the perfect addition combined with all the other flavors on the dish.
Bone broth has a lot of qualities and properties and it is perfect to incorporate on any dish you're cooking that requires some liquid or just to sip, on a cold day, plain and pipping hot!
"Stock making is the oldest and most widely taught tradition in cooking, so we honor and embody this tradition in everything that we do, taking absolutely zero shortcuts"
— RYAN HAVEY, FOUNDER
The bone broth from this brand is:
Each serving of the bone broth has 12-13 grams of protein and the packages are BPA-free and are eco-friendly. As you can see there's only good stuff in these pouches, so go over here to look up the store locator or order online.
Buy it online at Amazon:
I really like the flavor of the broth and the creaminess that it helped to give my dish. I'll be using it again, for sure.
1 - On an iron cast skillet get that bacon crisping until it has rendered almost all of its fat. I didn't even use any olive oil because bacon is naturally fat and it can do its work just fine!
2 - Remove the bacon from the pan and discard almost all of the fat, except for about 1 Tbsp. Add the onions and cook them for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and reserved bacon and cook them for about 3 more minutes.
3 - Add the peas (I used frozen and it's perfectly fine), the tomato sauce, the whole package of bone broth and the potatoes. Mix everything together, incorporating all the ingredients and season with the salt, pepper and thyme.
4 - Cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 35 minutes. If needed, add some more broth or a bit of water.
5 - Crack the eggs open on top of the peas and tomato mix, making little holes with a spoon to hold them in place. Let it cook for an additional 10 minutes or so, depending on how you like your eggs. These turned out just like I like them - neither runny nor overcooked.
As I'm writing this post I've already picked up the kids from school and, as soon as my son saw this dish he was really excited about having it for dinner and remembered about what grandma used to cook for him whenever we would go over for lunch. Great memories!
I really had a great time cooking today. It's funny how cooking can be something so emotional and I think it's one of the reasons that I love it so much. The flavors, the memories, the smells, they all take us somewhere, someplace other than where we are.
I love it and I hope I can get someone to try this peas and eggs because it is absolutely delicious!
I've been slacking on my meal prep so I decided to start getting back on track by making some breakfast reinforcements. I usually have toasted bread with butter for breakfast, paired with a good old cup of coffee. That usually gets me through the morning and keeps me "closer to home" - in Portugal bread and butter is practically the staple for any breakfast!
I've been using the Clever Foodies scrambles to help me on my egg based dishes. They're super practical to use and perfect for when you're needing some veggies even though you didn't have time to run to the farmers market!
This recipe is extremely simple and quick to make. All you need is to scramble your eggs with the veggie mix and get the rest of the ingredients on an assembly line - get everything stacked and you're done with 6-8 breakfast sandwiches. It's always possible to double or triple the recipe to adjust it to the amount of sandwiches you need to make! After that you can freeze them or eat them right away, like I did! I had one of these for lunch paired with a soup and I can attest that it was delicious and it will make up for some seriously tasty and quick breakfasts for next week.
1 - Make the scrambled eggs: melt the butter on a pan and then add the beaten eggs. When they're still runny but half way cooked add the ranchero scramble and mix it well with the eggs until everything is cooked through. Add the chopped cilantro at the end to give it a fresh taste.
2 - Let the eggs cool down on a plate so you can assemble the sandwiches without it running from the sides!
3 - Get your assembly line going - open the English muffins and lay them on a flat surface to build your sandwiches. Add a slice of cheese and ham to each muffin half and top it off with some scrambled eggs.
4 - Top it with the muffin top and press gently. Wrap each sandwich in freezer paper and place them on a thigh sealing bag with the date of making on them so you can keep track of your meal prep date.
I'll be getting my meal prep for the week going on around here! I'll be sharing some of my strategies to make week meals simple and stress free on a future post. It really pays off to have some time on Sunday to get everything organized and half way prepared so you can feel comfortable about feeding your family during the week without having a nervous breakdown!
Now, doesn't that look delicious?!
I welcome the cold weather, that has been coming around in the mornings, with wide open arms. I love comforting food, warm meals and roasted vegetables and this is the perfect time to celebrate all that! I don't buy too much cauliflower because me and my husband are the only ones that like it but, when I do, I usually bake it au gratin in the oven with creamy white sauce or I roast it with some dried herbs and olive oil.
