A RARE SPRING CLEANING DISCOVERY!! ##NATHAN’S BEEF FRANKS

I was in a spring cleaning kind of mood for my freezer. You see, overtime, I’ve developed a habit so as to keep me in check. Before I replenish my stock, I often do a stock count. When you’re working from a tight budget like I do it’s imperative to make this move before hitting the stores. I hate to duplicate when I could purchase a much-needed food item.

I never normally stock hot dogs; not that I don’t enjoy a great one once in a while. However, if I wish to indulge in one or two, I do so at an eatery with all the add-ons. Oh, I love relish, ketchup, onions and a little mustard. But anyway, I blame this on my nephew. He came to visit a few months ago. You know teenagers; he requested hot dogs, so I granted his wish and bought a package of Nathan’s beef franks.

We both devoured(well, he had most). Frankly, I thought they were all gone until I did a check of my freezer. I found them nestled in near to the ham bone. Now, that’s another story, I need to use that up. It must have been the brilliant sunshine on the outskirts. It looked and felt like summer at the beach.After all, this is South Florida. I decided to make a stir-fry meal from my franks over a bed of linguine pasta.

I grabbed a skillet and did a quick three to four-minute boil of the beef franks. Boy, they stood out, ready for action. I got excited. I chopped up some veggies:

MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR A STIR-FRY WITH NATHAN'S BEEF FRANKS/LINGUINE PASTA
MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR A STIR-FRY WITH NATHAN’S BEEF FRANKS/LINGUINE PASTA

I roughly chopped onions,bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, scallion and garlic. These were placed in a hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. I allowed them to soften and then added the cut-up franks.

STIR-FRIED FRANKS AND VEGGIES IN COOKING MOTION
STIR-FRIED FRANKS AND VEGGIES IN COOKING MOTION

I made sure to season along with black pepper, a small pinch of salt (bearing in mind that franks have added sodium), a squeeze of ketchup,dried thyme and a splash of red wine vinegar. When all ingredients were softened and ready, I added drained linguine pasta and allowed it to simmer on low heat for another five minutes.

Guys, I couldn’t wait to dig in. I served my Nathan’s beef franks with a garnish of cilantro herb I had on hand.(ideal choice; not overpowering). As expected, the franks were just right; not too salty. The veggies provided a great balance and still possessed a little crispness to them. Moreover, the linguine pasta was hearty and complemented the dish superbly. Who says I have to eat my ‘bad boys’ (franks) only outside? Hmmm, I was happy.

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A KALE AND PARSLEY RICE TO PAIR WITH ANY PROTEIN DISH

Whenever I go grocery shopping the antioxidant green food kale is a reoccurring item on my shopping list. Based on studies, kale also consists of cancer fighting properties, great for cardiovascular health and a host of other beneficial nutrients. I do try to use same in varied ways.

I love to combine  kale and berries in a tasty and refreshing smoothie. It’s excellent as a warm or cold salad. I even made a yummy serving of kale chips which turned out to be a tad overdone. Come to think of it, I need to take another stab at those chips.

So anyway, a couple of days ago, I found myself with a considerably amount of kale and decided to combine same with some parsley I had on hand. I thought they would be perfect companions. And bingo, I was right!

I love parsley. It’s full of vitamins and is ideal for flushing out excess fluid in the body.Studies have also stated that parsley aids in the lowering of blood pressure. Being in great company I decided to whip up my kale/parsley rice.  In a skillet, I did a quick saute of onions and crushed garlic and added kale to the mix with a pinch of salt and black pepper.

After cooling, I added kale to food processor along with a generous bunch of parsley.

KALE AND PARSLEY IN FOOD PROCESSOR
KALE AND PARSLEY IN FOOD PROCESSOR

The whole action reminded me of a pesto excluding the cheese and nuts. Anyway, I added a drizzle of olive oil and got a ‘pesto-like’ finish. I added same to a fluffy serving of whole grain rice along with a few raisins. All ingredients were combined and yielded an amazing dish. It was a brilliant and vibrant green hue with a contrasting whole grain rice. I had kale and parsley rice for quite a few protein dishes.

