Peach & Jalapeno Jam

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Hello world & Happy Fall, Ya’ll! I can finally celebrate Autumn because the weather is slowly breaking here in N.E OH and according to my calendar, tomorrow (Friday) marks the first official day of fall, heck yeah! Who else really enjoys the fall as much as me!? How can you argue sweaters, boots, leaves crunching beneath your feet, crisp air, picking apples and then turning them into a fresh pie, warm days and cool nights, everything fall scented, fall crafts such as pumpkin painting/carving, bonfires, no bugs or sweat running down your body, goodbye to sunburn and busy nights at work! Fall really is the best season.

For those of you that have missed me, I appreciate your patience in waiting for my next blog post, ya’ll are the best! If you are new to following me, ICYMI: Summers for me working as a banquet captain at a Country Club is very busy. I don’t allow myself a lot of free time to work on cooking at home, crafting, photography and anything else that makes this blog what it is. I tend to disappear every so often because this is only a hobby for me and I only have a small window of free time to do what I love. Thank you to those who do continue to read and follow my blog. You can also follow my facebook page if you are on there as well facebook.com/driven2eat

As I was saying, fall is here and August thru September has the best produce available. -If you haven’t stopped at your local farmers market yet, this is the last week to do it before the season ends! I was lucky enough to make it up in time for the last of the peaches hull. I don’t know how the peaches were for everyone else, but the peaches we had here weren’t all the great 😦 I was disappointed in the lack of sweetness and juice that I expect to have from a peach, they were okay.

When I make breakfast at home, I usually almost always have a toasted English muffin with fresh jam. I had been buying Jam from Amish Country the last few years and haven’t made my way up there in a few months, figured it was time to just make my own anyways. With how easy it is to make jam, there’s no excuse whey I don’t make it more often! I took a look around the fridge and noticed that a few Jalapenos I had remaining were beginning to do the pruning effect on the outside, so it was time to do something with those as well. I remembered one thing my Aunt always liked to bring to a family dinner, cream cheese topped with pepper jam to spread on crackers for an appetizer. That’s when the light bulb went on in my head to take my leftover peaches and jalapenos and make a jam! The lack of sugar in these peaches actually made them perfect for this recipe. Sweet meets heats for a great spread. Peach and Jalapeno are a great combination together. This recipe also makes an excellent glaze on pork or fish for a finishing touch on dinner!

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Mise En Place:

  • 3 Large Peaches, Diced
  • 3 Jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • Juice 1/2 Lime
  • 2 Small Mason Jars for storing

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Method of Prep:

  • Mix together peaches, jalapenos, sugar and lime juice until sugar well incorporated. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Over high heat, add mix into a pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and allow to lightly simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Liquid should reduce by half and coat the back of a spoon when ready.
  • Turn off heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Pour into Mason jars and cool to room temperature. Seal shut, refrigerate after opening. *If jam is cooked too long, it may become gelatinous and hard to spread once cooled. Scoop out what you need for spreading. As jam sits on a warm surface it will begin to melt for easier spreading. 

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*You may blend the jam at the end if you don’t like the candied chunks of jalapeno that will be left behind. 

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Shrimp Primavera

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The weather here in The Land, aka Cleveland hasn’t quite broken into spring temps just yet. Mother Nature has decided to keep winter around a little longer this year. Well, I think everyone can agree with me, enough is enough and winter, you need to go bye bye! The forecast for this weekend is giving us a little hope that spring isn’t far, with a high of 75 tomorrow! However, this is Cleveland and any chance we get with warmer weather always comes with rain….If you dislike the weather where you live, move to Cleveland and change my mind. 

April is the month I like to start looking into more fresh ingredients to use in my cooking. It’s around that time of the year where all the good produce is coming into season and everyone is looking for lighter food options to enjoy during the summer heat and refrain from gaining extra winter weight (I refer to this as the summer body diet). There is also the issue with cooking time on meals. I find most folks don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes preparing dinner especially when they are feeding more than themselves. Long days at work and then having to come home and cook dinner get exhausting very fast. Pasta is always a quick go to and whats nice about this recipe, you can cook the pasta and prepare you vegetables ahead of time so all you have to do when you’re ready to eat is heat it up! 

Even on a low carb diet, I find this recipe to be keto friendly. I just measure out my pasta to grant myself 1/4 cup to eat that way I don’t consume all of my daily carbs in one meal. I love the addition of fresh lemon juice and the mixture of vegetables in this dish! My primavera is very light and the acid gives a lovely crisp mouthfeel. Shrimp is the best option for protein as it is also very light. Butter is the only “sauce” used, you may substitute EVOO or Avocado Oil in place of the butter if you would like. 

