Cabbage and Potato Gratin

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Interestingly, I know several people who don’t like potatoes. It’s hard for me to imagine that.  I love potatoes.  I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. I like potatoes prepared every which way. Au gratin, scalloped, mashed, French fries, baked, chips, boiled, pancakes, American fries, hash browns…is there a more versatile carb??  I learned something new about potatoes while perusing Facebook…I had no idea there was a whole site featuring “funeral potatoes.”  Dishes traditionally made for funeral dinners (of course) and for pot lucks. Apparently these funeral potato dishes originated with the Mormons. I’ll have to do a little more research to find out about the Mormon connection. During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City one of the souvenir food pins featured a depiction of funeral potatoes. I bet very few readers knew that!

But we’ve all eaten funeral potatoes. Most of us have made them. They consist of frozen hash browns or tater tots, cream soups, maybe some onion, sour cream, butter, cheese, and corn flakes or crushed potato chips for crunch. Ringing any bells??  They are delicious!!  Most of us know them as Cheesy Potatoes.

Tonight I decided to make a cabbage and potato bake. Apparently another name for this potato cabbage combo is Rumbledethumps. It’s a Scottish dish. What I made tonight is a variation of traditional Rumbledethumps.

Ingredients:

1 medium head of green cabbage

2 pounds of potatoes

1/2 cup of buttermilk

4 T butter

chives

1 cup gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat the oven to 450. Core the cabbage and slice it into thin strips. Add the cabbage to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for about 5 minutes.

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Drain the cabbage and set aside.

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I used redskin potatoes and did not peel them. Boil the potatoes until they are tender enough to mash.

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Once they’re done, mash the potatoes using the buttermilk and butter. If you need more buttermilk to make a nice creamy potato add a little more.

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Mix the cabbage, potatoes and chives together. Stir in the shredded cheese.

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Put the mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is browned.

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I served this tonight with chicken Marsala and green beans but this would make a great side dish for a beef roast or pork loin. This could also be served as a main dish with a side salad. If there is another cheese you prefer like cheddar or Swiss that would be good as well.

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Another new potato dish!  Tasted great.

Asparagus and Garlic Pasta

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On one of our weekly shopping expeditions my friend and I discovered the most awesome pasta made in Grand Rapids Michigan by the Local Epicurean. The box says it is “hand made pasta by passionate artisans.”  I believe them. There are numerous combinations including lemon dill, asiago oregano, portobello Parmesan, red beet, asparagus garlic and several others. I’ve purchased and cooked many different pastas that purport to contain various vegetables but they seem to only be colored pastas. The Local Epicurean pastas actually taste like the ingredients they are infused with. Each package has cooking instructions and a recipe. This is the recipe, slightly modified, for the asparagus garlic pasta.

Ingredients:

4 T olive oil

1 cup asparagus cut into approximately 1″ pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes halved

1 cup of sweet yellow peppers rough chopped

1 cup mini portobellos

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup shallots sliced

1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 package asparagus garlic pasta

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Put up a large kettle of salted water for the pasta and bring it to a boil. This pasta cooks very quickly, 4-6 minutes.

Prep all of the vegetables.

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Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add all of the vegetables stirring occasionally. Cook 5-6 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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While the vegetables are cooking grate a generous cup of parmigiana reggiano.

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Once the pasta is cooked drain but do not rinse.

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Add the pasta, cheese, and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the vegetables.

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Toss until well combined and serve.  Enjoy every bite.

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You can add shrimp, scallops, or thinly sliced chicken breast but I served it as a vegetarian meal. It could also be garnished with some fresh parsley or basil. Serve with a nice salad and some good bread and you have a meal that you’d be proud to serve any guest. And how easy was that!  If you cannot find this particular pasta the recipe would still make a very tasty dish.

I was recently at Eataly in Chicago with my daughter and was inspired to make my own pasta. I haven’t made pasta in a very long time. Years and years. I just think it would be great fun especially if I can talk someone into doing it with me. Maybe that will be one of my next blogs. We’ll see.

