Friday, March 14, 2014

I give because it's in my nature to give...

Recently I decided to jump on this Facebook "pay-it-forward" movement because as you have read in my past posts I am kinda into this sort of thing. Originally I thought, ehh not many people will reply or truly understand why this is important for me. Well the post reads as follows:

I'm participating in a Pay-It-Forward initiative: the first 5 people who comment on this status with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year - anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.

These 5 people should (note the change- if you cannot do this it is ok, I still want to do something nice for you) make the same offer in their Facebook status. If you're in, copy this text on your profile (don't 'share'). Doing nice stuff for other people makes me happy if it makes them happy so here's to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.

Even though I called for 5 responses I got 7, and 3 of them did not really want to participate, they just commented on what a caring gesture that would be. Well I have now completed 3 of the 7 and I am working on the 4th. Cant I just tell you how amazing it feels? AMAZING!!!! All it takes is a little creativity and lots of love. If only more people would jump on this.. giving is simply contagious.. in my humble view anyways.
I decided to dedicate a blog to all 8 recipients when I complete the movement. So stay tuned.
Now gimme some food!!
Fish Tacos in a jiffy
What you need:
For the fish-
1 Lb of fish (Cod, Halibut, Tilapia- any will do). Cut in small pieces.
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Lime, zested and juiced
1/4 C canola (vegetable) oil
Salt & pepper
Mix everything, set aside in the fridge for at least one hour.
For the slaw-
1-2 C of mixed cabbage (this is so good you may wanna stick to the 2 C)
3 Scallions, cleaned and chopped
1/4 C White vinegar
2 Tblsp Honey
1/3 C Canola oil
Salt & pepper
Mix everything, set aside on room temp only if you are going to use within an hour. Otherwise put in fridge. Taste, if it is to acidic add a little more honey.
Avocado or guacamole
Fresh salsa
Shredded cheese
Yellow Corn tortillas
There are 2 options to cook the fish. Bake it in the over at 350, for 8-10 mints or grill it if you can.
If you opt to bake, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and bake them at the same time. 
Add all those yummy toppings to the warm tortillas and enjoy these tacos with a nice cold beer.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

28 Days later..

And so 2014 continues its race to go quickly to the end. So I ask you, what have you accomplished already? You see, every single day that goes by is an opportunity to learn, to live, to love but we are so caught up in the daily routine that we forget that time has no mercy. I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to take a moment of your day and just do something out of your regular activities. Sit outside and enjoy the silence and look at the clouds pass by, go out and take a cooking or painting class, go skydiving, volunteer.. The opportunities are endless. YES they are, I do not care what excuse you have- it is just that an EXCUSE!
So stop making excuses and get going! The worst feeling on earth (in my humble opinion) is regret.

On to the FOOD...
This recipe is an adaptation of Ina Gartens crunchy Asian noodles. It is so dang good it makes me sick!

Asian Noodles

What you need:
Kosher salt
1 Lb thin spaghetti
1 Lb sugar snap peas
3/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
1/3 C soy sauce
3 Tblsp dark sesame oil
1 Tblsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced (use a microplane, the smaller the better)
1 Tsp grated fresh ginger
3 Tblsp toasted white sesame seeds, divided
1/2 C smooth peanut butter
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
3 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
3 Tblsp chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

How to make:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the sugar snap peas, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Lift the sugar snap peas from the water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside. This is called blanching.

For the dressing, whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.

Combine the spaghetti, sugar snap peas, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the parsley and toss together.

Tips: You can skip the sesame seeds if you cannot find them. If you want more crunch you can use crunchy peanut butter or simply add chopped peanuts. Pair this with pretty much anything, I opted for a simple piece of salmon marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and roasted parmesan asparagus.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Passion for life

So what does it take to be on the road to greatness? PASSION!
I cannot begin to share with you all how many people I come across that lack this. It is almost like if they have lost that "something" to get through the day. So I asked myself, why? What is that makes people not be able to find this within themselves...and well there is a multitude of answers. However, the biggest obstacle that stops people from feeling passion, being successful, accepting change and from being is themselves.

The saying "do what you love and you will not work a day in your life" is true in my book. Yes, I know that sometimes we have to sacrifice things in order to survive and pay bills but life is made up of much more than that. To me, passion is incredibly important and every day no matter what I do or who I talk to, not only do I look to find that passion in others but I try to spread it. I read an article recently that discussed habits of passionate people and they are so on point that I hope you take a moment to seek these habits within you or in those around you.

20 Habits Passionate People Live by:
Courage, excitement, determination, positivity, single-mindedness, growth-oriented, selective, non-perfectionistic, prioritized, self-motivated, acceptance, generous, non-balance, personal power, happiness, fun, perspective, realistically dreamy, conditionally open-minded, excuse-free.

Let it sink in...and make small changes in your life to make things happen!

Now...FOOD! Being so close to the super-bowl, why not impress at that game day party...

Crowd pleaser...guaranteed and super quick!
This is my version of a sanduchon aka stacked sandwich:

What you will need:
1 loaf of sliced bread
Sliced ham
Sliced turkey
Sliced cheese
Cream cheese (flavored or plain)
Added extras: pickles, tomatoes, bacon etc...

How to make:
Cut off the crust from the whole bread. Mix a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese with a couple of mayo (try to get it as smooth as possible). Spread enough to cover one slice of bread, then add ham, turkey, cheese and any of the added extras (I personally like it just without the extras). Spread some more of the cream cheese-mayo mix on another slice of bread on both side and keep stacking until you do the whole loaf. Be careful not to let it fall. Lay out on a flat surface a large piece of bounty on top of foil. Gently lay the stacked sandwich down and wrap first in the bounty then the foil. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or in the freezer for 1 hour so that it is easy to slice.

