MIXED BERRIES INTERWINE WITH CUPCAKES

MIXED BERRIES IN CUPCAKES

A guilt-free way to utilize fresh straw/blue berries in the diet.

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GAZPACHO (CANTALOUPE) TO THE RESCUE

I love soup. This one pot wonder is a god-send on days when I’m extremely tired, but still require my daily nutrition. I often cook and prepare an alternating type each week. One week is lentil, the other could be squash/pumpkin or even chicken soup.  I cook and puree each batch and store in the freezer. My mind is at ease with the knowledge that I can grab, defrost and have on hand when needed.

However, when the summer months arrive and the temperatures are sizzling, these hot soups have to take a hiatus. I don’t wish to sweat over a hot burner. So, during times like these, I’ve to go to my ‘playbook’ so to speak and find dishes that are going give me easy and light.

As a result, gazpacho came to mind. In the culinary world, gazpacho was created for the hot summer months. It’s basically raw/uncooked soups comprising of vegetables or fruits. To me, it’s like a smoothie in a bowl. Therefore, for me, my old faithful standing blender became even a closer pal.

So, on this day, really sizzling day of summer, I have chosenImage to prepare yours truly a cantaloupe gazpacho.

Ingredients:

  1. Cantaloupe
  2. Ginger root
  3. Nectarine (for garnishing
  4. Cold water
  5. Lemon

Cantaloupe was washed, peeled, chopped in pieces and placed in blender. Ginger root was also washed, skin removed.and finely chopped and then added to blender. A fresh squeeze of lemon was added and water poured. Ingredients were then blended and then poured in bowl with a garnish of nectarine pieces and mint.

So, as the temperatures sky-rocketed on the outskirts, my cool soup quenched my waiting appetite. Gazpacho saved the day!

 

 

FOOD PRICES ARE OVER THE MOON

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But, once again, the cost of groceries are on the increase. The prices are astronomical. It makes you wonder how higher they will be. Of course, there is always a reason for the price hikes. Now they are blaming it on the present drought in California.

While we are busily enjoying our morning cereal, the poor cows out there in the pastures are finding it rather difficult to find their meals. The ripple effect is that the cows will subsequently produce less milk. And, down the road, the price of a gallon of milk will continue to rise. Oh, for sure, latte lovers will see the difference. And, we will certainly hold back on the milk for our morning cereal.

As the farm lands become arid and barren, the prices of beef and other meat products will also climb up to Mount Everest. I know for PETA and vegetarians will cheer “Hurrah!” But, the fact is that all prices will be affected. Our nutritious and wholesome veggies and fruits that we love will also see increases.

When challenges like these arise, we often times feel helpless. But, we can secure a little control. It makes you wonder, “what can we do?” If you have farmer’s markets in your locale, maybe, it’s a great ideal to purchase supplies there. Operators of these local markets generate less expense towards transportation. Therefore, they will be able to sell at a competitive cost.

In addition, when prices for food supplies go sky high, it is best to purchase perishables that are in season. When there’s is a glut on the market, prices tend to go ‘dirt cheap’ especially at the end of the day. Vendors don’t mind you haggling with them. They work hard and are dying to retreat to their abodes. Purchasing perishables in season is a wise move because the extra could be stored in the freezer and utilize later when they are out of season and prices increase.

Don’t be afraid to play in the dirt. For those who have a plot of land, by all means visit the Horticultural section of Home Depot, Target or Walmart and secure seedlings and suckers. That hot guy who knows his ‘stuff’ will be more than happy to pass on his tip bits on what’s is in season to plant.

And, if you are like me who don’t have a plot of land to plant  seeds, by all means, grab a couple of pots and hit the window sill where the sun rises. Or, make space on your patio with a few pots. Oh, true story. I once reaped a pineapple from my patio. I watched it until it became golden. I was proud of my specimen from my pot. I placed my golden child in the refrigerator. OMG, it was sweet and refreshing!

So guys, there is hope. Don’t let the California drought or any drought get to you. As always, be good to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

KICK-ASS SWEET POTATO SALAD

Now that it’s officially summer, we all will be consuming potato salad at our barbeques and cookouts. Traditionally, these salads are made up of the starchy based Irish potatoes and other ingredients. This tasty and delicious dish can pack on the calories as well as raise the glucose level within the body. And, if one is watching the blood sugar numbers that could be problematic.

Thank God, there’s is a substitute. Just the other day, I was turned on or I should say re-introduce to this ‘kiss-ass’ sweet potato salad recipe. I must have tried a few times in the past; however, my good friend, Suzette whet my appetite with her version. In fact, when when gave a sample to a pregnant co-worker, the baby kicked. True story. The baby never ever kicked/moved; however, when expected mom ate my friend’s sweet potato salad, the baby jumped for joy. And, so did I.

In general, I love sweet potato. I love it baked, mashed and fried. So, it was a pleasure to revisit this healthy way of making potato salad. Thus, today, I substituted my Irish for the sweet orange version. It was simple and oh, so delish!

