lunchbox life: steak kabobs with avocado and salad greens

image1(23)Greetings, friends! On one hand, I can’t believe I’m about to begin Week 3 of this school year, but on the other hand, the rhythm of the weekly grind has already begun to set in. Since it’s still mid-August, and therefore summer, I thought I’d make this week’s lunches an homage to the summertime, and what’s more summery than shish kabobs?

These kabobs pack a protein punch and are brimming with local veggies. The zucchini, onions, and sweet peppers all came from our CSA box from Dirt Farmers, making my lunches this week even more special and healthy. While most people serve kabobs over rice, I decided on a different approach since I’m still trying to infuse my good habits from my Whole30 experience into my regular, post-Whole30 life. Instead of rice, I’ll heat up my meat and veggies in the microwave and then place them on a bed a chopped romaine lettuce and top it all off with some sliced avocado.

image2(10)This lunch is a perfect example of healthy eating with a hearty approach. I think the 1990s and early 2000s messed us up with ideas about “eating light” that made us think we had to be hungry all of the time in order to be eating in a healthy way. By loading up on veggies, protein, and good fats, your body should be satisfied and full, but not uncomfortable and bloated. This is a great approach to that goal.

Note: if you’re not a red meat eater, you could certainly substitute chicken breast or thigh.

Steak Kabobs with Avocado and Salad Greens

1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless beef ribs

3 large or 5 medium zucchini

2 small or 1 large sweet onion

1 red bell pepper (I used 5 small sweet peppers from our CSA)

8 to 10 wooden kabob sticks

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. McCormick brand Montreal steak seasoning

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper

5 small avocados

3 hearts of romaine lettuce

optional: salad dressing (I recommend making your own or your choice from the Tessamae’s brand)

Soak the wooden kabob sticks in water. Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat or light an outdoor grill. Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, garlic powder, and Montreal steak seasoning. Let the beef sit in the bowl on the counter for about 20 minutes while you chop the veggies. Remove the ends and outer layers of the onions, then chop them into chunks with two or three layers attached. Remove the tops and seeds from the pepper and slice it into 1/2 inch length pieces. Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Coat the veggies with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper (about 1 Tbsp. salt for all of the veggies).

Assemble the kabobs to your preference using the photo for reference. Grill the kabobs to your preference of doneness for the beef, but remember that you’ll most likely be reheating the beef in the microwave, so err on the side of medium rather than well done. I prefer my beef rare, but because of the longevity of this beef, I cooked my beef to medium.

When the kabobs are finished cooking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. While they’re cooling, chop the romaine hearts and evenly distribute between five plastic, sealable bowls. Add one small avocado to each bowl, then place the top on the bowl.

In a separate piece of sealable plasticware, slide the meat and veggies off of the kabobs and distribute evenly among the five plastic containers. When you’re ready to eat, reheat this container, then place the reheated meat and veggies atop the romaine lettuce and cut the avocado into slices or chunks to top the meat and veggies. Drizzle with salad dressing and enjoy!

lunchbox life: sweet potato bowls with chicken and spinach

image1(22)Welcome back! It’s Week 2 for the 2015-16 school year, and I’m happy to report that Week 1 was excellent. Seriously. I have great students who are willing to try new things are ready for a year of hard work and challenges, I’m settling back into a routine of teaching five classes per day, and I’m happy to be reunited with my work buddies. One adjustment, however, is getting back into the groove of inhaling my lunch five time per week. During my summers at GHP, we have a 90 minute lunch break, but during the school year, I have about 25 minutes, including any microwaving that I need to do. I’ll get used to it again, but it’s certainly an adjustment.

This week’s lunch comes from a serious love for sweet potatoes. Instead of a brown rice or quinoa bowl, this spin uses sweet potatoes as a healthy starch while keeping the dish grain-free. Ever since my Whole30 experience this summer, I’ve been making a conscious effort (probably 80% of the time) to follow the Whole30 guidelines, being particularly intentional for breakfasts and lunches during the week. This sweet potato bowl has everything you need for an energy boost: roasted sweet potatoes for fiber and starch (energy), chicken for protein, and spinach for all of the leafy green action (Vitamins A and K, folic acid, fiber, etc.). I seasoned the sweet potatoes with turmeric, which has multiple health benefits, including its role as an anti-inflammatory spice.

As I’ve done before here on the blog, I used already prepared rotisserie chicken for this dish. Sometimes I do this because of time constraints, but I also go this route quite frequently during the spring and summer months because I just don’t love the idea of having the oven on for that long in our house. Added heat? No thank you!

