Saturday, October 30, 2010


Our Halloween weekend normally consists of FL/GA AKA the Largest Cocktail Party in Jax, Fl. However this year we are in Birmingham just watching the football games and still recovering from stomach bugs (now ryan has it). I thought that I would put a pic up of us from last year.... Recipe to come later if I find time between watching the game and taking care of my "patient"

Hope everyone enjoys their TRICK OR TREATING!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back in Business, Chicken Picasso, and VITAMIX!

Well, last weekend was a whirlwind. Ryan has been studying for his PE exam and there was lots of football to watch. Our house was very happy at the end of the night because Auburn won and Florida couldn't lose because we were on a bi-week! However, this week started with me getting a stomach bug and I am just now recovering. I had lots of ideas for food to cook this week but clearly that got put on the back burner. I will share a recipe from last week though that Ryan loved.

Chicken Picasso

(Recipe from Kayotic Kitchen)

4 chicken breasts
1 onion - diced
3 bell peppers (choose red, yellow, green) - sliced thinly into rings
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 - 14 oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 TBS Italian Herbs (we used Tuscan Sunset from Penzeys)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1 TBS butter
pinch of nutmeg
pepper and salt to taste
couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese (Mozzarella, cheddar, any cheese that melts well!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine oil and butter in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the chicken. Just lightly brown on each side. Then transfer the chicken to an oven safe dish. Add onion to skillet (no need to use more oil - use the juice from the chicken). Cook the onions until they are transparent then add to the oven dish - be sure to put some onions on the bottom and top of the chicken breasts. Now add the bell peppers to the dish - cook until becoming tender and then add to the chicken/onion mixture once again on the top and bottom of chicken breasts. Now add the garlic to the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds, until the "garlic speaks". Add the water and diced tomatoes. Stir. Now add the herbs, bouillon, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Now pour in the cream and stir stir stir! Simmer the sauce on low heat for 5 minutes, then pour it on top of the chicken mixture.
Cover with aluminum foil and place in heated oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, sprinkle cheese on top and place back in oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly!

This is good by itself, served with a nice salad. If you want to it would be good on top of rice or pasta! ENJOY

On another note.... I GOT A VITAMIX for my BIRTHDAY (THANKS MOM)! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this machine. It does everything from puree fruits and veggies into juice to making peanut butter, cooking soups, making ice cream, grinding coffee....etc. The list goes on and on. So far, I have experimented with Smoothies mostly. This week was going to be my juicing vegetables week but that turned inside out when the stomach bug came about. Here is a pic of a strawberry, orange, banana, grape, and pear smoothie. Such a delicious and wholesome snack and perfectly blended....
So far I love the VITAMIX. I cannot wait to continue to try new things in it. It is really a dream machine... I will continue to share recipes for the vitamix as I try them out. Ryan can't wait for his kale and apple drink....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Italian Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup - Hail to Kale!

Hail to Kale!

Kale has many nutritional health benefits, here are a few of them:
  • High in fiber
  • Excellent source of Vitamin A and calcium
  • One of the best sources of beta carotene (an antioxidant believed to be a major player in battle against cancer & heart disease)
  • Good source of Caroteniods - specifically lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration

We love soup at our house and since the weather is nice in the evenings and early mornings it does kind of feel like fall. The leaves are beginning to change around our "neck of the woods". I made this for Ryan's Lunch this week. Planning ahead for lunch helps to save money that would otherwise be spent on a less-healthy restaurant lunch. I whipped up this soup last night while we were watching "Boardwalk Empire". Then sent it with Ryan this am with a nice green salad with fresh peppers and Italian Dressing to go along with it.

Italian Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 all natural italian chicken sausages (spicy), meat removed from casings
  • 1/2 organic onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 organic carrots, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp tuscan sunset (Penzeys)
  • 1 14.5 oz can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup of pasta, any pasta is ok, but the smaller the size the better OR if you prefer beans then use 1 can canelloni beans
  • 2 1/2 cups organic Kale - cut the ribs from the leaves and then chop into small pieces
  • Parmesan cheese - topping right before serving
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage, onion, and carrots. Season with all the spices and salt/pepper to taste. Saute for 4 -5 minutes or until the sausage is cooked and the veggies are becoming tender. Add the garlic, stir constantly for 30 seconds (make sure that your garlic doesn't burn). Then add the tomatoes and chicken broth - cook for 30 minutes (i.e. watch television or clean up the mess you made in kitchen!).
After 30 minutes, add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the chopped kale and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Scoop the soup into a big bowl and top with parmesan cheese.

