A SWEET MANGO SALSA TO TEMPER MY SPICY THIGHS ##GRILLED JERK THIGHS AND MANGO SALSA

I guess island life was on my mind when I embarked on cooking supper earlier on. I’m not a huge lover of mango; however, I do like same in a salsa or drink. I got this golden/yellow one that I placed in the refrigerator to stop the ripening process. Having a few ingredients on hand like jalapeno, tomatoes, limes, avocado, etc., I decided to make me a mango salsa my style.

MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR MANGO SALSA
MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR MANGO SALSA

With a little dicing and cutting, I assembled my ‘sunshine’ in a margarita glass. This was placed in refrigerator for chilling.

MANGO SALSA
MANGO SALSA

Chicken thighs were marinated overnight with a drizzle of canola oil so as to hold seasoning. Then salt, black pepper, grated onion, crushed garlic, thyme, and of course jerk sauce were added. marinated chicken thighs were brought to room temperature. Then, thighs were dried with paper towel and brushed with olive oil. On hot grill over medium to high heat, thighs were grilled for approximately five minutes per side so as to seal in flavors and visible marks.

GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS READY FOR ROASTING
GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS READY FOR ROASTING

After brushing chicken with a blend of jerk sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar, this was placed in oven at 390 degrees for roasting for another thirty minutes.

Grilled jerk chicken thighs were served with roasted sweet potato wedges along with mango salsa. The combination was quite spectacular. The flavors were huge. The ingredients in the salsa yielded a  sweet, tart, slight spicy finish. And of course, the sweet and crispy sweet potatoes wedges provided a sweet counter-balance to the spicy jerk chicken.

FINISH DISH OF GRILLED JERK CHICKEN THIGHS, MANGO SALSA AND SWEET POTATO WEDGES
FINISHED DISH OF GRILLED JERK CHICKEN THIGHS WITH EXTRA SAUCE, MANGO SALSA AND SWEET POTATO WEDGES

Guys, I was in Jamaican heaven! Yeah mon!

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WARM WEATHER QUENCHER ##WATERMELON SALAD

There’s no denying, summer temperatures are already present. And when the reading on the thermostat takes a nose-dive I know that it’s time to adjust my culinary habits. During this period, I seek dishes that are light, easy and tasty. I don’t wish to be laboring endlessly in front of a stove. Gone are the heavy stews and soups and in comes the quick and easy meals.

So, the previous day when beads of sweat were making their way down my forehead, I fetched a sizable piece of watermelon at the store. Although I wasn’t happy with the price, I brought it home anyway. Just beholding this summer goodness, brought back childhood memories in Jamaica.The watermelon truck used to enter our neighborhood with several melons that were huge, sweet, juicy and super-red. And the prices were a ‘steal’. I can still picture the sweet and sticky juices running down me and my siblings’ arms.

It was lunch time and I didn’t have the craving for sandwich, soup or anything else. At the corner of my eye I spotted some vine-ripe tomatoes I had bought a few days before. Immediately I decided to make me a salad. A salad without the typical lettuce and cucumber. Thus, I came up with a sweet and savory one, watermelon salad.

I reached for tomatoes, strawberries, parsley and of course, watermelon. I sliced all these beautiful fruits and tore fresh herb (parsley) in the mix. The juices flowed with glee all over the platter. I seasoned with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Though a citrus/olive oil dressing would be okay; I opted to use none. To me, there was no need for a salad dressing. At that juncture, I tossed in crumbled feta cheese I had on hand.

Guys, the contrasting sweet, sour, tart, salty flavors were absolutely divine and simultaneously refreshing. My taste buds were very satisfied. I know I’ll make a revisit very soon.

A HAPPY HEART BEAT #OLD FASHIONED OATMEAL WITH FLAX SEEDS AND BERRIES

It was quite a heart healthy kind of morning for yours truly. Already my heart was skipping and in a joyful mood from my morning workout. Thus, I wanted to keep same going. With endorphins kicking, I made my way to my kitchenette poured some old-fashioned oatmeal in a small stockpot along with some whole milk. To that I added a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, a few raisins for added fiber, and a splash of vanilla.

