Friday, May 27, 2011

Visiting Nana...

My Nana, Lillian, is going to be 90 or 91 on her next birthday this coming August.
 (??? forgive me for not knowing exactly…I think it gets to the point where you stop counting he he)
She is currently and happily residing in a little nursing/assisted home not too far away from where I live. She recently moved in there and it is an adjustment; a new setting, new roommate, new atmosphere, so I thought what better way to give her a little pick me up then bringing her a taste of home.

Growing up Nana lived with my family; she was a second mom to my sister and I. I remember being very young helping her in the kitchen. She was a great cook, but baking was her thing.  Especially around the holiday time she would spend days in the kitchen making homemade bread, cookie dough’s, traditional pastries, and pies. I guess you could say that I inherited some of her patients in the kitchen, and also maybe her frustration…like if crusts wouldn’t come out of the mold, or something would burn…eek.

If you have a grandma or a grandpa who are great cooks, GET THEIR RECIPES and WRITE THEM DOWN....we have to keep our traditional foods going! 

 Dough for pecan shortbread cookies...

 Yummy Final Product, So simple Pecan Short Bread

There’s nothing better than fresh baked cookies to brighten someone’s day J.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Perfect Day for a 1 year old Birthday Party

Yesterday was Will's first birthday party. We celebrated with lots of family and friends in the backyard of my sisters home with amazing homemade treats like candied apples, cotton candy, fresh popped popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, a kids dream.

It was Will's Big Top Circus, hence all of the circus/carnival themed foods. We also decorated the yard with streamers, balloons, a clown pinata, circus animals and more...and check out our circus tent cake. J

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Welcome home to me

Although my patio in Dedham is not quite the same as the patio (with private pool and Jacuzzi) that Phil and I had in St. Lucia, it is great to be home. Home sweet home, so comfy, my own blankets, my Basil puppy and my own home cooked foods.

Ohhh how I missed vegetables, fresh pasta, whole grains and comfort food. The resort food was ok, it had many restaurants to chose from. There was a Italian Restaurant, a Caribbean Restaurant, a British Pub (which we were able to see the Red sox and Bruins games, and managed to exchange words with some NY fans...story for another day), a Japanese Teppenyaki, a French Restaurant, a Steak House, and a few more that we didn't even get the chance to go to.

My favorite part of the week was the fresh fruits. Passion fruit, ommmmgosh, passion fruit, the most powerful and wonderful tasting, yet weirdest textures and grossest looking fruit you could ever eat. I ate my weight (almost every day) in passion fruit.

The local beer was called Piton, named after the famous twin peaks in St. Lucia. It was sort of similar to a Corona, so I always asked for it with a lime, even though that's not the traditional way. Our Suite had a little mini bar that also had a large amount of liquor to chose from, juices, lots of seltzer and sodas, Champagne and wines. The fridge was so cold that most of the time things froze together.

One thing I wanted to touch on in reference to our vacation is safe preparation, cooking, serving and storage of food. In a Caribbean Island and even in Boston in the summer we have to be careful of our food in the hot weather so that we don’t make our guests sick with food poisoning causing little bacteria’s.

Some safe cooking tips:

Cutting boards – designate your cutting boards. Have one for vegetables, one for meats and poultry and one for fruits. Meats and Poultry can carry bacteria like Salmonella, and when we cook our proteins it is not a concern but when sharing cutting boards it is possible for the bacteria to get on your fruits and veggies and make you sick.

Cooking your meats – most of us like out meats medium rare or medium but you do want to make sure that you are cooking those meat to the proper temperature to make sure you kill our little bacteria friends.

Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot – the colder foods are kept, the slower bacteria and germs will grow, this is why frozen foods last so much longer. Your refrigerator should be kept at 40oF or lower and your freezer should be kept at 0oF or lower. Hot foods should NEVER be left out for more than 2 hours. Germs thrive at room temperature.

Thawing — The safest way to thaw meat is to take it out of the freezer and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. Do not thaw meat on the kitchen counter. Again, germs thrive and grow faster at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Greetings from my Vacation!