This is super yummy and healthy. And remember that Kale offers MANY health benefits.
I will be back later this week for a vegetarian soup with Kale as the star ingredient!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zucchini Parmesan Bake

It has been a while since we blogged from the Pearce's Kitchen... sorry! Mom was in town so most of the week was spent shopping and eating at all of the yummy places Birmingham has to offer! Over the past weekend we headed down to Auburn for the AU vs Arkansas game... War Eagle - Ryan is very happy!
Now it is time to catch up and give you a delicious recipe that we had for dinner tonight and I am already craving to have again soon!
Zucchini Parmesan Bake

Zucchini after baking in oven
Before melting the cheese

Finished product and ready to be devoured!

Zucchini Parmesan
adapted and inspired from Handle the Heat

3 organic medium size zucchini, sliced in about 1/3 inch thickness (think coins!)
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (or Italian if that is what is in your pantry)
salt and pepper to taste
Tuscan Sunset (penzey's spice) or italian seasoning if you don't have tuscan sunset
Couple of shakes of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy!)
1 cup organic marinara sauce (365 Brand if you have Whole Foods)
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray non stick cooking spray on a large cookie sheet. Make sure that your zucchini is dry, then toss the zucchini in the olive oil in a bowl. Make sure that the zucchini is well tossed so each piece is covered in olive oil.
In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and tuscan sunset (or italian seasoning if that is all that you have).
Begin dipping each piece of zucchini in the bread crumb mixture. Be patient, it may not stick all that well, but just try to get a good amount on each piece. Then place on baking sheet in one layer. Continue to "bread" the zucchini until all the zucchini is used. Place in over and bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Then remove from oven.

Coat a small baking dish (we used single serve dishes) with the marinara sauce (thin layer). Put a single layer of zucchini on top of marinara, SPRINKLE with mozzarella cheese, then add marinara on top, then another layer of zucchini, and top with mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan (if you have some left over). I put a dollop of marinara on the very top because I like sauce! Only do two layers of zucchini because if you do more than that it will get soggy.
Turn the oven down to 400 and back the small dishes for another 10-15 minutes, want the cheese to be melted!
ENJOY! This made 2 small baking dishes. Ryan and I each had one. This was our meal, so if you want it to be a side, then it would make 4 servings. It is delicious!

When I was home a couple of weekends ago I practiced using my camera some more. I still haven't really been trying too hard with food, but I am enjoying action shots! Here is Coby doing what he is the master at... catching frisbees! Look at the air he catches! He barely misses a frisbee and is incredibly FAST!

And this is Jaxon making a beautiful catch! Jaxon has a lot of grace in the air when he catches a frisbee, it is like he glides in thin air.
It was fun playing with the camera again over the weekend. I still need to work on photographing food, which I think is super hard (maybe it is the lighting in our house that makes everything look so blah)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Photography - nothing to do with food today!

My friend Anna and I have been taking a photography class at Samford After Sundown here in the bham. The class is covering how to use a Nikon SLR camera and it is INTENSE. After our 4th class I now understand why people go to photography school! It is a lot of fun because I think that if you have a nice camera you better learn how to use it or why even have it? After a year of owning our camera, I am sick of shooting in "auto" mode. So, now that I know what the buttons on my camera mean, I went out today and did some "exploring"

Tucher, frisbee, and hummingbird feeder, were my "subjects". Take a look... Hopefully I keep getting better... some of these were even shot in full manual! WOW!

Tucher in Action...

Love getting action shots... the frisbee has no chance (maybe the Gator receivers should take tips from Tucher...)

He is such a handsome subject!

