CANTALOUPE/BERRY SALAD

Decided to take advantage of the peak of cantaloupe season  (June/August) by making a salad. It was the perfect time to use the nifty gadget, melon baller on my cantaloupe. It turned out some super-sweet balls. They made my taste buds salivate with delight. Balanced out my sweet cantaloupe with some of my favorite berries, blueberries.

These fiber and antioxidant berries were just what my melon needed. With the tart and sweet taste, they gave a fine balance to my summer salad. With a squeeze of fresh lemon and an input of finely chopped mint, my cantaloupe, and berry salad came to a refreshing and mouth-watering finish.

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CHUTES OF GREEN SMOOTHIE TO JUMP-START MY DAY

Trying to gain a fine balance and jump-start my day just right. With the help of my standing blender I made   a healthy green smoothie to take me through the day. The main ingredients were:

  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Blueberries
  • Fresh cranberry juice
  • Ripe banana
  • Juice of lemon
  • Water

For me, everyday is a celebration. Thus, I served up my healthy/filling smoothie into champagne chutes(gifts from a good friend). I then made my way closer to nature on my tiny back patio.

Cheers!! Have a beautiful day.

 

 

 

CRANBERRY PUNCH (NON-ALCOHOLIC)

It was such a great treat to indulge in an afternoon non-alcoholic cocktail. These awesome berries are just in time for the holidays. I didn’t have to venture far as I had the red, tart and healthy  berries (cranberries) chilling in the refrigerator from the previous day. These were simmered on low heat for less than 25 minutes until they burst with glee.

In   a standing blender, a splash of water was added along with some of the simmered cranberries. To that I further added a little simple syrup and blended all the ingredients to a refreshing finish. Drink was garnished with a sprig of mint and a slice of grapefruit.

Salud!

DOUBLE TROUBLE ##BRANDY-ROASTED FIGS AND BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM

A few days ago, I was gifted a 16 ounce package of Black Mission figs grown in California. You see, some of Publix Supermarkets in my locale (So. Florida, U.S.A.) have these for sale (buy 1 get 1 free). There is a saving of about $5.99. These summer treats are available at the current rate through August 12 to 18. A pound of fresh figs averages between $3.00 to $6.00 depending on where.

Anyway, figs have two seasons: mid-fall and late-summer. Clearly, these were at their peak because they were very mature and a few were even oozing quite a bit. I couldn’t help myself; I did a quick rinse and devoured two to three. They were super-sweet. I had to pull myself away from them. As I placed the package in the refrigerator, I got a culinary brain storm.

I decided to roast them. At the time I couldn’t decide on a savory or sweet version; however, my peripheral left vision caught the left-over brandy. And, immediately I decided on dessert. I grabbed my chopping board and went to work and removed the stem from each fig and sliced them in halves.

FRESH FIGS CUT IN HALVES ALONG WITH MINT
FRESH FIGS CUT IN HALVES ALONG WITH MINT

Other ingredients:

  • Dark sugar (1 tbsp)
  • Honey (1 tbsp)
  • Cinnamon (sprinkle)
  • Olive oil (drizzle)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Fresh mint (1 tbsp) with sprig for garnish)
  • Brandy (1/4 cup)
  • Pam spray

Method:

  1. All ingredients were combined in a bowl.
  2. Mint was finely chopped and added to mixture. Then, this was toss over figs and gently rubbed into fruits.
  3. Baking dish was sprayed with Pam spray and each fig was turned cut-side down in one layer along with brandy liquid.

    FIGS READY FOR ROASTING
    FIGS  GETTING READY FOR ROASTING
  4. In 400 degree pre-heated oven, figs were roasted for 15 minutes covered with foil. And for the last 10 minutes, the foil was removed.

The figs released their own juices and added to the brandy liquid. The two combination left a thick and syrup-like consistency full of aromatic flavors.

ROASTED FIGS WITH FRESH MINT AS GARNISH
ROASTED FIGS WITH FRESH MINT AS GARNISH

It was double-trouble for yours truly. I decided to pair same with a scoop (well 2-3 small scoops) of butter pecan ice-cream. Oh, I was in heaven!

BRANDY-ROASTED FIGS AND BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM WITH A GARNISH OF FRESH MINT
BRANDY-ROASTED FIGS AND BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM WITH A GARNISH OF FRESH MINT

I FLIPPED MY PINEAPPLE TWO WAYS #GRILLED PINEAPPLE #PINEAPPLE JUICE

I was quite elated when I brought home my yellow/golden wonder. It was packed in a plastic container (canister) looking firm and clearly ripened to perfection. From the looks of it, it was already releasing juice due to it being peeled and cored. It was ready; ready to be used up in whichever way I desired.