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Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 40 Minutes

Mise En Place:

  • 1/2 Box Bow Tie Pasta, Cooked in salted water, drained
  • 1 LB Raw Shrimp (Approx. 20 Pieces) peeled & deveined
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1 Green Belle Pepper, medium dice
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, medium dice
  • (1) 14 Oz Bag Frozen Vegetable Medley
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Cook off pasta and drain if you haven’t already done so. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add frozen vegetables. Cook until soft but not overcooked, approximately 5 minutes.
  • In a saute pan, Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Season both sides of the shrimp with salt & pepper. Add into pan and sear for 2 minutes over medium heat. Turn shrimp over, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add  1 tablespoon butter, 1 Teaspoon minced garlic & half the lemon juice to the pan, quickly baste the shrimp for 10 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat up 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add in all vegetables and garlic. Stir and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add in pasta, remaining butter, shrimp, pepper flakes, and lemon juice. stir until well combined and hot. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Enjoy!
  • **Pair this pasta with a glass of French Chardonnay or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc!

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Twice Baked Cauliflower

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I’m continually looking for new low carb recipes. When this video for a twice baked cauliflower dish popped up in my news feed on facebook, I thought to myself, that’s a new recipe I haven’t seen yet & it looked too good not to try! 

I’ve always loved cauliflower, raw or cooked. The internet has countless recipes that are using cauliflower in place of proteins and other high carb foods. The cauliflower head is very versatile and can be used grated as a rice or other grain substitute, cut thick to mock a “steak”, mashed up as a side dish, pureed as a sauce or into a soup, pulsed fine to mimic “cheese” on a salad. Cauliflower can be a substitute for flour and made into a pizza “dough”, cut into florets and tossed in buffalo as “wings”, even molded together and fried as a “tater tot” in place of potatoes. The Cauliflower possibilities are literally endless.  

I had tweaked this recipe a little bit from the original. I always love the inspiration from other food bloggers but will always put my own twist on a recipe. Obviously this recipe is made vegetarian, but if you would like to go full loaded twice baked, add bacon into the mix! The end result of this is super creamy & makes a great side dish with dinner. I served this as a side of pan seared salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. This baked cauliflower dish is even great on its own! I am looking forward to making this again and next time adding in some different spices or vegetables. 

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Mise En Place:

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, florets removed, chopped up small
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • Scallions, as a Garnish
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove core and stem from cauliflower. Cut florets into smaller chunks. Cook in a medium pot of salted boiling water until cauliflower is tender but not soft, approximately 5-7 minutes. Drain well and & mash with a potato masher, still leaving some chunks.
  • Mix in butter & cream cheese until smooth. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Once cauliflower is mixed well and creamy, add into a gently greased casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven, uncovered 15-20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
  • Garnish with scallions & Enjoy!

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Spinach & Mushroom Stuffed Flounder

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I’m keeping this post short & sweet for all my readers! With a mild sweet flavor and delicate flaky texture, Flounder is a versatile, easy-to-prepare filet of fish. This firm-fleshed white fish can be baked, sautéed, stuffed, and poached. I recommend cooking this lean fish with butter, or oil to maintain moisture and prevent your filet from drying out. Substitute Flounder for Grouper, or catfish in any tasty seafood recipe you’ve got your heart set on. (*Credit: Southern Living Magazine)

I wanted to get slightly creative and do something with the Flounder other than just season with salt & pepper and sear or bake it. Last time I prepared a Flounder dish at home, I stuffed it with crab meat and served it with pan seared Scallops. Defiantly one of my favorite Seafood dishes I’ve made at home. You can find that recipe in the link here

These filet’s were somewhat difficult to work with because of how thin they are. For as much as I can’t argue the $5 price for the bag at Aldi, these filet’s are super thin, that’s why my rolling looks weird. Last time, I was able to line up 2 filet’s next to each other to make one large roll. This time, I had to use half the amount of filling and roll one at a time. I took the remaining mixture and topped the Flounder with it. 

The sauteed spinach and mushrooms gave the dish a very light, Mediterranean feel. Only thing I would loved to have added if it was on hand would’ve been some fresh dill and feta cheese! 