This time I decided to change the seasoning a little bit and the cauliflower turned out perfect. I had been thinking about trying out the Montana Mex Sweet Seasoning Blend for meats and treats and I immediately though of the cauliflower - it's not meat but it sure is a treat! This mix has sea salt, orange, cinnamon and ginger which makes it very unique. the sea salt and the cinnamon work perfectly together and were a pleasant surprise!
1 - Preheat the oven to 400F.
2 - Make sure to wash the cauliflower and cut it in the desired shape.
3 - Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the cauliflower on top, trying not to overlap it so that the cauliflower will roast in the same way on every little bit of it.
4 - Add the seasonings to the cauliflower and drizzle over some avocado oil (about 2 Tbsp).
Make sure that the avocado oil is covering all of the cauliflower and the seasonings are well incorporated.
5 - Roast the cauliflower in the oven for about 35 minutes or until it starts getting a golden color all over. By then your kitchen should be smelling amazingly!
6 - Turn off the oven and serve the cauliflower as a side dish to a rich meaty meal, like beef stew, or a grilled steak or fish fillet.
As I usually say, can you spot those tittle brown bits? They are the BEST! The flavor is something between a traditional veggie roast and a caramel topping, just delicious! I'm seeing a lot of cauliflower in my future! If you usually have a vegetable that you don't like that much try sprucing up the seasonings a bit and maybe you'll find a new favorite side dish!
As for the seasoning I used, you can find it on Amazon:
As I've stated on a previous post I decided to share some local businesses and entrepreneurs that stand out in our community, specifically in Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Rafal, the NJ Lice Lady. Lisa and I talked about lice, lice prevention and also about the treatment she has used in thousands of people. First of all, lice aren't bad or scary, they simply happen sometimes! Lice are tiny insects that impact humans and head lice live from the neck up and can be found in the head and the most common symptom is itching.
What we can do is take preventive measures and, if we do get them, choose a safe and natural treatment to take care of the problem.
In a time and age when we try to eat healthy, organic and non-GMO food we should also be concerned about the chemicals hidden in products that we use in our home and in our personal hygiene. The common lice treatment that you find at the pharmacy contains ingredients classified as insecticides! Well, I don't know about you but I sure don't want to carry an insecticide on my head or in my children's head!
Besides being expensive, these treatments are not guaranteed to be 100% efficient in eliminating lice and they are also clearly unhealthy due to the chemicals you're exposing yourself to whenever you use them. Most of these treatments have to be repeated so there's another dose of chemicals right there! Trying to find a better and safer method, Lisa uses a formula made of 4 essential ingredients:
The oil helps to prolong the shelf life of the products and also gives it a pleasant scent, unlike some truly strong scents you can find on chemical charged products. Essentially, the purpose of the treatment is to stop the lice excretion process and, this way, kill them. Then, you need to do a proper and thorough combing with a specific comb specially made to be able to grab all those nits that can be attached to your hair.
Subsequent vigilance is always advised to make sure that the treatment was successful. The Lice Lady makes it easier for us when dealing with a lice situation. She'll go over to your house, thoroughly examine each member of the family through a head check and then proceed with the necessary treatment. It's always a wise choice to leave matters of this nature in the hands of professionals and Lisa sure knows her business.
Lisa used to own the Clark NJ Lice Treatment Center where she served thousand of clients. Several years of experience led to her present treatment methods that include not only doing the treatment but also teaching the parents how to do proper head checks and also a lesson on lice prevention. There are also specific advice for children and information that's given to them in order to demystify the "lice monster" idea! The follow up for each treatment is simple, clean and effective - don't pay more if you can have the best for less!
The product used by Lisa is called "Later, Lice!" and you can get it direclty thorugh Lisa (look up her website here), she will get the product for you to pick it up. It's also available at Elmora Pharmacy in Elizabeth and Peter Pan pharmacy in South Plainfield.
The cost for the service done by Lisa ranges from $35 for a head check to $175 per person for full service treatment. Full service treatment includes all product needed as well as one comb per family. If you only want to purchase the product, the price for it is $25/bottle and the special comb is $15. One bottle is usually enough to treat 1-2 people the recommended 3 times but mileage may vary depending on hair texture and length.
Now that you have a bit more information about the subject you'll be able to make a better choice when the time comes. If you need some advice or an appointment to make sure that you and your family are lice free make sure to give Lisa a call and she'll take good care of you! Stay safe, stay informed!