 

FRESH/FLIRTY SPRING TREATS ##POACHED EGGS/ASPARAGUS

It is so amazing how mother nature can transform herself. As the temperatures heat up around the globe, many will behold the winter’s thaw nourish the lawns and other places. This is a sure sign that spring is here and some of us will be planting the vegetable and flower gardens.

When it comes to the culinary side of things, our palates also go through a great transformation (well, I can say so myself). It’s like a spring cleaning within. As a result, we tend to go a tad lighter in our choices. Although we may cook the hearty stews and other dishes, we tend to incorporate a few healthier ingredients.

That was on my mind when I purchased some fresh asparagus. They remind me of spring. I was elated to get same because the prices were quite reasonable. I fetched close to a pound for $1.90. I did a quick blanch of them and warmed a drizzle of olive oil and crush garlic in a skillet. Asparagus spears were then placed in pan under low heat for a  couple of minutes so as to absorb all the great flavors.

I served asparagus with Easter’s popular food item (eggs). I continued the healthy mode by poaching  two large eggs. Eggs were cooked to a perfect finish with soft yolks (the way I like it). After draining eggs on paper towel, I drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and black pepper taste.

POACHED EGGS AND ASPARAGUS
POACHED EGGS AND ASPARAGUS

Guys, it’s springtime! Happy spring!

THE GOOD AND THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS ON VINO

 

Guys, there’s good news and there’s not so favorable news. Because I wish to end on a good note, I think I’ll begin with the unfavorable one first. I hate sour grapes, so I prefer to start with same….just to get them out-of-the-way.

Arsenic in Californian wines

Recent studies by a lab called BeverageGrades and two other labs have revealed that certain inexpensive wines  bottled by California vineyards have tested for levels of arsenic.  The question is how harmful are these amounts?

You see, based on studies done by scientists, arsenic is an element that is found in the earth which often seeps into the soil. Many of our ground provisions, crops (including grapes), juices, and water have this element which is deemed safe. For instance, in the United States, there’s a standard for the level of arsenic in water but none for wines.

Now, should we be concerned about these findings? Yes, we should. Should we stop drinking our favorite inexpensive wines? Hell no!! I say everything in moderation. I don’t know, there’s always bad news about food supplies. In recent times, we’ve heard about arsenic in rice and apple juice. What next?

Unspillable (No spill) wine glasses

Yippee! And unto something to cheer about. First it was unstemmed wine glasses, now it’s unspillable (no spill) wine glasses. For those of us who like to sometime lie around and basically ‘chill’ with a glass of vino, finally, we can do so without making a spill of that merlot or Pinot Grigio.

Amazon. com carries a Sempli line. If you desire you can have a lead-free crystal type which is hand blown (two in a box). The cost is about $52.00. Be careful though, these precious items have to be hand washed.

You know something, I labor tirelessly for my ‘bucks’ and I’m in no hurry to garner any of these unspillable glasses. I’m still trying to get use to these stemless ones that I have. What will they think of next? I reckon I’ll wait until these ‘no spill’ catch on. I’m in no rush. But, I must commend these guys for a good effort. I’ll fetch a few when the prices plummet.

Gosh, what’s wrong with an elegant and sexy wine glass with stem?

No Hangover!!

The latest is that vino lovers are in for a treat very soon. You see, scientists from the University of Illinois are feverishly working on eliminating the ‘root of all evil’ when it comes to hangovers in wines. I understand that sulfates are the compounds that are naturally found in wines that produce the awful hangovers.

Now, that’s some good news to celebrate about. Salud!! https://www.inquistir

TREADING ON THE LIGHT SIDE FOR SPRING #PAN-SEARED TARRAGON FLOUNDER/PUREED COCONUT CHICKPEAS

It might not be so in certain locales; however, the calendar is saying that’s springtime. In my neck of the woods, there’s no denying. The temperature on the outskirts are already several degrees up and at interval, there is that cool balance of breeze. For heaven’s sake, even my orchid is acknowledging the changing of the ‘baton’. It has bloomed!

ORCHID IN BLOOM FOR SPRING
ORCHID IN BLOOM FOR SPRING

So, in honor of spring, I’ve decided (well, my palate and I) to go on the lighter side of things. After all, I’ll be wearing a little less during these warm months; therefore, it’s imperative that I start making wiser choices.

