DRUNKEN BOSC PEAR #JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN

One of fall’s favorite harvest treats is pears. And, I fetched a couple from the Bosc variety. I allowed same to ripen on top of my counter. As soon as they started to release all the warm and wonderful aromas of fall, I decided to place them in refrigerator for chilling. Also, this move is great for stopping the ripening process.

I couldn’t help myself; so I peeled one and devoured its sweetness with a few pieces of cheddar cheese. Although it was mature, it held its natural formation. As a result, I decided to simmer its counterpart in a cup of left-over Merlot wine.

With just a cup of the rich Merlot and a drizzle  of honey, I allowed pear to simmer under low heat. In approximately 20 minutes, it absorbed all the burgundy, sour/sweet flavors. The sauce reduced and developed a thick and sweet finish. I used some to drizzle around fruit.

After cooling,  pear was placed in refrigerator for chilling. I’ll consume as is or pair same with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I can’t wait. Salud!

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NATURE’S DAILY DOSE #BEET ROOT/GINGER ROOT/CARROT JUICE

Whenever I can, I try to incorporate wholesome ingredients and foods in my daily dietary plan. And, one way I like to do so is through the juicing of fresh fruits and vegetables. I can never get tired of combining beet root, ginger root and carrots. To give an extra punch I like to add fresh citrus juice in the form of lemons and limes.

For me, there’s no need to add sugar as these root vegetables are loaded with their natural sweetness. Moreover, they are packed with beneficial fibers, beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals and a host of other nutrients that are great for the body.

My digestive system will be super-happy for the entire week. It will be leaping with joy. Salud!

PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF WITH A HINT OF BRANDY

It was quite a treat to use up one of autumn’s favorite foods. I did so in the form of a pumpkin and carrot loaf. During the fall months, I like to have on hand a package or two of frozen pumpkins. These are handy for pancakes, waffles, cupcakes and soups.

Today I decided to make a warm pumpkin loaf. But, I also incorporated shredded carrots which turned out to be perfect partners as they provided an extra sweetness to the loaf. I allowed my food processor to do a quick shred of the carrots; however, a grater could also be used.

SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin (1 cup)
  • Shredded carrots (1 cup)
  • Whole-wheat flour (1 cup)
  • All-purpose flour (1/2 cup)
  • Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Baking soda (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Canola oil (1/2 cup)
  • Egg (2 large)
  • Dark sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Brandy (splash) (optional)

Method:

  1. Cream oil and sugar.
  2. Add beaten eggs along with lemon juice and vanilla.
  3. Fold in dry ingredients.
  4. Add and fold in pumpkin, carrots, raisins along with splash of brandy.

    BATTER FOR PUMPKIN AND CARROT LOAF
    BATTER FOR PUMPKIN AND CARROT LOAF
  5. Place in greased loaf dish.

    PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF READY FOR OVEN
    PUMPKIN/CARROT LOAF READY FOR OVEN
  6. Bake in pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately one hour or with a clean tooth pick test.

Loaf was a moist and sweet (not overly) treat. From my observations, baking with frozen pumpkin can sometime leave an after taste to the palate; however, incorporating the carrots eradicated this and gave a beautiful balance.

SHRIMP IN A CURRY/COCONUT SAUCE

Supper was a rather quick and easy affair. It’s so convenient when all the ingredients and culinary ‘players’ are at your finger tips. I allowed the stored coconut milk to jump-start my curry/coconut sauce. Milk was simmered on low heat for a few minutes with a sprinkle of curry powder. Sauce was then seasoned with salt, black pepper to taste along with crushed garlic, diced onions, bell peppers and finely chopped scotch bonnet peppers.

As soon as sauce arrived at the right consistency, seasoned shrimp was added to sauce. I made sure to keep an eagle’s eye out for my seafood as same only needed just a couple of minutes on both sides. Skillet was removed from burner and all the goodness from the sauce was soaked up by the shrimp.

Curry/coconut shrimp was served with some left-over steamed Jasmine rice along with some roasted pumpkin pieces and onions. Nature’s butter (avocado) became part of the whole dish. It provided a smooth finish and temper the spicy shrimp dish.

THE DANCES OF THE TREES SENT ME COOKING #CHICKEN/PUMPKIN SOUP

Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that it’s time to make that switch. She does so by orchestrating the beautiful trees within our midst. As they sway and perform their dances, we know it’s that time of year; a time when the air is dry and a little crispy.

