ALL SET FOR THE ARCTIC BLAST! #CHICKEN/VEGGIE SOUP

Well, dear momma said there’ll be days like this. And she was correct. On this day, in my neck of the woods, (So. Florida) I’ll be prepping and cooking for the arctic blast. Yes, I know you must be saying, “Florida!?”. Already, we’re experiencing a mix-bag of rain, wind and of course, a nose-dive of temperatures.

Yep! Those cold digits have long legs and as I pen,  they are making their way here. In a couple of days, temperatures will plummet to the low forties and in some  northern regions, twenties and thirties. Forecasters said there could be SNOW.

So, what does a sun gal do with all that thinning blood pulsating through her veins? Well, other than reaching for her coat, mittens and boots, she’ll heading for the kitchen alright. And, that’s what I did. Decided to prep and cook for later. So, when that cold weather pattern enters my locale, I will have some form of culinary control.

Made me a big pot of chicken and veggie soup.  Have done so a ‘million and one’ times. Had all my ingredients on hand.  With all my root veggies and other ingredients, (diced carrots, onions, celery, pumpkin, corn on the cob, fresh thyme, scallion, chicken noodle mix, etc) the whole process went quite smoothly.

I know my stomach and my palate will be very much satiated during this arctic spell. As I feast on this mouth-watering dish with perhaps a few crispy crackers, I’ll reach for my throw and dress in my favorite sweater while I let my remote lead me to something entertaining on the tube. Arctic blast….bring it on!

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POLENTA (TURNED CORNMEAL) WITH TWIST

Got a little excited. And, when I do, culinary storms are liable to develop. First, it started out with my fresh, nutritious, and satiating coconut. It was a good one; full of creamy goodness. It brought back island (Jamaican) memories. Decided to use a portion of nature’s milk in a polenta (turned cornmeal) dish.20160804_083037

FRESH COCONUT MILK WITH HUSK
FRESH COCONUT MILK WITH HUSK

As polenta simmered under low heat, a few leftover loose corn bits were tossed in. These still carried a crispy bite.  At the end of cooking process, an input of assorted sharp cheddar cheese was added. This slowly melted and became part of this mouth-watering dish. Already, I was salivating.

But, I wasn’t  finished just yet. I had a sweet contrast taste in mind. I placed my delectable polenta (tun cornmeal) even over the top by adding dices of roasted pumpkin. Now, that was an excellent choice.

PUMPKIN FOR ROASTING
PUMPKIN FOR ROASTING

BEEF BONE SOUP TO STICK TO THE RIBS

It was beef all the way. It has been a long time since I’ve gone down this road. Got me a few pieces of beef bones and decided to make a pot of the mouth-watering and nutritious soup.

Beef soup was loaded with pureed pumpkin that provided a rich and beautiful hue to my brew. Also,  an assortment of vegetables that included fresh and crispy corn on the cob. I made sure to add vegetable bouillon and pumpkin noodle packet mix for added flavors.

Fresh sprigs of thyme, scallion, whole scotch bonnet pepper, crushed pimento (all spices) and garlic helped to give exotic and amazing flavors to my delicious beef bones soup. Once more,  I was over the moon.

JERK/APPLE ROASTED CHICKEN WITH ASSORTED VEGGIES

That’s it! I went jerking with my bird. It has been sometime since I’ve gone down this familiar route. I wanted a dish that was bold, spicy, succulent and packed with amazing flavors that would excite my taste buds.

As a result, I decided on one of my favorite ways to cook the feathery one. I even made a butterfly with the ‘white one’ by removing the back bone. Will use that backbone in a soup or broth. Anyway, marinated chicken overnight in a concoction consisted of:

  • salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, thyme, parsley, rosemary, onions, sprinkle of sugar, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and of course, jerk seasoning
WHOLE MARINATED JERK CHICKEN FOR OVEN
WHOLE MARINATED JERK CHICKEN FOR OVEN
  • Chicken was placed on foiled baking sheet on roasting rack along with Macintosh apple. This was roasted at a temperature of 420 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes and then oven was turned down to 350 degrees for another 30 minutes (turning once).
  • Chicken was basted with extra sauce consisting of jerk sauce, ketchup, honey, etc. in the last 10 minutes.
ROASTED JERK/APPLE CHICKEN
ROASTED JERK/APPLE CHICKEN

Served chicken with  roasted wedges of  sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots. My palate and I were exceedingly happy and satiated.