Sweet Potato Bowls with Chicken and Spinach

3 large sweet potatoes

1 large sweet onion

1 large or two small whole rotisserie chicken(s), organic if possible

1 lb. organic baby spinach

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1.5 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Halve and peel the onion, then thinly slice each half into half-moon shapes. Place the onion slices on a cookie sheet. Next, peel the sweet potatoes, then cut each peeled sweet potato into 1/2 inch circles. Largely dice the circles, then place them on the cookie sheet with the onions. Add the olive oil, turmeric, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 1/2 Tbsp. pepper to the onions and sweet potatoes, mix them around in the sheet with your hands, then roast in the oven for about 35 minutes.

When this is in the oven, begin to break down your rotisserie chicken. Remove the skin and all bones and place both white and dark meat in a mixing bowl. When this step is complete, use your hands to shred the chicken. Don’t worry about the shreds being exactly the same size.

Next, melt the ghee in a large pan on the stovetop. In batches, add the baby spinach and 2 tsp. salt. Use tongs to saute the spinach in the pan, then add the shredded chicken and toss to combine.

For each bowl, evenly distribute the sweet potatoes, then evenly distribute the chicken and spinach. When you’re ready to eat, reheat the bowl in the microwave on high for about two minutes, adjusting accordingly for your preference of heat.

lunchbox life: kale confetti salad

image1(21)School’s back in session, and so am I!

Welcome back to lunchbox life, my series of meal planning as a high school teacher. If you’re just joining us, I create five refrigerated meals for my school lunches each week. Sometimes I use a microwave to reheat the meal, sometimes I don’t; it depends on what I’ve prepared. My goal is to create a healthy, substantive lunch to help me power through teaching and the rest of my day, all while being mindful of using local produce when possible, focusing on protein and fiber, and fueling up for exercise.

I’m really excited about this school year. It’s year five for me, and while I know I have so much left to learn, I actually feel like I might know what I’m doing (shhh…at least I think I do). If you know any first year teachers, please be nice to them–their worlds are about to be rocked. Alex and I were engaged most of my first year of teaching (we married in late March), and he is a saint for listening to all of my tear-filled moments of agony and defeat. This year, I’ll be teaching US History (an old stand by that I love) and a new prep for me: Humanities. I moved classrooms, too, and now I’m across the hall from one of my work besties, Rachel, so I’m happy to have quips and convos during class changes with one of my favorites.

This week, I’m going to a couple of my go-to ingredients: kale and brussels sprouts. I wanted to avoid the microwave this week since the first week of school can get super busy, plus the oppressive heat has me craving cool salads in the middle of the day. The key to a kale salad is the quick massage with olive oil and salt: thirty seconds, tops. This allows the kale to slightly break down and become more palatable as a salad green. By now, I know how worn out I get during the first week of school, so I wanted to fuel up on my greens, folic acid, fiber, and Vitamins A and K. The combination of kale and shredded brussels sprouts is a great base for a hearty salad, and you can add whatever you like. I love adding raw sugar snap peas to salads for crunch and a natural sweetness. I’ve also added garlic stuffed green olives for a briny touch and organic sliced roast beef for protein (no added gross stuff–read your labels!). I’ll be topping my salad with Lemon Garlic dressing by Tessamae’s. I usually make my own salad dressing, but I started using this brand when I did Whole30 this summer at GHP where kitchen access was scarce. This family company focuses on all natural ingredients, and their salad dressings and sauces are pretty great. I spotted a few of the salad dressings in the produce section of Kroger in my neighborhood, but you can also order from the website.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Monday. For some of us, it’s the start of a brand new year–good luck!

Kale Confetti Salad

1 bunch kale (I used dino kale from my CSA box)

1 Tbsp. olive oil + pinch of kosher salt

1 lb. raw brussels sprouts

8 oz. raw sugar snap peas

1 jar green olives (I used garlic stuffed)

12 oz. all natural, deli sliced roast beef (I used Simple Truth from Kroger–no sugar or carageenan added)

