A LYCOPENE AND PROTEIN RICH BREAKFAST #LEFT-OVER MARINARA SAUCE/EGGS

 

Left-over Jamaican rum marinara sauce/spaghetti along with eggs,cheese,asparagus
Left-over Jamaican rum marinara sauce/spaghetti along with eggs,cheese,asparagus

Guys, someone started the day just right. Yes, yours truly went for morning light jog (ok, it was more a speed walk pace). The weather was superb; temperatures in the early 70’s. Not only did I work up a sweat but I worked up an appetite. I had left-overs in the refrigerator; a frittata hopped in my mind. I couldn’t wait to get back to base.

So, what did I do? Yours truly grabbed hold of last night’s left over Jamaican rum marinara sauce(1/2 cup)  along with spaghetti(1/4 cup) Some of the other ingredients added were:

Ingredients:

  • Eggs (2 Large)
  • Cheese (sprinkle)
  • Asparagus (3 spears)
  • Salt/pepper (pinch)
  • Olive oil (2 tsp)
  • Butter (1 tsp/pat)

Method:

  1. Pre-cook asparagus spears in microwave for two minutes and cut in one inch pieces
  2. Whisk eggs and add a splash of milk if preferred.
  3. Add all the ingredients (marinara,cheese(reserve a little for top),
  4. In a skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter.
  5. Add frittata mixture and allow bottom to set under low heat. Keep an egg on the edges.
  6. Finish cooking the top under broiler for about four minutes. Or flip onto a plate and then slid back into skillet for completion on stove top.
    Frittata cooking stove top
    Frittata cooking stove top

    Make sure to wrap the handle of your skillet with foil if finishing top under broiler.

    Cooked frittata with garnish of parsley/bacon strips with a serving of fresh fruits and coffee
    Cooked frittata with garnish of parsley/bacon strips with a serving of fresh fruits and coffee

Guys, I couldn’t help myself. What’s life without a few pieces of crispy bacon? So, I indulged on a tad (well, a little bigger than a tad). I served my dish with fresh fruits and a cup of java. Now guys, I’m on top of the world!!

 

 

 

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I’M IN A NEW ENGLAND STATE OF MIND #HAM CHOWDER WITH A CARIBBEAN/MEDITERRANAN FLAVORS

This time of the year brings on a ‘mixed-bag’ of weather patterns. The past few days have been very dark, cool, and precipitous in South Florida. The sun has disappeared for a few days and makes me feel like I’m in a Maine or New Hampshire territory.

With days like these, one can’t help but to crave warm and comforting dishes like a clam chowder. Well, I’m not a lover of clam, so my culinary mind went to the my freezer. Inside this freezer, tucked in the rear are some left-over servings of baked ham from past Christmas(have to use that up). So, instead of clam, I made yours truly ham chowder with a Caribbean and a Mediterranean twist.

The main ingredients for Ham Chowder
The main ingredients for Ham Chowder

Ingredients:

  • Left-over Ham (1/4 cup)diced
  • Crispy bacon (2 strips)
  • Irish potato (1 large) diced
  • Cauliflower (3/4 cup)
  • Celery (2 stalks) diced
  • Loose corn (1/2 cup)
  • Onion (Med.) diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Coconut milk (1 cup)
  • Paprika (1/4 tsp)
  • Cumin (pinch)
  • Curry powder (pinch)
  • Corn starch (1 tsp)
  • Water (3 cups)
  • All spice (pimento) (1/4 tsp)
  • Thyme (1 tsp)
  • Parsley (garnish)

Method:

  1. In a sturdy stock pot, render bacon slices and set aside.
  2. Drain excess bacon fat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add diced onions, celery,  chopped cauliflower, loose corn, etc. and slowly stir removing all the bits.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and other seasonings along with thyme.
  4. Add Coconut milk and water.
  5. Place lid on pot and allow to simmer until tender.
  6. Mix corn starch (if needed) to provide extra thickness).
  7. Few minutes to completion of dish add diced left-over ham.
    Ham Chowder and baguette
    Ham Chowder and baguette

    Ham Chowder simmering in stock pot
    Ham Chowder simmering in stock pot

I served my Caribbean/Mediterranean ham chowder with a garnish of parsley and bacon bits along with a generous and warm piece of crusty baguette. The flavors were bold, flavorful and super delicious. I was over the moon as I watched the ducks did their dips.

