Bananas!

During my weekly grocery shopping I usually grab a bunch of bananas and hope that they are eaten before they over ripe, unfortunately that wasn’t the case a few weeks ago.  I needed to bake something for church and while looking in the pantry and refrigerator for my basic baking needs I fell short of some things.  I looked at the perfectly yellow bananas and wished of all days that they were brown and spotted.  I had started my morning late and with a full day planned, going to the grocery store wasn’t an option.  I made some breakfast and mentally went over recipes that could work with my limited ingredients.  Again I looked at the bananas and remembered an article I read about the many ways to ripen bananas.  I didn’t have time for the paper bag method or to find a dark warm area in the house, I needed something quick and efficient.

The oven…

I didn’t remember the details of the oven method, but I did remember the results so I gave it a try.

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Having no idea what to expect I put the bananas in a 300 degree oven and became a little reluctant after 10 minutes when the bananas became very dark and watery. I was hoping that I was doing the process correctly and patiently waited for 20 more minutes.

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After the 20 minutes I took the warm, sweet smelling bananas out the oven and let them cool slightly.

As I was preparing the ingredients for my chocolate chip banana bread.  I was a little worried because over ripen bananas are brown and mushy, but with this process the bananas still looked like bananas, only a little watery.

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After preparing my batter and baking the bread I was anxious to see the results and let’s just say, I heard no complaints!

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Family Time

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Last week will be a week that I will always remember.  I was able to spend time with my uncle and auntie, whom I haven’t seen in over 3 years and they finally got to meet their great nephew.  It had meant a lot for them to meet him because they had traveled from FL to VA to help prepare for my baby shower in Dec. 2011. Mom and I was so excited to see them, but I was anxious about the drive.  I had decided that I would drive the whole distance of 11 hours and with this being my first long distance drive I was a little overwhelmed.  Plus travelling with a toddler I knew that this trip would be a lot longer than 11 hours, but honestly he did well and stopping at every rest stop at the beginning of each state had helped out a lot.  When we had pulled up it felt just like home and we quickly settled in and chatted.

While the visit included some sight-seeing and shopping, we enjoyed each others company while cooking with and for each other.  My uncle and auntie both cook and learning how to make some Jamaican dishes was awesome. Uncle had some curry chicken waiting for us when we arrived and throughout the whole visit we lived in the kitchen, which is my favorite place in the house.  He made us breakfast, packed us hearty lunch for our day at Clearwater Beach and for the weekend he grilled some jerk pork, burgers, chicken, and hotdogs.

While looking through the refrigerator I remember auntie had some really ripe bananas and when I asked what they were for she told me she was going to make fritters.  I had no idea what Jamaican fritters were and didn’t think to much about them until I saw her make them for breakfast a few days later. WOW!!!!! They are my new favorite things to eat and I can’t wait for my bananas to ripen to make some. On Sunday morning auntie and uncle woke up early and made us a true Jamaican breakfast. We had fried dumpling, breadfruit, ackee & saltfish, plantain, callalo, bammy, saltfish fritters, and milo tea. Her daughters’ family came for breakfast and it was fun wearing our Jamaican t-shirts and eating as a big family.  For dinner uncle made us some oxtail with rice and peas and he made sure we always had something to eat and honestly we ate throughout the whole visit.  Home cooked meals are the best!!!!

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Breakfast spread!

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Jamaica!!!!

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I am grateful for my family and I truly love mine.

Uncle and auntie, we love and miss y’all so much.  Thank you so much for the love, time, laughs, and cooking lessons.  We are looking forward to next year!!!!!

Pasta Goodness!!!!

It’s been a long time…too long really.

Things has been really busy lately and honestly I haven’t made an attempt to write, but now since I have received some recipe requests for some of the food that I have prepared I think it’s about time that I start back up.  So with all the commotion in my life I finally started a business Instagram account (cateringbysv) and everything that I am cooking I post. I’m always looking for an opportunity to post something, from the mixing of cookie dough to the finishing touches of a meal.  I have been really encouraged with the likes and comments and now with the recipe requests, I am truly appreciative of the support and motivated to keep on doing what I enjoy.

Since last week was Spring Break, I attempted to cook and post something each day, but I think I only made it to day 4 because with a toddler to entertain, my time in the kitchen is limited. I played around with banana bread, kale & mango salad, and lemon cheesecake but the new item I made was Fettuccine & Veggies in a Garlic Cream Sauce.

The prep for the meal is a little labor intensive since you have to use a vegetable peeler for the carrots and asparagus, but otherwise the preparing of the meal is quick.

12 ounces Fettuccine noodles

2 medium sized carrots, peeled

1 lb thick asparagus steams

1 tablespoon butter

3 garlic cloves

1 cup cream

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots and asparagus lengthwise in long ribbons and put aside.

