Yummy Food Discoveries {Recipes}

My spring break turned out to be a break from my job, but a full time grad school experience.  Most every day was filled with papers, projects, and more papers.  However, during this time, I decided to engage in a 7-day detox program and take the opportunity to try many new dishes I had collected in Pinterest and on YouTube.

Slow Cooker Peaches 'N Cream Oatmeal
Recipe:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/272819689903509801/

I enjoyed this dish.  However, for the amount of milk they required (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, BTW) I ended up having to add another cup of regular oats to my almost done steel cut oats.  Next time I will reduce the amount of milk required by half.

Slow Cooker Cubed Steak
Recipe:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/272819689903513181/ 

I like cubed steak, but I detest the toughness and stringiness that you often find.  The crock pot is totally the solution!  The cube steak was fork tender.  Literally.  Because I was looking at two different recipes, I had to make a decision.  Next time I'll fix it.  So, I used cream of chicken and cream of mushroom, along with a pack of Lipton onion mix.  I also sliced up an onion and put in there.  All of the creams were low-sodium.  However, I always season my meat.  Next time I'll half the pack of Lipton onion mix and will not season the meat.  Other than a little extra salt, it was delicious!  Thankfully I served it with wild rice with very little salt.

Salmon Fresh Spring Rolls (the original recipe is for shrimp)
Recipe:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/272819689903522920/

I enjoyed this dish.  It was my first time using rice paper wrappers.  I didn't tear any but as you can see, they aren't wrapped super tight.  I baked a piece of salmon and so my rolls include baked salmon, lettuce, carrots, sweet peppers, cucumbers, and quinoa.  The peanut dipping sauce was yummy.  The recipe for that is also in the link above.

Berbere Bowl w/Sauteed Swiss Chard
Recipe:  https://youtu.be/rd0sEyAP5P8

Hands down, this dish was sooo good!  I ate it two days in a row and am craving for more.  Because it looked so good in the original video, I immediately purchased the berbere spice from Etsy.  Hadn't heard of this Ethiopian spice, but it was worth the wait.  This dish is vegan and there are not enough words to describe how wonderful it is.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Recipe:  https://youtu.be/dGrVruPYYag

Baked Salmon w/Asparagus and Quinoa

  • Salmon - drizzle lightly with olive oil; season with sea salt, black pepper, and greek seasoning
  • Asparagus - drizzle lightly with olive oil; season with sea salt and black pepper  (Bake both at 375 degrees F for 15 - 20 min)
  • Quinoa - cook according to package directions

Swiss Chard

  • Cut swiss chard into ribbons; cut shallot into slices; heat olive oil in pan; sautee shallots; add swiss chard; saute then as swiss chard wilts, season with sea salt and black pepper; cover and reduce heat until tender; sprinkle with a little lime juice.

Have you tried any delicious recipes lately?

5 Tips for Growing an Urban Balcony Garden {Guest Post}

If you are a ferocious gardener trapped in a tiny apartment, don’t suffer. You can do a lot even with a limited space.  Transform your small balcony into a secret garden in the middle of the urban frenzy. Want to grow your own food? No, problem. You will have cleaner and fresher products everyday. With a little creativity and basic gardening skills, you will be able to make your patio or balcony works.

Know Your Environment
Before starting your garden, you need to make a plan. Evaluate your conditions and figure out your balcony’s environment. The primary things you need to consider are the size of the space and its exposure to sunlight. Each place has its own microclimate. Be sure that your environment is appropriate for the greenery you will plant. For example, if your place is shady or windy, you might not be able to grow tomatoes. The surface treatment can also impact the temperature of your balcony. There is no need to say, that your budget also plays huge role. You can create a sophisticated garden and spend a lot, or choose a low – maintenance and less costly solution.

Use Every Free Space
Since you only have a teeny – tiny space, you should make the most of it. Think of unconventional methods and spots, where you can keep your greenery. The most obvious place to put your containers is on the floor. If you position your greenery on different heights you will have more space for outdoor furniture.

Go vertical. You can hang your planter or create larger containers mounted to walls. You can simply use jars or try pallet gardening. There are numerous DIYs on the internet. Pick a project that is suitable for your place and your skills.

Select the Right Plants
First, you need to decide whether you want plants that will last throughout the year (perennials) or prefer ones that will survive only a season (annuals). Generally, it’s better to have a mix of the two. Combine fresh herbs, flowers and some veggies with different berries, rosemary and kale. In this way you will be able to enjoy your garden even during the gloomy months. What is great about urban garden is that cleaning out the weeds will be less tough.

Soil and Containers
When choosing the containers, don’t consider only the appearance. Take into account their material and drainage.  Although, plastic pots are cheaper, they allow water to escape faster from the soil. Choose containers made out of porous material like terracotta. Don’t forget to put saucers under drainage holes to prevent water spilling and the inevitable balcony cleaning.

In terms of soil, an all –purpose mix will work well for most greenery. However, there are plants like succulents that require special care. Purchase a potting soil that is appropriate for the greenery you are growing.

Be Really Green
Organic gardening is a huge trend right now. If you are a beginner, starting with a small balcony garden will help you experiment and learn easier.

More helpful tips for home and balcony maintenance read at: http://www.cleanerscarpetcleaning.com/ilford-carpet-cleaners/IG1-floor-cleaning-ilford.html

Guest Post written by Ella Andrews.