For me, it’s the perfect indicator to head to my kitchen and pamper this stomach and palate of mine. And, what better way to warm and care for my culinary needs than with some chicken, pumpkin, assorted vegetables and spices all in a stockpot in the form of soup.

SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN/VEGGIE SOUP
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN/VEGGIE SOUP

I love soup because it is very satisfying and healthy. This one pot wonder is loaded with nutrients such as, protein from the chicken, and large amounts of vitamins, mineral, fibers and other beneficial nutrients that are great for the body.

I didn’t need a large amount of chicken to ‘kick-off’ my chicken and veggie soup. I used the dark portions of the chicken. I would’ve also preferred the backbone and other bony sections of the fowl; however, I rolled with what I had on hand. I chopped a couple of drumsticks and thigh in small portions. I seasoned with a salt and black pepper and seared these for a few minutes in a sturdy stock pot with a drizzle of olive oil.

To that, I added chopped onions, carrots, pumpkin pieces, and other root veggies. These were combined and coated with the warmth of the chicken pieces. I made sure to season along with salt and black pepper. Cold tap water was added to cover same and allowed to come to a boil. Then stove was turned down to a low to medium for a simmering effect.  Garlic, thyme, rosemary, pimento (all spices) were added.

After pumpkin pieces were fork tender, these were removed from soup and cooled. Then they were added to standing blender and pureed and added back to soup. At this point, okra, scallion, Grace chicken noodle Cock (packaged) soup mix were added to soup. Additional seasoning and herbs were added after taste test.

Soup was simmered on low heat for approximately fifteen minutes until the right consistency was had. Soup was served warm. I know I shall revisiting this dish throughout the cool months of the year.

FRITTATA WITH A TWIST #RITZ CRACKERS

Breakfast was quite a protein-packed affair. I was in the mood for something super-filling and nutritious. All roads led me to my handy cast iron skillet. It has been sometime since I last used. With eggs sitting at room temperature, I had a perfect dish in my mind. Decided to make a frittata.

I love frittatas because they are versatile and satisfying. As a result, they can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Moreover, one can have a free-hand with it. And, that’s what I did. I decided to incorporate the following which included Ritz crackers:

SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR FRITTATA
SOME OF THE MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR FRITTATA

Method:( Both stove-top/oven were used)

  1. In a bowl, eggs were beaten with a splash of milk and seasoned with salt and black pepper to taste.
  2. All vegetables were added to batter along with shredded cheddar cheese.
  3. In hot cast iron skillet, a drizzle of olive oil was added along with a pat of butter. Finely chopped onions were added for softening.
  4. Batter was added under low heat to allow bottom to set.
  5. After approximately four to five minutes, this was placed in pre-heated 320 degree oven for another five minutes after adding left-over grated cheese.

    FRITTATA
    FRITTATA READY FOR OVEN
  6. Dish was placed under the broiler for another two minutes to melt cheese.

    FRITTATA (FINISHED DISH)
    FRITTATA (FINISHED DISH)

I DIDN’T HAVE TO REAR MY CHICKENS #CURRIED CHICKEN

That’s it! I’m going start rearing my own chickens. I certainly wish I could. Sad to state it’s not conducive with my present living space. However, back then as a child when I resided on my island domain, Jamaica, possibilities were and are still endless.  I did (well, my entire family reared chickens).

It’s funny how cooking a dish can bring back memories. I do think I indulge in a chicken dish almost daily. I love it grilled, baked, fried, in soup or any other way. And, one of the favorite ways I love to consume chicken is to curry same. So, it was in a heart’s beat that I chopped up my chicken thighs and drumsticks for a succulent curried dish.

The entire chicken is great for a curried dish. However, I prefer to use the dark portions as they are packed with more flavors. Thighs and drumsticks were chopped into bite-sized pieces and were marinated overnight with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, finely chopped onions, scotch bonnet peppers, cumin, curry powder, thyme, slash of vinegar and soy sauce and a pinch of sugar.