2. Add the fettuccine to the boiling water. Once the pasta is cooking, in another skillet saute the garlic with butter until soft.  Add the cream and broth, simmer and reduce until the sauce starts to thicken.

3. When the pasta is al dente, remove it with small strainer and add directly to the sauce, along with the carrots and asparagus, reserve the pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta and vegetables with the sauce, add some pasta water if the pasta seems dry or the sauce is too thick, season with salt and pepper.  Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with the grated parmesan.

As I previously said, this dish is a tad labor intensive, but well worth it.  You can add shrimp or chicken to make it a complete meal.

~Enjoy!

Lavender Honey Cupcakes

I have been wracking my brain and googling like crazy trying to find a recipe that will allow me to use lavender and I want to give recipe.com the credit because I found the perfect recipe. I usually don’t follow recipes, but I have to be honest, using lavender was a little intimidating for me. I have never used any type of floral ingredients in my cooking and while I was searching the many uses of lavender, I saw that using too much can make your food taste like soap.  Now I adore the smell and color of lavender, but cooking with it is way outside my comfort zone and I wasn’t going to be too adventurous with it until I understood the flavor it would bring.

I wanted to purchase an actual lavender plant, but I am not familiar with the season it grows in and the upkeep of it.  So I went to Williams-Sonoma to purchase some French Lavender and of course I got side-tracked looking at all the pretty shiny cooking equipment and tools and for minute, I forgot why I was in there, but my sons persistent questions about dinner jolted me back to reality.  I purchase the lavender and it sits in my cabinet for a couple of weeks until I find some use for it.  While looking through my recipe books I see a recipe for lavender chicken and remember that I am supposed to be preparing something with this floral ingredient and I come upon the perfect cupcake recipe, which is easy to make.

Before gathering my ingredients, the first thing I do is open the jar and the fragrance that comes out is wonderful!!!! Like I previously said, I adore the scent and leave the jar open.

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I double checked the recipe to make sure I have everything ready, but I am a little nervous because the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of lavender and the only thing I keep thinking of is soap, so I only use 1 1/2 teaspoons.  I put the cupcakes in the oven and start making the frosting and wait patiently for them to cool.  I try a piece without frosting and to my surprise, it was great and the lavender wasn’t too overpowering and paired with the honey frosting makes it perfect.

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I am so excited because I will be making an assortment of goodies for my church on Easter Sunday and these delicious cupcakes will be part of it!!!!

You can get the recipe here at www.recipe.com/lavender-honey-cupcakes/

 

 

 

Roasted Veggies

Here I am on Spring break, going through the freezer and fridge trying to find dinner for me and my son and I honestly thought that I had a good menu planned for the day.  Breakfast…check, lunch…check check, dinner…ummm, so I am staring and wondering what I can prepare, with only 1 hour before someone starts going through the pantry, asking for everything.  It’s too late to thaw anything and I don’t have any leftovers in the fridge, so I look in the pantry and realize I have an overabundance of beans. What can I do with beans that will appeal to me and my son?  I care about what he eats and I don’t want dinner to be bland or boring since he is being introduced to new foods on a regular.

Hmmm, I could do a meal with beans and veggies.

How am I going to pull it off with my son?  These days he loves pasta and cheese and I always sneak some type of veggies in because everyone knows cheese makes everything taste better and occasionally he will munch on chicken nuggets or meatballs. He’s not a big meat-eater, but I like him to have a balanced diet.  I grab a stock pot fill it with chicken broth, a pinch of salt, black pepper, diced onion and garlic and bring it to a boil. I look through the fridge for some veggies and grab some carrots, sweet and white potatoes and dice those up and put them in the oven to be roasted.  I use some lentils since they cook quickly and get a pot boiling for some rice.

So everything is about finished and smells great and I am looking forward to our dinner. I’m a little nervous because my son has never had a meal like this before, I’m usually trying to hide the healthy stuff or use a substitution, but I want him to learn to enjoy certain food items and try it until he likes it.  So I put his plate of rice, lentils, and roasted veggies in front of him and I make sure to separate everything and he stares at me and my plate. One thing I have learned is to lead by example, for us to eat the same exact meal together so he will see that we are both eating the same thing. He starts eating his rice and ignores the lentils, I tell him to try a piece of sweet potato and watch him munch on it and say…yum!!!! I was shocked and praised him for trying his veggie, we were doing high fives all during dinner.  He didn’t eat any of his lentils, but I was happy he ate his veggies and I found a new way to prepare them. Roasting the veggies brings out the natural sweetness in them, so you really don’t have to worry about doing too much. You can roast an assortment of veggies like squash, zucchini, peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, and you can even make a refreshing yogurt dip with baked pita chips to pair with them for a great appetizer.

 

Eggs!!!