Salad dressing of choice

Slice the kale into thin ribbons (about 1/2 inch in width) and remove the woodsy stems. Place all kale ribbons in a mixing bowl and pour in the olive oil and salt. Using your hands, gently massage the kale for about 30 seconds to break down some of the strong fibers of the greens. Keep on the counter. Next, slice the tough stems off of the brussels sprouts and either slice them thinly or use the slicer function on your food processor. When complete, add the shreds of brussels sprouts to the kale and thoroughly combine. Divide the greens mixture between five bowls. Slice all of the sugar snap peas in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the green olives in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the roast beef into 1/4 inch ribbons and distribute equally between bowls. Pack your salad each day with the salad dressing separate and add just before eating.

lunchbox life: pan-roasted chicken and olive tapenade

image2(8)ONE MORE WEEK. That’s it! One more week of school with students, plus two days of post-planning next week. I will miss many students, but I know that we’re all ready for a break. This will be the last lunchbox life until the end of July, so savor this savory recipe between now and then.

This week’s lunchbox life is another example of a great weeknight supper. The chicken, broccoli, and olive tapenade create the perfect trinity of protein, vegetables, and healthy fat that will sustain you at lunch and throughout the afternoon. I love olives–those briny, salty, bite-sized morsels are so tasty, and I think they really elevate a dish. Alex doesn’t love them, so they’re a great pick for my lunches or when I order off of a menu.

By pan-roasting the chicken, I seared each side in butter, then finished them off in the oven. This gives the chicken a punch of flavor and texture, livening up the go-to baked chicken model of 30 minutes and 350 F. The process for cooking the broccoli is also important: do not, I repeat, DO NOT steam or boil broccoli. Just say no. Broccoli has so much fantastic flavor, and the fibrous stems have a robust flavor that comes through beautifully when you roast, grill, or saute this scrumptious veggie. For this week’s lunches, I heated some clarified butter in a wok at medium-high heat, added the broccoli pieces with salt and pepper, tossed it for a few minutes, then set it aside. Just a few of the pieces had seared edges and crispy ends, and that’s exactly what I like–broccoli with texture and crunch that I have to cut with a knife and fork, not a watery mushy mess.

Olive tapenade is one of my favorites, and it reminds me of Christmas time. My mom prepares it with beef tenderloin once per holiday season, and it’s a family favorite. It’s a great spread on crackers or with veggies, and it also pairs well with meat that is simply prepared. I like to pick out the olives, roasted garlic, and roasted peppers from the olive bar at the grocery store, placing them all in the same container, then get them home and zip them together in the food processor.

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Olive Tapenade

5 chicken breasts

3 broccoli crowns, cut into segments (about 2 inches is length, plus the smaller pieces that fall along)

1 cup pitted olives (I used a medley of nicoise and kalamata)

1/2 cup roasted garlic cloves

1/2 cup roasted red peppers or peppadew peppers

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 Tbsp. butter

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Dry the chicken breasts with paper towels, then liberally salt and pepper each side. In a large, oven-safe pan, Melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat, then place two of the chicken breasts in the hot pan, cooking for about 4 minutes on each side. After you’ve cooked them on both sides, remove them from the pan and place them on a plate. Cook two more on each side, then the last one on each side, adding another Tbsp. of butter if you need to. When all five breasts are cooked on each side, add them all back to the pan and place them in the oven to finish cooking for 10 more minutes.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a wok or large, deep pan over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli pieces and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, tossing frequently. Cook for about 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.

Combine the olives, garlic, peppers, and parsley in a food processor. Pulse to combine. You want the pieces to be about the size of rice.

To plate, evenly distribute the broccoli on one side of each container, then place one chicken breast on the other side, then spoon your desired amount of tapenade in a line down the middle.

lunchbox life: grass-fed burger, avocado, and tomato basil salad

image1(17)Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! Alex and I had a great time visiting with our moms this weekend. I’m lucky to know so many great moms, both who have been maternal toward me and who are maternal toward their own beautiful children. I hope you all had breakfast cooked for you and hugs from loved ones.

Two weeks into testing month, two weeks to go. Last week I shared that I was attempting a 7-day version of the Whole30 plan, and I’m happy to say that I successfully completed the challenge! 7 days of no sugar, legumes, grains, dairy, alcohol, and many chemical additives left me feeling lighter, sleeping better, and with clearer skin. I My last day was this past Friday, so since it was over, I had a few off-book things to eat this weekend, but that was planned. I’m excited to attempt the full version of the plan this summer at GHP, but I still want to incorporate some of the plan in the meantime.

