Random Thursday

June 27, 2013

It is Wednesday night and I am enjoying a Seagram’s Jamaican Me Happy in lovely Florida. As I sit here and relax. I will share my favorite easy recipe. I must admit I do not cook often because it is just me and Moses most nights but when I do I rock the kitchen like no one has before. Enjoy!

Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
2 cloves Garlic, Peeled
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan (additional)
12 ounces, weight Pasta (cavitappi, Fusili, Etc.)
2 whole Tomatoes, Diced

DIRECTIONS

1. Cook pasta until al dente.
2. Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes. Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed. Set aside.
3. Heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pesto and stir.
4. Drain pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour pesto cream over the top. Toss to combine. Add diced tomatoes and toss quickly. Serve immediately.

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Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

November 30, 2011

I am sure all of my healthy tweeter and blogger friends will not love this recipe but it is a holiday goodie and I made them for coworkers and I honestly only ate 2 almonds total. People love them and they are super simple to make with no real recipe. I love recipes where you can just add a dash or splash of something and not have to be exact.

Step 1: Ingredients and Supplies. 

Ingredients:
1 pound almonds
1 egg white
vanilla extract
about a 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
about a 1/2 cup white sugar
salt
cinnamon

Supplies:
large cookie sheet with sides
no-stick cooking spray (Pam), oil or shortening for greasing cookie sheet
medium and small mixing bowls
fork
wide spatula or mixing spoon

Also preheat your oven to 250 F.

Step 2: Prepare almonds

Separate the egg white from the yolk and discard the yolk. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg white with a fork until frothy.

Add a splash of vanilla and mix together. Add the almonds and stir well to make sure all the almonds are coated with the egg white/vanilla mixture.

Step 3: Combine dry ingredients

In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, salt and a few dashes of cinnamon until well mixed.

Step 4: Coat Almonds

Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the almonds and stir well until all the almonds are evenly coated. Try to break up any large clumps of coating–or just leave them and enjoy them later after they’re roasted.

Lightly grease your cookie sheet either by spraying with Pam or wiping with a paper towel dabbed with oil or shortening.

Spread the coated almonds evenly onto the greased sheet, and gently shake the pan back and forth a few times so they’re in one layer. You may need to use two pans if your cookie sheet isn’t big enough.

Step 5: Roast, Stir and Repeat! 

Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for a total of one hour, stirring twice (at 20 minute intervals).

A wide spatula works well for stirring without knocking too much of the coating off. After each stirring, give the pan a gentle shake to even out the layer of almonds.

After an hour of roasting, allow them to cool. Keep them stored in an airtight container.

Sprinkle them on a goodie plate, package them up in a pretty bag with a ribbon, serve them in a bowl for a party snack, or keep them for yourself as a quick, sugary treat!

Sidenote: I should get better at taking pictures of food when I post recipes. 


Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

April 8, 2011

I seen these amazing cookies on Becky Bakes. I was not going to make them because I am sure one cookie is 10 bazillion points on Weight Watchers and today is already my weight in day (also know as my starve til after I get on the scale.) None the less there I was last night attempting to make these cookies. I had Promised B at work cookies earlier in the week and decided these would be prefect. I was proud I didn’t eat any of the cookie dough and I love cookie dough.

I did just finish one of the cookies after massive peer pressure. They are delicious. Super sweet and I was only able to a half of one but I have to shout it from the roof tops it is worth everyone of those are worth every single point.

Keep in mind these are not everyday cookies they are HUGE!! These could cure any sweet tooth in a just a few bites.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe from the fantabulous Jenny of Picky Palate

2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 pkg. Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars together with a mixer until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo cookie.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo cookie is enclosed with dough.  Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE cookies.


Cookie Time

December 14, 2010

The time of year has rolled around again when I need to bake a billion cookies. I don’t really need to but I like to and everyone loves them. I would say I am the cookie monster but I don’t like eating them as much as I like baking them and just giving them out to people.

My cookies make me proud they have been shipped to Alaska and Europe. It makes me feel good to put a smile on someone’s face simply by sending a pack of homemade cookies. Last year sadly I had to take a year off from my baking. This year I am going to bake if it is the last thing I do. usually I bake for my family with my sisters but then undertake baking for friends in my kitchen.