As a result, I decided to make use of a stock pantry item, chickpeas (garbanzo). In a small stockpot, I softened a chopped onions along with garlic. To that I added fresh coconut milk along with chicken broth. I made sure to season with salt and pepper to taste along with a pinch of curry powder. All ingredients were simmered on low to medium heat. Then, drained chickpeas were added.

When most of the liquid was evaporated,  chickpeas were cooled and placed in standing blender. These were brought to a pureed finish dish. On this delicious bed of protein/fiber packed dish I added a couple of pieces of pan-seared tarragon flounder.

FLOUNDER FOR SEARING WITH TARRAGON/BUTTER
FLOUNDER FOR SEARING WITH TARRAGON/BUTTER

Fish was seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Then, fish pieces were lightly coated on one side with bread crumbs and seared in olive oil, butter, lemon and tarragon herb.

PAN-SEARED FLOUNDER
PAN-SEARED FLOUNDER

Flounder pieces were topped with caramelized onions with a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar. To my dish I also added some garlic/butter spears of asparagus after they were quickly blanched.

FINISHED DISH OF PAN-SEARED TARRAGON FLOUNDER ON A BED OF PUREED CHICKPEAS AND SERVING OF ASPARAGUS
FINISHED DISH OF PAN-SEARED TARRAGON FLOUNDER ON A BED OF PUREED CHICKPEAS AND SERVING OF ASPARAGUS

To finish the dish, a few whole chickpeas were tossed on top. All ingredients, spices and herb complimented the dish in a huge way. Moreover, I was satiated for hours. Hurray, for spring!

 

 

NO PLAIN BALLS FOR ME! ##JERK TURKEY BALLS!!

It has been quite a while since I’ve consumed the feathery one in the form of chopped turkey. You see, I’ve been quite busy ‘surfing’ with salmon, shrimp and other seafood. So, since I’m back on the turf-side of things I thought I would pay a much-needed visit to dear turkey.

I’m an equal opportunity kind of gal; so, I thought I would apply some of the treatment I generally dole out to chicken and meat and render same to some chopped turkey. There’s no doubt, I love a good dish of jerk chicken. So, seeing that turkey is from the poultry family, I thought I would go there with my balls (jerk turkey balls). And, that’s what I did.

Because turkey breast is somewhat bland, I decided to infuse added flavors and spices in order to make my balls standout. No deflated balls for yours truly. As a result, some of the ingredients that were added were:

FINELY CHOPPED SAUTEED VEGGIES FOR JERK TURKEY BALLS
FINELY CHOPPED SAUTEED VEGGIES FOR JERK TURKEY BALLS

Ingredients:

  • Jerk sauce – 1 teaspoon (a little goes a far way)
  • Celery – 2 stalks
  • Carrot – 1 large
  • Scallion – 1 stalk
  • Onion – 1 medium
  • Ketchup/paste – 1 tablespoon
  • Soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
  • Eggs – 2 medium
  • Olive oil for browning
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
  • Dried Basil – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Thyme – 1 teaspoon
  • Parsley – 2 tablespoon
  • Bread crumbs – 1/2 cup

Method:

  1. Vegetables were finely chopped and softened in a drizzle of olive oil. Then cooled.
  2. Cooled veggies were added to chopped turkey along with jerk sauce and squeeze of ketchup.
  3. In addition to black pepper, pinch of dried basil, finely chopped parsley,eggs, bread crumbs were added and folded without overworking .
  4. Balls were made and placed inside refrigerator in order to set.
  5. After balls came to room temperature, they were browned in skillet with a few teaspoon of olive oil. Then, they were placed in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes so as to be cook internally.
  6. After completion in oven, turkey balls were drizzled with sweet and sour sauce and topped with julienned veggies that were stir-fried and soaked in sweet/sour sauce.

Jerk turkey balls were served over a bed of steamed Jasmine rice cooked in chicken broth and a pat of butter. The sweet and sour provided a beautiful contrast to the spicy jerk turkey balls. Moreover, the veggies had a delicious crispness to them.

JERK TURKEY BALLS ON A BED OF JASMINE RICE TOPPED WITH SWEET/SOUR VEGGIES
JERK TURKEY BALLS ON A BED OF JASMINE RICE TOPPED WITH SWEET/SOUR VEGGIES

Jerk sauce can be purchased at any Caribbean (especially Jamaican) store as well as some supermarkets in the international/ethnic aisle. In regards to the sweet and sour sauce, I also got a little help from the store-bought version. To that I added a few ingredients of my own in the form of ketchup, honey, grated ginger, soy sauce and salt, black pepper.