What do you know? On this cool and marvelous Florida day, the sun has chosen to raise its brilliant head. Now, it’s perfect. Guys, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

 

OFFICIALLY, I’M A SICK ‘PUPPY’……I ATE OUT OF THE ‘BOX’!! RUFF!RUFF!

Guys, maybe its the dip in the temperatures; I don’t know. You see, South Florida, the sunshine state is  experiencing unseasonably winter-like temperatures (well, Florida-style). That means we’ve to grab hold of our boots, ear muffs, turtle necks, gloves…..the works. I’m telling you guys, my HEATER IS ON!!

For me, when the digits plummet, my palate sometimes becomes a little ‘out of whack’. It craves unusual eats. So, what do I do? I figured I should go with the flow. It didn’t feel like the typical dinner or supper menu dishes. You would think that, okay, it’s cold, maybe a big bowl of soup would do the trick. But no, it felt like having breakfast for dinner.

And so, I did! I crushed an over-ripened banana, shredded a McIntosh apple along with a pinch of fresh ginger. With a combination of all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, sugar, melted butter and spices, I had the perfect batter for apple/banana/ginger pancakes. I topped this with fresh raspberries I had on hand. Of course, I could not resist, a couple of pieces of crispy apple wood bacon had to be on the side.

Now guys, IT’S THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!! And in honor of the Christ child who would later turn water into wine, I decided to sip on a little red wine. But, what I did was to warm my wine, YES I DID! After all, it’s breakfast for dinner. On the side, I placed my cinnamon stick for dips, a great way to add extra flavor. HO! HO!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND FOODIES…..HAVE A JOYFUL/HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

Today, I’m thankful for life. I’m grateful and thankful for more than enough to sup for yours truly and to extend to others. I pray for those without sufficient. May they find a way out.

Guys, on this day, I made pumpkin/root ginger pancakes…just what my stomach needs on this crispy morn. Temps are in the late 50’s to 60’s. Now, that’s ‘winter-land’ Florida style.  I made home-made cranberry sauce the previous day, so, I’m ‘rocking’ it as the perfect topping for my cakes. Of course,  I had to heed to the craving of a few pieces of crispy bacon along with fresh grapes and orange slices.

GUYS, AS ALWAYS, BE KIND TO YOUR LOVED ONES AS WELL AS YOUR BEAUTIFUL PALATES!!

INSTEAD OF ONE BIG QUICHE, HOW ABOUT 1,2,3….CUPCAKE-STYLE?##CRUSTLESS

I was in the mood for something quite cheesy with my eggs. I thought of quiche but knew I didn’t have any crust. So I raided my veggie tray and grabbed a few spears of asparagus and broccoli.

I rendered a few strips of bacon and then drained my skillet of extracted fat. Then I drizzled a couple teaspoons of olive oil and added a little finely chopped onions. After I blanched my asparagus and broccoli, I dried and added them to the skillet combining them with the sauteed onions. And set those aside.

In a bowl, eggs were whisked with a dash of milk. I seasoned with salt/pepper along with chopped parsley and a little chives I had on hand. After veggies were cooled I added this to the egg mixture.

In muffin tin I did a sparse wipe of oil with paper towel in six spaces. Mixture was then added.  A little sprinkled cheese and crispy pieces of bacon were added and then placed in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes with an additional 2 minutes under broiler for a brown top.

I served my crustless cupcake quiches with chopped tomatoes.

