CREAMY/CHEESY GRITS SIMMERED IN COCONUT CREAM TOPPED WITH EGGS/CRUMBLED BACON

Our palates have a way to communicate with us. You see, when the days get shorter and the nights become rather long, our stomachs and palates tend to crave the comforting side of things. And for me, this is the perfect time to forego the sugary cereal and rein in what’s piping hot and savory.

So, on the late morn (quite closer to the noon time), I reached for my canister of old-fashioned grits by Quaker. Oh, I love grits; both savory and sweet.  I like how it keeps me satiated for a long time. Moreover, it’s loaded with essential fibers, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are great for the body. Thank God I still had more than enough to make yours truly a creamy and cheesy dish.

Ingredients:

  1. Grits (1 cup)
  2. Coconut milk/cream (1cup)
  3. Water (1 cup)
  4. Chicken broth (1cup)
  5. Cheese (3 tbsps)
  6. Butter (1tsp)
  7. Diced onion (2 tsps)
  8. Salt/pepper (pinch)
  9. Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  10. Olive oil (drizzle)
  11. Eggs
  12. Bacon (crumbled)

Method:

I get it, some enjoy their grits with plain water and whole milk; and that’s okay. However, I had to infuse a little touch of Caribbean flavors. And I did so with a cup of coconut cream/milk I had in the freezer. After I sauteed a couple teaspoons of diced onion in a drizzle of olive oil, I defrosted and unleashed the goodness and allowed it to simmer for approximately five minutes.  Oh, by the way, I call coconut milk, nature’s milk.

Because I was making a cup of grits, I added and additional two cups of liquid in the form of water and chicken broth. I made sure to season with salt and pepper to my taste. Grits was then slowly added to liquid and then whisked so as to prevent lumps. This continued to cook for approximately 20 to 25 minutes on low heat with lid on so as to prevent splattering.

After grits became smooth to my likening, I removed from heat and added a pat of butter along with shredded six cheese Italian mix. By the way, my secret ingredient was ‘a pinch of nutmeg’. Well, it’s no longer a secret.

I served my creamy/cheesy grits with a couple of fried eggs. I made sure to make my yolks a wee bit soft but not runny. I’m telling you guys, they reminded me of sunshine. Of course, because I had a little left-over crumbled bacon from a last meal, I decided to top my grits with same. Hmmm, such salty goodness. I LOVE GRITS!!

 

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TO EAT TILAPIA OR NOT TO EAT TILAPIA…..I DID!!

I’m always on the fence when it comes to the consumption of the fish, tilapia. You see, the fish is a fresh water kind. And that leaves me questioning the conditions they are farmed under. Now, can you imagine? I shouldn’t be even talking or pondering the thought that fish is farmed in perhaps my neighbor’s backyard. But, its reality.

Farming should be of vegetables and fruits. But, oh no, with this type of popular technique, we all at certain point in our lives have eaten fish of this sort (farmed raised). That makes me very wary. If I’m going eat my omega fatty acids in the form of seafood, can I please get it from the wild? Oh, no! I guess I’ve to be a fisher woman/person in order to nab my eats.My dear uncle was a fisher man in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. It makes me thinking, why did I not learn the trade? Otherwise, I’ve to ‘fish out’ the $$$’s to purchase the wild kind.

So anyway, I bit the bullet and decided to purchase a couple of pieces of tilapia. In the back of my mind, I pondered, “now which yard were these pieces of tilapia raised? Were they kind to the breeding (or should I say the farming) of them?” They looked firm and didn’t smell like fish. And that’s a couple of tips the experts say you should look out for.

Anyway, I brought home my tilapia and tried my best to think of the wild. So, I did a quick pan-sear of them with a little olive oil; then set them aside. Oh, they smelled just like fish alright, and that’s how they should once the cooking process begins. I then set them aside and sauteed onions, juilenned bell peppers, and garlic. I then tossed in a few chopped olives and capers in order to get a little acid and added flavors. My tilapia pieces were then brought back to the skillet with a pat of butter and fresh squeeze of lemon.

Guys, I served my pan-seared tilapia with roasted broccoli and wedges of sweet and Irish potatoes. I confess, my omega fatty acid dish was delicious. By the way, I prayed and ate. Come to think of it, did I? I hope I did.

