Pages

PLANTAINS...I LOVE Them....

In case you think I've been dumpster diving...I have NOT!


These are NOT rotten bananas...They are plantains...and they're finally ready to fry.

I've fallen in love with sweet plantains since I first enjoyed them at the Cuban restaurant a block from our condo.

If you are frying them to make a sweet version you want to wait to use them until they are almost black and very soft..  But if you want to have them taste more like a starchy potato...use them when they are still firm and they look more like a regular banana.  (So far I am NOT a fan of this preparation, but I'll keep trying.)

These black plantains are ready for the skillet.
Split the skin with a knife.



Fry over medium heat in a small amount of Canola oil...but watch closely...Since the plantains have ripened completely, all the sugar has come to the surface, so because of their high sugar contact they will burn quickly!


When browned...they're done!  You can sprinkle with a small bit of sugar and a sprinkle of salt.  (Salt brings out even more of the sweetness.)


These make a great snack...or a delicious side dish.

YUM...

Baking Tip...

When making any kind of batter that includes raisins, be sure to stir them into part of the dry ingredients before folding them into the batter.


 This will help to keep the raisins suspended in the cake and will keep them from settling to the bottom of the baking pan.

A French Chef...And a French Omelet

Recently, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast outside at a cute little spot close to home...Michael's Cafe.


The chef, Michael, is French.  And he serves an omelet that I've never seen anywhere else...
His French Omelet.


It is absolutely delicious...so puffy...and light as air.

It's made with three eggs, ham, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese.  And his secret ingredient?? 
Garlic croutons!  (I think they're homemade.)

It's an amazing concoction.

And it's obviously too big for ONE sitting.  So I bring home half to enjoy another day.

Ahh...Oui!

Mushroom Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Today was a day to clean out the refrigerator.

I thawed out some chicken breasts, and I didn't want to do the same old, same old recipes.

So I began to pull stuff out of the refrigerator and I created a new dish...

MUSHROOM CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 half chicken breasts, thawed
6 oz. chive and onion cream cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 box mushrooms, chopped
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
fresh herbs-whatever you have-(I used oregano, basil and thyme)
2 eggs, beaten...in a bowl
Panko bread crumbs...in a bowl


METHOD
First, I sauteed the onion, garlic and mushrooms the olive oil.  Then I stirred in the cream cheese until melted.  I added the fresh spinach and stirred until wilted.


When all ingredients were combined, I cooled the mixture in the refrigerator.


Then I cut a slit in the chicken breasts and I stuffed the mixture in the breasts and used a skewer to seal the edge.  Then I dipped the breasts in beaten eggs, and rolled them in Panko bread crumbs. Spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray.


I placed the chicken in an ovenproof skillet and baked in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes...or until 160 degrees.  (Run under the broiler if you want to brown the top more.)  Let rest for about ten minutes before carving...


It was a DELICIOUS way to use up leftovers...


And I froze one for another meal!  SUCCESS!

Tuna and Mushroom Spaghetti Pie

The other night, I cooked more spaghetti than we needed for dinner.  So I put about two cups of THE plain pasta in the refrigerator and decided to figure out what to do with it later.

So on Friday, I was brainstorming for a new twist on tuna...and I came up with this recipe from Ruth Lee on the website Taste of Home...

Of course, I "tweaked" her recipe to use what I had on hand in our cupboard..and I added mushrooms because I love them.

TUNA SPAGHETTI PIE    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

"CRUST"
4 oz. spaghetti, cooked, cooled and chopped (About two cups of cooked pasta)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 garlic clove. minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine the "crust" ingredients and press into a 9 inch pie plate or a round cake pan.  Set aside.



"FILLING"

1 T. finely chopped onion
1 T. EVOO (olive oil)
1 T. flour
1/2 tsp. Seasoning Salt
salt and pepper-optional
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sour cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup portabello mushrooms
1 can tuna-drained and flaked
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese-divided
1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
fresh parsley, chopped


Saute the onion and mushrooms in olive oil.  Stir in the flour and spices. Mix in half of the Parmesan cheese and the milk, sour cream and egg.  Stir into the onion mixture.  Gently fold in the tuna.


Pour onto the "crust" and top with the sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and the chopped parsley.


Sprinkle a little salt on the tomatoes.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for approx 30-40 minutes or until filling starts to bubble.


Cut into wedges and serve.


Another "rainbow dinner".  
(And hubby says this recipe is a keeper.)

Mother Nature Knows Best

Some people head to the store to pick out a good air freshener...


