Sunday, November 2, 2014

How spices can rock your food

I often wonder why it is so hard for people to be positive. The first few minutes after you wake up, you have a choice. Make the day count or let it conquer you. Now, don't get me wrong, we all carry burdens that perhaps nobody knows about but once we step out that door there is a whole other world who may be experiencing something even worst. So what do we do? we moan and groan, get cranky with others and allow that bitterness to show through our work, our attitudes and body language. But what if for those few minutes in the morning we make a choice to not let those problems rule our day?
I challenge people all the time with different things depending on what the situation is and what they share with me. This is something we can all practice and it will not only bring you some peace, but you might make someones day that much better. Let that sink in...and try it. We can only control so many things in life!

The other day I got home from work and found that my sister had left ground turkey outside to make dinner. I am the first to say that I really don't like turkey that much but in this particular recipe you cannot even tell what it is. So after a couple of phone calls she tells me to use a recipe from a book that her friend gave her but after looking at the ingredients I realize that I am missing a few items not to mention not everyone likes onions in the house (yes- you read right, they have to be invisible in order to go on the table). Thankfully our spices are always on point and after taking out 6 different ones I decided to just wing it.

What you need:

2 Lbs of ground lean turkey
1/4 C Evoo
1 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 C of low sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion chopped
1 small tomato
1 Tbsp flour
3 cloves of garlic- mashed, peeled & chopped
1 Tsp of the following: cinnamon, oregano & cumin
2 Tbsp of chili powder
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
Salt & pepper
2 Tbsp tomato paste (if you do not have any, substitute for 1/2 c marinara and a little ketchup- what I did)
1 can of chili beans
Garnish: sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, chopped green onions

How to make:

In a large pot on high heat add the evoo, butter, onion and garlic and allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the chopped tomato and stir for about 1 minute. Add the turkey and break with a wooden spoon; saute until no longer pink. Sprinkle the flour and mix well, then add the paste or marinara and all the spices including the sugar. Allow to cook for 3 minutes. Add the beans and broth, combine well and bring heat down to medium (simmer). The time will vary depending on how you like your chili. If you like nice and thick then let it sit for maybe 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over white rice and add whatever garnish you like.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

So how long is something good?

How long is something good... What a question. It can be used for many things actually. Relationships, work, food, music.. it is endless what you can apply this question to. In life, we often hear "too good to be true" or "its so good it wont last long" and unfortunately this may be true. But what if we could just try to put a little extra effort into making good things last. Hmm, what a concept. I have said before that we are so busy trying to get through the day that we forget to enjoy the moment of something good.

How about if we just opened our eyes and right at that moment that we are either doing something good or experiencing something good and stop mentally pause and embrace the moment- build a memory-smile and take it all in. There is a multitude of experiences waiting to be remembered.. for example- every time I smell a good cologne or perfume I close my eyes and just saber those few seconds. Also, when I am in the car and all of the sudden that one song comes on- the volume goes up and I sing and dance and just forget the world. If only... if only we all did that on a daily basis. What a challenge.

Just like with has a shelf life also. I want to share with you some of the usual things you may be keeping in your pantry for longer than you thought. If you cannot remember how it has been sitting there...maybe you need to toss it out.

Baking powder/soda: 1 yr
Cake, frosting and cookie mixes: 1 yr
Canned meats, veggies, fruits, soups, milks and gravies: 1 yr unopened
Cereal: 6 months
Chocolate chips for baking: 1 yr
Coffee: 1 yr (refrigerate after opening)
Flour: 1 Yr
Herbs and spices (ground): 1 yr, keep in a cool place (not by the stove), refrigerate the red ones like paprika
Honey, molasses and syrups: 1 yr
Oils: 3 months
Pasta: 1 Yr
Peanut butter: 6 months
Rice: 2 yrs
Sugar: 2 yrs
Vinegars: 1 yr

OK..NOW we eat!

Couscous Salad

What you need:
1 1/2 C Water
2 tsp Evoo
1 C uncooked couscous
4 Oz Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 C Kalamata olives
1 C Cherry tomatoes
1/2 Cucumber, chopped
Salt & Pepper- to taste

How to make:
Boil water and evoo. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let it stand for 3 minutes. Fluff. Add all the ingredients and toss.

2 Tbsp evoo
2 Tbsp Lemon juice
1/4 Tsp salt

Whisk all ingredients and add to couscous.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What's in your fridge?