A SIDE I COULDN’T RESIST #ROASTED PUMPKIN/SWEET POTATOES

For the fall, this dish has become one of my absolute favorites. I’ve traveled this fork of the road before and I liked same. Maybe, it’s the sweet/tart tastes along with the warm spices of ginger and cinnamon and the contrasting salty flavor of the bits of feta cheese.

Guys, I’m harping about my roasted pumpkin and sweet potatoes. I’ve always roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin; however, I’ve never executed both simultaneously. I really don’t know how I’ve not done so before. However, the ‘mad-cap’ in me decided to do so during the fall. And I can’t seem to cease.

So once again, I retrieved my chopping board and knife and went to work with my specimens on hand. Both root vegetables were thoroughly rinsed with cold tap water. With skin-on, I chopped veggies in large wedges and placed on foil-covered baking sheet.

PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATOES READY FOR ROASTING
PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATOES READY FOR ROASTING

Wedges were drizzled with olive oil, sprinkle of salt, powdered ginger and cinnamon. These were roasted in a preheated oven at 420 degrees fahrenheit  for approximately 40 minutes. My abode was permeated  with all the warm and aromatic flavors and spices of fall. I was super-happy.

As warm golden wedges of sweet potatoes and pumpkin hit the plate, bits of crumbled feta cheese were strewn on. Each bite  (skin edible) tasted like a piece of ‘heaven’. Nature is amazing!

ROASTED PUMPKIN/SWEET POTATO WITH FETA CHEESE

Roasted pumpkin and sweet potato are staples and huge  favorites on the table on Thanksgiving. Decided to pair both. On a baking sheet, sliced pumpkin and sweet potato were drizzled with olive oil and then sprinkled with a pinch of salt, and cinnamon.

PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATO FOR OVEN
PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATO FOR OVEN

Root vegetables were roasted in a preheated 420 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes turning once. Roasted pumpkin and sweet potatoes were then topped with feta cheese for a sweet and salty finish.

ROASTED CARROT/PUMPKIN/SWEET POTATO SOUP BY THE WATER’S EDGE

What a difference a day makes! Once again, we here in South Florida, U.S.A. have been blessed with a snippet of Fall. I woke up to the trees doing their signature dance as the blustery winds took hold of their branches. I was also fortunate to behold the trees ridding themselves of a few weakened leaves that made a little mess on my back patio. I didn’t mind. After all, its Fall Florida-style.

It seemed like the geese and the ducks felt the change; and, they too went prancing along. With a slightly cool and refreshing wind brushing my cheeks and shoulders, I took that as my cue to retreat to my kitchen. Something warm and comforting was on my mind. So, I reached for my baking sheet tray and lined same with foil paper.

I decided to make a roasted carrot,sweet potato and pumpkin soup. I retrieved a few carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and onions and cut them in wedges. I drizzled them with a little canola oil and sprinkled a cinnamon, salt, and paprika on them.

CARROTS, SWEET POTATOES, ONIONS, PUMPKIN FOR ROASTING
CARROTS, SWEET POTATOES, ONIONS, PUMPKIN FOR ROASTING

These were roasted in a preheated oven at 410 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. As the heat hit them, the spices perfumed my space and reminded me that it was Fall. These were  then cooled.

ROASTED CARROTS, ONIONS, PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATOES FOR SOUP
ROASTED CARROTS, ONIONS, PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATOES FOR SOUP

In a stockpot, a drizzle of olive oil was added. Roughly chopped celery, onion, and crushed garlic were softened and seasoned with a pinch of salt and black pepper. These were then added to roasted root vegetables and pureed with chicken stock to a chunky finish.

Soup was returned to stockpot. Fresh thyme and chicken noodle along with a little cold tap water were added to further enhance the taste and flavors. Soup was simmered on low heat for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes until heated through and arrived at the preferred consistency.

As I sipped my warm and satisfying soup,on my patio by the water nearby, I smiled. I was in a perfect place. A place where the animal lives ran wild and free, a place where the trees were alive and the sound of carefree kids squealed  with delight.

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.