But I simply walk out the door and pick some gardenias outside our condo.

You won't find anything like that sweet, intoxicating smell in Aisle 3.
And don't mess with Mother Nature.

HOBO'S GRILL, Wilton Manors, Florida

It took a minute to realize how the owners of this neat bar and grill came up with the name.  But the owners, HOward and BOb simply combined their names (and their talents) to create the great place in Wilton Manors...HOBO'S.


A cute idea!


Recently we stopped there for lunch...and we realized we had hit the jackpot!  It was a Monday...and at HOBO'S that means it's BURGERS & HOT DOG DAY!  Your Choice! For $6! Amazing...


Our kind waiter was very patient as he explained the deal.

Pick FOUR ITEMS to put on your handmade hamburger.  And lettuce and tomato don't even count!  
It was a challenge...especially since I was just wanting a plain old burger.

But we played along...and after MUCH thought and discussion I had a burger...with bacon, Swiss, mushrooms and grilled onions...and lettuce and tomato! (Can you spell lunch...AND DINNER?)


I was also required to pick a side dish so I picked their homemade potato salad with bacon.  It was OK...but it definitely lacked some seasoning and it was rather dry, so next time I would choose something else.

But when you have a burger that contains everything but the kitchen sink, a SIDE dish is a moot point anyway!

The outside dining area was neat, clean and pleasant.  While waiting for our food, I walked inside and  discovered a really cool, HUGE bar/restaurant that looked like a clean and happy place to hang out.

Wilton Manors is loaded with neat bars and restaurants...and HOBO'S is a new spot that will fit in and become a must-stop place.

On Monday...or ANY day of the week!

SPLASH BAR AND GRILL, Fort Lauderdale

Some places are hard to find...but worth the effort.
And one of those places is SPLASH BAR AND GRILL.


It's tucked away behind the swimming pool at an unassuming motel on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale.  



But once you find it, you may feel like you've arrived at a beachfront bar along the coast...or in a Key West dive on Duval Street.


If you're lucky, our pal Nancy may be behind the bar...


Or you may arrive on a day when the bar is hosting GUEST bartenders...maybe "Beach Mike"...


Or our good friend Tracey...


And on our last visit, we ran into old friends Ann and Dave from Ann Arbor...


The food is good...the beer is cold...
And you're sure to find friendly faces...on BOTH sides of the bar!

Mom's Strawberry Shortcake...With a Basil Twist

Last week I bought some fresh Florida strawberries.  (Yes, they are in season now.)

They've been sitting in our refrigerator...just staring at me.  I didn't want them to go to waste, so I decided to stir up one of my Mom's famous shortcakes to  make the dessert special.

Her recipe?  SO MUCH BETTER than those little "cakes" they sell next to the fresh berries...

MOM'S SHORTCAKE

Preheat oven to 450 degrees  (Yes, Virginia...FOUR fifty!!)

1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder

Cream sugar and butter, then add egg and milk and mix well.  Mix dry ingredients together and add to butter and sugar mixture.  (Mixture will be quite thick)



Spread into 9 or 10 inch pie pan or cake pan.  No need to spread out completely...it can be sort of "free-form" if you'd like.   Whatever floats your boat.


Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.



MY STRAWBERRIES with FRESH BASIL

1 box of berries, washed, hulled and sliced or mashed
a sprinkle of sugar-depending on how sweet they already are
a few drops of real vanilla extract
several leaves of fresh basil, thinly shredded


You can also add a little water to the berries...if you'd like more "juice".

Mix all ingredients and set aside for a few minutes to allow more juice to form and for the flavors to "marry".

TO SERVE...

Cool the shortcake...then cut into pie shaped wedges and top each piece with the strawberry mixture...or just plain strawberries if you wish.  You can also top with whipped cream,..


or add just a drizzle of half & half....


Or you can add BOTH if you'd really like to "guild the lily".

(You know what I would do!)

So when it's time to serve shortcake...don't skimp.  Make your own.  You'll be surprised how easy it is...and how GOOD it tastes.

(Thanks again, Mom.)

An Author In The Family...


Fred's cousin, Marye Maarsen, is living a life that would make a great movie.

In 1966, Marye went to Aalsmeer, The Netherlands as a one-year volunteer from her small-town Mennonite church in  rural Michigan.  And while she was there, she fell in love with a "real Dutchman" named Jan.  As Marye says...she went for a year...and never left!

Click here to get an idea of the BEAUTIFUL place Marye and Jan call HOME...