Hello All, Phil and I are in St. Lucia, the beautiful and amazing Sandals Grande resort. Right now, as I write to you Philly is getting a massage and I am sunbathing on the back patio of our Private Beach Rondoval.

Last year, when celebrating our Honeymoon at Sandals in Jamaica we had a little run in with a hurricane, a flood and an emergency hotel change. To make a long and excruciating story short Sandals allowed for us to take our second vacation with them with a pretty hefty discount so here we are!

I have been exploring the food world of this Island since we arrived. On the private ride from the airport our driver was very informative and knowledgeable about the exports and local flavors. One of the most interesting thing that we saw and learned about were banana trees. Many years ago, before tourism came to the Caribbean, bananas, sugar, and other local produce were the primary mean of income for the government and people of this Island. At this time, they still export there yummy bananas to England but Tourism has take over as the main source of income. There are banana trees all over the Island even today, when you drive through the beautiful villages on the side of the road you can see them. Each banana tree takes about 9 months to grow from its seed. Each tree produces about 4 large bunches of fruit and then they cut the tree down because they only fruit once. (I didn’t know any of this...very cool).

The resort itself has many selections for food, one restaurant that serves traditional Caribbean cuisine with a menu filled with jerk spices and ceviche, they also have Italian, French, a London themed pub, and tonight we are going to travel to another hotel for Japanese teppanyaki. Over the weekend we will be going on an Island tour which will include scenic view of the famous Pitons (mountains here on the island-the name of their yummy local beer) a tour of the natural sulfur springs and active volcano, and a local lunch buffet including traditional Creole inspired foods.

When we get home, of course I will share photos of our adventure, photos of all out lizard friends we have found in our yard and of course pictures of the food!

Cheers with my Piton beer and lime to you all! J

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Arepa Recipe

An arepa is a dish made of ground corn dough or cooked corn flour. It is a dish popular in some Latin American Countries such as Colombia and Venezuela. It is similar in taste to a traditional corn tortilla, but is thicker and can be stuffed with all kinds of yummy things!

Arepa Recipe

1 cup Maize Flour (see photo below-can be found at almost all supermarkets)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt, optional
shredded cheese, for topping

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal and salt. Pour in water and mix with a wooden spoon to form dough. Using wet hands, form balls of dough out of about 1/4 cup of dough and press to form a cake.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the patties, to form a light brown crust on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side. When all the arepas have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400*F. Serve immediately with topping or filling of your choice.  Makes 6-8 cakes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Countdown to a Healthy Cinco de Mayo

Cinco De Mayo or the 5th of May is a day that I love to celebrate! Mexican and Latin food combinations are my FAVORITE in the whole culinary world. Cilantro, lime, sour cream, avocados, rice, beans yummmmmmm. Traditional cooking usually includes a lot of grease, salt, and other things that we know are not great for us but you know you can count on me to make this holiday guilt free and satisfying with easy and simple recipes. 
Food Fashionista's Margarita
Juice of 1/2 lime (or 2 packets of True Lime)
1 shot of silver Tequila (I like Milagro)
1 packet of sweetener (Splenda, Equal, Sweet&Low, Stevia)
Seltzer Water

Rim 1/2 of an 8 oz glass with salt. Squeeze lime and add sweetener and tequila. Add Ice and top off with Seltzer. Stir and serve.
**Salting only half of the glass gives you that satisfying flavor but cuts back on the sodium and helps avoid possible dehydration from too much salt.

Lime-y Cinco Ingredient Chicken Salad
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded into small pieces
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped green onion
½ cup diced tomatoes
Lime juice, salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, shred chicken in small pieces (discarding skin an bones) Add black beans, cilantro green onions and tomatoes and mix together. Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve with tortilla chips.

Lime-y Cinco Ingredient Chicken Salad
Columbian Arepa (a handmade corn cake with melted cheese and cilantro)
 Simple Radish Salad with Chili Lime Seasoning
 Traditional Guilt Free Mojito
Shrimp Ceviche
 Beef Taco
 Fresh Baked Tortilla Chips
 Food Fashionista Raspberry Martini and Margarita

Please Comment if you want recipes or need help modifying one of your favorites!!!!
Hasta Luego!! J