Sometimes it is good just to try new things. I have talked about this before in my posts and it may sound repetitive but I truly believe that when people just get out of their comfort zones things change. Perhaps it is scary for a lot of people but without taking risks and learning new things life just becomes a routine. Dull and boring but really all it takes is a little time and creativity to find that something that just may get you in a happy place. Yes, time is precious and tight but if you are having fun and experiencing something new- time does not matter. I have learned this the hard way. Being a nurse I see on a daily basis how this affects so many people and I always respond like this- just get out there and do it now before the chance to do it goes away.

With that said... I totally free-styled in the kitchen today. No set menu or recipe, just opened the fridge and the pantry and threw a few things together. Warning- this may not always work especially if you really do not feel comfortable in the kitchen but once you start to know what flavors go together then the experimenting gets easier and a lot more fun. Here we go-

What you will need: (may vary depending on what is in your fridge)
Pork tenderloin:
1 1/2 Lbs pork tenderloin
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp Evoo
1 Tsp butter
Salt & pepper
1/2 C red wine (one that you would drink!)

How to make:
Mix all the spices and rub on the tenderloin. On medium high heat place a skillet and add the evoo and butter. When the butter melts, sear the pork for 5-10 minutes on each side until a nice crust forms. Place in an oven safe pan, pour the wine on top and let it finish cooking in the oven at 350 degrees until internal temperature of 150-160 degrees. This will usually take about 30 minutes per pound of pork. Take it out of the oven and let it rest- DO NOT cut right away otherwise the juices will not redistribute properly.

Pasta with mushrooms:
16 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 C white wine (one that you would drink!)
1/2 C marinara sauce
2 C cleaned & chopped baby portabella mushrooms
1 Tsp dried basil
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp Evoo
1 Tsp butter
Salt & pepper
Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

How to make:
Boil pasta as directed in the instructions of the box. In a separate pan on medium high heat, add the evoo and butter and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes *be careful because garlic burns fast and it will get bitter*. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute for a couple of minutes- just until you see the mushrooms change color Add the wine and allow to cook for 2 more minutes. Add the paste, marinara basil and sprinkle some of the cheese - mix well. Drain the pasta (leave a little of the water in the pot) and add the mushroom sauce and mix everything well. At this point anything else is game- taste the pasta and if you want to add a little sweetness add a little ketchup (trust me this works wonders to balance the acidity in most red sauce pasta sauces). Add more seasoning and cheese as desired.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Homesick...Oh so homesick!

Today I saw a video online that made me incredibly homesick. I have been blessed with amazing traveling experiences and even though some of those places have taken my breath away- there is nothing better than to be at home. For me home is Medellin, Colombia. There are so many things I could share with you about my country that it would be endless. What I can tell you is that the people there are always willing to party and lend a hand when needed, the food is amazing, there are many beautiful places to visit, music of all kinds and traditions that will always be alive.

Thankfully I live in a city that is flooded with Colombians so I have access to a lot of the typical foods- not to mention what we make at home. One thing that is a must in this- or any- Colombian house though is the arepa. Now, many people try to translate this to a corn flatbread or patty but in my book there is no other word than what it is.. Arepa. This versatile food is made of ground maize dough and it can be baked, fried or grilled. It is a staple in every Colombian house. We can practically eat this as breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner. They can be small, large, cut in pieces, stuffed.. you get the point. I want to share with you some of my favorite things to put on it and even though some may sound a little bizarre- they end up being oh so delish!

Cooked Arepa

~Scrambled eggs, cheese and ketchup- pile it up but before you do make sure you put butter on it
~Calentao- whatever you had the night before (chicken, beef and even fish) mix it with rice, throw an egg into the mix and boom!
~Ham, cheese and crackers with any flavor jelly
~Butter and salt. Simple and to the point.

~Tuna- mix a can of tuna with ketchup, mayo, pepper. Butter the arepa, add cheese then spread the tuna, add some avocado -- fire!
~Cheese, ham, fried egg, and a big slice of pineapple.. heaven.
~Shrimp- defrost, cook. Mix with mayo and ketchup. Butter, cheese, pile on the shrimp and dive in
~Ketchup and lime. Say what? yes.. if you are using it as a side dish, get a small plate, drop some ketchup and lime.. mix it. Break off a piece of arepa and dip it in there.
~Shredded beef. Enough said... any style will go good on top.
~Pork cooked with fruit.. the next day. Yum...

~Condensed milk. Yes.. I took it there.