Ingredients for crustless cupcake quiches
Ingredients for crustless cupcake quiches
Uncooked cupcake quiches ready for oven
Uncooked cupcake quiches ready for oven

Ingredients:

  • Eggs (3)
  • Bacon (2 to 3 strips)
  • Asparagus (3 to 4) 1″ pieces
  • Broccoli (1 spear)
  • Finely chopped onions (2 tbsp)
  • Salt/pepper (pinch)
  • Cheese (2 tbsp)
  • Parsley/chives
  • Olive oil (2 to 3 tsps)

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!!

 

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.

 

 

FALL IS HERE….OH, I’VE A CRAVING FOR A HEARTY LENTIL SOUP

As I glimpse outside my glass door I realize that there’s a transformation that is gradually in progress. If you’re not cognizant, you might just miss the changing of the guard. Lately, the sun is quite late to rise its head. And, when it does, it shines so brilliantly, but, I’ve also noticed that it’s quick to disappear behind those dark clouds.

Without a doubt, summer is bowing out; and fall is officially here. So funny how my palate knows and start to crave the hearty and comforting foods. Maybe, it’s time I head on down to the farmer’s market and fetch me some ingredients to make me a hearty pot of soup. But darn, there are so many to choose from. I love me a nice bowl of roasted pumpkin soup, or a classic Jamaican chicken noodle soup,and even clam chowder soup with a couple of pieces of crusty grilled artisan bread to complete it.

But alas, at this time, I’m craving none of them. Somehow, my taste buds are leaning towards a hearty bowl of lentil soup. I know what I’ll do, already I’ve a pack of lentil in my pantry. I’ll pay a visit to my neighborhood veggie stand. I’ll fetch me a few firm carrots. Oh, the color is so vibrant. I’ll also get me a bunch of celery, and bell pepper, any hue will do.

I’ll return to my humble kitchen and chop me some onions, the carrots and other root veggies. It’s time to grab my stock pot and heat a little olive oil. But first, I’ve to render me a few strips of bacon. Hmm, I do believe I’ve beef, smoke one at that. I’ll make it crispy and set it aside for a great topping on the finished dish. Then, I’ll drain off the excess oil. All I need is the flavor. With a drizzle of olive oil, I’ll gradually add all my root veggies and season along with cracked black pepper, a pinch of salt and a dash of cumin. Then, I’ll add my rinsed lentil to the pot.

As I stir and remove all the bacon bits, I’ll do a quick pot roast of all the ingredients. After all, they need to get acquainted.I’ll add a couple of cloves of garlic and a nice sprig of thyme. Then, I pour me some tap water to cover all the ingredients. I’ll lower the heat to a low to medium. I’ll allow my hearty lentil soup to cook until all the ingredients are fork tender. In between the cooking time, I’ll do a test taste of the concoction. Maybe a pinch of salt or a dash of something.

Finally, I’ll cool my soup and ladle it in my standing blender. Before that though, I’ll make sure to fish out the woodsy part of the thyme. I’ll puree my lentil soup to and set it in a white bowl so as to set it apart and make it pop. My soup will not be complete without a dollop of sour cream. This would be the perfect time to drop my crispy pieces of bacon and garnish it with parsley I have on hand.

I know my hearty lentil soup will be mouthwatering as I envision the changing of the leaves to varied hues. Maybe, you never know, if I’m lucky, there will be a harvest moon.

FRENCH TOAST THAT MADE ME SAID, “OUI, OUI!”

Bonjour to everyone out there! Okay, I know I’m not french speaking. But, my brunch today makes me feel that I should be wearing a beret, maybe a red as I go exploring the streets of Paris with my Pierre. Sadly, it’s not the case and it’s only in my imagination.

You see, I don’t generally purchase butter bread unless I intend to make a bread pudding. However, when my dear nephew stayed with me a week ago, we added Sara Lee’s butter bread on the shopping list, well, he did. We both devoured most of it and of course it was quite smooth and buttery to the taste, especially when lightly toasted and buttered. Oh, I certainly can’t have too much of this around.

On his departure, I realized that I had a few slices left. For days they glared at me as if wanting me to further partake of them. There was no way I was going toss out hard earned money. And then, I had this epiphany. Lo and behold, french toast popped in my head. Already, I  had all the ingredients. So, I went to work.