PEELED AND CORED PINEAPPLE IN PLASTIC CANISTER
PEELED AND CORED PINEAPPLE IN PLASTIC CANISTER

With cutting board and a sharpened knife, I went to work. First I removable core and set it aside. I smiled; had plans for same. I also grabbed my handy grill pan and allowed it to slowly heat up. My grand plan was to grill a few slices and serve with one of my favorite ice-cream flavors, butter pecan.  Within a few minutes, I cut my golden boy into slices.

SLICED PINEAPPLE WITH CORE FOR GARNISH
SLICED PINEAPPLE WITH CORE FOR GARNISH

By then my grill was ready, so I placed three slices on same. It took approximately two to three minutes under low to medium heat to embed my grill marks.

GRILLED PINEAPPLE SLICES ON GRILL PAN
GRILLED PINEAPPLE SLICES ON GRILL PAN

I garnished my dessert plate with the core of the pineapple which I sliced in two halves. They reminded me of pillars. Between them, I placed a couple of the grilled pineapple slices along with a scoop of butter pecan ice-cream with a sprig of fresh mint.

GRILLED PINEAPPLE WITH A SCOOP OF BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM WITH A SPRIG OF FRESH MINT BETWEEN CORE CUT IN HALVES
GRILLED PINEAPPLE WITH A SCOOP OF BUTTER PECAN ICE-CREAM WITH A SPRIG OF FRESH MINT BETWEEN CORE CUT IN HALVES

Of course, I had more slices left on my board. So, I cut them in small pieces and placed them in standing blender. To that, I added minced root ginger along with fresh lime and orange juice and water. All the ingredients were blended and pureed to perfection.

FRESH PINEAPPLE JUICE WITH GINGER ROOT, ORANGE, LIME
FRESH PINEAPPLE JUICE WITH GINGER ROOT, ORANGE, LIME

JOYFUL BERRIES ##CRANBERRY DRINK WITH A HINT OF GINGER ROOT

FRESH CRANBERRIES AND GINGER ROOT
FRESH CRANBERRIES AND GINGER ROOT

Yes, I still have some. Over the years, during the Christmas holidays when the marketplace is loaded with cranberries, I often purchase extra and store them  in the freezer. They come in handy throughout the new year for quite an extended time. The last holiday was no different.

Not only are cranberries refreshing, but based on studies these berries are loaded with health properties that prevent urinary tract infections and oral diseases. In addition, they provide an enormous amount vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the body. Of course, I can’t say enough about root ginger. It aids with nausea, joint pains, indigestion and is excellent for flavoring dishes.

So, this morn, I paid a much-needed visit to my freezer and retrieved a bag of these antioxidant and fiber rich berries. Of course, it’s easy to purchase a store-bought version of cranberry drink at my neighborhood store. But, why should I when I can do my home-made concoction? And, the beautiful thing is that it only takes a couple of ingredients (cranberries and ginger. There are no preservatives.

Cranberries and finely chopped ginger along with water were placed in a stock pot. These were brought to a boil and simmered on low heat for approximately 12 minutes. After cooling, mixture was added to blender and pureed to a smooth consistency.  No sugar was added; however, any sweetener can be added for your taste preference.

I served my refreshing cranberry and ginger drink after chilling inside the refrigerator. It was tart and for me, just sweet enough.

SOMETIMES, ONE HAS TO BACKPEDAL ##OPEN-FACED PARSLEY/GRAPE CHICKEN SALAD ON RYE

Had a perfect plan. You see, in my mind’s eye, I had the ideal lunch. It was basically some left-overs from the week-end. I had previously roasted a couple of chicken breasts bone-in with a delicious grape sauce.

ONE OF THE ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST BONE-IN ON GRAPE SAUCE
ONE OF THE ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST BONE-IN ON GRAPE SAUCE

I devoured one  and saved the other. So, I decided to have same this afternoon. However, there went my palate. You see, the weather in my neck of the woods (South Florida) has been all over the place. A couple of days of ago, it was in the 40’s (now, that’s winter for us here). Now, on this day, this beautiful day, it feels like summer; temperatures are close to eighty.

Like the weather, I couldn’t help myself I felt the urge to scrap my original plan and transformed my meal to a summer-like chicken salad. Thus, I grabbed my handy food processor and removed the flesh from the chicken bone. Then, I tossed same inside the processor and pulsed my way.