This leads me to this week’s lunches: protein, veggies, and fat. It’s really a non-recipe: I made four burgers out of a 1 lb. block of grass-fed ground beef, combined some grapes tomatoes with fresh basil, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper, and plan to pack a half of an avocado each day along with some oil and vinegar to dress the salad greens. Here’s the key with the avocado: to keep it fresh, only cut each one lengthwise the night before you need it on the morning that you need the first half. Pack the first half without the pit, wrapping it in plastic wrap and placing it in a small plastic container. Wrap the pitted half in plastic wrap and place it in another small plastic container, then put it in the refrigerator. This will slow down the oxidation process and prevent the exterior of the sliced avocado flesh from turning brown.

Only four lunches this week because my sister Harriett is getting married this weekend! We’ll be traveling to Columbus on Friday.

Have a great week, everybody–TEN more school days for me!

bungalow to go: mac ‘n cheese ‘n collards

Mac and Cheese 6This week’s Bungalow To Go at Ocmulgee Traders is TOTALLY not Whole30 (see previous post for details), but lucky for me, I made it last week and enjoyed all the cheese and pasta I could.

While this dish is easily recognizable as one of the most popular comfort foods around, it also featured a local beauty: collard greens from Babe and Sage Farm. Collards are high in nutritional value, giving some much-needed vitamins and minerals to this decadent dish. Don’t worry, though: you’ve still got plenty of gruyere and white cheddar to satisfy your cheesy, ooey gooey needs.

I’m so proud of this dish, and I hope you’ll try it yourself by picking up the recipe card and ingredient box at Ocmulgee Traders this week.

Mac ‘n Cheese ‘n Collards
Serves 4, generously

8 oz. collard greens (Babe and Sage Farm)
1 stem of green garlic (Babe and Sage Farm)
8 oz. sharp cheddar
4 oz. gruyere
2.5 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. butter
3 pieces of bread (rolls or slices)
8 oz. elbow macaroni
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

What You Need at Home:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
box grater
1 medium pot
1 small pan
1 large, deep pan
8×8 baking dish
1 knife

STEP 1: Assemble Ingredients
Read over each step to familiarize yourself with the process of the meal. Heat oven to 375 F. Fill the medium pot with water halfway and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and the macaroni, cook for five minutes (to al dente), then drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

STEP 2: Shred the Cheese
Using a box grater, shred the blocks of cheese on the large shred side.

STEP 3: Prep and Cook the Garlic and Greens
Cut the stem and bottom off the garlic, peel it, then mince it. Slice each collard leaf into 1/2 inch ribbons, removing the stems as you slice. Heat olive oil, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper over medium-high heat in a small pan. After about 1 minute, add the collard ribbons in batches, about 1/4 at a time, tossing with tongs. Once the last batch is added, toss for about 1 more minute, then remove from the heat and set aside. Collards should be slightly wilted, but should still retain some structure.

STEP 4: Prep Breadcrumbs
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a small bowl in the microwave (about 40 seconds on high). Using your hands, tear the bread into small pieces, then mix with the butter, adding 1/4 tsp. salt, until all of the butter is absorbed in the bread.

STEP 5: Create the Sauce, Assemble the Dish, and Bake
In the medium pot you used for the macaroni, add the milk and heat over medium heat. Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in the large pan at medium heat. When it begins to bubble, slowly whisk in the flour; this creates the roux for the sauce. When the flour and butter are combined into a paste, slowly whisk in the warmed milk, taking care that the roux gets absorbed into the milk. Keep whisking until the thickened liquid begins to bubble slightly, then add in the nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk, then add in the macaroni and sauteed greens. Whisk until fully combined, then pour contents into the 8×8 baking dish. Top evenly with the buttered breadcrumbs, then bake for 20 minutes.

STEP 6: Cool and Serve
When the dish has baked for 20 minutes, the edges should bubble and the breadcrumbs should turn golden brown. Take the dish out of the oven and let rest on the counter for about 5 minutes. This dish serves 4-6 comfortably as a main dish, so dip up as much as you like and keep the rest for lunch tomorrow.

lunchbox life: curry coconut cashew chicken

image1(16)First, I have to brag: three weeks left of school, everybody!

So close, yet so far. Week 1 of Testing Month is over, and I’m so proud that my students seem to have thought their test to be super easy, but I still feel for their overworked and overtested brains. Week 2 is coming up, so keep up all in your thoughts as we soldier on in the standardized test world.

