Thinking Fresh

You’d think with a name like The Fresh Fridge, I would always be “thinking fresh” when it came to cooking up something for my family and friends. But, sometimes I admit that I even need a boost to think of what, how, and where I can get fresh with my meals. So, sometimes I need a little change in my thinking and since I love to make lists, I decided to share with all of you some of my favorite “back to basics” for finding fresh food and ingredients at home and when far away.

1. Garden Fresh
I think the easiest place to start when thinking of fresh ingredients is simply looking in your own backyard. Some of you may have the works when it comes to gardening, but since our recent move we had just enough time to plant herbs before it started getting too hot. I love herb gardens. The smell alone in my backyard is enough to get me out there with my herbs in the mood for some fresh food. So, when I start thinking of getting my dinner ready, I always do a quick check of my recipe and see what kind of fresh herbs I can use in my dish. And, oh my, do they make such a wonderful difference in even the simplest meals!

2. Market Fresh

The second place I go for fresh is my local farmer’s market. Kansas City has some wonderful outdoor markets that are open both weekdays and weekends. I love going down to the KC River Market when I have a chance to buy local and fresh produce. We even have fun with it and make it a morning outing, getting a cup of coffee (or tea, my husband never drinks coffee!) and bring our camera along to take some photography while we are there with all the bright and beautiful colors of our favorite fruits & veggies.

3. Local Fresh

Third, when it is just too hot to turn on the oven and we are sick of salads, we check out our favorite local fresh ingredient restaurants. I really appreciate places that are all about using high-quality, fresh produce. And I think it is totally worth it to go out and treat yourself every once and a while to the great chefs and culinary experts of the world. In KC, we love local places like Julian and even places that are quick like Jason’s deli for a good quality, fresh meal.

4. Visit Fresh

Finally, my absolute favorite way to find fresh is visiting a new place! Sometimes I think when we go on vacation it is tough to find great fresh food and enjoy the high-quality local cuisine. After doing some research, I like to make a list of recommended places that are known for their fresh ingredients and great food. Such as a place like a bar in Hoxton , a great place to eat in London where they use fresh ingredients to bring to life great quality British food.  Finding cool, new places on your vacation adventure is such a great way to experience local freshness and favorites. So don’t forget to add some new fresh places to your vacation list this summer!

So, starting at home all the way to traveling the world – how do you like to get fresh? Share your favorite basic FRESH tips!

**this post is a sponsored post**

Stout Irish Stew & Colcannon

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of our new favorite Irish dinners. We actually first tried this dinner as part of our Christmas Eve festivities and have since much enjoyed this delicious Irish Stew & Calcannon as one of our favorite comfort foods.

For those of you who know us, St. Patrick’s day has always had a special place in our hearts. We actually booked a trip to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day all the way back in 2009…a trip which ended up with us getting engaged! My engagement ring is an emerald with 2 trinity symbols surrounding the stone, so it is a wonderful reminder of our engagement, our trip, and a symbol of our love of all things Irish!

The Stout Irish Stew is nice and hearty with the veggies and beef soaking in all of that nice stout flavor. This was my first time making colcannon and I have to say I was nicely surprised by the amount of flavor and yummy combination of cabbage and bacon-y goodness.

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow!


Stout Irish Stew & Colcannon 

stew cooktime: 8 hours / Calconnon: 30 minutes

Stout Irish Stew Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (2 pound) beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste (for beef seasoning)

Colcannon Ingredients:

  • 4 slices proscuitto
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 cup milk, warmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley


  1. Prepare a large crock pot for the stew (cooks for 8 hours).
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, season meat with salt and pepper and then brown the meat, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides.
  3. Place meat into crock pot and then add in chopped onion, carrots, dark beer, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on high for 1 hour and then turn to low and continue to cook for 7 hours.
  4. About 30 minutes before the stew is ready, make the colcannon: Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking: Heat up a large, deep skillet on medium-high heat, and then add in slices of prosciutto,turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the prosciutto. Next turn the skillet to medium heat and add in the cabbage and the crumbled prosciutto and saute for another 5-10 minutes. Then set aside.
  6. Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Beat the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the cabbage, crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.
  7. To serve, place a scoop of colcannon onto a plate, make a hollow, and fill with Stout Irish Beef Stew.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Mixed Berry Tartelettes

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 2 year anniversary! One of the foods we have not had a chance to eat much of in the last few months is berries due to dietary restrictions post-stem cell transplant. Since it is winter-time anyways, we decided that we could go without for a few months, but as our anniversary approached we both decided we wanted to indulge a little. He is still on his special diet but his taste buds are coming back so, with a little baking and careful washing/cooking we were able to make a yummy berry treat to celebrate! Yum!