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Mise En Place:

  • 2 Flounder Filet’s
  • 2 Cup’s Raw Spinach
  • 2 Each Baby Bella Mushrooms, small chop
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • Butter
  • S&P, TT

Method Of Prep:

  • To prepare the filling: heat up a large pan over medium heat. Add butter & garlic. Cook until garlic is lightly browned. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, approximately 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan. Add more butter then saute spinach until wilted, approximately 2 minutes. Pour cooked spinach into a mesh strainer and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to press liquid out of spinach if needed. Once spinach has been drained, add to mushrooms onto a cutting board and rough chop the two together. Mix well.

 

  • Turn oven to 350 Degrees.
  • Using a paper towel, pat dry the Flounder filet’s on each side. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Take 2 tablespoons of the filling and lay on the center of the filet(s). Roll from bottom to top. Place stuffed fillet(s) onto a greased and lined baking pan (I used foil). Add 1 Tablespoon of butter onto of filet. Place in the oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
  • Serve right away with your choice of vegetable (I chose Roasted Brussels). Garnish the Flounder with any leftover mixture.
  • Enjoy!

**Cooking Tip: Add fresh squeezed Lemon juice to the fish right out of the oven. The acid will brighten up the flavors of the fish! You can also use citrus zest in the spinach & mushroom mixture as well. **

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Sweet Chili & Soy Tofu Vegetable Bowl

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This is a great recipe for anyone who is also following a low carb regime. I started the keto diet for Lent, in hopes of being able to fast myself from drinking alcohol, and eating sweets. Two things that make up a large part of what I consume on a daily basis (so much for a healthy lifestyle, huh?)  I just did a weigh in last week and have lost 5 pounds in 1 month! That’s pretty exciting to me considering I haven’t been to the gym since early December. An unfortunate injury to my tailbone from slipping on ice a few weeks ago has kept me from being able to work out. I’m hoping the bruising will heal soon so I can get back into my fitness routine. 2018 has been off to a rocky start with my health. I started it sick with bronchitis  for all of January into early February and then right when my strength had come back, during an early morning walk with the dog, I slipped very hard on the ice and slammed flat on my tailbone causing severe bruising which is still healing 3 weeks later. I heard rumors that the keto diet is an easy way to lose weight without having to workout. So I figured, if I cant go to the gym to lose weight, I’ll have to sacrifice some of my favorite things for 40 days to see if this diet actually works, and we’ll go from there. 

As you may have read, I recently adopted the pescatarian diet (Vegetarian including the source of fish or other seafood as protein) I will however still eat small bites of meat on the rare occasions like a tasting menu at work or my husband and I are at a restaurant known for their food. I’m not super strict or hardcore about this change, I just chose to eat less animal fats and focus more on healthier alternatives for personal reasons. During this change, I have been eating more vegan “meat alternatives”, a ton of seafood, lots of vegetables, berries, whole grains and soy products such as tofu. You may see a lot of tofu recipes on here but that’s because I happen to enjoy cooking and eating it.

This recipe takes my favorite Asian flavors of soy, and sweet chili sauce to coat the tofu and lay on top a bed of sauteed vegetables with garlic and sesame oil. If you enjoy Asian cuisine, I’m sure you’ll love this recipe. Feel free to substitute Chicken or another protein of your choice if Tofu isn’t your cup of tea 😉

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Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Mise En Place:

  • 1 Pack Firm Tofu (Pressed to remove liquid, cut into bite size chunks)
  • 1 bag of Frozen vegetable Medley of choice (you may use fresh vegetables if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Cup Raw Spinach
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • S&P, TT

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce ( I used Mae Ploy)
  • 1/3 Cup Honey

Method of Prep:

  • In a saute pan over medium high heat, generously oil pan with vegetable oil. Add in tofu cubes and sear on each side 4 minutes or until golden brown all around.
  • As tofu is cooking, in a small sauce pot, whisk together all ingredients for sauce over medium heat until well combined. Bring to a boil and adjust heat to low. Allow liquid to simmer and reduce for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once tofu is browned on all sides, remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the oil.
  • Using the same saute pan, over medium heat, oil the pan again then add frozen veggies and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until hot and vegetables are cooked through. Finish with sesame oil.
  • Dump vegetables into serving bowl. Top with spinach, allowing the steam from hot vegetables to lightly cook the spinach. Stir to combine.
  • Place saute pan back over medium heat, add in tofu and half the sweet chili sauce. Toss together until tofu is well coated and hot again. Pour onto bed of vegetables and spinach. Serve immediately. (Add extra sauce if you choose)
  • Enjoy! *Can Also be served with rice

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