I love oatmeal because it keeps me satiated for hours. Moreover, based on studies, this whole grain is excellent for good heart health. In addition, a sprinkle of cinnamon is ideal to keep my blood sugar balance. With these health reasons in mind I simmered oatmeal on low heat until it came to the right consistency I needed. This was then sweetened with a teaspoon of dark sugar bearing in mind that the raisins also provided added sugar.

I further gained more heart health by topping with a sprinkle of powdered flax seeds. Also, I added  toppings of blue berries and strawberries. To say that I was happy is an understatement; I was over the moon.

NO TOSSING OF MY CHICKEN BACK PARTS ##CHICKEN BACK SOUP WITH CORN/PUMPKIN

When it comes to utilizing a whole chicken, I’m first in line. Nothing goes to waste for yours truly. So, I had previously made chicken dishes from the dark and white portions. As a matter of fact, it was just a couple of days ago I had the left-overs of a super delicious curried chicken dish. Oh, I’m still salivating in that goodness.

I love the necks and back bones of the dear bird. I do think they make the most aromatic and tasty soups, gravies and broths. Frankly, I prefer to use these parts when I cook a  chicken soup. Originally, I had a chicken broth in mind; however, when I went shopping, I couldn’t help myself after spotting those corns on the cob. I decided to make a chicken back soup consisting of corn on the cob. Corns are plentiful on the market. And I fetched five of the yellow/golden wonders for $1.50.

Already, I had all the other ingredients:

  • Pumpkin (squash)
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Scallion
  • Bouillon cube (veggie flavor)
  • Chicken noodle soup mix
  • Scotch bonnet pepper

It was going to be a back to basic sort of dish. You see, over the years, I’ve devoured several chicken back soups; so I knew exactly my plan of action.

SOME OF THE VEGETABLE INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN BACK SOUP
SOME OF THE VEGGIE INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN BACK SOUP

Method:

  1. The skin and excess fatty parts were removed from chicken back parts. Then they were scalded with boiling water for a few minutes, drained and set aside.
  2. In a sturdy stock pot, a drizzle of olive oil was added. To that, diced carrots, onions, celery and bell pepper were added. Chicken parts were then added along with a seasoning of salt, black pepper, and crushed garlic.
  3. All ingredients were blended for approximately five minutes. Then roughly chopped pumpkin pieces were added along with thyme, bouillon cube,crushed pimento (all spice) and chopped pieces of corn on the cob.
  4. Cold tap water was then added to cover all the ingredients under low to medium heat with lid on.
  5. When pumpkin pieces were tender, these were removed and crushed with fork. Crushed pumpkin was added back to pot.
  6. After tasting, extra seasonings were added along with chicken noodle powder mix.
  7. This simmered under low heat until soup acquired the preferred consistency.
  8. Chopped scallion,parsley and scotch bonnet pepper were used to garnish.

My chicken back soup was chock full of amazing flavors. The corn was sweet and still possessed its crispness. I didn’t evade my chicken back bones. I removed the pieces of flesh and sucked on the bones. The scotch bonnet pepper was visible but not overpowering. All the aromatic flavors became one. It warmed my palate and stomach in a beautiful way. Moreover, it brought back childhood memories of when things were simple and foods were wholesome.

RECIPE FOR SWEET POTATO PATTIES

The ingredients for sweet potato patties are:

  • Sweet potatoes (2 med)
  • Bread crumbs (2 table spoon)
  • Salt (a pinch)
  • Cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Honey (1 teaspoon or sprinkle of sugar) (optional)
  • Whole wheat flour (3 table spoon)
  •  Canola oil to cover the bottom of skillet

Method:

  1. Scrub potatoes with brush, dry and then use a fork to prick
  2. Bake in microwave oven for approximately 7 to 8 minutes depending on temperature of oven. Turn once half-way during cooking period.
  3. When potatoes are cooled, remove skin. Then add potatoes to bowl. Use fork to smash potatoes.
  4. Add sprinkle of cinnamon, salt, honey, and bread crumbs and combine. Don’t over mix.
  5. Place whole wheat flour on plate.
  6. Form patties to required sizes and lightly dredge each patty through flour.SWEET POTATO PATTIES READY FOR HOT SKILLET
  7. Add oil to skillet under low to medium heat. Pan fry patties on each side until they are  golden brown and crispy on the outside.
  8. Drain excess oil from patties on paper towel.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with any protein of choice or as a snack with a dollop of sour cream or apple sauce.
    GRILLED SALMON AND SWEET POTATO PATTIES
    GRILLED SALMON AND SWEET POTATO PATTIES

    Bon appetit!