In a bowl, I combined parsley, a few grapes that were going ‘south’,but still had life. I also incorporated a dollop of sour cream along with a little light mayonnaise. Chopped chicken was added to bowl with a pinch of cracked black pepper and salt and a fresh squeeze of lime.

PREPPING FOR OPEN-FACED PARSLEY/GRAPE CHICKEN SALAD
PREPPING FOR OPEN-FACED PARSLEY/GRAPE CHICKEN SALAD

All ingredients were combined and served on toasted rye bread. In addition, I had some super sweet grape tomatoes on skewers. By the way, they were excellent buys. Got a bunch of them on sale for $1.50.  For drink, I chugged down some home-made cranberry and ginger drink with a garnish of fresh mint. Oh, I was tempted to put a splash of vodka, but, changed my mind. Enough of the backpedaling.

FINISHED DISH.....READY FOR ACTION!
FINISHED DISH…..READY FOR ACTION!

Guys, as always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

LEFT-OVER BRAISED GOAT MEAT BECOMES NEW WITH THE AID OF STEAMED RICE/MINT

STEAMED WHOLEGRAIN RICE WITH REFRESHING MINT
STEAMED WHOLEGRAIN RICE WITH FRESH MINT

It’s amazing how a left-over dish can be transformed into new. I was a bit tired/lazy to cook another protein from scratch. Had some left-over braised goat meat (mutton) in my freezer. Did a little defrosting and simmered anew  on stove top. So, with the help of a fresh bunch of mint and whole-grain rice, I created a brand new dish.

With one cup of rice and three cups of water (chicken broth would be fine), I added a sprig of thyme for more flavor along with a pat of butter and olive oil and a pinch of salt. After rice was simmered on low to completion, I finely chopped fresh mint and added to steaming rice. A fresh sprig of mint was used to garnish.

A week ago I blanched some green beans I had on hand. These were stored in the freezer. What do you know? These came in quite handy as I retrieved a serving and defrosted. I was very elated to see that they still had their brilliant green hue. Moreover, they were still crispy. I dried the excess fluid from them on paper towel and immersed them in a drizzle of olive oil and a clove of crushed garlic. With a sprinkle of cracked black pepper my green beans came alive on a low heat.

I served my transformed dish of braised goat meat with a serving of fried plantains; such a fantastic and sweet contrast. In addition, I added a healthy slice of ‘nature’s butter’, avocado after I squeezed fresh lime on same.

Guys, though the flavors were different; however together, they worked quite united. By the way, the braised mutton was even more succulent and loaded with amazing spices and flavors. My taste buds were very happy and so was I.

A FRESH/WHOLESOME WAY TO BEGIN 2015 – #SWEET POTATO/APPLE WAFFLES

Guys, it’s a brand new day and year within our midst. Many of us have plans and resolutions for this year. Of course, one of the popular ones is keeping fit and healthy. I’ve tried to incorporate same in my life-style the past year. It is difficult; however, I try to do it one day at time without depriving myself of any food group. I do believe in a fine balance.

Therefore, for 2015, I intend to continue on that path. There is always room for improvement; like including more fruits and veggies in the diet. So, on this day, the first of January, 2015, I’ve made yours truly some wholesome waffles. I used less of processed flour and incorporated sweet potato and apple and a little whole wheat flour.

Main ingredients for sweet potato/apple waffles
Main ingredients for sweet potato/apple waffles

So, with a little marrying of the dry (flour, sugar, baking soda,pinch of salt,cinnamon), and wet ingredients, I ended up with the following batter. By the way, I made sure to do a quick four-minute bake of my sweet potato in the microwave. I also shredded my apple and 1/4 tsp. ginger on a box grater. After crushing and cooling potato with a fork, I added both apples/ginger,potato to wet ingredients (milk, sour cream, vanilla,melted butter).

Batter ready for waffle iron
Batter ready for waffle iron

I made sure to spray my waffle iron with a little Pam so as to prevent sticking. My batter yielded six waffles. (I couldn’t resist taste-testing one). Anyway, guys, I served my sweet potato waffles with a few bites of left-over ham along with fresh grapes, strawberries, orange slices.

Completed sweet potato/apple waffles/ham along with fresh fruits
Completed sweet potato/apple waffles with garnish of fresh mint/bites of ham along with fresh fruits

Guys, that’s  what for brunch. As always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.