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes (2 medium)
  • Egg (1 large)
  • Sweet corn (1/2 can)
  • Green onion (1 stalk)
  • Onion (1 diced tsp)
  • Celery (1 stalk)
  • Bell pepper
  • Salt/pepper
  • Mayonnaise (2 big tbps)

Diced sweet potatoes and egg are placed in tap water with salt and brought to a boil. After potatoes become fork tender these are drained and placed in a bowl. Cook egg until its hard boiled. Then cool down under tap water and remove shell. Chop egg to desired sizes and add to potatoes. Finely dice celery, onions and other veggies. Drain corn and add. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add mayonnaise. Gently fold all ingredients until properly combined. Sprinkle finished dish with a little paprika and garnish with parsley.Image

 

OLE, OLE FOR MANGO SALSA!

Once again, I went calling on my good friend a couple blocks away. I’ve an open visit policy to her home. And, by golly, lately, I’ve been making use of the invite. Gosh, I hope she doesn’t change her mind. You see, mango season is in full bloom. And, although I don’t consume the mangoes the way others do in their natural form, I love to transform and add them to an assortment of dishes.

Years ago when my friend bought her property, she hired a landscaper with a brilliant green thumb. His name is Johnny and he’s responsible for planting the mango tree which yield the yearly crop of sweet and juicy mangoes. She nick-named the tree ‘Old Faithful’.

My friend wasn’t home, but, her gardener who I met on a couple of occasions was present. He was busily pruning the rose bushes. Without hesitation he came to the front of the property. And, as soon as he recognized me uttered, “Good morning. I’ve something for you.” With beads of sweat on his brow, he smiled and handed me a brown baggie. I thanked him and went on my merry way.

I couldn’t wait to pry the bag open. Obviously, my dear friend had instructed him to pick me the mangoes. Before opening the bag, already I could smell the aromatic odors. Just viewing and smelling the specimens placed my brain and palate on overdrive. Immediately, I knew what I had to create.

I like my mangoes when they are chilled. So, when I got home I rinsed and placed them in the refrigerator. I had it all figured out. I decided on a tasty and spicy mango salsa. Thankfully, I didn’t have to venture out to shop for the ingredients that I would add to my mango salsa.

Ingredients

  • Mango (1)
  • Jalapeno pepper (1)
  • Red bell pepper (wedge)
  • Avocado (1/4)
  • Lime (1tsp)
  • Lemon (1tsp)
  • Salt/pepper
  • Green onion (1 stalk)
  • Cilantro

I chopped and placed all the ingredients in a bowl. Then, I added a pinch of salt and pepper. Lemon and lime juice were then drizzled over the chopped ingredients. Before serving, I allowed mango salsa to sit for at least 30 minutes so as to get all the connected in a rather intimate way. Yum, yum!

Ideally, mango salsa can be served with tortilla chips as an appetizer. Or, it can be used as a great side dish to a fish or chicken meal.

Guys, as always, be kind to your loved ones and to your beautiful palates. Do make this recipe your very own. The sky is the limit. Maybe, you could add toasted coconut or even tomatoes.Image

 

AN INFUSION OF DIFFERENT FOODS, SPICES/FLAVORS

Sometimes, I can really be a creature of habits. Usually, on a Friday, I would venture out to nice eating establishment and mingle with the maddening crowd. I love the aromatic smells, the background music, the banging of silver wares as wait and kitchen staff busily execute their duties. I also like to people watch. A nice smile to the host can fetch a pretty comfortable and strategic spot. There, my loved ones and I can savor our meals and of course, people watch.

However, today I decided stay in and actually prepare yours truly a home-cooked meal.I miss that for Fridays. I guess I could easily order in from the Chinese around the corner or maybe, good old Papa Johns Pizza. I knew exactly what I was going to prep and

  • Curried chicken
  • Jasmine rice
  • Warm spinach/kale salad
  • Mango salsa

Going back to my roots was fairly easy. Curried chicken is a very popular dish in Jamaican kitchens. Over the years, I had cooked this dish repeatedly. I had a few mangoes on my hand, thus, I decided to make a side dish of mango salsa along with a warm spinach and kale salad. All this was served on a bed of flavorful Jasmine white rice. The colliding of exotic spices and flavors create a savory, tart, and sweet tastes.

Now, I do think it’s time to catch up on an episode of Black Box on ‘On Demand’. ImageI’m happy.

SALMON JUVENILES GO TRUCKING

The recent California drought affected the rivers and streams in the vicinity. As a result, millions of juvenile salmon were endangered. These silvery smolts were unloaded in long plastic pipes then they made their way by floating in netted pens. Subsequently, after getting acclimated to the precious water they are then released  to the ocean by tides.

I reckon some of us might question this practice, but, moving these little guys by tanker trucks ensure the survival of millions. These will further develop and grow into California King Salmon. And then find their way to our tables…..hurrah!Like everything else in life, nothing is fool-proof. The thing is in three years, the migratory ones won’t be able to find their way back to their home because there is no scent to lead them. And, that’s rather sad. Now, where do they stray to?

Maybe, down the line, they will be able to create that special scent to lead them to their ‘door’. Eh, that’s something for us to ponder don’t you think?Our omega fatty-acids sources are gradually dwindling. I’m a wee bit sad.