I allowed my sturdy skillet to get piping hot and then drizzled coconut oil within. Chicken pieces were sautéed for a few minutes to lock in flavors. Then, water was added to cover chicken pieces. Half way through cooking process, chicken pieces were flipped. Additional liquid was added along with fresh thyme and more seasoning so as to gain a more flavorful sauce and to arrive at the right consistency. Pot was simmered for approximately half an hour under low to medium heat until pieces were fork tender.

Chicken was served on a fluffy bed of Jasmine rice along with a serving of kale and fried plantains (not in picture). I can never get tired of this dish. To say that I was happy is an understatement; I was over-the-moon.

A SWITCH TO THE OTHER WHITE MEAT #GINGER-BALSAMIC PORK/LEEKS

Supper was quite a succulent and delectable change. You see, once in a while, I get the craving for something other than poultry or seafood. And today,was one of those days. I went with the other white meat (well, that’s what they call pork). I fetched a sizable pork steak at the butcher and went to ‘town’ with it.

I was in the mood for a rustic affair. Thus, I got my sturdy skillet and immersed my marinated steak within. Overnight, I roughly sliced steak into smaller portions. I then seasoned with crushed garlic, salt and black pepper to taste. I also added grated ginger root, balsamic vinegar and splash of soy sauce.

After removing the remnants of garlic, pork pieces were seared on both sides. Roughly chopped onion segments were added along with finely chopped scotch bonnet pepper, fresh thyme, crushed pimento (all spice) and additional clove of garlic. Cold water was added to cover pork pieces with lid on. This was then simmered under low to medium heat; making sure to turn on the other side.

Additional water was also added so as to create a brown sauce. Pork simmered for approximately 30 minutes until fork tender. Chopped leeks were then added for a contrasting and refreshing flavor to the dish.

PREPPING FOR A POWERHOUSE OF GOODNESS #CARROTS/BEETS/GINGER

I’ve been here repeatedly. I can never get tired of the benefits of nature’s bounties. They make my stomach and palate leap with joy and anticipation for an awaiting drink. Each time I indulge in a combination or separate drink of carrots, beets, ginger root and citrus, I feel like a new person within.

Moreover, based on information by health experts, these root vegetables are loaded with beneficial nutrients like fibers, beta carotene, vitamins, minerals, potassium, folate and a host of other nutrients that are great for the body.

All I needed were: cutting board, knife, standing blender, and strainer. As usual, I allowed these gadgets to do the talking and in no time I was gifted with a natural drink for days. There was no need to add sugar or any sweetener. I relied on nature’s natural sugar in these veggies.

Bottoms up!

BEETS AND CARROT DRINKS
BEETS AND CARROT DRINKS

DECONSTRUCTING MY CHINESE TAKE-OUT #CHICKEN/BROCCOLI WRAP

I had some pent-up energy in reserve. You see, I had been kicking up some moves earlier on this morn.

KICKING UP MY HEEL WITH A DOWNWARD DOG MOVE
KICKING UP MY HEEL WITH A DOWNWARD DOG MOVE

With all that pep and happy hormones flowing, I decided to take them over to my humble kitchen. Breakfast was on my mind. Had some take-out Szechuan chicken (which by the way was supposed to be spicy, it wasn’t). Oh, I wasn’t happy. What were they thinking? It has been the second time.  Of course, along with same was some steamed white rice. Had a little of that and still had  a large portion in place.

I had a plan; a perfect one. Decided to make-over my Chinese dish. First, I abandoned the rice. Maybe, I’ll use that for a few rice balls sometime. But anyway, I fetched my whole-grain wrap. It was quite a large size and packed with 30 grams of whole-wheat. I was happy.

LEFT-OVER SZECHAN CHICKEN, BROCCOLI AND WHOLE-GRAIN WRAP
LEFT-OVER SZECHUAN CHICKEN, BROCCOLI AND WHOLE-GRAIN WRAP

The chicken thigh pieces in the Szechuan dish were quite tender and flavorful. The dish also consisted of mushrooms, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, onion and broccoli which were still crispy. I heated my left-overs for a few minutes stove-top and added a serving of broccoli I had in the freezer.

I smiled as I watched the ingredients soaked up the brown sauce. I layered same on my whole-grain wrap and folded my way to an awesome and delectable place. Deconstructing was a very good idea. I bit in my wrap and used part of the wrap to soak up oozing sauce that escaped.

All I needed was a cup of hot java. I was over-the-moon. Salud!