Homemade Potato Chips with Chilpotle Lime Dip

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Homemade chips anyone?  Remember when we all owned a “Fry Baby” or “Fry Daddy” and apparently fried lots of things??  Those must-have appliances came with a plastic lid so you could just store and reuse the oil. I rarely deep fry anymore but a couple weeks ago I made chili Rellenos which are deep fried in a pretty fair amount of oil. So as not to be wasteful, once the oil had completely cooled I strained it using a fine mesh colander lined with a coffee filter. After doing that the oil can be stored in the refrigerator and used one or two more times…unless you’ve fried fish in it and then no, do not reuse. I decided to make fish and chips for dinner.  My excuse for a dinner of all fried things was not wanting to waste that oil.  I know that will make perfect sense to anyone reading this.  Back in the Fry Daddy days I guess we didn’t need an excuse.

To prepare the potatoes for chip making wash them and, using a mandolin on a fine setting, slice away. I used redskin potatoes and I do not peel them. Rinse the potatoes well after slicing and dry them as thoroughly as possible with paper towel or clean cotton dish towels.

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Heat your oil in a heavy Dutch oven until it reaches 375-380 degrees. Carefully begin dropping the potatoes in the hot oil and let them fry until they are lightly browned. Don’t crowd the potatoes in the pan.

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You may have to turn them once. When they are done to your liking remove the chips from the hot oil using a skimmer and put them on a pizza pan or jelly roll pan lined with paper towel. Salt them immediately with coarse salt and put them in a warm oven.

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Begin your next batch until you’ve made the desired amount of chips. I think putting the chips in a warm oven after frying also helps to crisp them up and any excess oil dissipates or is absorbed by the paper towel.

Dip Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 T chilpotle peppers in adobo (chopped well)

juice and zest of one lime

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Thoroughly combine all ingredients.

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Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

NOTE:  If you have any chips left store them in a zip lock bag and, before serving the left overs, warm them up a bit in the oven.   The dip is also excellent on fish tacos and would add a little zip to a vegetable tray.  You can also make really yummy chips with sweet potatoes.

Vegetable and Shrimp Stir Fry

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If you love vegetables, stir fry is the perfect meal. You can use almost  any combination of vegetables you have on hand. I more often than not make stir fry without meat but tonight I added some pre-cooked shrimp. You can also use left over chicken, beef or pork. But the stars of this dish, for me, are the vegetables. There really is no right or wrong combination of ingredients but this is what I used tonight.

Vegetables:

Baby bok choy

Celery

Carrots

Mushrooms

Onion

Red bell pepper

Snow peas

Canola oil and toasted sesame oil

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Sauce Ingredients:

6 T water

3 T catsup

2 T soy sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp grated garlic

2 tsp honey

1 T cider or rice vinegar

1 T cornstarch

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Cut up all of the vegetables into bite size pieces.

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Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in your wok until it’s very hot. Add the vegetables and drizzle with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil.

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Cook the vegetables until tender crisp stirring frequently. Be careful not to overcook them.

Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. With a microplane grate the ginger and garlic.

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Whisk in the water, catsup, soy sauce, honey, and corn starch.

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Add the shrimp to the wok with the vegetables. They’re already cooked so they just need to be heated.

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Add the sauce, stir and cook over high heat until it thickens a bit. Serve over rice and enjoy!

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Stir fry. It’s what was for dinner tonight.

NOTE:  Shredded green cabbage, summer squash, broccoli, green onions, green beans, baby corn, water chestnuts. Any of these vegetables are great for stir fry.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

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It’s that time of year. Saint Patty’s Day. The day many of us enjoy the ultimate boiled dinner. For years a very good friend hosted a Saint Patty’s Day party and she cooked a lot of corned beef for the occasion. I had made corned beef brisket myself for years before her party but hers was the best I had ever tasted. No mustard required!

Ingredients:

Corned beef (of course)

1 large onion quartered

6-7 whole garlic cloves

1 T red pepper flakes

1 T crushed bay leaves

1 T oregano

1 T basil

1 T coriander seeds

salt and black pepper

…and that little seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef

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Put your corned beef in a large Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Pour boiling water to completely cover the meat and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

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Once the pot starts to boil, skim the white foam off with a slotted spoon. I know, it looks a little gross. Once you’ve removed and discarded the foam turn the heat down and add the onion and the garlic to the pot.

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In a mortar and pestle combine and crush all of the dried herbs and spices and add them to the pot.

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I add these after skimming the foam so that I don’t lose a lot of my seasoning in the process.

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Add a generous T of salt, cover and simmer over low heat for 5-6 hours. Near the end of the cooking time prepare the vegetables.