**Note: they usually come frozen if you buy them at the store, so you need that little contraption you see above. Set on high heat and place arepa on one side until it starts to change color. DO NOT walk away because it can burn!. Flip it to the other side and repeat process. If you like it crispy, just flip it for a little longer.

Ok so I think you get my point here. Give them a try, there are plenty of recipes online on how to make them with flour if that is all you have available. If making them is too hard, find them in your local market and even online. Have fun, you can pretty much put anything on these.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Explore the Unknown

The foodie world is one that can be dangerous. It sucks you in in so many sick and twisted ways that in the blink of an eye you can be spending a pretty penny while putting on some serious weight. It is fun, adventurous, exciting but most of all (at least for me) it is an outlet to be creative and feed my passion. With that said, I have this idea that one day I will win the lotto- stop being a nurse, get myself a food truck and hit the road!-- hey, a girl can dream.

I love food trucks and apparently they love me back- they love my hips in particular hahahaha...  But can I just take a moment and talk about a seriously delicious truck- Mr. PB&J. All things peanut butter- heaven in this girls book for sure. You name it, they have it.. and speaking of naming... they came up with this new incredible concoction that needed a name. Long story short- they had a contest to name it and guess who won...this girl right here! Got dibs on the very first one also. So please, if you are ever in South Florida and see this truck- stop, and ask for a "leggomybacon" and get ready to dive into waffles, with bananas, grape jelly, bacon and peanut butter... It is ok to mix it up, explore the unknown, you never know if you will like it until you try it.
Below- the face of satisfaction!

So what can you do with peanut butter? The list is endless.

Quick pick me up before a workout or a healthy snack:
Toasted wheat bread, PB and sliced bananas

Grape jelly stuffed vanilla cupcakes with PB frosting (I have made this... party in your mouth!)

Dipping sauce for chicken:
Whisk 1/2 cup PB and 1/2 cup soy sauce. Stir in 3 tblsp vegetable oil and 2 tblsp rice vinegar

Butter crackers, chocolate spread, PB

Twist on leggomybacon:
Toast, PB, bacon and bananas. Grill it and serve with spicy strawberry or grape jelly for dipping

Give it a shot... there are so many things you can do with PB.


Saturday, April 5, 2014


Sometimes it is just easy to imagine things. We have the potential of coming up with ideas that can change our lives but often are afraid to just let go and be creative. With that said, I think it is good for the soul to take some time and just write things down- what do you want to learn next? what will be your next adventure? what can you change in your personal life? It can be endless but that list can become a timeline of goals to be achieved. It is so easy to get caught in the daily routine that we forget that there are endless things out in the world to be explored. Getting lost in the world of possibilities can truly give you that extra push to get things done. Just let that sink in.. and give it a try- yes, it is that simple.

So here we go. Here is a quick simple recipe for when you have to feed masses.

Pasta with chicken a la whatever you have in the cabinet (true story)

What you need:

4 Lbs thawed chicken tenderloins, cut into bite size pieces
2 boxes of 12 Oz Rotini pasta
2 Jars of 24 Oz four cheese marinara sauce
1 Cup Pinot Grigio
1/2 C pecorino cheese
1/2 C parmesan cheese
Italian dry seasoning
Dry Oregano
Salt & Pepper

How to make:

On a tray or large bowl sprinkle the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to the chicken pieces until coated on all sides and set aside (make sure you dry the chicken with paper towels before doing so, getting rid of the excess water will prevent oil from jumping at you when they cook). On medium high heat, place 1 tbsp. of evoo and 1 tbsp. of butter in a large skillet. Once the butter is melted, add the chicken in batches- do not overcrowd otherwise the chicken will boil and do not start tossing the chicken, let it sit a couple minutes before turning it (this will make it nice and brown/crunchy). Remove and set aside to let it rest, repeat this process until all the chicken is cooked (add more evoo and butter as needed).
In a large pot with boiling water, put the pasta to cook on high heat.
Use the same skillet where the chicken was cooked for the sauce. Set on medium high heat, add a little more butter and scrape the bottom- these pieces of chicken will give the best flavor so do not get rid of them. Add the wine and let it cook a few minutes, then add the marinara sauce, stir for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients- oregano, both cheeses and a little more of the Italian seasoning. Lastly, add the chicken again making sure it is all covered by the sauce.
When the pasta is ready, combine with the chicken and the sauce.
Take a moment and taste- adjust seasoning as needed.
This can feed 20 people or 10 with large portions.