As a distraction from testing and as a primer to a challenge later this summer, I decided to tackle a week-long version of the Whole30. Whole30 is an eating plan that eliminates all the fun stuff from your diet: no grains, legumes, dairy, sugar, or alcohol. What are you left to eat? Meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. I’d heard about this program from a few friends, but wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge until I bought the book and started doing some online research. I like that it’s temporary, and while I plan to complete a Whole30 in 30 days when I’m at GHP this summer, I thought I’d do a Whole7 as a trial run. While I’m on Day 2, I have to say that I’m loving it so far and am surprised as how much I like it.

With that explanation, I introduce to you this week’s Whole30-compliant lunchbox life: curry coconut cashew chicken. I’m thrilled about this one, and I know that I’ll feel good about eating it all week long. I used baby bok choy and brussels sprouts from our CSA box, chicken thighs, cashews, unsweetened coconut shreds, coconut oil, and some yummy spices. This recipe is a great way to enjoy Thai flavor without rice or noodles.

Curry Coconut Cashew Chicken

10 boneless skinless chicken thighs

3 cups brussels sprouts

2 bunches of baby box choy

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup roasted and salted cashews

1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds

1 Tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. coriander

1 tsp. cardamom

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. white pepper

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

Lay out 2 full paper towel sheets and arrange chicken thighs in a single layer. Take 2 more paper towel sheets and press down on top of the chicken to remove some of the excess moisture. Next, cut the chicken into chunks (about 1/2 to 1 inch) and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the spices, then pour the dry spices onto the chicken chunks and stir to combine; set aside. Chop the bok choy into 1/2 inch ribbons, taking care to discard the stalks. Slice the brussels sprouts thinly on all four sides, taking care to discard the stem and core. Set aside. Heat a wok over high heat and melt the coconut oil. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. Next, add the mushrooms, stirring to coat the mushrooms in the seasoned oil. Next, add the sliced bok choy and brussels, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cashews, then the coconut shreds. Stir to full combine, then divide between five containers.

bungalow to go: beer braised pork carnitas tacos

Carnitas 6As some of you know, Bungalow Kitchen and Ocmulgee Traders (our local Macon grocery) have partnered to create Bungalow to Go, a meal that you prepare at home with portioned out ingredients, including local produce from Babe and Sage Farm. This week’s feature will gear you up for Cinco de Mayo and have your taste buds singing. Interested? Let Steve and Laura at OT know on their Facebook page or call them up at (478) 345-6162. Boxes available April 30-May 3.

Beer Braised Pork Carnitas Tacos
Serves 4, generously

8 stems of scallions from Babe and Sage Farm
4 lbs. pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
5 oz. queso fresco
24 oz. beer, dark porter
8 garlic cloves
spice mix (1 Tbsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. paprika, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes)
24 small corn tortillas (5” diameter)
1 bunch of cilantro
1 avocado
1 lime

What You Need at Home:
aluminum foil
salt and pepper
1 dutch oven with lid
1 knife

STEP 1: Assemble Ingredients
Read over each step to familiarize yourself with the process of the meal.

STEP 2: Prep the Meat
Cut the pork into 2-inch chunks. Place all of the pork chunks into a dutch oven.

STEP 3: Bring Beer and Pork to a Boil
Pour the beer over the pork, then bring the liquid to a boil. While waiting for the liquid to boil, mince the garlic and thinly slice the scallions.

STEP 4: Add Ingredients and Simmer
When the liquid is boiling, add the spice mix, scallions, zest of the lime, and garlic to the pot and stir, then place the lid on the pot and simmer for 1 hour. After the hour is up, remove the lid, bring the liquid back to a boil, and boil for another 30 minutes. Much of the liquid will evaporate in this process.

STEP 5: Heat the Tortillas and Assemble Toppings
Heat the oven to 300 F. Wrap the stack of tortillas in aluminum foil and warm for about 15 minutes. Thinly slice the flesh of the avocado, crumble the queso fresco, slice the lime into fourths, and pick the leaves off the cilantro stems. Set aside. When the pork is finished cooking, line a plate with two paper towels and spoon the meat chunks out of the remaining liquid.

STEP 6: Assemble the Tacos
For each taco, double up the tortillas. On each double torilla, add about 1/4 cup (or a couple of chunks) of the pork, taking care to slightly shred the pork as you assemble, but leaving the shape mostly intact. Next, top with your choice of toppings: lime juice, queso fresco, avocado slices, and cilantro leaves. Because the tacos are smaller, serve each person three tacos (six small tortillas).

lunchbox life: chicken blt salad with homemade honey mustard dressing

image1(15)I know, I know–I’m getting a little too much into variations on the same theme. But people, I’m telling you: this salad in a jar business is going to change the way you think about meal prep and salad. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s another take on this idea.

