With the temperature getting to 60 degrees today, it’s hard to believe that almost a week ago my backyard was covered in snow. Thankfully, last Tuesday, I got back from the grocery store just before the snow started in Atlanta, so I hunkered down inside and weathered the storm fine.
John was in Memphis last Tuesday for what was supposed to be an up and back business trip. When his return flight got cancelled, he and his coworkers tried to drive back. After getting to Birmingham and realizing there was no way they would get home in “snowmageddon,” they turned around and drove to the nearest hotel that had available rooms, which landed them in Athens, Alabama. Thursday afternoon he made it home safely, and we were just thankful he was “stranded” in a hotel and not on the road for 20 hours like many people. Despite John having no change of clothes and using whatever toiletries the hotel had on hand, we weathered the storm just fine. (And no frozen or burst pipes this time either: success!)
On Wednesday, I ventured outside with some friends and went sledding in the park with their Flying Saucer. It was lots of fun, evidenced by my smile in the picture below. Though not being able to steer, I ran into a tree about three times… all part of the adventure!
Since I was stuck at home alone, I made two hearty meals that lasted me the week. One was a variation of my avocado quinoa, which is a staple in our house and a favorite of John’s. Once John returned, I served this with cod topped with a salsa. The other was a sweet potato and butternut squash sweet and spicy stew.
Before I get to the recipes, the other notable occurrence in our life was watching Chuck, our great friend from middle/high school, get recognized in a Super Bowl commercial! Budweiser threw Chuck a surprise parade and celebration for his homecoming from serving in Afghanistan as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. John even made a cameo in the commercial around second 28… so I suppose even though he wasn’t home the week our pipes froze/burst, it was all worth it since he was in Orlando at that time, attending Chuck’s homecoming parade! I can’t think of a better person for Budweiser to have surprised and honored than Chuck. He is truly inspirational, a wonderful friend, and an incredible leader. We’re all so glad to have him back home! Check out this Fox News interview of Chuck to see his genuine humility.
Now onto the recipes…
Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Sweet and Spicy Stew
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs to taste
1 onion, sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 jalapeno, diced with seeds
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter (or peanut butter)
1 -2 cups kale
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Fresh cilantro for topping
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes and butternut squash with olive oil and salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs, to taste. You want enough to top each piece but not be covered. Lay out sweet potato mixture onto a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
- While sweet potato mixture roasts, heat a Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add in olive oil and onion. Caramelize the onion for 25 minutes or until browned.
- Remove sweet potato mixture from oven and let rest. Add in garlic and jalapeno to onions. Stir for 1 minute.
- Add in lentils and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover. Let lentils simmer until softened, about 12 minutes.
- Add in sunflower seed butter and stir to combine into soup. Add in kale and chickpeas, stirring until kale wilts. Add in sweet potato mixture.
- Let simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat. Top each serving with fresh cilantro.
I’ve been making this recipe for a while now, but the version below is my new and improved recipe.
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
3 small avocados, mashed
1 tomato, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 bunches cilantro
2 jalapenos, diced and with seeds
Juice of 1 lime
Dash of paprika
Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse quinoa under cold water. Cook quinoa in 3 cups of water according to package instructions.
- Once quinoa is done, remove from heat and into a bowl. Add in avocados, mashing with a fork to combine into the quinoa. Mix until quinoa is coated and avocado is fully mashed.
- Add in remaining ingredients, expect spices. Stir together. Add in spices, tasting as you go until it’s the right saltiness/spiciness.
Cod with Yellow Pepper Salsa
4 cod fillets
1/4 cup corn meal
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
Juice of half lime
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix salt and pepper (to taste) with cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Coat cod pieces with cornmeal mixture. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and put cod onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until done and cod flakes easily with a fork.
- While fish cooks, whisk together dijon, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.
- In a separate bowl, combine yellow pepper, cucumber, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil, lime juice, and salt/pepper to taste. Toss to coat.
- When fish is done, place a fillet on each plate and drizzle each fish with dijon dressing. Top with salsa and fresh cilantro.