Today I get the chance to relax with my feet in cold water and then propped up because I ended up falling yesterday on my way to work.  I’m so glad the swelling has gone down and I can walk without squinting in pain while I chase after my active 2 year old.  Let me tell you, my life will not slow down for him just because I got hurt, so I have to heal up quickly.  Now that I have ample time on my hands I can catch up on some writing while I shiver in this cold water.

I decided to title my blog as eggs because I recently bought some free-range eggs at the farmers market.  This was my first time ever trying these type of eggs and I was impressed.  A while ago my mom had bought some eggs from a co-worker who raises chickens and told me how delicious and rich the eggs were.  I was skeptical because they were green colored and even though I enjoy eggs, mentally I couldn’t get pass the color. So since I’m on this new adventure of my life with healthy, farm raised eating I gladly bought these eggs and the color of them are beautiful as you can see.

I have never seen rose colored eggs before and you notice only one egg is white.

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Time to get cracking!!!!

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I have to be honest, once I started making the eggs my mind started to play those tricks on me again, but I wasn’t going to be swayed.

I like my eggs over hard 🙂

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Well, they are rich tasting eggs and I refuse to buy regular store bought eggs again!!! Next time you are at the farmers market or at a local farm, pick up some eggs and you will enjoy them as much as I did.

 

 

 

Something New!

Well, I have finally made some time in my crazy, busy, expect the unexpected schedule to write.  I have drafts that need to be edited, notes, pictures, and half done recipes, but now I have some motivation to finish my projects and write about them. So tonight will be my first…

I had a great conversation with a friend of mine a few days ago and she had a great idea of us sharing helpful information that we write about each week, so I decided to write about something new I am trying. With my catering business starting up and my mom changing her diet, I have the opportunity to try different recipes which will test my versatility in the kitchen.  I am becoming more aware of the gluten-free diet and wanted to try to make something new tonight.

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Can anyone guess what these ingredients will make?

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Pretty assortment of colors!!!

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The finished product!!!

This was my own twist of Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and it was delicious.  I was full and satisfied and it felt great eating a healthy meal!!!
Thanks Kareen for this great idea and for this push of motivation I needed!!!

For more information on Kareen Fagan, you can follow her on enidbskincare.tumblr.com

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

2 cups of water or chicken broth
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 large cucumber, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 cups of grape tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of olive oil

Bring the water or chicken broth and garlic to a boil. Stir in quinoa, reduce heat medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove the garlic and transfer the quinoa to a large bowl.

Gently stir in cucumber, red onion, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese into the quinoa. Drizzle with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Add salt to to taste and stir until everything is evenly mixed.
This can be served warm or cold.

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(Re) Creations

Today was the day I was going to recreate a few of the food blogs that had caught my interest and this dish comes from the island where my mother was born, Jamaica.

I grew up on cornmeal porridge and it was always a treat whenever mom would make it on Saturday mornings. So today I decided to make a recipe I saw from Chef and Steward blog called Plantain Porridge. Now when I read the recipe I thought it was very easy, but different because whenever I eat plantain they are ripe and I usually pan fry them in butter and get them nice and crispy, but making green unripe plantains for a porridge peaked my interest and I had no idea how the porridge would taste.  I can say it was a little challenge peeling them, but all that work paid off and I started slowly simmering it on the stove.

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Once I let it simmer, while stirring continuously I added the next few ingredients and…

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I let it simmer some more, while stirring and…

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Here is the porridge and yes, it was very very good!!!

Thank you Chef and Steward.

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A New Experience!!!

Whew!!!!

Finally my son has gone to sleep and I can get some of my writing done. I have really missed writing about my cooking adventures and now that I’m not tired and the house is quiet, I can retrace my foot steps and share one my recent experiences.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of making dinner for some friends of ours and I had some cheese sauce that was left over from the macaroni & cheese I made. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but my mom suggested some broccoli & cheese soup. So a few days later with my nephews and niece over, I attempted to prepare the soup in between carving a pumpkin.  This was my first time carving and I had a blast, plus it was easy to do.

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So as we are carving, my soup was slowly bubbling on the stove and since I didn’t have to do much with it, I was able to enjoy this new experience.  I returned back to the kitchen and added the broccoli, turned off the stove and let the broccoli tenderly cook in the cheese soup.

This soup is perfect for the cold weather coming this weekend and will bring the coziness to your home.

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Enjoy!!!!

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

1/4 cup of melted butter

1 small chopped onion

1/4 cup of flour

2 cups of whole milk or half and half

1 1/2 cups of chicken stock

8 ounces of fresh broccoli

8 ounces of American cheese or shredded sharp cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. Saute chopped onion in butter.

2. Add flour and whisk over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir continually and add the milk or half and half.

3. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

4. Add the broccoli and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes.

5. Stir in the salt, pepper, and cheese; continue to cooking over low heat until the cheese is completely melted.