 

A CAULIFLOWER/SPUD SOUP TO GREET A PERFECT FALL AFTERNOON

I love the season that nature has bestowed on us. Guys, it’s Fall and I know for some of you in certain parts of the world, the temperatures feel like summer and winter for others. However, where I’m in South Florida, U.S.A., we’re experiencing the best time ever! Okay, sorry to be bragging. You see, for a great portion of the calender year we have sizzling temperatures and humidity, but, I’m not complaining.

We might not be beholding the transformation of the autumn leaves in their beautiful hues, but on this day, this gorgeous day that God has made, the humidity has taken a nose-dive and the temperatures are super mild. Oh, I’m happy.

Guys, I’m wearing a sweater, an orange at that. Of course, you know that orange screams fall. The skies are brilliant blue and the puffy white clouds are quite evident. Did I mention the sun? Oh, I didn’t; it’s shining in all its glory. And the palm and mango trees are swaying to a light breeze.

On a day as perfect as this, I’ve flung open my sliding doors and windows. And guess what? Comfort food is on my mind. To be specific, I’m thinking of soup. A couple of days ago, I purchased a five-pound sack of potatoes for $2.99 (a sale price they said). I still have a half of a ‘tight-ass’ cauliflower from when I made mashed ‘cheesy’ cauliflower. Oh boy, that was a treat.

So guess what guys, I’ve decided to ‘rock’ a hearty pot of cauliflower and potato soup. You see, when the temperatures are this divine, my palate leans towards good old soup. There are so many to choose from but I’ve the goods for a cauliflower/spud soup.

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower (1/2lb)
  • Irish potatoes (2)
  • Onion (1small)
  • Thyme (sprig)
  • Scallion (1 stalk)
  • Celery (1 stalk)
  • Black pepper/salt to taste
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Chicken stock (1 &1/2cup)
  • Milk (1/2 cup whole)

Method:

1. In a sturdy stock pot, add milk, chicken stock and water.

2. Chop potatoes and cauliflower in small portions and place in liquid and bring to a boil. Add salt, black pepper, chopped celery, onions, thyme, scallion and any other seasoning of preference.

3. Cook for approximately 12 minutes or until fork tender.

4. Cool and then place in blender. Puree to the consistency you desire.

5. Sprinkle with cheese while soup is hot and top with crispy bacon and herb of choice.

Guys, I paired  my soup with poached eggs, tomato slices and crispy bacon on opened-face toasted rye with a spread of strawberry jam. They worked phenomenal. My taste buds were satisfied on this perfect day as this.

To say that I was happy is an understatement. Guys, was over the moon! Hmm, all I needed was a siesta. As always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

 

 

CARROT PANCAKES TO WARM THE STOMACH

Earlier on I checked out a fellow blogger, “Taste of Colors”. Just loved what they had to offer. You should check them out too as well. Anyway, one of the dishes that caught my eye was the carrot pancakes. Immediately, my ears went up. Already, I had the carrots; so, I went to work. For heaven’s sake, I had to eat lunch….perfect dish! Based on the other ingredients I had, I put my spin and tweaked it a bit. Loved the end result.

Ingredients:

  • Carrots (3)
  • Ginger grated (1tsp)
  • Honey (1tbsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/4tsp)
  • Flour (2 tbsp) [wholewheat/all-purpose)
  • Oil (canola/olive)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Egg (1 Large)
  • Sour cream (1tsp) for binding

Method:

1. Shred carrots on box grater along with ginger.

2. Sprinkle with flour, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In a bowl, I combine egg, sour cream, and honey (any other sweetener would be perfect.)

4. Combine all the ingredients and fold.

5. In a hot skillet, drizzle a little oil to cover the bottom of pan.

6. Form batter into preferred sizes. Then drop cakes in pan over low to medium heat and allow to fry for approximately four minutes per side. Aim for a crispy exterior.

7. Drain carrot cakes on paper towel.

8. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

Guys, I had a treat. The ginger was just the right balance and provided a beautiful bold, but not overpowering flavor. I was happy and so was my stomach.

 

 

HOW I STOCK MY PANTRY (CUPBOARD)

I don’t need all and sundry in my pantry. Moreover, I don’t have the space or the finance to stockpile unnecessary items. The fact is that the cost of groceries have increased tremendously in the last few years. As a result, it’s imperative that I try to purchase necessities when I shop for groceries.