Cabbage

Carrots

Red potatoes

Onion

Green Beans

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Cut the cabbage into wedges removing the core. Scrub the carrots and cut into thirds. Cut the onion into quarters.

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Cut the potatoes, rinse well and trim the green beans.

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Remove the meat to a foil lined pan, along with a generous amount of the jus. Seal the foil and keep warm in the oven while the veggies cook.

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Add the vegetables to the pot with the broth. Potatoes, carrots, onion, beans and cabbage on top. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat. Cook until the vegetables are all fork tender. About 45 minutes to an hour.  The vegetables pick up the great spicy flavors from the broth.

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Remove the meat about 10 minutes before serving. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes and slice against the grain.  Put all the vegetables in a large serving bowl or on a platter and top with the slices of corned beef. Fill up your plate and enjoy!

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Serve with a good rye bread and a nice cold Irish beer like Guinness or O’hara’s Irish Wheat. This boiled dinner is a meal in itself and doesn’t need any other side dishes.

Leftovers are great as, well, leftovers. This is one of the meals I think tastes as good or better the next day. Or you can make a corned beef or Ruben sandwich. Maybe some corned beef hash for breakfast.  It’s all good!  Enjoy. Happy Saint Patty’s Day.

 

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

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This is is one of my favorites salads; it’s a recipe I got from a dear friend and I make it frequently. The fresh lemon and herbs always taste like summer to me so I especially enjoy this salad in the winter!

Ingredients:

1 bunch green onions, green and white parts sliced thin

1 lb ripe tomatoes diced

1 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 cup chopped mint leaves

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 can garbanzo beans aka chick peas

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 T minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz fresh feta crumbled

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Get out a large salad bowl and start chopping. Slice the green onion.

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Dice the tomatoes and seed and dice the cucumbers.

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I like to put all of my fresh herbs in the salad spinner to wash and dry them well. Then I remove all of the stems and put the herbs in my food processor and give them a few pulses.

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Place the green onions, tomato, cucumber, and herbs in a salad bowl. Rinse and drain the chick peas and add them to the vegetables. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl and whisk.

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Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss with a spatula to coat the vegetables. Add the feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

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This salad is great on its own served with fresh or toasted pita bread. The cheese and beans provide plenty of protein for a good lunch. I think this salad pairs especially well with fish and pork. I served it for dinner with trout and smashed garlic cauliflower.

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Enjoy!

 

 

German Red Cabbage

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This is a recipe that was published in our local newspaper many many years ago. I love cooked cabbage and this makes a great side. For some reason I almost always serve this with a beef roast but it would be great with a pork roast or pork chops. It’s very simple to put together and makes the kitchen smell wonderful while it’s cooking.

Ingredients:

1 medium head red cabbage, cored and sliced

1 medium sweet red onion sliced

2 apples peeled, cored and sliced

1 T butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 tsp whole allspice

1 tsp whole cloves

1 T black peppercorns

2 T cornstarch

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Core and slice the cabbage.

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Slice the onion.

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Peel, core and slice the apples.

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Combine all of the ingredients except the corn starch in a large, heavy kettle. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 1 hour and 40 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Once the cabbage has cooked whisk together corn starch and a little water and stir into the cabbage. Simmer until thickened.

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Ready to serve. Roast beef, baked potato and German cabbage. It’s what was for dinner.

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Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Poblano Peppers

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On subzero days nothing is more comforting than a pot of soup. And it seems this is a winter that will require many pots of soup. Potato leek soup is one of my favorites.  And leeks remind me of some of the shenanigans my 87 year old father has recounted from his childhood. Apparently he and his friends would go out into the woods behind school on their lunch hour and pull up all the wild leeks they could find. Wild leeks that resembled little green onions. They would eat enough of them to get breath so bad the teacher would send them home for the afternoon. Eventually the teachers got wise to the pranking and forbade them eating leeks during school hours. This summer I’m going to look in the woods by my house for wild leeks. For now I’ll buy the leeks my grocery carries and sells by the pound when only a third of the leek is actually edible.

Soup Ingredients:

3-4 leeks, white and light green portion sliced

2 pounds or so of golden potatoes peeled and cubed

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

4 T butter

2 poblano peppers roasted, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken broth

2 tsp dried thyme

1 T franks hot sauce

1 cup half-n-half (optional)

fresh parsley rough chopped

salt and pepper to taste

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Slice the leeks and wash them well. Leeks have lots of sand and grit.