The hummingbird feeder... although I think that our hummingbirds are migrating south... I will miss them while they are gone :(

Monday, October 4, 2010

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

I found this awesome eleven year old speak about the problems with our food and how we can work toward a better food system in our nation.... He is 11 years old and is making an impact and I couldn't agree with him more! Please watch this video and give me your opinions... He inspires me to organically grow... maybe I need to start looking into this as my next career!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mom's Vegetable Soup with a twist


When it comes to "easy" things to make in the kitchen I am lost... For instance, my mom's green beans are so yummy and she says all she does is boil them with salt/pepper. I tried this but they never taste as good. She makes the world's best pound cake... mine isn't "light" enough. She can whip up fried cornbread in about 5 minutes... in those 5 minutes I am still googling how to make it! You get the point.
My mom is a very basic cook, not much seasoning, not much flair, just basic southern food. To get to the point, I love her vegetable soup. Nothing fancy, just so delicious. I made a big batch of it this week and have eaten all of it. This fall weather made me crave soup! It is also great to freeze so you can always have a healthy and delicious meal at your fingertips...

Ingredients for vegetable soup

fresh peppers picked from our garden at pearce's kitchen

finished product

Mom's Vegetable Soup
From our kitchen

  • 1 pound of grass fed stew beef (optional - I didn't use last time since I am eating mostly veggies these days)
  • 2 can organic tomato sauce
  • 2 cans organic stewed tomatoes (drain juice into dutch oven and chop tomatoes in food processor)
  • 2 -4 cans water (if you like it soupy, add the 4 cans if not add 2 cans)
  • 1/2 onion - chopped
  • 1 cup carrots - chopped
  • 4-5 red potatoes - chopped
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 2-3 zucchini or yellow squash
  • 1 package of baby bella or white mushrooms *
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can canelloni beans *
  • 1 green pepper *
  • 3 stalks of celery *
  • 2 - 3 garlic cloves - minced *
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes *
  • tuscan sunset (penzey's spice) *
To cook:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees
If using the beef, boil in water with salt and pepper until good and tender and falling apart. Get this cooking first while you are chopping all of the veggies. It needs to be almost done before adding to the veggies. Take the squash/zucchini, pepper, and mushrooms and toss in a little olive oil. Place into heated oven and roast for about 10 minutes. Then add all the other ingredients to a LARGE dutch oven. Now your roasted veggies should be done, so add this as well to the dutch oven. If you are using the stew beef, add now to the veggie mixture as long as the meat is tender and almost done. Bring the veggies to a boil, then turn down to low, put a lid on and let it cook away. Clearly the longer you cook it the more tender everything becomes. I cooked mine for about 45 minutes and it was so delicious. Long enough for all the flavors to mend together.

The twist on this recipe is the roasted squash, mushroom, pepper mixture. My mom doesn't roast any veggies before putting in the soup and she also doesn't use mushrooms or peppers. I like this added, it offered a little more flavor. You can also add some salsa if you want it to be more spicy - she often does this. I also added the canneloni beans and loved it! I also thought of switching the red potatoes out for sweet potatoes... going to try that next time because I am in love with sweet potatoes....

* foods that my mom does not add to her soup

ENJOY this healthy soup!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Game Day - Game day roll-ups

Fall means Pumpkins..... GATOR PUMPKINS!

A great Florida Vodka.... Made using Florida Oranges. Thanks Chuck for introducing me

Our Maker's Mark Orange and Blue dipped bottle

It's Fall which means it's FOOTBALL! October is my favorite month because this is the Gators best games of the season (Alabama, LSU, Georgia), Halloween, and my BIRTHDAY! The weather here has been perfect which is why I love fall.
The house is decorated with pumpkins and Gator stuff (with a little Auburn here and there). Lots of my fellow Gator Fans have arrived in birmingham for the game today. Tailgating will be lots of fun and of course the Pearce's Kitchen has made a new delicious game day recipe. This is my new favorite - have made it the last 2 weekends.

Gator Game Day Roll Ups:

2 packages Cream Cheese (ok to use low fat)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can Rotel tomatoes - drained
1 garlic clove - minced (very fine)
1 can organic black beans - drained
cayenne pepper to taste - we like it spicy so I use a good amount, just add a bit and taste then add more if you want it more spicy
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
pinch of salt
canned jalepeno - about 5-6 pieces of jalepeno chopped very fine
4 pieces of Lavash wrap or can use tortillas (would need about 5 tortillas since they are smaller)

Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. When well combined add the rest of the ingredients and stir, stir, stir! Spread a thin mixture on the lavash wrap, going all the way to the edge. Then roll up and slice into bite size pieces! Easy as that. Enjoy! You could always get more creative with this recipe, if you do let me know your idea.

Here is a pic of the Lavash Bread that I used and it was delicious....