Some of the non-perishables I like to have on hand are:

Canned Goods:

  1. Fish – I love to stock fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel. And because I reside in a hurricane locale, I seem to always have these go-to canned fish at my disposal. I’ve no problem utilizing them at breakfast, lunch and dinner (BLD).
  2. Beans – Whenever I’m strapped for precious time or I’m out of dried beans (package)I like to know that I have a few canned beans like pinto, red, lima, red, garbanzo (chickpeas), etc on hand.  Canned beans are excellent substitutes. Just like their dried counterparts, they are loaded with protein, fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
  3. Tomatoes – I love fresh and wholesome tomatoes. However, in conjunction, I like to stock canned tomatoes in the form of pureed, diced, and whole-skinned. I incorporate them in soups, sauces, and stews.

Pasta:

Who knows? I swear I may have a wee bit of Italian blood in my veins. I love pasta. My pantry is never without this carbohydrate. Without a doubt, it is a staple in my kitchen. I do try to stock the whole grain version as it does not spike my glucose level in my body. At any given week or day, my pantry may have one or two of: linguine, spaghetti, egg noodles or rigatoni.

Oils:

I keep my oils in the darkest section of the pantry. I try to stock canola for frying, olive for a quick stir-fry/sautay, and salads. I also love the exotic flavors of  coconut oil in my dishes; thus, I love to have a bottle on hand.

Vinegar:

Some of the vinegars I like to have in my pantry are:

  1. Balsamic – for a quick reduction so as to drizzle on salad or roasted veggies.
  2. Red wine – to add to a tasty home-made dressing.
  3. Distilled/Apple Cider- for pickles, etc.

I also try to stock these in a cool and dark area in the pantry.

Spices:

Some of the spices I like to have on hand are: dried basil, oregano, cumin, curry powder, all spice(pimento), nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and of course sea salt and pepper.

Dried goods:

Flour – wholewheat flour and all-purpose

Rice – wholegrain and Jasmine

Sugar – dark and granulated

Teabags

Cornmeal – excellent for a tasty turned cornmeal or polenta

Cereal – Oats, grits, cheerios

Having these basic supplies in my pantry give me great peace of mind. I know that I can pop in my kitchen and incorporate fresh and wholesome ingredients and food products and make me mouthwatering dishes.

HOW TO WORK MORE EFFICIENTLY IN THE KITCHEN AND GARNER MORE ‘PLAY’ TIME

Guys, I don’t know about you, but, I could use a few extra hours within my day. I use up hours commuting  back and forth work. That alone is work in itself. Before I know, there is virtually little time left over to attend to my fave past-time (cooking). Yes, for me, I call cooking a past-time. However, what I realize if I’m not careful,due to my very long hours commuting and working, it can become a chore.

Naturally, work is very important. That’s what brings home the ‘bacon’, literally and otherwise. As a result, I have to constantly figure out how to make my time worthwhile in the kitchen and simultaneously enjoy. I’m a bit weird. The thing is that sometimes although I’m exhausted, just the actual preparation and cooking of a meal can get me to a place of sheer joy where it unwinds me.

But, I have to be real; therefore, I try to incorporate ways to work more efficiently in my kitchenette. Some of the steps I’ve taken are:

1.  Before shopping, I try to plan the menu for at least four days of the week. A check is made of  supplies in pantry, refrigerator and freezer to determine a physical stock count. I don’t wish to be without an essential ingredient or food item while I’m involved in the cooking process.

2. Prepping of vegetables, meats, poultry save me precious time. When I bring home the supplies, I try to invest a few minutes to wash and chop veggies like celery, carrots, onions,etc.  Then, I place them in ziplock bags for when I need them later.

As for meats, If I purchase in bulk form, I try to allot some time to cut them down to smaller serving sizes. This move prevents me from defrosting an entire huge package which takes time and can sometimes lead to deterioration of meat/poultry/fish.

In regards to poultry (chicken), I trim extra fat and discard. I also chop and cut chicken in serving sizes. In addition, I often do a base-line seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic. Later on during the week, I’ll add the respective spices and other seasoning of choice.

3. Proximity of gadgets are vital to smooth and quick meals. It is best to place the chop board as close as possible to the stove so I can cut and drop in my skillet and pot. Moreover, the pots and pans that I use on a regular basis, I keep them in the oven or nearby as well.

Spices are very important in my meals. As such, I store them in a cool but close proximity to cooking area so that I can retrieve when needed.

Guys, for me, time equals $$$’s; therefore, it is imperative that I try to respect these hours. Lack of organization and preparation in the kitchen can lead to disruption in other areas of my life. It might seem a wee bit rigid; however, practicing certain habits can reap more joy and spontaneity in other areas of my life. And boy, don’t we all need more of that.