I decided this year I am going to share some of my grandma’s recipes. I could keep them secret and never share them with a soul but why would i do that. These are to damn good to keep a secret. I love Christmas time. Stay tuned for recipes.


Peanut Butter Fudge Treats

October 17, 2010

My older sister A is allergic to Gluten. Yes it is as horrible as it sounds. She was recently diagnosed and I can not imagine going 27 years of my life and then being told no more Flour, Wheat etc ever ever again. I give her credit though she has been a trooper. When I first found out about this I worried about my own future because a bus full on my mothers side of the family have this and it is genetic. I might be screwed. I went on mini shopping sprees trying to find the good in the gluten free world only to find out most of the stuff out there is just plan YUCK. I have found it easy to cook for her when it comes to dinner or basic meals because I have brought it back to a more wholesome times minus all the prepackaged garbage. Not so bad but when it comes to desert I have had a hard time. The cupcakes have been a train wreck, the pie the dog wouldn’t even eat. That was until I stumbled upon a recipe on an amazing blog Framed.  I love all of her recipes but more so this one gave me hope that my sister will have deserts in her future.

I made these for her and she can’t stop raving about them I hope you enjoy as well.  BONUS: They are super easy to make.. my nephew Z helped the entire time and loved it.

Rice Krispy Treats

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispy Cereal (or any puffed rice cereal)

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray.
4. Cool. Make Peanut Butter Fudge.
Peanut Butter Fudge (recipe from Alton Brown)
1 cup butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound confectioners (powdered) sugar
1. Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high.

2. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.

3. Pour over the Rice Krispy treats in the pan and spread evenly.

4. Let cool in the fridge while you make the Chocolate Fudge.

Easy Chocolate Fudge

2 Tbsp butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

1. Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

2. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, and vanilla,. Beat for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined.

3. Pour over peanut butter fudge, spread evenly and place in the fridge to harden and cool.

4. Cut into 1-inch pieces or smaller.


Rikers Island’s Famous Carrot Cake Recipe

August 22, 2010

Apparently Rikers Island’s carrot cake, which is baked on holidays by its inmates, is famous within the prison walls for its deliciousness. The New York Times also published the recipe (warning: batch will make 25 loaves of carrot cake).


I was jonesing for my fix.

July 7, 2010

I don’t do drugs. The only mind-altering activities I engage in is sleep deprivation, and I’d say that my list of vices includes the knee-knocking roster of Splenda, graphic novels, and English Breakfast tea. Oh, and a serious watermelon addiction.

Yes, there have been interventions. Friends have commented on the speed and agility with which I can take a knife longer than my forearm and dissect a Cucurbitaceae. A friend has nervously asked how much money I’ve spent — “today” — on the fruit. My mother has insisted I find a way to slice-and-dice the juice monsters that doesn’t leave a trail of sticky pink evidence in my wake. But despite my daily dose of watermelon, I’d say a good three out of five that I purchase are less than edible. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the whole fruit — tap, tap, tap, fail — or the pre-sliced, Saran Wrap cloaked quarters. I have very bad luck. That is until Hassan.

The scene was one of a noir film. A dark and stormy night, me, clad in dressy clothes, on my way home from a free meal where I left with room for dessert. I pulled up to the market, its lights still on, parking lot empty. Near the outdoor fruit display, under a drooping green awning, a man in an apron stood, inspecting cantaloupes. The first sale on whole watermelons had begun, and a large cardboard box of green orbs loomed behind the apricots. I stood, peering down, intimidated. Pale green, dark green, yellow, stripes, sunspots. Dirt. Tap, tap, tap. Their weight each felt identical in my hands. Shaking each, I heard nothing except for the sound of my stomach. I was jonesing for my fix.

“Can you help me, sir?” I asked the man, whose white, wide smile broke across his face. He knew.

“You want a watermelon,” he said. “I’ll help you.”

He gazed down into the abyss and lifted one from below the pack.

“This is where the magic is,” he said. I thanked him.

“In my country,” he added, “We just go like this –” he pointed at invisible watermelons dancing before his vision. “This one, not this one, this one, not this one.”