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Melt the butter in your favorite soup kettle, add the leeks and salt and pepper, cover the pot and cook over low heat for about ten minutes. Be careful not to brown the leeks.

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While the leeks are cooking roast the poblanos over a flame or in the oven until they have a nice char. Put them into a covered bowl to steam. Once the peppers have cooled peel and chop them.

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Add the chopped peppers and the garlic to the leeks and stir for a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant.

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Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender; about 20 minutes.

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Once the potatoes are done use an immersion blender to purée the soup. Or you can use a standard blender and purée the soup in batches.

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Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and the Franks. If you choose, a cup of half-n-half will make the soup a little richer and creamier.

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Garnish the soup with parsley and some shredded sharp cheddar. Potato, leek and roasted poblano soup. It’s what was for dinner.

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NOTE:  I’m not a soup and crackers person but I do like croutons in my soup. I had leftover garlic bread from a pasta dinner a couple nights ago. I cubed the bread and dried it in the oven and it made perfect croutons.

 

Seared Tuna with Mushrooms, Snow Peas and Sweet Red Peppers

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My absolute favorite ocean fish is tuna. The only kind of tuna I was exposed to growing up came in a can and was packed in oil. We ate it with miracle whip, chopped onion and maybe a little pickle relish on Bunny bread…Bunny bread was the UP Wonder bread. We also ate it mixed with egg noodles, cream of mushroom soup and peas.  The infamous tuna noodle casserole. In the early 1970s I was following a Weight Watcher’s diet which required 5 fish meals a week (shell fish for only one meal a week) and tuna in a can was my best friend. I wish I still had my Weight Watcher’s recipe cards because there were some truly bizarre concoctions using tuna!

This recipe is pure awesomeness and involves neither a can nor Weight Watchers.

Ingredients:

8-10 oz tuna steak

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

4 scallions sliced thin

2 cloves garlic grated

1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger grated

2 T peanut or canola oil for searing

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With a microplane grate both the garlic and ginger.

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Whisk together all of the ingredients.

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Place the tuna in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the tuna.

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Allow the tuna to marinate for 30-60 minutes. While the tuna marinates prepare the vegetables.

Ingredients:

2 T canola oil

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 1/2 cups snow peas

1 sweet red pepper sliced thin

1 inch piece of fresh ginger grated

2 cloves of garlic sliced thin

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T hoisin sauce

1 T pickled ginger

1/2 cup ginger ale or fresh squeezed orange juice

green onions thin sliced for garnish

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Heat canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and peppers and cook until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes.

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Add the garlic and snow peas and cook until the peas are lightly charred.

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Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and stir to combine. Deglaze the pan with the ginger ale or orange juice. Keep warm while searing the tuna.

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Heat 2 T peanut oil or canola oil in a heavy skillet like cast iron. Remove tuna from the marinade and pat dry. Season both sides with fresh cracked pepper. When the oil is very hot sear the tuna, one minute per side.

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Remove the tuna from the skillet and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Slice the tuna.

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Serve with rice. Spoon the vegetables over the rice along with some of the sauce. Put the tuna on the plate and garnish with the green onions.

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One of my favorite meals!

NOTE:  When I buy a piece of ginger I peel it, cut it into pieces and put it in zip lock bags in the freezer. Ginger is easy to grate when it’s frozen.

 

Kale with Dried Cherries

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This is a little different take on kale; a little sweet and a little sour. Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K. Some recipes refer to it as a super food. I used curly kale and dinosaur (Dino) kale in this recipe. Even people who aren’t sure about eating cooked greens might like this combination.

Ingredients:

4 cups of washed, torn kale leaves

2 T olive oil

1/2 cup minced red onion

2-3 cloves of garlic minced

1 T Dijon mustard

1 T granulated sugar

2 T cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup dried cherries

salt and pepper to taste

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Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is softened but not browned.

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Add the stock, vinegar, sugar, and dijon to the skillet and bring to a simmer.

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Add the kale to the skillet, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the cherries and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.

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I served this with chicken piccata and quinoa. But I think it would be an excellent side with any pork or poultry dishes.

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Enjoy your greens!