They married...had a family...and she's lived there ever since. (And like many Dutch landowners, Jan was a partner in his family's flower nursery.) 

And Marye loves to cook...and to write. (She studied Art and English Literature in college.)
  
Several years ago, she was approached to write a cookbook, highlighting the Amish and Mennonite recipes she grew up with in America.  That task was hard enough...but the measurements and the text of this book had to be written in Dutch!

So husband Jan and Marye set out together to accomplish this task that had to be completed on a very tight schedule to allow publishing by a specific date.

Mission Accomplished!


Now, Marye is traveling around Holland, giving "book talks", signing copies of her books...and even providing "tastes" from some of the recipes printed in her cookbook.


I wish I could be a fly on the wall at one of her book signings...even though I wouldn't understand one word of her talk since I'm sure she is speaking Dutch...NOT English!  



I'm guessing her audiences are enjoying her food...AND her tales of growing up in rural America.


So congratulations, Marye!  You have found a unique way to honor YOUR ancestors...and the recipes they shared with you so many years ago.

What a great way to bridge the differences between countries.

(Maybe our world leaders should try COOKING TOGETHER...?!)

No Place Like Home...

I was sitting on our deck this afternoon...all alone...reading a book...And my mind began to wander.

As I looked around our canal, I noticed the closest hotel to our condo...on the IntraCoastal Waterway.

Then I began to wonder about the room rates at that high rise hotel.

(It's the building with blue windows directly behind the palm tree and coconuts...)


So I Googled the room rates...


Rooms...from $359 per night!

Hmmm...There is NO place like HOME...

Memories...

As many of you know...my Mom was an AMAZING cook.

My Mom...Standing in front of the family-owned Grady's Meat Market in Kalona, Iowa
Mom has been gone for more than thirty-five years...but she still lives on through her handwritten recipes.  These well-worn scraps of paper are a treasure to me...and to everyone I cook for.


Every time I open my over-stuffed "traveling recipe file"...wherever I go,..that heartwarming feeling returns.

These recipes are my link to the skills I learned and the memories made in my Mom's kitchen, and to the delicious meals and happy times we all shared around their dining room table so many, many years ago..



I hope someday the recipes I now post on my blog (and the many well-worn recipe cards now in MY handwriting in my file) will become a treasure to our sons and THEIR families...just like Mom's recipe cards are to me.



Memories...and dishes filled with love.

From one generation to another...

I can think of no better way to honor my mother's life spent on this earth....

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Since I'm still "under the weather"...I'm afraid our St. Patrick's Day festivities have been derailed for this year.  But I thought this old picture I found in my stash might be appropriate for today...

And NO...the restaurant/bar was NOT serving Beer Soup...JUST BEER.  (I checked with the manager.)



This still makes me laugh...

May the Luck O' The Irish Be With Ye!!!

Just What The Doctor Ordered...

Let's just say I've been "under the weather" since last week.  (I am no stranger to sinus infections...) so I was happy to receive a "Care Package" delivered to our front door last night from neighbors Billy and Joan.

Billy (a former NYC firehouse cook) brought me a steaming bowl of his homemade soup...


His soup was loaded with LOTS of great things...Sausage, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions...all swimming in a delicious beefy tasting broth...


And let's just say that soup was just what the doctor ordered...

GOOD FRIENDS who can COOK...and who DELIVER right to our door...??!!

PRICELESS!
(I feel better already...)

Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salad

The other day, I was making tacos for lunch...and I wanted a side dish that was different from the usual rice and beans.  So I searched the Internet and found a recipe by Jennifer Segal.  I checked my cupboard and frig and realized I had most of the ingredients called for, so I used her recipe as a starting point and created my own twist....


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C. frozen corn
3 small sweet red peppers, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. red onion, minced
1 dash cayenne pepper (I used Tajin Clasico Seasoning with Lime)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp lime zest
juice of 1 lime
2 T. chopped cilantro
Salt and Pepper...to taste


METHOD
Heat frozen corn in microwave for one minute to thaw and to release all moisture.  Drain completely on paper towels and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients.  Combine well and refrigerate for several hours to blend flavors.  Serve at room temperature...



Someday I'll make the ORIGINAL version with adjusted measurements when I have ALL the ingredients on hand, (fresh sweet corn, avocado, etc.)...and then I'll share that recipe, too.  I think some halved cherry tomatoes would be delicious...It's a great recipe to use what you have, and adjust as needed.

And, once again, a rainbow on my plate.

Ole'