While I’m thrilled that we only have four weeks of school left, I’m taking a deep breath this evening before we descend into four weeks of testing. You read that correctly: four weeks. This is all over Georgia, not just at my school. State politics aside, let’s just say that I speak for many teachers when I say that education shouldn’t be this way. Without getting too far into a standardized testing rant, let’s just say that I’ll need lots of good energy for sustained patience this week…and the next three.

This salad is a total crowd pleaser; it has accessible ingredients for less-than-adventurous palates with honey mustard, grape tomatoes, chicken, and bacon. It also features several local ingredients: raw corn kernels, green peas, and beautiful salad greens.

I used my go-to shortcut for the chicken this week: skinning and picking the meat off of a Kroger rotisserie chicken. I had about 1/2 cup of chicken leftover that I may use for dinner later this week, but at $5.99 for a whole chicken that’s been recently cooked for you, it’s a steal! The only thing I actually cooked was the bacon, then I threw together the dressing in about 60 seconds.

Send good thoughts to public school teachers for the next month–testing season is upon us!

Chicken BLT Salad with Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing

1 whole rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded

8 slices of bacon

1 cup fresh green peas

4 corn cobs, corn sliced off of the cob

1 pint cherry tomatoes

5 cups salad greens

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar

2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook the bacon, let cool, then crumble. Add the dressing ingredients to a small jar, shake vigorously, then divide evenly between five large jars. Next, add the green peas, then the corn, then the whole grape tomatoes, then the bacon, chicken, and salad greens.

tasty tuesday: pan roasted pork tenderloin, barley and mushroom braise, roasted brussels, spinach, onions

Pork barley

Man, it feels like it has been a minute since I’ve been here. Since my last post, we’ve had lots of great food, from authentic Latin American fair to farm-to-table classics and the best of Charleston. Through all of that, I found some inspiration to make tonight’s dish, combining flavors and techniques I’ve experienced from both Sean Brock’s Husk and Hugh Acheson’s Five and Ten. But really, its not much more that good ingredients, nicely seasoned, and simply prepared. That combination goes a lot further than you make think.

I love pasta dishes. I can’t escape it. And for some reason pairing barley or farro with pork and Brussels just stuck out in my mind. It is very similar to a dish at Five and Ten I had about a year ago and it just popped in my head as a very memorable dish. It goes well with the mushrooms I had at Husk, braised with broth and greens. Fantastic all.

As this blog turns two, we thank you for staying with us and helping us grow. Let us know what else you want to see!

On to the food.

Pan roasted pork with braised barley and mushrooms, spinach and onions, roasted brussels

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of any fat and connective tissue
1 cup pearled barley
1 quart chicken stock
5 portabella mushrooms
1 sweet onion, chopped into thin slices, 1/4 finely chopped
2 tbsb butter
1/4 cup spinach
10 sage leaves
8 brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved.
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
salt, pepper, white pepper
Olive oil to coat pan twice

Start with the barley. In a deep pan, melt butter over medium and add the grains of barley and two pinches of salt. Toast for 2 minutes. Add the fine onions and vinegar. Heat 4 minutes, or until vinegar is absorbed. Add 2 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cover 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop mushrooms into thin slices. Add to barley and add 1/2 the remaining stock and sage. Simmer additional 20 minutes, until barley is tender.

Season the pork with a heavy coating of salt, pepper and white pepper.

Heat a large pan to medium high and coat with olive oil. Heat oven to 300. Place the sprouts in the hot oil insides down and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and heat for 2 minutes. Place sprouts on a cookie sheet lined with foil and place in oven for 20 minutes.

In same large pan, add more oil to coat. Place the pork in the oil and sear 5 minutes per side (three sides). Reduce heat to low and cover pan for 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan.

In same pan, add more oil and remaining onions. Press garlic and add to onion. Add spinach and stir 1 minute. Add remaining stock and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove mixture from pan.

Cut the pork into very thin pieces. Return to pan with remaining pork and chicken stock mixtures. Baste with jus for 2 minutes, until pieces reach desired doneness.

Plate with spinach and onions in center of plate. Top with barley and mushroom mixture then pork. Place sprouts around the side and top with rogue brussels crispies and sage.