PERFECT CULINARY BEDFELLOWS #GRILLED SALMON AND SWEET POTATO PATTIES

I’ve experienced both  repeatedly. I love them because they keep me satiated for hours. Moreover, when I’m in a state of rush, they take minutes to prepare and cook delicious dishes. I guess that’s why after a hectic day on the grind, I chose to make yours truly a salmon and sweet potato meal. In addition, based on studies, salmon is an oily fish that has loads of omega fatty acids that are excellent for heart health. And sweet potatoes are perfect to keep the glucose level within the body at an even keel.

With those health factors in mind, I decided to prepare a dish that would reintroduce and surprise these foods to my palate. I just didn’t wish to have baked potatoes and broiled salmon as I would sometime enjoy. I wanted something different that would whet my taste buds and soothe my stomach.

So, I decided on sweet potato patties and grilled salmon with a tantalizing and refreshing glaze of citrus and honey. I gave a quick scrub to my potatoes, dried and pricked them. I would I’ve preferred to bake them in a conventional oven to garner more sweetness; however, your truly didn’t have the time. Thus, they were baked in the micro-wave.

MICRO-WAVE BAKED POTATOES AND SEASONED SALMON
MICRO-WAVE BAKED POTATOES AND SEASONED SALMON

I did a quick seasoning of salmon with salt, black pepper and crushed garlic. Grill pan was heated under low to medium heat. The garlic was removed from salmon. Fish was dried and brushed with a little olive oil; then placed on the grill for approximately three to four minutes on each side.

GRILLED SALMON READY FOR GLAZE AND BROILER
GRILLED SALMON READY FOR GLAZE AND BROILER

Salmon slices were brushed with citrus and honey glaze with a few capers and allowed to rest for a few minutes for glaze to soak in. This was placed on a baking sheet with thin pieces of lemon.  Salmon was then placed under broiler for another seven minutes for completion which developed a beautiful crust.

The skin was removed from sweet potatoes. Then, these were smashed with a fork. To that, I added a pinch of salt, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, Japanese bread crumbs and a teaspoon of honey. Patties were formed then lightly dredged in whole wheat flour.

SWEET POTATO PATTIES READY FOR HOT SKILLET
SWEET POTATO PATTIES READY FOR HOT SKILLET

Under a low to medium heat, a combination of canola and olive oil was placed in skillet. Patties were placed in skillet and browned on both sides. They emitted warm and inviting aromas. It smelled like Thanksgiving in May.

GOLDEN BROWN SWEET POTATO PATTIES
GOLDEN BROWN SWEET POTATO PATTIES

Patties were drained on paper towel so as to remove residual grease. These golden wonders were served with their ideal bedfellow of grilled citrus/honey salmon. On the side,sliced tomatoes from the vine along with nature’s butter (avocado) were sprinkled with salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

FINISHED DISH: GRILLED CITRUS/HONEY SALMON WITH A TOPPING OF CAPERS/LEMON, SWEET POTATO PATTIES AND SIDES OF AVOCADO AND TOMATO SLICES
FINISHED DISH: GRILLED CITRUS/HONEY SALMON WITH A TOPPING OF CAPERS/LEMON, SWEET POTATO PATTIES AND SIDES OF AVOCADO AND TOMATO SLICES

IT WAS AN ITALIAN SURF/TURF AFFAIR #GRILLED EGGPLANT/SHRIMP AND ROASTED CHICKEN WINGLETS

It didn’t take me long to decide on what to prepare and cook for supper. You see, already I had tomatoes (vine-ripe/plummy) perched onto of my counter. With a quick stretch, I fetched my smooth and shiny eggplant along with olives, capers, onions, scallion. I allowed my cutting board and chef’s knife to do the talking and chopped they did.