With restrictions and seasonality in mind, I wanted to come up with a way to make a delicious tart while using frozen berries. While, I will always agree that fresh tastes best, for those restricted by season or health reasons I wanted to offer up a way to make these with frozen fruit and show that it can be done and done well.

Needless to say, we loved eating these yummy Mixed Berry Tartelettles as part of our celebration. We were reminded of how blessed we are and are excited to enjoy another 200 years together. I love how easy they can be made and are cute for any anniversary, Valentine’s Day, shower, or fun celebration!

For fun, I also made my husband a virtual card for our anniversary – perhaps you can tell I am a food blogger?? We both agreed that I need to make some cake now in the very near future. :)


Mixed Berry Tartelettes

Makes 8 servings


  • 1 9″ pie crust (try homemade pie crust or corn meal crust, or you can use store-bought)
  • 12 oz. mixed berries (fresh or frozen – I will explain how to make both)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  1. Prepare a 12-count muffin tin with non-stick spray and heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare pie crust and roll out to about 1/8″ thickness. Using a 3″ round cookie cutter, cut out mini tart crusts and place into the prepared muffin tin – will make about 8 from one 9″ crust.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together corn starch (1 tbsp for fresh berries, 1 1/2 tbsp. for frozen berries), brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss berries in lemon juice, and then add cinnamon mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  5. If using fresh berries, transfer through a strainer to release any of the extra juices. If using frozen, be sure the berries are coated well since the extra juices will release while baking. Fill each pie crust with berries (about 2/3 filled), repeating for all 8 tarts, and sprinkle tops with white sugar.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes until crust is slightly browned and fruit it bubbling (internal temp. should be at least 165 degrees). Tip: if you are using frozenberries – bake for 8 minutes, then place a foil hat over the tarts and continue baking another 6-8 minutes until berries are cooked through.

Homemade Honey-Butter Cornbread

Super Bowl weekend is here and we have been getting into the spirit with all of our favorite foods for the big day. Chili, of course, is one of our Super Bowl Sunday staples and lately we have been making pots upon pots of chili! So, I thought it was only appropriate to supplement our supply with some of our favorite Homemade Honey-Butter Cornbread. The recipe is pretty easy and packs in the delicious cornbread texture and flavor you would expect from any restaurant offering.

When I looked into making a cornbread recipe, I came up with a lot of buttermilk and heavy options. I didn’t want to sacrifice the delicious cornbread flavor, but did want something a little lighter. We went ahead and used 2% milk in this recipe instead and it came out perfect – moist, light, and flavorful.


Homemade Honey-Butter Cornbread


  • 2/3 cups unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (we used a wheat blend)
  • 1 1/3 cups cornmeal
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (depth at least 2″) with some cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, add honey and mix.
  3. In a small bowl, Whisk the eggs together and then mix with milk. Then in another bowl mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Slowly add in the egg mixture and the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixing bowl to make the batter.
  5. Pour batter into prepared 9″ x 13″ pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10-15 minutes,then cut into squares and serve warm. (These are delicious the next day too and really start to sweeten up after a few hours, so save a few for later!)

Smoky Black Bean & Turkey Chili

I have been making a lot of chili recipes lately. A combination of the weather, sports climate, and our enormous supply of canned beans has been providing us with all the excuses to make “chili night” quite the regular occurrence. Actually, I think in the last month I have made 5 separate recipes based on what I had on hand. What can I say…we really love chili around here! So, after all of those experiments, I think I found a new one I had to share with all of you. :)

We are usually beer chili eaters, but when I decided to make a batch on one of our super busy days it was either beer-less chili or a run to the store at 8 AM to pick up a 6-pack. Since I don’t even know where to find beer that early in the morning, I rummaged through our pantry, put on my thinking cap, and came up with this yummy tomato-based alternative.

By combining diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to make the base, we came up with a hearty thick chili consistency complemented with turkey, black beans, and hickory smoke flavoring. The spicy flavors were more of an undertone to our usual spicier chilis from a subtle combination of green chiles, chili powder, and cumin. Although we used ground turkey sausage in ours, I want to make this again with some shredded turkey next time. Yum!


Smoky Black Bean & Turkey Chili

Serving(s): 8 regular bowls


  • 10 oz. crumbled turkey sausage (or shredded cooked turkey)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 (14 oz. can) diced tomatoes
  • 3 (14 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hickory smoke powder or liquid smoke


  1. In a medium non-stick skillet, brown meat on medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain off extra grease.
  2. While meat is cooking, chop onion. Prepare large stock pot and add remaining ingredients. (adding onion and cooked meat when ready)
  3. Bring chili to a boil, stirring occasionally, then turn heat to simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, uncovered. (The longer it simmers, the better fused the flavors will be)
  4. Serve hot with your favorite toppings (we used sharp cheddar shredded cheese, low-fat sour cream, and saltines).  For leftovers, transfer chili to a plastic container, cover, and refrigerate (excellent the next day too!).