Tips: too tall? do half the loaf, alternate flavors. Use a serrated knife when you slice. Kick up the flavor by adding some pineapple jelly.. yes trust me it is hmm hmm good!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Appreciation for profession!

So as May comes to an end I sit back and remember how special it is to let those around know how admirable it is what they do for a living. There is no such thing as a bad job, only blind people who do not appreciate what they have. When I was forced to leave my passion for food career and jump into nursing I thought I would die...and I think deep down inside, my soul did. Almost 5 years later I can say that being a nurse has taught me many things. I get to help people heal and overcome very difficult moments which is just simply amazing and self gratifying. Do I think I will do this forever? Perhaps not but for right now it is what I am meant to do.

Therefore, not only is it nice to have a whole week celebrating nurses during this month, but all careers should be appreciated. Teachers, firefighters, environmental staff, cooks, secretaries etc... We all work hard and deserve to be recognize for what we do. So next time you are out with your friends simply tell them how much you appreciate what they do- because in a way they too are helping someone in need.

Here is my version of a yummy chicken recipe that I got from Kraft foods. Make sure you do NOT skip a step otherwise it may come just blah! ha ha..feel free to make your version.

Chicken and Potatoes

What you need:
1/4 C Classic ranch dressing
6 Skinless chicken thighs with bone
4 Bacon slices chopped
1 1/2 Lb Small red skin potatoes, washed, cut in half or quartered
1 Small chopped yellow onion
1 C (or more) of 3 cheese blend, shredded
1/2 C cream cheese, soft
2 Tbsp of chopped parsley
1 C Mild or spicy salsa

How to make:

Place chicken in a container and pour dressing over it. Let it marinade in fridge for 30 minutes turning it half way through. 
In a large pan cook the bacon until crispy. Set aside on paper towels to get rid of excess grease. To that same pan (with the bacon grease) add the onions and allow to cook for a minute, then add the potatoes and brown for about 5 minutes. Take the potatoes out and set aside. If you have little grease left over or none add a tbsp of evoo, and sear the chicken thighs quickly. Do this by placing them on high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side and set them aside.
In an oven proof baking dish (13x9 inch), place the potatoes, then the chicken on top of them. Place in a preheated oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Allow to bake for 1 hr until you feel the potatoes soft, or the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees. Take out and spread the cream cheese on the chicken, pour the salsa around everything and sprinkle the shredded cheese. Put back in oven for a few minutes to allow cheese to melt.
Before serving add parsley.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Corn Salad

I love me some corn. Out of the can, grilled, in salads, in rice, even in dessert! It is a versatile little yummy, color popping, sweet or spicy under appreciated vegetable. In my opinion anyways... It is perfect for any BBQ because even if it doesn't go on the grill, it can travel as a side dish and in all honesty, I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like it. At least until now. Plus, it is used sometimes to make beer and Bourbon Whiskey..hmm I'm just saying!

Here is a quick simple way of making a side dish fit for any event.

Corn & Bean Salad

What you need:

1 Can of sweet low sodium corn
1 Can of Black Beans (seasoned preferably)
1/2 C of Red Bell Pepper Chopped
1/2 C of Green Bell Pepper Chopped
1/3 C Shallots Chopped
1/3 C Cilantro
1 Tsp of Minced Garlic
2 Limes Juiced
Salt & Pepper

Toss everything in a large bowl and let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours so that the flavors can marinate. You can add chili powder, chopped jalapeno and cumin for a different flavor twist. Also, you can adjust the amount of lime juice and cilantro- remember these are similar flavors and they can make it nice and bright.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to let it go..

Another month has gone by and we are only getting closer to ending this year! Like I have said before, every time I embark on a conversation with a friend, family or a stranger there is one thing I keep in my mind- this is a learning opportunity. With that said just today I had a conversation with someone that is struggling with something that we all struggle with at some point in our lives. Anger.

Now, you must be thinking "ugh, why talk about that?" But I urge to take a minute to read this and just let it sink in. People often act on impulse without taking into consideration who will get hurt. We are human and we all make mistakes. If there is one thing I have learned in life is that no person is ever worth carrying that anger inside your heart. Yes, it can be hard to forgive, but even if you never speak to that person again- the important part is healing the soul. There is nothing more sad than to see someone struggle with a heavy heart for years, so fight your inner demons, stop and let things go. Life is too short to live like that. I know, easier said than done...but how will you know that you can overcome that if you do not try?? ..Food for thought.

Here is a simple and different way to present mac'n cheese at your next get together. Play with the recipe, change the ingredients, but try the original first. It will not disappoint.

What you need:
1 Box of elbow pasta (I use the one that is made with veggies for extra flavor)
1 Cup of triple blend shredded cheese
1 Cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
5-6 asparagus, blanched and cut into 1/2 in pieces
5 slices of your favorite ham cut into small squares
1/2 Cup milk
Italian bread crumbs
Cooking spray
Salt & pepper
Garlic Salt

How to make:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.Cook pasta al dente (about 8-10 mins), make sure to salt the water. While it cooks, spray a mini muffin tin with the cooking spray and sprinkle each one with the bread crumbs. Mix both cheeses and add to drained past right after it is done cooking off the heat. Add the ham and season with garlic salt, and pepper (go easy with this stuff it can overpower the flavor). If you like it more cheesy you can add more cheese, if it is very gooey add a little of the milk to loosen it up. Use a tablespoon and spoon the pasta into each muffin space gently just to the top. Carefully place a piece of the tomato and of the asparagus on top. Sprinkle a little more of the bread crumbs on top and place muffin tin into oven for 10-15 mins or until the paste turns golden. Once you take it out of the oven let it sit for a few minutes before unmolding-- DO NOT skip this step, they will fall apart if you try to unmold too soon.
This dish will wow crowds..