Ingredients:

Butter Bread (3 slices)

Milk (1/4 cup)

Cinnamon (a pinch)

Vanilla (drizzle)

Salt (pinch)

Butter

Egg (1 large)

Sugar (2 t/sps)

Strawberries (fresh – 4)

Strawberry preserves (2 tea spoons)

Bacon

Method:

In a bowl, I beat egg. I added milk, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, sugar and combined all ingredients. The bread slices were then placed in milk batter so as to soak up all the rich goodness. After a few minutes, I flipped the bread to the opposite side.

In a hot skillet on medium heat, I placed a pat of butter and then browned each slice. 

In a small sauce pan I made a quick puree (yet chunky) of the fresh strawberries by adding a splash of orange juice. I then further added strawberry preserves for extra sweetness. This was then served warm on french toast with a few strips of bacon on the side. The contracting saltiness of the bacon and the smooth and sweet taste of the french toast were amazing. Hmm, that’s what good things are sometimes made of.

If have on hand, one great way to add and extra punch of delight to french toast is to add a splash of rum or bourbon to milk batter or strawberries sauce.

Adieu my friends! As always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

 

 

 

MONDAY BLUES BREAKTHROUGH FOOD

It was a Monday. I can vividly recall because I was having the ‘Blues’, A touch of the ‘Monday Blues’ . I believe it afflicted me since I began my working life. It’s a few hours of feeling forlorn until about noon. Come to think of it, it generally begins late Sunday evening. It’s that unexplained feeling that seems to linger and builds up to Monday morning until noon.

I commute to work by train. And on that particular morn as I made my way to an available seat, I could sense the familiar feeling taking ownership of my being. Clearly, I wasn’t alone. I could also feel my fellow passengers were also experiencing the dreaded ‘Monday Blues’. From the looks of it, they weren’t happy campers. I’m quite sure many of them hated their jobs. Well, based on statistics, a huge percentage abhor their jobs. I can only imagine some of them were deep in thoughts on how they were going to approach that unappreciative boss about a raise or promotion. Or, a few might be still going through the old hang-over symptoms from the looks of the dark shades.

Judging from these people’s countenances, you would think they were heading to a place of incarceration. But, I knew better. They were experiencing the ‘Monday Blues’. And, as I did a quick scan of their faces around me, my heart ached for them. I knew I couldn’t aid my fellow passengers. But, I thought, “If I can’t help them, I could help myself.” After all, I’ve been suffering from this malady far too long. I realized I had a choice.

I had an epiphany. Right then and there, among those blues riders, I had a brain storm. Or, should I say, it was more of an awakening. By nature, I’m an optimistic person. So, like a champion, I went to that place in my head. Far too long I’ve been experiencing this malady. I thought it was time for a change, a change from those Monday Blues.

As I rummaged through my I-phone, I allowed my fingers to do the talking. And so it did. It led me to an app, a free one.  All was needed was for me to install. So, right at that moment, I installed the Cooking Channel. Immediately, my outlook was transformed.

A clip called ‘Extra Virgin’ caught my eyes. I was intrigued, so I continued. Extra Virgin was started by an American actress call Debi Mazir who visited Italy and subsequently met her present Italian husband, Gabriele Corcos who happens to be a chef.

Already, I was hooked. I always wanted to visit Italy and explore the vineyards and indulge in the amazing pasta dishes infused with good old olive oil. Anyway, as I continued to view Extra Virgin, it became clear as a bell in my mind. At that moment, I knew exactly what my supper was going be.

It was simple. Already, I had all the ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator. I was going to prepare a linguine pasta dish with roasted tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. And, instead of prosciutto, I would utilize the bacon I had on hand.  To this beautiful dish I would garnish with parsley. The Pinot Grigio was chilled.

Slowly my Monday Blues were been obliterated. I smiled. As I disembarked from my train, my outlook was drastically transformed from dim and dreary to brilliant sunshine. I realized that I had the power within. At some point, I know that I will be revisited by the Monday Blues; but, I have back-up. I’m conscious. I know where to go.