LUNCH WAS QUITE A CHEESY ONE #CHEESY SCRAMBLED EGGS/BREAD

I  was in quite a cheesy mood today and I didn’t mind. You see, I’ve never indulged in a cheese bread before. So, it was out sheer curiosity that I bought a loaf of this bread. It looked very appealing, a tad shiny and soft to the eyes from a few feet away. Just as I thought, on feeling same, it was soft and looked even more delicious.

Took home the specimen and couldn’t wait to partake. As a matter a fact, I started nibbling from one of the ends and it was super tasty and loaded with cheddar cheese. I had to pull myself away.  I grabbed me a couple of eggs and did a quick scramble in a hot skillet. I made sure to add a little chopped parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

I slowly folded my eggs under low heat. That scramble egg needed no liquid in the form of water or milk. I like to have my eggs stand on their own. After my eggs were cooked with a soft finish,( hate rubbery eggs) I pulled skillet from the burner and added a little shredded cheddar cheese.

My cheesy plate was served with sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper along with nature’s butter (avocado). A cool cantaloupe drink completed my  cheesy and simple meal.

ALL I NEEDED WAS A PIECE OF IRISH SODA BREAD#SHEPARD’S PIE

It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without an Irish dish. And what better way to get a snippet of good luck than with a generous wedge of Shepard’s pie. If you don’t have chopped lamb or beef, don’t sweat it. Shhhh, I used some Italian spicy sausage I had on hand. What was I going do? Have you seen the prices? There was no way I was going to purchase lamb or beef for those prices.

Rendered my sausage pieces in a hot skillet and set aside. Then, I added a mixed vegetables both fresh and frozen and made sure to season with salt, black pepper, dried basil and a few sprigs of thyme. Added back my sausage pieces then covered with smooth and buttery Irish mashed potatoes.

With a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, light bread crumbs and drizzle of olive oil, I baked my Shepard’s for at 350 degrees until all the cheese melted and pie was set. When I cut in it, oh, it was all so succulent and delicious. All those ingredients released delicious and superb gravy. I’m quite sure an Irish chap would just lap it up with a chunk of soda bread and do the River Dance. And guess what? I think he wouldn’t mind the Italian sausage.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

JUST IN TIME FOR ST. PADDY’S DAY ##A REFRESHING CUCUMBER DELIGHT

Once again, it’s that time of the year. Yes guy, it’s St. Patrick’s Day again. Although it wasn’t officially the day over the week-end, that didn’t stop enthusiasts to celebrate the luck of the Irish in the street parades. The bars and the eateries were loaded with all the Irish dishes and green drinks to attract customers.

So to acknowledge and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve made a cucumber juice to set off the official day. It’s made up basically of fresh cucumber slices, the juice of limes along with cold water. All ingredients were placed in a standing blender and I had a healthy green drink for this day and  anytime of year.

To make this drink even more amazing is to input a shot of vodka and serve same over cracked ice. Now, that would make one do the ‘River dance’. Salud!Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

LAST NIGHT’S SUPPER #TARRAGON-SPICED PORK STEAK AND ROASTED APPLES/CARROTS

Still have a supply of tarragon in my herb collection.  I’ve been infusing this nutrient packed herb in my dishes for quite a few days. This slender and somewhat sweet herb  was excellent in my chicken dish and once again, it has performed a great job on my pork steak. With the aid of a few other ingredients like ginger, onions, salt, pepper,garlic, etc. I was able to pull off an amazing tarragon-spiced dish stove top.

In the culinary world, pork and apples are ideal partners. Thus, I decided to combine both by roasting a couple of red delicious apples cut in slices along with carrot wedges. With a drizzle of olive oil a sprinkle of cinnamon, pinch of salt and chopped tarragon, apples and carrots were roasted at 410 degrees for about 40 minutes. The result was a sweet and tart finish.

ROASTED APPLES/CARROTS
ROASTED APPLES/CARROTS

Tarragon-spiced pork, roasted apples,and carrots were served with a side of kale/parsley rice. The union was superb.