PREPPING FOR HOME-MADE MARINARA SAUCE
PREPPING FOR HOME-MADE MARINARA SAUCE

In a small sauce pan, a drizzle of olive oil was added. Then, onions were sautéed making sure to season along with salt and black pepper, dried oregano, and basil. Tomatoes were then tossed in along with crushed garlic, chopped olives, capers, thyme, pinch of sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar. Sauce simmered on low heat until finished.

SIMMERING MARINARA SAUCE
SIMMERING MARINARA SAUCE

Eggplant was sliced and sprinkled with a pinch of salt in order to extract any bitter taste.

SLICED EGGPLANT READY FOR GRILL
SLICED EGGPLANT READY FOR GRILL WITH MARINARA SAUCE

After brushing slices of eggplant with olive oil, these were placed on heated grill pan for cooking.

EGGPLANT ON GRILL ALONG WITH MARINARA SAUCE ON SIDE
EGGPLANT ON GRILL ALONG WITH MARINARA SAUCE ON SIDE

Grilled eggplant slices were topped with fresh marinara sauce and feta cheese with a garnish of fresh parsley.

Seasoned shrimp was brought to room. Previously, this was seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and crushed garlic. Garlic was removed and shrimp was drizzled with a little olive oil. Shrimp was placed on grill for approximately two minutes on each side. Then each shrimp was brushed with a glaze made up of lemon, orange juice, honey and a pinch of salt.

CITRUS-HONEY GLAZED SHRIMP
CITRUS-HONEY GLAZED SHRIMP

Chicken winglets were seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, black pepper, crushed garlic along with a splash of soy sauce at least four hours beforehand. These were then brought to room temperature then placed on a foiled baking sheet for roasting.

Chicken roasted in oven at 380 degrees for approximately 40 minutes turning once. Chicken winglets were brushed with similar citrus and honey glaze. Then, an additional ten minutes were added at a temperature of 400 degrees.

COMPLETE DISHES WITH EXTRA MARINARA SAUCE FOR DIPPING ON THE SIDE
COMPLETE DISHES WITH EXTRA MARINARA SAUCE FOR DIPPING ON THE SIDE

TIPS FOR FOOD PREPARATIONS/SUPPLIES FOR THE HURRICANE SEASON

As we enter the peak of the hurricane season and continue to watch Tropical storm Erika, I’ve decided to reblog a previous post I did on the onset of the season. I think it’s relevant then and moreso now.Be prepared.

“The merry month of May made its rapid exit, and in comes the month of June.  I can’t help but to ponder what lies ahead. I hate to be the bearer of bad news; however, its reality. Like it or not, but the hurricane season officially begins June through November. Needless to say, mother nature sometimes says otherwise. Thus, a hurricane can develop outside this period as long as the weather conditions are suitable for same.

For those who reside in the typical hurricane regions, this period can leave them anxious, stressed and fearful especially when it comes to securing necessary food supplies. But, there is no need to be stressed. With a little planning and preparation in advance, anxieties and fears can be abated. Waiting to shop for food and other supplies when a hurricane  strikes isn’t the way to go. It’s imperative that a list is prepared and the supplies are purchased in advance or as soon as possible.

Shopping early will enable you to secure competitive rates as the supplies will be plentiful. This move will enable you to shop with ease, calm and comfort. Do remember that perishables are not your aim in view. Some of the main non-perishable food supplies to secure are:

Non-perishables:

  • Water – for drinking, it is recommended that one gallon, per person, per day
  • Canned fish – sardines, tuna, salmon
  • Canned meats/poultry – corned beef, chicken
  • Canned beans – lima, red, black, garbanzo, etc.
  • Canned vegetables – carrot, green peas, corn, creamed corn, etc.
  • Canned soups
  • Peanut butter
  • Fruit preserves or jams
  • Crackers, bread, rolls,cakes,nuts, etc.
  • Dried milk
  • Dried cereal

Apparatus:

  • Manual can opener – great for those cans that don’t have flip-up lids
  • Ice cooler – ice could be purchased and preserve so as to keep drinks and water cool for hours until power returns
  • Disposable utensils – plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, etc.
  • Sanitary wipes and extra paper towels
  • Hot plate that uses small propane tank. This is excellent for heating water, soups or quick meals.
  • Charcoal or propane gas for outdoor grill – If you are lucky to have a backyard or outdoor grill, this is ‘king’ after a hurricane season.