“But how do you know?” I asked.

“You can just tell,” he said.

Apparently in Senegal watermelon telepathy is innate. This fruit guru, whose name I later found out is Hassan, has been working for the market for years, and has been professionally involved in produce for nearly three decades. The produce manager for a large department of fruit and veggies, he’s broadened my kaleidoscope of natural nutrients, plucking the most golden pineapple for my barbecuing experiments to explaining why there’s no truly sweet corn this early in the season. “It’s shipped from Georgia right now. New York corn isn’t there yet.” The man I now refer to as my supplier has a job that’s far larger than simply dealing with this small fruit fiend. It turns out that being a produce manager is a far more involved job than simply managing produce.

First of all, the management isn’t simply of the unspeaking, unfeeling, unmoving carrots, kumquats, and celery. It’s of a crew, usually between ten to twenty men and women, depending on the size of the store. The deliveries, displays, and decay all need to be monitored on a day-to-day, sometimes hour-by-hour basis. All complaints from BMW SUV driving soccer moms go to this prime minister of produce. “This asparagus makes my pee smell!” to “These bananas look bruised!” (They’re plantains, lady.) Meetings about what’s in season, where shipments should originate from, and training procedures are all de rigeur for these crop comptrollers. They need to make sure that all deliveries arrive on time, and that the fruits and vegetables are edible, that they aren’t filled with flies, sprayed with plastic or are incorrectly labeled, etc. It’s also difficult to predict the weather, which is kind of like their boss. “You may have something on ad and growers get a rainstorm or it’s too cold. They can’t harvest so I am scrambling to find product,” a manager explains. Even organic, local groceries suffer from this sort of short-notice shortage. It’s tough to predict what will be in season, and sometimes it just isn’t smart enough to ship edibles up from the tropics. The prices aren’t always practical, and there’s always the risk of spoilage.

Usually their days start two hours before store opening, where the days shipments are reviewed and the shelves begin to get stocked. (Produce executives — the berry big-wigs who spend their days in offices more often than at the grocery ground zero of the produce aisle — have longer days. I assume they have strategy meetings with green peppers and perform trust falls with melons.) Pricing their product is an all-consuming, never-ending task. “Sometimes I feel more like a secretary than a produce guy,” one experienced produce manager says. “I have to stay on top of it every day. Like the stock market, prices are always up and down.”

For just under 42K a year, and I assume all the free produce they can eat, being a produce manager has its pluses. I remember speaking with a barfly in Boston who worked for New Seasons’ produce department, among her perks there were good benefits and she was able to take home any of the vegetables and fruit that was about to be pulled to make way for a fresher display. She complained that she couldn’t find enough salad recipes, and I remember an evening where, after she had too much to drink, she began to loudly whine, “Does anybody want my guavas? I have too many guavas.” Which is a funny, funny statement when hollered by a drunken hippie.

I may never work with the substances that give me sustenance, like many a bad drug dealer I would likely consume more of my wares than I’d sell. (”Don’t get high off your own supply.”) But I can respect people who manage the produce I procure. It’s more than simply guess work and people skills, extensive training and a craving for knowledge as voracious as your appetite is required. And now that I’ve worked up one of my own for — what else? — watermelon, I leave you with what’s in season now, some produce picking pointers, and trivia:

– Nine Ways To Tell If Your Watermelon Is Ripe according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Yup, they thump too.

– How To Pick A Ripe Pineapple: Among the tantalizing tidbits on this page includes this remarkable bit of information, those diamond-shaped spikes on the skin of pineapple? They’re each individual fruits. A single pineapple is made up of more than a hundred tiny, seedless fruits.

– Banana storage tips, including refrigeration and partnering them up with apples.

– Bananas In Pajamas.

– Fruit and Vegetable Trivia to whet your appetite:

* The cucumber is a gourd of the same family as pumpkin, zucchini and other squash.

* All sweet peppers start off green, and then change color based on the variety.

* Thomas Jefferson was one of the first Americans to grow tomatoes, which were called “love apples” at the time.

* The Anglo-Saxons included carrots as an ingredient in a medicinal drink against the devil and insanity.


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