Healthy Recipe Round-Up

Happy New Year! One of my resolutions this year is to bring healthy and satisfying recipes to The Fresh Fridge. So, I am so excited to share this guest post with all of you from an expert on the subject! Gina from Soul.Body.Food. is a health coach who was awesome enough to go through some of the recipes right here on The Fresh Fridge and make her best recommendations for cooking healthy and ways to boost any recipe to make it even more nutritious. So, check out these great recipes and add them to your 2012 healthy recipe list…and for more healthy tips, head to Gina’s awesome health and wellness site Soul.Body.Food.!

As a health coach, I’m often asked what the secret is to healthy eating. Is it low-carb? Low-fat? Low sugar? Vegan? High-protein? After all, there has to be one correct answer, right?

Surprisingly, no. Some people feel their best on a plant-based, all vegan diet, while others feel better with some animal protein in the mix. Some people can eat low-fat all day every day, while others feel like they are always hungry without more fats in their diet. The key to healthy eating is knowing what works for you. So, when Megan asked me to write a post about the healthiest recipes on The Fresh Fridge, I knew I could do it, but each recipe is either “healthy” or “unhealthy” depending on your perspective. Other than the bacon cinnamon rolls. Delicious? Sure! Healthy? Not so much.

There are few overlapping rules in opposing dietary theories, but one rule most people can agree on is this: eat your vegetables.

With that in mind, I give you the healthiest recipes on The Fresh Fridge. These ten recipes – in no particular order — are all vegan friendly (using vegetable shortening, almond milk, or veggie broth as necessary and omitting the cheese), gluten-free, and nutrient dense.

  1. Roasted Asparagus
  2. Baked Kale Chips
  3. Mediterranean Kale Soup
  4. White Peach, Tomato and Arugula Salsa
  5. Grilled Chili Sweet Potatoes
  6. Fresh Black Bean and Corn Salad
  7. Spinach & Asparagus Lentil Soup
  8. Slow Cooker Spicy Black Bean Soup
  9. Couscous with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and spinach (use quinoa instead of Couscous)
  10. Greek Style Zucchini and Squash

If you’re looking for some healthy recipes that aren’t necessarily vegetarian or vegan, here are the top-ten for meat eaters.

  1. Spinach and Baby Bella Scrambled Eggs
  2. Spicy Almond Chicken
  3. Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
  4. Spicy Chili Shooters
  5. Cranberry Feta Salad (use unsweetened dried cranberries)
  6. Slow Cooker Adobo Chicken
  7. Peanut Butter & Banana Porridge (try with almond or sunflower seed butter instead of PB)
  8. Sans Tortilla Soup
  9. Salmon Pesto over Lemon and Parmesan Pasta
  10. Italian Herb and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

So, what if you want to try another recipe on the Fresh Fridge not listed above, but you want to make it a little bit healthier?

It depends on what you mean by healthier.

For all the recipes, if you can sneak in a few more vegetables, you’re improving the nutrient profile of the food. For example, the Ground Turkey and Brown Rice Bowls would probably be just as delicious, but even more nutritious if you added whatever vegetables you have on hand. Shredded carrots, steamed broccoli, sauteed spinach or mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes would add both color and nutrition to the dish.

If you are making a dessert or a recipe that calls for sugar, try cutting down the sugar, or get rid of it all together. Replace it with a natural sweetener like maple syrup, molasses or honey if the recipe needs the sweetness, but otherwise, try to get rid of it all together.

Gluten intolerant? Any recipe that calls for flour, a pizza crust, pasta, tortillas can be made GF friendly by using Gluten Free substitutes. Bob’s Red Mill and Pamela’s both make GF baking mixes, and GF tortillas, breads, and pastas are becoming easier to find in everyday grocery stores.

Are you avoiding dairy? Simply substitute almond milk for milk, margerine or coconut oil for butter, and omit the cheese. Nutritional yeast is a good way to get the cheesy flavor in savory dishes without the cheese. You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk section at your health food store.

With a few substitutions and a little creativity, you can change any rec ipe to fit your dietary guidelines. For example, here is my “healthified” version of Pumpkin Gingerbread. This recipe is gluten and dairy free, vegan, and Paleo-friendly. Be warned, they come out very soft!

Super Moist Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins


  • 1 3/4 cups gluten and grain free flour. I used:
    • 1.5 cups almond meal
    • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp baking powder + 2 tbsp water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease pans for mini loaves
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together all wet ingredients (mix together the baking powder and water before adding to wet mix).
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the dry ingredients. Then add slowly to wet ingredients mixture until all well mixed. If the mixture seems too wet, add some more almond flour.
  4. Divide batter in standard sized muffin tin and then bake for 45 minutes. Done when inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool and then serve or wrap them up and save them for friends!