How to cook and preserve foods:

Some of the ways to preserve and lengthen the shelf life of your foods during the hurricane season are:

  • Pickle vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, etc. This is done by using vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices. Pickled foods can survive without refrigeration for a certain time period. Place in bottles and other containers.
  • If you have fish in the freezer before the hurricane strikes,  try making  a Jamaican escoveitched fish dish. This can remain on the counter for days without refrigeration.  This involves frying fish and making a pickle consisting of root veggies, spices, vinegar, seasonings, etc. and spreading generously over fish.

Before Storm arrives and day of storm:

  • Turn down the thermostat in fridge to the lowest
  • Make extra ice by emptying trays/containers into plastic bags and make room for setting more.
  • Fill up all available containers like pots, pans, etc for drinking,  prepping, washing and cooking of foods.
  • When electric power shuts off, avoid opening the fridge unless needed.

Without a doubt, before, during and after a hurricane, it can leave one frazzled and stressed when it comes to prepping and planning for food supplies. However, with the above tips and others, one can be reassured that there will be enough to keep you satiated throughout the season.

DRUNKEN ROASTED CHICKEN AND POTATOES ##HEINEKEN/HERBS

I admit it; over the years, I’ve never been a big lover of beer. Oddly enough, I usually enjoy a bottle or can when the temperatures are sizzling on the outskirts and I’m busily doing manual work at home. That’s when I’m sweating and I can guzzle down a very cool bottle. It has to be icy cold otherwise, I become unenthusiastic about same.

So anyway, the temperatures have been skyrocketing in my neck of the woods for sometime. As a matter a fact, we were close to triple digits for a few days. Welcome to South Florida guys; that’s what sometimes occur in this locale in springtime. It feels like the good and lazy days of summer.

With beads of sweat gathering on my brow, somehow I gravitated towards the beer aisle. At first instinct, I wanted to grab Red Stripe beer; however, the store only offered twelve pack. What the was I doing with a  twelve pack of beer? Of course, I made a bee-line for the Heineken. It carried six in a pack. I could rock that; so, I did.

It didn’t take me long to devour a bottle. I was in a celebratory kind of mood; cooking a snapper fish. Perfect for seafood. Anyway fast forward today, (Sunday), though I wasn’t  cleaning and working up a sweat, I decided to sip on one. Bad idea. You see, I didn’t drink fast enough and room temperature took over.  Pretty soon an idea came to mind. There and then I decided to use up the other half of my beer on my roasted chicken. The previous night, I had placed the dark portions in a marinade of herbs (parsley/thyme), crushed garlic, lemon, olive oil along with salt and black pepper.

Chicken was brought to room temperature. Then, I placed same on a greased baking sheet along with some roughly chopped red potatoes and carrots. Sheet pan was placed in heated oven at a temperature of 390 degrees for approximately 45 to 50 minutes.

CHICKEN AND POTATOES READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN
CHICKEN AND POTATOES READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN

In a small sauce pot, I added half bottle of beer with a squeeze of honey and ketchup. I allowed this to simmer for a few minutes under low heat. Then, this was drizzled on chicken parts about 20 minutes before the end of cooking time. This helped to create an aromatic and succulent sauce that co-mingled with the root veggies. Everything was happy and smelled amazing.

At the last five minutes into cooking, oven temperature was increase to 400 degrees so as to provide a more caramelizing effect of the honey, hops, and malted barley. Guys, I served my drunken roasted chicken and potatoes with the other balance of Heineken beer. Oh, I was on cloud nine.